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Top 10 Video Directing Tips From Red Rocks Church

By Sean Begler

During one of our Resi Equip sessions we sat down with Katrina Clark, Video Director of Red Rocks Church, so we could get an inside scoop on her best video directing tips. Luckily for us, Katrina shared her top 10 tips for video production that allows her to direct live video for one of the pioneering churches in cinema broadcasting. No more stressing about creating the right content or learning from mistakes until you find the right workflow.

With this inside info, you can put the control over production back into your hands and create a service that cultivates engagement and shares your message exactly how you see fit. Find Katrina’s Top 10 Video Directing Tips below so you can stream like Red Rocks!

Let’s dive in and get learning.

Tip #1

Worship First

You are a visual worship leader, it’s an important role with tons of purpose, don’t get so caught up in the technical that you miss the movement.

Tip #2

Foster a Balanced Work Environment

Know when to joke around and when to get serious. Both are important in a production environment when building a strong team. More trust = better line cuts, more creativity, and happier volunteers who will look forward to Sunday.

Tip #3

Make Friends With the LD (Lighting Director)

Lighting is the most important piece to your line cuts. Learn how your Lighting Director (LD) designs songs, what elements he or she likes to use and why, and how to best set up your cameras in relation.

Tip #4

Know the Songs

Simple enough. If you don’t know what’s happening, you can’t capture it well.

Tip #5

Know Your Worship Leaders & Pastors

Pay attention to their mannerisms and learn to read where they’re going next. Are they bringing it down? Are they looping the chorus one more time? Did the pastor spontaneously decide to come up and pray in between songs?

Tip #6

Focus on Transitions 

Sloppy transitions are the #1 cause of people’s heads turning back to the tech booth. Always be thinking about where you’re headed next and what you need to do to get there. If you’re confident in what every transition requires, you are free to move whenever you need to if unplanned moments happen. Smooth transitions are THE MOST important part of good video directing and a distraction-free service.

Tip #7

Cut Pace

Only go as fast as you can control. A line cut can quickly turn into a fast car on wet pavement and if you can’t keep up with it, it can crash and burn. On the other hand, too slow can be disengaging. Lean into the pace of songs to tell you how fast or slow to cut. If the verse starts off slow and intimate, don’t cut too much as it can be distracting. If there’s a big build into a chorus, cut faster to match it. Intentionality is the name of the game!

Tip #8

Shot Composition

Don’t just think about the shot you’re on (which IS important), but also think about where you’ve come from and where you’re going. Avoid similar shots back-to-back, awkward framings, etc. Quality control (QC) every shot before you take it or create a separate volunteer role for someone to QC every shot for focus, framing, repeating shots on multiple cameras, tracking during talking head moments, and headroom.

Tip #9

Be a Good Steward

Use your gear to 110% and find creative ways to stretch what you have. Move cameras around if you can, work with your LD to potentially move lights around or try different scenes, and try a new aspect ratio or framerate if your system allows. Fresh line cuts don’t always require new equipment or expensive cameras.

Tip #10

Excellence and Encouragement 

Work hard to bring your best offering to the Lord—excellence, not perfection, is the goal. Doing a good job matters and your volunteers want to do a good job, they want to improve, they want to be creative, they want direction. Don’t be afraid to offer corrections and advice in a positive manner! On the other hand, keep in mind that your volunteers are giving their time and talents and usually aren’t full-time cinematographers so positive feedback and encouragement can be the difference between a fulfilled volunteer and a bitter volunteer. If there is a mistake that the volunteer knows they made, be the first to offer grace.

Wrapping Up: Video Directing is an Art

Video directing can feel both complex and overwhelming when you’re in the thick of production, but always make sure to take a deep breath (yes, even when things may be going wrong) and remember that you got this!

Take one step at a time and trust that your team and your workflow can adapt and improve as you figure out the best plan of action for your worship productions. Plus, by incorporating Katrina’s video directing tips, you’ll be sure to produce a worship session that engages your audience, runs smoothly, and stays true to your vision.

For more information on the best tricks and techniques to flawless video directing, make sure to check out our Resi Equip with Katrina Clark where she discusses just how Red Rocks achieves their leading-edge production. Plus, you’ll find tons of downloadable content including these 10 video directing tips in PDF form to share with your team, and cinematic overlay bars to help you achieve that iconic ‘Red Rocks’ look!

Sean Begler

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