Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5.18 Reverb

The Psalms series returned this Sunday in full force and with the full-stage backdrop. Greg Somerville preached on The Bitter from Psalm 55. You can listen to the message here.

We also had the privilege of baptizing two people. I'm so grateful that the entire church gets to rejoice together in the way God is changing lives.

Josh also kindly provided us a video bloopers announcement moment, probably without even noticing it. During the first service, he told our guests, "... We hope this is your last time at Covenant Life..." We do?!? I'm confident it was an honest mistake, but it will likely come back up again, if you know what I mean.

As usual, I have some thoughts that reverberate from this weekend that I'd like everyone to know about. Please send in your comments, too, even if they are not related to something I have written here.


First, special thanks to Jim and Nate. All the baptism mics worked correctly! I'm sorry that we didn't tell you that Jon was supposed to wear the "rocket pack" earset mic in the first service. We'll try to be more clear on that next time.

I wasn't able to really listen to the choir this weekend, but it seemed like Jim was able to get enough gain out of them. Any thoughts, Jim or others?

It seemed like setup and rehearsal went smoothly. Again, I really wasn't there, so I'm counting on you to agree or disagree by commenting.

One quick reminder on stage setup: We need to watch out for upstage creep. The rectangles on the stage diagram are sized to indicate the person and their instrument, not the music stand. Please put the music stand downstage of the rectangle on the diagram. Here's the issue: our musicians, no matter how outgoing in real life, are wall-flowers when on stage. They always stand as far back as they possibly can while still being able to read their music. If given the opportunity, they will stand as close to the backdrop as humanly possible. This causes lighting issues, primarily glowing foreheads and uneven lighting on the backdrop. Let's "encourage" them downstage.

You may have noticed that we are trying to arrange our services so that we can sing longer after the sermon. Many people have found this to be a great opportunity to reflect and apply, so you can expect to see this happen more frequently. But the change raises a question; if people are invited to the front with 10 minutes left in the singing, do we leave the subs and front fills on or turn them off?

The answer: Please leave the subwoofers and front fills on until there are people praying out loud for each other. In other words, if people are just meditating silently and personally in the front, leave all the speakers on. Once Josh invites pastors or care group leaders to come down and pray out loud with others, please turn those speakers off.


Lighting went pretty well this weekend. I think the main challenges were associated with the big backdrop. A few notes:
  • There are nine panels in the backdrop. Please use five lights. Four of them will cover two panels and one will cover a single panel. Don't use more than one light on any panel.
  • Please place the light "break" transitions at the panel breaks. Breaking the lights in the middle of panels is almost impossible to do well.
  • Even if the lights are all aimed correctly, that does not guarantee they will be even in brightness. Please take the time to adjust levels between the lights to make all the panels the same brightness. Remember the cameras magnify the contrast, so even a small change to our eyes shows up more pronounced on the screen.
  • If there is a choir directly in front of the panels, please light the choir from catwalk 2 and use those lights to cover the panels as well. We tried to light the choir from catwalk 1 to push the shadow down to the floor, but the choir members looked too ghostly in comparison to the rest of the band.
Since we are discussing choirs, one other note: when we have a choir on stage, and someone comes up to talk or pray, we need to get lights off the choir to reduce the distraction of having them behind the speaker on the screen. Please plan to have such a cue ready just in case.


The video team had some difficulties this weekend, but they were from the Lord, not from the team. The DVD didn't work correctly in the DVD player, and the slides were out of order due to some late changes on our part. Thanks for serving with faith and for rolling with the changes. I have a new quote: change is just three letters from challenge. (Woah, deep, right?!)

We had four cameras set up this weekend for baptisms (note to non-CLC tech folks, we have no cam 3, just 1, 2, 4, and 5 - strange, I know!), which leads me to a couple thoughts on shooting baptisms for the future:
  • Camera 4 and 5 color correction - cam 4 and 5 both have digital color correction units inline. They are located below the assistant director desk area, and are labelled appropriately. Camera 4 color is locked in and doesn't need to be changed. However cam 5 could still use some help, so don't hesitate to adjust it there to get rid of the green. Camera directors, please make special note of this.
  • Shots during baptisms - Overall, the shot structure for this weekends baptisms were right on. Thanks, John! We start with a pastor explaining the purpose of baptisms, followed by a testimony from the first participant, and then the actual baptism. Cam 1 is the best shot for the pastor and testimony. Cam 5 for the baptism. After the baptism, we should use Cam 2 for a wide shot of the entire baptistry just to avoid any immodesty or simply uncomfortable proximity to a very wet person. Stay with cam 2 as the person leaves and the next gets in.
  • When the last baptism is over - we want to move quickly back into singing, so we can go immediately back to lyrics on the center screen, rather than watch the person leave.
  • Camera 1 shot - If possible, don't show both the pastor and the person being baptized. Depending on how close they are standing to one another, that may not be possible. But if possible, just show whoever is talking at that point in time.
Finally, when there is a person speaking and the band is still on stage, let's move quickly to a shot that doesn't have people in the background. I understand that we may need to see cam 2 first simply due to how the shots line up, but if cam 1 or cam 4 have a clear background, let's move to one of those fairly quickly.

That's all I have. Thanks, everyone, for serving this weekend. We couldn't do corporate worship without you. And we can't improve without your suggestions. What do you want to add to the discussion?


Anonymous said...

Great job on the sound for the choir. In the second service I heard them well - and without any feedback or underlying hum. It was a blessing to hear them in the full sound.

Chris said...

I really enjoyed how the choir was mic'd up as well. The intro on the second song was great. I just noticed the spot on the tree in the background and really like the subtle effect.

I'm wondering if we might need to evaluate a different DVD player. The one we have seems very sensitive to any defect in the DVD which requires the use of the laptops too often.

Dave Wilcox said...

I definitely think it's time to evaluate a new DVD player. Thanks for reminding me of that, Chris. What do you think of this one as a possible replacement.

Nick Fitzkee said...

I'm limited in what I can say on the mix when the choir is up, but I really liked the drums on "God Moves" after the sermon. I don't typically notice drums too much during worship, but I did on Sunday, and they sounded really nice. I already shared this with Jared, but Jim deserves some props, too.

One thing I did notice was that the choir monitor didn't have the pastors in it when they came to speak for the exhortation or the baptism. We can hear it to some extent over the mains, but that far back things can be muffled. Was this decision by design or simply an omission?

Finally, perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I can answer some questions about the mics that were used for the choir (or send a link about mic'ing choirs in general). What's the advantage of the AKG mics that were used on Sunday as opposed to what was used before? Second, is hypercardioid the preferred pattern for choir applications? Why this as opposed to cardioid? I know this isn't an ideal teaching context, but it would be helpful for me to learn what's worked in the past.

Dave Wilcox said...


Thanks for your comments. They are always helpful.

I'm not sure how Nate and Andrew set up the choir monitors. Did they use the overhead monitors? If so, then it would be a bad idea to try to put the pastor's omnidirectional E6 into those monitors for the choir. If the monitors were on the floor, then it would be less risky but still not foolproof. Nate or Andrew, can you clarify this?

As far as choir mics go, this definitely deserves a longer discussion than I can give right here, but I'll say this: the AKG mics are definitely better for sonic quality than what we were using before. However, they are also much more prone to cymbal bleed. That's why we put them in hyper mode, to try to reduce even a little what they pick up from the drums.

To demonstrate: we set levels on the choir without the drums on Saturday night. Before the choir came in on Sunday, and Jared was playing, the levels of the drums in the choir mics were higher than the levels of the choir the night before. That is a recipe for disaster.

We ended up asking Jared to pull way back, and it seems like the results were good. However, it demonstrates the sensitivity of those mics, and the balancing act that we're always trying to manage.

To be honest, if we had any vocalists up front, I would go back to the lower sonic quality but higher rejection mics we had been using. But they just don't work really well without solo vocalists, in my opinion.

I'm sure there is more to say, but I'll wrap up there. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Various points of clarification.

To get the gain where it was I rolled off a lot of low & high end from the microphones, which resulted in some quality loss.

I also gated the microphones quite aggresively because I was much closer to feedback & ringing then what it sounded like.

Hyper cardoid mode wasn't my first preference (too easy to pick out individual voices vs. the ensemble) put was nessessary to get the needed gain and reject stage volume.

We only used a floor monitor for the choir I'd love to use the overhead monitor if we could move and re-aim it. (better rejection)

Jared did a great job in keeping the drum volume in check.

I'd like to explore further some additional sound absorbtion in tight to the drums to reduce stage volume further in these situations.