Archives For Audio/Video

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Each year, WorshipHouseMedia has a special giveaway leading up to Christmas. I forgot to remind everyone to check out their website this year. They have videos and mini-movies for churches, and this Christmas giveaway is a great way to stock up on some great videos for your church. You have one week left, so be sure to visit their website each day.

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Recording the Message

I’ve helped several churches start recording the audio from their sermons to include on their website. The goal in each case is to get a quality recording that can easily be listened to online or downloaded through a podcast. Way back in 2007, I wrote a tutorial on how to setup a podcast. Although some of the info is a little dated, the basic procedure remains the same. I wanted to go back and share a few more details about how you get a quality recording that you can use for your website. This isn’t a detailed step-by-step tutorial, but it should get you pointed in the right direction. Here are a few options.

Option 1: Record audio on a CD

Our church has a rack-mounted CD burner (Click here for a comparable version of the Tascam recorder we have). We run one of our auxiliary sends from the soundboard to the CD-burner so we can mix it differently from the main speaker mix (we also record the music each week). Since we have a digital sound board (a Presonus StudioLive) we actually connect the soundboard to the recorder using a digital S/PDIF cable. This gives us great sound quality with no audio interference or hum.

Option 2: Record directly to a computer

Another option is to run a cable from your soundboard directly to a microphone or line-in jack on a desktop or laptop computer to record. Then using recording software such as the free program Audacity, you can record the message directly to a .wav file. After you finish recording, you can export the song as a mp3 file.

Option 3: Record using a handheld recorder

A final option is to use a handheld recorder like the Zoom H1 to record the message. You can record in several different ways. You can just start recording before the service and set it on the preacher’s podium and it will pick up great. The sound quality is amazing on this thing, and it is very small and inconspicuous. A second way is to hook a lapel mic to the handheld recorder and use the microphone to pick up the sound. The final way to record is directly from the sound board. It features a line-in jack so that you can run a cable straight from the sound board and record directly to the handheld recorder.

Importing/Exporting the Audio mp3 File

Once you have a recording, you will need to get it into a format for use on your website. I still recommend using mp3 files, so they are most compatible and work across the biggest range of devices.

Getting a mp3 file from a CD

I typically use iTunes to do this. I insert the CD into my computer and load up the iTunes program. If the CD contains multiple tracks, I use the Join Tracks command.

  • Select the CD in iTunes
  • Sort on Track #
  • Select the consecutive songs you want to join
  • From the CD menu, select Join CD tracks
  • Enter in the artist name and album name

You can also set your beginning and end points of each track to trim your sermon from the CD.  Once I do this, I click on the tracks I want to import and then I choose import CD. From the menu, I then choose custom settings for importing the file as a mp3.  Click on the mp3 encoder, then custom. I choose 64 kbps and mono (which means the resulting audio mp3 file will actually be a 32 kbps file)  After I import the file, you skip straight to uploading it to your website, or you can touch up the audio using the instructions below.

 

Importing a mp3 file from a handheld recorder or computer 

This is the easy part. You should already have a .wav file or a .mp3 file. So you will just need to export it into a format that can be uploaded to your website. I recommend using the free program Audacity which is available on both Windows and Mac. Import your audio file into Audacity, and then you can touch up the audio a little before you upload to your website.

  • trim the beginning and ending of the message
  • If you have a stereo recording, go ahead and convert it to mono. For speech, stereo is not needed and will just add to the file size. In Audacity, go to Tracks —-> “Stereo Track to Mono” to do this
  • Normalize the Volume – go to effects/Normalize to raise the sound where it needs to be. If you have a lot of hum in your recording this can make it worse. In that case, you can play around with the Noise Removal effect in Audacity
  • Compress the audio using the Effects/Compressor option. Compression makes the soft parts louder, and the loud parts softer so that the volume level is more constant. If you are not familiar with compression, then you may want to read up on it, because this can really make a sermon easier to listen to.
  • Export the audio as a mp3 file. Go to file/export and then choose mp3. You may have to do some setup work to get this to work, but Audacity will show you how to add the mp3 encoder.  I have experimented and I like exporting sermon audio at 32 kbps in mono. This gives a small file size, and it still sounds good. If you go higher, the audio will sound better, but it will be at the expense of a larger file size which will take longer to upload and download.

Again, this is definitely not a comprehensive tutorial, but I wanted to get you pointed in the right direction. If you have any suggestions to add, feel free to leave a comment.

 

I shared last month about the Shift Media Creator App. It’s a great way to create graphics for your church. I wanted to share with you another video showing you practical ways you can use it to create announcement graphics for your church with your phone. Just snap a picture, add effects and filters, save it, and you have a great image. You can then use an app like Phonto to add text to the image. There are also other apps like Snapseed that enable you to do great effects on your photos.

It’s amazing what you can do just with your phone. You don’t have to have a big budget to create great graphics. Let’s all agree that clipart should never be used on your website or screen.  Check this out, it’s really a great example of what you can accomplish.

 

I'm thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.

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If you check out most church bulletins and most church websites, you will find plenty of cheesy photos and clipart. Lightstock is a great resource for your church for cheesy-free photos and videos. I really like the quality on their site. They are one of my partners here on my blog and I wanted to share more about their site. Keep reading to find out how you can receive 10 free credits.

The following article is from Jonathan Bailey. Co-founder @Lightstock. Board member @Renovareusa. Follow him @jonathanrbailey

5 REASONS TO SAY ‘NO’ TO CHEESY PHOTOS

Have a design project around the corner? Let me share 5 quick reasons to say ‘NO’ to cheesy photos.

1. Say no to photos that are void of creativity.

The definition of creative is: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Unleashing the imagination to create something original is what I’m talking about. If you’re not engaging your imagination in a deep and meaningful way then don’t even bother.

2. Say no to photos that look touristy.

Composition is key. Composition means the art of putting things together. Think of yourself as a Culinary artist bringing unique ingredients together to serve up a delicious meal. Your ingredients include the subject, negative space, lighting, focal
length, etc. The quickest way to break the back of crummy-composition is to get on the ground with your camera and start start shooting. Unique vantage points always help eliminate the cheese.

3. Say no to photos that look like they were taken in the 80s.

Avoid hyper trends and fashions in your photography. Especially a really dated wardrobe from your subjects. And if you’re going to shoot something out of Biblical times, make sure the costuming actually matches the time period. You need heavy wools that are ragged and torn. Not just a white table cloth and a piece of twine. Pay attention to wardrobe.

4. Say no to photos that mix lighting.

Don’t mix! When it comes to photography there are two basic types of light: natural light (sunlight) and artificial light (flashes/studio lights). Make sure that if you’re inside you turn the lights off and take the shot next to some big windows. Or if you want artificial lights then black out the windows. This will give you a consistent look. And lastly and most important…

5. Say no to photos that show little thoughtfulness or care.

Simply put, they’re lazy. They don’t take into consideration the intelligence of the audience. Jony Ive, creative mastermind at Apple, described this principle when talking about the Apple products he designs. “We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects”, says Ive. “It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.” Thoughtfulness and care take time and energy. When you sit down to shoot or design, think about your end-user. How does your creation add value to their life?

 

Free Stuff Alert: Here’s 10 Free Credits to Lightstock

I’m thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.

Click Here to Signup and Get the 10 Free Credits

If you use stock photos in your designs or blog posts then Lightstock is something you should definitely check out.

Use the discount code faithengineer for 25% off! Click here to purchase

padloops

As a former youth pastor, I remember years ago trying to lead worship with my Spin360 accompaniment tracks and an acoustic guitar (I’m showing my age here!). Since we didn’t have a full band, I would play the CD and just play along with the music. So when I found about Worship Pad Loops from Shalon Palmer, I was interested in trying them out.

Worship Pad Loops are pre-recorded keyboard tracks that you can play along with. There are versions for each different song key. They provide a full sound that you can incorporate into your band if you don’t have a keyboard, or just play along with on your guitar. They also work great as transitions between songs during worship. They can even be used as background tracks for videos.

I tried these out one day with one of our musicians who was recording several songs and the loops sounded great. We decided not to use them for the project he was working on, but I do think we will use these in the future. They can be used with songs of any tempo, and since they are based on the root of the key you are playing in, you can play them throughout the entire song. You can include these on a computer or an iPod since each loop is a 20 minute mp3 song. As with most products, the best way to understand this is to watch a video of it being used.

These work great for most songs, but remember if there is a key change or if the bridge gets a little crazy, they may sound out of place. I am interested in using them during times of reflection and prayer during special services at our church. The sound is just right to provide some ambiance without being distracting. The set is $29.99 for all 12 mp3 files for each key. And if you use the code faithengineer, you will receive 25% off.

From their website:

The Worship Pad Loops plays a mixture of professional studio recorded ambient pad sounds and guitar swells that remain in harmony or on the root of the key you are in.

One of the favorite uses of the Pad Loops is for songwriting. For 2 big reasons. One is that playing the loop in the key you’re writing in gives you a constant reference that you can sing along with, without having to be playing an instrument. Two is that these pad loops are so spectacularly awesome at creating ambience, that you’ll be in meditation mode creating a musical masterpiece in seconds.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of these loops to try out and review. I provide honest reviews and only recommend products that I believe in and use. See my full disclosure policy here.

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For the last few days, I have been trying out a new worship software package called Worship Media Creator. It creates video announcements, video countdowns, and custom backgrounds for worship. It also can function as worship presentation software in a pinch. The software is from the guys at SermonGear.com, and it can save you time if you are creating videos for your church. Here is a breakdown of what it can do:

With the Worship Media Creator, you can:

  • Build Customized Countdowns that animates to your music
  • Make video announcements in minutes
  • Create your own worship background loops, or add your own media library
  • Use built in templates to spread your message
  • Export your presentation to a video file to use in your existing projection setup, or project it live!
  • Share your projects and creativity with other churches

If you have ever tried to create your own countdown video, you will truly appreciate how quick and easy it is to create one in this program. This software really appeals to people who are intimidated by complex software, but it still has more than enough features for power users. However, it won’t magically turn someone with no graphic or video design skills into a professional. You still need a good understanding of gradients, shadows, colors, and fonts to use this program effectively.

The best way to understand a software package is to see it in action. They have a great video tutorial page, and you can even download a free trial version to check it out. Here are a couple of videos that show you how the software works.

Keep reading to see more examples and to see my final thoughts.

Continue Reading…

Gear Update: AppleTV

December 7, 2012 — Leave a comment
This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Gear Update

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I wanted to share the latest piece of gear that I have picked up for our church. Last week, I bought an AppleTV. This is a tiny little box that hooks directly to a TV or projector via a HDMI cable. It allows you to stream media from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, and it is simple to setup and use. Here are a few things we plan on using it for.

  1. DIgital Signage – This is a great device to run digital signage. I needed something to run a TV that we can place in the front window of our church. You can either stream photos from a flickr account or send a movie file to the device. I made a presentation using Apple Keynote using both slides, animations, and videos, and then exported the presentation as a quicktime movie file. I added the movie file to an iTunes playlist, and then just set the Apple TV to loop the playlist. It’s a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to run digital signage without an additional computer.
  2. Movies – AppleTV supports iTunes movie rentals, Hulu, and Netflix, all straight from the device for your next youth or children’s movie night.
  3. Music - If you have iTunes Match, your entire music library is available from the cloud. If you have computers on the same network, you can access all of their music using Home Sharing. You could also stream music from your iOS device using Pandora or Spotify.
  4. Small Group Videos – We have a subscription to Rightnow Media, and with the AppleTV, we can play all of our small group videos directly from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer and use Airplay to wirelessly send video to the TV or Projector.
  5. Games and Live Video – The AppleTV gives you the ability to mirror the display on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad. So imagine an Angry Birds tournament shown on the big screen, or even switch to the camera app and show live video on the screen from your iPhone. You could show your YouVersion or Glo app on the screen and let students or adults follow along as you read the Bible. And you now have a digital whiteboard that can be shown straight from an iPad screen.

All of this is for under $100. You can even pick up a refurbished model from Apple for under $90. For that amount of money, this is a good investment for any church. After using it for a few days, I plan on getting one for home as well. It really works great. Click the picture below for more info on how the AppleTV works.

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If you use video clips during church, you’ll want to take advantage of this offer from WorshipHouseMedia. Each year, they offer some of their best stuff for free during Christmas. You’ll want to check the site to see what they make available each day. You have to get it on that day, but it’s worth your time and effort. Check it out at www.worshiphousemedia.com/twelvedays

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