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Livestream Worship Services and the Power of Close Ups

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With the explosion of filmmakers, social influencers, livestream worship services, and YouTube producers these days, when it comes to shooting video, there appears to be a significant lack of understanding the power of a close up. In classic Hollywood movies, close ups were used strategically to help enhance the story – particularly when it came to emotional moments. And today, the greatest filmmakers are masters of close ups – which makes me wonder: why do so few video shooters and directors today avoid such a critical shot?

Perhaps it’s because equipment costs have lowered the bar so much that anyone with a mobile phone can call themselves a “filmmaker” – whether or not they actually had any media education, worked with mentors, or spent time on professional sets. But regardless of the cause, let’s talk about why close ups are so important when shooting short videos, social media, or live-streaming.

Livestream Worship Services and the Power of Close Ups

It’s been said that the “eyes are the window of the soul,” and that’s absolutely true. In a video, there’s nothing like seeing facial expressions to help viewers understand the story. Eye movement, smiles, facial changes – all work together to share a message that can as important – if not more important than what’s actually being said.

But in video after video, a growing number of shooters focus on wide shots – which is particularly ineffective during a teaching or training video. But when I’m watching a podcast, short video, or livestream teaching, I’m not interested in the plants in the room, the pictures on the back wall, or the furniture.

And it’s especially frustrating when watching on a mobile device (which is exactly what most of your audience is doing.) A phone video screen is already small, so filming a speaker or program host in a wide shot makes little sense. A wider shot simply makes a person so tiny it’s nearly impossible to see facial expressions or emotion.

I watched a live-streamed sermon from a church recently and at least 90% of the pastor’s message was a wide shot. I could see a row of plants to his right, the piano to his left, a window behind, and a huge stage (with a used coffee cup sitting on the edge) – none of which I was interested in. A simple closeup would have been far more powerful in telling the story.

Worse, on two-camera shoots it’s not unusual to see the odd set-up of a wide shot as the main camera with a close up as a side shot for occasional edits. Essentially, it’s the exact opposite of a recommended setup for livestream worship services.


This article about livestream worship services originally appeared here.