Utilizing Cameras

By Anthony D. Coppedge, Contributing Writer
October 24, 2013

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The Director

The Director is the Boss. This person is in charge of the technical video staff and must be able to multitask. The Director must also take full responsibility for what goes on with the video crew.

As the Director, get an "Order of Service" and arrive early to watch and listen to any rehearsals or practices. Knowing what is going to happen, who will have a solo, what side of the stage the drama will come from, and other such "mundane" facts are crucial for the Director. Take notes and think of how you'd be calling camera shots, graphics and tape roll-ins while the rehearsals are taking place.

If at all possible, have the entire crew show up early, too. A "free" trial run, even if it's interrupted and restarted multiple times will be priceless when the time comes for the real moment. Preparation is the most important aspect for the Director.

When calling shots, use a small vocabulary and a limited number of words. Phrases such as "Camera 1, Pastor, waist up" or "Camera 2, wide shot, slow push in" are the clipped phrases that give very specific instructions without necessitating a running dialogue. Use the exact same
words for instructions for consistency. For example, "Ready, 2...2's hot" or "Woof (stop)". I know you're laughing, but I'm being quite serious.

It's important to note that practices will allow the Director and camera people get to know the "setups" for each of the shots – thereby reducing the need for the Director to explain each shot.

The Camera Operator

The camera operator acts as the eyes of the director. Whenever you're not "on", be aware of what's going on, and try to anticipate where you need to point the camera and what would be the most useful shot for the Director.

If your church uses an "order of service", consider taping that order on the back of the camera for quick reference. And, like I mentioned above, make it a habit to arrive early to learn what's going to happen.

If your church doesn't have rehearsals before service, when do they practice? If the answer is "they don't", reconsider the need for cameras to capture the action!

Your Director should have created "zones" for you. These include:

  • Wide shot (doesn't mean zoom ALL the way out...may mean only frame a portion of the stage...but it's a good ‘go-to' shot in a crunch)

  • Medium shot – such as half zoom in on stage

  • Tight shot – Up close and very personal – a face shot or maybe a shoulders up shot

  • Head-to-toe shot – just like it sounds...remember to include a bit more than you think you need...some content is lost when it's displayed.

  • Waist-up shot – almost like it sounds...but "cut" the person off slightly below the belt line or slightly above the belt line.

  • Close-up shot – typically means as tight as a talking head shot or maybe as loose as an elbow-up shot.

  • Pulpit shot – exactly what it sounds like. Good to be prepared and allow the Director to take your shot when speaker comes into view.

  • Two-shot – usually two singers side by side or a speaker interviewing someone. Enough room for either of them to move away from the other a bit and not be ‘out of frame'.

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