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.

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.


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?


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.


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.


Anonymous said...

Wait .... did that end of the year surplus get spent on misc junk when we could have had kick-tail pyrotechnics?!?!

Or were the pyrotechnics already in the budget?

-A Concerned Team Member-

Dave Wilcox said...

Dear Anonymous Concerned Team Member,

The Distressors "must be cool because they have a 'Nuke' option with a blue light." Need I say more?

Tyler said...

Perhaps a strategic portion could have been invested in a Rubens' Tube: I can't imagine Ken saying no to that being hooked up to his piano. ^_^

Marja M. said...

Hi Dave,

This is Marja M. I'm trying to find out if the notes on "noise reduction" and "templates" apply to the work I did last week on uploading the sermon to Limelight or making the DVDs. I don't remember touching any dials related to noise reduction or working with any templates, so I'm checking to see if that's something I should have done but did not do. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think as long as we have Tyler Fogarty on the team, we really don't need any "extras". But I wouldn't object to an occasional box of mixed donuts from Dunkin D's.

Dave Wilcox said...

Hi, Marja. The noise reduction and templates notes were for the sermon audio editors, not the video editors. Thanks!