Eight terms every live streaming church should know

New to live streaming? You’re not alone, and there’s a big learning curve. And while there are so many aspects of this we could talk about, most of the big mistakes churches are making come down to basic videography. But if you learn these eight terms commonly thrown around by video makers, you’re certain to be ahead of the game.

1. Aperture

The human eye can’t focus on everything at the same time. If you focus on something nearby, far away objects will be out of focus. This isn’t necessarily the case with a camera lens. Aperture controls how much is in focus at once. The lower the aperture, the more you get that lovely, fuzzy background.

But there’s a trade-off. If you have several people at different distances from the camera, a television, screen, or video wall behind your pastor, you may not be able to focus on everything at once. Set your aperture to keep everything in focus that needs to be in focus, and nothing that doesn’t.

Oh. And please don’t put your pastor right in front of a wall. It will look like a mug shot if you do.

2. The Rule of thirds

It’s a mistake to put the most important thing right in the middle of your shot. The rule of thirds helps you frame your shot to make it aesthetically pleasing. Here’s how it works.

Imagine you took a screen shot or photograph of your stream and drew a tic-tac-toe board covering the entire screen, dividing your shot into nine equally sized sections. The lines you drew would divide the screen both horizontally and vertically into thirds. Horizontal centering is forgivable, and sometimes preferred, but vertical centering is usually a mistake, especially if you’re centering your pastor’s face. It makes your pastor look small and unconfident, and nobody’s going to care what’s over his or her head anyway. Fix your framing.

3. Exposure

Without getting technical, exposure controls how bright your shot is. Shutter speed, ISO, and aperture all play a role in exposure, but mastering exposure manually can take time, and your camera probably has software built in that can do most of the work for you.

Look at faces. An overexposed shot looks “washed out,” too bright, overly white. An underexposed shot makes faces look too dark. Working with manual exposure settings may help, but the more effective solution is to fix your lighting. And on that note…

4. Key light

Your key light is the primary light you use to illuminate your subject. It’s usually not directly in front. Sure, if you’re lighting several areas of a big stage, or if you have a pastor that moves around a lot, your focus should be on appropriately lighting a scene for the purpose of good exposure. But with a single, stationary subject, a dramatic effect can be achieved by moving your largest light source off to a forty-five-degree angle from the subject. Next time you’re watching a movie, pay attention to the light sources. You’ll learn a lot!

5. Fill light

If you have a key light on one side of your subject, the fill light is on the other. Sometimes photographers and videographers will achieve fill by reflecting the key light off a surface onto the subject’s face, but often it’s a second light. The general idea is to keep that side out of the dark, but not to the point that the dramatic lighting effect you’ve created disappears.

6. Back light

Often referred to as the “hair light” the purpose of putting a light behind your subject is to separate it from the background. You can try creative things like colored lights and lights at different angles, but there’s one hard rule. It must be subtle. The more back light you use, the more you have to bring up your key and fill lights. Otherwise, your camera’s exposure will adjust based on your back light, and your subject will appear dark.

Dealing with dark faces? Consider how much light is behind your subject. An open window or a cross light can ruin your shot.

7. Frames per second

The term has to do with your camera settings, and it deals with how many frames of film will be captures in each second. You may have options like 24, 23.976, 29.97, 30, 60, or even 120. Let’s keep it simple. Just set the thing to 30 (or 29.97). That’s what will work best on all the screens you’re broadcasting to.

8. Resolution

4K televisions are taking over the market, but if you’re broadcasting through Facebook, YouTube, or something similar, you’re not likely to benefit from capturing 4K footage. 1080p (1080 x 1920) is great. For that matter, so is 720p (720 x 1280).

Does that seem low? Consider this. All DVDs are 480p (480 x 720), and 1080p is the original resolution for Blu Ray.

Of course, we haven’t even gotten into how to effectively upgrade your equipment, but we’d be glad to answer your questions there too. Call any time.