Un-timely Necessary Projects

We all know that stuff breaks at the most inopportune times.  Currently, I’m flying solo in the production department and my favorite video switcher decides to go on the fritz.  I don’t know if you guys are like me or not, but I just can’t leave well enough alone.  Just not smart enough to follow the old “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” saying.  I decide that this was a prime time to clean up the video racks, a project that has been on the list for a while.  This turned out to be never ending project that ended up eating all of my week and most of my weekend.  As of tonight, I’m very happy with the results.

Most of the work that was done had to do with cables routed on the outside of the rack.  Yes you know what I’m talking about, the cables that get thrown in last minute with the intent of cleaning them up later.  The Video booth just seems to attract these kind of cable runs.  Most of the time I consider myself in the middle of the road on cable routing.  Definitely not the most anal person that I have ever met, but I do like clean cabling.  The cabling in these racks certainly made me understand how detrimental sloppy cabling could be.  I think that a root canal might be more fun then debugging issues in these racks.

So it is beautiful now, right?  Well not yet, but we made big headway and removed 99.9 of the poorly routed cable.  We also removed about 50% of the cables inside the racks.  Yes there is still much work to do inside, but we made it 100% easier to find issues in the racks.  Next week I think that I’m going to tackle underneath the desk at the front of the booth.  May the force be with us.

More pictures here


If you know me at all, you should have an idea of how this post will go. Let me also say that if are a Windows fanatic without a open mind you need not read any further. Let me give you a little history about myself and my history. Today I’m not as directly involved with IT as I was in the past, and I have been exclusively Mac for about 2 years. Before that I had been a network administrator and a software developer in the Windows world mainly and some Linux. In fact Linux and open source software lead me to OS X. In my new position, I had a need to get a Windows tablet to run some of the software we use in production. Don’t tell my Mac friends, but it was a little exciting to check out Windows Vista.

Not much has seemed to change in the PC world. I called a friend of mine to ask what the cool tablet PC was and he recommended an ASUS, so I ordered it. It arrived last Friday and have been using it this week. The pen interface on the tablet is nice and Vista graphics have improved, but I find myself nagged by the same issues I had before I switched to OS X or Linux. Over the years, I have had around five or six notebooks running Windows and none of them have been able to suspend and resume correctly. All I want to do is be able to close the notebook and resume it later. I didn’t think that it would be that hard, but it seems to only work about 50% of the time. All I’m going to say is DRIVERS are a nightmare. Some knock Apple for its control over the hardware, but I know that it adds to stability and tighter integration between the hardware and software.

Vista has had some visual improvement, but under the covers it seems to be much the same. I have not had much trouble finding my way around and the newness went away very soon. Now it is just another tool in the production arsenal.

Creating Successful Sundays – NASCAR Style Preparation

To the average viewer this last Sunday was a normal day. From a production standpoint we had a few errors. It is always my practice to review the issues on Monday and see what we can do in the future to prevent these types of issues. Sometimes these issues are hardware failures or operator mistakes that are going to happen and are hard to prevent. Sunday we had one of each. I really don’t loose any sleep over them. The ones that bother me are the ones that could have been prevented with some preparation. We also had a few of these this weekend.

Now some of them we could have not really foreseen, but hind sight is 20/20. Let me give you an example. A mic cue was missed. Being that I have mixed many services, I know that errors happen. Sometimes you get distracted with muting some channels and you forget the open up the next mic. Now being that I understand the error, I know that it can be helped by the producer reminding the audio team of what is coming up. This Sunday I was bothered when I reminded the audio team of the next mic cue and even let the engineer know what mic was being used. When the cue didn’t happen I was a little hot under the collar. After the service I debriefed with the Audio Engineer and found out that the cue was missed due the host using a mic that was on the praise team VCA that was muted. This is not the a normal mic we would use at that point in the service, and lead to the A1 missing the cue and taking a second to find the issue. Oddly enough this mic was used because we were out of 9V batteries. Such a simple thing can lead to preventable errors.

In my past, I raced cars and spent much time studying NASCAR crews and their processes. If you have ever walked through the pits during a race weekend you would see about 5 sheets of paper taped to the cars. Almost all of the teams have long checklists with everything that needs to be completed on the car before the race. I would bet that these lists started much shorter and have grown from experiences such as I had this weekend. I think that it is time to start a Sunday checklist that can be used in preparation during the week and on Sunday mornings. As we all know mistakes are made, we just need to make sure that we learn to prevent them the first time.

Speaker Repairs and Audio System Tune Up

Speaker RepairsThis week we are installing a couple of new DSP units in the worship center. BSS London Blue 80s are the new brains for our audio system. In the process of testing everything last night we found the the protection circuits are bad in three of our EAW MH-662iA speakers. This has been limiting some of the high frequencies from the main center cluster. Now we have to figure out how to fix them. So again I will be excited to hear what the system is going to sound like after we get this fixed and our system tuner James Young is done with the DSP upgrade and room tuning. Going to be a fun Sunday.

PERSONAL: Just a quick personal note, it was awesome to see Brittney (my daughter) worshiping on stage Sunday in the Edge service. It brought me great joy.

From Avo to Vista

AvolitesThis Sunday I will say goodbye to the first lighting console that I ever programmed on.  We have not had too much trouble with the Avolites Pearl console other then floppy drives going out.  So why make the change?  We have just made a switch in the way that we program.  When I started working with the lights it was very manual and not much programming.  Over the time that we have gone to the other extreme.  Today we program cue to cue for all three services.  Avo has a theater stack mode, but it is not the most user friendly to work with and I started looking for something different.  I spent much time reviewing products and got as many recommendations as I could.  All roads seemed to lead to one place, Jands Vista products.

Vista T2There is lots to love about the Vista product line.  You can start with a PC or Mac based solution with just 128 DMX channels or have a large console with 8 or more DMX universes.  We decided that it was a full range solution that we could standardize on campus wide. It also gives us the ability to make changes from our workstations.  We had a way to program the Avo on the computer, but it is very slow process.  Vista is almost as fast to program on your computer as it is on the console.

Vista S1So we bit the bullet and purchased a Vista T2 for the worship center and a Vista S1 for both the new gym and the LYF center.  Now our lighting operators should be comfortable in all the rooms with lighting on campus.  All should be in on Monday and ready to go for next Sunday.  Just remember, is it Jands Vista and not Microsoft Windows Vista.  Friends don’t let friends use Windows let alone Windows Vista.



We had a great weekend with the new loaned and rented lights. Hereis what I learned:

1. Color fading light can have a great impact on worship.

2. I liked the operation and use of the Nexera lights, but wonder if they are bright enough for my uses. I think the next step I’d like to try out a SeaChanger.

3. Really liked using the color split LEDs. Again they were limited for what I was using them for. LEDs have lots of potential, but need a little more lumens for my liking. If we had netural colored walls they would be more effective.

We had lots of comments on the lighting and that means we need about 8 to 10 more color fading lights.

Checking out some new lights

NexeraThis afternoon I spent some time hanging lights we are trying out. I’m looking for some architectural lighting options as well as some added color changers. I’m somewhat new to lighting systems and design, and I have really enjoyed learning what I have so far. The one thing that I have learned the hard way is the value of color mixing fixtures. I spend much of my programming time building transition cues to compensate for lights that don’t color mix. The fixtures that I’m testing this weekend are the Wyborn Nexera and the Chroma-Q Color Split.Color Splt

So far I have basically got all of the fixtures patched and the Color Splits hung. I have only done some basic programming and have not fully tested the lights, but as of right now here are a few of my observations:

Wybron Nexera:

  • Bigger fixture than I thought
  • Fairly quiet
  • Uses a power supply and 4 pin scroller cable
  • Seems to mix colors well
  • Can’t seem to get a deep blue color as of yet

Chroma-Q Color Split:

  • PowerCon connectors and can be linked
  • 9 modes of operation, I’m using mode 8 which is dual mode with intensity and red, green, blue and amber.
  • Seem to have a very narrow beam. Would be very interested to see the option 20 and 30 degree accessories.

We will see how they work this weekend and I will post an update here.

Changes 4/27/08

Surprisingly this was the second hardest week I have had in this job and I really can’t tell you why. But God is good and services today were busy but encouraging. It is so easy in this job to get wrapped up in the technology and the issues and loose focus on what it is really about. I did a lot of work on technology this week, but none of that was very interesting or fulfilling. The trials of this week really help to bring focus to what I really enjoy: investing in people and being creative with in the limits that are in place.

We did make some technology changes this week:


  • Added a dual 18″ sub. Our 15″ drivers are still being re-coned. I was surprised on how hard this sub could kick. It was not enough for the big room, but it was better than nothing.
  • We upgraded from revision one Avioms to the newer version two systems. Wow what an improvement in sound quality.


  • Refocused all of the stage lighting for the minor stage reset that we did.
  • Finally got the lamp for the OS 600 light.