Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4.26 Reverb

April wrapped up with another wonderful Sunday at Covenant Life Church.


This was quite the weekend. Pilgrim opened on Friday, and the second performance on Saturday night made Sunday setup quite the late-night adventure. Huge congratulations to the show crew for their fantastic efforts, and thanks to the Sunday crew for staying late on Saturday only to arrive early on Sunday. There are three more performances of Pilgrim this weekend, and you can still buy tickets.

Extra thanks go to Andrew, Caleb, and Kokko who were involved in both the musical and the Sunday tech crews. I hope you've gotten some sleep by now.

Finally, I want to give credit to Mark who figured out why our Events Center lights failed occasionally. The dimmers were overheating due to a nasty-dirty filter, which he subsequently cleaned, solving the problem. Thanks, Mark.


Begin with a late-night setup; add to that an ever-changing input and output list; add to that an early morning on little sleep, and one might expect some mistakes. Nevertheless, the sound team handled their responsibilities essentially error-free. No missed mics. The band sounded great. There was one little podium snafu, but it was easily remedied and not repeated.


Lighting was largely uneventful due to Pilgrim. For the sanity of our performance lighting crew, we opted to not change the focus of any lights for Sunday, so Phil only had to program a few cues. Everything was smooth.

One small note to lighting operators: channel 192 is not a house light channel. Channel 192 controls the dimmer for the aisle lights. Please do not program this into the house light cues. Running the aisle lights when not necessary, or at non-full intensities, will shorten the lifespan of the bulbs. Please only control the aisle lights via the wall panel control, and only use them when we are going to blackout in the service.


The video team did a fine job this weekend. I was especially happy with what they did with the baptisms.

Typically, our baptism video looks like this:
  1. Camera shot of worship leader asking people to sit, listen, watch, and rejoice as people are baptized.
  2. Close up shot of pastor in the baptistry explaining the purpose of baptism.
  3. Close up shot of first baptism candidate sharing his testimony (via cam 1).
  4. "Baptism" shot from the end of the pool just before the dunk (via cam 5).
  5. Wide shot of the whole baptistry as the person comes up (via cam 2).
  6. Blank the screen while the person exits and the next enters. Begin again at item 3.
The wide shot in item 5 is largely for modesty purposes, which is appropriate and wise. However, it also pulls away right at the moment of greatest excitement, as the person is rejoicing in his or her own baptism. The hope is, as possible, to hold the cam 5 shot longer while still maintaining the priority of modesty.

The video team accomplished this well in two ways: first, for the guys being baptized, they stayed on cam 5 longer and sometimes didn't even cut away to the wide shot on cam 2. For the girls, they cut away to camera 2 right away for modesty reasons, but then, as appropriate, cut back in closer to the camera 1 shot when the girl was hugging her dad.

Sermon Media

As most of you have heard by now, the pastors have requested that we change the way we edit sermons. In the past, we have cut a lot of items out of the sermons in order to shorten the sermon and save both server storage and bandwidth. However, as web pipelines get bigger and memory gets cheaper, these priorities are not as important. With that in mind, we are going to include more in our messages.

Here are some new guidelines...

Regarding where to start a sermon:
  • If the pastor begins by reading Scripture, please include the scripture reading and everything after that.
  • If the pastor begins with an illustration or something else included in his manuscript, please begin there and include everything after that.
  • If the pastor begins with unrelated information that is not included in his manuscript, please cut that and begin where the manuscript begins or with the Scripture reading.
  • If the pastor begins with prayer, please cut the prayer and begin after that.
Regarding where to end a sermon:
  • If the preaching pastor prays at the end of the sermon, you can include the closing prayer.
  • If another pastor comes up to close in prayer, you can cut the closing the prayer.
If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to check with me or Ben.

Leave your thoughts, comments, and questions, too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4.12 Overdrive

From Ben...

This past Sunday was our Easter service, and serving us was:
  • Bob Kauflin leading worship
  • Mark Mitchell introducing our guests and leading our announcements
  • Josh Harris preaching from John 11 on the story of Lazarus


Overall both services went very smooth. On the technical end there were very few things to be aware of, which means many people heard God's word with no, or almost no, distraction.


First of all I'm grateful for the Cowan family this week who offered their time to help on a week they were not scheduled to serve. Sacrifices like this are tangible representations of the gospel and clearly model the body of Christ working together. Thank you!

We had our normal rhythm section band with a 14 piece orchestra, 30 person choir, and Bob on the grand piano. Thankfully, our setup Saturday night was nearly flawless. Its amazing that when things like setup are approached in a systematic and organized way... with a joyful team working together...a near flawless setup is actually possible, and a large setup doesn't seem so daunting as it sometimes can. I have helped set up small five-person bands that had many more technical difficulties than we had this past week. Thanks, everyone, for your example and hard work.


Our lighting op Dave Hoover served us once again and did an excellent job of detailing all the elements on stage. Dave consistently works hard and asks questions/gives suggestions about details both small and large, and those things make a difference.

We did have a little light show a couple times during worship and the sermon. The section of ceiling lights on the front right side of the auditorium flashed on and off a few different times, and thankfully no more. Turns out there were a couple bad dimmers in the amp room. One thing I'm learning...always check the dimmers in situations like this one that seem to come from no where.


In each service this week the choir did a special song with powerful lyrics to encourage the congregation. In the first service, we had the cameras shoot the choir live on the IMAG screen, and it looked great. Thank you Ryan for putting in the extra work to ensure that happened. We determined, however, that because there are only a few angles to shoot from and only a small group of people to shoot that the live cameras were potentially too repetitive, and thus distracting. Rule of thumb...just because we CAN do it doesn't mean we should. The question to ask is what is going to best serve the congregation. The second service we simply put the words to their song on the center screen instead of the camera shots of the choir.

Please give your feedback!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pseudo Reverb With a Very Long Delay

I have definitely waited too long to put together a Sunday-in-Review post. Three Sundays have flown by, one being Easter, and only now am I getting around to a more in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness of the production elements.

Meanwhile, we are in the big push for our annual youth drama. This year we are putting on an original show based on the best-selling book, Pilgrim's Progress. As a result, I am going to abbreviate my review once again this week, and simply share some very random bullets on what has been swirling in my mind.
  • People don't make church happen. They are the church. I've said this before, but the Sovereign Grace Pastor's Conference always brings it back to the forefront. And I often need the reminder.
  • Covenant Life Church is made up of my favorite people on the planet. Our volunteer teams, as the church, strive effortfully to create contexts for gospel opportunities. They are joyfully supporting all our normal activities, even with a conference and a major production in the same month as Easter.
  • I no longer believe in the 3-to-1 micing rule. OK, I do believe in it. But I've decided it's a rule I'm willing to break. Sometimes, down-to-earth gain before feedback is much more important than pie-in-the-sky "phase coherence." Overmicing seems to ever-increasingly be my style, and I haven't found the problem in it yet. (Purists may rant here.)
  • Lyrics lead. Like it or not, where the song lyrics go, there goes the congregation. In our case, there goes the worship team as well, since our vocalists are following the lyrics on confidence monitors instead of song sheets. The importance of this role can hardly be overstated.
  • If I ask for feedback, I must be ready to listen carefully and respond quickly. I have learned a lot from our team members these last few weeks. They has sent me some truly excellent, excellence-forming ideas. Hopefully, I've done all I can to implement their suggestions.
  • When in doubt, make a phone call. Often, emails stink. Especially when I write them. Enough said.
What are you learning about ministry and technology these days?