Christmas Candlelight Celebration 2018 - Multiview

As you’ll see here as a theme, reviewing what we do is essential for improving. A while back, we took the time to figure out how to record our multi views as well as our clear com audio. This has helped us tremendously. Not only as operators, but as a training device as well. Instead of saying, “hey remember that one shot, or that one time in service”, we are able to pull it up, and see not only the shot that may have been funky, but we can see the shots leading up to it, to see what we could have done differently to set it up.

It’s well worth the time and energy to figure out a good way to record what happens behind the scenes. You’ll notice things right off the bat that you can improve on. Jacob is video directing here on this video, and he did an incredible job. He’s only been video directing for less than a year, and he excelling at what he does, partly because he’s able to review his work behind the scenes.

Summer Splash 2018 - Multiview - Live Video Production

One of the best things I've found that makes us better is recording what we do behind the scenes. Often we look at just the final product and review that, but a true indicator of where we are and how we got there is recording the behind the scenes. For us, one of the ways we do that is by recording our multiview and our clearcom communication. This way, we can see the final product, but we can also see what lead to the final product.

For Video Directors, recording your multiview and clearcom is arguably essential to getting better. There's no better tool out there that I'm aware of that makes you better.  For this specific example, this was Jacob's first major event video directing. Overall he did fantastic as the end result was great, but what better way to learn and get better than by hearing yourself and watching yourself direct.  

As I've watched myself direct in years past, there is one key element to it. You have to watch back after the event high. Meaning, wait a week before you watch it back, get out of the moment, and put yourself in the shoes of someone watching for the first time. Then, put yourself in the shoes of one of your camera operators.  How did your direction come across? Did you give enough direction? Did you give too much direction? Did you help or hurt your camera ops? Did you speak with respect but at the same time with authority as a director?

Someone asked the question once, do you let your camera ops decide what shots are going to be taken? For those of you seeing one of our videos for the first time, it's important to note that this was a one night event, but before that we had probably 4 run throughs by the time it was all said and done. So, there's not a whole lot of direction in the event video, because by this time through all the cam ops and video directors are on the same page. 

Anyway, without further ado, here's our multiview from Summer Splash '18. There's definitely things we would have done differently, such as camera placement during the opener, but that's what these things are for!

DIY Guitar Iso Cabinet

 

When you are in any one building for many years, you solve a lot of problems over the years. If you are like us, you solve problems on a weekly basis, and after a while, you have a fairly well oiled machine and you tend to forget all the problems you had to solve along the way to get where you are. The sound your worship team has is usually a product of years of tweaking and adjusting. When we moved into our new facility, a lot of those problems instantly come back. And one of those is a problem that’s common to all of us: stage volume. Stage volume on any given worship platform is typically from one of two sources – Drums and guitar amps. We’ll do another post on our drum solution, but in this post we’ll go over the guitar amps.

This probably goes without saying, but every worship team and production team runs into the problem of the guitar guy wants his amps to be so loud that it makes his tone right, the front of house guy wants the right tone, but can’t mix over the stage volume coming from the amps, and the tech director is stuck in the middle of trying to make it sound good but keep the volume at a manageable level. You are not alone.

Our goal was to make some type of isolation box that allowed our amps to get as loud as they want to back stage and us not to hear it in the worship center. Our second goal was to make sure that the guitar amps didn’t overheat and could last a long time in the boxes. It’s important to note that the first iteration of our amp boxes in the old building sealed well, but didn’t have enough air flow and it destroyed our amps on a regular basis due to heat (to which our music director wasn’t too keen on and for good reason).

So here’s what we came up with:

It’s important to note that it was a small team effort. This is not the quickest project we have ever done, and it takes a little longer than you may initially think. So give yourself a good week to pull it off. The good thing is that all the cuts and joints aren’t that tricky so you don’t have to be too handy to pull this one off.

We essentially built the guitar cabinet in two sections, a top and a bottom. The top and bottom we made equal size at 3 feet tall and 8 feet wide. We built the initial frame out of 2×4’s.

I initially built the frames at home and then had to transport them to the church. I don’t recommend this method as these are massive. It was a feat to get it to the church. I’d definitely recommend building each step near your final location. Hindsight is 20/20 – ha.

Once we had it on site, we put some thick 3/4″ plywood around all the sides, careful to get the edges as tight as possible to keep sound from leaking out. We put 6 heavy duty castors on the bottom (found some awesome looking red ones from Home Depot), stacked them on top of each other, and screwed them together. Even fully loaded down, the cabinets move like butter. We felt pretty legit at this point. However, the hardest part was yet to be done.

One of our goals was to make sure that the amps stayed cool enough when the doors were closed and the amps were powered up all the way. So after much discussion and probably a little bit of arguing, we landed on a pretty decent idea. Here’s a rough picture of the air flow, but the idea was push air in one side and pull air out the other. The problem with fans though is that noise gets out through the grates. So we put a sound panel in front of the fans to help absorb the sound more. The result was pretty fantastic.

New-Note-e1514757661654-1024x481.png

We then caulked all the creases between the 2×4’s and the plywood. After that we hit the 2×4’s and joining areas with black spray paint and put some carpet squares on the bottom plywood.

IMG_1912-e1514742851546-768x1024.jpg

Then we put in a 2×2 power outlet in each quad of the box. For power sake, we wired the top boxes together and the bottom boxes together.

And finally after that we attached rock wool (insulation) to the plywood with some big metal washers and some screws. We also cut the holes and attached the fans (two in each quad).

After that, we covered up the fan section like in the image above. We then finished it out with stapling weed blocker fabric over the acoustic treatment.  We found that weed blocker material was much cheaper than actual black fabric and did the job well.

Our doors we made out of a different material – MDF. We found that MDF sat much flatter and didn’t warp like plywood. We bought some awesome heavy duty latches, mainly because they look cool. But really because they made for a really tight latch.  To make the door seal tighter we put a strip of foam around the edges of the door. Once the latches catch, its a really tight seal. Word of wisdom – spray some black paint where your hardware is going so it looks sharper when its done.

We then painted the outside black. Got a ladder that’s permanently stored next to the cabinet, since its a little high to lift a heavy amp into the top half. Tech wise, we have a SGI in each of the quads for input signal, and we have short booms with mics in each quad with XLR going out to the patch bay.  There’s enough room for each amp to sit in pretty much any orientation and we’ve yet to encounter an amp that doesn’t fit yet (that I know of – ha).

IMG_8240-1024x768.jpg

The result was pretty awesome. Great sound isolation, and about as much airflow as one could want. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

Christmas at Milestone Church - Stage Set 2017

We love Christmas time at Milestone Church. We started some initial planning in September and really started to meet as a team in October. For some churches that may be a little late, but for us that’s when naturally start to wrap our mind around it. When we initially meat up, we talk about any and everything under the sun. From songs, to specials, to message ideas, to stage design, and graphics. Eventually, over the course of a couple months it starts to naturally boil it self down to what we end up with. We always run out of time to do everything we want to do, but we do our best to hold on to those ideas for next year.

Full disclosure, we had a completely different stage design designed for us through our new good friend Daniel Connell (who I would highly recommend working with). We had even started down the path of renting and reserving gear. But as we got closer to our message series, we realized it just didn’t quite fit. Not because of the design Daniel had made, it was awesome! But because we had fully narrowed down our focus to the theme of this year’s Christmas. And the theme we landed on was Christmas Classics. For stage purposes, we had made the switch to a completely new design two weeks before we had to install. Wow.

So two weeks out we decided that we were going to go with around 12, really tall pencil trees on each side of the stage. But due to time constraints, height requirements, and stock constraints that close to December, we had to change that idea as well, which left us one week before install that we landed on our final idea. During the last service on Sunday before the week we needed to be installing, we drew up a quick sketch of a stage idea based upon large wooden/warm ornaments and strips of really thick garland on either side of the LED screen in the center. For our large ornaments we used a bit of inspiration from a previous design done by Daniel Connell and Church on the Move- so mad props to them.

This was our sketch on Sunday, and we started cranking first thing Monday:

IMG_ADC2278D8EAA-1-e1514761384394-833x1024.jpeg

I was a little overwhelmed by the idea and the time constraint we had to pull it off, and truth be told I think we almost canceled the whole thing about 5 times that week. But Sunday night I went home and made up a small mockup of what we were going to build.

After the small mockup, we felt confident enough to push forward. So from Monday to Thursday from 9am to 11pm (and one 1am), we cranked away at making 112 custom designed triangles put together in 14 octahedrons to make our hanging ornaments. The simple explanation on how they were built was take a sheet of 1/8″ plywood, cut three equal triangles out of one sheet, and then jig the same design into 8 of those triangles. We then assembled the triangles correctly (after remembering how to do calculus), sealed the creases so light wouldn’t come through and did an initial test hang Wednesday afternoon to make sure we were on the right path. I won’t lie after three full days of work and no time to come up with something else, I was a nervous wreck during the first test hang. Fortunately, it looked great, we took some notes, tweaked some more, and pushed forward.

IMG_6011-1024x768.jpg
IMG_0069-1024x768.jpg
IMG_1268-1024x768.jpg

After assembling them all together, we ended up with 14 ornaments.

IMG_5368-1024x768.jpg

The picture above is for perspective. they are right around 7 ft tall. While we were building them we kept asking ourselves if we built them too big. But little stage design note, scale is everything. And usually you have to scale much bigger than you naturally think for it to look right from the seats in the Worship Center. With our initial Christmas tree idea, we would have needed to get our hands on some 16 ft tall trees to make the stage look proportionate next to a 21 ft tall LED screen. It’s all about scale.

We had some electrical cable and bare sockets left over from a previous set design, so we obtained some large 300w incandescent bulbs that would hang in the middle of the ornaments. We wired up each ornament with bulb inside before we loaded them on the lift. While in the air, we hooked each ornament up to it’s own dimmer pack channel for individual lighting control. We also aimed one color changing S4 light on the outside of each ornament to give it just a little bit of accent color to match whatever the look was on stage. This gave us a lot of versatility in our different looks.

After a day of flying and last minute touch ups, they were done! And we couldn’t believe it.

On top of the ornaments, we hung 21″ wide lit Garland in vertical strips evenly spaced. As well as added some custom flood lights behind the keys and drums on each side of the LED screen for warm backlight to help our roaming cameras look extra sharp. We’ll do a post on those later. Here’s some pictures of the finished product from some of our services.

MilestoneChristmas-302-1024x683.jpg
MilestoneChristmas-200-1024x683.jpg

Drummer Boy - Multiview - Christmas 2017

Here’s just a quick look behind the scenes with our Drummer Boy video capture. Since we had 8 Christmas services over the course of the week, we made little adjustments each and every time we did it. The video below is our 6th service, so we even made tweaks after this video for our last two services. We had a little over 126 lighting cues automated to the song so it hit perfect timing. Anyway, thought you may enjoy taking a look behind the curtain.

Dummer Boy - The Drum Sled

At Milestone, we had our big Christmas services the week of Christmas: 8 Services at our Main Keller location. Because of so many services, everything we did needed to be repeatable easily and reliably. For a couple months we had planned to do Drummer Boy at the top of service. With the shear number of Drums, people on stage, microphones, in ears, etc, it made the most sense to do this at the top of service so we could set the stage and double check all of the audio inputs and in ears. So that was our plan!

However, if any of you have worked in church long enough, you know things never go as planned. Our first Christmas service was on Wednesday night, and on Monday at 5pm, our team had made the decision to move Drummer boy to the middle of service. Immediately we went into sort of a panic mode of how do we pull this off. We didn’t want to cut any corners. We wanted to mic everything correctly and we didn’t want to fake anything. So we came up with this – The Drum Sled (TM- haha).

IMG_1004-1024x768.jpg

Now these pictures were taken after the fact and after we had returned our snares, so the cables and such are a bit nasty. But essentially, we cut a piece of plywood, and pre-placed each drummer station with the drums they needed, the microphones in the correct place, and in ear cables in the right spot. Some of the drums were heavy, so we put the sleds on furniture casters (since we have carpet – we call them “moving men”), and attached a piece of rope through some eyebolts to be able to easily pull the drums on and off stage. This enabled us to load in stage, patch in mics and in-ears in under one minute (under the cover of a video), and clear the stage in under 30 seconds.

IMG_1005-1024x768.jpg

The other thing you’ll notice is that marked back stage with bright neon green gaff tape. This is small, but super important. Go get some bright neon gaff tape for backstage organization. With so many things coming on and off stage over so many services, we needed to dedicate back stage space for functionality and for safety.

Last minute changes always come up, no matter what church you serve or work at, and no matter how good your team is at pre-planning. The trick is to be flexible, and always be willing to come up with solutions. Those are the type of team members you want. And our team knocked it out of the park with a simple idea to solve the problem.

Joy 2017 - Multiview - Live Video Production

One of the easiest things for church teams to do is to finish a weekend or an event and move on quickly to the next weekend or event without reviewing or examining what just happened. I’ll be the first to admit that there are certain busy seasons, *insert Christmas season here*, that the pace of events outpaces our ability to slow down and review how everything looked and felt. 

I found myself the other night looking back at some of the videos we had captured from our Christmas services. A month or so later, fully out of the Christmas mode, and out of the moment of the night, gives you a great honest perspective of how things looked and felt. Not only that, but how did we communicate as a team? To be honest, there’s a lot of notes I took. There’s a lot of things we need to still work on. But one of the big things I took away was compliments for some of our team members. How far one of our video directors has come. How awesome our camera guys did that night. How, even with all the last minute changes behind the scenes, our team knocked it out of the park. In your reviews, take note of what you need to work on for sure! That’s how we get better. But take the time to brag on your team and what they did well.