It’s that time of year again. Little Sally is in the local Christmas pageant and Grandma and Grandpa who live in California won’t stop pestering you about a DVD copy of her debut performance as Angel #3. That leaves you as the videographer, sound mixer and video editor all for this one simple project. The stakes are high, but if you start off with the right equiptment and a few basic know hows, you’ll transform this yearly Christmas chaos into a blockbuster production to impress for years to come.

Essential Equipment

Here are some must haves if you want to produce high quality home videos:

  • Tripod (steady shots are key!)
  • Digital Camcorder(s) (more angles give you more editing choices!)
  • Extra storage device (SD cards, flash drive, hard drive…whatever works with your camera)
  • Still camera (cell phone camera will work in a pinch)
  • Headphones


The Set Up

Setting up before a pageant is crucial if you’re looking for a polished finished project. Get there early enough to snag yourself an aisle seat. That way you can set up your tripod safely in the aisle and avoid having to shoot over heads. Another option is to go seatless and set up in the back or side of the auditorium (or cafetorium, or gymnasitorium or church multipurpose room or wherever this lovely even takes place). Your legs may get sore, but it may be your best option for moving around if you’re working a one camera operation.

If you do have two cameras to work with, I suggest setting one up with a nice wide shot that will capture all of the action and then use the other as your “follow Sally’s every move” device. If you don’t have two camcorders, well, that’s where the still camera or cell phone camera comes in. Every now and then, just leave the camcorder with a nice wide shot and take a few minutes to take some still pictures of Sally and her friends. These will work well as cutaways during the editing process, and will also serve as nice momentos for the night.

If you do have the freedom to move around the auditorium a little bit, just focus on a triangle set up. Spend a few minutes at a point on the right side of the room, a few minutes in the center of the room and a few minutes on the left side. The center should always serve as home base as that’s where you’re most likely to get a solid wide shot of the group.

Make sure you keep those headphones plugged into the camera and listen every now and then to make sure you are recording the audio properly. Grandma and Grandpa will be devastated if they don’t hear Sally’s solo during Rudolph.


Editing the Pageant

When it comes to putting everything together, just keep it simple. Stick to a wide shot as often as you can, and just use your secondary camera or still photos to cut away when you need something a little more exciting. Steer clear from obnoxious transitions like star wipes and heart wipes. (We know your child is a star and you love her without using annoying video transitions.) Stick to basic wipes, fades and best of all…just cuts! Simple is best.

The audio is going to be a big part of the memory making magic, so make sure you spend some time adjusting it as need be. If the piano is faint, you can always play around with adding a little bit of your own accompanying music in the background!

Use some beautiful holiday motion backgrounds at the beginning and end of the video as title cards, and make sure to include the name of the event, the year and the age of the child for keepsake reasons. It’s a lot better than guessing years down the road. You can also include a nice holiday themed DVD menu if your computer so allows! Or, just upload it all to YouTube!


Finally, Some Basic Rules

Just keep a few rules in mind when you’re shooting and editing your holiday pageant and you’ll have a knock out performance to be sure:

  • Don’t worry about following Sally’s every move. Watching her interact with her peers will be half the fun down the road, so make sure you include them, too!
  • Don’t create a scene. Remember that all of the parents and family there are trying to enjoy and record the show, too. Instead of making enemies, make some friends and agree to swap footage later that week!
  • Enjoy the performance. Making memories with the camera is fun, but it’s also important to live in the moment.


Do you have any tips and tricks for capturing pageants or recitals? Leave them in the comment below or share them on the Video Blocks Facebook page!

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