Our Live Video Shot Strategy

In reference to one of our recent posts showing how we prep for a weekend, we had a request to post the video shot-list we use for a weekend service (shout-out to Donovan V. for the question!). So, here’s a run-down of how this actually works for us.

We don’t really do a “shot-list”, per se. When I hear of a shot-list, a conventional storyboard comes to mind. Going to this level of detail could EASILY suck the spontaneity away from a live event rather quickly and honestly, I don’t really have the kind of time available to pull that off. Although we almost always have a defined and structured plan, we tend to keep things a bit more organic and rely on the strengths of our team members.

This starts with a fairly extensive lyric lead sheet I create for each event that accurately lists the specific band changes in relation to the what lyric is being sung. With the type of music we do these days, it seems the ONLY common denominator that actually makes sense for the technical crew are the lyrics. On this lyric sheet, all of our pivotal audio, video, and lighting cues are listed out as well, so there is some correlation between the time a cue occurs and where we are in regards to the band and lyrics. This is by no means comprehensive but it does give us a fantastic roadmap with much more detail than the generic runsheet that gets distributed to everyone.

After 25 years of running live events, this seems to be a much better way to run things. As a general rule, I loathe having someone trying to call out specific cues for every single element during an event. More often than not, this person isn’t well versed in how to anticipate calling proper cues, so it may cause more communication issues than it solves. I would much rather sculpt the big picture of where the production is ultimately going to go, and through adequate preparation and rehearsal, have the team commit it to memory.

Maintaining this level of preparation in conjunction with this lyric sheet allows our technical staff and volunteers to actually INTERNALIZE what we’re doing. Do not discount this process! Any time you can run an event with a team that is working from legitimate muscle memory in how they relate to function and form, you free up a considerable amount of brain power for them to actually contribute to the creative machine. More than any other single process, incorporating this lyric sheet as the backbone of our event preparation has equipped us to better roll with the punches when things change or go wrong.

In my book, anything that sets up our teams to deliver a better final product for our church is a good thing.

For your reference, you can download our lyrics sheets from this past weekend’s service here.

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Andrew Stone
Production Manager
Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 27 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM's live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches. He's been married for 20 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks), Instagram (stone.rocks), and is a blog contributor on Seeds, COTM's free resource site.