Training – Camera Ops for Worship

Posted: March 11, 2008 in Church Production, Leading a Media Team, Service Production

Ok, so this post is going to be some tips and techniques for the Camera Ops and Directors during Praise and Worship
I am going to be attaching two different videos, both From Buckhead Church in Atlanta that I would like to use as examples. One is a fast song and the other is a slow song. I will go ahead and admit we lack some of the equipement to do all of this, but I believe we can do a lot of it to better our skills!!

Fast Song:
Some things to watch for:
Zooms- I Love The Speed of these for this song! Especially when the zoom to the lead singers face when he starts singing.
Framing- Great Lead Room and head room for the singers.
Speed- Everything is always moving, no static (still) shots. Which is great for this song!

Slow Song:
Some things to watch for:
Subtle Movements- For the most parts they are always at least slightly moving
Rack Focus- A lot of the shots are out of focus when it is dissolving between shots– Awesome!
Slow Dissolves- Keeping more than one shot on screen for an extended period of time, great stuff.

So, here are some tips and techniques for running Camera during Worship.

1- Decide
-Most always it is up to the camera operators to choose their shots
-The Director may say at the beginning of the song what you are going to concentrate on, here are some possiblities
-Lead (the lead singer, you should try to keep this person in shot most of the time)
-BGV (the background singers, alternate between them. You are not required to find them always, so you can do other shots as well)
-Instruments (You are concentrating on getting the instruments

2-Go with the Flow
-If the song is fast, try some fast zooms, crazy movement for roaming camera.
-Slow song: subtle movements, rack focus (where you are in focus and go out of focus when their about to switch), slow zooms

3-Frame It
Framing is important when choosing a shot. Generally the rule of thirds is used. Break up your screen into thirds, then place the talent on either the left or right third line, and put them mainly along the upper horizontal line. I would love it if cameras had this as an overlay so it would be easier.
-Lead Room: If your subject is looking to the left of your screen then frame him to the right of your screen so that he has more lead room.
-Head Room: Don’t give to much head room above a subject, like to much black above his head. It makes them look really small>< Also, don’t give to Little Headroom, you don’t want the persons head hanging off the top of the screen. Viewers won’t know where their forehead stops!!!

4- Anticipate It
-Watch the screens. If there is a shot of someone in the left side of that screen, set up your shot with someone else in the right side of your shot. This creates a good transition between the two.
-If the director is using dissolves and you are on screen, when he is ready to go to another shot and begins the dissolve, try rack focusing your camera or losing the subject screen bottom or to the side opposite the new talent is on.
-Set up the shots. If the current screen has the lead singer, and a guitar solo comes in, go to the guitar.

5- Go Wide!
-Right when you go off screen, zoom all the way out so you can see the whole stage, then find your next shot in your monitor and immediately go to it.

6- Don’t Leave Us Hanging
-Other than when you are setting up a new shot, always have something usable in your shot. This way, if the director needs to go to your camera or “accidentally” does. It is not a shot of someones shirt or hair or black etc.

7- Movement
-Any shot on screen looks a whole lot better (most times) if there is a little movement. Even if you only have a shot of the lead singer, zoom really really slowly. You may not be able to notice, but I assure you it adds a whole lot to it.

8- Make sure you are off before you move
-Make sure that you are completely off the screen before you start to move to a new shot. This becomes very important during slow dissolves between shots. Generally the Director will say something along these lines (You are Camera 1 in this sequence)
Camera One Ready- (Get Your Shot Ready, Steady it or go ahead and begin zooming etc.)
Dissolve Camera One- (You are slowly being dissolved on screen)
Camera One- (You are On Screen by yourself)
Camera Two Ready- (Camera Two is getting ready, hold your shot)
Dissolve Camera Two- (You are still on, so hold your shot)
Camera Two- (Now you are free to find your new shot)

9- Move Along
-After your shot has already been on screen, find something else, unless you are filming the lead singer. For instance, if you are on drums, you should move to something else when you’re not on screen again. This way we are not alternating between lead singer-drums-lead singer-drums… You get the picture.

10- It is IMAG
  -Remember we are filming for IMaG (Image Magnification) this means it is our job to Magnify the person so it is bigger than what the people can already see. So, most times except for zooms or artistic wide shots, stay close. Most times you want the person on screen to be bigger than that same person on stage.

Alright, so there are my tips for the day on running camera. Some of it may seem jumbled because I was typing as I thought :).
Also, for those of you running cameras for ONEWAY, remember that you are a huge blessing, and nothing we do on Wednesdays is possible without your help!

Check back for more tips later on!


  1. Kyle Smith says:

    Hello Blake I am Kyle Smith of Summerville Family Worship Center in Summerville S.C. . We only have one camera in our youth group ( and we are doing the most I can with it but it is up high and stationary and zooms very close, far, left, or right even up or down but I can’t get those good views right, there is no dissolving either!!! We have a Home Video Camera and need some good suggestions on what to buy for better views and how many and what cords.

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