Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: May 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Volume Webinar

Mike and Dave tackle the age-old question of volume. We touch on topics such as, overall levels, level equivalents, A-Weighting and C-Weighting, spectral balance, and a few other surprises, including “How loud is too loud?” Properly managing volume in a church sound setting is tricky, and we give you some tools to make it easier. Listen here or subscribe to the iTunes feed and receive it as a podcast.

These webinars are now available in the iTunes podcast directory. Follow this link to subscribe in iTunes.

Church Tech Arts Webinars: Volume

Echolab Fades to Black

Echolab ATEM Switcher, RIPMay 20th was a sad day, as we are now learning. Echolab, maker of what I thought to be the very best small video switcher, the ATEM, has closed it’s doors and is in liquidation. Echolab had transferred sales of the ATEM to Harris, but apparently the money man behind the deal didn’t see it as a good continued investment.

Personally, I’m very bummed about this as we were planning on purchasing an ATEM this summer. The value, I/O capability, not to mention the new features they rolled out at NAB were unparalleled in the small switcher segment. No word yet on what they will be doing with existing inventory, or how support will be handled. So I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me on switcher research. Compromises will now have to be made…

Here’s a letter Echolab president, Nigel Spratling, who is a heck of a nice guy, sent to suppliers last week.

Dear all,It is with much sadness that I have to tell you that yesterday (May 19th) Echolab was put into liquidation. Our primary investor who had negotiated the recent agreement with Harris had decided that he was no longer prepared to fund the company through the transition.

I am truly sorry that this action leaves many unemployed, suppliers with unpaid bills and customers with unsupported products. The recent introduction of and expanded Atem switcher family look set to take us into growth and profit as the market reception was excellent and our sales funnel was sized at $2M as a result.

I truly believe that our small team had created the very best of breed in small and medium sized production switchers and at a price point that provided exceptional value with good margins, facing the loss of these efforts is difficult for everyone involved.

The liquidation company will be trying to sell the companies assets and product IP and inventory in order to pay creditors over the next few weeks. Hopefully they will be successful in their efforts.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Nigel Spratling

President & CEO

Echolab Inc.

Getting Things Done

Those of you that follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, why not?) may remember that a month ago I started tweeting about the GTD method and working on setting up my to do list. I received quite a few questions back about that, so it seemed fitting that I write up a little description of what it is I’m doing.

First, I have to give props to Van Metchke for persuading me to consider this program. I’d read about it before, but figured it was for big-shot executives, not me. Van’s words still ring in my ears, “It is changing the way we do technical ministry.” With an endorsement like that I made the big-time commitment of getting the book out from the library. About two chapters in, I ordered it from Amazon. The book of which I speak is called (appropriately enough) Getting Things Done by David Allen. Allen is sort of a curator of a system of productivity that has already changed the way I work. He may not have come up with every idea in the book, but he’s systematized them and created a program that anyone can follow.

Before I get into the system too far, I want to give you a little background. I’m a recovering perfectionist workaholic with intellection as a top 3 strength (Strengths Finder by Tom Rath). The summary of intellection is “mental hum.” Simply put, my brain does not shut down. I rarely have a time when I’m not mulling over or actively thinking about something. It’s one reason why I don’t sleep well. Combine that with workaholism and perfectionism and a tendency to want to fix everything and well… Clearly I need some help.

And that’s where GTD comes in. This post will be too short to lay out the complete process, but here are a few highlights (and reasons why I think you as a tech guy should read the book). Our minds are kind of like the RAM in a computer; you can only put so much stuff in there before it starts over-running. Once the RAM overflows, you start forgetting things. How many times have you thought, “Oh! I need to do….first thing tomorrow,” just before falling asleep. And of course when you wake up, you’ve forgotten all about it. You may not have slept well, however as your mind was trying to keep that in the forefront so you’d remember.

The goal of GTD is to clear your mind of all the clutter and reach a state known in martial arts circles as “mind like water.” Picture a still pond, the glassy water perfectly reflecting the sky above. Throw a stone in and you’ll see ripples spread out in response. After a few minutes, it settles back down and is calm once again. That’s how we want our minds to be. Calm, in the moment and able to respond to whatever we need to, fully engaged, then quickly able to return to a calm, peaceful state. How can we do that, however, with hundreds of idea fragments floating around in there? The truth is, we can’t. And that really hurts our effectiveness.

The process of GTD is to take all those fragments; to-dos, ideas, tasks, thoughts, dreams, and whatever else is floating around in your head and capture them in a system you can trust to bring them back to you at the appropriate time. For example, I have come up with a good opening for our creative community meeting in a few weeks. I could try to keep reminding myself to work on it, but doing so takes up a lot of processing cycles that I should be using to accomplish tasks due today. So instead, I put it in my to-do list system (Toodledo, a web app that syncs with a companion iPhone app) with a due date a few days prior to the event. When I get to the beginning of that week, it will show up on my system and I can schedule time to work on it. I don’t need to think about it again until then.

For GTD to work, you must have a system that allows you to quickly grab thoughts and ideas, get them into a system so you can forget about them until you need them. For me, that’s Toodledo, iCal (with MobileMe) & Evernote. Another component is to clear out the clutter around us. That’s the idea behind inbox zero. I have successfully whittled my email inboxes down to zero over the last few weeks. Here’s how that works (and this is how I process almost every piece of information now): I look at an e-mail and make a decision–Is this something I need to act on? If yes, and I can do it in under 2 minutes, I act on it then delete or file the e-mail. If it will take more than 2 minutes, it goes into my “Action” folder to be dealt with later. If it’s junk, I delete it. If it’s reference material, it goes in one of 2-3 folders for future reference. Nothing is allowed to sit in the inbox waiting for action.

Now, that’s greatly simplified; as I said I can’t lay out the whole program for you in 1,000 words. But here’s where the rubber meets the road; it’s hard to explain how much lower my stress level is, or how much clearer my mind is after just a few weeks. I’m missing far fewer deadlines and tasks, and I’m more fully engaged in whatever I’m currently doing. I can fall asleep at night because I’m not worrying that I forgot something (or will forget something). The book is under $15 and will be the best $15 you ever spent. Van had it right; this will change the way I do technical ministry.

Volume Webinar Tonight

Just a reminder, Jason, Dave and I will be talking about the one issue that we get questions about more than any other; volume. We’ll talk about how loud is too loud, weighting, LEQ, equal loudness contours, and talk about some of the best practices on getting to the right volume for your venue, service and song.

We’ll be back on our LiveStream channel (www.livestream.com/churchtecharts) at 10 PM EDT, 7 PM PDT. Since LOST is now over, we should start on time; however be prepared for a little LOST discussion as we get started… Since I’m still in Season 3, I’m just going to keep yelling, “WWWWAAAAAAAAALLLLTTTTT!” ‘;-)

Tune in a few minutes early and you’ll get the ads out of the way. I apologize in advance for any ads that appear; until we catch some sponsorship dollars, we’re sticking with the free, ad-supported service.

See you tonight (and we’ll have the audio posted here later this week).

The Trouble With Choices

Quite often, we have a hard time making good decisions today when the consequences of poor ones don’t appear for a long time. Today, I wrote a post over at Church Production Magazine that talks about how that applies to us as church tech people.

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, This Week in Tech, with Leo Laporte. One of his guests was Cory Doctorow, a writer, journalist and blogger. Several times during the show, Cory made reference to the problem people have making good decisions now when the consequences don’t appear for a long time. Take smoking; people smoke today because they won’t get cancer tomorrow—it may be 10, 20 or 40 years from now.

Read the rest of the post on my CPM blog

When Things Go Crash In The Night

There’s been a great discussion in the comments of my previous post, “Why Digico Over Avid.” Keep those comments coming, to me that’s the best part of the blog. I love hearing other people’s opinion on things, as it causes me to re-think my own. A few comments really got me thinking; specifically comments that generally went, “I’ll never use XYZ gear again because it crashed/failed/didn’t work.” It’s hard to hear that when you’re thinking about buying an XYZ, but then I thought about what my life would be like if I strictly applied that principle.

ProPresenter would be out, it’s crashed a few times. So would Media Shout. I fact, I couldn’t write this blog since Safari, Firefox and Chrome have all failed me. Come to think of it, even my Mac has crashed. PCs too (though more often). And forget my iPhone, that’s randomly re-started 2-3 times. Certainly I’ve had a rechargeable battery fail to hold a charge. Then there was that bad batch of ProCells last winter. Who hasn’t had a wireless mic take a hit or thirty. I’ve heard that a Digico deck has crashed; then again, I also know that people have crashed their Venues. And Soundcrafts. And iLives. Now that I think of it, I’ve had two analog desks fail when their power supplies died. And don’t get me started on mic cables… Or lights…Or projector lamps…Or…

The point is, pretty much everything we use will fail, crash, not work or let us down at some point. It’s pretty incredibly rare that any single piece of equipment will work perfectly every single time. Which, honestly, is one reason what we do is so incredibly interesting. It’s actually amazing that these incredibly complex systems we put together work at all, let alone nearly every time. And when they don’t a big part of the challenge is trying to figure out why and keeping it from happening again.

Will I intentionally buy a piece of gear that is known to fail a lot just for the fun of fixing it? Certainly not! However, one or two anecdotal stories doesn’t a bad product make (as shown by the above examples). On the other hand, ive said I won’t use a given install company because of the way they handled an install way back when. This has challenged me to consider my own biases and snap reactions. So that’s my thinking anyway.

Why Digico over Avid?

When I posted on Twitter that I was seeing a new Digico SD-8 in our future, several people asked me why I was going that route over a Venue. I started to reply, but the answer was way longer than 140 characters. So here we are. Let me start by saying the Venue is a great system; in fact, up until a few months ago, I was totally sold on it. I know a lot of people who have them and love them, they sound great and the plug-in architecture is mature and solid. Having the ability to do ProTools recording is also a big plus, and I really like their snapshot automation. If the SD-8 didn’t exist, I would buy a Profile and be totally happy with it. Since the SD-8 does exist, however I’ve been tipped that way; and here’s why.

More modern, flexible DSP structure

The Venue is great, but it is a bit limited with 24 mono mixes plus 8 matrixes that can be turned into mixes (mostly). For most needs it’s fine, but when you get into needing to do stereo stems for IEMs, you run out of busses really fast. The SD-8, with it’s SFPGA heart beating away, is far more flexible. Need 5 mono and 8 stereo mixes plus 3 mono and 9 stereo groups? No problem. 8 mono and 4 stereo mixes plus 6 mono and 6 stereo groups? No problem. Enter a couple of keystrokes, the board re-configures and you’re ready to go. The matrix is also more configurable, and thus more useful. Each channel can be mono or stereo, which makes much more efficient use of the 36 faders on the surface (12 more than the Profile, BTW). And the entire surface is completely configurable; put any channel, group, mix, VCA or matrix fader anywhere you want. That’s just cool.

MADI

The ProTools integration into the Venue system was a huge selling point for me; I’ve been longing for the ability to do virtual soundcheck. The only problem is I don’t like ProTools all that much. I know, heresy. Still, I’ve always found it overly complex and cumbersome to use. And then there’s the general stability issue, their upgrade pricing strategy and that stupid iLock. Really, all I need to do is record 30-some odd channels, and play them back. Because it’s based on MADI, an industry standard audio transport, all I need to record 56 channels is a MADI interface and a laptop. I will use Reaper, a $60 DAW that does exactly what I need it to, easily, and we have virtual soundcheck. To record, I go to the audio set up page, click, “Copy to MADI 2” and all my inputs are routed to the laptop. To play back, click, “Listen to Copied Audio.” Doesn’t get much easier.

UPDATE 3/8/11: This is late in getting updated, but Avid has released a MADI card for the Venue line. This is good news, though I’ve also heard it doesn’t play nice with the Roland S-MADI Bridge (this is unconfirmed, but I have it from a good source). END UPDATE

Software

The Venue software is great. Really, I do like it a lot. However, because the SD line is built around a 15” touchscreen (single or multiple, depending on the product), the interface is designed for a touch interface. iPad mixing anyone? Yea, I know you can mix a Venue on an iPad, but their software is designed be navigated with a mouse, not a finger. There is a difference. I’ve spent hours and hours in both the Venue software and SD-8 software, and for me, the SD-8 is just easier and faster to get around in. I love their snapshot automation, particularly the editing of snapshots. After fighting Yamaha’s scenes all during Easter week, I can’t wait to be able to quickly and easily edit all my snapshots with a few clicks. Another selling point is that the SD-8 software runs on my Mac perfectly using Parallels and Windows 7. The Venue software does not. Nor does the latest version run in XP in Parallels or Bootcamp. That’s a problem for me and Avid’s answer to my problem was, “Get a PC.” My answer was, “No, I’ll get a Digico.” The SD-8 also allows multiple remotes for the desk. So I can have a Mac Mini sitting at FOH running the control software, and still grab my iPad or laptop and wander around and mix without disconnecting the one at FOH. Plug the desk into a wireless router and it’s accessible easily. That could be a problem in some circumstances, but for us it’s a huge feature.

UPDATE 3/8/11: Since I’m here…

Superior Personal Monitoring

With the recent release of the Roland S-MADI Bridge, the SD8 gains access to the best personal mixers on the market, the M-48s. These take personal mixing to an all-new level, and could be reason enough to choose the SD8 over a Profile. The PQ system is good; for what it is. However, it’s simply no match for having a 40-channel mixer in front of each musician that is completely customizable for them and them alone. The addition of the M-48s makes the SD8 hard to beat in this price range. END UPDATE

Bottom Line

When I priced out both systems, the SD-8 came in slightly lower. With more flexibility, the new Waves integration (coming soon, I’m told), and not being locked into proprietary formats from a company not known for exceptional service (sorry, I’ve known Avid for a long time–it’s well known that their service is not great; and Digidesign is becoming more Avid-ized by the week), I’ve moved over to Digico. If you look in the trade rags, you’re starting to see more and more churches and tours going with the SD-7 or SD-8. The SD-9 is a very cool small desk as well, and the show files are compatible across the entire SD line. The interface is also the same, something that Avid also does well (and Yamaha does not). The Venue is also 5-6 years old, and in computer years (make no mistake; when you buy a digital console, you’re buying a computer) that’s a long, long time. With Digico, I feel like I’m getting the latest hardware with software that is easier to use.

There are some other things as well, such as having 3 encoders per channel strip instead of 1, quite a few more dedicated and flexible controls, the ability to lock down parts of the system for volunteers, and of course, that gorgeous 15″ touch screen.

I still wouldn’t tell anyone the Venue is a bad system or a bad choice. If you like it, by all means buy it. I would suggest, however, before you do, take a look at the SD-8…

Three Keys for New Buildings

Continuing my series of posts that originated from reader questions, today I’d like to tackle a few suggestions that I always give to churches who are starting a building project. I always say the same thing, mainly because these are the areas I see churches skipping time after time. Skipping these things ensures two things: First, you and your congregation will not be happy with the performance of the sound, lighting and/or video in the room. Second, there will remain a healthy market for companies that specialize in fixing churches that were designed and built poorly.

With that said, here are three things you cannot skimp on when entering a building project.

Fix the Acoustics Before You Build

First, the overall acoustic signature of the room has to be correct. This is where most churches skimp out. They let the architect design the building; which is fine except I’ve yet to meet an architect who has any real clue how acoustics work. A few do, but they’re the ones who design churches for a living and have acousticians on staff.

The problem is most architects want the room to look nice and be easy to build. They never consider standing waves, comb filtering, reverberation time, reflections, and other nasty acoustical anomalies that will make it hard to get decent sound. Some argue that it can be fixed with electronics. It can’t. There is no magic black box that will suddenly cancel out the bounce off the back wall that makes it really hard for everyone in the room to hear what the pastor is saying.

So I strongly suggest all churches have an acoustician look at the plans before they are finalized. Most of the time, it only takes a few tweaks here and there to make a huge difference in how intelligible the room will be, and most of the time the cost to build is the same or only marginally higher. Very few churches get this part right, and it’s why there’s a huge market for acoustical study and retrofit of existing buildings. I guarantee doing it after the fact will be more expensive by a magnitude of 3-4x.

Don’t Skimp on Infrastructure

The second thing to consider is infrastructure. Again, most churches don’t think of this. Audio, video, and lighting take a lot of wiring. If you leave it to the electrician to do it, you will be fighting the building forever. Especially if you are on a concrete slab. You need an easy way to get cabling from the tech booth to the stage; to speakers, to video projectors and to the dimmers. That means conduit. Conduit is cheap and easy to put in as the shell is going up. Afterward, not so much. Once you determine your needs for right now, lay out the conduits you need and make double-dog sure they get put in. Then add a few more empties just in case. And go big on the empties. Nothing is quite as frustrating as trying to figure out how to get a VGA cable down a 3/4″ conduit (unless you enjoy making up Mini-15 connectors…). Having a couple of empty 2″ conduits will make your life (or someone who comes after you) a lot easier in a year or three.

Get Your Systems Integrator Involved Early

The final thing (well, I could think of a dozen more, but these are the biggies) is to get your A/V/L systems integrator involved in the project now. Again, most churches wait until the building is up and drywall is being taped before considering who they’ll use for the A/V. Bad idea. As with the acoustician, the earlier you get the A/V guys involved, the easier, cheaper and better the final product will be. They will be able to tell you what kind of wire to have pulled while the building is open. They can work with the acoustician to get the speaker fly points set correctly. They will be on the watch to make sure a duct run doesn’t end up where you need to put a screen or projector.

Choose your vendors carefully of course; make sure they have a proven track record of getting church design & install correct. Don’t skimp on the design and planning phase. Cut out equipment if you have to. You can always start with a cheap analog mixer and upgrade to digital later. It’s a lot harder to acoustically retrofit a poorly designed building. It’s better to start with just a few lights and add as you go than to be fighting too low of a trim height because the building wasn’t designed properly.

There is a lot to do when starting a building project. Sadly, the systems that churches rely on every single week to create powerful and engaging worship experiences are often afterthoughts at best. Don’t make that mistake. Your congregation will thank you later.

The “Best” Vocal Mic

Recently, I received an e-mail inquiring about microphones; specifically what constitutes a good microphone. The reader had seen my post on rechargeable batteries and noticed that I was using SM58 capsules on the mics under test. That made him wonder about the report he had just received from a consultant who had reviewed their church’s A/V systems. To wit:

Good quality microphones give the biggest performance increase for the money invested. If the right sound is not captured by the microphone, then no amount of technical gadgets is going to be able to get a good sound. Avoid vocal microphones with high proximity effect (increase in bass response) (e.g. Shure PG58, Shure SM58).

I’ll start by stating that I disagree with most of that paragraph. Yes, good quality microphones are important. However, when you rank them on the “benefit for dollars spent” scale, you only get big gain for dollars if you’re upgrading from those 3 for $19 deals you see in the Kingdom Electronics ads. Once you get into mics that cost $100 or more, the differences are often subtle and in some cases, academic. Case in point; Bono quite often sings into an SM58. Should he be avoiding that microphone? I wonder if he’s ever tried the PG58?

So why do I think microphones do not provide the greatest improvement for dollars invested? Simple: What we do is sound reinforcement in a live setting and as such, I think speakers better fit that description. I’ll unpack this more in a later post; let’s get back to microphones.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of good mics. In fact, I’ve spent a fair amount of money recently improving the depth and breadth of our mic locker. A good mic can make a big difference. And right now, I’m buying new mics because I don’t have enough money to buy a new PA. So even though my other sound engineers and I notice that the PR-22 sounds a lot better on the snare than the SM57 it replaced, I’ve yet to have anyone come up to me and tell me that the snare sounds better. That’s because it’s a subtle difference and we’re listening for it (and we note how much less EQ is required to make it sound good).

Conversely, if we hung a new PA that had vastly better coverage, evenness, phase response, lower comb filtering and overall better fidelity, I think people would notice. To be sure, it’s going to cost some coin to make that happen, and for the same amount of money, I could have bought a truckload of mics. But I’m quite sure I could replace the e609 on our guitar amp with a U87 (roughly 30 times the price of a 609) and no one would notice.

So my recommendation to the reader was not to replace the drawer full of SM58s just yet, rather, investigate a new speaker system. Once the system can faithfully reproduce what you send it, then start looking at better mics.

Now let’s get on to another part of the report that I mostly agree with.

Microphones should be selected from a trial use after the rest of the sound system is brought up to standard. The more expensive microphones have a flatter frequency response (more natural sound, higher volume before feedback occurs), better off axis rejection (more volume before feedback, less pick-up of adjacent instruments or voices), lower proximity effect (tone changes at varying distance from mic), lower handling noise, better “pop” filters

Generally all of this is true. What I take issue with is the notion of “more expensive” microphones are inherently better choices. Case in point: When we bought our new wireless system, I specified one KSM9 capsule that I planned on using that for our worship leader. Turns out, it doesn’t work for him. And as we’ve tried it on many of our vocalists, it doesn’t work for most of them either. In fact, some of them really don’t like it.

So here we have a capsule that’s over $500, and for the most part, we and most of our singers prefer capsules that sell for less than half that. Quite honestly, I’d be really ticked if I had ordered ten KSM9s instead of ten SM58s based on the notion that more expensive=better. In fact, I’m going back and ordering a few more Beta 87s because in our PA, with our singers, they are a superior choice.

Does this make the KSM9 a bad mic? No! On paper, it is be head and shoulders above the Beta 87 or SM58. However, the less-flat frequency response, proximity effect and wider pattern make the latter two better choices for our vocalists.

And that brings me to the one part of the consultant’s report that I thoroughly agree with:

Microphones should be selected from a trial use after the rest of the sound system is brought up to standard.

Before you go out and commit big dollars on new mics, try them out. If you can get demos, do it. If not, buy from a dealer who will let you return them if you don’t like them. Try a large cross-section of mics if you can. The best choice might surprise you. In our case, we much prefer a Heil RC-35 on our worship leader over the KSM9, even though the Heil is 1/2 the price. And our student worship leader sounds fantastic on a RC-22. I’ve always been a big fan of the Neuman KMS105; we had a KMS104 on our worship leader and I thought it made him sound muddy with no clarity at all.

Most importantly, don’t let anyone sell you a microphone because it’s more expensive and therefore “better.” It may have better specs, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Try it out and hear for yourself.

Memorial Service Guidelines

Those that follow me on Twitter will no doubt know that a few weeks ago we had a large memorial service. And I when I use the descriptor “large,” I don’t mean we had a lot of people. I mean it was large! The final run sheet (yes, we had a run sheet) had 28 distinct elements. The service was programmed to be 2.5 hours long. There were 11 videos and 10 live music numbers. The band/choir had over 15 people; we had 9 monitor mixes out on stage and a tech crew of 5—FOH, Monitors, L1, L2 and Presentation. The family brought in a music director, producer and technical director. There was a crew of 7 setting and decorating the stage and lobby for 6 hours prior to the event. As I said, large.

The view of the stage from FOH. It was a very full stage for this one.When I met with the family initially, they started asking about using the stage for displaying various items that meant something to the deceased. I asked, “What kind of items?” “Motorcycles, 4-wheelers, bikes, surfboards, that kind of stuff. And can we hang large pictures from the metal stuff [truss] up there?” At that point, I knew I was in trouble.

We have a set of loading doors that go out to our loading dock; however we currently have a scrim, a cyc and curtain upstage that cover the doors. Using the doors would mean moving those carefully so as not to damage them. That can be done, but I didn’t want them doing it.

Then we started talking about video. They were planning on doing several (it ended up to be 11, which I think qualifies as more than several). I knew I needed to make sure they had the right specs so I wasn’t getting all sorts of crazy video formats.

Then there was the music. Full band, choir, multiple numbers. Again, I knew I needed something the help reign this in (or at least set some parameters. So that evening, I sat down and wrote our Memorial Service Media Guidelines. This document is an attempt to give the family the information they need to produce media for memorial services that will actually work. It also outlines some of the things they can and cannot do on our stage.

A big part of this was for my own sanity. As I wrote in “Funerals Annoy Me,” the big problem I have with funerals is that no one understands how much work it is for the tech department to pull off. So I figured I would establish some parameters so everyone knows what can be done with reasonable effort. Since I set the parameters, I’m OK with whatever needs to happen inside them. If someone wants to go outside the boundaries, I can point to the document and say, “Sorry, we can’t accommodate that.” Since I’ve had the document ratified by leadership, I can veto craziness without fear it will be overturned.

One thing I didn’t include in the guidelines is maximum length of a service. We’re working on that from an organizational perspective to help guide families, and I believe the maximum time should be 1.5 hours. As is the case with most things, less is more. One other item I’m debating putting in there is that during the service there will be no flash photography. At the big one, they hired a professional photographer who shot with flash throughout the entire event (including shots of the audience, which I thought was downright tacky). That may be a personal/family decision, but as a principle, I think it’s a bad idea.

We’re also working on putting together a memorial service cost worksheet, which will be based on my existing outside events cost worksheet. What’s in question is how we discount the room rental and technical staff charges based on whether someone is a regular attender/member versus a friend of a member or someone off the street. Ideally, we’ll decide what the discount rates are, then the memorial service coordinator and I can quickly cost out a service in a fair and consistent fashion.

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