More and more video projectors are making their way into churches worldwide. Most new media ministries will implement PowerPoint or one of the many worship software programs as their first step to using technology in their church.
After the initial novelty of using a projector for songs, announcements and sermon notes wears off, the projector is often perceived as nothing more than fancy, color overhead. At this point a church should seriously consider taking their media ministry to the next level and start producing their own videos. Fortunately, the cost of the equipment needed to create quality productions is within the reach of almost any church (see the DYS sidebar, page 51 on how to build a video editing computer).
The reason that PowerPoint becomes mundane is because of its static nature. A few things may be animated or a transition may be applied, however it looks less like television and more closely resembles a video game. Using movie files as moving backgrounds in PowerPoint is not possible because any text placed on top of the movie will not be visible when the presentation is played. The solution is to use video editing software, such as Adobe Premier or Ulead Media Studio, to create a more dynamic presentation.
Although a video editing system is fairly inexpensive to acquire, another resource necessary to produce a video may be harder to find. That precious commodity is time. Many who have become proficient at quickly assembling PowerPoint presentations will find that video production is a somewhat longer process. We are going to explore a few production resources that will not only save time during editing, but will also add a professional touch to video projects.
One of the most common techniques used for displaying text in video production is to apply a moving design as the backdrop. Creating animated backgrounds requires specialized software, a great amount of skill and an equal amount of time. There are several products available that feature pre-produced moving backgrounds for use in video editing programs. Most of the animation packages reviewed here are available in several formats:
On tape formats, such as SVHS, MiniDV and Beta SP, each animation is recorded for a certain period of time. In this case the animation is transferred from tape into a computer via its capture card. This method may be a time-saver since some of the other formats may require rendering. However, quality may be compromised from non-digital tape formats. Tape is also the format of choice for those still using linear editing systems or those using video editing appliances that do not allow file imports from a CD-ROM.
One popular format is the QuickTime movie file. QuickTime has been a standard form of video compression for many years, and many systems support this format for editing. Those who use the QuickTime format will find that it is quick and easy to import a file from a CD ROM into their video editing program.
For systems that do not support QuickTime or need files to be saved with a specific compression scheme (CODEC), animations are saved as JPG image sequences. Each frame is saved as an individual image. Since there are 30 frames per second, an animation that is 10 seconds long would consist of 300 images. A shareware program called Fast Movie Processor will compile those images and save them in a variety of formats, including avi. The frame rate, size and CODEC are all user selectable. For instance, if an image sequence were being converted for a system using a Matrox RT2000 editing card, the user would select that CODEC along with the appropriate size and frame rate. This process may take up to half an hour depending on a computer’s specifications, however this is a one-time process.
Before we review the packages, I think it is important to note an exciting discovery that I made during the review process. As I spoke with each company I informed them that their product was being reviewed for Technologies for Worship magazine. What I learned is that every company that is being reviewed is Christian owned! The creation of some of these products were originally produced for use in the church that producer attends. I found that to be very encouraging and a confirmation of what I believe God is doing in our churches. It also should motivate you (the reader) to support these companies in their efforts to offer quality resources to enhance your ministry.
Three animation products are available from Video Animation. Video Animations 1999 Edition is a collection of 317 and is available on 27 CDs or in tape format. The animations are divided into seven categories including backgrounds, landscapes and Christian animations. Sampling these animations at random revealed fine production work, although some are better than others. What makes this package a great value is the sheer number of animations for the money. Given the variety and quantity of animations available, the 1999 Edition is a good investment.
Also from Video Animations is the 2000 Edition. This collection includes 98 animations featuring a number of background designs, fireworks and lightning. Noticeable production improvements from the 1999 Edition were evident in a random sampling of these animations. As with the 1999 Edition, some of the transitions are seamlessly loop-able, which means that the animation may be used for an extended period of time as a background. For instance, if an animation is 10 seconds long and is needed for 30 seconds, it may be placed on an editing timeline 3 times but appear to be one, seamless animation.
Corporate Motion is the third animation product available from Video Animation. Twenty unique, high-quality animations are included. In addition to the background designs, several themes are offered including money and the earth. These sequences represent some of the best work produced by Video Animation. Corporate Motion is a great value to those seeking broadcast-quality production resources.
DV Logic “keeps it moving” with its DV Elements collection. There are 30 seamlessly loop-able backgrounds ranging from subtle changes to energetic beams of light. The sequences average 300 frames in length and are D1 resolution (720×486). MPEG movies are also included so that an animation may be previewed before importing. DV Elements is very affordable and on par with the production quality of the other animation products mentioned here.
One of the larger collections of video animations is produced by Digital Juice. There are 5 volumes of Jump Backs, totaling 345 animations. High Impact Volumes 1-3 each include 40 backgrounds with a variety of styles and movement. These volumes contain non-specific material, while the other two Jump Back products focus on topics. Volume 4 contains animations for wedding productions and volume 5 features sports-related material. These are network-quality animations that will give a top-notch appearance to any production.
Backgrounds need not be limited to graphic designs. MotionScapes uses a collection of scenic backgrounds produced by Royalty Free Stuff. Five volumes are offered with a total of over 250 clips from nature. There is also a sampler edition that includes one disc from each volume plus a bonus disc. These majestic scenes are perfect as backdrops during worship.
Any of these packages would be an invaluable addition to a media ministry’s resource library. Taking advantage of this high-quality material will give productions a professional look and feel while saving the producer precious time and effort.