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Radio Shack amp used at camp

I am blessed to volunteer at a church with a fairly modern audio video system.We have no more jury-rigged contraptions, and the Radio Shack equipment is finally being phased out.

A couple years ago though, I worked at a camp out in Colorado. Its sound system was a stack of Radio Shack amplifiers with in-line faders, old 70’s PA speakers, and an early Shure wireless system that kinda worked. What a fun summer of troubleshooting and jury-rigging!

These tips for making the most of the outdated sound system sure would have come in handy out there at camp. I think it was a good experience for me to work with that old equipment (especially as a beginner). It gave me an appreciation for the new stuff and helped me to figure out how to troubleshoot problems. (I also realize how important those tips are.)



Many venues are preparing for the Christmas season. A lot of hard work goes into producing the various plays, concerts, and cantatas that are presented this time of year. Because of all this work, it it nice to have a video of the presentation. You and I, as the volunteer tech person, are generally placed in charge of this task. So why not make this year’s video a little cooler.

Instead of using one camera to record the show, get a hold of several cameras. Borrowing cameras from friends or people in your congregation is a great way to go. Another option is to purchase a couple mini HD cameras. They are fairly inexpensive, and take full HD video.

Now, during the production, it is unlikely that you will get to run around the stage getting close ups of your instrumentalist or the view from the choir loft. However, with the mini HD cameras, you can discreetly place them around the stage to get cool shots of the piano player’s hands or close up of the timpani or a the view looking into the crowd from behind the actors.

But how will you get the cameras to stay in place? With the clip lamp camera mount, of course!

In this video, The Frugal Filmmaker shows us how to make a cheap clip-on camera mount. It looks useful for clamping small cameras in areas where a cameraman would be distracting.

Have fun making an awesome multi-camera Christmas concert video!

  A technical director doesn’t just know everything about the equipment. No, it is much more than that. Learning the equipment is really the first step to being a great technical director. Technical directors should work on skills besides just the technical ones. The article calls the technical director a “technical artist.” I think that is a great term for that position. Yes, the director has to lead his team, but he also must craft the presentation aesthetically.  

It is so easy to become bored or apathetic to our practice. Turn up these mics, dim this light, here we go again. But we fail to realize that each event is a new chance to impact lives whether with the morals from our play or the message of the gospel. Of course, being a creative artist takes more work, but the rewards are worth it. Remember the reason why you volunteered in the first place.

Mini shotgun mics for a DSLR
Many venues are changing over from the shoulder-mounted video cameras and the hand-held cameras to the DSLR. They are relatively inexpensive, and they take wonderful video. They’re also versatile and can be mounted to any number of tripods, rigs, and jibs. However, they don’t record very good audio.

Maybe we can’t decide which one is our favorite, but we can integrate them together by using different types of mini shotgun mics. I would love the ability to attach a small but effective mic onto a DSLR or a hand-held camera, like my Canon HV30. These mini shotgun mics would allow me to record way better audio than the on-board mic.

Media Team working together

I spend time working alone. Usually working on something in the sound booth. Designing slides, editing video, or uploading content are just a few of the things I work on, usually by myself.

It is probably because I don’t delegate and I like to do things myself. I prefer things done a certain way.

Just because other people can be tiresome, and they don’t think exactly like me, and I may not appreciate everything they do, doesn’t mean I can or should do everything. Relying on other people is part of working on a team. And we all know, “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team,'” and “we get more done when we work as a team.” Statements we heard from our parents and coaches as kids, but they are still just as true today.

Remember that the ministry is people, and that includes the other inconvenient people on the media team.

Visual worship media is constantly changing. There seems to be a new background or style or technique that is the coolest, the hippest, the awesome-est thing to be doing. I wonder what will be the next trend in visual worship.

For me, the church I volunteer at is in the traditional category. However, I lean more towards the contemporary ideology of creative visuals, different lighting, and overall variety. I try to mix these elements into the projects I work on, but it seems I am always on the tale end of trends. I mean, really, we are still using PowerPoints with static images for our worship choruses. Sometimes it seems nobody cares about the presentation, and it is all about the mental aspect of the service. I think there is a place for both.

This idea of the convergence of liturgical and contemporary to tell a story intrigues me. Perhaps I can skip going contemporary and go right to the storytelling. Being a communication major, I know how powerful storytelling can be. It could have a real impact on the effectiveness of our worship services. If created correctly, the worship service could be seamlessly integrated with the sermon, making the whole service highly memorable rather than just a Sunday morning activity.

Of course, storytelling and integrating everything together will take a lot more time. But I believe the results would be extraordinary.

More and more churches are heading to the web to get their message out. Almost any church has the capability to put content on the web.

If you have just started posting content online or are thinking about starting, a great place to begin is with sermon recordings. Sermons are pretty easy to record, and there are plenty of resources to help get them uploaded to the web.

The more difficult part is producing content that sounds good audibly online. We use a compressor during live recording to level out the highs and lows of the volume. Our pastor is very dynamic. He speaks quietly and then will raise his voice suddenly. The compressor makes it all about the same volume level. This keeps the listener from constantly having to raise or lower the volume on their device.

We record the audio in Audacity, and export it as an MP3. Our podcast is available for download or streaming on our website. But we could easily put it on iTunes or other similar sites.

The important thing is to make your sermons sound good whichever way you put them online.

I’m from the Midwest, so Hurricane Sandy isn’t effecting my state weather-wise. But if I was in the rainy area, I would use this DIY camera rain guard to get some great shots of the weather.

I’m sure we’ll get our share of rain, snow and sleet later.

Anytime the sound booth gets upgraded, the tech leaders should be asking questions to make sure it is the best move. This includes software upgrades. With the release of Windows 8, I was tempted to jump at the chance to upgrade and be at the front of the technology pack.

Then I started asking questions. Do we actually need an upgrade? Will my programs work with Windows 8? Do I have the time and want to put forth the effort to train the team on a new system? (Especially when the new interface is so different.) Will it actually do anything to improve sound booth operations?

I answered these questions for myself, and i’m pretty sure my church won’t be upgrading to Windows 8 very soon.

Not because it is a bad OS, but simply because it is not necessary right now.

Projecting snowfall on the walls

I am tasked with making it snow in our sanctuary this Christmas. I’ve got a couple different ideas, but I’m not sure if I can actually implement any of them.

I would rather have some digital snow rather than having a bunch of paper or soap chips to clean up. So I think projecting video on the walls might have a really cool effect.

Of course these guys are the professionals, and they use projectors worth thousands of dollars. But I can try, can’t I?