Guidance for Filming from Home
These are general guidelines for anyone filming part of the service from their home. This applies to service leaders, readers, intercessors, etc. These notes apply if you have someone editing to a single video, or if you are producing standalone clips to be joined together as a playlist. There are a few minor differences noted towards the end.
Setting up the Room
Ideally you want good natural lighting and a background which is not going to distract. Some people like a plain wall, others like a view of the room; just be aware of what’s in shot behind you. You can often frame the shot so as to exclude items you don’t want in it. Aim to include the upper body – just head and shoulders can seem uncomfortably close for your viewers – and make sure not to lose the top of the head! Set the camera at eye-level if at all possible, rather than have it looking up at you from table level. The view up your nose may not be the most flattering.
It’s sometimes helpful to use a music stand to hold your notes rather than hold a sheaf of papers. If this is positioned close to the camera then it can be just below the lens and remain out of shot. This allows you to read without taking your eyes too far from the camera, which represents your audience.
Alternatively you can use a teleprompter app to get your script to appear on a laptop or mobile device instead of using printed notes. There is a very useful free service at teleprompt.me which is a voice-activated prompter that runs in the Chrome web browser. You just copy and paste your script into the box, allow the site to access your microphone, and it will scroll your script automatically as you read, detecting the words as you say them.
If you want some visual aids in the frame with you, such as a cross or a candle, you may need to move some furniture around to get a surface at the right height. You can raise the height by stacking books or similar and hiding them with a tablecloth.
The service will look best as HD video (also known as 1080p), so this is the preferred format for the individual video clips. Most phones and cameras use this by default. If you have a newer camera or the latest iPhone it may have higher resolution than this, but it’s not required and will produce enormous video files.
Most phones and tablets have a front camera where you can see yourself on the screen, and a back camera where you can see the scene on the other side of the camera. The back camera is normally much better quality, so you’ll generally get better video if someone else is filming you rather than setting up the camera so you can see yourself on the screen.
The video will always be produced in landscape format, generally 16:9, so this is the preferred orientation for the camera/phone when filming.
Use a tripod if you can. You can buy or improvise a mobile phone clip to fit a standard tripod mount.
Avoid leaving a clock in shot as the time shown spoils the illusion that this is a single continuous service.
The audio will be picked up using the phone or camera microphone. You need to make sure there’s no background noise to get best clarity, and it helps a lot if you project your voice, as if talking to a crowd 5 metres away.
Be aware that if there are other people in the room they should keep still as their shadow movement may be visible in the background.
This video contains some good tips on speaking to camera.
Where there is a congregational response to liturgy or prayers, you may want others in the room to say the response too, to give a more congregational feel. Make sure those people are further from the microphone than you are, otherwise the sound balance will sound very odd.
Additional Notes for Edited Videos
If the video clips are being edited together into a single video file then you have more freedom to divide the clips up as you wish – and more freedom to make mistakes!
You can film in sections as they will be edited together for the final video. You can see the joins but it doesn’t really matter as long as there aren’t too many of them.
Leave a 2-3 second pause after the camera starts before speaking, and hold for 2-3 seconds at the end. This helps with joining sections together using cross-fades. If there is too long a pause it can easily be edited out.
It helps the editor a lot if you can provide a full script, with cues for when you want things to happen. You can highlight or embolden words that you want shown on the screen.
When you specify a song, give enough of the title/first line to make it unambiguous. Look up the words to check that you’ve remembered them right! Ideally give the song number in the book you normally use. If it’s not in there, or if you use different words, then you need to provide a complete set of words.
Notes for Musicians
Bear in mind that the video editor may not be familiar with the song, or the particular way it’s been played. Even in the music copy it’s not always obvious where the chorus should come in some songs, or whether things are repeated, so list the order you’ve played it, e.g. V1 V2 Chorus V3 V4 Chorus V5 Chorus Chorus. This helps with getting the right words shown on the screen.
Normally you’ll play a short introduction, but without a singer present it may not be obvious where the intro ends and the song starts. Indicate how many seconds into the recording the singing should start so the editor knows when to start showing the words.
Additional Notes for Playlist Videos
If your aren’t doing any editing and just using a YouTube playlist to join the sections together then you need to get a reasonable length of recording in one take to avoid having too many different videos chained together. Don’t worry too much about making a mistake – it happens in normal services too and no one will really notice.
Pause for about a second after the camera starts before speaking, and hold for a second at the end. This avoids the transition between videos being too abrupt.
Sending your Video Files
Video files are much to large to transfer using email and you will normally need to use a cloud service of some sort, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive. Be aware that the storage limits on free accounts may not be enough for long recordings.
You can also use free transfer services such as Smash, We Transfer or Send Anywhere. There are free versions of these services, although they will often try to get you to sign up for a paid version with greater storage. Smash requires no account or sign-in and has unlimited file size, although files larger than 2GB may be slow.