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Mixing Good Friday 2014

On the left is my LD Thomas, and standing behind me is my ATD, Matt.

On the left is my LD Thomas, and standing behind me is my ATD, Matt.

I find my mixing style is an ever-evolving process. Like many FOH guys, I’m always trying new things and changing my approach. For Christmas, I took a calculated risk and re-used last year’s show file. That didn’t pay off the way I hoped it would. For Good Friday and Easter this year, I took a new approach, in more ways than one. 

Back to Baseline

My starting point for Good Friday (and Easter) was our normal baseline show file. I had to do a fair amount of re-structuring to get enough IEM mixes for Good Friday. In past years, I’ve brought in a larger Digico console for FOH and put our SD8 at monitors. This year, we did it all from the SD8. So in addition to the nine M-48’s on stage for the band, I mixed six IEMs from FOH for vocals. 

For Good Friday, I was mixing about 56 inputs between instruments, vocals and playback. I built a single stereo foldback aux to send all the local playback inputs back to the band and vocalists. A mono aux collected all the click sources (metronome, tracks and video click), and I had a mono group that I dynamically re-assigned lead vocalists into. That group made sure the band could clearly hear whoever was singing the lead vocal at the time. This group got a lot of use as four of the six vocalists led at least one song. 

Virtual Soundcheck

Since the service for Good Friday is very similar to the one we’ve been doing for the last few years (with a few song substitutions), I was well acquainted with the flow. In past years, I’ve made a point to record the rehearsal and spend a lot of time on virtual soundcheck, and have always ended up with a ton of snapshots. 

This year, I decided to try something different. I still spent time doing virtual soundcheck, but it was more getting individual channels sounding good, and then everything sounding good together. Rather than do a bunch of snapshots for each song as I’ve done in the past, I built a starting snapshot for each song or transition element. Most of those snapshots were moving vocals in and out of lead, changing effects parameters and setting up a starting point for the mix. 

This is how I approach most weekends, and it turned out quite well. The way I used to do it was more theatrical; hitting a bunch of cues on the board for cues during the service. This year was more like a live show. I don’t know that one way is better than the other, but I did enjoy mixing this year more than the past. On the other hand, I was less engaged with the service as I spent more energy focused on the mix. Pros and cons...

Perhaps the biggest change was a reduction in the complexity. The more snapshots you have, the more things can go wrong. Channels get assigned to a wrong mix or group, and it can be maddening to get it fixed. With fewer snapshots, I had fewer issues. 

The Live Mix

I took more risks during the services than I normally would, but everyone said it sounded great. Because I knew the music so well, I could really work with all the instrumentation. We had the opportunity to rehearse the program a full two times live before we did the first service, and I felt the band really had it locked in. 

As I said, I did more live than I normally do for this service. The arrangement of the music gave me ample opportunity to highlight different instruments and vocals at various points of the service. It was a lot of fun. The only song I did a bunch of snapshots on was our last one, Jesus Paid it All.

Aside from a few mid-song cues to adjust FX settings (Lead Me To The Cross), most were single snapshots. Except, Jesus Paid It All.

Aside from a few mid-song cues to adjust FX settings (Lead Me To The Cross), most were single snapshots. Except, Jesus Paid It All.

The Big Finish

I’ve written about this before, but the way I approach this song is to start off with the vocals feeling very distant and reverb-y. As the song builds through first few verses and choruses, I bring the vocals up while shortening the reverb time and level. By the end of the song, it’s pretty much all faders up all the way, except for the vocal effects. That’s the loudest point in the service with everyone on their feet singing “Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!” It gives you chills. 

The end, the song disintegrates into a single vocal and piano singing the last phrase followed by a heartbeat that thumps a few beats then stops. We end in complete silence. 

I have to say, it was the best Good Friday I’ve been a part of during my time here. Not necessarily because of what I did, but because everything came together just right. Next time, we’ll talk lighting.

Gear Techs

CTW NAB Coverage: SSL L500 Live Console

We take a look at the new-ish large format live console from SSL. With 192 processing paths, up to 972 inputs and a huge 19" multi-touch display it is a formidable contender. There are quite a few features that make this console unique. Learn more at http://www2.solidstatelogic.com/live.

Roland

Today's post is brought to you by DPA Microphones. DPA's range of microphones have earned their reputation  for exceptional clarity,  high resolution, above all, pure, uncolored accurate sound. Whether recording or sound reinforcement, theatrical or broadcast, DPA's miking solutions have become the choice of professionals with uncompromising demands for sonic excellence.

Don't Miss This Week!

I spent a lot of time in this seat this week.

I spent a lot of time in this seat this week.

Easter week is one of the toughest weeks of the year for most church techs. Typically, we’re gearing up for a bigger than normal service on Easter (and typically more of them). Many of us  also have a Good Friday service or three to produce. And for some reason, it seems that the rest of the church staff has no idea that our workload goes up by 50% this week and so all kinds of other stuff gets scheduled between Palm Sunday and Easter just for fun.

I have had a hard time with Easter (and Christmas, for that matter) week for quite a while. For a long time, I looked at it as just another super-busy week that was going to keep me at work for 12-14 hours a day for a week. In the last few years however, I’ve come to see it differently. I’ve said before that it’s struck me recently that we get to do this. By that I mean, we have such a unique opportunity to share the gospel with hundreds or thousands of people this week in a very creative and compelling manner. 

We get to do that!

Moreover, this is a week that we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We mourn his death on Good Friday. And we celebrate his resurrection on Easter. 

Go back and read that again. It’s quite a week! Easter week is the culmination of what Jesus came to do on this earth. He came for this very specific purpose, to die in our place and pay the debt for our sin.

 

For my sin.

 

For your sin.

 

That’s significant. In fact, it’s everything. It’s why we do what we do. It’s why we work late, prepare, rehearse and plan. It’s why we have extra services. It’s why we settle in to the tech booth for hours on end.

Don’t miss that! 

Don’t miss what we’re celebrating. 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, his disciples asked him to quiet the crowds. He told them,

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

It has occurred to me that every week, our job as the Church is keep the stones from crying out. Jesus will be praised; the question is, will it be by His people or by the rocks and stones? We get to be part of keeping the stones quiet. 

Don’t miss that!

Finally, remember the words of Jesus,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

For me, this has already been a long week. But it will be an amazing weekend. If we truly understand the truth of what we’re celebrating, we can’t help but be changed by it.

What else would you rather be doing this weekend?

Gear Techs

Today's post is brought to you by DiGiCo. DiGiCo audio mixing consoles deliver solutions that provide extreme flexibility, are easy to use and have an expandable infrastructure, while still providing the best possible audio quality. Visit their website to learn more.