I hope you have been able to watch daily and Sunday Mass on St Pascal’s YouTube channel. If not, you can find the YouTube channel here or you can “like” the St Pascal’s Facebook page where we post a link to the Mass videos every day. Today I wanted to take you behind the scenes to know how we have been producing the videos.
For daily Mass or prayer service, the person leading the service uses a tripod and records the service on their cell phone. In Fr John’s case that is an iPhone 7, and for myself that is a Moto G7. When Fr John is done he uploads the video to a Google cloud drive that he and I share. I then pull the video file down and post it to Youtube usually as is. From my phone, the video can be posted directly to the YouTube channel. On occasion, one of us makes a mistake or runs out of storage capacity on our phone and I have to edit multiple videos together using video editing software before posting to YouTube.
We have tried different methods of picking up the audio and have found that the internal microphones in the cell phones work very well. Fr John has used a directly connected microphone or more recently some AirPods for recording the audio. This method of audio recording is better, but the logistics can make it hard to use. The lighting in the Church is quite bright and provides for well-lit videos. When recording in the chapel we have had to add some extra lighting and are using some old lamps I brought in from home. Here is a picture of the setup for the last prayer service recorded in the chapel.
For Sunday Masses we record the Mass Friday morning to give time for video editing and for an American Sign Language version to be done by Saturday afternoon. We have put an extra ambo in the worship area so nobody shares an ambo. The video is still recorded using a cell phone, my Moto G7, as we have not been able to find another readily available and free way of doing this. We have experimented with having the sound system on, off, dedicated microphones, and trying to patch into the sound system (which has not been successful). After all the playing around it was determined that the internal microphone of the cell phone gives the best results. We go through the Mass in proper order and place the cell phone that is on a tripod in different locations that are close to those speaking or singing. In some cases, the cantor will stand off-screen near the cell phone for better pickup of their voice. We will record a particular part of the mass (greeting, the opening song, readings, psalm, Eucharistic prayer, etc…) and stop, reposition the tripod and cell phone and record the next part. It actually flows pretty well and quickly and we can record the mass in a little over an hour. Here is a picture from our Sunday Mass production for this upcoming Sunday’s Mass (Fourth Sunday of Easter).
Once all the video clips are shot, I go home and move the video files from my cell phone to a Linux workstation using a USB-C cable for speed. On the workstation, OpenShot video editing software is used to put the video pieces together, add music lyrics, cut and trim, and any other editing that needs to be done to create a full Mass video. The final video is generated targeting an HD YouTube format (720x1280) and takes about 2 hours to generate. This is when I usually go for a bike ride or walk!
When the Mass video is generated correctly it is uploaded to YouTube on Friday afternoon and kept private so nobody can view it ahead of time. The video is shared with Pamela Wilkens for her to sign it in American Sign Language. She uses her cell phone to video herself watching and signing the Mass video. Her video is uploaded to our shared cloud drive and I pull it down. Using OpenShot video software, the video of her signing Mass is placed in the lower-left corner of the Mass video and a second video is generated and uploaded to YouTube.
On Saturday afternoon, about 4 pm I release the Mass videos to the public on YouTube and post the link to our Facebook page. Julie and I have been watching the Mass video on Sunday mornings and have found watching Mass helps keep us connected to the Parish and the celebration of Mass.
The viewing traffic for our more recent Sunday Mass was 377 views for the non-ASL version and 192 views for the ASL version. Daily services have from 70-100 views. We are glad that so many people are able to view and watch Mass via video, and all this traffic has made us wonder if being able to provide live and recorded video of Masses might be something St Pascal’s would continue in the future as part of our parish ministry. The cost to set up a more professional system for live recording is expensive and there would be a need for trained volunteers to run the system during Mass. Let us know what you think!
Needless to say, Fr John and I have learned a lot about video production and YouTube in the last weeks. We would really like to thank those that have come in to sing, read, and play the piano for our Sunday Mass videos. I would also thank my son John who has answered many of my questions about video production. Many thanks to those that have shown their support for the videos and for those that have provided helpful feedback on the videos.
Peace, blessings, prayers