Showing all posts tagged #process:

Shelter In Place Digital Church Service

Posted on June 16th, 2020

So, the phrase is unprecedented. Never been done before. Fluid. All the things we have been hearing in this season.

Some of you know that back in February, I started a new full time job as Creative Director for Woodside. I was basically there for 5 weeks and then my job description completely transformed. I went from responsible for arts and production at our main campus to being the producer of what we streamed for all 14 of our campuses!

I was still in that season of my new tenure where I was resisting the urge to start bringing change. My job was to observe everything and meet people. Leading things forward would come in due time and at the right pace.

That all immediately shifted with a conference call on a Thursday afternoon where we decided that we wouldn’t have guests. I declared that we could do a live-to-record of each of the parts (music, sermon, panel discussion, etc.) in time to edit it all into a good finished product that felt authentic and compelling. Then I got on the phone and we started prepping. 36 hours later, we were rehearsing. A totally fresh feel to our setting with recording on the front steps with a "b-stage" type of feel for the music, and transitions mapped out for the communication to feel great from stools down front with the regular broadcast cameras locations moved up close to translate better for an online audience to feel intimately connected even though they weren’t on-site. A couple hours later, we were recording. We captured each of the parts; and later that Saturday afternoon, we successfully wove the different segments into what was received as a blessing of a weekend service that was streamed on Sunday.

The following week, I changed it up and took us out to the lobby to take our experience from our "living room" to those of everyone at home.

One week later, we clamped down even further as a state. We were now fully Shelter In Place with the charge to not leave the home if not an "essential worker." We lived this out. We had set our senior pastor up with a camera/mic/lighting rig at his house. One of our other campus pastors had a couple cameras with him that he wisely put in his car. Several phone calls and Zoom/Teams meetings to plan our service. Some more phone calls, text threads, and FaceTime coaching calls as there was a lot of work to give example setups of the video and audio and coaching decent lighting and shot compositions. Being natural in front of the camera is a legit thing. The tricky part was getting our Music Director to create click and guide for the husband/wife to sing and play along with.

The creation of that was a key part of a little secret project I worked on in the background. I had our MD record himself playing piano and signing on the chorus of one of the songs. I talked with a number of the Worship Directors from various campuses and had them take that click/guide and record themselves playing their instrument and singing along with the choruses. I sold this to them to give a try of a prototype of an idea that I imagined… I surprised everyone by editing a virtual band that joined in from so many other living rooms as a way to continue the "our living rooms to yours" that we could have be a really special part of the season. It aired that Sunday with great reception to the moment.

That prototype sold the team and leadership that my idea was worth building on. We did! It was pretty fun. We soon were having nearly a dozen people in our music cast. A leader for each song would be the first to record themselves singing/playing along with the click/guide. That was sent back and reworked as a version that went out to the rest of the cast so that people could be in play and sing in perfect time and harmony to that lead for each song. We developed our process for hosting with the pre-service welcome-to-the-stream, mid-service transitions and announcements, closing action steps. We figured out how to record the sermon with being off camera with a Zoom to coach while the recording was going to the main camera. We began doing creative liturgical moments for the congregation to participate in interactive prayer, scripture readings, and creeds. We also used zoom to do some panel recordings with medical experts and such.

We built ourselves up to be four weeks out in the planning process. We were averaging probably 25 hours of content that we were editing through every weekend. Usually we had 8 to 15 musicians and vocalists including fall rhythm band, strings, and other specialty instruments. In addition to our Central host, each of our 14 campus pastors delivered their sermon.

The music was mixed by one team (a person receiving, labeling, and preQC of claps and such; another to mix songs each week; another to help master and help me hold a brand) while the video was edited by a team usually each person doing a couple songs per week. As mixes would be updated, we would see how that helped steer the video edits and vice versa.

Meanwhile, for communication we would start writing our talking points and scripts a few weeks out. We would be on zoom calls to record central sermon and host. The rest, we were available for coaching the setups and such. A team of three editors handled all the communication parts.

Our Technical Director lined up the parts according to PCO and then I would work final transitions for the Central export. He then would work the remaining 13 to match. All 14 were exported and uploaded and our IT and Social teams made sure that they were posted and hosted well. It was a joy to tune in and watch on Sunday mornings.

I’m really proud of the process documentation that we wrote for leading people to record themselves and have it translate to fit in a compelling manner for a full video production. It was really great to have able to share our "playbook" with mega churches and school districts from around the country. Humbling and encouraging to hear stories of how it was used.

A highlight of the season for was early on where Holy Week we pulled off Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday services. After that weekend, I sent the tally below to our team. It certainly has been an honor and thrill getting to lead in this season.

By my count, last week’s Good Friday and Easter services required:
  • 13 computers (with multiple crashes and reboots required as they were pushed past the max) for such tasks as creating music, collecting and filing assets, editing video, mixing audio, producing graphics, polishing transitions and signing off with QC before export.
  • 15 sermons / preachers
  • 6 hosts for communication, Scripture readings, Creeds, etc.
  • Also Communion.
  • As well as some special content for First Service and Families.
  • 9 songs as well as an organ prelude!
  • >100 artists’ content of audio and video were part of our "choir"

Here is that Easter service:
Other services can be found:
Some of my other favorites:

I’ll add some photos to help illustrate this post. For now, let me state that I am super grateful for the team I got to work with and for trust that was put in me to lead. I feel like I was uniquely brought here for this purpose.

Algorithms and Intuition

Posted on October 22nd, 2019

A combination of strategies I choose to utilize in my work as a Creative Director is creating algorithms for human intuition to be maximized as I help coach and reveal beauty to enhance story and experience. This is a key part of the "process architecture" that I put in place for our teams to use in our planning process: A series of questions and process guides to begin with as well as a timeline with both back burner space for peace as well as checkpoints and prototyping deadlines that each can yield an "eureka idea" to add to the plan. It’s a magical thing when both both logic and instinct are allowed to team up as part of the creative process.

Progress Requires Disruption

Posted on July 14th, 2019

Creative disruption is a beautifully healthy thing. It freaks out the status quo folks, but we would wither without the artists and leaders.

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous. The major advances in civilization are processes that all but week the societies in which they occur."
-Alfred North Whitehead


Posted on July 5th, 2019

"When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small."
-James Clear

My Thoughts About Dropbox Paper

Posted on November 18th, 2018

Great tool for creating proposals and reports; for managing and delegation of tasks and projects; and for collaboration and ideation with live editing by multiple users both inline and with comments. It’s simple, clean, and intuitive. I love the assignable tasks. The mobile apps are good.

I wish it had a computer app instead of simply web app. I wish the filing structure was better. I wish there was a handwriting/drawing feature for note-taking, diagramming, and annotating. I wish to-dos integrated with Siri/Reminders.

Genius in Teamwork

Posted on November 5th, 2018

Be openhanded. Practice awareness and humility and know the one who knows. Such teamwork is where magical breakthrough and creativity occurs - at the nexus of conventionality and novelty.

My friend Michael shared this article. I find it both fascinating and encouraging.

Kiosk Product Design

Posted on May 19th, 2018

A number of years back, I was asked to design a stand to support the new system for parents to use to check their kids in. Design requirements:
  • clean & efficient
  • portable (so that the 16 stands could be arrayed by various entrances to best support traffic flow patterns)
  • cost effective - sized for current and possible future (as we had hypothesized, iPads have since been integrated) equipment
  • allow for ease of troubleshooting
  • carry a look maintaining aspirational design aesthetic of lobby and branding

My process began as I considered the pros and cons of a repurposed video conferencing stand that someone had wanted to use because it was all that was imagined up until I was asked. I quickly sketched a couple possible concepts that allowed us the freedom to take some time and research what we wanted to develop. We iterated through a number of options before sending the design to the manufacturer.

They remain in active use over 6 years later!

Teach Us To Pray - DigitalJournal

Posted on June 21st, 2016

It was a great experience to partner as Producer for the Teach Us To Pray series that we’re starting. I’m very proud of this Journal that we created instead of our regular programs. I’m hopeful for the fruit from these next seven weeks

FILO 2016 Production Design

Posted on May 23rd, 2016

One week ago, we were finishing load in and initial programming for 2016’s edition of the FILO Conference. It was an honor and privilege to be the Production Designer (responsible for Scenic and Lighting Design) for the conference. It was a scurry of a few days so I never really had time to post anything. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the event:

Some of you took my Scenic Design Concepts breakout class. For the rest of you, here’s the story behind how I landed on the final version of the design. These are the notes from the slide where I talked about "Branding (and the iterative process of design) …and Metaphor"

The O in FILO seemed to be the best part of the brand to play off of…
PlexiDiscs (something that I have in storage that’s not being used)
They set up easily enough (tie-line and zip-ties)
They can give depth to a shallow stage
They easily fit in my hatchback!
We concept designed about building a pretty cool set piece that we chose to say no to. (the builder, time, money, space on stage, etc.)
The iterative process - never settle for the first idea, if you stay disciplined to the process, the best idea will eventually be revealed. (certainly the idea at the greatest intersection of creativity and stewardship)
The 40 O’s represents each of us who are FILOs. Some of us are lone guys, some of us are part of teams. Coming together we can encourage each other with our beauty as we come together. Together we can find a chorus of a "new song" (Psalm 40) to carry with us as we go back to support and enhance the sharing of the good news that Jesus loves us.

The lights, I selected for a few reasons.
First, the B-EYEs are a light that every church tech nerd has seen the videos of and dreamt about having in their venue. I thought that giving a chance to see could be beneficial.
The opportunity to have access to the use some great hybrid fixtures in the Mythos was an amazing bonus.
Finally, the Aura XBs had a primary use of lighting the scenic. However the bonus of such a great light is that we created a number of presets to give us several bonus looks!

For the whole design I played with clusters that followed the Fibonacci sequence. I wanted to have the thought of each part of the design to have a beauty on its own and contribute to the beauty of the whole in a way that felt like it fit...

Thank you to Ryan and ILC for providing the amazing lighting gear. Thanks Jeff and Brian CCC for being perhaps the most hospitable hosts an any venue I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Thanks Nate and Chelsea for the logistics, leadership, and vision. Thanks to Michael and Nic for helping us set it all up, troubleshoot issues, and Nic especially for that great catch with the B-EYEs' profile issue. Thanks Alex (whom I met as we were both on the LD panel discussion breakout) for guest designing Session 3 as I was putting finishing touches on the Keynote presentation for my breakout.

Special thanks to Patrick for being my partner in the project. Having a guy on the console who knows how to interpret the ideas of my mind almost even before I say them is the dream for an LD. A good friend with me for the journey to and from Chicago is a bonus.

Thanks most of all to Todd for inviting me to play a small role in your vision. It was a privilege and an honor.

Lite Brite and Elf Houses

Posted on January 19th, 2016

There was a lot of prototyping and iteration as well as complexity in leadership of multiple departments to achieve the success in this Production Design.

The process was really fun to nerd out with research into classic toys and some surveying of people who grew up in that era. Along the way, we kept coming back to the movie Elf.

We began with an idea of what classic toys might bring nostalgia. The LiteBrite was a fun idea. I liked it for multiple reasons:
  • The chance to design with layers of texture in with the cups. The real magic for them came when we created a new template for all the video work flow to have to be inside a hexagon based grid rather than the typical square.
  • The build process of hot glue in sheets of PVC that were cut on a CNC machine was tedious, but proved to look great when the projection was focused correctly.
We design the Elf inspired Houses:
  • Minimal wooden frame
  • Cardboard and Paper
  • Visqueen and Lights

A problem became an opportunity when we figured out how to hide the set behind the main traveler and tell a prelude story based in Nepal and using chalk art to tell about partners all over the globe.Fun too, to coach blocking for a the broadcast into during the countdown. My friend snapped this photo of yours truly that he used to coach the crew in duplicating the shot composition.

Eric G Wolfe

Process Architect. Design Strategist. Leadership Coach.