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Directing for Church IMAG Screens

Use creative angles to keep your shots close. Say there’s three people singing nice harmonies at the front of the stage and you want to put all 3 on the screen but they’re standing far apart from each other. You put that shot up from the front camera and you’ve got a wide shot. Try getting the 3-shot from the side, where you have a racked profile of faces. Now you’ve got all 3 on the screen and their in close-up, perfect for IMAG.

Also avoid match cuts or dissolves. It’s jarring for the viewer to see a waist shot of the pastor and then another waist shot of the same person from just a different angle. The same is true of CU to CU of the same person.

#5 Don’t use fancy switcher effects to brighten up the video feed – Think about it, do you really want your audience to go “Oh, that’s a neat effect”, right in the middle of worship? I think not. If you’re into that kind of thing, use them in announcements and productions that are played for the screen only. Don’t let your directing call attention to itself, let what’s going on from the stage be the focus.

Directing for Church IMAG Screens – the Do’s

And now for the Dos…

#1 Do your prep work! – Meet with the pastoral team, the worship leader and the teaching pastor. Get on board with what they’re sensing for that service and enhance it visually. Know the music backwards and forwards; know who’s singing what parts, what instruments might have musical breaks and who’s leading what songs. You must be thinking 30 seconds ahead of those on stage to be an effective director.

#2 Make sure you have the right gear! – If you have a lens on your main camera that can only zoom as close as a head-to-toe shot, you need a better lens or get the camera closer. Your cameras are there to show close-ups. That’s what the people in the audience in the back can’t see—facial expressions.

Also, if your cameras can’t pan smoothly on a tight lens, upgrade your pan heads. Sticky zooms and jittering pan heads are distractions. (See don’t rule #1)

#3 Be creative! – Think weeks, even months ahead. If there is dramatic video that can be produced before the service that will augment spiritual points in sermons or worship, GO FOR IT! Storytelling with video is powerful; use it to move your people. Don’t just pre-produce announcements.

#4 Be willing to learn – Watch what other churches are doing, not just online, but go and visit. Sit in the congregation and analyze what is working and what isn’t, and be open enough to critique your own directing in the process.

#5 Have fun! – Directing live events is awesome, there’s nothing like it. Enjoy yourself. Get involved in the moment and in doing so treat your crew right. You’ll get much more out of a TV crew if they’re enjoying themselves and being treated with respect.

Any other good suggestions you’d like to add to Clay’s list?


This article first appeared at Phil Cooke’s Website, and features the know-how of Clay Jocobsen. Used by permission.