There are many churches today that are shooting their worship services, concerts, and other events with multiple cameras. Whether you have a broadcast media ministry or not, it’s not unusual to use multiple cameras and switch them live for the IMAG screens, DVD sales, or eventual TV broadcasts. But in more and more churches and ministries, I’m seeing a disturbing trend that devalues the multi-camera director. Sometimes it’s the lowest paid employee, other times it’s a volunteer, and too often, it’s the guy who just shows up. Unless your volunteer is experienced, works in TV during the week, or knows his stuff, any one of those choices is a huge mistake.
The director in multi-camera shooting is an extremely critical component of the program. Here’s why:
1. The director makes the decisions on camera angles, zoom lengths, and framing. Once that’s captured, that can’t be changed, so it’s critical that those decisions are made live in the moment.
2. The director is talking to all the camera operators, so his ability to encourage, inspire, and lead the team is essential for them to operate at their best.
3. The director makes the live decisions about what is captured. When to use audience shots, wide shots, framing for the speaker or musicians – all critical to telling the story properly.
4. The switching itself is far more critical than many people think. For instance, cuts and dissolves to a director are like periods and commas to a writer. It’s a visual grammar that has rules, and not something that happens at random. Know when to cut and when to dissolve.
5. Whatever decisions the director makes, the video editors will have to live with. So make sure the person making those decisions at the director’s console is trained, experienced, and knows what he or she is doing.
In network television, multi-camera directors are a talented breed, who live under pressure, are comfortable talking to 10 or more people at the same time on a headset – all while using multiple cameras to capture an event and visually tell a story. Don’t take shortcuts. If your job is to produce an effective program – ministry or otherwise – make sure the person sitting in the director’s chair and making the creative decisions is the best person for the job.