At 9:00 Sunday morning, the church parking lot is nearly empty. A couple of cars enter the parking lot, and a 12 year old boy on a bicycle coasts to a stop, locking his bike beside the front doors. Inside, the worship team is already practicing, warming up for the upcoming service.
As we follow the boy into the church, he enters the sanctuary, then takes a sharp right through an otherwise unremarkable door. At the top of the stairs behind the door, we are confronted by a room with muted lighting, desks cluttered with gadgetry, and a bewildering array of monitors and equipment. It looks like geek heaven, or at least a little patch of paradise.
At this time, the room is filled with the music from the worship band and the ever present hum of fans. Jimmy, our production engineer, is checking his workstation to ensure that the slides for worship lyrics, videos for the service, and the Powerpoint for the sermon are ready to go. Jessica, a high school senior, is checking all of the equipment for technical issues, before she disappears briefly.
Jonathan, the boy we followed up here, sits at the first workstation and immediately begins reformatting all of the sermon slides to a form more suited for webcast presentation. Over the next 30 minutes, he will reformat slides, generate a credit roll, and create titles for guests, soloists, and speakers.
A few minutes later, Jessica returns and more people drift into the room: Doug, our webcast Sound Technician, David our Director Producer, both “on the right side of 50”, and Allan, our chief engineer, along with his two teenaged boys jostling each other as only brothers will do. Finally, seeming out of place for his small size and piping voice, Jake steps in. From his demeanor and the warm greetings from the crew, it quickly becomes clear that he belongs here.
At 9:20, the level of activity ramps up briefly. “I need someone experienced as Technical Director* today because we’re doing eyemag** for baptisms. Mclain, you take Technical Director. Max you cross-train on Sound with Doug. Jake and Jessica take cameras. Remember TD has final say on composition during the service, save discussion for debrief.” Everyone takes their assigned roles and rechecks their station, working camera controls and reviewing presets.
As Technical Director, Mclain re-checks the equipment and requests confirmation that the webcast is scheduled. On a good day, this goes quickly and there are about 5 minutes of relative quiet. “Camera 1, get me a safe shot. Camera 2, I need a closeup of PC (Pastor Chris)”
“9:25. Webcast is live. Camera 1 start recording. Camera 2 switch atrium displays to webcast”. The level of tension in the room is palpable but comfortable.
A phone rings, Jimmy answers “Media”.
Mclain calls “Fade to propresenter”
Jimmy continues his phone conversation, “We’re ready when you are …. going live now”.
At that moment the worship service begins.