Producing Better On-Location Videos

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

As more and more media ministries venture into the world of on-location video production (i.e. off-site, out-of-sanctuary videotaping) they realize the training and equipment needed on-location are dramatically different than those required for normal week to week videotaping of worship services and events.
Videotaping outside the walls of a comfortable, clean and climate-controlled worship center, fellowship hall, youth center or other “in-house” location introduces unique set of challenges.

Here’s a rapid-fire checklist of some of the technologies and techniques related specifically to effective on-location video production.

Avoid positioning your subject in front of competing and distracting backgrounds. Signs, people waving, animals, traffic, window reflections, children, to name just a few of the usual suspects, can wreak havoc on your goal of maintaining your viewers attention on your subject. Better yet, if possible, blur the background by diminishing the lenses depth of field by positioning the camera further away from the subject if moving your subject further away from the background.

Pack several camera support solutions including a tripod, monopod, steadicam, “beanie bag”, wheeled dolly, mini-pod and/or other specialty supports depending on the nature of your location, time frame, environment and budget.

Use a screen hood for your camera’s LCD screen or your preview monitor for improved visibility in bright sunlight. Don’t forget a long video cable to feed the preview monitor, a clear UV filter for lens protection, accessory hotshoe(s), protective hard-shell or padded soft camera bag, plenty of battery power, battery charger, A/C adaptor. And of course, plenty of digital recording media.

Bounce it. Filter it. Mask it. White balance to it. Measure it (light meter). Color it. Control it. Carry portable, battery powered lighting and extra extension cords for powering electric lights and other gear across multiple circuit breakers. Avoid harsh shadows. White boards, reflectors, barn doors, gels, extra lamps/bulbs, scrims and good old fashioned clothes pins are all your on-location friends.

Always carry microphone windscreens for lapel, hand-held, and shotgun microphones. A portable audio mixer, over-the-ear headphones, and a well-stocked audio adaptor box are vital. A backup wired mic can save the day if your wireless signal/frequency is unusable do to potentially unforeseeable signal interference. What unwanted sounds are present and can you control (silence) them? You probably can’t stop the construction crew across the street but you can eliminate the whir of an A/C unit temporarily (hopefully).

Release forms needing only a signature and date, advanced permission to be where you are shooting, phone numbers of those who granted you permission. A written permit or permission document is better yet.

Heat, rain, sand and moisture are mortal enemies of your sensitive electronics. Basics include camera “glove”, rain poncho, tarps, towels and an umbrella. In extreme cold keep extra batteries warm.

Canned air, sand bags for light stands, gaffers tape (no duct tape, please!), bungee cords, small ladder or step stool, basic tool kit, cable ties, power strips, digital still camera, backup gear, orange cones, a basic makeup kit for eliminating facial/forehead reflections and “hot” spots, utility clamps, script, sequential shot list, field monitor, AA, AAA and 9-volt batteries, teleprompter or cue cards, and lots and lots of a/v adaptors.

Jay Delp has been involved in media & ministry for years and specializes in ministry-based media/video production, training, writing and consultation coast to coast and beyond. For more of the story click over to