How to Edit Videos Like a Pro

Tips for Creating Great Content

By John Chevalier as seen in Technologies for Worship Magazine

So, you want to get started editing your own video? The good news is that in the last several years what was once a fairly pricy endeavor is now within reach of almost anyone. Both Macs and PCs come with video editing software pre-installed and ready to go. Getting your footage into the computer is a snap. But now what? Let’s take a look at what it takes to edit great videos like the pros. Here are a few tips for creating great videos.

Learn the software

For the purpose of this article we will not be recommending any specific editing software, as there are many out there to choose from. Whether you are editing on a Mac or PC take the time to learn everything the software is capable of doing. The more you know, the better your video will look and the more efficient you will be while editing. There are training manuals and an abundance of YouTube videos that can help you.

Start with good footage

I live in the wine country of Northern California and we have a saying; “Good grapes make good wine!” The same applies to video. “Good footage makes good video.” There is no better way to learn how to shoot good footage than to shoot and edit an event for the first time. You’ll immediately know what looks good and what doesn’t. Seeing footage on the computer, instead of reviewing it on camera, will immediately make you a better camera person. My first tip is go shoot video that you can play with before you jump into a project that really matters. Watch what you’ve shot. Are your shots steady? How do they look in the frame? One important thing you’ll learn right away is to use a tripod for everything. Shaky shots are very obvious and distracting no matter how small they are.

Learn what good video looks like

How do you do this without hours of training? It’s actually easy because we all have the best training tool right in our homes. A television set. Watch TV. Watch for the way scenes change, how often the camera angles change, what types of transitions are used between cuts. Watch different types of shows too; sitcoms, documentaries, the evening news, and your favorite television series will all be cut differently. Don’t think about what you’re watching as a story, but evaluate it and study how it was made. Once you begin to see this you will start to get an idea of how quality video is edited. You can’t achieve good results unless you know what you’re aiming for.

Use a workflow

All seasoned video editors use a workflow that allows them to gradually perfect their video. Let me outline this for you.

Import only the shots you need. Most video editing software allows you to import select pieces of footage. This not only keeps your computer clutter-free, but also gives you the opportunity to be familiar with what you’ve shot. This is important, especially if you’re working with different pieces of footage or have several takes of the same scene.

Review what you have. Go through every clip and start the process of choosing which shots you are going to use. You can always change things later, but this is your first pass over the footage and where you want to begin putting your story together.

Start building your rough cut. You’re not going to worry about clean cuts here. Just start bringing the footage you’ve chosen into your timeline. This includes each part of your story, as well as different camera angles of each scene. You can either sync different angles now of just get them close enough to sync later. The important part is that you are getting everything into the timeline and your project is starting to take shape.

Fine-tune all your cuts

Now that you have your story together the work begins. You need to look in detail at every edit point and trim any unwanted footage. Make all your cuts clean. You will be tempted to start adding in effects and transitions at this point, but do not get ahead of yourself. What you want to do is make sure all unwanted footage is removed. Watch each cut closely and be detailed in your trimming. Once this is done you are ready to start adding in all the extras that will take your video from the amateur to the professional level.

Add in the extras

At the most basic level the extras consist of transitions, special effects and titles.

Let’s start with transitions. The most common transition used in production is no transition at all. Clean cuts will give you a professional looking video. The second most common transition is the cross-dissolve. This fades out one video clip while fading in the next and is used most often between scene changes. Again, you need to consider what you are communicating and if the transition helps the story or detracts from it.

After your transitions are in you can decide what video effects to use. Different software will have different effects. You need to ask the question, “Does this effect help tell the story or detract from it?” The biggest mistake new editors make is using too many transitions and special effects. I have a rule: Keep special effects special.

Finally, add all titles and credits. Choose easy-to-read fonts. Block type fonts work best, as serif fonts can seem to jump when watching the video. Keep fonts simple and look for how well they can be read. If you are using titles over the top of video, the rule of thumb is to add a drop shadow. This makes the text stand out better.

The final step

Now that your video is completed it is best to get away from it for a while and watch it again the following day. This allows you to see things you didn’t see the first time, and make minor changes that will take your project to the next level. Most of the time these are not drastic, but again, a little fine-tuning always helps.


As you move forward in learning to edit video remember these two important points: the more you edit the better you will get. Learn the software and take the time to learn what good quality video looks like. Remember, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Learn your new craft correctly. You’ll be happy you took the time to do it properly, and so will your audience.


Re-defining Broadcast and What It Means for Your Ministry

By Michelle Makariak as seen in Technology for Worship Magazine

Broadcasting, in the loosest sense, has traditionally been defined as transmitting information — whether through radio or television — to other people. Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory, famously stated in 1964 that “the medium is the message”, meaning that the form of medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. How then do houses of worship not only determine which medium to use when first looking to create a broadcast ministry, but also make sure that it doesn’t overshadow their message?

The Changing Face of Broadcast

Over the last few years, as more and more people turn to the Internet for entertainment and information, and mobile devices such as tablets, smart phones and media players continue to grow in popularity, there has been a significant shift in the way video is disseminated. We are no longer reliant on traditional (and very expensive) television broadcast as a way to reach the masses, nor is content required to fit network-determined program lengths. Not only that, we are no longer tied to specific days or times for viewing the content we want to see — the birth of YouTube, Vimeo, PVRs, Apple TV and on-demand viewing (to name just a few) has revolutionized the way we perceive and experience broadcasting. The very nature of video broadcast has changed significantly over the past few years, but what do these changes mean for Houses of Worship looking to initiate or expand their broadcast ministry?

Planning Your Broadcast Ministry

Before your House of Worship spends any money on setting up a broadcast ministry you need to determine the following:

Who are you trying to reach and what’s the most effective way to reach them?

How many people will you need to create and produce content, and what type of training and support will you be able to give them?

Jay Delp, owner, Jay Delp Productions, states, “One of the most important things a house of worship needs to determine when starting up a broadcast ministry (regard-less of how they define “broadcast ministry”) is who their audience is. Will content be targeted at existing members, or used as a means to attract new members? It’s important not to broadcast for the sake of broadcasting, but plan in advance the philosophy and scope of the broadcast ministry.”

John Chevalier, Trainer at HHS Digital Productions, agrees. “Churches are often exposed to doing broadcast through another ministry, but they don’t think about who ‘their’ audience is, or how they’re going to reach them and why they are doing what they are doing.”

Is TV still a broadcast player?

In the past, television was the only video broadcast option open to houses of worship. Whether via local cable access programs, cable, or network TV, the format was typically the same: 30 minutes to one hour in length, some singing, some prayer, the sermon, donation requests, some more prayer then fade to black. If your church is looking to reach an older demographic via broadcast, has the expertise and technology to produce high-quality programming and has sufficient financial backing, traditional television broadcasting may be a viable option.

In a blog piece titled “The Decline of Christian TV — The Future of Christian TV” ( Scott Link, creator/producer of the TV show Peculiar, and owner of Pup Tent Media, indicates that “the audience for the traditional, sermon-based, teaching program is growing older with every year…with the donor base for the current model of Christian broadcasting shrinking as the audience is dying.”

That’s not to say that traditional TV broadcast is not an effective tool — it can be, especially if you create content that doesn’t try to fill the traditional role. Link states that ministry should look at developing sitcoms, dramas, episodic content and reality shows. Houses of Worship should be creating content that people want, instead of in the way that’s most convenient for them.

By redefining the traditional ministry broadcast to include fresh content, your House of Worship can help redefine the role TV broadcast has in ministry, while at the same time creating relevant outreach to attract new viewers and congregants and reach a younger demographic.

Why Internet Broadcast is more relevant than ever

Creating content for online viewing, either “live” or on-demand, is also a great way to reach a broad audience24/7 — not just on Sunday. It allows people to you’re your message on their own time, their own schedule, without tying them down to a specific date and time to watch, as TV broadcast requires.

A recent Pew report states that 4 out of 5 Americans use the Internet. While online, 71% visit YouTube, Vimeo or other similar sites to watch videos, 69% use social networking sites, and 32% are actively searching for religious materials. An additional 45% of American adults own a smartphone, and 25% have a tablet. Just think about that for a second — 81% of all Americans are active on the Internet using a variety of media devices.

Not only that, but according to recent Neilsen data, 131 million Americans watch video online every month, with an additional 13.4 million watching video via their smart phones.

So, how should your House of Worship access this vital and growing viewership? There are several options to choose from, and you’re media ministry is not limited to just one. A growing number of churches live-stream their services, which means that worship is being filmed, edited, encoded and sent out via a streaming network in real-time. And live-streaming does not have to be limited to just worship services. Houses of Worship can live-stream weddings, baptisms, youth events — pretty much anything that is happening at your church can be put on the web for immediate viewing.

Houses of Worship can also choose to make worship services available online in a video-on-demand (VOD) format. By offering VOD, Houses of Worship put the power in the hands of the viewer, allowing them to choose not only what content to watch, but also when to watch it. If your church decides to only create VOD content, your broadcast team can edit the service in a more professional and polished manner than what would normally be seen via a live-stream, which greatly improves production value and watchability. Plus, VOD provides a means to display and distribute the growing amount of pre-produced content your ministry is (hopefully) producing every month in the form of sermon introduction and illustration videos, interviews and testimonials, ministry event highlight clips, and promotional videos for upcoming events to name just a few of the possibilities. By creating a content area for VOD on your church website or via a streaming broadcast provider, you also create a powerful worship archive, and extend and expand the impact of the media & messages your ministry is producing.

Another option is to take segments of your worship service and make them available on your church website, YouTube and other similar sites as an outreach and marketing tool. Chevalier believes that, within the context of church broadcast, Houses of Worship often have a whole separate online audience.

“A younger crowd would probably not watch a full streamed service, instead preferring fast-paced, well edited video that is shorter and to the point, because the attention span for online viewing is way different than what it would be if you were actually sitting in the congregation during worship. There are typically certain points in a sermon that make great stand-alone lessons that don’t need to be shown within the context of the entire service. If the worship band really nailed a song, or if the pastor shared a particularly impactful lesson, then there’s the content you want to make available.”

Supporting a Broadcast Ministry

Once you’ve established what the purpose of your broadcast ministry is going to be and how you’re going to reach your audience, you need to determine whether or not you will be able to field a team capable of supporting your vision.

Here’s a rapid-fire list of questions you need to answer for any size and scope of broadcast ministry — and these don’t even factor in questions about gear:

How many cameras are you going to use and who is going to operate them? Who is going to produce your live-stream broadcast? Who is going to edit it? If you are going to create a VOD section, who is going to archive and maintain your content? If you are going to create trailers, smaller features, or man-on-the-street style video, who will your video team be that does this? Who is going to be responsible for scheduling and training your team? Will you storyboard your video pre-productions and, if so, who will do that? Where will you find music tracks needed for producing your own videos? Who will maintain your streaming infrastructure and make sure it can support your media content? Have you visited and researched another church or ministry who has already taken similar steps into broadcast ministry which you are considering? How many hours a week will your team need for creating content?

This list of questions is not meant to intimidate or deter you from pursuing a broadcast ministry but to simply alert you to the many aspects you need to consider before spending your valuable time, energy and money on setting up a broadcast ministry.

Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many dedicated people to create exciting and viewable content that brings your media vision to life. The larger your broadcast ministry is, the more people you will need to maintain it. You need to make sure that your team is on the same page, focused on the same goal, and able to contribute to the creative process.

The Medium is not your Message

Creating a broadcast ministry for your House of Worship can be an excellent way to strengthen your worship community and attract new members, while at the same time, sharing your vision with the world. However, it’s important to recognize that creating a broadcast ministry just because other churches are doing it isn’t a good reason for moving forward. In order to maximize your potential, you need to have a clear plan in place for content creation and distribution. It’s important to ensure the medium it’s delivered on isn’t overshadowing your vision; and that your message remains the most important aspect of your ministry.