Saturday, December 15, 2012

December Updates

Before we get too much further into the month, I have a few team updates for the month of December.

Week 2 Team - You Serve on December 30

Week 2 Team, please don't forget that you are up to cover the 5th Sunday of the month, December 30. So far, no one has said they are going to be unavailable. If you are gone that weekend, please let us know now by declining in Planning Center and ask around for a sub even today.


New Team Members

I have three new team members I want to introduce to you:
  • Paula has joined the Week 1 Discovery Land Sound Team.
  • Solomon is serving with the Week 2 Discovery Land Sound Team.
  • Jimmy is jumping in on Week 2 Auditorium Video Team running lyrics.
Make sure to introduce yourself and welcome them to the team when you see them around.


People Who Are Moving On to Serve in Other Ways

Finally, A few people are wrapping up their time of service on the production teams this month:

  • Rachel has completed her time as a lyric operator and is focusing on reaching students in the public schools with the gospel. She is interning with the youth ministry for the next year. Please pray for evangelism opportunities and for God's Spirit to change lives.
  • Liana is moving to Alaska for a while to serve family members who live there. She has been a wonderful part of the week 2 sound crew for almost two years. Before that she served on the video team as well.
  • Rob is going to shift his focus from sound to music for the spring, likely working with his family on the youth musical this year. He has been serving the children in Discovery Land Sound since 2008, though he has been involved in the sound crew in various ways even before that. He's served at 10:31 Meetings, youth musicals, and conferences. He's also been faithful to bring very helpful suggestions for improvement for the team. Thanks, Rob, for everything you've done. May God bless your next season of service!
When you see these friends around, please take a moment to thank them for their teamwork and sacrificial serving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

11.11 Reverb

Welcome to the Team

Before we get to a review of last weekend, I have a number of people to welcome to the team:
  • First, please welcome Anna, Nathan, Faith, and Grace to the week 2 team. Anna and Faith will be working in Discovery Land. Nathan and Grace will be helping with setup in both Discovery Land and the Auditorium.
  • Let's also welcome Andrew to the week 4 video team as the new assistant director.
  • Chris is rejoining the production teams, running lights on week 3 and the Discovery Land main board on week 4. Great to have you back, Chris.
  • Finally, please welcome Tim and Theresa to the week 4 Discovery Land sound and video team.
I thank God for each one of these people who are already giving sacrificially to serve the Savior, and especially to serve the children in Discovery Land.

December has Five Sundays - Week 2's Turn

One brief-but-important note for the week 2 team that just served this weekend: In December, we have five Sundays. It will be your turn to cover the fifth Sunday on December 30. If you are going to be out of town for the holidays, please try to find a substitute today. Thanks!

This Weekend

Now, what happened at Covenant Life this weekend?
  • Ken led us in singing to the Lord.
  • Mark guided us through small group prayer for the persecuted church.
  • Mark shared some pastoral priorities and thanked the veterans of our armed forces.
  • Josh prayed for our president and nation.
  • Josh preached on The Golden Rule. If you didn't get to hear it, review here.
Great job this weekend, team! Special thanks go to Matt and Mark, who jumped in last minute to fill some essential roles. Thanks, Olu, for stepping up and covering both the audio and video editing. Also, kudos to the auditorium sound team that managed to train new volunteers even as they had the extra work of setting up for an orchestra.

I have two small but important notes from this weekend:
  • Rest Ahead - I've been doing Sundays for 10 years now at Covenant Life, and I still find myself exhausted by the end of the second service every single week. Regardless of your role, you will be tired by the end of the day. That means you need to start the day well-rested. To be completely honest, I've noticed that a growing number of team members are pretty much spent by the time they arrive on Sunday morning. Sometime in the second service, if not before, they lose focus and struggle to stay awake. As a reminder, your service to the church really begins on Saturday night. That's what makes this area of serving so sacrificial. You are not only asked to arrive early, but you will probably need to forego some Saturday night activities in order to get a good night's sleep. Thanks for making every effort to arrive rested and ready to serve with excellence on Sunday. Sidenote: If you ever need caffiene, there is coffee in the green room and I am happy to provide Mountain Dew to help push you through!
  • Double Check the Staff - Whenever I create the paperwork for Saturday night setups, I always include some "test" for the sound crew, to see if they find the discrepancy. It's not a mistake. It's a test. Yeeeah, right. We all make mistakes, and those of us on staff are no different. Whether it's a speaker who puts a period at the end of a sentence fragment, or announcements in an alternate order, or incorrect or missing Scripture references, we need your eyes and minds to help get the details right. Those preparing for the services try their best to catch every little detail. We want to hand it to you in an accurate form, so you can just knock the production execution out of the park. However, we miss stuff. If you notice anything that seems out of sorts, please don't hesitate to ask your tech director about it and get clarity on how to make it right.

Also, we tried something new this weekend. We closed the bleachers for the second service. What did we learn in the process?
  • Having everyone seated in the bowl made it feel much more full, but we still had plenty of seats left over for future growth.
  • Mark taught me how to create and use inhibitive submasters on the lighting board, which helped a lot with the transition between services. More on this in the future.
  • This was the first time we've had a direct comparison between two identical services, one with the curtains up and one with the curtains down. Two things changed between services: one brighter and one darker.
  • Brighter - The mix immediately became brighter, even harsh, at the mix position. Reflections off the curtains definitely affected the sonic nature of the room. I want to experiment with mixing Saturday rehearsals with the curtains down, so that we can acclimate to the brighter sonic space from the get-go.
  • Darker - While the mix became brighter, the room looked a lot darker. I think we may want to bump the house lights 5-10% for the 2nd service. We'll experiment with that this weekend.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Reverb 9.30

Because I haven't written a weekend-in-review post in a few weeks, and because the list of items I have to share with you this week are a bit random, let's just jump right in.

1)  I haven't posted recently because I was on vacation with my wife's extended family for the last two weeks of September. That wouldn't have happened without extra hard work from Beth, Patrick, and Josh, who bound together as a team to cover for my absence. Thanks as well to all of you who stepped in, sometimes at the last minute, to help them make it all happen.

2)  I want to thank four people who wrapped up their serving on the production teams in September:
  • Joe E. has been helping with auditorium setup for a couple years.
  • Gordon helped us launch online video this last year.
  • Joe D. has been serving in sermon media for at least ten years. I don't think I can even guess how many people have heard God's word preached because of his work!
  • And Brandon has been the lone sound guy in fourth week Discovery Land for a while. Also, just today, Brandon's wife gave birth to their second child, Karina. Congratulations, Brandon and Annie!
3)  I also want to welcome John to the week 4 video team. John is joining the team as the camera 2 operator. Please stop by the camera 2 platform on October 28, meet John, and welcome him to the production teams.

4)  Don't forget the production teams picnic next weekend, October 14th! There will be food, games, fellowship, and - of course - water balloons. RSVP today if you haven't already.

Finally, on to a couple notes from the last month:

Music Stands - As the video crew will be well aware, sometimes music stands end up in the way of your ideal camera shot. A small shift to the right or the left can resolve that. However, please don't move any music stands without the approval of the musician. We have some musicians that truly need the music stand on one side or the other for inescapable reasons such as bad eyesight in just one eye.

Sermon In and Out Points - As I've mentioned in previous posts, with the advent of online video, we need to have identical in and out points for both the audio and video recordings. The Tech Directors and Assistant Tech Directors are going to facilitate communication between audio and video editors, but I thought it might be helpful to share our general guidelines for Sunday sermons with the entire team.

For in points, the most important thing to remember is that the sermon should start when the sermon starts, not necessarily when the pastors starts speaking. The first thing that a person hears or sees should be real message content.

With that in mind, here are the normal things that a pastors speaks:
  • Introductory Comments - These are comments like... "Thanks for praying for me while I was travelling to see sick family members." "It's great to be here with you, church." "Wasn't that a great time of singing?" "I want to encourage you to attend that thing that someone just announced." Even "Turn in your Bibles to _____" often qualifies. Introductory comments are rarely in the manuscript and they should always be removed from the recording.
  • Scripture Reading - whenever possible, we want to include the Scripture reading on the recording. However,  we won't include it if it comes before the...
  • Introductory Prayer - The introductory prayer should be removed from the recording, unless it happens after the manuscript content begins.
  • Manuscript Content - This is what we want to have on the recording.
  • "Let's Pray" - The recording should end before we hear this.
  • Closing Prayer - We don't want to include the closing prayer in the recordings.
Here are some routine examples and what would be cut out in that case:
  • Intro, Scripture, Prayer, Manuscript, "Let's pray," Closing Prayer.
  • Intro, Prayer, Scripture, Manuscript, "Let's pray," Closing Prayer.
  • Intro, Prayer, Manuscript starts, Scripture, Manuscript continues, "Let's pray," Closing Prayer.
  • Intro, Manuscript start, Scripture, Prayer, Manuscript continues, "Let's pray," Closing Prayer.
Thanks for paying attention to all these little details.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reverb 8.26

Before I get to a review of last weekend, I have a very exciting announcement: it's the end of the church's fiscal year! What? You're not excited? Okay, so maybe it's not an exciting announcement, but both the music and production department had a little bit of money left over at the end of the year, so here's what we picked up to help us make more musical music:




Working counterclockwise:
  • In the upper left are a couple Emperical Labs EL8 Distressors. These are warm, smooth compressors for vocals and guitars. Plus, they must be cool because they have a "Nuke" option with a blue light.
  • In the lower left is a Yamaha Sub-Kick. It's a speaker wired in reverse, which makes it essentially a really big microphone. It does a great job of picking up the very low frequencies of the kick drum and will become another regular input on our drum kit.
  • In the lower right is a Black Beauty snare, which sounds much better than our previous snare. The music department also purchased some "darker" cymbals as well as a good bit of spare drum hardware to help with various drum kits around the building.
  • Finally, in the upper right, though somewhat difficult to see, are "new" auditorium choir risers. In reality, we've had these folding, rolling choir risers for several years, but we just purchased the fourth step, so that we can use them on Sundays. Please note that the storage area backstage left by "the cage" has been significantly reorganized. Also, you can expect a brief training video on how to set up these risers with the fourth step.
Enjoy!


So, what happened this last weekend?
  • Ken Boer led us in singing.
  • Mark Mitchell shared some important items for the life of the church.
  • Ken came back up to transition to the sermon with the song "Speak, O Lord."
  • Braden Greer preached "Jesus on Revenge and Rights." You can review it here.

Sermon Media

I'm going to put comments for the sermon media team first today for two reasons:
  1. They serve so solidly and stealthily, that they can be easily forgotten. But not today!
  2. Since we launched video on the website at the beginning of July, people around the world have watched about 60 full days of video (that's 1440 hours). Thanks, team!
Two quick notes for the sermon media team, particularly the sermon audio editors:
  • I don't think we need to use noise reduction any more on Sundays. The broadcast automixer has cleaned up and leveled our recording feeds so well, that the noise reduction is unnecessary and, in fact, introduces some audio anomalies that don't sound good. Please skip it!
  • Please take careful note of which Template you are using when you save mp3 files. Music should be saved using the "Default Template." Speech should be saved using "CLC Web Settings." If you save the music files using the "CLC Web Settings" template, they will sound so low-fi that they are not useful for review by the worship team. If you save the sermon with "Default Template" the file will be larger than it should be. Let me know if you have any questions at all about the difference and when to use which one.

Sound

I mixed this weekend for the second time in a row. This weekend was undoubtedly more difficult to mix with the addition of the choir. My appreciation for Mr. Cowan went up again, as I understood anew how hard he's worked over the last couple years to tweak and improve his choir-plus-full-band mix.

The darker cymbals helped me keep the choir warm and smooth, but I wish I could have scrounged more level out of the choir mics. I was happy with the vocal sound overall, but not so much with the guitar sounds. I wish I could have made them thicker still.

What did you think of the mix?


Lighting

As a reminder to everyone, make sure to complete your checklists thoroughly. They exist to help you remember to do all the little things you are likely to forget.

Lighting team, please make sure to close all the stage doors even though the backdrop blocks them from view. While the laws of physics allow the backdrop to stop the light leaks, they don't stop the sound leaks. We want to avoid hearing any backstage conversations during the sermon.


Video

Great job this weekend video team. You deserve thanks as well for providing the video material that the sermon media team puts online.

Let me take a quick detour and discuss communication philosophy. Almost every week we have announcements. Unless we work hard, those announcements can become rote, boring, unmemorable, and, as a result, a waste of our time. If no one remembers them, we've wasted everyone's time.

One of the ways to make announcements memorable and interesting is to use images to reinforce what is being said.

Another way to hold the congregation's attention is to speak in a comfortable and engaging way, with an unscripted feel.

And there's the rub: trying to use pictures to support a largely unscripted talk is difficult to do well, and distracting when not done well. That's why, when we want to use multiple pictures to support a longer announcement, we try to get an actual script of what the person is going to say.

Well, those of us on the staff side failed to produce an accurate script this last Sunday, which caused some problems with the Introducing God announcement slides. Ultimately, this was our fault, not the video team or the graphics operator.

Nevertheless, there are three thoughts I'd like to leave with you to help in case something like this happens in the future:

  1. Learn the Script - Even though the assistant tech directors try to mark the scripts with image cue points, please take a few minutes before the service to read and understand what the speaker is trying to say and how the pictures support what he is trying to say. That way, if he diverges from the script, you can follow the ideas rather than the actual words on the page.
  2. Less is More - In general, if you're not sure what to display, either: a) stay on the slide you're on if it makes sense with what is being said or b) go to black if the current picture doesn't make sense with what is being said. We are not obligated to put up every picture, or even most of the pictures. The pictures are secondary. Our primary goal is to support what he does say, not necessarily get through a set of images.
  3. Don't Panic - The most important thing to do in these types of moments is to listen and understand what the speaker is actually saying. Don't stress about where he is in the script because he's no longer following the script. It would probably help to look up at the main screens and focus on the speaker instead of the pages in front of you which he has abandoned.
We are going to do everything we can to prepare so that you're not put in this position. However, since we're human beings, it very well might happen again. I apologize in advance, and I hope that these three brief thoughts will help you be our heroes by doing a great job even when we don't set you up as well as possible.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reverb 8.19

What Happened Last Sunday?
  • Eric McAllister led us in singing, bringing in a Go-Go feel and call and response time to the first song.
  • Jefferson Bethke shared his poem, "Death of YOLO."
  • We played a video to highlight what could happen if people don't sign up to help in Discovery Land.
  • Josh Harris shared some important notes for the church.
  • A missionary-pastor preached.

Thoughts from Last Sunday

For the first time in about a year, I had the chance to mix this Sunday. I enjoyed working with the unusual arrangements, but I'm never sure exactly how to evaluate the mix when I'm the one mixing. What suggestions or thoughts do you have from the mix this weekend?

In the last six weeks, we've had four different guys lead us in singing. I hope we'll see more people using their gifts of music and leadership to guide us into the worship of Jesus. With more people leading less frequently, the sound crew should take the lead during soundcheck, making it very clear what we need from the musicians in order to serve them well. Some of our worship leaders understand the process better than others, which is just fine. Let's make some extra effort in the next few months to over-communicate and carefully educate.

Anything I missed?


Upcoming Training

Also, we're hoping to get some training back on the schedule this fall. The tentative training schedule looks like:
  • Advanced Stage Setup - For all sound crew members - September 22nd, Afternoon
  • Advanced Camera Operation - For all camera operators - October 20th, Afternoon
  • Advanced Monitor Mixing - For all sound crew members - November 17th, Afternoon
These dates are not set in stone yet, but please pencil them in to your calendars, and we'll confirm in the near future.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reverb 8.12

Before I get to a review of last Sunday, we have a gift for those of you serving in Discovery Land. Here's what you can look forward to next time you serve:


We got you a new iMac to replace the white MacBook. It's going to be much faster and hopefully more stable as well.

There are a few things you should know:
  • If you want to be the first to run it, call or email me. We are still looking for someone to run Discovery Land lights and video this weekend.
  • I cleaned up the desktop and resynced the song list. You shouldn't be missing anything critical, but if you have your own flavor of slides that you didn't label and file in a clear matter, they are probably gone.
  • If the songs don't look like they are formatted correctly, click on the yellow triangle in the upper right corner of the presentation area of ProPresenter to make that song fit the widescreen format.
  • And so the Discovery Land sound teams don't feel left out, the white MacBook will replace the Events Center Jukebox laptop when it returns next week from the Worthy12 youth retreat.
Now, a quick review of last Sunday:
  • Ken Boer led us in singing and reading Scripture.
  • Kevin Rogers shared some items of importance in the life of the church.
  • Josh Harris preached "Don't Break Your Marriage or Your Word." You can review it here.
I have just four notes from Sunday:
  • Overall Positive Feedback on Singing - We got a number of comments about how great the time of singing was, so thanks especially to the sound crew and Rachel on lyrics for helping serve people so well.
  • Low End in the "New" PA - Luke did a great job on the mix this weekend. Even though it was slightly louder than usual, it sounded so good. He really got the kick and bass right, even with the new tuning.
  • Drums in the Mix - Another piece to the great mix was that the drums were predominantly in the PA, which is critical to the energy and cohesiveness of the mix. I think we can sometimes "hear" the drums as a combination of the acoustic sound and some PA sound. But the sense of the drum sound needs to be mostly PA in order for the mix to sound it's best. This may require the drums to be a little bit louder than we usually mix them. Tip: If the drummer eases up and the imaging of the drums seems to shift from the PA to the stage, they probably need to be turned up in the PA ever so slightly.
  • Announcement Slides on the Confidence Monitors - I've noticed that several of our graphics operators have begun to run the announcements slides from the video/image bin in ProPresenter. At first this didn't strike me as problematic, and it's definitely simpler. However, presenting from the bin doesn't push the images to the confidence monitors, so the pastors have no idea if the slides are up or not. If this has become your practice, please go back to creating a presentation of the slides, so that they show up on the confidence monitors.

Friday, August 10, 2012

8.5 Reverb

Before I get to a review of last Sunday, I want to do three things briefly:

1. Welcome New Team Members

In the last couple months, we've had several new people join the team:
  • Trevor - Week 1 Discovery Land Monitor Operator
  • Matt - Week 2 Discovery Land Stage Manager
  • Yousun - Week 1 Auditorium Lyrics Operator
  • Briana - Week 2 Camera Operator
  • Rachel - Week 2 Auditorium Lyrics Operator
Welcome to the team, everyone!

2. Say Thanks to Elizabeth

Elizabeth has wrapped up her time on the Week 1 and 10:31 sound crews. Elizabeth, thanks for serving these last few years and for giving up so much of your time for the drama productions, both in tech and backstage. May God bless you as you go off to college.

3. Thank the Tech Directors and Assistant Tech Directors

In reviewing the state of our teams these days, I'm so grateful to God for providing Josh and Patrick to help me on staff and for Tyler, Joe, Chris, and Ryan to coordinate the overall production of Sundays. These guys are doing a great job, and I'm excited to see how their combination of gifts and ideas will help us continue to improve.

And now, on to Sunday.

This last Sunday...
Great job, this weekend, crew! Matt M, thanks for covering on camera switch. Matt H, thanks for jumping in at the last minute to help out with sound in the first service.

My only follow-ups for this weekend are related to sound...

Wireless In-Ear Reception Problems - Every few months, we have problems with wireless in-ear reception. The vocalists will have very little audio level and a lot of "swishy" noise in their ears, even if the batteries are brand new. The problem has to do with the antenna combiner, which lives in the rack just below the wireless in-ear transmitters. Power it off, unplug the power cable from the back, let it sit for a minute, plug it back in, and then power it back on. That should resolve the issue, but something else should help as well, which takes us to...

Power Sequencer - Last fall we had a problem with our power sequencer, which turns on and off the audio system. Since then, we've left the sound system on all the time in order to avoid the chance that it won't power up. I'd like to use the power sequencer again because power surges can blow speakers if the amps are on. I spent some quality time with the sequencer this week, and it seems to be working smoothly again. Let's use it again, and let me know if you have any problems at all with it.

Broadcast Mix Assignments - At our spring work day, we added a new broadcast automixer system. This system requires three "stem" mixes from the main sound board. Even though it was months ago, I've never fully documented the configuration of those stem mixes. This weekend, that failure finally caught up to me when the first couple minutes of the sermon wasn't being correctly broadcast or recorded. Mixers, look for some additions to your checklist to clarify how to set up the broadcast mix.

New System Tuning  - About a month ago, we had our sound system "retuned." This means that EQs, delays, and levels throughout the room changed slightly in order to provide a more natural sound overall and to make the system sound more consistent from one seat to another. There have been two great results: 1) the vocals are more present and clear; 2) the lower frequencies are more defined, especially the bass guitar tones.

While these changes are significant improvements for our system, they are also requiring a mental shift for our mixers. First, in making the vocals more clear, the retune has also made all of the instruments in the same frequency range more clear. Now, instead of pushing certain frequencies to make the vocals stand out, we need to cut key frequencies in the instrument EQs that crowd out the vocals.

Second, even though the bass guitar tones are more clear, the energy of the mix is still in the overall rhythm section (drums, bass, rhythm guitar), including the very low frequencies in the subs. In the past, we had to fight for low-frequency clarity in the bass. Now that it's there, we have the opportunity to move beyond that and get a really great rhythm section sound overall.

Any other thoughts you may have?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Videos Are Now Online!

I have excited news.

The Resource Library at the Covenant Life website now supports video!

Check out last Sunday's sermon hereAs of today, you can watch any Sunday sermon from 2012, with earlier sermons coming soon.

Many thanks to the the Sermon Video Editors for helping to make this happen, and thanks as well to the IMAG Video Team who gives us great stuff to record and edit.

Now that our videos are available to the whole world, we'll be continuing to press for increased excellence and consistency in our video recording and editing.

One quick thing along those lines is that we want to start the video and the audio recordings at the same point. For now, Josh, Patrick, or I will stop in to visit both sermon audio and sermon video immediately after each service to confirm where to begin the edit. That will likely change as we solidify how this works.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how these could be improved. Thanks!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

July Calendar Craziness

Just like in April, the July calendar is a bit crazy, so this post is to clarify who is serving on what weekends.

First, I want to mention the two crazy things that could catch you by surprise and how you can remedy them:

Surprise 1: The first of the month is a Sunday, which means that the first Saturday is actually before the 2nd Sunday, the second Saturday is before the third Sunday, and so on.

Remedy: Count Sundays, not Saturdays, when you are trying to figure out when you serve.

Surprise 2: There are five Sundays in July.

Remedy: Count Sundays from the first Sunday of the month. Don't think of yourself as "the last week of the month" or "the week before the last week of the month." Also, It's the week 4 team's turn to cover the 5th Sunday.

Here's the actual schedule:
  • June 30-July 1 = Week 1 Team
  • July 7-8 = Week 2 Team
  • July 14-15 = Week 3 Team
  • July 21-22 = Week 4 Team
  • July 28-29 = Week 4 Team
Thanks for serving, everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reverb 6.10

I want to being this review by saying that you, the Production Teams, have been doing a fantastic job. I know we've asked a lot of you over the last few months, and that you've been serving through a very challenging time in our church. Thank you for making things go so smoothly each and every week, each and every event, and for doing it with joy and perseverance.

I also want to mention that we've hit what I would call a "steady state" moment. What do I mean by that? You have gotten so good at what you do that we have made very few significant changes in the last year or so. That is a sign that you are doing exactly what you should be doing, and that you are doing it consistently with excellence. I don't mean to say that we can't improve, but I think it's important to state that any "areas for improvement" that come up in posts like this are small, and are truly minor details in comparison to all the many things that go so well each week. Well done, everyone!

Video Projector

Big thanks go out to the video crew from two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the video projector powered on in a failed state that morning. After about an hour of searching for a simple resolution, we swapped it out (took six guys to "swap" it) for our backup and now it's in the slow process of being repaired. My best guess at this point is that the integrator rod, a long piece of glass that shapes the light into a rectangle, has a flaw that is significantly affecting the brightness.

What do you need to know now that we're running on the backup projector?

  • The web interface that we normally use to power up the center projector is not available on the backup projector. If you need to power up or power down the projector, you will need to get access to the projector room and press the power button on the back of the projector. I know, that's old school!
  • The quality of the backup projector is significantly lower than the primary projector, so we need to push the iris levels up a bit just to get satisfactory brightness out of the image. However, that also risks blowing out the image. So, the assistant director position is really important, and getting feedback from the Tech Director out in the room is essential. Generally, we should be aiming for skin tones at 80-90% brightness instead of the usual 70-80% brightness.


Power On?

A couple times in the last few weeks, we've had some problems because a piece of equipment in the signal chain didn't have power or it's power wasn't turned on. In those cases, a lot of time was spent swapping out components in the signal chain on the stage side. This is just a great opportunity to remind us all, when troubleshooting, to do a quick overview of the entire signal path before starting to change out components. Also, rather than just swapping random components out, start at the source and step through one connection at a time to confirm that you have audio or video signal at each pont of failure in the signal chain.

Rechargeable Batteries

About 14 months ago, we changed over to rechargeable batteries. We are beginning to notice some cell failures. The batteries are not lasting through both services. Because batteries are essential to our wireless mic systems functioning, there are a few things we should all know and be looking for:
  • Each room has enough batteries to fill all of the wireless equipment twice. One set of batteries should be used for rehearsals, and then all batteries should be replaced with fresh ones immediately prior to the first service.
  • Sometimes the charger drawers don't fully latch into the chargers. Be careful that you make sure they lock in when you go to charge batteries. Also, be careful that you see a green light before you pull the batteries out. If you see no light (either red or green), then the batteries are definitely not fully charged. Don't use them.
  • The Wireless In-Ear receivers in the auditorium are much more power-hungry than the microphone transmitters (both handhelds and beltpacks), so we should expect to swap those batteries out between services each time into the future.
  • However, the handheld and beltpack transmitters should last through two services. Remember, if the indicator shows four bars at the beginning of the first service and then three bars at the beginning of the second service, they don't need to be changed. They only need to be changed if they are showing two bars or less at the beginning of the second service.
  • I have tested all of the current batteries for peak voltage. All of them will be charged up to "full" if you see a green light on the charger.
  • Nevertheless, just because a pair of batteries charges to full doesn't mean that they will last for both services, unfortunately. Over time, they may not hold their charge as long.
  • If you have to change out pair of batteries in a microphone transmitter between services, please get that pair of batteries into my hands (don't just mark them bad and set them aside). I want to run some tests on them.
Thanks for your careful attention to this!

Copy, Don't Type. Copy, but Don't Trust.

For those of you working on projection, I just want to give you a quick reminder to use the copy and paste functions when you are creating songs or sermon notes from documents or emails. While many of you type well and quickly, I can't remember a time when we had zero typos after someone hand-typed everything in. As an act of humility, I'd ask everyone to copy, paste, and apply the Pro template rather than type it in by yourself. At the same time, the pastors and worship leaders do make typos also, so don't automatically trust what they've done. Do a double-check of everything and then ask your Tech Director if you think there may be an error.

What else have you noticed in the last few weeks? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't Panic!

For some time now, we've been setting up a "Whisper Mic" for our worship leader or band leader. This allows him to speak to the band and to the projectionist in their in-ears without being heard by the congregation. The switch we chose is called the "Panic Button," and usually it causes no panic. Usually.

Panic occasionally does descend, however, when replacing the 9V battery results in an accidental "adjustment" of the dip switch settings which are quite inconveniently placed right next to the battery compartment.


Now, however, calm has been restored. If the panic button doesn't seem to be functioning correctly, simply press the dip switches down in the direction of the black dots. That is the correct orientation of each button to get it to act as expected.

Peace at last!

Friday, May 04, 2012

4.29 Reverb

Thanks to everyone who served this last weekend. After May's 3rd weekend, you will have served three out of the last six weekends. I'm grateful that you are carrying the extra load during these couple months.

As a reminder of what happened this weekend, here is an overview of the rundown from Sunday:
  • Ken Boer led us in singing.
  • Robin Boisvert led in Child Dedications.
  • Kenneth Maresco shared some pastoral priorities (aka announced stuff).
  • Joshua Harris preached from Psalm 57 on how David never gave up but instead worshipped his way forward. Listen or watch if you weren't there.
What Went Well? (So much went smoothly.)
  • The child dedications went really well. The video roll-in was smooth in both cases, and I was very happy with the shot choices as Robin was talking. There were a lot of great shots of cute kids.
  • Thanks to the extra sound crew folks that stepped in to help cover for the monitor operator position this weekend. I even got to sit behind the monitor board for a few minutes, which was fun.
  • That reminds me how great it is to have other team members at the tech director desk, so that Josh and I can step away. With Tyler, Joe, Chris, and Ryan at the helm, we can leave the intercom without any concerns.
What Could Improve?
  • As everyone in the video control room has noticed, our video equipment is starting to "drift" a bit. The cameras are getting a little more difficult to balance correctly and cam 3 had a jitter issue over the weekend. Thankfully, I've connected with a field tech at JVC that is eager to help and has already resolved a problem with cam 4 over email. Please make sure that I get any notes you have about camera issues, so that I can ask specific questions and get those problems resolved.
  • Lighting of Robin during the child dedications was less than ideal. In the future, we should add a light from the far reaches of catwalk 1 to cover the left side of the pastors face as he looks stage left.
  • With the addition of the whisper mic, Ken is depending on being able to talk to the band and the projection operator with it as the band is getting on stage after the sermon. In order for this to work, two things need to be in place: 1) the band needs to have their in-ears in; 2) the monitor operator needs to be at his or her post immediately at the end of the sermon to unmute mixes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Projection Input Arrangement in the Events Center

In order to improve image quality and consistency, we've changed the input assignments for projection in the Events Center. We still have four inputs connected to each projector, but only two of them are in active use. The on-stage VGA connection is still Input 1 on each projector. The ProPresenter laptop in the loft is now Input 3 (NOT Input 2) on each projector. Please note this important change.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

April Calendar Strangeness

April is just around the corner, and the calendar is a bit strange, so this post is to clarify who is serving on what weekends.

First, I want to mention the two strange things that could catch you by surprise and how you can remedy them:

Surprise: The first of the month is a Sunday, which means that the first Saturday is actually before the 2nd Sunday, the second Saturday is before the third Sunday, and so on.

Remedy: Count Sundays, not Saturdays, when you are trying to figure out when you serve.

Surprise: There are five Sundays in April.

Remedy: Count Sundays from the first Sunday of the month. Don't think of yourself as "the last week of the month" or "the week before the last week of the month." It's the week 3 team's turn to cover the 5th Sunday.

OK, with that being said, here's the actual schedule:
  • March 31-April 1 = Week 1 Team
  • April 7-8 = Week 2 Team
  • April 14-15 = Week 3 Team
  • April 21-22 = Week 4 Team
  • April 28-29 = Week 3 Team
Thanks for serving, everyone!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rubens Tube

Ron, one of our audio volunteers, passed on this video from Mythbusters that gives a visual representation of a sound wave. And it's even cooler because it contains flammable gasses. Check it out!