Behind the scenes: Filming worship

News | May 8, 2020

It’s 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning, and worship is underway.

Chris Nelson takes his turn at the organ. Bill Campbell slides onto the piano bench. A pastor stands in the Sanctuary to deliver a sermon. Prayers are said, as is a children’s message, too. It’s all different though. Each segment is done separately. Cameras are rolling, lights enhance the natural lighting in the space. And the Sanctuary? It’s empty — mostly.

Miles Thompson is behind the camera. A St. Paul member, he is also a videographer. For the first Sunday after St. Paul decided to suspend worship, staff put together a video in one day. As soon as the idea emerged about Miles creating the videos, it’s been Miles at the camera ever since.

“I can’t just sit here and just hang out,” he said of the church he loves going to all online delivery for worship.

Each week, on Monday, Chris Nelson, organist and director of music ministries, sends out an order of worship and schedule for taping. One of the biggest differences, he said, is that St. Paul now has one worship service instead of four. “What are the important things for St. Paul and the worship that we do? How do we include all of that in one worship succinctly?” Chris said.

“We want to be mindful of what everyone offers on a Sunday morning. I think we’ve made a bona fide effort to keep connecting with our members. We’re not really straying from who we are. Our online identity is not different than our in-person identity. I like that people have a closer view of what is happening.”

“But I miss the connections with people,” he said.

Taping usually takes 6-10 hours a week, Miles said. Editing/producing is anywhere from 15-20 hours. Holy Week was an exception to that, with two additional services and additional time spent on Easter morning worship. Miles is enjoying being a part of a team effort, he added. “I really like to brainstorm, find that creativity, and make something — together.”

One favorite highlight from the past few weeks? A split screen on the Easter morning organ postlude. St. Paul got to see Chris Nelson’s feet in action — with fancy socks included.

Growing up, Miles’ mom was known as the person who took photos of everybody’s kids — at sporting events, musical performances, all sorts of events. She had her own small company that made some money off of her work. As Miles and his sister, Mackenzie Nash, entered the professional world, they decided to give the photography/videography business a try together.

Miles, who uses Adobe’s Premiere Pro to edit his work, learned the software by watching a lot of “YouTube University,” he said. He taught himself lighting and composition, as well as incorporating drone footage to help make videos really soar.

While video recording worship for online purposes is something that St. Paul has never done, Chris believes “we’ve done our best. It’s important for people to know that we don’t throw this together willy-nilly each week. It’s a process,” he said. “I’m thankful for everyone who has participated in it and have added to the experience.”

5 Comments on “Behind the scenes: Filming worship”

  • Jane Strittmater

    May 21, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Steve and I have really enjoyed the online service on Sunday mornings – since we can’t be there in person. Thank you all for your talent and creativity in doing this each week.

  • Richard Hagglund

    May 15, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    These on-line services are so well done and of such quality. If we cannot be there in person each Sunday, this is the very best next thing. In fact, I am archiving each and every service for posterity. As one day, this crisis will pass and I will be able to reflect on just how meaningful and important every service was to this congregation. Thank you again, for such a tremendous and spiritual effort on behalf of all of us.

  • Tami Hurd

    May 14, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Miles & all, THANK YOU, for the efforts that so clearly go into our weekly online services. I love them and so appreciate your hard work and thoughtful messages and music. Please keep them coming!

  • Erin Fitzsimmons

    May 14, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    I attended a church that called the group that put the online media and content for the services together the Tech Arts Ministry, the leader was from a news station. This was in Wisconsin. There was a whole team. God is working through you, especially on COVID quarantine’s short notice! Thank you for all you do, you are amazing!

  • Sue Grove

    May 9, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Your love and care show! Thanks so much for being there for all of us.

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