After days of stitching tinsel onto an old bed sheet or trying to convince your little one that it’s really special to be the 14th shepherd twice removed, it’s only natural to want to have some video evidence of the big event to share with the rest of your family.
But you’ve probably seen enough wobbly, out-of-focus nativity videos, featuring a donkey blocking the lens and random bits of audience conversation, to know that if you’re going to do the whole filming thing, it’s probably best to have a Plan before you start….
First up, do check that it’s actually OK to video the performance (or, for that matter, take pictures). To protect vulnerable children, headteachers are required to ask permission from all parents and guardians before filming is allowed – so it’s possible that, for a very good reason, that permission is not given by everyone. Also, some schools ask parents not to video (or take pictures) and, instead, book their own ‘cameraperson’ to produce a DVD which all parents can have a copy of.
Assuming it’s all systems go on the ‘anyone can film’ front, here are some top nativity-capuring tips from the experts at Panasonic:
6 steps to nativity filming success:
Position: It may be a scrabble to get to the school even earlier, but getting near the front is key. Not only are you closer to the action, you’ll avoid bobbing heads in front of your lens. Plus, buddy up with a teacher to find out which side any grand entrances will be from and also which side the music will be coming from – depending on your tastes you might not want the Christmas tunes ringing in your ear the whole time.
Politeness: Wherever you position yourself, do make sure that you – and/or your equipment – are not blocking the view of other people in the audience. Some people do prefer just to watch, without filming or taking pictures, and they could, not unreasonably, feel a bit miffed if they can’t see anything but your iPad or bobbing head.
Light: Take a quick sweep of the room. If there’s big windows you’ll want those behind you so they help illuminate the stage. Try to use a camcorder with large wide-aperture lenses to capture more of the natural light.
Mode: With all those wise men, animals and angels, zooming on your star is key. Zooming requires a high quality lens, so look out for the ‘f’ number (usually printed on the edge of the lens), as this means a wide aperture and more light. Some cameras also offer a spotlight function which is perfect for filming indoors with theatrical light.
Sound: Large school halls, lots of parents, nans and younger siblings can mean capturing little voices is a tough challenge. If they’re using a sound system, try and get close to the speakers. If not, opt for a camera with a zoom mic function, bringing you closer to the sound on stage and away from those around you.
Steady: Smooth movements are key – that includes your sweeping movements around the hall and zooming, too. If you can, use a tripod (some little ones are relatively cheap) so that you can actually watch the play rather than worry about filming.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience. After all, you might capture a gem like this…