Church Production

Photo of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, courtesy of Mankin Media

Top 5 Ways to Improve Video Directing Skills

Many times in my career as a video director I have had people tell me “what you do doesn’t look that tough, you’re just calling out numbers.” If only it were that easy.

By Mark Hanna
June 10, 2013 1:27 pm EST

Topics: Tech Tutorial, Video-based,
Tags: camera, direction, IMAG, production, video,

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Directing IMAG is one of the single most challenging things I have ever learned to do. It’s very much like a game of chess in that you have be focused on the moment but living a little bit in the future. It requires you know what will be happening 20 seconds from now and be planning for that, but be executing right now. If you have never directed before it’s really difficult to appreciate what it takes to do it. Many times in my career as a video director I have had people tell me “what you do doesn’t look that tough, you’re just calling out numbers.” If only it were that easy.

In this article I want to give you some ideas about how to improve yourself as a director or to improve the team mates you may have serving as directors. There are some challenges when it comes to deciding how you want your IMAG to look. Challenges may include having enough volunteers that can be trained to do what you want, as well has having a budget that allows to buy the gear that will enable your team to succeed. I say that because I know too often that how churches do IMAG is not the result of the video director saying “I want it to look like this” near as much as it is the video director saying “I want it to look like this, but we cannot do that, so we are going to make sacrifices and do it like this.” This is really common in the church world, so be aware when you are trying to look for ways to improve your directing skills, your situation may be unique enough to warrant a technique or style that really only makes sense in your situation. You should never set out to make your IMAG look like church X, especially when you don’t know what church X’s circumstances are. Instead you should look at what church X does and try and figure out why they do it that way. The “why” is far more useful knowledge.

1) Know the music

If you are doing IMAG for worship, your director must know the music. That means you should be listening to it all week prior so you know where the breaks are and know where the solos are. It simply does not make sense to have camera shots coming in fast and furious for a song that is slow and contemplative because your IMAG will become a distraction. While knowing the music is functionally important, it’s also important that you know what emotion your worship team is trying to evoke, so you can work in conjunction to achieve that emotion. This is important because emotion is what moves people along in a service. If you can connect with people on an emotional level, then you can succeed in a really big way. If you don’t make that connection, then you limit what you could be doing.

2) Stock your arsenal

It’s important for a director to know the tools at his disposal. For example, if your worship team is doing a slow introspective song, that should mean the camera shots are going to longer, slower and less dynamic movement. The transitions will also be longer and less frequent. The camera operators will also start employing focus rolls and rack focuses that match the somber emotion. We refer to this style as “classy” and it is one of tools in our arsenal. It is not, however, the only tool in our arsenal. The most important thing about having the tools is knowing when, and sometimes more importantly, when not to use them. So develop tools, styles, and techniques that make sense for a situation and use them accordingly. This could be something as simple as having your camera ops change shooting style, or something like switching a portion of the song to black and white, and to simply stop everything because it’s appropriate. Develop and hone tools and design a plan for implementing them. Next page