Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2.8 Reverb

We had another great weekend with a first-time Sunday preacher. Mike Bradshaw - more famously known to our Discovery Land kids as Mr. B - taught us about the gospel and our words. Listen again to learn about how our words carry the dangerous potential to corrupt or the glorious potential to give grace.

What else happened on Sunday?

General Comments

As you know, change is the only constant in our world. Starting in the next couple weeks, we are making another small administrative change. Instead of Ken or Brittany placing song sheets on each stand for the musicians, there will be a wall file in the sound booth near the sound checklists that will hold all the song sheets for that Sunday. Mixers and SundayPlus operators will need to get their song sheets from there. Also, if the band doesn't get this note, you can let them know where their music will be.

Sermon Media

I'm going to start today with a note for our sermon media team. For those of you who haven't met them before, we have nine people who handle all the Sunday sermon recording and editing. For some time, they have been the "outsider" team, but I want to draw them in more under the Production Teams umbrella. You will likely see more notes for them in the future. Now that everyone knows who they are, here's what we learned Sunday on the sermon media team...

First, thanks to everyone on the team for adjusting so graciously to the changes associated with closing the sermon media window. I know it means more work and new processes for you in the first few months. Your help is making a significant difference in the amount of work we have to do throughout the week.

Mark, who was editing this weekend, quite ably followed all the directions on the new checklist. However, the noise reduction part of the software does not work well on music. When he, as instructed, ran noise reduction on the entire service file, it made the sermon sound terrible. Lesson learned: we will only run noise reduction on files that are solely speech, not on anything that includes music. Music recordings will only be normalized. The checklist now indicates that correctly.


The sound crew did very well, especially considering that they were shorthanded by two people and did not have a Saturday night rehearsal. From my limited vantage point, it seemed like Sunday morning rehearsal went smoothly. The band was able to wrap up at 8:30a sharp, which is usually a sign that soundcheck was done at a good time.

The stage setup was clean and neat, another important factor with the empty stage look we are using. The team also did a good job of putting people exactly where we had indicated on the stage plot. In retrospect, I should have spread people out more, so there wasn't such a big opening stage center, but that was completely my fault.

The only mix comment I received was that it seemed like Jake's loops on Only Jesus were too loud in the second service. If I understand correctly, the band and mixer really liked what Jake was doing in the first service, so they decided to highlight it more in the second service by using it more and having it more prominent in the mix. It might have been too much.

Since we've been doing more with loops in the last year or so, it may be time to have a discussion with the mixers and Jake to figure out the best way to place loops in the mix. Sometimes they are just texture. Sometimes they are the foundation of the mix. Sometimes they are the transitional elements. As always, listen carefully and communicate with the band about arrangements.


Craig did a nice job with the lighting this weekend. Thanks, Craig, for flowing with the on-the-fly house light adjustments for communion. I had forgotten to indicate that the house lights should be at 90% when the trays of bread and juice were being distributed.

I was reminded this weekend that lighting is much more than intensity levels on the display monitor. Other things affect the brightness of the subject, including the burn-in level of the lamps, lamp bench focus, burn-in level of the gel, as well as the color of the subject's skin and clothing.

How did this show up on Sunday? Megan was wearing white and has very light skin. She was glowing. Devon, on the other hand, was wearing black and has facial hair. We couldn't get Devon as bright as Megan by just adjusting light levels without dropping Megan into the dark. If we had noticed this in time, we probably should have added another light to Devon. This is just another element for which lighting operators need to be ready to adjust.

Finally, a small thing: because the lighting team is responsible for all lighting aspects to the auditorium environment, the team members should be going backstage to make sure the hallway lights are set correctly. This minimizes light spill from backstage to onstage during blackouts. Some operators have been confused by the labeling of the light switches. Which ones should be on and which ones should be off? I now added numerical labels to the switches which correspond to the checklist. There are nine switches, each with an indicator of "Up" and "Down" to make the three-way switches easier to understand.


The video team was busy this weekend. They did a great job on a couple items in particular. First, they nailed the video of Caly that Mike used as an illustration in his message. It rolled in at just the right time, flowing very well with his speech patterns and was timed perfectly to his verbal prompts. They also did very well with Dean Adamek's pictures. He didn't exactly follow the script, and they reacted very well to direction from several different people. Thanks, John and Ed, for your quick responses.

One thing that all the teams can still improve on is preparation for shots from the ministry mic. Unfortunately, we still have many shots going up late, too bright or dark, out of focus, and with uncomfortable framing. Here's the problem: these are moments when the Spirit of God wants to speak to very specific people in the congregation. If the camera shot is bad, that could draw the attention of those same people away from God. We need to work harder to get this right.

The camera 4 operators have had a checklist item to ask the lighting operator to turn on the ministry mic lights and then note the f-stop number with the lights on. This should allow them to preset the brightness during the meeting even with the lights off. Even though these items have largely been checked off, I'm afraid this either isn't getting done accurately or it isn't being used later in the service. So, I've added some more details to the checklist. The camera 4 operators (and camera 5 for baptisms) should fill in the blanks for the f-stop number and the focal length for a good shot. If you have any questions at all on how to do this, please talk to your camera director, video producer, or me.


The SundayPlus operators did a good job this weekend. Thanks, Dolores, for staying late after the 10:31 meeting to enter the songs into the system. This always sets us up well for a more calm Sunday morning. I have only one note for them from the whole meeting: Please don't shut off the countdown clock before it hits "00:00". Ken is really pushing the band to start when the countdown hits zero. However, when we shut if off at 00:10, they get confused and tend to start late. We should let the countdown run all the way out, and only then switch back to the lyrics computers.

Thanks, everyone. What would you like to add?


David MacKenzie said...

I was at the 2nd meeting, and I agree that the loops being too loud was the only big sound issue. I did wonder if the bass guitar could have been a little more present, though compression, EQ, and/or just turning the fader up a bit. It wasn't bad, I could hear it; I just would have liked to feel it a bit more.

On the flip side, Ryan's guitar had a really nice crunchy sound that drove the band well. Overall, a good, undistracting mix.

Unknown said...

Speaking of the mix, I thought the acoustic and electric fit in well with the rest of the mix. I generally have a hard time fitting them in and I think they were mixed well for this past Sunday.

When it comes to loops, my experience has been that they are fairly difficult to mix. I agree that it's a good idea for the mixer to check in with the DJ to get an idea of what he's looking to do for each song, but I think it's VITAL for the DJ and drummer to compliment each other; this is achieved by the drummer and DJ working together, but it should also be reflect in the mix.

I also wanted to applaud the video crew for their timing during the message, it seemed perfect both times.

Also, Craig did a great job with lighting this week with lighting change in communion that Dave mentioned, but also needing to work without having the band on Saturday for their rehearsal. Thanks for your hard work this weekend!