Church AVL Techs: Get Out of the Booth!
Posted on Sep 29, 2021 3:26:25 PM
As part of the team that helps create the worship service for your church, (Audio, Video or Lighting Tech, Worship Leader, etc) what is important for you to excel in your role? A fundamental understanding of technical systems? The ability to think on your feet in the midst of a challenge? Remaining flexible when the goal or vision shifts and causes changes? Reading incredible blogs like this one in order to aid in your professional development? (Yes, sarcasm is allowed here.) While each of these things is certainly valuable, I suspect there may be something you haven’t considered.
It can become incredibly easy to remain head-down and work on dialing-in the finishing touches. For some, you may have a natural tendency to focus on intricate details. That level of focus is an incredible gift, but can sometimes come at a cost. It’s time to get out of the booth.
How do you know what your room feels like? How do you know when an element of service needs to be tweaked ever so slightly? How can you help take things from good to great? Big question - how can you invest relationally with the rest of the team if you only stay in your area? It takes intentionality. Create time during rehearsal to get out of your normal environment and walk the entire venue.
As an Audio Engineer, see if your mix translates equally well on the front row as the back row. Walk backstage and see if you can identify any areas of difficulty for the musicians or vocalists. Are IEM stations difficult to access? Are charging stations easily accessible? A personal favorite - pick one or two random vocalists or musicians and ask how their IEM mix sounds, and if you can adjust anything specifically for them. Listen to the monitors or headphones in Video World - do they sound good, or do they sound like mushy garbage because no one with a critical ear ever listens to them? Can you help? Look for things beyond the mix that you might be able to adjust.
As a Lighting Director, walk on stage. Are wash intensity levels blinding? Are floor fixtures placed in locations that are difficult for musicians or vocalists to move around? Is there enough light backstage for people to walk safely? Here’s a fun idea - look for creative places to put accent lighting. Is there a TV in the Green Room? LED Tape backlight… Are there fluorescent lights in the video booth? Cafe bulbs might make a world of difference. What do you see that other people might not think about?
As a Video Director, get into the room - especially if you are normally in a remote booth. How does your content look on-screen alongside full stage lighting? How does your content translate in remote spaces like the Green Room or Lobby? Do you have the ability to see one space differently from other spaces? Have you asked what that space might want to see? Ask the audio engineer how audio levels from Video World look - you may find that constant adjustments are being made that could easily be resolved. Rather than staying “in the weeds”, raise your elevation and try to look at the room with fresh eyes.
As a Worship Leader, stand on the fourth row and listen to the band and other vocalists. What do you notice? Watch the audio engineer mix a song and ask what the band or vocalists could do to improve - when they say Mic Placement (they’re going to say something about Mic Placement), try to implement an adjustment. Watch the video team run lyrics and try to keep up with changes - it’s probably more complicated than you thought. What do you notice that you could help improve?
Ultimately, the goal is simple - step out of your comfort zone. Literally, take a walk and try to see things you haven’t noticed before. Look for areas where you can own the responsibility of making things better. Having this mindset will help you identify areas where you can make a difference - because you may be the only person capable of noticing and implementing a change. So get out of the booth.