During my vacation (last week of 2011), I visited the church my best friend attends in PA and got a chance to meet the elder in charge of operational items for the church. My bro plugged me and what I’ve been doing with MMM and we got into a quick conversation about the church’s move into TV/broadcasting that they expect for this year. In listening, I started to ask why they are looking to go broadcasting, but changed my question to something a bit different. This is a paraphrase of what I proposed to him:
A TV/broadcast ministry for the size of church that you have will need probably about 5-6 dedicated people. You’ll want 2 camera persons, a video tech, a sound tech, and then a production manager to keep all of those together. You’ll probably need to have one of those persons, if not someone (or 2) else to take the content and do any further graphic/sound editing to the final product. And then there’s likely someone on that team, if not another team entirely that is going to be responsible for putting it on a website and making it “press ready” for other local stakeholders who’d want to rebroadcast it. That’s a lot of folks.
Many of the members have mobile devices (feature phone, smartphones, and tablets were all visible during the service I attended). Why not create mobile media (mobimedia) teams in which people can sign up and do one of three things: recording video, recording audio, and taking still pictures. Ideally, you’d want to make sure that you keep the groups mixed so that the devices are being used within their best capacity, but then you end up with the people who are part of your community, giving a view of a service or event from their perspective, not just the one that’s most camera friendly.
You would then have just two positions to create for the community: a production designer/manager who would be responsible for taking all of the content from the devices, and then creating the “official” video that goes public, and a public relations-like person who would field questions/comments from the public/stakeholders.
When I proposed this to that elder, it was like a light bulb went off. He never considered that (a) the normal design of doing multimedia would need so many layers of people and processes and that (b) it would be possible to include the community in such a way that they’d have a greater sense of ownership of the community and the preached Gospel message.
Now, there are a few things here. You aren’t going to get RED camera quality video or Dolby quality audio from everyone’s mobiles, so you’d want to make sure that you have some kind of grid that would allow you to see the quality of video/audio/stills so that you can organize your teams appropriately. Then again, there was this movie shot entirely on a Nokia N8, so quality isn’t really a question right?
You’d want to make sure that you design a policy that allows people to keep whatever they record, but with the statement that if they make their’s public that it cannot be considered official content from the church. So, you might have a Flickr/YouTube gallery that they would all upload the pics/videos to, but then have something of an official “set” that becomes the public-facing gallery. You’d also have some streams for training that would have to be taken up. For example, you’d definitely want to do a workshop talking about how to best take photos/videos during a service (mindful of flash, camera sounds, zoom, etc.). There might only be a few folks who can do this well in your churches now, but what if that few turned into a few folks from your teen, college, and senior ministries? Considering that many mobiles really are just fine in doing this, these are the kinds of thoughts you’d want to have going into it.
I’m of the opinion that mobiles and people are ready for doing this. But, if I’m to pull this off, I’d have to start a church or something to prove it (uhmmm, the people formerly known as congregation) or just point to those folks already doing it in similar genres (Mobile Media Toolkit, hint, hint).
So, now I throw this one out there to you. Some of you are in churches of similar size (<250 people) and have similar contexts (cable channel access, many mobile devices, need to provoke greater involvement from community, etc.). Couldn’t this work for you? And if it couldn’t (because there’s some unspoken rule about using the latest greatest cameras/tools/tech, this is just not normal, we don’t have money/resources, etc.), then why?