Data projector mounting: You’re doing it wrong. (although there is something admirable about sticking to cable-ties as a material)
Gosh I wish I could say this was my idea!
Yet another idea inspired by stagesetdesignideas.com – the pallet set was a simple idea: Get pallets, break them down into planks, fix the planks horizontally to flats in a layered design and light! Each piece of wood is of course gnarly and gritty, stained and marred, some even have nails sticking out – so the look is very grungy and rough – but when well lit it also looks earthy and warm.
I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say breaking down 100-150 pallets was a lot of work! 3 days in, and I wondered if we had even made a dent!
With some help from some really high-capacity volunteers – my team made the impossible happen in time, and we pulled off 3 pallet set designs (one for each campus).
This has not only been one of the most engaging sets of the year so far at Grace, but it’s also been one of those rare and rewarding projects where the set design actually spun-off into service programming elements. During a recent service, we cut up pieces of the left-over pallets, and left a piece on each person’s chair. Each piece was flawed, unique, and rough-around-the-edges. Each piece represented the complexities and the ‘mess’ of our lives, and we all got an opportunity during the service to take our ‘mess’, and leave it at the cross.
The next week we made crosses from those same pieces of wood and displayed them in our concourse.
I’ve had dozens of calls from people who want to know how we did it, or if we will give it away after were done with it. I even had art students do a photo shoot of it! Thanks to those who donated/sourced pallets for the set, as well as the team who helped put it together you guys did a brilliant job!
It was about 10.30pm in the evening when the call came through. The Comrades Marathon started early the next morning, and our youth group was going to be braai-ing and supporting the runners from the side of the road. The youth leader had just then decided we should have a sound system and invite bands to perform. He had asked someone to call me to arrange something. I was 15.
Having no PA of my own, I arranged to use the church mobile PA. It was everything you would imagine a mobile church PA to be. Two 12” passive speakers, paired with piezo tweeters in home-made boxes, and powered with an 80W amp. We had no CD player, so I borrowed my parents one (along with every extension cord in the house) – and headed out at 3.30am to start the set up in darkness.
Why am I telling you this story?
Well – the memory of this morning is seared into my mind as a defining moment for me. What followed was, as I look back, an experience that could have completely extinguished my passion for tech, and ministry before I even started.
I remember it being the 3rd band of the morning. They were a ‘hip-hop’ band that sang/rapped over a cd track. They strutted onto the stage (a grass bank) and without looking at me plopped their backtrack CD on the audio console, mentioning that they would have preferred wireless microphones.
Despite my best efforts it didn’t sound great. It sounded pretty bad. It was an out-door gig – the volume was underwhelming, over-compressed, and right on the verge of clipping as I tried to squeeze every precious decibel of life out of those tired, sad speakers. The band did not hide the fact that they were not impressed – from me or from the audience. When they were done they came to collect their CD. As I handed it over, the leader of the band looked me straight in the eyes, paused for a moment, and with a disgusted look said ‘that was the worst sound we have ever had’. He turned, and I watched him walk off.
I was broken.
I wasn’t even angry. I was just complete empty. I had got up at 3am, and spent 2 hours in complete darkness alone, hauling gear onto the side of the road. Called in favors, begged and borrowed for every piece of gear we had – then negotiated with nearby homes to ‘borrow electricity’, stressed about mic stands and kick drums and too few DI boxes. While my friends ate boerewors rolls and cheered on the runners and the bands, I was patching cables and wracking my brains for how we would mic up a 5th vocalist. What I had got in return for my effort was a lambasting by a popular artist – a public assault on my competence, which for whatever reason I felt on a really deep level.
Have you ever felt abused as a tech volunteer? Have you ever got to the point where you wonder why on earth you’d put yourself through one more day of this? You don’t have to do this/! You’re not paid! You’re just doing the job no one else wants to do! Why are you serving, instead of enjoying being served – and putting yourself under pressure for no perceivable gain?
My road to processing and recovering from that complicated experience was and is a long one, that has brought me all the way to where I am today writing this post. As I sit here after 8 years in tech ministry, I’m still not sure I have it all worked out! It may sound nuts – but I can tell you that I think I have just about the best job on earth. It may be the death of me – but I love church tech work! At Grace we are committed to honoring the people who serve in our church. It’s a fundamental part of our DNA. Nothing in our church would operate without ‘Grace people’ giving up their time to serve God, by serving each other – and I think that may be how it’s supposed to work.
What I can say with absolute clarity is that God calls us each to a purpose in his kingdom, (Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26) and only when you find your place, can you start to understand the paradox of being served by serving others.
Well… technically this is a band fail. I was told several piano keys were “stuck”.
It seems someone was trying to play the piano with a plectrum??
How do you see your congregants?
But really though.
I wonder… Ask yourself honestly. How do you see your congregation? Whether sound or lights or video person, if you’re an admin person, or even a pastoral person.
Close your eyes and put yourself at the tech desk on a Sunday – during the opening song out the corner of your eye you see that person sauntering towards you – they are now telling you how they think you could do your job better, or complaining about the volume, the aircon, and the light in their eyes. The coffee, the parking, the typo and the drums. Also – did they mention the light in their eyes? As they are speaking – what are the words that materialize in your mind? (Don’t write them in the comment section!)
How do you see your congregation?
Are they a distraction? an irritation? Or worse?
I’m an introverted tech person – dealing with people is not the most energizing part of my job, and yet, with much reluctance, over the years I have come to understand that people are the beginning, middle and end of what we do.
I can think of many occasions when I’ve missed this, and grateful for the grace extended to me to figure it out! This is an everyday discipline for me and I’m sure many of you too.
Please understand – I’m not suggesting that you have to pander to everyone’s whims. Pleasing everyone is impossible – and a highway to hatred and burnout.
I’m simply encouraging you to remember that ultimately, no matter how impressive your systems, policies, gear, buildings, lights or staff – they exist to serve the people. Not the other way around.
Ok, ok. This has nothing at all to do with audio – and it might be more of a win than a fail!
Earle & Grant found this while packing up after a conference. It seems one of our HD-SDI video cables worked perfectly fine for 2 days, while under the leg of a chair of a delegate! Signal loss in 3.. 2.. 1..
**edit** I have subsequently been told this is not proper HD-SDI cable, but just plain RG59 with HD-SDI being transmitted through it. Anyone know what ‘proper HD-SDI’ cable is called? Comment below…