Live Streaming a Private Funeral
I recently live streamed a private funeral. For some, this might sound depressing, but for me, it was a very positive experience.
My industry, like many, has been very hard hit due to the corona pandemic. So when my filming colleague, Stu Sweetow of Audio Visual Communications offered me this live streaming job, I said “Count me in”.
Preparing for the funeral live stream
The funeral took place at Greer Family Mortuary in Alameda. Stu and I arrived at 8:30am and we had a two hour setup. We were dressed for the occasion, looking dapper with face masks and protective gloves.
The chapel was a very intimate affair. The current ruling on public gatherings allows a very small number of people in one room. There were 11 who were grieving the loss of their loved one. Everyone attending wore face masks and were separated from one another.
Our goal, as professional videographers, was to catch the event in entirety. We had to capture the music, the memories of participants and the eulogy given by the minister. The event was live streamed in high resolution to the Zoom platform and it had to be done right first time with no room for error.
The live stream had to be done right first time with no room for error
Before we started the stream, we made sure that all Zoom attendees could see the broadcast and hear in high quality. We also enabled chat so attendees could leave messages.
The layout consisted of three professional Sony FS5mkiii video cameras – one above the open casket, one focussed on the minister and another wide angle so that online attendees could see their relatives and friends in the chapel.
The camera over the casket had to be as high as possible looking down into the coffin. A beautiful bouquet of flowers sat on top, so we had to place the camera correctly, obviously making sure it was safely locked down in position. Each camera had a wireless video and audio transmitter which eliminated trailing wires and cables.
I was born into a religion that did not have an open casket tradition, so it was the first time I had seen this. The deceased person looked peacefully asleep and beautiful.
Stu was in charge of switching all three camera angles with gentle fades from one angle to another. I focussed on filming the key speakers and monitored the overall production. We lit the chapel with some subtle warm lighting, just enough to make everything look pleasing on video and not distracting to the participants.
A memorial is a celebration of someone’s life, and our online participants were truly grateful for our service. They even requested a copy of the ceremony which is included in our package.
It is a fact of life, people unfortunately die and this service is much needed at this time. It’s difficult enough for those who have lost loved ones, but for relatives and friends not being allowed to attend a funeral is heartbreaking.
Lucky, we live with amazing technology and this is a great example of bringing people together for an important occasion. It might not be the same as being there, but it is the next best thing.
If you need our funeral live streaming services, especially during this difficult time, please do not hesitate to call Alan or Stu at 510 590 8532. We are available at short notice and will create a memorable experience for your family and friends.