Video On A Budget: Account for Strengths, Weaknesses of Gear

A mentor once told me that it’s not hard to get Hollywood results on a Hollywood budget. It’s much harder to deliver on limited resources, but it is not impossible.

Video On A Budget: Account for Strengths, Weaknesses of Gear
When using video cameras, such as this Canon camera, placing the camera at an appropriate focal length from the subject to avoid digital zoom can really improve the overall picture.

Careful Planning

When coming up with your video, before considering the appropriate technology, you should first figure out what needs to be achieved. That can be done either through checking your script and storyboards or understanding what you need to do to show your service in a live video. Knowing that gives you a goal and criteria for success.

Once that is established, you can then consider maximizing the strengths of your tech and minimizing its weaknesses. As I mentioned, my camera functions well under ideal lighting conditions, but not as well outside or in low light. A good first step in careful planning, therefore, is to avoid shooting in those conditions, if it can at all be prevented. If the script calls for shooting outside, then I need to ask my team if the shot is totally necessary, or if there is something else we can do.

Aim For Your Target

A plan is great, but as any seasoned hand will tell you, once you get in the field, the plan needs to adapt.

As you adapt, keep your aim firmly on the goals you set. Remember, however challenging, you are not aiming for a moving target. The goals you set before the shoot, are still the goals you are trying to achieve.

For example, another opportunity to maximize strengths on a shoot is with camera placement. Don’t be inhibited by the way you’ve always done it. For instance, at many churches, the quality of the zoom lens can really determine the quality of the end product. Especially with consumer grade cameras, digital zoom can really harm the overall quality of the video.

Placing the camera at an appropriate focal length from the subject to avoid digital zoom can really improve the overall picture. Just moving the camera to a different angle or depth can really minimize a weakness.

Here is an opportunity to adjust your aim: What works better to suit your needs, the direct angle that forces you to use digital zoom, or the closer side angle that changes what you see, but keeps the picture quality?

Back in your planning meeting, did you ask what was most important? Both have positives and negatives. Don’t fear trying it out, and then asking for opinions.

Maximize the Results

We have an annual community cleanup project called, “We Love Our City,” that necessitates shooting video outside. It’s a big event, and requires more than one camera team to catch everything. While we do borrow a camera from our local public access station, we still need to use our old camera. It just doesn’t deliver the color or intensity a more modern camera can, in those settings. Even though it has more limited capabilities and a less impressive lens, it’s five years more modern, and it gets the colors to sing in a way only a modern camera can.

When editing, how do we maximize every shot regardless of the camera that is used? In this case, we incorporate a lot of filters and a rough, gritty editing aesthetic. We are an urban church, and the project itself deals with things like graffiti, the cleanup of areas known for drug abuse and homeless camps, and the needs of kids growing up in a city with some challenges.

More About Adrian Gates
Adrian Gates is the Media Director for Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In his 16 years as a media professional, Adrian has served many different roles, including music producer, web master, videographer, consultant, social media “expert,” sound guy, lighting guy, stage hand, and roadie. His clients have included some of the largest tech companies in the world, New England churches looking to modernize, and dedicated weekend warriors. Adrian is a graduate of the New England Institute of Art and Communications.
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Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.

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