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Video Broadcasting 101

Have you ever wondered how Bethel.TV captures worship the way they do? Welcome to the basic introduction for video broadcasting at a church. In this session, the Bethel Church Production team shares video basics, theories behind video broadcast, and camera positions, all while sharing their heart for production.

The Approach - Time: 0:01-13:21

  • Chad likes to say, “Worship first, capture second.” As a director, Chad is aware that if he responds negatively to a shot over the mic it can distract from the worship atmosphere the team creates. Otherwise, “they’re trying to impress me, instead of trying to impress the Father.” On a similar note, Jessie points out, “. . . when we’re doing this stuff and we’re having technical problems, you know, it’s important for us that we position our hearts to where we’re always worshiping no matter what. And distractions are distractions. And so our first job is not just to capture, but to actually steward and facilitate . . . we’re creating an environment of worship for our team because we want to anticipate what God’s doing and we really want to create that culture, both on stage and then backstage.” “Your video team,” Chad says, “are just as much of a worship leader as those that are on stage.” 

  • When it comes to "approach," Drake explains that they want viewers to be able to say, “Oh, I’m here, in the room, experiencing this with everyone else.” The team’s goal is to produce a stream that looks like a concert film, only it is released in real-time. 

  • To pull off what the team does, the director tells the team what their camera positions will be beforehand and gives them the setlist for the service. Then they “imagine in their head how they’re gonna capture that,” Chad says. As a director, Chad tells the team that they must be “usable,” or shooting footage, 99-100% of the time. If an adjustment needs to be made, the camera operators need to do it in about 3 beats of the song. Drake explains “. . . we’re really making sure that everyone is actually listening to what’s happening in the room and what’s happening on stage and we want to capture that. If there’s a guitar solo, I want to see the guitar solo. If there’s a big drum build, I wanna see that.”

  • Up until the October before Worship U On Campus 2019, the live stream looked like a typical broadcast. Then, in October, the team switched to a high-movement approach. Yet, Drake explains that “it does take time to get to that. . . . you have to like break that mold of how it was done in the past to actually get on this.” Drake also mentions the importance of physically showing all of the camera operators what you’re looking for, because, oftentimes, you can’t explain it in words.

  • Chad highlights the importance of communicating with the senior leadership team. “You would have to really sit down with your senior leadership team and say, ‘hey, this is where we’re kinda taking it, how do you guys feel about it?” Chad adds to this that Bethel’s style of streaming is “not for every house.” 

The Details Make the Style - Time 13:22-28:11

  • Drake jumps into the details of the job that adds to Bethel’s “style.” “The main thing is,” he says, “the frame rate that we run it at. Most broadcasts are run in 60, 1080P60 or 1080I60, and the variable of that is 30 frames per second, some broadcasts are run in 30, but we actually run everything in 24 frames per second, which is very much cinematic, it’s what movies are shot in, that’s what a concert film would be shot in. And that image, that motion blur, that you get out of 24 frames per second helps. It really adds to the style that we’re doing. We’ve actually tried doing the same style in 30 and in 60 and it doesn’t work. It’s actually really hard to do and it actually looks really bad, in my opinion. So, the 24 frames per second is a big key. It can add a little bit of kinks into your workflow with broadcast systems, ‘cause not all systems like 23.98 or 24, but that’s a major part of our system.” 

  • Chad adds that “prior to us changing our style, we were using Sony F5 cameras, but they don’t play well with the Black Magic ATEM switchers. So, prior to that, we were shooting at 30 but we had to output at 60I. . . . it just looked weird. It just didn’t work. We had the Black Magic URSA Mini Pros, and we were like ‘Hey, you know what, that does 23, that definitely plays well with the ATEMs, so let’s bring that in.’ And we basically switched out our entire system of cameras so that we could get this effect and get this look.” 

  • “When we were using the F5s, the Sonys” Drake says, “and we were trying to do this style and everything was still in 30 and 60, our senior leadership team was like, ‘No, we can’t, we don’t want to see this like ever again,’ basically . . . and so we actually, for the time being, had to go back to our more basic broadcast until we could do the full switch of cameras to actually make it 24 frames per second.” 

  • “The other thing is,” Drake continues, “our camera placement and how many cameras are handheld, versus on sticks. Right now, right now for Worship U we actually have two cameras on tripods basically, they’re peds, and then the one cable cam, but everything else is handheld. On a typical Sunday it’s usually one camera on a tripod, maybe a jib, and then everything else is handheld. That is a huge play into what we’re doing, is we’re trying to get that more edgy feel and so part of that is running everything handheld. We do use easy rigs or shoulder rigs, depending on the operator, and sometimes I will specifically say I want an easy rig here, just because I want a certain style out of it or I want you to be fully handheld, I don’t want you to have any support because I want it to be a little bit more aggressive” Chad adds, “That all comes from listening to the songs . . .” For camera placement specifically, Drake summarizes it as “three to four on stage, a couple in the pit, our main follow straight on, a 45 degree follow, and then typically we always try to have one or two people in the room roaming around . . .”

  • “We actually try, as much as we can, to stay away from wireless video,” Drake says, “because it adds so many issues, it’s not as stable as you would actually hope it would be unless you spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.”

  • “We are using Black Magic URSA Mini Pros and URSA Broadcast for our cameras and we’re using all of the Black Magic on the video hubs, the ATEM switchers. Our entire infrastructure is basically all Black Magic.”

Questions and Answers - Time: 28:12-43:47

  • Question: Do you have problems with making every input the same standard? Answer: Drake answers, yes, but we’ve “figured out how to do it . . . So we convert anything that’s not a camera, ‘cause the cameras can be set to what we want them to, all computers, ipads, whatever that we’re putting into it is all run through a converter to get that frame rate. Decimator is like the go-to.” Then Jesse adds, “I think the big thing is making sure that you lock it in, even though that they have it built-in, you really want to make sure that it's all the same, because then you start getting sync drifts, even though it reclocks it, you'll still start losing your sync slowly over time and, depending on how your setup is, it can be inconsistent and so you’ll have lip-syncing problems. So, don’t rely on that, make sure you actually convert it and sync it.” Drake does reference how Blackmagic Design makes “ultra studios,” but even at large events, Bethel Production uses a Decimator.

  • When asked about filming live slow-motion, Chad talks about how they came to be the first to feature slow motion in a live stream. It all began with a video the team was watching and a conversation, then they built a box and filtered the footage from a camera set at 60 frames per second, outputting a video at 23.98 frames per second and he referenced

  • Discussing syncing the audio with the visual in the stream, Drake says that one guy mixes the live stream sound, another broadcast audio engineer that takes that mix as well as the front house input and mic input and runs it through processing, including a fragment of delay, and then he puts it all together as the final step before the stream. He also mentioned that using only Blackmagic equipment or software helps to keep it all in sync.

  • When asked about LED backgrounds on stage, Drake highlights that “you get what you pay for when it comes to LED products” and he mentions specific adjustments and the results. Drake also mentions the importance of your key light, or front light, being “able to match” the brightness of the LED display. 

  • Discussing creative shots, both Drake and Chad highlight how their ops are good at what they do and they have trust in their skill, so they can empower them to be creative. Drake particularly likes lens flares in the shots and he discussed creative, and inexpensive, ways that camera ops get the flares. Drake and Chad both agree that you do have to be careful with multiple elements of creative shooting because it can get to be too much or it can grow old fast. Chad also points out the importance of knowing what your leadership’s limits.

Directing, the Audience, and Worship - Time: 43:48-55:22

  • When it comes to directing/managing the footage as it is shot, the team had a few pointers. They spoke to the importance of having a quality relationship with your director so that you can have clear, concise communication without offense. Following this, Chad is able to say “On paper, Drake is my boss . . . but for the most part, we function more like a partnership and more like brothers.” Drake’s response is “Yeah, absolutely.” Then Chad brings it back to the main point when he says, “because I know that through it all, our main goal is to, like we said earlier, have people experience what’s happening in the room in their own rooms, but also to see people come to the Father.”

  • The team also has some pointers for taking shots of the audience. When they hear the crowd singing, they take footage of the crowd. When things are musically calm on the stage Chad doesn’t like to have up-close shots of the band, so he likes to have a wide audience shot and if he doesn’t have that then he will go to a shot of someone. “People will see themselves on screen,” Chad says, and he explains that the key is to have another shot to switch to quickly if needed. For some services, the media team gets down in the audience to shoot footage. “And it honestly took a while for the audience here at the church and the pastors to get used to us walking around the room and that’s something that your leadership team, honestly, has to be okay with you getting. We’ve found that it actually can, especially in the room even, it can pull you into, actually, what’s happening . . . You have to be really careful with what you get and what Chad says, always have something to get away from that shot.” Jessie adds, “Everything new is weird. Everything new is distracting for a minute, but just make sure you honor the house and the pastors.”

  • Chad wraps it all up when he says, “Our main goal is to worship and to create an atmosphere of worship. The worship leaders are doing it over sound. We’re doing it over light, you know, we’re doing it over video.” He expands on this when he says, “As a director, I’m trying to steward the hearts of the production crew to not only pursue their passion for production and excellence but to do it while worshiping and focusing on the goal of leading people’s hearts to the Father.” Chad gives the example of one of the camera operators who will take a shot of the crowd and pray for someone at the same time: he can capture footage and “actively engage in worship.”