How to make motion backgrounds for worship

In this article, I’ll share my complete process for creating motion backgrounds for worship. You’ll learn about the gear, shooting technique, editing tips, and how to use them in ProPresenter. Read to the end because I have a free gift for you!

As I begin my new interim worship leading role at Mission Lakewood, I need to begin building up a library of motion backgrounds to use in ProPresenter. Do a google search of “motion backgrounds for worship” and you’ll find a plethora of options.

Most of the existing motion backgrounds consist of abstract motion graphics. Most of them are cheesy and boring. Now that high-quality video production has become affordable and accessible, I think we have an opportunity to use footage in worship rather than motion graphics.

While I could purchase and download a bunch of stock footage from places like lightstock.com, storytape.com, themusicbed.com, videoblocks.com, or pond5.com, there are two issues with buying stock footage online.

  • It’s too expensive - I do not have a huge budget buy a bunch of stock footage. Storytape.com comes closest to being the most affordable at $200/mo but that’s still a little steep for non-commercial work.

  • The clips are too short for use in a worship environment - Most footage on stock footage sites are not long enough to use in a worship environment, meaning the clips would loop every 10-20 seconds. I like using clips in worship that are over 30 seconds.

  • The style of shooting is not right - Most stock footage sites do not shoot for the purpose of using their footage for backgrounds. Most of the clips have too much movement and people in them that can be distracting in worship.

  • Stock footage is not edited to loop - I want footage that can loop seamlessly in the background in ProPresenter. Stock footage websites do not edit them in such a way to make this possible (I’ll show you how I do this later in the post.)

There are multiple reasons why I want to shoot my own footage for worship backgrounds. It’s not going to be easy work, but the end product is totally worth it.

The Gear

  • Panasonic GH5 - This is my #1 camera recommendation for anyone wanting to get serious about video production but does not want to buy an overpriced Canon cinema camera. I’ve used the Panasonic GH series cameras for three years now. I love their portability, battery life, and recording specs that blow comparably priced cameras out of the water. There are some downsides with a smaller sensor and the color science is not as good as canon, but for me the other features outway these downsides.

  • Phantom 4 Pro + - This drone will capture the best image at the smallest price in aerial cinematography. It’s easy to use, and I love having the remote with a built in screen.

  • Zhiyun-Tech Crane - This is my stabilizer that I use with my GH5. It’s cheap, the battery lasts all day, and most importantly, it works.

  • Tripod - A wonderful tool to keep the camera steady for the shots I don’t move the camera.

I have a bunch of other gear like lenses, cards, and other accessories as well. But the tools listed here are the backbone of my kit.

The process

Step 1 - Determine when and where to capture footage.

Capturing stunning footage can be a lot of work. It often requires waking up super early and traveling to distant lands where you’ll find the beautiful landscapes. For this shoot, I chose Loveland Pass in Colorado. It’s about 75 minutes west of Denver on I-70. I want to capture footage during the early morning hours, so this means I need to leave my house at 4AM, pack up my gear at my office, and be up the pass by 6AM. It’s always better to show up early than to scramble trying to get your gear setup during a limited window of amazing light.

loveland pass sign.jpg

Step 2 - Scout out the area.

Once it was light enough for me to see around the pass, I scouted the area for ideal shots.

Step 3 - Start shooting.

Once it was bright enough to shoot, I got out gear and started filming stationary shots. My first shots were of clouds moving past the mountain shots. I grabbed another cool shot of a hiker climbing up a trail. You can barely see the hiker, but it’s really cool if you’re looking for it.

Once there was more light and the wind died down, I flew my drone down a valley and then over summits. After a couple hours, I came away from Loveland Pass with about 15 excellent pieces of footage.

Once I was done at Loveland Pass, I headed home and stopped by a frozen lake. I put my GH5 on the stabilizer and captured some abstract ice footage.

motion backgrounds worship mountains.jpg

Step 4 - Offload media and select favorites.

When I arrived back at my office, I offloaded the footage on my external hard drive, imported it into Final Cut Pro X, and began selecting my favorite clips. I trimmed off the beginning and end of clips where it was rough and I was getting my framing right or about to stop the recording. Once I found my favorite clips, I created separate FCPX project files for each background.

Step 5 - Color grade

I shoot in V-Log on my GH5 and D-Log on my Phantom 4 Pro, which means the raw footage has a very flat look to it. Low contrast and low saturation. Although the color profile looks horrible, it actually retains more color information for editing in post.

I use FilmConvert Pro to grade my footage. The plugin does 90% of the grading and then I tweak the final 10%.

motion backgrounds propresenter worship color.jpg

Step 6 - Edit for looping

A crucial step in editing is to make it so the footage will seamlessly loop in ProPresenter. I cut the first 5 seconds of the clip off and paste it at the end of the project. Then I put a 4 second cross dissolve transition between the two clips.

It’s kinda hard to explain this in words. Nevertheless, these clips will now be stand alone looping backgrounds in ProPresenter.

motion backgrounds worship edit.jpg

Step 7 - Export

Once the editing is done, I export the clips for use in ProPresenter. I use Apple’s Compressor software to do this. I export the footage so it is as small as possible without losing too much quality. 1080 resolutions seems adequate for almost any live video use.

Step 8 - Use the backgrounds!

That’s how I create my video backgrounds for worship. The next step is to import them into ProPresenter and start using them. I would highly recommend using templates in ProPresenter that make the lyrics legible over the backgrounds. You can create a black box behind the lyrics, or you can create a faded box over the whole background that dims it and makes the text easy to read.

motion backgrounds propresenter worship.jpg

Maybe you don’t have video gear, you don’t live in Colorado, and you don’t have time to create your own video backgrounds, but you want to use ones like what I made in this tutorial. You’re in luck!

You can download these free footage for worship backgrounds by clicking the button below, completing the form, and I’ll instantly email you access to 20 footage for worship backgrounds that you can begin using in worship THIS WEEK!

Before you go, let me know in the comments what type of backgrounds you currently use at your church. Have you tried using footage yet? I hope my free backgrounds are an easy way for you to get started.