Turbo Charge Your Video

by Terry Wilhite

What are you doing with video this summer? With hardware and software prices plummeting over the past couple of years, more and more churches are turning to the motion medium to convey their messages. Video is no longer relegated to "mega churches" with audio-visual departments. While that group can certainly benefit from the tips and tools that follow, our Top 10 is designed to help smaller congregations and groups (Sunday school teachers, Vacation Bible School leaders and Summer Missions teams) break through the video barrier and make good things happen with a video camera and software. So here we go with our Summer 2005 Turbo Tip Countdown!

10. No video camera? Not a problem! Use your digital still camera (and even have your 35 mm film digitized to CD) to capture the moment and create your video using photographs. To add a special audio touch to your pictures, take along a tape recorder and capture some natural sound of the surroundings where the photos are shot. Mix it with background music. With this triad of "nat" sound, pictures, and cool music, you're headed for a presentation winner.

9. Want to make those still pictures move? Many video software packages have a "pan and scan" feature that scans and zooms into still pictures. Remember, our goal is to create interest, not vertigo. If you do a lot of still image animation and montage creation, check into Canopus' Imaginate 2.0. This software is perfect for creating the still image montages for graduation salutes, Vacation Bible School highlights, and the men's group cookout. It allows you to pan, zoom, rotate and skew still images in 3D. It even allows you to include audio, as we mentioned.

8. Check out the "lite" version of video editing software packages. Adobe, for example, has Premiere Elements. ULEAD has VideoStudio and Pinnacle has StudioPlus. These packages range in price from $120 down to $49. Be sure to read the features list.

7. Already got the software and gear, but not quite sure how to "max it out"? My favorite resources, without question, come from Total Training, which primarily provides help for Adobe products. In fact, there's a training resource for Premiere Elements and another for digital photography.

6. Black and white can be cool!  In fact, it's one of the emotional devices advertising agencies use to create an air of sophistication. Even low cost video software applications now allow you to convert the video you capture to your hard drive to black and white. As with any effect, a little goes a long way.

5. Want to put the "big tires" on your video vehicle? There are a multitude of filters, effects, and titling add-ons that can extend your video software. Again, less is more! But just the right transition at the right time in "high energy" presentations, such as the student ministry's summer pool party, can make your video sizzle. One of the best add-ons I've seen is VideoFX Transitions from Canopus. The product contains more than 500 ready-to-use preset transitions, including water ripple and video "melt."

4. Stuck with a VHS or High 8 camera? If you're using a camera that does not have a USB 2.0 or Firewire (digital) output, check into a capture box from Pinnacle. The RCA outs from your camera go into one side of the box and on the other side are USB 2.0 or Firewire outputs that go into your computer. You'll also find video editing software included with most of these type devices—so this purchase could be a double-barrel solution for you.

3. How do you like green? It will definitely be your favorite color once you discover just how incredible the use of keying can be. When you shoot your video in front of a green background, you can "knock out" the green and replace it with the footage or still picture of your choice.  With tools like Serious Magic's Visual Communicator and Ultra, you can take your video to an unimaginable level.

2. Want to learn as you go and even save a tape? Serious Magic also has a cool tool called DV Rack Express. You can actually use your laptop to capture footage you shoot and professionally monitor all the settings that will affect your video. It's as much a training tool as it is a suite of professional monitoring gear.

1. Our top tip is free! Watch network television like you've never watched it before—with an eye for how producers use camera angles, graphics, lighting, transitions, and effects to tell a compelling story.

Remember, acquiring all the fancy tools is not nearly as important as learning the art of story telling. Have fun this summer with video!

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