4 Ideas to Improve Your Online Video

Of all the things I get to do as a church technical leader, directing live video is one of my favorites. I love the opportunity I have to connect people to what God is doing  on Sunday morning at the church. And I like the pressure and pace of working in live video.

The thought that this may be our first connection with someone looking for a church, or a traveller needing to feel connected to his church family, or a shut-in wanting to join in worship, or a family who just needs a break from the busyness of life; all these, to me, are reasons that drive me towards creating the best online experience I can. I am sure you can come up with additional great reasons.

Here are 4 ideas to improve your live video to make it the best that it can be:

Keep thinking! Continue reading.


Video Directing 101 – Avoid this Common Mistake


By fixing this most common camera placement error, your video directing will connect better with your viewers, lay the foundation for great live appeal, and provide improved story-telling.

In other posts, we have talked about proper camera placement and our ultimate goal of telling an effective story. In this post I want to highlight the most common mistake I see in camera placement. That mistake is simply this: placing one camera in the center of the room and additional cameras on the outside edges of the room. I call this the equal distance between cameras theory.

It looks like this:


Facing the stage, there is a camera that shoots the pastor from the left side of the sanctuary, one in the center, and one from the right side of the sanctuary.

Why is this wrong?

Instead of one simple answer, I would like to lay out some observations that lead to the conclusion that this is not a best practice. Along the way, this discussion will expose some of my presuppositions. As always, although I have strong opinions, and stand behind them, I understand there is more than one way to tell an effective story. However, Hollywood and sporting events have trained people to watch TV and movies in a certain way. By using similar techniques, we minimize barriers to communication.

Think of these techniques as video grammar, if it helps. Grammar is the system and structure of language. Grammar provides the framework for communication. If we all used language in our own way – providing a scrambled word order in each sentence, our unique spelling, not considering subject/verb agreement, substituting our own system of punctuation – communication would evaporate.

The same is true in video story-telling!

Keep thinking! Continue reading…

Video Directing 101 – Song Samples


Seeing something is so much better than just talking about it. That’s the entire premise of the idea that video plays a crucial role in communicating the Gospel. So, it’s time to practice what I preach and critique some recent video at our Christmas Eve service.

Our Christmas Eve service had some exceptional special music. As a church, we don’t usually have special music, so it gave us a chance to do some extra stuff on the video that we don’t normally do. I took it as a great training opportunity. Instead of just writing this up for our team, I wanted to share it here as well.

A couple of observations to help frame the discussion:

  • We updated our video gear last year, 2013, in conjunction with a launch of our video based satellite campus.
  • This year, 2014, we added Grace Online, a live streaming service.
  • In the upgrade, I could not afford an improved intercom, so we continued to use our legacy RTS system. Although we worked with JVC to resolve an issue, they even sent an engineer to our church from CA, we could not fix it. Suffice it to say, during worship, the camera operators cannot hear the director; therefore, we typically do not aggressively shoot the worship portion of our stream.
  • A few weeks ago, we purchased a used HME DX200 wireless intercom and are very happy with it.
  • Our team has only had a few weeks of more intense directing and these are the first specials we have shot with better communication.
  • The camera ops for the service were Jaquie on 1, Tim on 2, and Brandy on 3. They executed well in both songs, and the entire service, staying active and responsive.

It was time to try some things and see what happened! As you watch the video, think of the next shot you would take and when you would need to communicate that to the camera op. These are slower songs, shot with 3 cameras. A lot more could be done with video, but here’s what we came up with.

Keep thinking! Continue reading …

Video Directing 101: Camera Placement


The goal of video directing is to tell a story (Actually, I think that may be the goal of all art). If you are going to be an effective story teller as a live service director, you must learn to position your cameras properly. Last time, I focused on storytelling to set a solid foundation. In this post we’ll get to the nitty gritty of camera placement.

I have strong opinions and preferences for what I am doing, but there is room for exploration and adaption to my ideas. The most important thing is that you capture the event and tell a compelling, effective story, even if you do it in a different way.

The focus of this post will be on directing a church service, but I believe the principles can be applied to any live event. There won’t be too much explanation here–just the facts, ma’am.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Video Directing 101: Telling a Story


The goal of video directing is to tell a story. We do that by capturing an event, not creating an event (although that idea has a place). Part of telling a good story is telling the whole story. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you are going to be an effective story teller, you must learn to position your cameras to properly capture the event.

It does not matter how fluid your pacing is or how effectively your team communicates, if you don’t have your cameras positioned properly you will miss key elements of the program and fail to communicate the whole story with your audience. This is very important and must be carefully considered. In this post we’ll look at the foundation–telling a story–in order to properly consider good camera placement.

The focus of this post will be on directing a church service, but I believe the principles can be applied to any live event.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.