The big difference for Easter at the Oaks Fellowship, from the tech perspective, is the months of planning that go into it. In 2015, they did three different specials. So there were scripts for videos, filming, planning, and a lot more.
One of the big challenges in 2015 was working with so many children for their ?This I Believe? special. They videoed the children for the backing visuals, but also had to work with them live. This meant trying to keep kids entertained for six hours of videoing and many rehearsals leading up to the service. Mic?ing the kids in the choir and the lead vocalist for ?This I Believe? was a struggle as well. As anyone who has worked with mic?ing children will attest, they don?t always put out the consistent volume you?re looking for from vocalists.
Part of the way they prepared for this was testing all of this ahead of time to make sure it would work well for Easter. About two years ago, they began a new tradition in preparation for services like Easter and Christmas. Anytime they planned a special element, they made sure to perform it for the Wednesday service before the weekend event. By requiring this early completion date, it gives them a buffer to tweak anything that didn?t quite work during the Wednesday test run. It also boosts the excitement level for their highly committed people who attend the Wednesday service. It gives them ammo to tell their friends about what?s coming up.
They adopted this practice initially, because they identified a trend with tech teams at churches. Often, the band and actors rehearse weeks in advance. But the tech team tends not to experience the benefit of a thorough rehearsal on the production?side. And when there?s a big production coming up, tech teams often pull all-nighters getting everything set up and ready for the service. Consequently, those same people who didn?t get enough sleep the night before are the ones who have to trigger cues. Not a recipe for success.
So this gives the tech team a chance to rehearse exactly what will be happening on the weekend service. Then they still do their full run-through on Friday, a day before the first Easter service, to make sure everything is perfect. This is especially important since they usually rent more lighting gear for Easter and Christmas. More gear equals more complexity in production.
This past Christmas, they?ve shifted from just previewing the special at their midweek service to doing a full service for all of their volunteers. This gives the tech team the best opportunity to thoroughly rehearse and at the same time, they have an opportunity to rally the volunteers. They even have a special dessert reception for volunteers following the full run-through of the service. This reception is put together by their student ministry team so they don?t have to overwork their already busy volunteers.
Live Video for ?Risen?
One cool element from their Easter specials was the song ?Risen?. If you watch the service, you?ll see a cool mixture of live footage overlaid with a fun texture. They accomplished this with their projection design software, Arena. The software has the ability to overlay tons of videos and files. Plus it syncs to the Ableton interface, so they can sync all of the triggers to their click tracks.
ProPresenter then feeds lyrics to Arena, where it keys out black from the feed so they can overlay the lyrics on top of the live video feed.
The Stage Design
They typically reveal a new stage design on Easter. That carries through the whole year. Then they decide for December whether or not they want to reveal a new stage design for Christmas.
They?ve had their center screen since Easter 2013, but for 2014 they simply added the circle side screens. Those were stretch fabric over rounded PVC. They ordered the screens from StretchyScreens.com.?The larger circles came with a tent pole-type rod that fed in and bent around. But the 4? fabric was a clearance and did not have anything for a frame. So they?used bendable PVC pipe in 4 sections that they rigged themselves.?Unfortunately, they’re?always struggling with making them hang right.
They simply projected onto the side screens using triple wide from their computer fed by a Matrox TripleHead2Go from the Arena computer.
A Tech Mistake
While everything went very well for their Easter services because the team is so proficient at rehearsing, they did have one technical mistake they regret.
They held an Easter egg hunt at 3pm on Saturday, an hour before their first Easter service. Thousands of people came like they were expecting. They divided the children into age groups to make the Easter egg hunt fair. And you can imagine the spread of people over the field where they held the hunt.
They had decided not to rent a sound system, thinking what they had would be sufficient. They grossly underestimated what was necessary, though. And because there were so many instructions they had to relay to the people attending the event, it was troublesome. If kids were two or three age groups away from the speakers, they couldn?t hear a thing. And the entertainment they provided during the down times didn?t make it to the ears of those further away.
While they pushed through it, they didn?t like how that reflected on the experience that would soon be happening inside the service. If it sounded bad outside, what did that indicate the inside production would be like?
The team at the Oaks believes that every detail matters. So they work hard to get those details perfect. For them, it?s not just about excellence. It?s about presenting God to a community who needs Him. So they work hard to represent Him with the quality of their work?from worship to design to production.