Wednesday, March 25, 2009

3.22 Overdrive

Another entry from Ben...

This past Sunday:
It was great to have Chris Silard back from the Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick and to hear all that God is doing there. We also had first time of prayer before each service, which seemed to generate a positive response from the members. It is great to see the body of Christ seek the Lord together. Lastly, Josh announced the 2010 Uganda Trip which is open to married couples and singles. This trip will be the third trip to Uganda where the Lord has allowed us to serve and partner with the community there for the sake of the gospel.


This week we had a very large band: 3 piece brass section, choir, percussion, drums, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, synth, and Bob on the grand. Needless to say, this presented some mixing challenges. We physically positioned the percussion and drums far stage left in order minimize them bleeding into the choir mics. Thanks to the tech team this week for the hard work and great attitudes in working with a set up larger than normal...especially with NCAA March Madness going on.


Our video crew did a great job last week. We had a crew member arrive a little late, so thanks to Pat our video producer for filling in his spot at the start of the first service. I also received word that both the video room flat screen and the nursing mom’s flat screen were not getting signal on channel two. If the television is on channel 2 and its fuzzy, it is most likely because the Events Center/Auditorium switch box has not been set back to Auditorium from the previous week. The switcher is mounted on the side of the television in the closet two doors down from the video room.

There is also a Sunday Plus note worth mentioning. We had trouble loading the cue list on the second computer, and the reason is a cue list cannot be open on both computers at the same time. The way around it is this: The CPU2 operator needs to copy the cue list from the S: Drive on to the desktop, and then open it.

Thanks for reading...your thoughts are welcome!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Overdue 3.15 Overdrive

Woops. Ben sent me his overdrive post from last week, and I completely forgot to put it online. Better late than never, I suppose. Here it is...

This past Sunday:


This week we had 10 people on stage, the largest band we've had up there in a while. We were down a man on the audio team this week, and we can certainly tell a difference when one of the parts is not there. Fortunately, though, Bram was able to step in and fill his spot Sunday morning, so it wasn't an issue.

One small note for all stage managers is to make sure the band gets rolling by 6:30pm on Saturday night. It is very easy to let the band take their time, which in turn means they're starting rehearsal around 6:45pm or so. But really it serves them if we move things along promptly because ultimately we're respecting their time. Don't hesitate to get with the worship leader right at 6:30 and get things going.


Lighting went very smoothly last Sunday. There have not been many notes here recently primarily due to the absence of a backdrop on stage. We will be sure to post helpful insights as they come up.


We had an instance this past Sunday where we went from lyrics on center screen and confidence monitors to IMAG center screen with lyrics on side screens and confidence monitors. Sounds simple right? Turns out it had to be a fast three step process in the IMAG room in order to orchestrate this, and the team did a fine job with it on the fly.

To make things simpler, however, there is now a preset on the matrix switcher for this situation. Whenever we have to show lyrics on the confidence monitors for the singers but not the screens for the congregation, use preset 5. This new preset is basically preset 2 with CPU1 directly connected to the confidence monitors.

Leave any thoughts below!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunday Morning Prayer

“Prayerlessness is an act of practical atheism.” - Gordon Fee

In the hectic schedule of technical team preparations on Sunday morning, I can often run about the church as an atheist. I am doing in my own strength and thinking in my own wisdom. That is not worship of the one true God. God commands me to stop and draw him into my serving.

As Joshua Harris mentioned last Sunday, we
will be trying out a new pre-service prayer routine this Sunday. This will give us all another opportunity to stop and seek God together. Ten minutes before the service starts, a pastor will gather people down front to pray in groups. Each group will be led by a pastor and will pray together for the congregation, our guests, and any special elements happening in that service.

I'd like all of our teams serving in the auditorium to join a group to pray each Sunday. A few things for team members to note:
  • You should aim to be done with all your setup and preparation by 8:40am. Please arrive a few minutes earlier if necessary.
  • Please make your way back to the auditorium fifteen minutes before both services (8:45a, 11:15a).
  • Join the group nearest your serving location.
  • We will go directly into singing from these prayer groups, so please skip out a couple minutes early. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your post and settle in mentally before the service starts. The countdown clock will be playing on the TV screens in front of the stage, so keep your eye on that and leave with at least two minutes to spare.
I am grateful for one more opportunity to seek God as partners in the gospel. May he continue to meet Covenant Life as we gather to sing, listen, serve, and apply.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3.8 Reverb

Covenant Life enjoyed another wonderful Sunday a few days ago. Here's a brief review of the morning:

General Comments

Did you get sick this winter? If not, take a moment to thank the Lord for his mercy in your life. An unusual amount of people have been getting the cold or the flu this year, which means production team members like you have either been sending or receiving an unusual number of last-minute requests for substitutes. Let me say thanks for being faithful to send those requests and for being generous in responding to those requests. Many of you have given up extra time to cover for someone who is at home recovering. Thanks.


I have heard nothing but positive feedback about Julie's mix this weekend. Specifically, Don mentioned that the acoustic guitar sounded great and was perfectly located in the mix. I thought that Devon's vocal sounded comfortably in the lead, clear but not harsh.

The rest of the sound team did a great job as well. Soundcheck went smoothly and the band was able to end early to accommodate the 10:31 Youth Meeting on Saturday.

One sound team mentioned to me afterwords that she had changed the batteries in a wireless in-ear receiver, only to find out when the service started that they were in backwards. Her honesty allows me the opportunity to remind everyone to always check that an item works after changing the batteries. At least flip it on momentarily to confirm that you see lights.


I have zero notes on lighting this week. All the lights were aimed well, and the cues ran smoothly. Thanks, Dave, for starting from scratch this weekend and making it all work so well.


The video team was busy this weekend, having the most challenging job of all the teams this time around. Naturally, then, they have the most notes from the morning.
  • The Next promo video was perfect both services. Thanks, Dave (video Dave, not lighting Dave), for handling this so well, and for counting down to the end.
  • Sarah did a great job on camera 4 this weekend, nailing the spontaneous speaking in both services.
  • We had some timing issues with slides in the first service. Some reminders: 1) the "Welcome" slide should not come up until the pastor mentions the guest reception; 2) the "Please turn off cell phones" slide should not come up until the actual handoff between the introducing pastor and the preaching pastor. The only exception to this is when the introducing pastor specifically asks people to turn off their electronic devices.
The big note from this Sunday is a note to self. I need to make sure to coordinate ahead of time between the lyrics operators and the house director for the hymn memorization time. This is becoming an increasingly complex moment in video land, and I didn't prepare everyone enough ahead of time, so the first service was somewhat rough. The second service was perfect, however, so thanks for adjusting.


Closely linked with the video team are the lyrics operators, and I had a few related notes for them from this last Sunday, too.

Brittany (I'm guessing based on the handwriting and her personal passion for fonts) asked,
Can we switch the default sermon notes font to "Sylfaen"? It looks purtier. :)

However, I would like to change up our fonts regularly, getting away from the "default font" idea, just to keep them from getting too stale. I'll look at Sylfaen to consider adding it to our list. Leave a comment to suggest your favorite sermon notes font. It must be both attractive and easily readable, but it cannot draw attention to itself. Free fonts are preferred but not required.

Two other quick ideas:
  • Please left-justify all the sermon notes. We've gotten into the habit of center justifying some and not others. We should stay consistent and left-justify everything.
  • Remember that pressing the down arrow at the end of a song will take you to the next song. If you mistakenly press the down arrow and then correct yourself by pressing "c," you will show the chorus for the next song. Be careful with those arrow keys.

Sermon Media

Thanks, Tom and Olu, for your hard work this weekend. This was the first weekend that we were able to complete the entire new process without needing to go back and adjust anything. Well done, guys!

One quick note for all sermon editors. Listen to the beginning of the sermon by clicking here. I think this should have started about seventeen seconds later. Specifically, it should start when Bob says, "I have a good friend, Drew..." While our members connect with the fact that we are in a series on Ephesians and that we've been blessed by it, the non-member is clicking on the link to hear the sermon, not to catch up on the most recent going-ons of Covenant Life Church.

I think we are still holding on to an age-old editing rule that says, "Start when the pastor asks people to open their Bibles." Let's throw that out once and for all, and start when the sermon starts. That will serve everyone listening.

Your Turn

Thanks, everyone! What comments do you want to add?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

3.1 Reverb

March 1st was another very busy Sunday at Covenant Life. Our services included the following elements:

General Comments

We have started the new annual recruitment cycle, and each team member has been assigned one of the 12 months of the year in which to decide whether he or she will continue serving for the next year. Team members can expect an email from me today with the month to which they have been assigned.

For our team members, here are the two simple steps to the new process:
  1. Two months before the end of your annual commitment, you will get a Planning Center invitation to serve for the following year. For instance if your new serving year is scheduled to restart in June, you will receive an email around the first of April.
  2. To sign up for the next year, accept the plan in Planning Center. If you decline, you are indicating that you no longer wish to continue serving on the Production Teams in that role (or at all). Please respond to that invitation within thirty days.
An exciting aspect to the new process is that current team members will be able to fill spots as they come open throughout the year.

Here's how that will work:
  1. As soon as we know someone is leaving, we will send an invitation in Planning Center to the entire Production Team.
  2. If you wish to be considered for this position, please accept the invitation within five days. Important note: if you accept a new position, you will be committing to another full twelve months of service.
  3. From there, we will consider all the interested people and decide who would be the best fit for that role. If no one signs up, we will try to assign a new volunteer to that role.
OK, now onto the details of this last Sunday...


I must begin with special thanks to the extended Cowan family (including Uncle Dan) for taking over the sound crew this last Sunday. We had several sick and out-of-town team members. We could not have done this weekend without you!

On their checklist this weekend, one sound team member asked about battery levels for the different services. Please make sure that you have four to five battery indicator bars before both the first and second service. Anything below four bars should be placed in the "rehearsal battery" bin and replaced with "service batteries." Even though they will probably work, please don't leave three-bar battery sets in transmitters through the second service.

I had only one thought on the mix this weekend. I think that Devon's voice can tend toward harsh when it cuts through the mix. From my experience mixing the Na Band, I'm not sure there is much to be done with his vocal EQ without losing it in the mix. I do think the harshness can be eased when he is more strongly supported by the background singers. A carefully EQed and featured background harmony could potentially mellow out the sound without causing Devon to lose it's leadership role in the mix.


OK, I'm digging back a couple weeks for this one, but it is critically important. Two Sundays ago, less than fifteen minutes before the service began, a dimmer rack control module failed. This has never happened before, but every lighting operator needs to know how to solve this problem. The solution is to go back into the dimmer room and press the reset button on the control module. If the reset doesn't work, there is an extra control module in the spare dimmer box, which you can hot-swap into the rack.


Baptism Sundays are always busy days for the video team. An extra camera and several transitions during singing can make for a hectic morning. Thanks to the team for working so hard to pull it all together.

This weekend's team did a great job of getting the shots right before they went up. I don't remember any out-of-focus shots or incorrectly shaded shots. Well done, everyone.

As we discussed between services, the first service transition to Isaac in the baptistry could have been faster, but you all nailed it in the second service. The important thing for all video teams doing baptisms is to get camera 2 on the worship leader early enough for camera 1 to find the pastor in the baptistry before he speaks. The worship leader will ask people to be seated, but that comment is very brief, and the pastor in the pool talks almost immediately.

The other issue we ran into was "stuttering" on the camera 5 baptistry shot. It looked like the shutter speed was set way too high. The shutter speed should be set at around 1/60 second, and should not be adjusted during the shot. Use the iris ring on the lens to increase or decrease brightness.

Now, to be honest, I'm not sure that was the problem on Sunday because we are running the camera through a converter box to turn it's composite signal into component for the camera switcher. The problem could be in that box, so we have some more troubleshooting to do on this one. Any ideas?

Sermon Media

Two quick notes for the sermon media team:
  1. When you create mp3s, either of music or of the sermon, please make sure to change the template in the "Save As..." dialog box to CLC Web Settings. Do not use the default settings. The default settings create a file that is three times the size we want for the web.
  2. If you haven't yet seen the video I created on burning the Archive Audio DVD, here it is.

How to Burn the Audio Archive DVD from David Wilcox on Vimeo.

Leave Your Comments

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