Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To IMAG Or Not To IMAG, That Seems To Be The Question

Final planning is underway for our two Christmas Eve services this year. We are putting on more of a production this year by doing two evenings of a home-grown show called Messiah, based on music from Handel's Messiah and the story of the arrival of our Messiah.

The production will have many elements, including but not limited to:
  • Small dramatic vignettes
  • Orchestral music pieces
  • Singing Solos
  • A twelve-person vocal ensemble
  • Several multimedia aspects
So a big question has come up: should we use IMAG during the production?

For our normal meetings, we've been using IMAG for about two years now, and our congregation has grown comfortable with it (and may I even say dependent on it?). We don't normally use it while we sing, but we have used it on a few performance music numbers, and it has become commonplace during drama elements.

Messiah is intended to be very theatrical, feeling large both musically and in use of the playing space. From that perspective, I would love to skip IMAG, since it will likely shrink people's focus to the screen.

However, over time I have become more and more a proponent of the communication values of IMAG. You can transfer emotion through facial expression and body language to the very back of the room without any effort. Wouldn't that be valuable for this context?

I'm perplexed.

What do you think?


Unknown said...


This is definitely a tough decision. If I remember from the last time I was at CovLife, you have your screen upstage center right? I think that may actually be to your benefit because they can still see the stage action while looking at the IMAG. That, at least, is for the drama you're doing. And I agree .... facial expressions can add a LOT to drama.

When it comes to the rest of the show, you may want to have your full IMAG crew there fore the rehearsal and run everything with IMAG and see where it fits and where you could cut it.

The other thing to consider is crowd size. You have a very large room, so if you're expecting 75% capacity for each show, it may be good to have IMAG because those in the back may not be able to see. Considering your FOH position, you could even ask your FOH guy what he thinks.

Thanks for posting a question like this on your blog and I hope some of my comments were helpful. Hope your event goes well!

Josh Davis

cwtiren said...

David - In my view, here is the key sentence from your post: "Messiah is intended to be very theatrical..."

The theatrical experience is by nature intimate and although the message is communicated differently than if you can see facial expressions, it can be, in my opinion, communicated just as well.

I would seek the input of the director and the creative team, and make a decision earlier rather than later, because it may impact the way the director directs the show (for TV vs. just live audience).

My inclination would be to not have IMAG - perhaps it will make the evening stand out, and communicate the Gospel more powerfully.

With respect,
Craig Tiren

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think that it would do better without the live IMAG feed. I can find it somewhat distracting from stage drama, as it takes the focus away from the whole picture.
I do think it would be good, however, to film it.