The Difference Between Rehearsals & Run Throughs

One major thing I have learned over the past 13 years in live production is the more time I spend preparing for an event/service, the greater chance I have to respond well to issues that arise during the event/service. That may sound a little odd, but let me explain.

There have been four different elements over the years that I have been apart of when it comes to event preparation. Those four elements are: 1) Planning Meeting, 2) Pre-Production Meeting, 3) Rehearsal, & 4) Run Through (dry run). In our time here I will be focusing on the last element, but I do want to briefly describe the first three. Planning Meeting is the dreaming and brainstorm meeting. During this time plan what will actually go down during your event. The Pre-Production Meeting is where the tech team and music team gather to find out the best way to deliver on the decided event elements.

Up next is the Rehearsal. For my general experience this element consist of mainly the band and audio engineers. We could go on for pages on the best and different ways to conduct a good Rehearsal, but for now we will focus on one key item. That item is a recording of the set list in the exact order with the exact arrangements that will be played for the upcoming event. This can adjusted at any point if needed, but the general rule is practice what you 99% sure you will be doing. That recording is to include intros, transitions, and any speaking parts by the worship leaders. The recording is then uploaded to Planning Center Online to be distributed to the entire production team.

Ok, now that those three have been established it’s time to move to the Run Through element. The run through for me has happened the same day of the event and usually a few hours before the event begins. The following order of events are “simple”, but if done well can make for a great day.

1. Systems On

Length: 15–45 mins (depends on your system)

As a staff member or lead volunteer be sure you are the first one in the venue to turn everything on and make sure that everything is ready to go for run through. This includes all gear in place and on, setlist printed out, production areas cleaned up, stage cleared, etc. There is nothing that will slow down the start of a run through and begin to frustrat others than when someone is still looking for a camera, importing videos or moving a lift off stage. This is a huge step in setting the team up for success from when they first walk through the doors.

2. IEM Check

Length: 10–20 mins

If your band has already rehearsed earlier in the week this is the time to run through a few verses to just verify no bugs have shown up since that rehearsal. Spend some time here with your band to get that last 10% of their in ear mix just right for them. Also this is the time do double check on fresh batteries for all wireless mics and IEM packs.

3. Pre Production Meeting

Length: 15–20 mins

Use this time to gather all your volunteers, and band if possible depending on IEM check. This is a short meeting to place a set list in each team members hand and review each and every step on the sheet. This doesn’t take too long, but don’t skip over it. Be very detailed with your set list by documenting different video routing, stage movements, mic changes, stage clocks, etc. The goal here is to all be on the same page and answer as many questions you can before everyone gets into position. I also encourage you to use this time to pray for the day and each other.

4. Run Through

Length: 40–60 mins (depends on your service length)

So if everything up to this point has been done with attention to detail this should go well. Maybe not smoothly, but well. This is where everyone and everything come together for the very first time. The goal here is to replicate as close to the actually service as possible. So start with your pre-service audio/video and move through every single element of your service.

This is in no particular order, but here are a few different elements:

Welcome – Be sure to have your welcome host there for run through and deliver his portion as if the room were full. This is hard to do at times and may seem pointless, but if done right it helps with timing as well as GFX cues.

Songs – From top to bottom along with transitions. Don’t start and stop between each song here, but instead use this time to nail those transitions one last time. Also just like the welcome segment, any speaking done by the worship leaders over intros or instrumental breaks should be done here.

Videos – Roll all videos and watch them in their entirety. Do not fast forward to the end because this is your chance to verify one last time that audio/video is in sync and correct. This is an easy portion to skip ahead on. Fight the tension here.

Message – This will be the element that will not run in full length. I have never expected a communicator to deliver their entire talk during a run through. So what I have done in the past is to practice the transition into the message element. Checked their mic placement and level. Then had them go through each talking point/slide with us on screen to verify they are all correct. Make any changes necessary and this portion is done.

Openers/Specials – This usually comes up front or at the end of a service. This is to be treated just like a song, but plan to possibly run it one or two more times after you complete the full run through. Over the years openers/specials have come with extra production elements or media elements. Since these are outside of the normal we tend to spend a little extra time on them during run through. The first time through is usually a chance to get the entire team familiar with the element. The second or third time is to knock it out of the park.

5. Evaluate

Length: 5–10 mins

Meet with your production staff and any team leads (Producer, Director, Audio, Stage Manager, Lighting) briefly after run through to evaluate how run through went. Use this time to discuss any small changes you believe you should make before the first service begins. And do your best to make changes that you know your team can correct and do not need to rehearse.

6. Team Meeting & Prayer

Length: 15–20 mins (depends on your schedule)

This is usually the last thing I do before we take our positions for the first service. Gather your team in the green room, hallway or outside. Greenroom’s are nice if your fortunate to have one because it gives the place for the volunteers and band to gather during a long day of services. But anyplace will do as long as your together and it’s quiet. Take the time here to review any changes that have been decided after run through and then spend some time encouraging the team. This is a time to help give vision to the day and to get focused. A few things we have done over the years is take prayer request and pray for people specifically. We have had volunteers and staff share their story of coming to know Jesus.


So lot’s of information here to take in, but I believe information that is simple to implement. The key to everything above is to get with your team and all get on the same page. Do not try to implement anything above with the rest of your team understand the vision behind it and why it can help to create an amazing experience. You should feel free to change what has been said here and make it your own. But over the years I have found this foundation and order has been very beneficial for the teams I have been blessed to lead.

HD Video Upgrade: FOR-A

Port City Community Church (PC3) moved into their very first permanent facility during the summer of 2008 with a full SD-SDI system in the main auditorium. This was a major upgrade from our existing mobile solution which consisted of all composite video lines that found their way to an old Panasonic MX50 video switcher. The new system at the time was pushed by a Ross Synergy 100 SD switcher with 16 inputs, which at the time gave us room to grow. The initial set up had no multi-viewer, but instead consisted of a video wall of different size monitors for viewing each input. This system served us well over the years until we began to upgrade existing smaller rooms in our building with new HD switchers and projectors. And then as we began to launch new satellite campuses we ran into multiple issues with our original campus, which now is our dedicated broadcast campus.

Before we upgraded our video system at our Wilmington Campus we had three satellite campuses and two other auditoriums on site that were equipped and ran as a full 1080p HD system. Over the years we also had upgraded our entire camera package and computer graphic suites to 1080p as well. At one point we were downgrading seven cameras and four Mac Pros from 1080p to a 480 SD signal before hitting the Ross Synergy. And then before hitting other campuses, auditoriums, recording and other destinations we had to upgrade back to 1080p. The problems that all this caused at times can be discussed in another article in the future. But all of this was solved plus many other incredible additions after we upgraded to a FOR-A HVS–390HS.

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For months we had researched many different switchers and had landed on moving forward with the Ross Carbonite series. We had had only one issue during the seven years with the Ross Synergy and the customer service team helped us solve it in less than thirty minutes. Ross is an industry standard and knew what type of product we would be getting. We contacted Next Creative Media who we have worked with on multiple projects over the years that include all three satellite campuses launches. Bob Nahrstadt from Next Creative is a trusted friend of PC3 asked us if we would be willing to demo one more switcher we may not have heard of. So we linked up with Marc Shroyer to demo one of his many FOR-A switchers to walk us through all the options and more importantly why he chose FOR-A. Marc is the go to guy for Hillsong United and Hillsong conferences when they make their way through the U.S., so we trusted what he had to say.

So now that you know our past, let’s talk about a few key features from the FOR-A that made us change our mind from moving forward with anyone else.

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Price

We had a budget that we were aiming for and we know that project scope creep can occur and will mostly likely happen once you get into a project. So we were looking to begin with a project quote that would come in under budget. After looking over the many different control surface options we and the additional output and input options we were able to land on exactly what we wanted and stay under budget. We decided to move forward with the HVS–392WOU: 2 M/E 28-button with two additional HVS–30HSDO: HD/SD-SDI Output Cards and two HVS-AUX16A AUX control panels. I will go over a few of the features below, but we were able to do this all for under $33,000. That price gave us room for additional items, one-on-one training session with Marc Shroyer, and one onsite tech to help with the install.

Features

The FOR-A came packed with features that we began to use from day one that we just simply never had before. A simple list of the features include: 16 HD/SD-SDI Inputs, 12 HD/SD-SDI, 2 Down-Converted SD-SDI and 1 HDMI Outputs, Frame Synchronizer on each Input, 4 Channels of Resize Engine, 4 Keyers with 2.5D DVE per M/E, 2 Chroma Keyers per M/E, 2 Independent 16 Channel Multi Viewer Outputs, 4 Still Stores, Redundant Power Supplies.

Those are the main “physical” features that we loved, but there were many other features that helped us make the decision.

Advanced AUX & DVE

The HVS–390HS offers a full powered primary Mix Effects (M/E) like any other broadcast switcher, yet this one also offers what FOR-A calls Advanced AUX technology. Each AUX can cut, mix, wipe, key and move graphics with a DVE. This has opened up the door on utilizing AUX outputs to send to multiple auxiliary screens or confidence monitors. The HVS–390HS also has 8 channels of 2.5D and 4 channels of 3D DVE. All 12 channels are included in the base price. This differed from most at the time because most suppliers required an upgrade beyond the typical 4 DVEs included.

These advanced features allowed for us to adjust the size and location for our alpha channel lyrics coming from one single Mac Pro. Pro Presenter is set up for lyrics to be lower-third/centered. But we wanted to also display these lyrics on a center screen from the same input source. With the AUX and DVE capability we were able to adjust the lyric location to be in the absolute center and decrease the size of the font via a KEY and then send that KEYER to an AUX output. This allowed us to have one signal operator for all lyric content and the timing in in perfect sync.

Web Browser Control Center

Another feature we love is the web browser control surface that comes with the HVS–390HS. After connecting the HVS–390HS to our production network we are able to set up, adjust and operate the HVS–390HS via a simple assigned IP address. This allows us to use a simple web browser to access the system from anywhere in the building if connected to the private network. This works even via wifi which allows us to use our iPads or iPhones to make adjustments. We use this feature often when we are making adjustments in the room and have no one in the video control room which is located on the second floor. The web browser allows us to cut cameras from anywhere on campuses which is a huge help when troubleshooting in other auditoriums within the building. This also allows easy recalling and editing of macros, key-frame sequences and event memories.

Independent Dual Multi-Views

This is a simple one but it was a major upgrade for us after having a monitor wall. The system gives you two independent multi-viewers right out the box with up to 16 windows that can display safety area markers and audio levels.

Frame Synchronizers

The HVS–390HS comes with frame synchronizers on all inputs. We will use a black burst generator and use the reference genlock on all cameras and our two primary Mac Pros, but with the frame synchronizer we are able to add additional inputs without needing to send the devices a reference. This has been a huge help when adding additional laptops from stage or additional cameras such as Go Pros. One thing to note is that if you are passing audio through the SDI line you cannot use initiate the frame synchronizer on that input or you will lose the audio signal. We learned that the hard way.

It has now been about a year and half since we originally upgraded our video system. We continue to find new ways to use the HVS–390HS to our advantage. Overall the system has given us a numerous amount of output configurations and dozens of macros that we did not have on the old Ross Synergy 100. You can find most of the above features from other great companies for the right price point. We went with FOR-A because they were able to deliver a great product that brought along great features we needed for a price that we could fit into our budget.

Lighting + Rehearsal Tracks + Garage Band

*Dusted this one off from old archive post.

Awhile back when I wrote on my blog 3–4 times a week I posted a short article on how I use Garageband Rehearsal tracks to program lighting for each service/event. That post gained a lot of attention and comments. Who knew the simple post you think no one will care about ends up helping quite a few people. Well, I was hoping to repost it, but have deleted it at some point over the past few years. Now, even though I am not our official LD anymore at PC3, I do get the chance to program when Brandon (our Lighting Coordinator now) is out of town or when I just want to get myself behind the console again. So here we go… an updated post on Garageband Rehearsal Tracks.

The Gear

In both our of main auditoriums we have ETC Congo model (Kid & Jr) consoles, which I have come to love personally. This board however is built on linear queues, meaning I program a service from beginning to end, step by step. And 99% of the time this is just fine for us and has created a great “win” for our volunteers each week. Along with the board comes fixtures, which are: ETC (all conventional fixtures); Martin (moving fixtures); Chauvet (LED fixtures).

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The Process

Each week our Wilmington Campus holds band rehearsal on Wednesday nights for the upcoming Sunday. From that night our Audio Engineer uploads the rehearsal tracks to Planning Center for our entire production team & band to download/listen. On Thursday morning I come in and fire up the lighting rig, haze the room, download the tracks & open up Garageband. The band records the setlist back-to-back after getting ear mixes and rehearsing each song, including transitions which is very helpful. I take all tracks (3 for this weekend) and drop them in Garageband as three tracks side-by-side so it creates one continues setlist. This is helpful for transitions between songs for my cues.

And here comes the major & practically the only reason I use Garageband. The program has a simple loop tool that I use to repeat each section for the song I am working on. This allows me to build each scene while still listening to the section I am creating for. (listen below for the song transition)

So I start from the very beginning of the setlist and make my way through. I average still about 1 to 1 1/2 hours per song and I rarely ever use programming for a song twice. (more on that choice in a future post) I do create a lot of follows when I program, which is when you hit a que that then has a set time to follow to the next cue automatically. This is especially helpful for quick changes in the dark or transition builds in the music.

looptool

That is the whole simple idea in a nutshell. This one simple idea though has helped me speed up my program over the years by not having to keep finding where I left off in iTunes.

Well, that is my way of programming, but I would love to hear from anyone else on their style. Hit me up on Twitter for some tips or please feel free to start some conversation below in the comments section.

Cheers