Behind the Scenes: Video Production

If you’ve been to Riverwood just once, or even researched us a bit online, you know that we place a heavy emphasis on video. We believe that video is one of the best ways we can showcase creativity, it’s an effective ministry tool, and most importantly, it’s a special way of touching someone’s soul. We do lots of video around here. Everything from live streaming services and filming events to creating sermon illustrations and what we call, “over-offering” videos.

In any creative field, what you are trying to create will fight you every step of the way. What you are creating does not want to exist. And that fight is so much fun for me. I love the battle of dragging these videos, kicking and screaming, into existence. The sense of accomplishment when you see the videos come to life, is so satisfying…you won the battle. Let me give you a look into the frontline of this struggle.

The Setup

We have an idea, our lead pastor Todd has an idea, there are messages to be said; we need a video. Shooting an interview with someone for a sermon video— no problem at all, let’s make it happen. We grab the gear, which consists of: two cameras, audio gear, tripods, lighting, extra batteries, and lots of storage for footage. We arrive on location and our next step is to figure out framing. Believe it or not, lots of time goes into creating the seemingly perfect backgrounds. It’s not so much because we want people to say ”wow, that background looks amazing”, rather we want to create an image that looks 100% natural, so viewers focus on the subject at hand.

The Shoot

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-10-04-pm “Ready when you are!” is what we usually say. The director (usually Dennis or Zach) begins asking questions or giving pointers. As the shoot goes on we are encouraging the speaker not to worry about messing up. Some people are great on video, others have lots of bloopers and do-overs. However, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how natural someone is in front of the camera. That is the magic of video! We can capture someone’s story very effectively, without having to put them through the fear of speaking from the stage. We’ll usually shoot about 30 minutes of raw footage, while we only use probably about 3-4 minutes of that.

The Edit


Now we get to the fun part, in my opinion. This is what we are here for. The edit is where the story is crafted. It is the difference between an SD card full of footage, and a polished film. Here at Riverwood, we use multiple programs for creativity, and for video we use Adobe Premiere Pro, Plural Eyes, and Adobe After Effects. We begin with “cleaning the footage”— syncing audio, organizing thoughts, putting a very rough cut together. Then we begin to polish. This includes everything from transitions, camera angle switching, audio enhancements, music selection, colour correction, and everything else you don’t notice (but you do), when you watch the final video. When all that is done, we bring in our creative team and we watch it together. We have grown accustomed to making changes, and that’s great. We know that we need other eyes on it before it “goes to screen”. Many times the opinions of others are what make or break the video.

Winning the Battle

How do we know if a video is “good” or not? I think there are two answers to that.

We have a creative team, and part of trusting their opinion is knowing that they will always be honest. There have been times I have created videos that have not gone to screen, because we agreed that they could be much better. Humility is key. Inversely, when we create something that is amazing, we know it. We get the opinions of others.

When a video I’ve worked on appears in the service, and there are reactions (laughter, tears, smiles, etc),. That is the ultimate sense of winning the battle for me. When I can see the physical manifestation of how that video has impacted someone, how God spoke to someone through that video, I know I have done a good job.

Ultimately, when you boil it all down, forget about all the technical parts of this process, this fight… that is the goal. We setup, shoot, and edit, time and time again because we know that these videos are impacting Riverwooders, and touching their souls, using the talents God has given us to make much of His name. The war has been won.

– Cole Lazaruk, Assistant Videographer