Directing IMAG and Television Part I
Anthony D. Coppedge, CTS
Church Media Hotlist
October 2003, Vol. 1, No. 4
A newsletter produced by Anthony Coppedge Consulting.

switcher board     With the increased growth of medium sized churches, many of these church technical leaders are looking to their mega-sized brethren for cues on how to handle the increased demands and needs for more technology.

    Perhaps the biggest new trend is to emulate these mega churches in every area of technology, including video.

    Whereas most small and medium sized churches have finally realized the relevance and increased functionality of adding video projection, the desire to "do more" has led to a blind acceptance that emulating everything mega churches do is good practice.

The main point of IMAG is to show the audience what they can't see easily.
The main issue I see here is not money, it's application. IMAG -Image Magnification - is a new hot button for medium sized churches seating between 600 and 1,000. The idea is to project a live camera shot of the action on the platform for all to see on the big screens.

    The danger here is that if IMAG is not done well, it's adding a distraction to the service, not enhancing it. The need for IMAG comes when the room size gets so big that it's not easy to see the body language and facial expressions so important when listening to a Pastor or worship leader. The reasons large churches use IMAG is because they can't afford not to do so.

    Now that we've addressed who should use it, let's talk about some basic techniques for using IMAG and, for some even Broadcast (TV stations, cable, etc.)

    When using cameras for IMAG (taking an image of someone from a camera and showing it on the screen (s) inside the room), it's important to keep at least one camera active on a separate input for IMAG only, thereby allowing the broadcast shots (those going to tape) to get audience shots without showing them live on the screen.

    For example, in a 3 camera shoot, Cameras 1,2 and 3 are all mixed in a switcher. However one camera (centerline is usually best) should be routed to the IMAG switcher/router.

    If you're shooting a live service for broadcast, you really need to have a

separate switch for the IMAG. Of course, you'd have the output of the Broadcast (live) switcher routed into the IMAG switcher/router as an input, but the IMAG should also have other inputs to go to when Broadcast needs a non-IMAG shot.

    So, what are "non-IMAG shots" you ask? Good question.

In broadcast, it is common practice to start a segment with an "establishing shot". Many times, this is a "big wide" shot to set the scene. There's no need to show a live audience the wide shot - they are sitting in it - and their eyeballs are already giving them a wide shot. The main point of IMAG is to show the audience what they can't see easily (or at all). It is redundant to show them those shots.

    Also, for reasons described above, it's a HUGE no-no to show the audience themselves. The purpose of using audience shots is to create a sense of presence for those who were not there. And believe me, there will always be those in the live audience who will wave at the camera and say "Hi, Mom!" if they see themselves on screen. Just don't do it.

    A possible way to get around your dilemma is to use full screen graphics for camera man songs so you can freely take audience shots, but they won't be going to the screens.

    When you begin a more sophisticated broadcast, it is useful to have two centerline cameras (loose follow and tight follow) and two switchers (IMAG and Broadcast).

    By utilizing two directors (Broadcast and IMAG) and a two channel communications system, the IMAG director can talk to the cameras he needs while being courteous of the Broadcast director's shots.

    For example, many times I'll direct IMAG and will tell the centerline camera "Two, you'll be hot on IMAG even after this shot. Just hold the tight shot." On nicer cameras, you can have a dual-tally light system to have a visual reminder for the camera op that they're on for Broadcast and/or IMAG.

    In the next issue, I'll talk about "Director Lingo", and provide terms that your team needs to memorize and use to streamline your video productions.

Anthony Coppedge is a church media consultant with Anthony Coppedge Consulting, Inc.