Setting up church video camera 1

I mentioned in the past that if you want to start a church video ministry, the minimum number of cameras you should consider buying to record your worship services are 2 church camcorders.

In this article I want to talk about setting up the main camera, it is usually refered to by the video switching or mixing director as camera 1, and is the most important camera when conducting a live recording event in this case the church service, but it could be a concert, conference or even drama production.

Camera 1 should be placed in front of the main stage. platform or centre of action and should be placed close enough to get a good closeup of the Pastor, preacher, guest minister or worship leader. An example of a typical shot from the main camera is shown below.

Church video main camera 1 shot

Camera Position

The distance from the platform that your tripod on which your church camera is mounted should be placed will depend on the optical lens installed, and while I could give you a formula that you could use, the simplest method is just place the camera in a position, and zoom in till you get a shot size similar to the one shown above. If once you've zoomed in competely, your subject is too small, move the camera forward.

Your church Pastor or Bishop should have made the congregation aware of the new media department, as the presence of cameras can cause a bit of intimidation for church members until they get used to the new equipment, especially as you'll need a platform in the middle of the sanctuary on which to place the main camera tripod to be able to shoot over the heads and hands of church members.

Once you've decided on the tripod position, there are still a few things you need to do before your camera is ready to be used in a live switching environment.

Church Lighting settings

Not every church will be able to afford a proper TV lighting rig when starting a video recording department so you need to make do with whatever light sources you already have in the sanctuary and set your camera accordindly to work with it.
Depending on the church camera you have chosen, there are 2 places where you adjust how bright the images shot on your camera look. The first is Iris control, and the second is the gain control, and having read your video equipments manual, you should get your camera setup to give you a picture that you are happy with, and is not dark on your video mixer monitors. Remember you should not use the automatic controls for the functions of your camcorder if that is what you are using.

White Balance your Camera

The purpose of white balancing a camera is to make sure that the camera reproduces images just as faithfully as the eye does, and the easiest way to confirm this is to make sure that white clothes appear white and no other color. You would think that this would always be so, but if you used your camera outside to shoot a short interview or church video annoucement for example, if you don't do a white balance before using it in the church santaury where the main source of lighting is incandescent bulbs, then your white shirt will appear yellow!

Check your focus

It will be necessary for you to keep your main subject matter in camera focus, and this should also be switched to manual control, as you don't want to rely on a computer generated algorithm working out if the Pastor looks sharp or not while preaching during the sunday service.

These are some of the camera functions that need to be checked during setup before every service recording, but are particularly very important for camera 1 your main shot when recording your church service for video, TV, internet streaming or cable broadcasting.


Anonymous said...


Matthew King said...

A great way to maintain focus, too, is to (leave the camera in Manual mode), but zoom ALL the way into your subject, and make sure you are focussed. Then zoom out, and continue shooting your subject as normal, and your subject should stay in focus all through your shot as long as you do not move the camera does not get any further away or closer to the subject.

There's not a lot of these types of posts out there, and there are a LOT of churches that are trying to learn and discover the information you are putting out in these types of blogs...

Thanks for the updates....

HeyLanny said...

We are a small Church just starting out using ustream to upload and copying to our website at

We have been just using a camera from an elevated sound booth which catches the fans some times and produces some distorted sound. We are just now allocating added equipment and tools.

Your web site has been really appreciated instructional site on the subject and we want to thank you for all the hard work and nice layout.

In a contemporary world that is constantly changing we must learn and use the technology we have available to insure that the Gospel Message Jesus Christ gave us is brought before the world for their own choosing. Joshua 24:15

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