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Worship Workflow

Jan 7, 2011 12:00 PM, By Mark Johnson

A week in the life of a church technical volunteer.

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Sanctuary projection screen

For IMAG, Canon XL1S and XL2 videocameras—one in the balcony and two on the main floor—capture the action, which is displayed on three projection screens in the main sanctuary.

The Week at a Glance

Wednesday is rehearsal for the praise and worship band and singers. Prior the start of the rehearsal, the music director posts an Order of Service form he’s filled out. This form includes a list of who the singers will be for the upcoming weekend, as well as the band configuration and the musicians. There are also notes for video and for the Easy Worship operators. We’ll fill in specific information such as running times of CDs or DVDs, source inputs, etc. We’ll also fill in the Mic Matrix so we can plan and coordinate the usage of the wireless systems in the course of the service.

The digital mixing console is a great tool for houses of worship. We have basic scene or event cues derived from a master cue that we named “Old School,” which is basically set up as if we were mixing on an analog console. Subsequent cues for running the service include Pre Service, Praise & Worship, Choir, Special Music, Message, and Post Service. Primarily, the cues serve to turn on or off various inputs for that particular time in the service, though level or EQ changes are programmed in as well if needed.

Since we have a basic setting for the band and the set of musicians are pretty consistent from week to week, most of our attention is focused on the singers, setting the input gains, and adjusting the EQ. There are typically five or six singers, basically covering bass/tenor, alto, and soprano vocal parts. The makeup for the band is drums (electronic), bass, electric guitar, keys, percussion, flute, and piano. Occasionally another guitar (acoustic or electric) is added to the mix.

Youth services (teens) also take place on Wednesday evenings in the Family Ministries Chapel. We try to have the youth run the technical aspects of their services. It helps to give them ownership and provides a training platform so they can continue to serve as they get older. There is a Mackie TT24 digital mixer in the chapel. Since we run three different services in the course of the week in that facility, having a digital mixer is helpful as we can set different cues for the services.

Thursday is choir rehearsal. For audio, our time is minimal. The choir rehearses in another room entirely and then comes out to the main sanctuary to run through the song it will sing that weekend. If the song is sung to prerecorded tracks, that allows us the opportunity to set levels and EQ on the tracks and check the overall mix with the choir and any soloists that might be involved in that particular song. If the band is playing for the choir song, we save the band settings from the praise and worship cue into the choir cue, possibly cutting the levels on some of the louder instruments so the band won’t overpower the choir. Since that takes between 15 to 30 minutes tops, the remainder of our time in the evening is spent doing maintenance or other preparations or projects.

On Sunday, we hold morning services in two locations: early morning at 8:30 a.m. in our chapel and 10:30 a.m. in the new sanctuary. The early service is a streamlined version of the main service that features members of the youth band, three singers, and no choir. (We’ve been in the new sanctuary for two years now, but we still call it “new.” We’re still in what I call a “period of discovery” with the systems there as we continue to refine our processes and procedures as well as integrate products or systems that were value-engineered out of the original system design.)

There is also another service on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. in the chapel. We have a rotating schedule for the members of the sound team. Normally, one person will mix the services in the chapel and another person will mix the service in the new sanctuary. We also record the 10:30 a.m. service for duplication on DVD and distribution, and we send stems to the audio suite and provide a separate record mix for the DVD. Senior Pastor Jim Heden delivers the message for all three services, referring to his notes on an Apple iPad . He normally downloads the notes from his desktop, but if needed, he can connect wirelessly to his desktop via the LogMeIn app.

There are three projection screens in the main sanctuary: one in the center and one on each side. We’ll do IMAG on the center screen, and the side screens typically display sermon notes. We use video switches for IMAG primarily. There are three cameras, one in the balcony and two on the main floor. Sometimes additional cameras will be used for special occasions or events.

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