“New Church Videotapes,” Ensign, July 1987, 77
The Church currently offers several videocassettes to inspire and instruct Church members in their homes and in Church classes.
Topics range from the “Doctrine and Covenants Reader” to “How to Conduct a Hymn.” The videocassettes can be used by Church leaders and teachers, as well as by parents to augment existing programs for teaching the gospel.
Among the new releases are firesides. These include the “Priesthood Restoration Commemoration Fireside,” the proceedings of the May 17 Aaronic Priesthood satellite broadcast from Temple Square, and the “Fireside for Parents,” which includes suggestions from President Ezra Taft Benson for strengthening the family.
Of special interest for families is the “Family Home Evening Video Supplement,” which contains nineteen segments on gospel subjects, in conjunction with lessons from the Family Home Evening Resource Book.
Videos have also been produced to train priesthood and auxiliary leaders. These include “Caring for the Needy,” a training package that explains a bishop’s responsibility in caring for the needy, and “Applying Welfare Principles in Our Lives,” a video for priesthood leaders to use in teaching basic welfare principles. There are also videos for proselyting, friendshipping and fellowshipping, Book of Mormon and Bible stories for children and adults, biographies of Church leaders, and many more (refer to the 1987 Salt Lake City Distribution Center Catalog).
These videos, excepting those designated for training specific persons or groups, are available to all members of the Church through their meetinghouse library or by private purchase. Parents, as well as priesthood and auxiliary leaders, should contact their ward or branch librarian to learn what titles are available and to check out videotapes.
Members in the United States may call 1-800-247-3892 (in Utah, 1-800-782-8866) to order videos directly from the Salt Lake City Distribution Center. Most videos are available in VHS or Beta format and cost varies between $8 and $16.
Many of these videos are available to Latter-day Saints worldwide, although approval and translation may delay their availability several months. Each time the Church produces a video it is sent to all Area Presidents. The presidents then review the material to determine if it would be appropriate for their area. If an Area President approves a video, it then undergoes the necessary translation and mechanical conversion. One of the special challenges the Church’s audiovisual division faces is that there are a number of different video formats available worldwide. In the past, conversion to these different formats has been difficult and expensive. But with new technology this conversion is easier and less expensive.
Videos have numerous advantages as a teaching medium. “We have a very sophisticated, visually oriented society,” says Lyle Shamo, director of the Church’s Audiovisual Planning and Development Division. “For good or ill, video is the means of communication today.” While commercial television and videos present some good productions, quite often they have a negative impact on viewers. “We are trying to establish a standard of our own which is appropriate for children of our Heavenly Father,” says Brother Shamo.
The Church builds “modeling” into each video, particularly for youth. This shows strong role models acting in a positive manner.
Video has another advantage in that its motion, color, and sound enhance the impact of the message. Both seeing and hearing a message helps viewers conceptualize the gospel principles being taught.
A primary reason for using videotapes is that video is becoming the most widely accessible viewing format for members of the Church. Approximately 30 percent of U.S. homes have videocassette recorders (VCRs) while 38 percent of the homes in the United Kingdom and 35 percent of the homes in Japan are equipped with VCRs.
In addition, 1,200 stakes in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and parts of Mexico can receive transmissions over the Church satellite system, and members of the Church can gather in their stake centers for Churchwide broadcasts. Video specialists at the stake centers can then videotape the appropriate broadcasts for use in their meetinghouse libraries.
Videos are also very cost effective. It once cost a ward or branch anywhere from $75 to $300 to purchase a movie. In contrast, videocassette costs range from $8 to $16 and contain four to five times as much material as a reel of film. Recopying a deteriorating videotape is also much less expensive than replacing old or worn film.
The Church has received positive feedback regarding many of its videos. Leaders are encouraged to use videotapes to augment their lessons whenever applicable. Parents should also take advantage of this medium to enhance family home evenings and family scripture study.