In a recent The Church Digital Podcast, we talked a lot about how to improve our video and audio quality to make our online content more engaging. And while we talked about the technical elements needed to improve, we didn't really discuss one area: how the video director can make the video artistically more engaging. Over the years, I've had this specific philosophy engrained into me... ironically this philosophy came from a volunteer I taught to video direct. It didn't take long for Charlie to start teaching me things! Talk about ownership in serving! Anyway, Charlie's another story for another day... Charlie's lesson was the ABC's of video directing (applied during musical portion of the worship service). Here we go:
A - Always Be Moving
This is a big step for engagement. The camera should always be moving during musical worship. Pushing in. Pulling out. Panning left or right. Dolly shots. Crane shots. Whatever you got, keep the camera moving! Allow that video frame to continue to expand and reveal new territory, new detail. This is even more important as you're looking at keeping engagements over long periods of time online. Yes, worship (musicians and instruments) need to be animated/excited/engaged in worship, but your camera operators need to be constantly moving as well. Pro Tip: Video Director, have the camera start its movement BEFORE you transition to it. Get your standby camera moving before you transition (cut or dissolve) to it. This way worship becomes fluid, engaging. Oftentimes, when the camera stops moving you're giving the viewing audience permission to disengage, to stop watching. Don't stop. Pretend you're Sandra Bullock on Speed. You gotta keep the bus moving or else it's going to explode. No pressure though. Tick. Tick. Tick.
B - Cut To The Beat
Another way to keep audience engaged during worship. Cut/Transition to the beat of the song. It's powerful when transitions happen in sync with the musical beat. Find ways to sync the transition to the beat of the song. When possible, even hold transitions out to the end of the lyric phrasing, or transitions when the singer takes a breath or pauses. The more your video transitions align to how the song flows, the more engaged people will become with the video. Disconnects or missing the beat can be jarring to the person watching, pulling them out of their engagement. Video directing needs to be seamless, invisible... and hiding our transitions to the beat of the song is a big step to being invisible.
C - See What You Hear
Okay, this is a little play on words here ("C"="See"... but it still works!) Nothing is more awkward than when you're seeing something on video and not hearing them. Maybe it's a vocalist who is singling loudly, but not into a microphone.. or it's an instrumentalist who's physically jamming out, but the instrument isn't in the online audio mix... In situations like this video needs to follow audio. Video director out there:
- Make sure you can hear the audio mix that's going online in the control room.
- Be sensitive with your shots, that you are showing elements that can be audibly heard.
Believe it or not, even showing things that aren't being heard is an opportunity for people to question what's happening, or disconnect the watching audience from engaging.
It's through steps like these that we engage people, that we can connect with people, drawing them into your church's discipleship process. Whether you're a skilled video director, or you're trying to grow your skills for the kingdom, thanks for serving and allowing God to use you!
For a recent example of how a volunteer video director can work with volunteer camera ops to achieve these, making a church service more engaging online, watch this service on YouTube. Pick out the good, and the bad, of the video directing and hopefully learn from the experience. We'll publish tips on producing video for teaching soon.