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During the COVID-19 pandemic, some churches are live streaming church services while others are recording videos and uploading them to their websites.
These videos may be anything from full worship services with no congregation present, to the pastor’s messages, to short homilies, to daily devotionals or words of encouragement.
If you are considering adding videos to your website, just starting to add videos to your website, or have been putting videos on your website for a while and are looking for ways to improve the videos how you publish them, learning best practices can be a big help.
10 Best Practices for Sermon Videos
1) Don’t use the low quality web cam built into your computer/laptop.
Web cams built into laptops and computer monitors are notoriously poor quality. So are the built in microphones. If you want to record video using a computer, buy an external webcam like the Logitech c920 HD Pro webcam which is only $80-$100. A smart phone or video camera will do just fine as well.
2) Use an external web cam, video camera or tripod to stabilize.
Unless you’re recording a very short, personal message, don’t record your service or message using a hand-held phone or video camera. It will bounce around and drive viewers crazy. Mount your external web cam on your computer or put your video camera or smart phone on a tripod.
3) Record horizontally.
Smart phones are making vertical videos more popular, but they’re not a good fit for Facebook, YouTube or embedding into a website.
4) Get the required music license.
If your videos are going to contain performed copyrighted music, you need to have a streaming/podcasting license. See Your Guide to Playing Church Music and Copyright Infringement by Chriss Huff.
5) Use Windows Video Editor.
People often ask us what video editing software they should use to edit their service or sermon videos. There are lots of good ones out there. If you’re just getting started and you’re using a computer with Windows 10, the easiest solution is to use the free, pre-installed Video Editor.
6) Save in MP4 format.
Apple products save videos in their proprietary .MOV format. Microsoft devices save videos in their proprietary .WMV format. If you embed .MOV or .WMV files into your website, computer users will have to download and install a browser plugin to watch them, and mobile users may not be able to watch them at all. The best solution is to save your videos to the non-proprietary .MP4 format for which no plugin is needed. MP4s also use less disk space and bandwidth.
7) Upload to YouTube or Facebook and embed.
You may want to upload videos directly to your website, but uploading to YouTube or Facebook and then embedding that video into your website is a much better solution for most churches. Here are 4 reasons why:
- Responsive resolution. When you upload a video to your website you have to choose 1 resolution for your video. You can go full 1080p HD quality which is great for computer users with high speed internet but could result in buffering for mobile users. You can go with low resolution, which is good for mobile but will be low quality for computer users with high speed internet. Or you can try to split the difference. Facebook and YouTube both automatically detect the size of the viewers screen and the speed of their internet connection and show them the best size video for their device.
- Saves disk space and bandwidth. When you upload videos to your website, it uses your web hosting disk space – up to 10 GB per hour of videos uploaded. Then each time someone views a video, it uses your bandwidth – up to 10 GB per hour viewed for HD video. Posting your videos to Facebook and YouTube doesn’t use your disk space or bandwidth.
- Social Interaction. Posting to Facebook or YouTube enables people to like, comment and share your videos.
- Expanded audience. Posting to Facebook or YouTube enables other Facebook or YouTube users to see your videos and discover your church.
8) If you really want to upload the video into your website, export using the “low quality” option.
The Windows Video Editor provides 3 options for saving videos:
- High quality (1080p) – This is full HD resolution (1080 pixels or lines high). If you save at the highest quality, videos will be around 10 GB per hour
- Medium quality (720p) – videos saved at this level will be around 7 GB per hour.
- Low quality (540p) – videos saved at this level will be around 5 GB per hour.
It’s important to note that if you upload a video to YouTube and embed it into your web page, the standard YouTube embed resolution is 315 lines high, almost half the resolution of the so called “low quality” resolution in Windows Video Editor.
9) If you’re using OCC’s WP-EZ Website Builder, watch our video tutorials on how to add videos.
10) Share via email and social media.
Just because you post a video to your website doesn’t mean people will come and watch them. Email your members whenever you add a new video to your website. Share a link to the new video on your social channels.
*BONUS: Use EZ Sermon Manager
EZ Sermon Manager is the best way to organize sermons and connect with church members. Click for more info.
*Bonus #2: My video file is huge. How do I make it smaller?
Follow steps 5, 6 and 8 above. 5) Use Windows Video Editor. 6) Save in MP4 format. 8) export using the “low quality” option.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a great opportunity to increase our online communication including video communication and point people to God…
People will speak of your mighty deeds, and I will proclaim your greatness. They will tell about all your goodness and sing about your kindness. -Psalm 145 6:7
And you can find more COVID-19 Response Resources for your church here.
Comment and discuss… What questions do you have about sermon videos? Do you have any other tips or recommendations for other churches doing sermon videos?