5 Fundamentals for Killer Live Video Production
For multi-camera live video production, one of the most important things we can do is allow the audience to feel connected to what’s happening on stage.
Since many people may be sitting at a distance, it’s easy for the band members or the preacher on stage to appear tiny or far away. We want to give everyone (even those watching the livestream) a front row seat. So learning a few camera basics will allow you to create excellent productions that elevate the actions of those on stage.
When using multiple cameras that will be cut together, it’s important they all look the same. Imagine cutting from a wide shot of the pastor to your close up of the pastor and see a drastic change in his skin tone. A good camera setup will get all your cameras looking identical in order to minimize distractions. If possible, try to use the same make and same or similar model of camera. It’s not always easy to match color and look across different brands of camera.
If you are lucky enough to have a big bucks system, your cameras will be tied back to your control room where a Camera Control Unit will allow the booth to match all the cameras. But if not, you will need to do it manually.
First, you want to white balance all your cameras. Focus all your cameras on a white card in the middle of the stage. Turn on only the main lights that will illuminate your pastor. Keep all the colored lights off for now. Create a custom white balance in each camera and adjust it to the white card. Now the color white will be the same for all your cameras, which means all the colors should look similar. So a purple backlight on camera one won’t look blue on camera two.
Second, here’s an easy one…make sure all your cameras are set to the same frame rate and shutter speed. If you are shooting 24 frames per second (fps), choose a shutter speed of 1/48. If shooting 30fps, a shutter speed of 1/60 will work well.
Third, be sure your exposure and focus are set to manual. You will want full control over these.
When using multiple cameras that will be cut together, it’s important they all look the same. @matthewfridg Click To Tweet
Taking your place of worship’s environment into consideration can also help when selecting the best motion for you. The color, size, and layout of your space can have a huge effect on whether a motion graphic works to it’s full potential in your presentation. For example, we’ve learned over the last few years that the color yellow does not work well in our space. Because of the wall color, lighting, and size of our venue we try to stay away from using a heavy amount of yellow during our services. Instead, we stay with warmer more reddish hues or blue cooler colors. and we choose backgrounds accordingly during our service programming when using movement.
Since we want to give the viewer a front row seat, we must choose shots that don’t simply document the service but connect the audience to the stage. We can use three basic shots: wide, medium and close.
A wide shot should show the whole stage and is great as your main center camera. It gives the viewer a sense of space and context. It also serves as a fall back for the director to cut while the other cameras are lining up shots.
A medium shot is one that would show a whole person from head to toe. This is great to be able to get a sense of context for a person or two in the shot. This allows the viewer to know that this guy is the guitar player, or the is the singer, or the preacher.
Finally, a close up shot isolates one person’s face. This could be a waist up shot or even a shoulders up shot. This shot focuses on the emotion of the face and allows the audience to connect on a deeper level with the subject of the shot.
As an audience member, your eyes provide you with a wide shot. So there’s no sense spending a lot of time on wide shots. We want to see faces, and maybe the guitar strings during a cool solo. You will want to spend most of your screen time showing closeups of faces intercut with medium shots for context and every once in a while a wide shot to remind the viewer of the space. Place your cameras in your venue where you will be able to get killer medium and close up shots.
Place your cameras in your venue where you will be able to get killer medium and close up shots. @matthewfridg Click To Tweet
Knowing where to put the subject in the frame of your camera is a creative endeavor filmmakers are still experimenting with.
The Rule of Thirds will help as a guide to know how to frame your shots. Divide your frame in to three equal parts horizontally and vertically. When you place your subject at either of the vertical lines or an intersection of two lines, the framing becomes more interesting. However, if you have symmetry in your frame, you can get away with center framing, but probably only for a shot of the pastor or main speaker.
You will want to leave the right amount of headroom for your subject.
Do you have a pastor who wonders around the stage as he preaches? You do! Buckle up. You’re going to be busy if you are the main camera angle for his sermons. It’s best to put someone behind this camera that has some experience with running a camera and even better if they are familiar with your pastor. You will want to be able to lead your subject with the camera and that means being able to anticipate his or her movements.
Good leading leaves nose room in the frame. You don’t want your subject walk left and feel smashed into the left side of the frame. You want to give ample room on the left side of the frame as they walk to the left of frame and visa versa.
Learn more about shots, framing and composition:
Camera movement is sometimes necessary and sometimes creative. Panning left and right or tilting up and down are often required to follow action. Both of these movements move the camera around a fixed point, often a tripod head. The camera itself stays in the same spot. A dolly move in and out, a truck move left and right or a pedestal move up and down can give an extra sense of scope and excitement to your frame and requires actually moving the camera. The speed of your movement should match the tempo or feel of what you are filming. If it’s an upbeat song you may want to dolly quickly. If it’s a reflective moment of the sermon, a very slow move would be ideal. Try to keep some foreground elements in the shot to amplify the effect of the movement.
Learn more about camera movement:
Anticipate, don’t react
Finally, don’t be afraid to anticipate what’s happening on stage. Familiarize yourself with the agenda, set list and on stage personalities. Try to think about what they are going to do next. This takes time but will allow you to capture great shots with pleasant composition without missing key moments of the event or service. I would rather have a camera person take a chance because they wanted to get the shot then miss something because they were too slow to react. If you react, you are already too late.
What are some other camera fundamentals for live video production?
Familiarize yourself with the agenda, set list and on stage personalities. @matthewfridg Click To Tweet
Matthew Fridg is a professional writer/director. He has produced work for NFL, Discovery Channel, Fox, GNC, Velocity Network, Freethink Media, Martin Guitar and more. His passion is to tell compelling stories with a cinematic approach. Having served as an Associate Pastor and Worship Leader for nearly 10 years, he also desires to see churches use video to effectively communicate the Gospel in new and creative ways. His work as a blog writer, podcast guest and public speaker has been seen at ChurchTechToday.com, worshipideas.com, Churchm.ag, ChurchLeaders.com, ThomRainer.com, rad-ideas.com, ChurchFilms.com and the National Worship Leaders Conference. He lives near Pittsburgh, PA and in his spare time loves writing scripts, doing projects around the house and hanging with his wife and four kids.