New series promo – White Flag

There are times when we get into preparations for a new series at Seacoast Church that the metaphors come very easily; so was the case as we ramped up for our next teaching series, White Flag; based on the premise that to truly find victory in Christ, we must surrender our own will and ways to his.

From the time that we were able to confirm that this series would start just two weeks after Easter, we knew that our leadership wanted to be able to promote the series during the Easter weekend services when we would be likely to have many visitors.

I love it when we have the margin to create a good ‘teaser video’ and when the focal point is so simple… a white flag of surrender.

Here’s a peek at what we came up with and also a look behind the scenes from our shoot day:


Special thanks to my cinematographer, Adam Erickson and great actor, Shawn Leberkinght.

Technical specs:

Camera: Sony FS100
Lens: Canon 35mm, 1.4
Edit: Final Cut 7
Color Grading: Magic Bullet Looks, Gorilla Grain

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Tips for Church Video Announcements

ImageI recently checked my stats and was surprised to find out how many people land here looking for information about doing church video announcements. I love helping churches communicate well! So, getting back to my intent for this to be a resource for other church media producers, I submit the following video announcement tips:

Keep them short – It seems that no matter when you do announcements, they can be a bit of a buzz-kill; keep them short and to the point.

Keep your ‘open’ short – I’ve seen some examples of video announcements where the opening sequence is as long as the announcements themselves. Give the piece a quick pop of branding and get to the important stuff.

Make them matter – You can’t read the entire bulletin in that time (or at least you shouldn’t), so use the medium for the most important bits of information. I’m a believer that people don’t retain more than 2-3 items any way.

Use good talent – Find someone who is comfortable in front of the camera and can communicate well. Even better, find 2 or 3 good people and do more of a rotation so that things don’t get predictable or monotonous.

Use text to back up what is being said – In every crowd, you will have a certain amount of people that are visual learners; simple text graphics that back up important dates, times, and web adresses can really help people remember what is coming up.

Good audio – This means investing in a good microphone so that your talent and the script can be understood, and also a good mix of music in the edit process.

Action steps – Give your viewers something to act on. “Sign up in the lobby”, “Register for the seminar on our website”, etc. I have found that the more that you encourage people to get involved, they will.

Visuals and B-roll – Don’t just move a talking head from the stage to the screen; tell a story! Use video and pictures to help get the point across. Visuals make anything much more ‘watchable’.

Majority – Make sure that what you’re announcing is going to appeal to most of your congregation.

Celebrate – Don’t just use the time for calendar fodder, shoot video of a big church event and put together a short highlight reel to use during your announcements. This is a great way to show people what the life of the church looks like beyond the weekend. (this will also give you great footage to use for promoting the event the next time it rolls around)

Plan ahead – Get out in front of the calendar as best you can so that you can properly plan to promote or celebrate things well. I’ve seen great ideas become mediocre executions simply because there wasn’t enough time to really knock things out of the park.

COMMUNICATE – Sorry for the bold caps, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves with what I see other churches do; all too often it seems that video announcements become the poorly produced, missed attempt at church comedy, and nothing really gets communicated. Think about what a first-time visitor will learn about your church, consider what really needs to be said for people to retain the information, and don’t waste time. It takes time to produce good video and it takes up time in your church service – Do your best to communicate WELL.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, just some guidelines to help folks use the medium better. Do you have one to add here? (Questions are welcome too!)

Editors note: If your church is doing video announcements or even considering doing them, do yourself a favor and go listen to this podcast from Church on the Move; Incredible insights on the “why” of video announcements.

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What does favor look like?

I was flying back to Charleston after a business trip recently and after the boarding process found myself in a row with an empty seat between myself at the window and an older gentleman on the aisle. As the flight attendant announced that the door had been closed, the older gentleman leaned over and said, “Looks like we’re living right!”, in reference to having what appeared to be the only empty seat on the plane in our row, thus allowing a little extra space.

I simply responded with a nod and a smile…

If ‘living right’ means my row-mate and I were and being rewarded with a little extra elbow room, did that mean that the rest of the passengers were living wrong? Of course not, but in my extra-tired state, this short exchange got me thinking…

Why do we seem to default to thinking that good circumstances mean that we are good with God and bad circumstances mean we’ve somehow fallen out of favor?

I guess I’m still learning to understand that even when things don’t seem to be going my way that God is still working on my behalf, still sending His Spirit to draw me closer, and still loving me beyond all that I can ask or imagine.

For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

I’m learning to find comfort in this scripture. His correction may not always look like I think it should… actually, probably never will… but, He knows best how to bless or correct me, and I’m okay with that.

How is God blessing or correcting you lately?

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Are you sure you want to do video announcements?

My tribute to all of my ‘talented’ folks who always get it right the FIRST time.

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11% Day

It has been said that we humans are using less than 10% of our brains. I was never much of a science-person so I have no idea how such a figure is even quantified… whatever.

Stay with me…

When I have a day off, I like to spend the morning by myself; I make a pot of coffee (yes, a whole pot), listen to some odd ball music, and read. Sometimes its the bible, other times it’s something that just stretches my thinking… it’s my version of ‘sabbath‘.

What I realized recently is on that days like this, I find new levels of clarity… new levels of creativity… it’s like I blew right past the 10% mark and am actually using upwards of 11% of my brain and it FEELS AMAZING!

Why is that?

It’s as if we can get so bogged down in all of the routines, the rigamarole, the requests, the highs and the lows of any given day –> week –> month, that our brains just become numb to anything outside of what directly in front of us.

I’m not okay with this.

We have to be able to hit the pause button. I’m convinced that prolonged exposure to the race that is our lives can be paralyzing.

Do you feel stuck? Like you haven’t had on original thought in months? When was the last time that you had a few hours to just relax? A day when you didn’t have people taxing every waking moment? Some time to just connect with God without a list of tasks involved?

I’m no prophet, but I can tell you that without a good rest every now and then, you will burn out… or spin out of control. Your effectiveness to “do ministry” will come to an end… and sadly, you’ll act like you never saw it coming.

We need boundaries. You have to be able to unapologetically guard some time to re-charge. Having a sabbath made the top ten in God’s rules… just sayin’.

- Sent from my brain on an 11% day.

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A21 Project

In another instance of being inspired by a great location (never stop scouting!), here is a piece I put together for the A21 Campaign, which is an organization started by Christine Caine that hopes to abolish human trafficking in the 21st. century.

This picture is of an odd little brick building on the backside of a public park on Sullivan’s Island, SC. I have no idea what the place is or what it might have been, but it served a the perfect setting to depict a nasty stash house for part of my video. I went solo here on a Sony FS100 equipped with a Canon 24-70mm lens.

The spoken word portion was shot in a studio setting with a pair of Sony FS100s; 1 on a tripod with a Canon 24-70mm lens and the second with the Sony kit lens on a Kessler crane for good cut-aways.

Special thanks to Chris Russo for his amazing talent in writing and performing such an intense piece, and Adam Erickson for running the jib in the studio.

The edit went down on Final Cut 7 with color grading in Magic Bullet Looks.

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Out take therapy

Oh, looky there… a blog!

This poor little slice of the internet has been so neglected. I really need to get back in the habit of regular posts. My apologies to the 2 or 3 of you who noticed that I’ve been so absent here.

So, I’ll kick things back off with a little slice of something from work today; When we roll the video announcements during the weekend services, they’re all polished and nice. Ever wonder what happens to the parts that didn’t go so well?

Thanks for being a good sport, Lauren!


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