If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much can video communicate? Nearly 2 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month, and Netflix has 137 million subscribers … not counting the siblings, cousins, friends, and old college roommates who glom onto the accounts. No matter the age and demographic of your parishioners, they’re receiving content from video platforms. When it comes to vibrant content, we’re used to seeing, not just hearing. You can harness this powerful media to share compelling stories from your parish!
Step 1: Determine Your Goals
Before embarking on any new project, it’s important to ask why before how. Set objective for these testimonial videos. Are they intended to highlight particular ministries and offer glory stories of how God has worked? Are they moments of conversion in the lives of your parishioners to inspire others to draw closer to Jesus? How about a visual introduction to your parish’s RCIA candidates? Having a clear objective in mind will help you narrow down which parishioners to ask and how you want to share the videos at your parish.
Step 2: Brainstorm Individuals
Now that you know your goal, consider who in your parish might be a good fit. You might not know everyone off the top of your head, so consider asking around. Ask the organizers of parish programs and ministries for helpful leads. Come up with a list two to three times as long as the videos you want to shoot. Some people may say no — or not share as well on camera as you’d hope — so you’ll need backup. In asking people to volunteer, be clear what the video will be used for. In the case of minors, you will need their parents’ permission before shooting and sharing their story.
Step 3: Acquire Your Supplies
Filming a simple testimony doesn’t require professionals or expensive equipment. If the responsible person on your staff has a high-quality phone, you can get the rest of your necessary equipment for well under $100.
- Your Smartphone: You don’t need an expensive camera to film high-quality video. Many smartphones have the ability to record at HD resolution and beyond.
- Lapel Mics: The mic on your smartphone (or camera) will pick up all the sounds around, including passing sirens or the sneeze in the room next door. A lapel mic can clip to someone’s shirt and pick up only the sound of their voice. Watch for cardigans or vests and loose, long hair, which could brush against the mic and disrupt the sound. If you don’t want to borrow one from the sacristy, you can pick up lapel mics online for $10 to $25.
- Tripod: Holding a phone steady for three minutes is harder than you might think. While you can prop your smartphone or camera on a table, consider purchasing a tripod. This will give you more versatility in filming. Simple tripods can range from $15 to $70 online.
Check out our blog on “Ten Tips for Recording Video on Your Phone” for more information on how to maximize this set up.
Step 4: Coach Your Testimonial Volunteers
Sharing your faith story can be exciting but challenging. How do you summarize things in 3 minutes, while still highlighting the most important parts? For specifics on coaching your testimonial volunteers, check out our blog on “Stewardship & Faith Testimonies.” Make sure to meet in person with your volunteers before you shoot the story. You’ll want to have time and space to answer specific questions, allay fears, and get a sense for how this person shares their story. For a video recording, don’t be afraid to base the sharing off a script. Some people may feel comfortable sharing their story in the allotted amount of time, while others will need more coaching and guidance to hit the mark.
Step 5: Film & Edit
How you film and edit will depend on your abilities. If you have extensive experience filming, you could shoot more footage than necessary and crop it accordingly. If film isn’t your forte, consider coaching your testimonial volunteers to keep things to 3 minutes. Then your editing will be basic — likely brief crops at the beginning and end — which is doable on the average smartphone. Apple also offers the free iMovie app to make simple edits. Movie Maker is a free app in the Microsoft store. If you’ve got more money to spend, you can find other beginner products from $30 to $80, depending on the features you’re looking for.
Step 6: Share Your Videos With the World!
… or at least your parish. Once you have your testimonial videos ready, you’ll need to share them. You could keep them on an external hard drive or on a shared parish server, but videos take up a lot of space. This also might make them difficult to access for diverse uses. While YouTube is a convenient place to house videos for free, Vimeo gives you more analytics and privacy controls. At $7 a month, Vimeo ’s “Plus” Plan should have all you need for your parish. If you’d like your videos to be more outward-facing, highlighting the vibrant nature of your parish, consider sharing them on Facebook. Uploading them directly to the platform — rather than including a YouTube link — boosts the Facebook algorithm for popular posts, making it visible on more news feeds.
Have you created video testimonies at your parish? How have you done it?