Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Rinse Your Cottage Cheese

I’m still working my way through Jim Collin’s classic book, Good to Great. The other day, I came across a concept that they called, “Rinsing your cottage cheese.” The analogy came from a world-class athlete named Dave Scott. Scott won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. To train for these events, he would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters and run 17 miles. A day. Every day. Yeah, nuts, right? 

Clearly, he didn’t have a weight problem; still he believed that sticking to a strict low-fat, high-carb diet would give him an extra edge. So he would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off of it. Sounds crazy, but he did win the Ironman six times, so I guess he has something going on.

Now, what does any of this have to do with being a church tech? Well certainly some of us could stand to rinse our cottage cheese (and perhaps lay off the fried cheese sticks…). But that’s another post. No, the point of the analogy is that when you’re striving to get really good at something, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and attention to detail. Seemingly small details, like rinsing your cottage cheese, will make you just a little bit better. 

How does this play out? I think it will vary from person to person, but for me it’s a lot of small details. For example, I always do things the exact same way. This is something I learned early in my career; find a system that works and do it the same way every single time. My board is laid out the same way each week. I cable the stage the same way every week. The only time it changes is if I feel I can improve on it. 

I also take the time to label stuff. Sometimes it looks excessive (like labeling the RJ-45s that plug into my network switch at FOH), but when we’re having a networking issue, it’s really nice to be able to quickly see if the SD8 has network lights flashing without having to trace the cable back.

All of the input connections on my stage rack are labeled, not just the snake channel, but what it is supposed to be. That seems excessive until you have a card failure on Sunday morning and need to repatch the system while the band is on stage waiting to rehearse. 

We record the message in 4 different formats on three different machines each week. Again, it seems excessive until the one week when the first 3 fail and you still need to get the podcast up on the web. 

So much of what we do as techs comes down to little details. I use a lot of snapshots every week, but on every transition from music to prayer, I always run the speaker’s mic up manually then fire the snapshot so I don’t miss the first words. I also push it up a little higher than normal so he carries over the band while the snapshot takes the band down to underscore level. It’s a little detail, but it makes a difference. 

Those are just a few examples. What little things do you do that add up to a better overall experience on the weekends?

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4 Comments

  1. chris@behindthemixer.com

    I always verify the service schedule with both the pastor and the worship leader right before the service. It seems like such a small thing but it's eliminated a lot of surprises. For me, it comes back to my ol' Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared. It's better to be pro-active than reactive.

  2. chris@behindthemixer.com

    I always verify the service schedule with both the pastor and the worship leader right before the service. It seems like such a small thing but it's eliminated a lot of surprises. For me, it comes back to my ol' Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared. It's better to be pro-active than reactive.

  3. pochsner@yahoo.com

    Well ok then i'll rinse my cottage cheese, but don't go crazy suggesting I cut the fat off my bacon or i'm out of here!!.
    I'm fastidious about batteries in radiomicrophone transmitters…
    I will always always always (get it?) use new or fully recharged batteries each service no-matter what the display says.
    Whether they are one-use or rechargable we all know both can get through fine when used appropriately, and as such I always line the transmitters out side by side, and open the battery compartments one by one.
    Then with all open i'll remove the batteries one unit at a time until all done.
    Flat/expired batteries always go straight in one movement into my back pockets. I dont touch new batteries until all units are clear of batteries.
    I do not check voltage of new batteries although I know of cases where a new batch has actually been bad.
    New batteries then go in one unit at a time.
    I turn each transmitter on…look at the battery indicator on the transmitter and on the receiver if it has the battery telemetry. I leave on for roughly two minutes, look again…then turn off.
    I will always check the rack for stray RF then, when the rack is off.
    At this point I usually sit down to look at the mixer and become aware that, that uncomfortable feeling is my back pockets full of batteries so I put them straight in a bin of on a charger as the case may be, then move onto other things.
    I have no doubt now having done this for years, that I will not use or even check any battery that was put in my back pockets.
    If an acalyne battery has been left on the bench out of a sealed packet it is out of the system and considered flat. I may test it at a later time but it is worth remembering that a multimeter may show straight voltage but not voltage under load so I am very cautious about believing what they say if looking ever-so-slightly down on the full reading. When in doubt-throw it out I say…no-one wants to get burned in a service.

  4. pochsner@yahoo.com

    Well ok then i'll rinse my cottage cheese, but don't go crazy suggesting I cut the fat off my bacon or i'm out of here!!.
    I'm fastidious about batteries in radiomicrophone transmitters…
    I will always always always (get it?) use new or fully recharged batteries each service no-matter what the display says.
    Whether they are one-use or rechargable we all know both can get through fine when used appropriately, and as such I always line the transmitters out side by side, and open the battery compartments one by one.
    Then with all open i'll remove the batteries one unit at a time until all done.
    Flat/expired batteries always go straight in one movement into my back pockets. I dont touch new batteries until all units are clear of batteries.
    I do not check voltage of new batteries although I know of cases where a new batch has actually been bad.
    New batteries then go in one unit at a time.
    I turn each transmitter on…look at the battery indicator on the transmitter and on the receiver if it has the battery telemetry. I leave on for roughly two minutes, look again…then turn off.
    I will always check the rack for stray RF then, when the rack is off.
    At this point I usually sit down to look at the mixer and become aware that, that uncomfortable feeling is my back pockets full of batteries so I put them straight in a bin of on a charger as the case may be, then move onto other things.
    I have no doubt now having done this for years, that I will not use or even check any battery that was put in my back pockets.
    If an acalyne battery has been left on the bench out of a sealed packet it is out of the system and considered flat. I may test it at a later time but it is worth remembering that a multimeter may show straight voltage but not voltage under load so I am very cautious about believing what they say if looking ever-so-slightly down on the full reading. When in doubt-throw it out I say…no-one wants to get burned in a service.

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