The current COVID situation has led to many churches having to change the way they communicate with their community. I have been asked to assist a number of clients achieve better quality outcomes and so will share from my experiences in the South African context. There are literally hundreds of options out there, but below are a selection that I have found work well.
At this stage many churches are using what we call Simul-Live content – video and audio recorded ahead of time, then edited and uploaded to YouTube/Facebook/Website for a future scheduled event. The advantage of this over pure live streaming is that you have time to edit your content and so have good control over the outcomes. Less technology and expertise is required to achieve this compared to Live Streaming. I will be writing another blog on Live Streaming shortly – so keep an eye out for that!
Low cost audio and Video Solutions
The current generation of iPhones and top end Android phones have excellent video quality right in your pocket! So for a lot of applications this is all you need for the video component of your content. Some Macbooks and PC laptops also have good cameras built in .
Recording audio from your phone is generally not great however! Adding a dedicated microphone to your setup will make a huge difference. Ideally we want to minimise the distance from the voice source to the microphone. This results in a far better quality recording – the voice will be much “fuller” sounding and also is less influenced by the acoustics of the environment – which are often not ideal. What I have found working well for many is to record the video on your phone and at the same time record the audio to a laptop or ipad using a USB microphone or sound card.
There are a huge range of options in microphones:
- Entry option: Samson C01U Pro USB microphone. This mic is cost effective and connects via USB directly to your laptop. The sound quality is decent for the price. Approx R1995 http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/microphones/usb-microphones/c01upro/
- Quality option: The Yeti by Blue Mic is an industry standard for voice and podcast applications. It also connects directly using USB and sounds great! Approx R4200 https://www.bluedesigns.com/products/yeti/
- If you are looking for more flexibility and quality inputs and outputs the Focusrite Scarlet Studio package offers all you need on the audio side. A 2in 2out quality USB sound card, a decent condenser mic and a nice set of headphones for monitoring and mixing make for an excellent package! For those interested in more extensive recording Focustrite has partnered with ProTools and Ableton to offer LE versions of their software as well as a ton of free excellent plugins! Approx R4700 https://focusrite.com/en/usb-audio-interface/scarlett/scarlett-solo-studio Just add a mic stand to this.
In terms of recording your audio there are a number of quality free software options:
- Audacity works on PC and Mac and is free and really easy to use. Ideal for single track recording. For many this is all you need! https://www.audacityteam.org/
- The Blue Mics have a “studio” version which comes with a copy of Presonus Studio recording software. This offers excellent value and expands your options with multitack professional package. So consider if in the market for the Blue Mics
- The Focusrite options come with free light versions of Protools and /or Ableton. Ideal for multitrack projects too.
The Recording process
For video ideally we want a well lit space. Natural diffused light is always best and its free! If natural light not an option any well lit space can work, but they avoid a range of light bulbs in the same space of different white balance 😊
For your phone ideally you want a stand to hold it in place, but a camera tripod and some Prestik works well 😊
Then also try position the mic close to your mouth – this minimises the affect of poor acoustics and gives a fuller sound, but avoid direct breath on the capsule as this causes popping sounds.
Once all set just hit record on the audio software and the phone. You want to save the audio to a WAV file. 44.1khz 16 bit mono is fine for voice.
Video Editing Software
Once you are done you can copy both video and audio files onto your computer. You will need some video editing software to bring both together and trim the beginning and ends of your take.
For Mac users IMovie can do the job as is a simple programme to use.
Davinci Resolve is a professional video editing option for PC and Mac and its 100% free! https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/sa/products/davinciresolve/
Both options first drop in your video take, then drop in the quality audio. Line then up to sync the audio and video. Then mute the cellphone audio track (linked to the video) as you don’t want to hear that. Finally you can export the movie and upload to YouTube or Facebook 😊
For YouTube Premieres https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/9080341
For Facebook Premiere https://www.facebook.com/business/help/580544922399103?id=214359809769375
Taking it up a notch:
If you are looking to improve your video you can look to add some lights to your setup. Construction work lights from Builders Warehouse are cheap and effective – add a piece of white paper if front of the lamps to diffuse the light😊
The next step up from this would be Prosumer grade CamCorders such as the Canon Legria HF-G26 (R14 695)
For high quality video you can consider a mirrorless camera or the BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Cameras offer excellent video outcomes. These options require a camera body and an additional lens. Budget R20K and upwards. https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/sa/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera
Other audio options for consideration:
- Wireless lapel or headset. The Sennheiser XSW1 series offers both as a package. The receiver could go to a USB sound card like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo or direct to camera if your camera has a decent audio input. https://en-us.sennheiser.com/wireless-lavalier-microphone-vocal-presentation-xsw-1-me2
- Rode make a great range of quality solutions – check out https://wirelessgo.rode.com/
- If you want to record a few different inputs at once the Yamaha AG06 and the Roland GoMixer are popular choices that can connect to your phone/ipad or computer. https://europe.yamaha.com/en/products/music_production/interfaces/ag_series/ag06.html https://www.roland.com/global/products/gomixer/
- For total portable recording of audio the Zoom H1N handheld portable recorder is an excellent option to consider https://www.zoom-na.com/products/field-video-recording/field-recording/zoom-h1n-handy-recorder
Treating the acoustics of your space
If you are regularly recording in the same space I suggest considering the option of improving the acoustics too. We make a variety of custom acoustic panels that will make a huge difference without breaking the bank. https://sonicav.co/services#acoustics
Sonic AV is able to provide all the products I’ve mentioned in this blog, but more importantly we want to assist you with making the correct choices for your context. We are also able to offer training on any aspect of this process.