Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11.09 Reverb

What planned things happened this past Sunday?
What unplanned things happened this past Sunday?
  • Josh modified the New Members order on the fly.
  • Speaking of flies, we had another one on the screen.
  • We had our first Shure UR1 failure during a service.
Thanks for the Flexibility

First, I want to thank the team for their flexibility. This Sunday required agility due to a number of factors, including but not limited to:
  1. a last-minute change-up in the setup and rehearsal schedule
  2. poor communication on the part of staff members, including me
  3. several ministry mic moments in the first service
  4. a second service that was quite a bit different than the first
  5. a small insect that found it's way through the mosquito net in the second service


I'd like to say thanks again to the smallest auditorium* sound crew on our team: Jim, Mitch, and Dan took care of it all once again, even without a Saturday evening rehearsal.

From my perspective, the audio administration went nearly flawlessly. The stage moves happened at the right time. There was a stray music stand during the second service, but only because Mitch got nabbed to tape down some cables and didn't have time to get to it before Mark started announcements.

All the mics worked, except for the "failing" Shure UR1 beltpack in the second service. As far as we can tell, the mic was dropping out because the antenna itself had slowly become unscrewed. We are going to test it further. That's another item to consider when putting beltpacks on pastors: is the antenna securely screwed onto the pack?

Mitch and the team handled the mic dropouts well: They got Josh a wireless handheld to keep things moving, and then they switched out the beltpack with the backup at the next break in the action.

Jim, I thought the mix was good. I liked the sound of the acoustic guitar and the beats throughout the morning. After some discussions with Josh Davis, I have three thoughts from this last Sunday that apply to all the mixers:
  1. Whenever possible, listen to the songs before coming in Saturday. Log into planning center and go to the plan for that Sunday. Then, look in the upper right for the "rehearse" link. Scroll over that and you'll see an option for mp3 player. You can listen to any songs for which we have recordings posted online. Jim, as we discussed between services, the electric guitar has the melody line in the turn of "Praise the Lord," which we missed in the first service. Listening in advance probably would have reminded you of that detail.
  2. Whenever possible, make the most of "listen" moments. In other words, when the congregation is going to be asked to "listen while we sing...," we have a unique opportunity to excel. When people aren't singing, they will be more attuned to the sound quality, so we should make the extra effort to get a great sound even if only for one verse and a chorus. Now, to be fair, I didn't know that the band was going to do that, so Jim probably didn't either. It's hard to prepare for something you don't expect, so I'll try to find out when that is going to happen and let you all know.
  3. Finally, I want to share a thought on the drums. Because we have acoustic drums, there is always some bleed from the kit throughout the room. I think we tend to under-amplify the drums on account of that bleed. At some times, the drum volume may fit the mix well with very little amplification. However, not amplifying the drums can make them sound diffuse and lifeless. One way I think we can improve is to listen for the drums in the PA and mix for them there. While we don't want to make the whole mix louder just to crank the drums, I think we can have he drums present in the PA without increasing the overall level. I'm going to be experimenting more with it on my mixing weekends, and I'll share my findings.


I thought the lighting was excellent this weekend. We underestimated the number of new members who would be attending the 1st service, so I think some were standing on the edges of the light. For now, I need to plan on having 60% of the people in the 1st service and 40% of the people in the second service.

IMAG Video

The video team had a challenging Sunday due to the many unplanned moments, especially in the first service. Thanks for adjusting to those changes and to the multiple commands when the fly showed up on the screen.

I want to apologize for not having enough lead-in on the video. Our video creation team is pretty good about this, but they didn't include it this time, probably because of some requests I gave them related to the ordination videos a few weeks ago. If there is ever no lead-in on a video, the playback operator can make it work by rolling into the video a few seconds, pressing pause, and then rewinding to the previous marker. This will leave the DVD output in black and allow for an immediate roll-in when the play button is pressed.

We are still waiting for a winner of the Team with Sharp Focus Award. All camera operators and camera directors can help each other by remembering to focus toward you each and every time you are going from music to IMAG. A blog-world friend of mine, after reading about our consistent fuzziness, recommended overcompensating by pulling the focus toward you until the whole screen is out of focus and then pushing the focus back the other direction until the foreground comes into sharp focus. I like it. Let's do it.

One last quick note for the playback/record operators: Make sure to record the entire second service, and don't stop the tapes for any reason during the second service. We are going to be using more video online, and our video creation team captures the video from the tapes instead of the DVD because the quality is higher. This last weekend, we were missing the first 30 seconds of the message, most likely because we paused the tapes while Josh did his bathroom break. The tapes are plenty long, so just let them roll.

Thanks, everyone! Any questions, concerns, or further thoughts? Please leave them here.

*Fun Fact: there is one smaller sound crew in the Events Center, week 4, which is now only two people, one of which is also Dan. Thanks Uncle Dan!


David MacKenzie said...

I thought Jim's sound mix sounded good overall. My only thought had to do with Megan's solo. I was at the first service, toward the rear of the bowl, in the left section near the center aisle. Her voice sounded dull and distant, lacking much above 5-6 KHz.

It sounded like Jim had her panned hard-right to match her stage position. The difference in clarity and presence from Devon's voice when he came in after her was striking (and to me, distracting). The sonic effect for those of us toward the left side of the room was almost as if Megan had turned her back to us while singing.

The best use of stereo panning in a live setting continues to be a trick I don't think I have a full grasp on. Lately I think we've been putting the stage vocalists all in the Mono center channel most of the time, and panning the instruments to the sides.

If it turns out not to have been panning, I guess her channel needed some EQ help.

Unknown said...

Just a general thought on EQ that hit me after reading Dave M's comment is that when approaching EQ, we should try to figure out whether we need to boost a frequency that isn't present or cut a frequency that is too forward.

For example, I agree that Megan's voice lacked brightness, but listening to it, it sounded like she may have been too boomy as opposed to not bright enough. In that case, if you try to brighten something that's too boomy, you may end up with a vocal that is too boomy and too sharp at a particular high frequency.

That is just a thought I had about audio EQ and would love to hear any comments about that if you had them.

Oh, and I also though Jim did a great job overall ... just a tricky solo :-)

Nick Fitzkee said...

Wow, thanks for all the detail and the interesting comments. Since Jen and I attended the first service, it looks like we missed out on the excitement. :-)

That said, I would love to have some more training on using the EQ effectively for different instruments/vocalists. Typically it's not something we as sound people can play with during rehearsals without getting odd looks, if we're even lucky enough to have the time to play with things at all.