How to Set Up a Video Studio in Your Basement – A Pastor’s Guide

Over the past few days, I have been working on putting together a makeshift studio that I can use to record videos for the congregation and community. It will also be helpful for the ever-increasing number of video conference calls these days. I want to share with you a bit of the process, in case you find anything that could be useful. I’m going to add links to Amazon, which has been and continues to be my go-to for supplies. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission. Alright, so here we go.

This is our basement.


It’s great! Functional, fun, and admittedly a bit filled with clutter for our family of four. In most seasons of our life, this works just fine. However, it’s not an excellent background for video conference calls or for recording video for many reasons. So, where to start? The backdrop.


I am using a 10’x13′ Hand Painted Tie Dye Muslin Backdrop to cover the remainder of our basement while giving a clean backdrop.

Muslin Backdrop

I picked up a Heavy-Duty Oak Closet Pole from Home Depot to hold the backdrop up. I screwed in some short 2x4s to hold up both ends. This strategy was successful in blocking the background. However, there was some light bleeding through from lights behind the backdrop. So, I found a moving blanket that we had leftover in our basement. You can find something like it here.

Moving Blanket

Some Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps helped hold up the moving blanket.

Muslin Clamp

Of course, you could leave out the closet pole and clamp the backdrop to the wood supporting the floor above.


As you could see from the picture above, our basement is pretty dark. Some months ago, I had purchased a set of 60 LED Portable Light Lamps for Table Top Photo Studio. I set these on the desk for use during video conference calls.

Video Conference Lighting

This set up gave plenty of light, but this close they gave some harsh shadows. I was looking around our basement to find something that could soften the light. I found a couple of Sweater Drying Racks. I took them apart and repurposed the fabric to create a makeshift softbox.


It works well in the limited space at the desktop. A 4 Foot LED Shop Light hangs from the ceiling and supplements the light. It’s a rough attempt at three-point lighting.

Work Light

Recording Video

When I want to record a video, I find it a bit easier to speak while standing. For this, I move the lights to the top of the desk.

Video Lighting

With a bit more distance from the light, the shadows aren’t nearly as harsh and still provide plenty of light. I use a 4-Section Tripod Kit along with a Universal Smartphone Clamp.

Smartphone Tripod Clamp

Though, I may try out using the Mini Tripod Kit with Universal Smartphone Clamp on the top shelf of the desk. Your space will help determine what works best.

This and That

I added a few pieces of decor to help fill the frame in a video conference call. You can still tell that it is a concrete wall, yet it softens the space a bit. Online video production is all supported with high-speed internet delivered through our eero Pro mesh WiFi system. It provides solid delivery of data from our cable internet connection to devices throughout our house.

WiFi Router and Cable Modem

While the circumstances are not what I would hope for, I have found joy in the creativity that I have discovered. Without the need for social distancing, this desk would have remained stacked with stuff. My occasional video conference call from home would have been from our kitchen table because the light is better, but not fantastic, in that space.

Feel free to use whatever is helpful and make it better in your context.

Take a look at the video below to review post and see some video produced in this space.

Strategizing for the District

Since being appointed to serve within the Topeka District of the Great Plains Annual Conference, I have had the opportunity to serve as the lead for the Topeka District Strategy Team. I have been learning as I go, seeking to get to know congregations and leaders of the area. Here are some of my current thoughts on how this team can be most effective to create a strategy for the district.

During some years in the past, the Great Plains Annual Conference (and three conferences) has operated with a structure that encouraged local churches to send both people and resources to be part of initiatives and ministry efforts that originated and were executed at the annual conference level. This lead to a measure of success. However, this model is not working as effectively as it once was.

In recent years, there has been efforts made to push the resourcing and leadership “down” from the annual conference toward the mission field of local churches. Some of this is being accomplished with the creation of Networks which connect local churches to more effectively reach their collective mission field. It also is being accomplished through the work of district strategy teams which work alongside the District Superintendent to develop a strategy to reach the mission field within the district.

What does not need to happen is for a district strategy team to come up with a layer of strategy, events and planning which local churches are encouraged to add to their existing ministries and goals. Instead, I believe that a more effective approach will be to look for common goals that exist among many congregations in the district and consider what resources or strategies that district can bring to bear which support those goals.

As part of the charge conference process, goals are developed and turned in annually from every charge in the district. This fall, we are running an experiment by offering local churches goals to consider for 2019 (Experiment_ Topeka District Local Church Goals (PDF)). If churches have an existing process for developing and iterating on goals, great – keep doing it. However, if they do not, they might consider one or more of these goals for the year ahead. The purpose here is to help local churches make progress on goal setting and create the opportunity for local churches to coalesce around similar goals. We’ll see how this goes…

Regardless of whether or not local churches choose from the experimental goals which were offered to them, our next step will be to review the goals from all the churches in the district to see what, if any, similarities there are. Then, create strategies to help support local churches in the goals that they have already set for themselves.

I am hopeful that this approach will support local churches and more effectively coordinate our efforts together as a district.

An Experiment in Improving UM Social Media Exposure

Kevin Watson at has started an experiment to see how much social capital Methodist bloggers have. This experiment was prompted by the feeling among some Methodist bloggers that United Methodism does not always do as good of a job as it could at getting the Wesleyan message out there, particularly on-line. So, he wants to see how many views a YouTube video can get if Methodist bloggers work together to promote it. The experiment is to see how many hits the video will receive in two weeks.

If you want to participate you can: First, watch the video below. Second, copy and paste this entire post into a new post on your blog and post it. Third, remind people about this experiment in one week.

Based on the results of the experiment, Kevin will get in touch with the folks at Discipleship Resources and let them know the ways in which Methodist bloggers are often an underused resource.

Here is a link to the video:

You can read Kevin’s original post here –

Leadership Institute 2008 – Photo Experiment

I invite you to you to be a part of a photo experiment from Leadership Institute 2008 at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

  1. Upload any pictures that you take while at Resurrection for Leadership Institute 2008 to The pictures might be of space, buildings, speakers, workshops, funny or serious.
  2. Add the tag “li2008” to each of these photos.
  3. That’s it!

As others begin to add their photos you can view, comment and share the experience at: