Can’t we all just loosen up a bit?


I just watched another “how to direct IMAG” self-help video. The presenter said you should never shoot wider than head-to-toe because the people in the room can already see a “wide shot” with their eyes.

Unfortunately, I’m feeling a bit rebellious. Here are my top 10 reasons that wide shots can work in an IMAG setting – particularly as it relates to music in our setting. Perhaps these will stir some conversation. Perhaps they will stir some controversy. But I do hope that this will help you think about how to best serve your church via video.

1. Sometimes the stage (or the lights) are the story.

IMAG should be about engagement and storytelling – not just seeing things larger. I credit Tom D’Angelo for first introducing me to this principle. There may be moments where the full stage or a light show may actually be the story. After all, what’s the point in showing a medium shot of lead talent when they aren’t currently doing anything?

2. Not everybody gets a full view of the stage.

We have a wide, fan-shaped auditorium. Half of the seats are outside the central sections. There are people on the sides of the room that don’t get the same “front” perspective of the stage. The people in the front rows don’t always get to experience the large number of people behind them that are joining them in worship. These live audience member can benefit from wide shots. Note: I first heard this idea at a FILO conference and wish I remember who said it. I’d like to give proper credit.

3. When you are singing along you don’t always see the room.

In our space, we have side screens for IMAG. That means if you are reading/singing the song lyrics, you are looking to the sides and are missing out on the stage and the bigger experience.

4. Wide shots can create an immersive experience.

Sometimes (perhaps during a big musical moment) the experience is bigger than the screens can hold. In these cases, the shots on the screens can support the experience by acting as an extension of the stage. Wide shots, when crafted right on side screens, can act more like environmental projection instead of IMAG. This can be powerful.

5. Guys like to watch TV.

We have people in the room that enjoy a TV-like experience. Their eyes rarely leave the screens. I did a quick, informal survey of the room over the course of a few weeks. It amazed me how many more men watched the screens even though the stage was perfectly visible. I get it. I’m a big screen junkie. For extra credit, the next time you are in a big box store… see who is looking at the TVs.

6. Streaming and Online Broadcast

Many churches like ours are in a place where we have a large online audience on top of the live, in-person audience. At the same time, we don’t have the budget for a 2 M/E switcher. The online audience is important to us and we need wide/broadcast shots for them. I find many, many churches that I visit and talk to are in this position.

7. Coming up for air

Imagine watching a screen for a song set running 15, 20, 30, 40, etc. minutes long and all you see are faces and guitar strings. Ugh! People need a visual break.

8. Our shots during music should be a dance

Sometimes a sweeping, wide shot, like a nicely executed jib move can bring beautiful movement and emotion to a musical moment. Camera movement should be a visual dance sometimes the skilled dancer uses the whole dance floor.

9. Sometimes the story is advanced if the lead character is small.

Think of a moment where a single, narrow spotlight is on a singer as the singer conveys “smallness” in the presence of God. A tight IMAG shot filling the screen with the singer’s face would be a visual dichotomy. Plus, it can sometimes be kinda creepy.

10. Insert your reason here.

Different venues have different visual needs. Perhaps you have a reason for mixing in wide shots that is unique to your IMAG setting. Perhaps others could learn from it as well. Let a comment and let’s help each other improve.

Photo attribution – CErixsson

Mark Malburg

Mark is a volunteer at The Ridge – ( He leads a team of around 30 volunteer camera ops and directors making awesome-as-possible 5-camera Imag while trying to do it as affordably-as-possible.