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Recording a video or taking photos invariably makes your "review" at the end of the lesson one of the most fun parts of the lesson. It's also a great time to add insights, ask final questions, and reinforce the lesson.

Here are some tips from Neil MacQueen from his Drama Workshop experience. Feel free to add your ideas and tips!

Great Idea #1: A Tripod for Your Cellphone!

I love to have a volunteer record dramas and skits in our Drama Workshop, and the ubiquity of cellphones with video cameras makes it do-able every Sunday.

But what I've also discovered is that a TRIPOD really improves the quality of the video.

cellphone-tripod-tipMany adults simply don't have a steady hand when recording, and the tripod solves that problem. The kids seem to respond better to the camera on a tripod, rather than a teacher standing in front of them with a cellphone too.

Tripods are also great for using the time-lapsed or slo-mo feature on your camera. We've even written a few drama workshop lessons around these fun features! Check out this Kingdom mustard seed lesson featuring the "slo motion" feature to make things grow (Supporting Member access needed)

The kids respond positively to being video'd. It focuses them on 'getting it right" and "doing it for real." It also gives us a great chance to reflect at the end of the lesson and have a good laugh.

Parents enjoy watching their kids when we give them that option too. These days, "what your kid did in Sunday School" is only a text message away.

Simple tripods are under $20.

Great Idea #2: Putting your Cellphone on  a Selfie stick !!

Selfie sticks are like hand-held tripods. They allow you to move the camera "into" the drama scene without having to walk around or bump into kids in the scene. The first time I used a selfie stick in my Drama Workshop, we decided to have a "Newscopter" fly over the scene of the Good Samaritan. I "flew" the selfie stick around the scene making "copter" sounds while a student followed me "reporting" on what was happening. When we interviewed the beaten man, I was able to lean the camera toward him and get the microphone close to him -- without having to step into the scene myself.

Simple selfie sticks are under $20. Check Amazon.

Great Idea #3:  Use your Cellphone on a Tripod LIKE a Selfie Stick!

Buy a lightweight and easily foldable TRIPOD so that you can pick it up and use it like a selfie stick!   Great for "character close-up reactions."

I stumbled onto the importance of having a lightweight tripod when I had left my selfie stick in the car. We were teaching the story of Jesus Calms the Storm and our drama called for "close-ups" of each disciple showing us their most "terrified" look, then their most "relieved" look. In front of the "boat" was a blue tarp that some of the other kids were shaking to make waves -- so the cameraperson couldn't walk up close.

BIG TIP UNO: You don't want the teacher to have to "manually zoom in" with the camera.  The less the volunteer needs to touch the screen the better.

Fortunately, we had previously bought an inexpensive (lightweight) tripod that our cameraperson could easily pick up the tripod and reach it over the water to put it in the faces of each disciple. The results were awesome (and were a fun discussion of how Jesus can calm our fears).

BIG TIP DOS: Make sure you have your cellphone powercord and an extension cord so you can easily move the tripod.

52" tall tripod for $15 at Walmart

Great Idea #4:  Connect Your Camera to a Big Screen

Reviewing your video or photos on a BIG screen makes a big impact, but it can also be fun to connect your camera to a Big Screen so the kids can see themselves on the screen WHILE they act, or so that other teachers and kids can watch the drama "live" on the screen as it unfolds.

The principle here is simple: Kids love screens, and love seeing themselves on a screen, so it creates a POINT OF FOCUS.

See the post below about different types of cables to connect your cellphone to a TV.

Supporting Members: See the Writing Team's lesson that uses a camera and monitor for a "live" Jesus Feeds the 5000 Singing Show. As well, see the Team's lesson here they use a cellphone camera in a LEGO or Storytable setup -- where the TV becomes a monitor of what's being re-enacted on small scale.


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Last edited by Amy Crane
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Quick and easy playback of your drama videos from your camera or cellphone to a LARGE screen...

Getting your videos and photos to a large screen from your cellphone tablet is easy if you have the right cables. And in today's classrooms, it's a basic skill and need!


Have extra cables of various kinds in case your volunteers forget theirs.

A Drama Workshop and any modern Sunday School should have various types of connectors, cables, and plugs ALREADY AVAILABLE as part of your Sunday School A-V equipment. Invariably, volunteers will forget their cables

Tape instructions on the back of your TV about "how to connect your cellphone, tablet, or tv to our TV."

Attach a LABEL to all your plugs, cables, and connectors.
On one side write "Church" and on the other side write the device it is for (TV, Tablet, iPhone, Android phone, Projector)



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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Using your cellphone video camera's "special effects"

Time-Lapse Storytelling

You've probably seen the time-lapse option on your cellphone camera and wondered, "what could I do with that?"  The answer is: create fun story videos!

Here's a time-lapse video we made using legos to tell the story of the "mustard seed." We set our tripod over the top of a table, put our video camera in "time-lapse" mode, and pressed the button. A three minute "build time" on camera condensed down to about a ten second time-lapse video. If you use a free third-party time-lapse app from the App store, instead of the default time-lapse feature on your phone, you can slow down the time-lapse  so that it plays back over 30 seconds, instead of ten seconds (for example). and you can add titles and record the audio (which iPhone's time lapse can't do).  It is literally "child's play."

The full Mustard See lesson plan is part of the Writing Team's Kingdom Parables Lesson Set (for supporting members).  It includes a "how to."

You can time-lapse with puppets, actors moving slowly, drawings...anything you can tell a story with.

Slow Motion & Sped Up Storytelling

It's easy to get kids to focus on dialog and acting out a story when they know you're going to do something FUN with the video. And what kid doesn't love to see and hear themselves in slow motion or talking like a chipmunk!

Rather than use my iPhone's "slow motion" setting, I instead downloaded a free app called ClipSpeed from the iPhone app store. After studying the story of the Prodigal Son and practicing the drama, we videotaped them at REGULAR SPEED, then processed the video using the Slo speed app. The results were really fun. Of course they wanted to do the story again, so the second time we focused the camera on the OLDER SON's face, and the third time through we focused on the Father's (God's) face. Had quite a bit of discussion about how to portray the father's/God's face in the story knowing it would be close up and slo-mo where we could see EVERY expression. Super fun way to explore the story.



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Last edited by Luanne Payne

When using off-screen readers and narrators in your drama, have the off-screen readers stand NEAR the cellphone's microphone and speak up.

Some cellphone microphones suppress "background" noise, and on some the voices more distant from the microphone will sound "canny" when you play them back.

If you're recording a lot of different skits and want to improve the quality and volume of the voices being recorded, buy a wireless microphone attachment for your cellphone. They start around $25 and simply plug into your cellphone's charger port. Most work by Bluetooth. In the example below, you get TWO wireless lapel microphones (or microphones that could be clipped to a central location in your scene), plus a variety of plugs and adapters for different types of cellphone plugs.

Kids love tech and love to have a microphone. It makes them feel special and more engaged.

If you're using a "Newscast" or "podcast" -style (radio) drama technique, consider getting a tabletop microphone that connects to your cellphone or video camera's microphone port.

These kinds of investments are easier to make when you have a dedicated Drama Workshop that can regularly use them and aren't spending your limited budget on graded curriculum.


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Adding a Pause Button to your iPhone Video Recorder

Unlike a real video camera, when you record video using your cellphone, there is no "pause" button (yet, I'm sure Apple will add it someday). That means when you're recording a skit or "newsroom" broadcast and need to change scenes or actors, you can't pause the recording, you have to stop it. Then when you press START again, it creates a new video file. ANNOYING.   And when you go to play back the skit or newscast, you have to play several files to show it all. Like I said ANNOYING !

One way to "fake" a pause is to put your hand over the camera, but sometimes you really need to pause the recording and if you hit the "stop record" button to pause each recording several times, you'll end up with several files to playback. (Like I said, that's annoying!)   Better to have a true PAUSE RECORD button.

There are several free video apps you can download from the app store that give you a true PAUSE RECORDING BUTTON so that you only end up with a single file to view and share

PAUSE-RECORD-APPThere are several and some are better than others. Currently, I'm using one called "Nonstop Cam" because it has the fewest interrupting ads and easiest to understand features. (I tried "Clippy" and "PauseCam" and a few others. Their in-app ads were annoying and controls were messy.)

NOTE: By the time you read this the "Nonstop" app may be defunt. Search the App Store for something similar. You may have to try two or three to find the right one for you.

SEEN RIGHT: What "Nonstop Cam" looks like on my phone. See the red pause button? Lifesaver for recording kids!

When I'm recording and hit the red record button again, it pauses the recording instead of STOPPING it. When I'm all done recording I "export" (save) the file to my Photos.

Easy to use.

When you install an app like this, you'll need to give it permission to use your video camera, microphone, and access your photos to save its files.

I know Android phones have similar apps. Look for them in your Google Play store.


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