Tip of the Week | Live Shots and Active Live Shots

“Live Shots and Active Live Shots”

This is an ever so critical part of our day that often gets over looked. I picked the minds of 4 mentors to formulate a list of “how to’s”. Active live shots when done properly can be a very compelling element. When done poorly they can distract from information and destroy production value. One of the most important considerations during the live shot is “what’s happening now” or what can we show the viewer that is live action. The active live shot is NOT “look over here, then zoom over there, then back to me, then down at the ground.” “Yack” – that was the sound of the viewer throwing up. Steady. Smooth. Solid. Much like everything there is no blanket rule for live shots. At the end of the day look professional and deliver the viewer a valuable message.


– Take the viewer to the scene. What’s happening now?

– Over the shoulder is great as long as you can ZOOM WITH YOUR FEET.

– Steady. Smooth. Solid. Don’t ask your photographer to zoom left, then right, then up, then down, until you are sick.

– Use a prop. Demonstrate something

– Lighting with HD TV now is critical. Don’t sacrifice production value to zoom into nothing.

– Work with your photographer, not against him.

– Camera movement must be motivated by something significant or live off a nicely lit live shot on a tripod.

– Juggle between what is cool and what is distracting.

– Occasionally add a little depth of field with a compression shot when you don’t have much for background.


“Look for ANY opportunity to demonstrate something. go mobile, put fresh batteries in and use the wireless and do a quick walk and talk.. QUICK. something like…”Let me show you here, this is what’s changed.”
– Mike Schuh

“If the folks at home are going “that is cool” or “why is he holding THAT”…they are not paying a bit of attention to what the reporter has to say: actual information (we can hope). Have to juggle between what is cool and what is distracting.”
– Les Rose

“You have to constantly be thinking demonstrative. I simply go off the shoulder when their is something to show and use the “zoom with your feet” routine. I get close to what is going on to bring the viewer to the scene instead of zooming with the lens.”
– Darren Durrlach

“If you can bring the viewer to the story with movement and props, viewers tend to like that. Whatever you do, do it with pride.”
– Leighton Grant


– when active, light beginning and end of the live the shot so your reporter can move through it as they talk.

– Use your light kit at night (key light, back-light, background light)

– add production value to the HD picture with lighting.

– make the top light a last resort (dim top light so you can open the iris all the way)

– Use filter 1 9db at night (open iris all the way)

– dim lighting accordingly

Lately we are finding ourselves out there standing in front of nothing really. (The infamous Newport News Police Live shots for example) Don’t force the movement. Having nice background and nice lighting is valuable as well. Steady. Solid. Smooth.

Hope this helps. Looking forward to seeing some great active live shots!