» News

Outside the Norm: Special Productions

Projects, Technology - by - November 4, 2009 - 08:20 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

Any time of the year, your tech team is busy planning on, preparing for or producing an extra service.  Easter and Christmas tend to be the first bigger productions a tech team will have on a schedule, but the calendar is full of events that are outside of the normal weekly worship.  Concerts, outreaches, conferences, VBS, holidays, awards, celebrations and facility rentals; each of these events requires additional planning, preparation, equipment, and crew.  How can your creative, tech and media teams support these events, make them extraordinary, and yet endure well on the week to week support of the ministry? As a Media Ministry, we’ll define the purpose, put proper time into planning, and then systematically check each medium in place to support the event.

Define why your team incorporates media into the production and you define the success of the tech production.  Are you trying to make a statement?  Create an atmosphere?  Make something totally new and different? Meet the basic needs of the event? For example, sometimes adding a multi-screen projection system is required to allow everyone to see clearly, other times the multiple screens are used for artistic purposes, creating backdrops, or defining the environment.  Defining the purpose will drive your requirements for creative elements to put on the screens, screen and projection requirements–how bright, how many different images, how large, where are they placed. Defining the purpose guides the development of multiple media, incorporating congruency of graphic arts on print materials and digital images. The definition of purpose sets the stage, as it were.

Putting the proper time into planning will help your production go smoothly, with less stress and less burnout.  Specific details, requests and preferences from the event leaders and presenters given as soon as possible allows your team to meet their needs, possibly even exceed expectations.  Once it is understood what the presentation requirements are, you can start planning what equipment will be used to support the event.  Often your team can rent or borrow a few extra pieces of equipment to make the event a success, but sometimes you will need to bring in outside production support or freelance operators.  This hired help can often take your event to the next level if your team is already stretched thin or you need more or different equipment than that to which your ministry has access.

For Christmas production at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, TX, some lighting was added in addition to re-arranging space for full orchestra. The entire depth of the platform area leads to a very open, expansive feel.

An Easter production in the same sanctuary comes across entirely differently, with lighting changes, centered rear projection and closing off the back half of the stage area using curtains. Extra risers bring the choir close in. There is a more intimate feeling to this more somber occasion.

Finally, the media leader will perform a line-item survey of each medium that is being used or could be used to support the function of the ministry event. The following checklist can be used, although it is not all-inclusive. You may come up with more- feel free to leave suggestions or input in your comments.

Questions to think through


  • Can the audio system in place support the requirements of the event?
  • Do you have enough channels?
  • Is your speaker system capable of covering the room adequately, or are you already pushing the limits of your system?
  • Do you have enough wireless mics?
  • Do you have the proper mics or direct boxes for the other inputs?


  • What do you want to show on the screen?
  • Can everyone see the screen?
  • Is the screen large enough to read text or see the image magnification?
  • Is the projection bright enough under the required lighting conditions to see clearly?
  • Can the screens be put where you want them and will the projectors work for them there?
  • What are the artistic/creative elements required of the projection?


  • How much light will be required to support the video aspects of the event?
  • How much will light be used to set the atmosphere (colors/intensities/haze )?
  • Is there enough power available to run the additional lights?
  • How much of the light cues can be pre-programmed and how much will need to be done live?
  • How much/little will the audience/congregation be lit?

video production

  • What is the final format(s) of the video?
  • Will the video production be broadcast or streamed live?
  • Will cameras be used on IMAG screen in addition to recorded or broadcast?
  • What format (Standard Definition or a variety of High Definition) will meet these requirements best?
  • How many different outputs will be required from the switcher?

production support

  • How will the crew communicate?  (Intercom, radios, phones, instant messaging, txt)
  • How many channels of communication are required
  • Will internet access be required?  What bandwidth? Wireless? Public access?
  • What kind of space with the additional technical production elements require?  Control rooms?  Booths?  Camera Platforms?  Spotlight Platforms? Media Order Counter? Staging?
  • What Electrical Requirements are needed for each element?
  • What are the rigging and structural requirements?
  • Where will graphic arts need to be congruent with print media?

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about your production needs or what would be required to accomplish your production ideas successfully.  jeff@mediaartsdad.com

» Leave a Reply