Startup options for small churches

When small churches first start looking at expanding their media presentation, more than likely they quickly balk at the extraordinary costs involved in setting up a camera / television department. Setting up a professional system on a small budget may seem overwhelming, but with the right knowledge you can install one without having to break the bank. The following equipment recommendations are based on some of the setups we have at our satellite churches and campuses around the Kansas City Metro area.

Cameras: First, every media setup needs cameras. You can start out with one camera, but it is ideal to start with two cameras if possible – one camera to capture the main speaker/worship leader and one to capture reactions from the congregation. If you are just starting out and not sure how far you want to go with a new media department, a cheap yet functional Sony Handicam is a great starter camera. Shooting in HD, they produce a decent picture and will integrate into any video switcher as long as there is an HDMI output. Prices start at $300. If you want a little more bang for your buck, the Sony HXR-MC2000 is a great, professional looking camera that will deliver a better quality picture than the Handicam. The Sony HXR-MC2000 starts at $1650.

Tripod: Any electronics store will sell basic tripods for cameras… beware though. These tripods are meant for photo cameras and will NOT give you the fluid movement that is needed for video. Instead, a cheap Libec tripod is a great starter option. Libec makes a solid tripod: prices start at $150 and increase depending on the quality that you are looking for.

Switcher: Once you have cameras in place, you will need a video switcher to switch the recording from one camera to another. (More information on the benefits of a multi-camera setup will be discussed in a later blog). Again, there are some things to be aware of. Your local electronics store will probably sell a video switcher for upwards of $50. Tempting as it is, these switchers will not work. When you use these, the recording will go black for several seconds every time you switch the camera angle. These are made for home theater setups, not for video production. Your best bet is to go with a Black Magic Atem 4k Production Studio. This slim switcher starts at $1700 and has inputs for multiple cameras and audio, plus has numerous outputs for recording, screens, etc. You can switch cameras directly from the switcher or via the included software.

Media production equipment costs vary widely depending on the quality you are looking for and the price you are willing to pay. Every church has different needs, so make sure to conduct extensive research before you buy. If you have any questions, feel free to message me and I will be happy to help you.

Equipment:

Sony HXR-MC2000: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/745707-REG/Sony_HXR_MC2000U_HXR_MC2000U_Shoulder_Mount_AVCHD.html

Sony Handicam HDR-CX-200: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/909745-REG/Sony_hdr_cx220_b_HDR_CX220_HD_Handycam_Camcorder.html

Black Magic Atem 4k Production Studio: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/atemproductionstudio4k

Libec Tripod: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/628720-REG/Libec_TH_650DV_TH_650DV_Head_Tripod_with_Brace.html

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Written by David Belich
David Belich is the Media Director at World Revival Church, and an avid technophile. David has a passion to grow the kingdom of God by helping churches utilize media and emerging technologies more effectively.