Lakeside was blessed with an expensive Sony camera and Premiere software, but only a few students and one faculty member were using them. To my knowledge, the camera and software never had been used for promoting our schools to the congregations. After making a suggestion to use a video in our congregations, the idea began to circulate through various boards. Time went by and people were debating what should be shown, and no one seemed interested in taking the time to make the video. I decided to just make a video on my own. If administration didn't like it, at least there was an attempt. Here is my first attempt at a promotional video from about 10 years ago.
Though my videography techniques were poor at the time, people were thrilled to have something like this promoting our school. As I researched the beginning of Lakeside, I was greatly moved by the incredible sacrifices made to start the school. I thought it was important for this generation of adults to see how much the previous one cared about Christian education. Thousands of families have been blessed because a few individuals thought it would be worthwhile to start a Christian high school. With this video, as well as many others I have made over the years to promote Lakeside, I wanted to teach some truths of Scripture to those that saw it. Whether parents sitting in the pews sent their children to Lakeside or not, I wanted them going away encouraged by the Word. Young, old, or in between, I wanted them to hear about the salvation that is theirs through Jesus.
A blessing in disguise as I started to make more of these promotional videos was that I needed student help. I could not do it on my own. Sometimes I needed singers for background music, sometimes camera operators, sometimes editors, and sometimes just ideas. I used students that were more talented than I to do things I could not do. The students honed the gifts God had given them and glorified Him in the process. I cannot tell you how inspiring it is to see young people trying to figure out a way to glorify God through a video.
I have to admit I have never taken a course on videography, but I have been fortunate to have God place many people around me to teach me what I needed to know. I mentioned students, but there were some teachers as well. Damon Tracy, a teacher at Lakeside, helped me get a better handle understanding the editing software and was my primary help with any hardware issues. Later Ted Klug, another teacher, put together computers for me that were faster for editing. Chris Johnson, a professor from Bethany Lutheran College, helped me set up a course for students and taught me many tricks of the trade. Chad Johnstone, a professional videographer, hired me to work with him for a few summers. Then there were all the professionals and amateurs on YouTube. I can say that I have watched hundreds, if not thousands of hours of videos, to learn more about lighting, coloring video, sound sweetening, you name it. I started, however, knowing little to nothing about video. The most important thing, in my opinion, still is the message. Some videos done with a cell phone have millions of hits on YouTube. Why? It was what people wanted to see. Or better yet, it was what people needed to see.
At Lakeside Lutheran High School, our recruiter, Steve Lauber, brings in fourth grade students from the area Lutheran grade schools in fall. Each year two high school teachers will have a "class" with the fourth graders. It is an opportunity for the grade school students to get acquainted with the school and do some fun activities. A few years back, I was one of the selected teachers. I decided to make a video with the fourth grade students. I hoped many things would happen through this video. I wanted the kids to do something exciting that would interest them in the high school. I wanted something that would give parents an opportunity to see what the high school is all about. Finally I wanted a high quality video with a great message to be shared with others.
The fourth grader groups came two days a week for most of November. When the groups came to Lakeside, we first watched a video that was viral at the time on YouTube. I asked them, "If we could make a viral video that people around the world could see, what should it be about?" The majority of groups said the video should be about Jesus. Little did they know that is what we planned. While Steve and I came up with the lines, the majority of the video was done by the fourth graders. They filmed, did the sound, acted, and directed, under some guidance of course. Here is the resulting video.
Great videos are not worth much unless they are watched. This fourth grade video had an important message about Jesus, and we wanted it spread to as many people as possible. At our school, we have an incredibly talented publications director, Kim Winters. She daily puts items of interest on Lakeside's Facebook page. She has researched the optimal times of day to make posts. Every time she shares a link to one of the videos on our YouTube page, the video will get at least 200 views from that alone. Many times those video links are then shared with others. A different video of ours actually had over 2200 views in a single day. I find the combination of Facebook and YouTube is an incredible way to reach many with the gospel message.
This past November and December, Steve wanted to make a video again with fourth graders, but I did not have an open period to film them. We came up with a way to utilize both the high school and fourth grade students. The fourth graders did artwork for the video using the Paint program. Those students were encouraged to share their faith through their art. You can view the video to get a sense of how this worked. Make sure you pause during their artwork. The high school students not only helped me with the other scenes, but they also helped promote the video. We held a competition in which the students that shared the video the most times or did it in the most interesting way would win prizes. I think we had over 2600 views in the first two days. I feel I have only scratched the surface on the way we could use Facebook and videos as a witnessing tool in the high school. I was pleased to hear students talk about their public school friends seeing the video. Copy and paste this link to see that video.
A quick way to get people to unsubscribe to your YouTube channel is to put out poor quality videos. In my videography class, we strive for quality. That doesn't happen instantly. In Videography 1, a new video is due almost every two weeks. Each video focuses on a different skill. By the end of the semester, a number of students have reached a point where they can start making quality videos. In Videography 2, the students work on large projects that are meant to be used by Steve Lauber for recruitment in the grade schools, shown in congregations, or put on Lakeside's YouTube channel. A good number of my Videography 2 students have continued studying film in college. Although they are way ahead of the curve, they are finding the field to be very worldly. Please pray that God guard their souls so they can later serve his kingdom with these sharpened skills. Christians are desperately needed in the media industry.
Digital media classes in high school are an ideal way to witness Christ and give the students skills beneficial for virtually any place of employment. In the past year, Lakeside students posted YouTube videos answering common questions about the Bible, made a promotional video for a live nativity, edited videos for local congregations, and much more. The class this semester is making a video to be shown in a local theater as part of the advertisements before movies. This is an extremely low cost way to speak about our school and tell about Jesus. I envision one day Lakeside being a hub for all of our federated churches, helping them create promotional and spiritual growth videos. I would certainly encourage MLC to consider creating a Digital Media program. I believe all our high schools could be leaders in this growing field. Digital media skills matched with an exceptional training in God's Word would not just be good for videography teachers. With just some basic skills, my wife currently shares video links of her Word of God activities with parents, many of whom are non-members. Just imagine what missionaries and staff ministers could do with these skills! The fields are ripe!
Please let me know your ideas. I would appreciate hearing from you. The LORD's blessings on your work to spread the gospel!
Click these links to see various types of video promos for Lakeside Lutheran High School:
- What’s new at Lakeside? gives a funny look at what is new with a spiritual message at the end.
- Freshmen Orientation lets parents, relatives, and friends check out the first day of school. Students tell why they chose Lakeside.
- Promotional videos for camps connected with a message about God’s Word.
- Pass It On is a fun video with Christ at the center. Each student can make a part of the video. They take ownership and show their own creativity.
- Helicopter Fly-over - A student body and faculty video shows our school’s purpose.
- A student-made video allows students to expand their videography skills and show the school.
- A Lip Dub served as a school bonding experience and gave outsiders a peek at the various activities and groups at school.
- Kids Around the World - Special event videos show how Lakeside students are helping local and international communities.
- Ministry Partners – Congregational videos are shown in all the federated churches.
- Lakeside Lutheran News – A newscast created by the videography students.
- Final Words – Students say good-bye at the end of the year.
- Highlight films of fun events
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