Are you looking to improve your worship mix? Is your Sunday video production falling flat? Dropped shots, missed opportunities, amateur framing… it can be incredibly stressful to try and capture a world class mix when you have other projects (like actual work and family) vying for your attention. For those who can’t focus 40 hours a week on improving their video mix, here are 7 tips to immediately improve your video mix.
1. Shoot what you hear
Don’t blindly take shots just because they work good in your mix. If you can hear something distinct like an electric guitar or singer, your audience can also hear it and expect to see it. Keep an ear open and make your mix flow with the service, capturing everything that is going on.
2. Anticipate whats next
Many times things spontaneously happen in worship, but often certain things are always a given. Testimonies, visitor greeting, offering… these are all things that happen EVERY service, often at the same time. Don’t be reactive, instead be proactive. If you know a song is ending and someone is getting up to talk at the pulpit, have a camera get the shot beforehand so you can quickly switch when the time comes. Properly using this technique will improve your professionalism by leaps and bounds!
3. Don’t neglect the big picture
This is one of my favorites 🙂 Sometimes we as directors can get so caught up with getting the coolest shots of the lights or the tightest shots of someone picking a guitar that we neglect the big picture. If all you focus on is the minutiae, your mix is missing the big picture of what is going on. Mix in a wide camera (stationary, jib or otherwise) frequently to keep context with the entire service. Your audience will thank you too for a little break from the cool drum shots! :p
4. Use your stage elements
Don’t simply get shot after shot of the band or singers. Mix it up a little creatively and use your stage elements to your advantage. In our sanctuary, we have LEDs washing the stage with color. Our camera operators will often integrate those lights into the shot. For example, slowly pulling out of a blue LED revealing the worship pastor playing his guitar. Stage decorations are there for a reason: use them to your advantage!
5. Less is more
Maybe you have a church with 4 guitar players, 3 keyboardists, 8 singers and a 20 piece choir. You might be tempted to always include as many people as possible to continuously convey action. Be warned: cramming each shot with as many people as possible can start leading to shot fatigue. After all, if you see the same people in EVERY SHOT, why are we even mixing shots together? Instead, try working in some shots that utilize negative space. Instead of the worship pastor filling the entire shot, pull out and put him on the bottom of the shot while the top two thirds show shining lights, a cross or other stage element. This is particularly tricky to pull off because, improperly done, it can give your mix an amateur appearance. Properly done however, and your video mix goes from ordinary to extraordinary!
6. Picking the pace
I visited a church a couple years ago and sat in on their directing. I was amazed at the fast pace they mixed their shots. Regardless of the song, tempo or flow, each song was a pounding nonstop barrage of shot after shot. Besides the continuous assault on the senses, it physically wore me out after a while, even though i wasn’t doing anything! Take a moment to evaluate each song. Is the song fast paced? Then make your mix fast paced. Are you transitioning to a slower song? Do the same with your mix. Your video mix should always complement what God is doing during a service, not distract from it.
7. Slow Down
Last but not least, the hardest tip to give and follow. DON’T TRY TO DO TO MUCH TO FAST. Just because you see Hillsongs get a shot doesn’t mean you have to!! Everyone is a different level, and you need to build upward from the place you are at, not try to skip ahead several miles. If you try to skip ahead to much, you will find your team doesn’t have a proper foundation to improve upon. Make a strong foundation, and build upon it. Go at your own pace. It would be better to do less better, then to do more worse.
There you have it – 7 Tips to help you improve your video mix. What do you think? Do you have any other tips that should be included? Let me know!