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It’s just after 2 am and I am awake. I had gone to bed just fine and slept for several hours. My wife woke me and then I just could not get back to sleep. I tried taking a long hot shower. However, my mind was filled with thoughts of Easter.
Several months back our lead pastor had come up with a very creative idea for this year’s Good Friday & Easter services. Initially the ideas all worked just fine in my quick planning and we were on our way to what could be a very engaging service. We enlisted an artist in the church to help get the idea rolling and to take care of the artistic element. I was excited.
We scheduled a meeting of the minds to flesh out these great ideas. Prior to this meeting I spent time thinking through the logistics and a few key elements failed in my layout. I had drawn out the elements in scale, and the key stage element we based this plan around is several feet to tall for the venue we were going to be at. Because our Worship Center only seats 700, and we don’t want to do 8 services, we rent the local performing arts center that seats 2400 and only do 2 services. The theaters proscenium height was 25′ 11″. Since we must do IMAG in this room we are flying a 12′x20′ screen. This encroached into the vertical space we needed for the other element, which also needed to be centered.
I came up with measurements on a smaller version we could build that resolved the problems. No one, including myself, was as excited for this new solution as we were for the original one, but it worked. Planning continued. The artist and video editor started working on their details, the Worship Pastor started laying out the services, and I went back to the other details of doing a large off-site event.
That meeting was several weeks back. My mind was not at peace with the new plan, even though, logistically it resolved our problems. On The day before this long sleepless night began, our Worship Pastor had emailed out his idea for the music that would be the audio background to our special service element. It was a great selection.
But I was not at peace. This is what kept me up this long night. The message we are sharing is far larger than my compromise was. In a 2400 seat auditorium this element simply lacked the punch and impact that we all knew we wanted. The music was outstanding, the artist’s plans were fantastic, and in my mind I could see great promise for great lighting to bring it all home. But that element was still just… small.
For the next several hours I sketched, listened to the music we selected, prayed, closed my eyes to visualize, and repeated those steps several times. I went back to bed, then, ran back downstairs to my computer, then back to bed. It was on my third attempt to sleep that I believe God was finished building anticipation and revealed the solution to me. I sprang up from my bed, back down to my computer and fired off emails to our Worship Pastor and the Technical Director at the Theater.
The following morning (just a few hours later) I went through the idea with the venue TD and he agreed it would work well, and even he liked the idea. The solution was actually quite elegant and will be uncomplicated to initiate during the service, which will help it in being executed successfully.
I had given up on a better plan than my compromise. I moved on, and let the ball drop and sit on “ok”. I am thankful that God had better plans for His services. He poked and prodded me until I got it. I had not prayed about the solution until this long night, I just powered through and “fixed” the problem to make it work.
My advice to myself, and you: Pray! If I had prayed, spent time thinking outside the box, and had not given up so easily I may have had a full nights rest!
Wyatt Johnston serves as the Tech.Arts Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Topeka, KS. Since age 11 he has been behind the scenes serving the technical needs of church, broadcast, and theater productions. Married to Jeanine, they have 2 children, David and Sarah. Wyatt enjoys amateur photography, target shooting with his bride, and playing with his children. Wyatt can be reached at wyattjohnston.com, email@example.com, or @wyattjohnston on twitter.
In 2011 I worked hard to have a picture per day blog. I failed on the daily aspect, but still hit most days. I had not thought much about the fact that I had not been shooting much until I was sitting in my kitchen a few weeks ago. I have a 3-screen wide setup in our kitchen that cycles through a different image I have shot aver few seconds.
I caught myself lost in my own pictures. Each image rushed back memories of how I shot it, where, and why. I then knew I missed the daily shooting. I am not going to say I will shoot everyday, but, I want to be that person again – capturing everyday moments.
I still have my camera with me, everyday. I carry this silly heavy backpack with 5 lenses and a D7000 plus my iPad and Laptop – ALL THE TIME. Why the heck am I not shooting?
Anyway, in October I was loading my sound rig into a church for a funeral for a very good friend of mine’s grandmother. They needed sound reinforcement to support the small band that would be leading worship in the service. While loading in a US Air Force Boeing E-3 Sentry was coming in on approach to FOE (Forbes Airport, in Topeka). I almost ignored it and continued to unload, but after some arguing of “Why not” I grabbed my camera, tossed on my 1973 Nikon 400mm lens and fired.
And in another incident of almost missed pictures, here are my children playing in the fall leaves while I was unloading sound gear from my van. Once again, I almost did not take the time to shoot these pictures. Here is what less than 10 minutes of my time yielded.
In closing – I am almost always ready to shoot – but I have missed too many moments out of pure laziness.
I love spending time with my little family. This year marks the first “big” Christmas year for my children. My oldest is now 3.5 and is fully aware of decorating, trees, Christmas, and singing of carols. My wife and I decided we needed to do it up right, so, out with the 2 foot tall tree we had pre-kids and up with the 7.5 foot (fake) big tree.
I knew he would have a blast putting it up, but was not expecting how excited he really was.
I cannot wait until the day he fully understands the reason Christmas is celebrated. Not Santa, Not Gifts, but to remember the birth of our savior and to use Christmas as a reminder that we are children of God, and he is worthy of our Praise. We should not be bowing at the feet of spoiled consumerism. I should add, this does not mean I am anti-capitalist, just looking to keep life simple, and keep God the focus of this season.
Jeanine and I want to leave a Godly legacy with our children. To do that, we need to keep in mind the wake we leave behind us.
Blessings to you this season.
Churches – Don’t kill your pastors and members!
I have big plans to do more blog updating, and I am going to do better. By nature, I am not disciplined enough to share when I learn something new – however, I am constantly looking at everyone elses blogs and tweets when I need solutions to my problems and challenges that they may have encountered. So… I will – I will share more on here.
What prompted this post was some work I recently helped with at a local church. Myself and some members of our FBC Tech.Arts team joined me to help another church in town tune and re-aim their speakers in their worship center. A year or so back this church hired a company to upgrade their audio system.
From a design standpoint it was simply the wrong solution for the style and room of this church, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about safety. I admit to letting some things slide, for example, I (gulp) plug extension cords into power strips from time to time. This is a minor issue, and I have a very close idea to the current we are pulling and believe that it is safe.
Where do I really make a stand? Hanging overhead. Rigging speakers, projectors, TV’s, lights etc MUST BE DONE SAFELY. As you can imagine, what we found at the church we were helping was unsafe. It was not the churches fault, they hired “professionals” who designed the system and installed these speakers.
I am not a rigger. Repeat. I am not a rigger. I defer to the professionals usually, and when I don’t, I research the heck out of the correct rigging from the manufacturer of the devices and speak to the building engineers to ensure the load is safe. Over engineer everything, think through every detail – LIVES depend on it. There are some very simple things that many churches (and bars) do wrong.
What was so bad at this church? (the load is a 70lb speaker cabinet, 2 hang points with a pull-back chain)
a) they used bent-over eyebolt lags screwed into 2×6 roof beam.
- these can slowly bend open over time and drop the load to the floor. (in this case, onto the pastor)
- the lags can weaken and pull the wood grains out.
- proper would use welded or forged eye bolts with nuts, washers, and locking nuts.
b) un-rated carabiners used to connect the chains.
- these have 2 failure points, the pin and the latch. In this case, they actually has started to bend and warped already.
- we replaced these with 800lb rated locking chain links. better would have been shackles, but we had none available.
Other common issues with rigging are
- Hanging speakers or other items not designed for it. Most commonly cheap pole-mounted speakers made from a MDF or particle board. What generally happens is the bent-over eye bolt lags are screwed into the speaker cabinet. As above the eyebolt can open, but what is more likely to happen is the cabinet failing under its own weight. The wood will fall apart and the speaker will fall. I see this a lot. I have actually seen this failure when the top piece of particle board separated from the rest of the speaker cabinet, dropping it to the ground. No one was under it at the time thankfully.
- No safety cable on lighting. Just use the dang safety cables. I am guilty of this one, and there is no excuse.
- Split chain links – seriously, these cheap junky chain links used to hang 2lb decorative lights cannot hang your big wooden cross or speakers.
- No locking washers, double nuts, or locking nuts. Always use some method to keep your nuts from coming loose. It adds almost no cost but can save injury or death.
As I said – I am not a rigger. If you don’t know – hire someone (with experience and insurance) to get the job done right. Don’t chance this stuff guys.
Some more great information can be found here: http://svconline.com/how/features/avinstall_stage_rigging/
Thanks. Rant. End.
Almost 10 years ago I purchased my first firearm. It was a rather poor quality Bryco Model 48 .380 handgun. I purchased it for 2 reasons, 1) Because I have the right to, and 2) I wanted to have personal protection. I am not a gun nut, but I do firmly believe we have the right to own and bear arms, and I also believe that a well armed law-abiding public will encourage a more peaceful populous.
Owning firearms & being a father means care must be observed to protect my family, the days of having a loaded weapon in my night stand are long over. I now have a digital safe that I keep my gun in, away from my children. My wife knows the combination and how to safely use the firearms, and will protect our family if we had an intruder in our home.
I had wanted for many years to purchase a smaller, compact firearm that would be safe & small enough for concealed carrying. I did look around town and did some research on what to purchase, I landed on a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 sub-compact.
To safely carry & operate a firearm, you need to use it and be very comfortable with it. In the last week to learn the weapon, I took some great opportunities to shoot at the range and at friends land. My wife even got in on the action at the our local indoor gun club. I have put 500 rounds through the little handgun, it has performed beyond my expectation.
In honor of 500 rounds, here it is:
If you followed my blog back when I had a shred of discipline, you know that I had dreams of a daily photo blog, which if did somewhat well for a few months. Heading in to 2012, I will just be level honest. No promises! I do want to do more photography and also posts about the tech.arts world. So, keep an eye out for more updates, and may you kick off your 2012 blessed!
While in Dallas, WFX was nice enough to arrange a tour of Watermark Community Church. They have just completed a new building project. I took my camera with me, mostly for images of their non-traditional ceiling cloud layout using a mix of MDF, OSB, Plywood, and Sound Absorbers. The room sounded outstanding. Acoustic Dimensions did an outstanding job and the LA Acoustics speakers sound fabulous.
This post is just some free-hand panoramas I shot while there, they turned out well so I decided to share. I have several other facility pictures, drop me a note if your interested. These were all shot using my Tamron 18-270 PZD Lens at 18mm on a Nikon D7000. The stitching was done by Hugin software, a great & powerful cross-platform panorama picture creating tool. You can click on each for a larger version, but even the larger versions are only 1920 pixels wide, otherwise they are 30MB each as JPG’s. Shoot me a message if you want the largest versions.
#1 – Standing in the last row, center house. 5 shots.
#2 – Standing against the edge of the stage looking into the house. Center. 5 shots.
#3 – 3-shot panorama of the outdoor patio / baptism area.