Avoid the Cheese

Making Your Video Production Less Cheesy

With the growth of computer processing power, and the falling prices of hardware and software, the good news is that the ability to do video production is available to the masses. The bad news is that the ability to do video production is available to the masses. With such great video editing tools in our hands, why are so many of the video presentations we see in our churches so...well... cheesy?

Here are some of the most common mistakes that I see in ministry videos. Let’s band together and vanquish the cheese from the realm of our videos.

1. Too Many Random Transitions Are Cheesy

Use restraint in choosing transitions. Most video editing programs come with enough video transitions options to choke a horse, and a novice video editor will feel the need to experiment with all of them in his video production. This, however, does not make for a high quality video. If there is anything that screams “cheesy” when watching a video, it is the random use of weird and off-the-wall transitions between shots. 

For 99% of video editing, the only transitions that you need are straight “cuts” for faster moving, higher energy videos, or dissolves for slower moving, more emotional videos.

2. Wrong Music Is Cheesy

Music is one of the most powerful elements of a video. It gives emotion to the video and tells the audience how to feel about what they are seeing. In ministry videos, I have noticed a tendency to pick overly-dramatic music. Choose something that is appropriate for the emotion that you are trying to create.

3. Poor Audio Is Cheesy

Good audio is always important to a video—especially in interview pieces. The microphone that is built into your camera is almost never the right choice for recording good audio. That leaves you with two basic choices: a separate microphone that plugs into your camera, or a completely separate recording device. We use the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder for most of our productions and it works great, but you do have to sync the audio and video together in editing.

4. Poor Lighting Is Cheesy

When you shoot an interview or other video, take time to set up lighting. If you can afford to get a nice light kit you should, but your lighting does not have to be expensive studio lighting. Most of the time you can use shop lights from a hardware store. If you do that, you should diffuse the light by bouncing it off of a wall or a white poster board. I have also tried covering them with parchment paper—but that ended in a small fire.

You should also learn about three-point lighting. You can watch a video about it here.

5. Shoulder-Mounted Shooting Is Cheesy

For the vast majority of video shooting, you should use a tripod. You might also consider using a jib or a track and dolly.

There are several more cheesy video habits, but these five are the most common. What cheesy habits have you seen? Let me know in the comments.

February 05, 2011

Jeremy Lofgren

Media Department Director at Lancaster Baptist Church

Other Articles by Jeremy Lofgren

Media & Technology
Media, Video

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When using the correct cable, one can record rather good audio and video with an iphone and a wireless lapel microphone. I have also been able to use a microphone stand to hold the phone by placing it directly into the microphone clip.

Thank you for the helpful thoughts on video. Great article.

Not enhancing the color in our video causes it to come across as low-quality. The enhancemnent of contrast and lighting in post-editing really helps.

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doing some color correction on each shot that you use can really help a video to feel polished. It can take a lot of time, but it is worth it, especially for a larger, more important project.

Choppy or obvious pans and zooms stick out to me. An otherwise sharp video instantly looks like a hi-8 recording of a birthday party. This is often the result of editing--or a loud siren declaring that no editing has taken place at all.

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That is a good point as well. Too many times people feel like they have to either be zooming in or out, when that is rarely best.

It is also good to remember that, in order to avoid these things, you need time to plan, shoot, and edit as well. Last minute projects will never be as good as they could have been.

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That is absolutely true. Good video work requires a lot of time in both planning and execution.

We just started playing with video. Appreciate the wisdom.