Worship Video Production, Part 2

Training a volunteer tech crew and keeping the video operation up and running on five church campuses is a big job. 8/19/2010 12:23 PM Eastern

Worship Video Production, Part 2

Aug 19, 2010 4:23 PM, With Bennet Liles

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Worship Video Production, Part 1
Michigan’s Kensington Community Church had to find a way for video production in their main sanctuary and in several satellite locations and make it easy enough to train volunteers to do it fast and right....

Training a volunteer tech crew and keeping the video operation up and running on five church campuses is a big job, especially when some of those set ups have to be put up and taken down every Sunday. Video Operations Director Jeff Reynolds will clue us in on how For-A switchers helped out at Michigan’s Kensington Community Church.

Jeff thanks for being here for part two from the Kensington Community Church where you’re the director of video operations and that sounds like a pretty tough job. You have to train all those volunteers you rely on and you have to keep all the video stuff up and running, and I understand that at one of the other campuses you’ve got a JVC GY-HD250 camera. Why did you choose to go with that particular one?
That camera was chosen to complement the system at the time, which was going to be our first step into HD. We never fully materialized from that point into HD, but the camera was a perfect complement to the set up at that campus and that was even before we put in the For-A. Yeah, that camera currently serves as Camera 1 in our campus that is located at the eastern part of our city, so a very nice camera, and hopefully we’ll be able to implement more of those cameras in the near future. [Timestamp: 1:43]

How many different campuses does Kensington Church have?
Currently, in the Detroit area, we have five. [Timestamp: 1:49]

Well, you must be a very busy guy with that job.
Yeah, I am, I am. The nice thing is you mentioned training and training all those volunteers. The beauty of it is we have some very, very strong leaders at the campuses and we’re able to teach our leaders how to do their jobs, and that applies in any of them, whether it’s our audio teams—anything. Us as leaders here at the main campus are able to teach those people, and they do a very successful job with training our volunteers, but yeah, it’s a busy job. It seems like we’ve always got new pieces of equipment that we’re looking at or implementing or even considering and then we’ve got so many events going on all the time that require our hands-on attention and just preparation for things further on down the year. [Timestamp: 2:43]

Did you put For-A HVS-300 switchers in all the campuses?
Yes, currently all of the campuses have the HVS-300, except for our main campus in the main control room. HVS-300 is just too small for that campus for that control room. We haven’t upgraded that system yet, and we’re currently running a larger 24-input switcher with multiple FX busses on it for that room. [Timestamp: 3:11]

And I think you mentioned this in part one but just in case anybody’s listening who wasn’t in on that, how do you distribute the video signal around each campus?
Video signal around each campus is distributed, say, to the nursing mother’s room, that kind of thing, is all distributed through an RF modulated network in the school where we hold our services, and then in our main campus we do have point-to-point coax and TI lines that we feed different areas of the building as well as an RF network. [Timestamp: 3:42]

Well, that’s a lot of stuff to keep up and running all the time in all those different locations. I take it you do record these services.
Yes, we do. [Timestamp: 3:49]

And do you do any kind of postproduction on those?
Only postproduction that we do is at our main campus. We lightly edit the service for our local access channels with the cable companies. [Timestamp: 4:01]

Yeah, I can see where you would have to have that capability.
Well, everything at our campuses is of a portable nature. Everything is mounted permanently in road cases, but it is moved in and out of the school every week and stored on trailers over the course of the week and brought back out on Sunday and packed back up and do it all over again. [Timestamp: 4:21]

So your crew is not only church volunteers, they’re volunteer roadies.

So what’s going on with Kensington’s First National Campus in Orlando? How’s that coming?
Well, we’re very excited about that. We are getting closer to the opening of that campus. We’re planning on opening that campus officially in September. And we have our equipment ordered and are just waiting on it to come in and get our road cases built and get everything installed. Then we’re going to ship it down to Orlando, spend a weekend down there testing it and training and getting everybody onboard. So it’s going to be a very exciting time. It’s been hectic, but we’re looking forward to it—already have a lot of people in Orlando waiting the start of the new campus, and it’s just going to be a real exciting thing for us. [Timestamp: 5:10]

And that’s going to be great. Like you said, it’s going to be hectic, but it’s going to be really fantastic when you have it all put together. You’ve got the volunteers trained and you actually see it come up and work the first time.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s going to be great. [Timestamp: 5:21]

So obviously you got to have lighting for these things for the video to work and set the tone of everything. Who operates all the lighting in there?
Well, we have a mixture, we have volunteers, we also have some contract people; we have one full-time lighting director with the church, and he provides some over sight at the campus level, but spends most of his time at the main campus, and we’ve just got some dynamite volunteers. We’ve got a couple of kids and I do seriously mean kids—15 year olds that are just outstanding lighting technicians, and they have a great eye. They’re able to come in and program our lighting look for the day and just do an outstanding job. [Timestamp: 6:04]

So have you got any kind of challenges between trying to make it look right for the people in the congregation and make it look right, not over lit, for them in order to have it look right on the cameras?
Not really. We have a good relationship between the video team and the lighting guys; they understand the need to have effective and efficient lighting for the cameras, and then we, as the video team, also understand that we’re going to have times where we’re lighting for a rock show and then there’s going to be times when they’re lighting for the message. And so there’s compromises and understanding and with the varied years of involvement in the business, in the different businesses, we’ve just got that professionalism there that helps us be able to work together and understand the two different worlds and how they can work together. [Timestamp: 6:53]

And you’ve got a lot of people on the crew who have to communicate. How do you handle communication for the camera ops and director and all that during services?
Communication is handled through Clear-Com systems everywhere. [Timestamp: 7:05]

OK; how does all the communication work? Did you have to come up with a complex plan for the com gear or was it pretty easy to implement?
No, it was pretty easy to implement. As I mentioned earlier, all of our campuses operate out of schools in the area and all those schools have Clear-Com systems as part of their theater set up anyways, so we’ve been able to go in and just tie in a little bit of our gear to their already existing system. [Timestamp: 7:32]

And we talked earlier about having volunteers, you’ve got a steady stream of people; you can’t count on long-term continuity with this. What kind of job do you usually break the new volunteers in on to ease them into the situation?
Well, here at our main campus, for example, we’ll almost always start somebody out on a camera shadowing another camera operator, and it’ll be a less critical camera, maybe a camera that we can set on a wide shot, more often than not. Let them get their feet wet a little bit. And then we’ll gradually move people, if they’re interested. We really encourage people to move into directing if they can or if they’re interested and that has worked really well for us. We’ve actually ended up with some people who are very gifted at all aspects of video production. And then we also have, at our main campus, we have to have somebody who’s shading cameras, and so that’s a pretty crucial tool—live video production. But we do pretty much start everybody out as a camera operator, and then if they’re willing, we move them into other areas. [Timestamp: 8:37]

Yeah, the camera shading is going to be a little bit more high level situation. You’ve got a lot riding on that; there’s live; there’s no way going back. You can maybe be forgiven for a bad camera shot now and then. So I know you do a lot of texting graphics; what are the sources for those things? You’ve got that coming off of laptops or something?
Yeah, that’s correct. We use a program called ProPresenter. We use that exclusively; switched over to that about a year ago. And we’ve got a content creator who takes care of that, gets that all ready for all of the campuses and the content will vary from week to week. We might have a deal where it’s all full-screen images with text and over a nice graphic or something like that and so it goes to the video area as a completed package; other times it’s just on a white text over black and then they key it over our second computer feed, which is using ProVideoPlayer; both by Renewed Vision. And that’s where our moving backgrounds come from and so that’s how all of our text and graphics are handled on a weekly basis. [Timestamp: 9:46]

Have you got any special technical set ups for special occasions, anything bigger than usual?
Oh yeah, oh yeah. Not this past Easter but the Easter before we really, really went for it, and we had on stage two 9x12 screens that were required to move, and we had some guys devise some tracks and the screens actually moved out and the band came out from the center of those screens. But the trick was the projector had to move with the screen. So, yeah, different challenges like that; sometimes it’s more basic and sometimes it’s challenging like that; both for Easter and Christmas. [Timestamp: 10:25]

Well, on the big shows like that; at least it keeps things interesting and breaks you out of the usual monotony. It makes things interesting for the volunteers I’m sure.
Yes, exactly.

Well Jeff, it’s been great to have you with me on the SVC podcast. It is Kensington Community Church and it’s many campuses and the new For-A switchers you have now. Good luck with the new installations and with the new Orlando campus.
Thank you, Bennett. Thanks for having us.

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