Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: September 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

The New Lighting Rig

It’s been a long time coming, but we finally did it. For years I’ve wanted to update our stage lighting rig, but the funds have not been there. A few years ago, we managed to score some used High End Studio Color 575s which gave us some additional color backlight, but it wasn’t what we really wanted. But this year, our End Of Life savings plan starts paying off. 

2013 is the year that our six Martin 518 Roboscan lights were due for replacement. I guestimated we’d need about $15,000 to bring them up to modern specs, based on the cost for an Elation Platinum Spot 5R. When we actually started shopping for fixtures however, we started thinking differently. 

No Haze—Do We Need Beams?

We stopped using haze a few months ago (for a lot of reasons), so we started thinking, “Do we really need beam-type fixtures?” The answer kept coming back, “No.” What we really need is a ton of color back and side light. So that led us to start shopping for a moving head LED with plenty of punch. 

We called about some Elation Impression 180s, but they were already sold. We looked at the Elation Design LED PAR Zoom MH, but it wasn’t bright enough for what we wanted. I even thought about just putting a ton of static LEDs in the truss, but we couldn’t make it work financially.

It Pays To Shop

Then one of the guys (either Thomas or Jon) found what we ended up buying; 13 Elation Impression 90s (discontinued). At just under $700 apiece, getting them shipped to us came in just under $10,000. That left us about $5,000 left in our budget. Thomas came up with the idea of putting 18 ADJ FlatPar Tri7x fixtures up as truss warmers, and 8 of the Tri18x’s as side light. 

I had to pull from my main operating budget a little bit to make it all work, but we not only ended up with the 18 truss warmers, 8 side lights, 2 ground stacked up lights (plus the 6 side lights we already had), we also sneaked in a half-dozen Tri7x’s in for our community room.

Before and After

To say the change is dramatic is an understatement. As part of the rehang, we also pulled down the front valance curtain which exposes the truss and all the new truss warmers. That change alone makes it feel like a different room. As you can see from the pictures, the amount of color on the stage is truly dramatic. 

The 518s are only a 250W fixture, and they just got washed out when we brought up the front light. The Studio Colors did a little better, being a 575W lamp, but once you dial in some deep color with the CMY mixing system, they ran out of gas. But the Impressions…Wow! We have found we’ll probably not even run them at 100% because they will start to overwhelm our front light. 

Creative Mounting

Since the C-Clamps didn't work, we tried using perforated strapping, mounted diagonally in the blocks. Worked great!

Since the C-Clamps didn’t work, we tried using perforated strapping, mounted diagonally in the blocks. Worked great!

Here's a better view from the end of the truss showing the concept.  

Here’s a better view from the end of the truss showing the concept.  

The FlatPars make great truss warmers, though we had to get creative to mount them. C-Clamps didn’t work because we didn’t have the articulation in the arms to clamp to anything. As I was staring at it one day, I came up with the idea of using metal strapping bolted diagonally in the corner blocks as a mount. We tried one out and it worked great. We had to bore the holes out a bit for the truss bolts, but a 3/8” bolt holds the FlatPars with no issue. 

A Massive Upgrade

Before the upgrade, we had six Studio Colors and six 518’s in the truss for color backlight. We replaced them with twelve Impressions, then added 18 truss warmers. We also have the eight side lights and some ground lights. Though we went about $1,000 over budget, we were able to replace six lights with thirty six! We moved the Studio Colors into the house to become moving front light as needed, and those are up for replacement in two years. 

This is exactly what I was hoping for when I started the End of Life campaign. As technology gets better, we can afford to upgrade and improve the systems, often more than doubling our capacity for the same money. And no one argues with cost, because it’s all budgeted and saved for. 

That’s our lighting upgrade; next time, I’ll talk about how we use our Hog 4 PC for control, making it easy for non-programmers to use.

Today’s post is brought to you by myMix. myMix is an intuitive, easy-to-use personal monitor mixing and multi-track recording system that puts each user in control of their own mix! myMix features two line-level balanced 1/4″ TRS outputs and one 1/8″ (3.5mm) headphone output, the ability to store up to 20 named profiles on each station, 4-band fully parametric stereo output EQ recording of up to 18 tracks plus stereo on an SD card. Learn more at myMixaudio.com

CTA Review: Teradek VidiU Streaming Appliance

It’s ready to go, save for video input. To stream, press the red button. That’s it!

More and more churches are jumping on the live streaming bandwagon. While that may or may not be a good idea (and I have some thoughts on that, but that’s another post), as TD’s we are charged with figuring out how to make it happen. There are of course, many ways to to it; you could go with a Mac or PC with a video card and streaming software, a custom solution like 1 Beyond’s Stream Machine, or an all-in-one box like a Matrox Monarch HD (and as soon as Matrox sends me one, I’ll be reviewing it…). 

Those are all great options, and up to a few weeks ago, I was planning on a Mac Mini with an interface running Wirecast. My thinking changed when I was invited up to Teradek’s headquarters to see some new gear they’ve been working on. A few weeks ago, I told you about the Bolt—wireless 3G video up to 300’ with no delay. But what caught my eye was a new product called the VidiU

Smaller Than a Breadbox (by a lot)

The VidiU is a small, lightweight box about the size of a deck of cards. It has an OLED screen on it along with two joystick menu control buttons. On the back it has an HDMI connector, an 1/8” audio in jack, Ethernet and power jacks. The side contains a small power switch along with an 1/8” headphone jack as well as a USB port. It even has a 1/4” hole right through the box so you can mount it to a camera if you want. 

But don’t be fooled by the diminutive size; this little box packs a big punch. Inside, video is converted to h.264 and packaged for streaming via almost any streaming service. It has native support for UStream and Livesream (just enter your account details), and can also use RTMP to stream to any CDN such as Wowza, Brightcove, Ooyala, etc. 

It will handle video inputs up to 1080p, with data rates up to 5 Mbps. Audio can come in on the HDMI input or via the analog 1/8” jack. The OLED screen gives you full access to the settings of the device, however, using the iOS app is a lot easier. 

Wireless Streaming or Access

The VidiU has a dual band, MIMO Wi-Fi radio built-in, which can connect to a local Wi-Fi network or be used in AP mode, which lets you connect directly to it with your iPhone for full control of the device as well as real-time preview of the video. I found the preview to have just a frame or two of delay. The device can also stream out the Ethernet jack.

Should you need to be completely wireless, a built in LiOn battery will power the device for about 60 minutes. 

Multiple Applications

When I saw this, I immediately thought it would be a great way for us to stream our services. With embedded audio, a single HDMI connection would get our program out to Livestream; we have plenty of upload speed for a full HD broadcast. We tried it for a weekend, but ran into a few problems. 

The firmware on my unit when I picked it up was 1.0.0. There seemed to be a few bugs in it, and the stream kept dropping. After a few e-mails with Teradek, they released firmware 1.1.1. It took but a few minutes to update and since then it has worked completely perfectly. We streamed about 10 hours of video this past weekend without a single issue. So I think they’ve got it worked out. 

I could see this as a perfect solution for a portable church as well. Because you can plug a 3G or 4G modem in via USB, you could easily stream services from anywhere, whether or not you have network.  It’s so small, you could velcro it to your switcher and have it all ready to go all the time. 

Or maybe it could go up to camp with the students for a “live update” of the camp week. Clearly, it has a ton of applicants for event videographers as well. 

All This And A Low, Low Price

The Mac Mini solution I was looking at was going to run about $2500. The Stream Machine, while very cool and robust is closer to $5000. Even a Matrox Monarch HD is  $999.

But the VidiU is just $699. I love things that work well and  save my budget, so this one makes my list of cool products. We’re still waiting to get the green light that we need to start streaming, but when we do, this is my most likely solution.

What Doesn’t It Do?

For $699, you do give up a few features. There is no audio delay compensation, so you’ll have to do that outside the box (something that’s easy for us in our application). It doesn’t record locally, and it does but one stream at a time. It doesn’t do the cool multi-layered video stuff that WireCast does, nor will it do lower thirds, graphics or anything like that. It takes video in, and spits it out to the web. It also doesn’t have SDI input, but we found the $90 Monoprice SDI to HDMI adapter worked great. 

Right now, there is no desktop control app, but I’m told they are working on it. So the bottom line is simple: If you just want to stream, this is a great option. It does one thing, does it well and doesn’t cost a fortune. That’s why it’s a the top of my streaming solutions list for Coast Hills right now.

Today’s post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

And by GearTechs. Technology for Worship is what they do. Audio, video and lighting; if it’s part of your worship service, and it has to do with technology, GearTechs can probably help. Great products, great advice, GearTechs.

10 Minutes With…Whitney George, Andrew Stone & Daniel Connell Pt. 2

We’re back with the rest of our interview with the guys from Church on the Move. This week, we talk about how to grow as people and as a team, why working with quality people is important, how to develop authentic volunteers, and why always learning is important. Having watched this multiple times, now, I can tell you, this interview is gold.

Since we’re talking about COTM here, I want to bring up the most excellent Seeds Conference, that is happening March 5-7, 2014. Van & I had the privilege of going last year, and it has easily become our favorite conference. Not only was the entire conference put on with excellence, the content was simply amazing. I feel like I’m still parsing some of the things we learned, and rarely a week goes by when I don’t quote one of the speakers. 

For next year, the speaking lineup is again fantastic. Of course Willie George will be speaking, and Craig Groeschel is back again. Also joining the lineup is Rick Warren, Lee Cockerell and Chip Heath. Rick Warren you know. Lee Cockerell was the EVP of Walt Disney World for something like 40 years. He’s a wealth of information. Chip Heath and his brother Dan are best-selling authors, and have written several of my favorite books (Made to Stick and Switch). I’m really looking forward to his talk.  Of course, many of the staff of COTM will be speaking as well.

They are doing something kind of unique with registration this year. It opens up on October 1, and for the first 50 people, the cost will be $99. The next 300 people will pay $119, the next 300 will pay $139 and so on until it sells out (which it will). They also have a special church planter rate of $99 for anyone on your team. 

Van & I will be there again, only this time we’ll be doing video coverage of the event. We’re still working out details, but we look forward to bringing you some of the flavor of the conference if you can’t be there. So plan to join us—you will learn and be encouraged. And make sure you say hi if you see us! 

Today’s post is brought to you by the Roland R-1000. The R-1000 is a multi-channel recorder/player ideal for the V-Mixing System or any MADI equipped console or environment. Ideal for virtual sound checks, multi-channel recording, and playback.

Church Tech Weekly Episode 165: I Shouldn’t Have Had That Croissant


It’s another week of small-church mailbag! This week we tackle the question of how much the worship leader should be involved in tech, and how to translate mission into tech equipment. For fun, providing constructive criticism to the band.



Today’s post is brought to you by Ultimate Ears. Housed within a custom shell designed to fit your ears, high quality multiple armature speaker systems provide an unparalleled sound environment, as well as 26 dB of passive noise cancellation.

Consistency Matters

I read. A lot. As you recall from my posts a few weeks back on my summer reading list, I’ve really been big on reading over the last few years. In addition to books, I subscribe to a few dozen blogs, and using Flipboard, read interesting articles from all over the place. 

Photo courtesy of  robertnelson       

Photo courtesy of robertnelson   

Recently, I came across an article on leadership. As a technical leader, I’m always learning, always trying to get better. There was one quote in this whole article that really stuck out to me. It was about consistency, and how important it is for a leader to be consistent. 

Consistency Matters

“It’s important that people know you are consistent and fair in how you think about making decisions and that there’s an element of predictability. If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom, because then they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want. If your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive.”

Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations

Are You Consistent?

Think about that concept for a little bit. If you know what your boss or pastor want from you, there is tremendous freedom to figure out how to do it, what tools to use and even what the end product looks like. But if he’s all over the place, you never really know what you can do and what you can’t.

Consider how you deal with your tech team. Do you micromanage one lighting programmer but never say anything to another? Or do you sometimes micromanage the lights one week, but not the next? Do the parameters for “success” change week to week?

“I’ll tell you if I don’t like it…”

Or do you (or does your boss) not give any parameters for the result, but simply point out what you don’t like? By they way, that is the worst way to lead creatives. When someone tells me, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll tell you when I see something I don’t like,” I cringe. If I have the choice, I won’t work with that person. 

With no guidelines, the poor creative person simply throws a bunch of stuff against the wall hoping something will stick and that they won’t get scolded too severely if they miss the mark that wasn’t there in the first place. There are few better ways to demotivate creatives.

The Box of Freedom

We implemented a process here called the Freedom Box. We got the key stakeholders together for a meeting and defined some parameters—in this case for lighting. As a team, including our leadership, we drafted an outline of some things we definitely don’t want (e.g. shining lights in the eyes of the congregation), and set some lighting levels for various parts of the service. The parameters are not good or bad, it’s just what we do or don’t want to see.

But once you get inside of those parameters the guys can do whatever they want. Now that the lighting guys know what not to do, they have a ton of freedom to do what they feel like the moment needs. 

Consistency Wins

We no longer have to get on the guys for doing things we don’t like. It’s very consistent because everyone knows the expectations. I have to spend way less time policing them, and they are challenged to come up with different looks and effects within the bounds they are given.

When everyone knows the expectations, the stress level goes way down. We have a lot more fun, and our team gets better results with more longevity. The principle can be applied across the tech booth; define the parameters, then give the team freedom to do whatever they want inside those parameters. When we lead with consistency, everyone wins.

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.

Choose the Blue Pill…er, Battery

If you’ve been around ChurchTechArts for any length of time, you know I’m a big rechargeable battery fan. I placed my first order with Horizon Battery in July of 2006 for ten 250 mAh 9V batteries and a charger. I was a new, part-time TD and saw how much money we had in the budget for batteries. I knew there had to be a better way, and had seen their ad in Church Production. I figured, why not give it a shot. And I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve personally ordered hundreds of batteries and dozens of chargers. I’ve tested, and used them exclusively for wireless mic’s, flashlights, keyboards, mice and Magic Trackpads for the last seven years (long before Horizon was a sponsor). I say all that to make the point that I’m not just a shill for the company. And while they do spot me a few things here and there, I pay for 95% of all my batteries. 

With that out of the way, I wanted to update you on the state of rechargeable batteries. I’ve been receiving a few reports of late from people who have had trouble with the new batteries fitting in their mic’s, and even damaging battery trays. We ran into the same issue. A while back, Ansmann released these new batteries:

Stay away from these for Shure mic's. They fit OK in Sennheiser, and you'll have to test them in other brands. Or just get the Slimline versions (below)

Stay away from these for Shure mic’s. They fit OK in Sennheiser, and you’ll have to test them in other brands. Or just get the Slimline versions (below)

They are the same 2850 mAh capacity AA cells we’re used to, but for some reason, they are a little bigger around than the old blue or shiny silver ones we once got. I believe this has to do with new European regulations for rating the batteries, but we have seen issues with them fitting. They are very tight in a Shure UR2 handheld, and they really don’t work well at all in UR1 body packs or PSM wireless in ear packs. 

Unfortunately, like a lot of you, I didn’t notice this until I ordered a whole set of them. I also didn’t notice that the Slimline version has been re-issued. It looks like this:

For Shure mic's, body packs and PSM receivers, you'll want to use these.

For Shure mic’s, body packs and PSM receivers, you’ll want to use these.

I ordered a set of these and found they work perfectly in all the Shure products—including the PSM packs we had big problems with using the dull silver versions. So, if you’re going to be ordering new batteries anytime soon, make sure you get the Slimline version in the blue wrapping. The good news is that they are the same price, and the same rated capacity. Why not just offer these and not the other ones? As I said, it has to do with the way the batteries are rated, and apparently, the blue ones may not have quite the actual capacity of the new ones. But they do fit better, and the runtime is still far more than adequate (we got almost 14 hours in our test).

I did find that the “full-size” dull silver batteries work fine in Sennheiser G3 handhelds and body packs. So I’m re-deploying my dull silver cells throughout the church in our kids and student rooms where they will work just fine. 

So if you’re a Shure house I recommend buying the blue, Slimline version if you’re ordering; that will ensure they will fit in whatever mic you need to use them for. If you just bought a bunch of new, silver ones, this might be frustrating, but keep in mind, if you were using alkaline batteries, you would buy them, use them and throw them away. At least you can use the dull silver ones in your mice, keyboards and other mic’s. 

If you’re curious about rechargeable batteries and are new to the subject (or have a bad taste in your mouth from being burned with the bad ones of old…) you can see my comprehensive reporting of the subject here: Rechargeable Batteries

Oh, and if you happen to need any AAA cells, you should order up some of the new 1100 mAh versions. Again, due to the new ratings, we have found these to last far longer (in runtime) than the old 1000 mAh AAAs, at least in our UR-1M. Apparently, to be called an 1100 mAh, they actually have to be closer to that, whereas the old 1000 mAh versions were more like 750-800. So it’s a big upgrade. And they fit fine.

Today’s post is brought to you by GearTechs. Technology for Worship is what they do. Audio, video and lighting; if it’s part of your worship service, and it has to do with technology, GearTechs can probably help. Great products, great advice, GearTechs.

10 Minutes With…Whitney George, Andrew Stone, Daniel Connell

We’re introducing a new feature on ChurchTechArts today. 10 Minutes With… 

The idea is to sit down with thought leaders in the church and talk about how to be better leaders, technical artists and Christ followers. Today, Van talks with the guys from Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. COTM has grown to become one of the most creative and influential churches in the country. But it wasn’t always thus. In this segment, we learn how these guys worth together. Next week, we’ll present the rest of the interview. Enjoy!

Today’s post is brought to you by Bose Professional Systems Division, committed to developing best-in-class products, tools, and services to create original audio experiences. The chief advantage products like RoomMatch® array module loudspeakers and our line of PowerMatch® amplifiers offer for worship are clear natural sound that makes voices and music seem more real.

And by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

Church Tech Weekly Episode 164: That Ends With A Groin Injury


It’s small church night! We tackle your questions on doing tech in small churches. This week we discuss helping students “get” the importance of what we do and determine if the super-cheap option is in fact best (spoiler: probably not). 


Today’s post is brought to you by BargeHeights. Bargeheights offers cost effective lighting and LED video gear for churches. Coupled with unique visual design, Bargeheights transforms worship venues of all sizes.

Church Tech Weekly Tonight: Small Church Tech


Tonight on Church Tech Weekly, we’re going to be talking about doing production in a smaller church. And we want to hear from you! I’ve received many emails lately asking us to talk about small church, so here we go. If you have a question or something you’d like us to discuss, please leave it in the comments section and we’ll try our best to get through them all. And if not, we’ll save them for another show.  

CTA Review: Teradek Bolt—Wireless 3G Video

Back in the late ‘90s, I did a lot of on-stage camera work. My company provided IMAG and archive video for music festivals, crusades and other events. I spent many hundreds of hours with a camera on my shoulder, dragging mulit-core or tri-x behind me. I typically required a grip because there was no way to quickly and safely navigate a stage—especially a festival stage—with a tether. We talked often of how nice it would be to go wireless. Back then, wireless was crazy-expensive and not so reliable.  

Fast forward to this summer when a friend of mine at Teradek contacted me and said they had a cool new wireless video option I should look at. Being about 20 minutes away, I drove up and took a lookey-loo. The Teradek Bolt is pretty unassuming. It’s a pair of black boxes with some gold-plated BNCs and a few blue LED lights. Throw in a Lemo and USB connector and that’s about it. Pretty simple. But what it does is anything but. 

It transmits video—any flavor up to 1080p—300’ (line of sight) with zero frame delay.

Take a moment and read that again. 1080p, 300’, wirelessly, no delay. I may have sold a kidney for something like this 15 years ago. You can watch the video on their website which demonstrates the 0 frame delay. We tested it with dual outputs of the same camera, one wired, one via the Bolt and both were completely lined up. 

Super-Simple Set Up 

Set up could not be simpler, either. You plug your camera into the transmitter (HDMI and SDI input versions are available), and plug the receiver into the video system. Again, you can come out either HDMI or SDI. And here’s a cool thing: Let’s say you’re using a cheaper on-stage camera that only has HDMI out, but you need SDI in on your switcher. No problem. The Bolt will do the conversion for you. With no delay. 

We don’t do manned stage cameras at Coast, but I did run an entire weekend with our stationary drum camera running through the Bolt. It worked so flawlessly that my ATD Jon didn’t even know I had set it up that way. And set up is a breeze. There is no configuration, there are no menus. You plug it in, and in about 20 seconds, it’s working. 

The transmitter has a loop out connection on it so you can monitor locally, and the receiver has dual outputs for feeding two systems or inputs. They also make a multicast version that will take a single input source and broadcast it to multiple receivers (up to 4, and you can mix and match HDMI and SDI receivers). 

The Pro model features built-in LiOn batteries that will power the units for about an hour. They also have Lemo connectors so you can tap your AB or V-mount batteries, or use a Sony L or Panasonic camcorder battery. Receivers also come with wall warts. 

So if you’re like me, you’re immediately thinking; can I use this to send video to the kid’s wing or maybe the lobby and save the hassle of running cable? Well, maybe, but probably not. The Bolt is really not designed to be a long-range wireless video distribution system. It’s really designed for monitoring on a film set, but I think it would be perfect for a stage camera. I would put the receiver just off stage and wire back to the switcher. It operates in the 5 GHz band, so it won’t bother your wireless; I had it right next to our IEM transmitters and we had no issues. 

Super Affordable 

Best of all, it’s reasonably priced. In fact, it’s pretty remarkable how little it costs. Pricing is based on which transmitters and receivers you pair together, and starts at $1750 for an HDMI out system. Going to an SDI receiver adds $200, while upgrading to Pro adds $400. 

Personally, I’m shocked that for under $2000, we could send full broadcast quality video 300 feet. While it’s not for everyone, if you have a stage camera or two and are tired of them knocking band equipment over with cables, this might be the solution you’ve been dreaming about.

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.

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