The live webcast of a church service alternates prolonged periods of intense focus with periods of being prepared for the unexpected while doing not much of anything.
Like any group of people working together in a high pressure environment, when we’re working we use a shorthand of industry jargon and our own terms. The pastors say that our team speaks in tongues. My wife calls it “Greek without an R”.
Absent an interpreter, here’s a short glossary:
Front of House: aka FOH, where the people in physical attendance are, as opposed to off-site. In church terms, this is the sanctuary.
Production Engineer: The person who handles projection for front of house, may handle webcast sound in a pinch, and fixes equipment when it breaks.
Transition: when you go from one image to another on the screen. We usually use cut and fade transitions, although we have many more available to us.
Cut: An instant transition
Fade: A gradual transition from one image to the next
Wipe: A transition in which the new image is brought up gradually, starting at one edge of the screen and proceeding to the opposite edge.
Switch: (1) aka Video Switch, The equipment we use to pick what video sources to send to outputs and what transitions to use between live shots. We use a Blackmagic ATEM 1 M/E 4k broadcast switch for webcast and recording.
Switch: (2) aka Network Switch, A part of the church network infrastructure.
Camera Technician: The person who operates a camera. They listen to instructions from the TD, try to anticipate activity in the sanctuary, and frame shots for the TD to include in the service. We usually start new people in this role
Technical Director: aka TD, Center Seat, Hot Seat, The person who is in control of the video switch for webcast. This role requires tracking all of the inputs, directing the camera operators compositions for the best shots, choosing the best combinations from the available inputs, and executing the transitions to provide the best off-site worship experience, all in real time.
Firefly shot: adjusting the camera live on-air. This is named for the TV series “Firefly”, in which the producers went out of their way to make special effects shots look like a badly handled hand-held camera. In any live production, you will have a few of these no matter how skilled the crew is. Today, firefly shots usually happen when there is a communication hiccup between the TD and camera technician, or when we are training someone new at those stations. They also happen when the TD falls asleep in the sermon.
Sound Technician: Since webcast has different sound requirements than the front of house does, we have our own sound technician and controls.
Key: Overlay one image over another one in the video stream. Our switch has 6 keyers.
Key Grip: This is the dude that gets titles, credits, and other graphical overlays prepared and ready for the technical director to incorporate (key) into the webcast. We use both chroma keying (aka green screen) and luma keying (providing a separate black and white “alpha channel” with the image to define the edges of the overlaid area). Today, the Key Grip uses Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Premiere Pro, and VLC to build and present graphics and titles.
I’m a leaf on the wind: This is a reference to a line in “Serenity”, the movie that caps the “Firefly TV” series. Usually indicates some unusual stress levels. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pgFXCnksJk
Jimmy: Production Engineer – Jimmy has been a standard fixture as production engineer since we moved into this facility, so anyone sitting in his station becomes “Jimmy”. For example, “Jessica, you’re Jimmy today”.
Who: Technical Director. It’s an inside joke – at one time we had considered recording our own version of “Who’s on First”, entitled “Who’s on Switch”. We never followed through, but the joke remains. For example, “Max, you’re ‘Who’ today”.
“Who” can also refer to “The Doctor”, since the team has an unusually high concentration of Doctor Who fans. You don’t need to know the significance of a blue 1950’s London Police call box to work on the team, but it helps.
Media: Short for recording media, usually an SSD (Solid State Drive) like you use in your PC. For cameras it may also be an SD card. No one uses tape any more (PTL!)