Hitting a moving target

May 7, 2009

It is not easy to hit a moving target. In the same vein it is not easy to keep a camera focused on a preacher or runs. Yes, runs across the podium.

I just spent 7 days split up over 2 weeks and 3 Saturdays shooting a Church Revival for a good friend of mine. He’s a good preacher and it was well worth the long drive back and forth (an hour away in good traffic but what does Maryland and 495 know about good traffic???) to help him and his team out. His messages were very refreshing and applicable and can be seen on Praizevision.com under The Landham Bowie project.

The moving target issue? Well my Pastor friend is always on the move. Always. And when he wasn’t walking he was running. Add to that fact that the TD (technical director) liked tight shots. Tight shots on a moving target is hard. *Unscripted* tight shots on a moving target is VERY hard. As I have stated before I don’t care too much for camera work. I am not a camera man, I consult, devise and setup configuration and train. I also edit but I’d rather not shoot footage, especially moving targets, especially not as the primary camera.

Watch any TV church service, Joyce Meyers (my favorite), Joel Olstein, TD Jakes, and you’ll notice that though they have multiple camera angles through out the service their is one primary camera who’s main responsibility is to be always focused on the speaker. Other cameras can set the mood with audience shots or side shots but there is always at least one primary camera. *IF* I am going to shot a concert or church service I’d like to be the audience/mood camera, I don’t care for the primary camera because there is not a lot of creativity there. With the mood camera I like to catch people that are laughing (if a joke has just been said) or praising/singing along or really into what the preacher is saying. That way when the people at home are watching they get a sense and can feel as if there are there. You need the right mentality to be a “mood” camera person; you have to be able to anticipate what will happen next and what shot your TD would like. 

Because of the Pastor’s frantic movements across the stage (go ahead and check it out and see for yourself) NO ONE wanted to be the primary camera; they were all afraid that they would lose him as he ran from one spot to the next. BUT even though they were on the side cameras they had the same mentality as someone on the primary camera and stayed focused on the subject. I tried to switch with them but no one would have any of it. I can’t say I blame them, though.

It was hard work but at the end of the 7 days (it was 11 total days but I could only make it for 7) it was well worth it. The crew got high marks for working together and quite a few people were impressed with how we were able to keep up with the frantic pace.  Of all the people who worked during the Revival I was the most trained and far from an expert so it was really a testament to hard work.

Side Note: I was working with a Sony DSR-PD170 on a Manfrotto Tripod while someone else was working with my Canon GL2. The Sony has better color depiction than my GL2 and it has a focus and zoom ring; the GL2 only has a zoom ring. However my GL2 has a better zoom x20 vs x12 and costs less, so there. I also have to dedicate an entire post to the switcher that we used: a TriCaster Duo.



  1. Great stuff, brings back fond memories of serving in our video ministry (almost 7 years I think). About 1/3 was spent directing and I can relate! However, in our case we depended on the Director (or TD depending on size of team) to ensure shots were right! Camera folks were given direction but also based on experience allowed to “setup” shots. Now we had 3 stationary cameras on tripods and boom camera (occasionally a shoulder camera) so we had more to work with. Also we tried not to have the traditional “safe” camera that we always came back to, instead kind of rotating around who the safe camera was. The boom really changed things for us as it added a new dimension, especially during worship!

  2. One thing I didn’t mention was our lack of communication devices. Because it was a fledgling ministry they didn’t have the funds for the proper headset equipment for the camera operators and TD. Made things quite challenging.

    A boom camera is a wonderful thing. It is definitely on the list of items that Praizevision is looking to get in the future.

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