Tuesday, April 29, 2008

4.27 Reverb

Please accept my apologies, friends, for the late posting of this weekend's reverb. I was tied up on Sunday afternoon with the Members Meeting, so I just didn't get around to it. And I already have this sense that Sunday was an eon ago, so I apologize if my comments are a bit hazy.

Saturday Setup and Rehearsals

First, thanks to all of you who helped with the work day on Saturday. Not only did you clean, clean, clean, but you also set up for the Sunday service. Thanks for freeing some of the volunteers from Saturday responsibilities. I know they and their families benefitted from your help.

Second, I have been asked by several people if we have abandoned Saturday evening band rehearsals altogether. Nope! It is true that by the end of this next weekend, we will have skipped Saturday rehearsals for five weeks straight. That's been the result of a confluence of many factors, but not the result of any grand plan that I know about.

We'll be back on track on May 10th with Saturday rehearsals, especially given some of the struggles this weekend with the choir sound. We were reminded this weekend that Saturday rehearsals are especially important on unique Sundays.

Sound - Overall Comments

Due to the early morning start and some last-minute organization that I had to do, I didn't even see the way soundcheck ran on Sunday. I'm assuming that silence means things went smoothly, but that isn't always wise. If anyone has any thoughts on it, please comment here.

As far as I remember, there were no missed microphones this weekend. Thanks, Julie, for paying close attention to the multiple transitions and the spontaneous moments.

Also, thanks, Dave, for letting us borrow Sovereign Grace studio mics for the choir again. Even though the choir sound was a battle, the better mics are getting us closer.

My only specific comment on the sound is that the choir was never quite as loud as I would have liked and the mics were always on the edge of feedback. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is anyone aware of a church that does this well that we could learn from? Please let us know by commenting here.

Some "unique" aspects about our choir include that it:
  • is not isolated in a loft
  • is only about 30 people
  • is singing as the lone background vocalist
  • is singing with a full band including drums and percussion (aka bleed)
I definitely took away at two things:
  1. We need Saturday rehearsal time to work with a choir.
  2. We should add at least two "solo" vocalists to support the choir until we are able to work out the mic and gain issues.

Lighting - Overall Comments

Ken, thanks for working with our adapted approach to lighting this weekend. I think that darkening the backdrop made a big difference on the video. I got a number of comments that the changes improved people's experience of IMAG during the message.

My only suggestion after seeing everything was related to the choir and the backdrop. Because some choir members were standing in the backdrop lights, they were much brighter on the screen than the rest of the choir.

When there is a choir (which is almost always on Ken's week 4), I think we need to treat the backdrop and the choir as one object to light. To be more specific, we should aim lights at the backdrop as usual, but we should also aim the choir lights so that they light up the backdrop fully. Then, in the cues where the choir is on stage, the backdrop-only lights should be off, and the choir lights themselves will light the backdrop behind the choir. When the choir is not there, we'll use the normal backdrop lights.

Video - Overall Comments

Wow! This was a busy morning: there was a special song with IMAG, three videos, welcoming new members, a few slides tossed in here and there, and at least one ministry mic moment. Thanks to all for your flexibility and special thanks to everyone who came in early to plan and prepare.

I want to highlight the excellent work done by the camera team on the special song and welcoming new members. What worked so well was the understatement of the video shots. They very much supported what was being sung and spoken, and - while visually interesting and dynamic - drew no attention to themselves.

The team focused on the soloist during the special song with occasional shots of the choir. It was a nice visual mix. They also stuck with non-panning shots of the new members. I'm more convinced now than ever that panning doesn't work well when shooting a group of people on stage. Just pick four or five people and show them. Then cut to another shot of four or five people. This approach is simple, clean, and manageable. Thanks, Isaac, for your leadership in these two areas!

We still have a ways to go in the area of video roll-ins. If you didn't get a chance to read my comments last week, please review them here. For the foreseeable future, we are going to do an 8:30a rehearsal of all video roll-in cues including lighting and sound. I just want to be sure that we are all working together to make this happen well.

Here's the issue, friends: the church is investing a good deal of time and money into these videos, especially the Psalms intro videos. And with such sensitive topics and such short time, every word counts, every image counts. The folks shooting and editing the videos are making very careful and prayerful decisions about scripting and pacing.

We must feel the weight of responsibility to transmit those communication details to the congregation. When the video roll-in starts late or ends early, we are undermining some of their carefully-considered decisions.

This is not to induce fear or guilt, but to make everyone involved in the video roll-ins know that we cannot assume anything in this area. Please don't assume you or your team members are going to get this right. Please practice it and talk about it and practice it again and talk about it again. Then, we'll practice it together at 8:30a.

Thanks for making the extra effort to undistract these videos!

Well, I think that's it from my tiny brain. Please leave your thoughts and comments here. Enjoy your week, and we'll see you on Sunday!


David MacKenzie said...

It doesn't appear there was a full PA line check. About halfway through the Sunday rehersal, I found Julie (the mixer) working to figure out why Ken's vocal was patched into the left keyboard channel (and the left keyboard channel was unplugged at the stage pocket), the soloist's wireless mic wasn't patched, and the drum overheads didn't have phantom power. With some help from Nate we got it sorted out.

We might consider mics made specially for choirs. Next month I want to try some 414s in hypercardioid to see if that rejects the other stage noise better. I found a helpful article about micing choirs here:

I wonder if we could adapt the backdrop screens concept to put acoustically absorbing screens angled out on either side of the choir to help shield them from stage noise.

Also, we need to be careful to put as little as possible in the choir monitors. Normally I would have been onstage to check that, but this week I stayed back at the PA board to make a recording. I made sure to put the choir mics in front of the choir monitors, but they still picked up a lot of the soloist's vocal, either from the monitors or the PA (or live?).

Peter Bang said...

Thank you Dave for writing these posts week after week. They are very helpful. I did like the non-panning shots during the new member introduction.

Anonymous said...

HI, I stumbled across your Blog and read about the choir mic situation. Believe it or not, some of the Hi powered condensor microphones that are "made for choirs" sometimes cause the most problems. I have used SM57's to a very good success in the application where you have a live worship band and need the cardiod noise rejection to minimize the bleed. Try putting 4 on boom stands in fron of your choir. Get them high enough to shoot over the heads of your front row. If you have 5 rows high, try aiming them between the 3rd and fourth row and put them about 6 inches away from the first row.

When using microphones in this application proximity is the key. They need to be really close even if you try the higher powered Condenser type mics. I also like to come over the top of the back row since every church puts their guys in the back and try to mic them at closer proximity so that the fellers can be heard. If you mic close to the women..... You get women.... Funny how that works!

Space mics approximately 4 feet apart across you choir for how ever wide it is.

Hope this help you guys!
God Bless!

feel free to email me if you need further help!

For His renown!

shawn rowe

Anonymous said...


the email is wrong sorry!


Dave Wilcox said...

From Frank Mackey:

About Spainish Interpretation Setup: There are specific portable headsets that consistently make hissing sounds. They can be an annoyance or irritant to users, i.e. interpreter. I believe since explict headsets are the culprits they should be tested and identified. I'm willing, if necessary.

Dave Wilcox said...


Thanks for your suggestions. I'll definitely keep them in mind as we move forward in this process. We have already tried the SM57 mic approach, though not in the density that you're talking about here. We may try that next time. Thanks!


Dean said...

This is not a response to this post specificaly, but I didn't see an email address where I could send this. My apologies if it violates a point of blog etiquette!
I appreciate your blog title "undistract." I assume by choosing it you have identified one of the major concerns in the use of technology in worship: distraction. It's easy for gadget types like myself to use technology simply because we can. We must think through the question of whether and how technology serves the message.
I just wanted to recommend a book that deals with this issue and is very helpful in thinking it through. It is by Quentin Schultze, professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College, entitled "High-Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technologies Wisely." The principles it presents are readily applied to all types of technology in worship. I found it helpful for my own development and in helping techies think through what we do and why.
Thanks for the blog!

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