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Live TV Production

Updated on March 14, 2016

My Producing History

I've been shooting since I was a teenager. I love having a camera in my hands. I've shot for churches for years and have been involved in a wide variety of shooting processes. I started out shooting services with a single low grade consumer camcorder. I varied the shots from wide to tight as I panned with my pastor across the stage. (More on terms later.) I've also coached, shot, mixed and directed a live music show. I love doing that show it was a lot of fun. I did that show for over ten years and it taught me a lot about the basics of live production. We used 5 cameras and shooting it taught me to know the strengths of the cameras and just how to place them. It taught me timing angle usage, and over all camera basics. Years later I began to teach the new teenagers that came out to shoot at the show. Eventually I got good enough to mix the show and direct the shots. It was a blast! Just after college I began mixing services for a different church. It was a challenge to switch from 1 camera church production to 6 cameras! The cameras were all controlled by a mix board and joystick. That's right, the joystick controlled the movements of the cameras. I really had to hone my skills to get smooth pans and tilts with the cameras. But I always appreciate a good challenge.

Now I produce a two camera shoot for Victory Orlando. I finished film school and am enjoying shooting in manual mode for a change and placing into practice the nuances to getting a great shot. I shoot with one camera on a head to toe shot medium wide shot and the other on a belly up or maybe even a head and shoulders shot. I follow pastor with the tight shot and then in post production I cut the two shots together to make one show. But enough about my history, I want to write about live production.


  • Pan: To pan means to move the camera from side to side. You may use this to follow the subject or to get a nice motion shot of the whole stage or seen.
  • Push: To push means to zoom in or out on the subject. This can be a great way to introduce a new subject or to open on the scene.
  • Tilt: To tilt is to move the camera up or down in a "yes" motion. If the subject changes location it may be necessary to use this motion along with the pan or push to keep them in the center of the screen.
  • Truck: To truck the camera simply means physically moving the camera across the floor while shooting.
  • Boom: A boom is a crane like piece of equipment in which the camera sets on the head of it. The boom operator physically moves the camera in an arc fashion across the stage and can even push in or out on the camera while doing it.

These motions will really bring some sparkle to your live production and make the show come alive.

Basic Camera Shots

  • Wide: The wide shot is your establishing shot. In church production it may be a shot of the whole sanctuary or at least of the whole stage. The wide shot shows the audience where they are located.
  • Head to Toe: The head to toe gives a little space above the head of the subject and a little space below the feet. This is a good medium shot to establish the speaker.
  • Hip Shot: The hip shot is set from the hip or maybe even from the belly up. It's not as tight as head and shoulders. But it's a good shot to have something tight but it sill has some breathing room to it.
  • Head and Shoulders: This is your tight shot. In the film world it would very nearly be a close up. This is a good shot for when a major point is being said or something serious or intense is needed to get across.

It's good to remember to vary your switching between these shots for variety. Add some motion to them while filming to create some visual spice.

How to Shoot a Live Event

Once you start on your shoot the first thing to do is to place your cameras. I have two cameras and I place them side by side. Again I have a head to toe shot and a hipshot. When I used to intern for Victory Christian Center in Tulsa Oklahoma, their set up was from left to right as follows. They had a boom camera at the far left which was great for capturing the band and those wonderful swooping shots. Then a camera positioned at center left, center right and far right. They also have a camera on stage for close up stage activity shots and audience shots. It's important to show the live audience to help the video audience to keep an illusion that they are there on location. It's also great to show audience members who are laughing, crying or responding to the speaker in some way. Just don't show sleeping, bored, or gaps in the crowd. Try to also not show to much of the wall or ceiling. A wide grandiose shot to open with is ok to show some wall or ceiling but after that try to focus on the stage and the speaker.

How to Shoot Continued

Once established on your camera pod, get your headphones on and acknowledge the director. The Tally light on the monitor will show you if your live or not. On your right hand or maybe the left will be the hand held zoom control. Use the switch to push in or out; but be careful, that switch can be sensitive to the touch. Be sure to set your sensitivity level so that it is responsive but not to fast or slow. Push in all the way to the subjects eyes and focus on them. Use the other hand held tool to focus. This tool will be a ring that you can turn to focus in or out. Once you are focused on your subject then everything up to him or her will be in focus. Be sure to put the focus assist on because that will help you to know when everything is in perfect focus. The focus assist will put a blue or red highlight line around your focused subject. This is the basic checklist you'll need to start your live production filming.

Great Educational Video


In our wrap up please note that these cameras and equipment will be quite expensive. You can expect on average to pay $16-18,000 for just the camera. That does not even count for the tripod, monitor, focus ring, remote control etc.

Please see other Hubs on how to do settings such as gain, aperture, shutter speed and more. But, what I hope this will do is give you a good understanding of how to shoot a live event. This article gave you a good over view of terms, camera angles, and how to do the shoot.

What's Your Favorite Brand of Camera?

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Please see for further information on this and other church media articles.


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