Willow Arts Conference Pt. 3

Day Two has been a blur—in a good way. It was all breakout sessions today, and I decided to take a variety of topics. While all of the sessions had value, perhaps the one class that will impact what I do back at my home church the most was the session on “Running an Effective Technical Rehearsal.” Led by Todd Elliot and Chuck Spong, both of Willow Creek, they provided insight and a lot of great ideas

Perhaps the thing that I found most profound, was this concept: A lot of people (myself included) tend to designate the “programming” people (those who design the service, create the videos, act, sing and play) the “creative” ones. Those who execute the service, “production,” are often thought of as supporting the “artists.”

However, the technical team, “production,” are “artists” in their own right. It just so happens that their instrument may be a lighting board, or a sound board, or a computer. Moreover, when those two teams of artists come together, they have the opportunity to create something new, amazing and something that neither could create on their own.

I’ve written at length about how the tech team is part of the worship team, so I’ve not been completely oblivious to this concept. And certainly I view myself as an integral part of the worship experience every time I step behind the sound board. But it was really pausing to consider myself and the rest of the tech team as artists, co-equal with the artists on stage that was revolutionary.

As a complete team of artists, working in harmony (OK, that’s another post), we have the opportunity, the privilege of creating engaging, immersive experiences for those in our care. The challenge, of course, is to help both teams to view themselves and each other in this light, then work together to compliment each other to create new art. As I said, that’s another post.

Todd & Chuck had a lot more to share, more of which will show up on this page eventually. Other highlights of the day included a Line Array workshop taught by EV’s Monte Wilkes. This class (unfortunately for me at the end of the day) was very technical and full of great information that I’ll be able to use even though we don’t have a line array, nor am I likely to be out on tour with one any time soon.

I also got a chance to play with the Yamaha M7CL, which I have spec’d as a replacement board for our aging Soundcraft Series Two. I’ve done a ton of research on the board, but never got my hands on one. I was very happy to see that I walked up to it and within seconds figured out the layout, was playing with EQ, dynamics, and even a little routing. It’s very intuitive and reinforced my choice. Now, to find the dollars…

Another cool resource I learned about was Meyer Sound’s MAPP Online software. It’s a free, Java applet that allows you to import drawings of your room and model the room with any of their speakers. I saw a brief demo of the software, and it looked pretty impressive. Did I mention it was free? Granted, they set it up to use their speakers, but presumably you could get an idea of how other speakers would map out by looking at the specs and finding an equivalent. It may not be perfect, but you’d have an idea. I’m looking forward to playing with this when I get home. Internet access is somewhat sporadic, so I’ll post a link to that at a later date, or just visit Meyer’s web site.

Today is Day Three, and I’m excited to hear from Donald Miller again. If you haven’t read Blue Like Jazz you should. His other books are excellent also. Thanks for reading, more to come!