Virtual Christmas Carol Instructions

All parishioners and their family members are invited to be part of two Christmas carol videos that will open and close our Christmas services.

Everyone is invited to contribute regardless of experience—whether or not you think your voice is good enough, or if you’ve only recently begun worshipping at Saint Michael’s—you are invited! You can do this! Your voice will fold together with others!

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Submit videos by Sunday, Dec. 13 at 11 PM for inclusion. It takes an ungodly amount of time to edit projects like this. Your attention to the deadline is much appreciated.

Record yourself with your entire household singing along with the video guide tracks. Then submit your video using the link below. That’s it!

Watch this video for an overview of how to do this and then view the detailed instructions below.

  1. Create time and space for this project. Your recording space should be free of noise. Leaf blowers, squirrely pets, garbage trucks, etc. all produce sounds that cannot be edited out. Ensure you have adequate lighting that illuminates your head from the front, not behind or above it. We don’t normally encourage you to put up Christmas decorations or trees before Advent, but you may want to set a holiday scene for your backdrop!
  2. Gather your recording and playback gear. You will need headphones (earbuds or headset) and up to two devices: (1) one to video record yourself (phone, computer, camera, etc.) and (2) one to play the guide track. It is possible to use one device (desktop or laptop computer) to serve both roles, or you can use two separate devices. See this helpful “how to” YouTube video to record using a single Mac computer.
  3. Download the carols and open them on your playback device, or print them. The congregation is invited to record verses 1 and 3 of O come, all ye faithful, and verses 1 and 4 of Joy to the world! If you’re pressed for time, record either one of the carols or one verse of each carol.
  4. Pull up the YouTube guide track playlist on your playback device (or download the videos; these are large files). Listen to and sing along with each guide track several times.
  5. Dress up! Find that beloved Christmas sweater out of storage or ridiculous Christmas tie you can only wear once a year. Reds, greens, and golds are the colors of the season.
  6. Set up the playback device, using earbuds or headset. We ask you to wear earbuds/headset so the video you submit features only your voice, and not the guide track. If you are recording your entire household, or if for any reason it is difficult for you to record yourself with headphones, that is okay! Turn the volume of the guide track as low as you are possible and submit a recording anyway.
  7. Set up your video recording device in landscape mode. It should be on something stable—not held in your hand. Make sure your head/family is centered in the frame. Verify your recording settings:
    1. iPhone: Settings >> Camera >> Record Video >> check 1080p HD at 30fps or a comparable HD setting available on your iPhone (do not select 4K!)
    2. Android: Change your video recording setting to a mid-range resolution, i.e., 1920x1080p at 30fps (do not select 4K!). Each Android device works and looks differently.
    3. Windows: Open the Camera app and adjust setting to record at a higher resolution (ie., 1920x1080p at 30fps).
    4. Mac: Open QuickTime Player and select File >> New Movie Recording. In the window that opens, click the arrow by the Record button and select Maximum quality.
  8. Make a test recording, singing both loudly and softly. Start your recording device, then play the guide track on your playback device. Check audio levels. If your voice or consonants are too “hot”, adjust the mic level down or move the mic away from your mouth. If your voice or consonants are too “soft”, adjust the mic level up or move the mic closer to your mouth. Check the video. Are you centered in the frame? Are you illuminated well?
  9. If you made any adjustments after the initial test recording, make another test recording to ensure those adjustments work before continuing.
  10. It’s time to record! Breathe deeply but quietly; support your tone, while aiming for a steady, continuous sound. It may take you several tries before you’re happy with the result. Be gentle with yourself and turn off your inner critic. You will make two separate video recordings. Follow these instructions carefully as they will help smooth the video and audio editing process.
    1. Record verses 1 and 3 of O come, all ye faithful. During verse 2, keep your recording device going and jump in for verse 3.
    2. Record verses 1 and 4 of Joy to the world! During verse 2, keep your recording device going and jump in for verse 4.
  11. Save/export your videos as MOV, MP4, or other standard formats; avoid WMV. Name your files as follows: Carol-LastNames_FirstNames
    e.g. OComeAllYeFaithful-Anderson_Jason.mp4, or JoyToTheWorld-Anderson_Jason.mp4, etc.
  12. Upload your videos or send Jason Anderson a link to your videos by December 10 at 7 PM. If you run into any issues, please contact Jason Anderson and he will attempt to help.