Inspiration: Talking Head Testimony

Here is a collection of some of my favorite talking head shots used by churches for testimonies and more. It can be a powerful way to tell a story. It gives distinct advantages to live testimonies; exact timing (no rambling), utilizes an array of media to help give power to the story (music, photography, art, etc.), and it allows you to help craft and perfect the story through editing. I don’t know if you employ the use of video testimonies in your church but I would recommend it.

Here are few tips when creating your talking head testimony.
1. Story is paramount. A great story can make up for other lacking areas (produciton, video quality, sound). But conversely bad production can hinder the power of a story.
2. Lighting will help tell the story. Use what you have or can get a hold of to light the subject of the video (work lights, paper lanterns, etc).
3. Get the best quality sound you can. A shotgun mic is best but other mics can be used. Do not, I repeat do not use the onboard camera mic unless you are with in 12 inches of the subject.
4. Get good b-roll and cut shots. Yes you can do it with out but b-roll will help smooth over transitions as well as reenforce story ideas and help move the story from A to B.
5. Never stop recording. 99% of the time people say the greatest lines the moment after you stop recording. You can always edit out the useless stuff but you can’t recapture real moments. A little trick I use is to tape over every and all red lights on the camera so that no one knows when it is recording.

All the videos below are great examples to help inspire you.
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Poll: How Does Your Church Manage Their Bulletins/Worship Folders

Bulletins are pretty much a staple at most every church.  They are the gateway to your church’s information, branding, and so much more.  It is a handheld central hub that your church gives to just about every person that walks through the door.  What you place in their hands says a lot about your church; design, information, quality, and more all represent an impression of who you are, what you believe, and the direction you are heading.  So my question is what does your church do to manage, prepare, print, and so forth your bulletins/worship folders.  I am shocked to see the lack of really good bulletin/worship folder resources online – mostly bad shells, clunky designs and formatting and so on but to have a custom template/shell can turn into a rather hefty price tag.  Fill out the poll if you will and also feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, past experiences in the comments below.  Also if you choose “Other” from the poll please elaborate in the comment box below.

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Where Have You Been????

Man oh man it has been like 2 weeks since I have blogged. I have tweeted sparsely and updated my Facebook the same in this dry spell of social media. Suffice it to say that I just plain became busy and overwhelmed with everything I put on my plate that the Loch Ness Monster would have been easier to find than free time. My wife is a saint for putting up with me or the lack of me for about 2 weeks when it all happened at once. I’ve often joked that I not only burn the candle at both ends but quite frequently light the sucker from the middle as well. While in school (which I started 4 years later than the rest of my high school class) I double majored through the Honors program, at one point worked 3 part time jobs, and finally one full time job, drove an hour to and an hour from school and somehow managed to get married, move twice, and write my thesis while finding some time to sleep (if i had bought stock in Starbucks coffee and 5 hour energy drinks I would have made back all the money I spent on the stuff). So unfortunately this is not a new thing for me.
When I first began to plan our Easter Production I dreamed big and shot for the stars. I talked enough about the idea that I began to realize I better figure out a way to back up all the talk (I was completely in over my head). My idea was to present our wonderful choir and combine it with media. Two worlds that had not come together that much here at Grace Church. The last Easter Production we did – 2 years ago – was more of a full blown passion play. While it went over with great success I wanted to try something different this time. I wanted to leverage the power of media to creatively share the message of Easter. All the while bringing quality music and choir to the mix.

My whole idea was to feature our Choir center stage and have a screen or something immerse them as then worship. I rolled around the ideas of a large projection screen, environmental projection, lighting, and more. I have worked with Maxx Technologies out of Franklin TN, on other projects and have some friends who work closely with them so I asked them what they could manage within our budget to create a wonderful experience. What we settled on was a 14’x8′ Winvision LED Video wall and 14 LED par can lights to help create mood. Now I was surprised it worked in our budget to be honest – and as it turned out it was just coincidence that they had one for that weekend. We were officially the first customer to use it as they had a tour leaving the Monday after our production taking it. So I am not asking questions, I just know it worked out perfectly.

Now to some that may sound like a ton, to others it may sound like their normal Sunday service. Let me put it in perspective for us. We don’t have real lighting. We have 5 individual dimmers controlling our outdoor flood lights that light our stage. We have 2 dimmers on the other side of our sanctinasium that control our former gym lights that we converted to be able to dim them (basically removed the ballasts and used 500 watt incandescent bulbs). We have a somewhat large 4:3 screen but gets lost because of the size of wall behind it. It is actually about 10′ wide but there is 22′ of wall so it doesn’t look as immersive. So when this became reality and we had 20′ of that 22′ wall covered by LED screen and trussing it was visually stunning. The lights gave us something we never had before – control of our lights from a central location! Imagine the ability to blackout with one fader, to direct the congregations attention with light rather than just all on or all off (and not all turning off all at once).

We created songtracks for every song in the production. Each timed out with a click track so everything worked together. We filmed members of our staff telling the story of the crucifixion and resurrection from different points of view: the centurion, the thief, Pilot, and Mary Magdalene. These monologues were interwoven in-between appropriate songs and added a lot of power plus a plot and a story movement from beginning to end. But the most powerful moments came when we sang “You Humble Me” while we timed scenes from the Passion of the Christ behind the choir and band. To be completely honest – I was not a fan of that movie in general. I felt it lacked movement from beginning of the story to the end – movie wise it was an OK movie but story wise, well, its the greatest story ever told and it has great moments of emotion and depiction that go well beyond anything that has been done previous. Needless to say picking specific scenes and putting it to powerful music well just plain worked. It was powerful as was the whole night.

Anyway that is where I was for the past few weeks, working on the production, rehearsing Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, all the while working like a dog on the videos because my laptop hard drive crashed and I had to recreate a number of the media we used. But God saw me through and worked through everyone involved. And that was really our prayer, even though it would seem at first to be a “production” being all that technology that is new to us, we wanted to point towards Christ and leverage the power that lighting, video, and music can have to share the Greatest Story Ever Told.
I will post pictures and video as I get through all of it to share what God has been doing here at Grace Church. And I will catch up on sharing our past set lists as well… I promise.

COMPUTER DOWN!!!!!

Ok so press the panic button! No really, do it! Yeah, go, break the glass and press it!!!! This is not a drill (insert your best surrealist René Magritte comment here)!  My Computer is not resonding!!!

Today started with that annoying buzz of my alarm clock followed by aches and pains familiar to the flu – great.  So after waking up to find my body feeling as if I had been run over by an 18 wheeler while being punched in the gut by a gang of porcupine ninjas (don’t worry the truck took a few of them out as well), I arrive at my office to find a unresponsive computer holding all of my files for our upcoming Easter production – of course today is backup day for my apple time machine but if the computer won’t start, you can’t back it up.  So like any other computer addicted Apple fanatic I begin to curse the computer and want with every fiber of my being to cry out to the heavens as I reenact the best scene from the movie Office Space, WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I calm myself by thinking that God may smite me or at least banish me to the 5th or 6th layer of hell for speaking so ill of an mac (I mean remember last time someone took a chunk out of an apple).  I even call the Benny Hinn Ministries hotline for help – I am currently on hold listening to some pretty nice muzak.

After I had some time to enjoy Kenny G ish renditions of popular and beloved Christian Pop music I began to think about the sparrows and the lilies of the field.  And in my frantic state of disbelief that God could forsake my beloved Apple Computer I come across some scribble that I wrote through the whole planning of our Easter production.  It read, God’s Love and Grace is larger and greater than any multimedia presentation could ever present.  I had to sit back and remember that even though I have large plans for how I want this to work out, God’s plan may be something greater.  I don’t know how I will proceed from here but I know that I am stronger than any attack from Satan if I am resting in the hands of the Father.  Not my will Lord, but Yours be done.

Now I have to go wash my hands as I just wrote this whole thing on a PC. ugk!

Going on a Media Fast for the Weekend – Please Pray, I’m Going Amish…

Ok this was supposed to post last Friday but I messed up the scheduling feature.  It never got fixed because I honestly disconnected from everything but here it is anyway.

My wife and I are getting away for the weekend.  We are heading to Gatlinburg to spend the weekend in a cabin and just relax.  I realize that with my job and obsession with technology I spend way too much time on my computer, twitter, facebook, iPhone, and what have you.  My wife often gets perturbed with my constant “connection” to outside world and lack of one, at times, with her.  I am certain that my walk with Christ is suffering as well.  So for this weekend I will be turning off my iPhone, auto-responding my emails, neglecting twitter, and put a pause on blogging (even though this is a baby blog and posting something everyday is a good way to help garner readers).  If you notice the time and date of this post you may say wait a minute he is supposed to be on a media fast.  Alas, fear not for I wrote this last night before going to bed (cause I waited till the last min to do laundry and pack) and posted it to publish later.  As I embark tomorrow I will only make a few necessary phone calls to make sure all is in place and taken care of for our weekend services then shut off my phone and let the weekend begin.

I plan to share my experience through my blog.  I hope you come back to check out how an über connected guy can pull the plugs for a few days to better the real relationships in his life – not just the digital ones. (and p.s. this is Wild Card Weekend and the 2 hour premier of Chuck will be on – I sure picked a tough weekend to do this…)

So I leave with Bible in hand, my wife by my side, a few good books and a completely open mind to see what God can and will teach me through this weekend – oh and i will be doing a good amount of snowboarding too.  Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers and maybe this can become a good thing for me and for the church today.