How we do what we do!

Andy B and Jo Jo in front of the camera
Andy B and Jo Jo in front of the camera

Andy B has always been fairly technically minded so when Covid-19 hit the world, it wasn’t too great a stretch to start creating videos that were easily accessible to a wide range of people.

At that point Andy B and Jo Jo were full time Children’s Ministers in a church. Although that job quickly ground to a halt during Covid-19, a fire was lit in their hearts, and BerryBunch.family was born!

Along with it came Little Blessings Online; Something 4 Sunday; Something 4 Sunday LITE and, later on, Endurance, Andy B 2 Minute Videos, Seasonal Specials and much more.

We’ll add a little history, so you can see something of where we’ve ended up. And we’ll link to videos that use the different technologies – so you can see for yourself the journey we’ve been on so far.

We hope, and pray, that this will inspire you to do your own Creative Best!

We’ve included as much as we can, but if you want to jump to a particular section, you can use the index below:

Behind The Scenes
Behind The Scenes

Our Goal

We have a really simple goal with our broadcasts – simple videos with good enough video and audio quality, to meet the needs of a wide age range.

With Covid-19 grabbing the worlds attention, it was immediately clear to Andy and Jo that a wider range of people would be watching any given piece of created, digital content than might be expected in a typical Church Building environment.

So, with Andy B’s vast wealth of experience creating really popular All Age Services, it was just a case of using models we know work well in church, and simply adapting them to work well in front of a camera in a house!

Andy B has been creating videos for use in churches, especially for children, for well over a decade – so it wasn’t completely a case of starting from scratch. The rest, as they say, is history!

Our earlier attempts with equipment

We began by using a mobile phone, held by our middle son, and shouting as best as we could so it could be heard by the tiny camera. This worked really well, but we wanted to develop our output, so spent some time and effort developing a strategy that worked well for us.

One of our earliest Recordings using an old Web Cam and the WebCam’s own, internal, microphone.

One of our earliest Recordings using an old Web Cam and the WebCam’s own, internal, microphone.

And up to date with a mobile phone and USB Condenser Mic, plus simple, small panel LED lighting:

And up to date with a mobile phone and USB Condenser Mic, plus simple, small panel LED lighting:

This mobile phone route can be a great way to start, especially as you get used to speaking in front of a camera.

We use this method for outdoor, live broadcasts – like our Daily Family Prayers, Live @ 4pm, and it can be a great way of adding a little flavour to a longer piece of recording.

A Church Minister

They have a refreshing approach to working with children and families, seeking engagement with Jesus over programmes and a desire for long term discipleship for all which exudes… READ MORE “A Church Minister”

DingDasher: “Velcro Tabs, and Spot The Difference!”

[WATCH THE VIDEO] This Andy B 2min episode asks a good question: “what makes us stand out for God?” A very important question, as God calls us… READ MORE “DingDasher: “Velcro Tabs, and Spot The Difference!””

A Reverend Canon

“Well done to you and all the family for keeping that light shining during Halloween. You have certainly set a good base on which to build next year.… READ MORE “A Reverend Canon”

A parent

“Just thought I’d let you know that my daughter has just phoned me, absolutely buzzing about how great today was. She said it was great fun, the kids… READ MORE “A parent”

A Parent

“Our two children up until now have had children’s bibles, but today because your youngest couldn’t find the verse in the NIV. She came home and searched out… READ MORE “A Parent”

YouTuber: on “Endurance, Stay on Target!”

[WATCH THE VIDEO] Excellent episode Berry Family!

We started with an old webcam we had in the house. It made things a little better, but the quality wasn't great and finding drivers to download so the computer can ever recognise you've plugged it in became a frequent battle! It was a HP camera, with no model number I ever found!

One thing we learned is that lighting can prove more effective on obtaining a decent recording than whatever camera you may use.

We're doing this because we got asked what we use, and are only to happy to share what we've learned and use. We're not paid to write anything here. It's all what we've learned since beginning the BerryBunch.family website and the videos we've loved making.

Behind The Scenes

  • Behind The Scenes
    Behind The Scenes

Current Equipment

Computer

Windows 10, 64 bit computer. It is a second hand, and an older model - with just 16GB of RAM - but handles all we need to do well. We did add a graphics card, which makes it a little easier. We've learned to become patient, waiting it for it do it's thing, but it gets the job done!

Image Creation for scenes, backgrounds, logos and more

Serif Affinity Publisher and Serif Affinity Photo (needs a 64 bit computer)

Find out more at affinity.serif.com

Video Editing software

Movie Studio

We used to use Serif Movie Maker- which was simply fabulous. But it became outdated and so we looked for software as similar to what we were familiar with as possible.

We switched to Vegas Movie Studio 16.0 Platinum. We found the cost pretty fair, and it has far exceeded our expectations; we find it intuitive to use and simple enough to work with.

Find out more at www.vegascreativesoftware.com

Recording Software

OBS. This is an amazing piece of software, free to download. You're only really limited by your imagination. There are lots of people using this, and loads of videos about it from people only too happy to show you new things you didn't know you'd ever need to do! We love it!

You create scenes, add in a camera, microphone, background or whatever you need, and you can record or stream with ease.

There are so many help files around, which makes this a brilliant place to start and work with for podcasting, recording videos and much, much more!

Find out more at obsproject.com

Audio Software

We used to use Audacity to edit our audio track - which is free software. But, after some potential security issues surfaced - and while these may well have been sorted out - we had already found, and switched to, on to some software named Reaper.

We found this far more user friendly, albeit with a slightly steeper learning curve - and with far more potential, for us at least. Online forums and guides, make this our preferred choice now. We use it for everything from removing any hiss we may have picked up, balancing the sound and making it sound as good as we possibly can.

We also use it when we're recording more complex things - like our refreshed nursery rhymes, which have a number of instruments and tracks.

Find our more about Reaper. It isn't free, long term, but does have a free period for you to check it out.

Behind The Scenes - equipment and writing
Behind The Scenes - equipment and writing

Backdrop

We've invested in a proper Green Screen (we prayed for a half price, new one...and God heard our prayer!) partly due to the volume of outputs we make, and ease of use for us - it stays up permanently.

It has opened up so many options, and we use it to add both still and moving images behind us.

Lighting is really important, so make sure your lights aren't too close and that (see below) and that you're uniformly lighting up the green screen! We use both LED studio lights, and smaller LED panel lights.

Earlier version (on a budget)

We wanted something behind us that could block off other parts of the house while filming. We had a couple of cheap Wardrobe Rail Systems, which I put together, to make a giant curtain holder! It is, basically, one wardrobe rail with another, other upside down - on top.

I use cable ties and bulldog clips to hold whatever backdrop we want in place, and we buy the cheapest double duvet covers we can find. To stop light coming through, and to add some padding, we placed two fleece blankets inside.

Works a treat, and super easy to change whenever we want to.

Total cost is around £15 (they were buy one get one half price when we moved house, and we didn't need them once we'd found some wardrobes for our new dwelling)

Lighting

Lighting was one thing we struggled with to begin with. What works outside rarely works as well inside.

We invested in some proper studio lighting - you can find it online. It is a pair of LED lights, with diffusers and cost us around £60. They have paid for themselves in reductions of stress!!!!!!!!! Now, we can control the lighting properly, and record whenever is most suitable for us.

Early days

We couldn't afford proper studio lighting, and indoor lamps only work so well. Waiting for a consistently sunny day in the UK can take too long and the webcam software only fixes poor lighting so far.

We tried an LED photography light our middle son had. It worked so well we bought another one, so we use a pair of them for our sofa links.

They work really well and are mounted on camera tripods.

This probably isn't the best solution, but we made it work for us.

We've now switched to a proper set of studio lights, which makes everything SO much simpler. It's a bit like turning on the sun in a darkened room! We're going to be constantly learning how best to use these, but they mean we can record when it is dark outside.

We opted for a set with LED bulbs, for energy saving, and because they don't get so hot!

Ours came with tripods and diffusers, and can be adjusted to all manner of heights and angles to work best for different set ups.

WebCam

We don't use a webcam anymore, although Andy B sometimes uses it for his Andy B 2 Minute Video Vlogs.

We managed - during Covid-19 no less, and a global web cam shortage! - to obtain a Logitech C525, which we've used for the majority of our recordings earlier on. We let the auto focus get it set up, then turn it off so it isn't jumping about as we record.

It is a business model, which simply means you can fold it in half to cover the lens - it seemed really sensible. We generally use velcro ties to secure these to a camera tripod.

For our Art Time videos, we use the same velcro ties to secure it to an old microphone stand - so we can hold it directly above the table we're recording on.

We use the C525 for our second webcam, so we can introduce our technical support team.

We've recently switched, for main recording efforts, to a basic mobile phone. It came free, so is hardly what you might call high quality.

But the camera on it is much better, and the phone's software does a much better job dealing with changing light conditions etc.

While you can link it via Wi-Fi, we opted for Droid Cam, to start with. It is free to download software for the Android mobile phone we use.

We've now switched to DroidCam OBS. This is a plugin - developed specifically to be used with OBS - which streamlines the whole experience when using your mobile phone camera and OBS.

We use a cable to connect it, so that it functions much more in time with what we're doing; You can use Wi-Fi to connect them, but that has various issues which we didn't fancy, so stuck with plugging in a cable, which works great.

We bought a cheap mobile phone holder that can fit on top of a standard camera tripod - so we can angle it properly, and keep it steady.

To find out more: DroidCam Software

Microphone

We bought a couple of USB "TONOR" condensor mics. These are superb, but are, as expected, prone to mic bleed (where you can overhear the other speaker through your mic).

We've spent LOADS of time researching this, and still love those condenser mics because they sound superb and can be quite forgiving!

However, we've bough a pair of Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB [dynamic] mics, which get used for everything now. They came highly recommended, sound brilliant, and save Andy B loads of time, as they pick up so little - other than what you actually wanted - that he does almost no post-edit work now!

We have a USB headset mic, which we use when we want a different sound, or look.

We also have a simple lapel mic, which plugs into the headphone socket of a mobile phone. This is superb, and is often out and about for filming.

arly days

Our first real effort at imporving our recording, was to obtain a Condenser Microphone. The difference was OUT OF THIS WORLD, and on zero funding, we couldn't afford to buy anything fancy.

The one in the link below works well for us, but any microphone you can use, instead of a mobile phone, will improve things dramatically.

Ours came with a tiny tripod, which can be useful sometimes. It also came with a dover for outdoor use (which is very effective) and a pop shield for indoor recording.

We love it and found it to be a game changer for us in terms of the quality of our recordings.

We fasten it to a microphone stand, via the thread it comes with - so it can fit properly where the Mic holder attachment usually sits.

Smartphone Mirror Gadget (Home made)

Andy B Mobile Phone Mirror
Andy B Mobile Phone Mirror

I've put a separate piece together for this gadget - you can view the post, what I used and how I made it here, on the BerryBunch website.

If you want to use the rear facing camera on your smartphone, and see what it sees - so you can easily stay in shot etc, and need to be able to do this by yourself - take a look at that post.

Extras

We use a car matting - bit like a foam mesh - so when we put something on a table it doesn't bang too loudly.

To cover our microphone, we made up a simple Logo on some thin cardboard form an old cereal box, which we use masking tape to fasten to the microphone stand, nearest to our condenser microphone. It hides the mic, and easily adds a logo to all of our recordings.

We have MANY bulldog clips and velcro ties to make everything sit where we want it to.

We've had a mixing desks for a while (Andy started in churches as a worship leader when he was 15), but upgraded to a Digital desk - so Andy B could record his songs straight into a laptop for editing etc. A normal desk just won't plug via a mic socket into a computer and work - it just sounds distorted and terrible.

While there are loads of ways of sorting this, we opted for a small Behringer digital mixing desk, with just a few channels - which is more than suitable for our needs.

Planning

For our larger broadcasts - Littles Blessings Online and Something Sunday (which are around 30-35 minutes of broadcast) we plan, a lot.

We've played around with various to do lists, but settled, in the end, for a 6 page order of service. It has each segment and link segment (the bits on the sofa) so we can follow where we are at, which our older son uses to direct us with - so we can concentrate on what we're saying.

This order of service starts typed, with lots of things we can easily cross out - as they get done. That way, we have only one working document for everything and we can write down whether we have recorded, edited or added videos to OBS and more.

Lots of planning makes everything else MUCH simpler. We spend around 20 minutes at the start of the week, before Jo Jo and Andy B allocate who will be responsible for which parts.

Going Live

We upload our videos to YouTube, Instagram TV and Facebook. We also upload links to DingDash (a newer Social Media channel).

We do live broadcasts via our Facebook page. We upload all our broadcasts - and individual videos we've used within those broadcasts - to YouTube so everybody can have access to our videos. They're made to be shared and used, which is one of our guiding principles with BerryBunch.family.

Summing Up

With well over half a century of working and serving in churches between us, we're quite used to some pretty complicated services, so our at home video broadcasts are fairly simple now. They have taken effort to get to a stage we were happy with. Everything after that was a bonus!

A mobile phone is a great place to start getting into making videos, or you could buy really expensive gear. But a relatively inexpensive USB condenser Microphone, a mobile phone and OBS (with DroidCam - also free) can create some great quality content, for a minimal investment.

There are plenty of video editing software packages around, but we've never looked into them because we've always wanted greater possibilities and software help.

Hope this all helps you go for your own Creative Best!

The BerryBunch


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