The Similarities Between Worship and Corporate Event Production
Corporate Audio/Visual and House of Worship Audio/Visual are two fast paced and high demand entities. I’ve spent many years in navigating the similarities and differences of these to environments. House of Worship production requires attention to detail and timeliness cooperation with your colleagues and your worship pastor or minister music. Corporate Audio/Visual requires the same things, when it comes to relationships. There are significant differences when it comes to assembly, logistics, and engineering knowledge. I’d like to espouse upon these ideas by way of a moniker I’ve coined as “The Craft, The Colleague, and The Client.”
When I’m training audio technicians, I start with the nomenclature of the craft. Those set of terms that are very important, when communicating to fellow technicians. Most of the time I’ve worked in churches where there is a FOH position, as well as a monitor position. At my church, we have an audio recording suite as well. With this said, it’s imperative for techs to have a base knowledge of the terms used in the craft. I believe that understanding the language of the craft whether it is audio, video, or lighting, is the foundation in which we build our technical skill. Every technician needs to understand the difference between the gain, fader, EQ, dynamics, etc.. There also must be understanding of frequency range as a relates to the human ear. These are a few of the many terms that I use to on-board volunteers. The same goes for video technicians. At my church, I’m not directly involved in the training and development of the video technicians. However, every camera operator should be made aware of terms such as Iris, f-stops, headroom, so on and so forth. There is also the need to understand aspect ratios, video compression, color temperature, etc..
In House of Worship, there is more of an opportunity for learning the craft “on the fly.” You have a unique opportunity to teach people how to do production in a live environment. You’re getting your book knowledge as well as hands on knowledge at the same time, so to speak. In comparison, this is a little different with Corporate Production. I’ve yet to find anyone that’s gone to college aspiring to be an Audio/Visual technician in the live event space. Of course, you have your theater majors, but beyond that you do not find young people are even aware that Audio/Visual is a career path. As an audio supervisor in churches for over 12 years, I’ve found that the church is a great for training and recruiting. Even though I grew up in church, I did not get into Audio/Visual until shortly after college. Even then, it was an accidental discovery. It was only after finding a career in the corporate side, that I applied my talent to the church. After establishing a career, I realized that I’d found a unique opportunity to train and recruit in the church.
The House of Worship is great for understanding how to work under pressure. During praise and worship, there are often quick demands from many people at the same time. I love it when this happens, as I will often walk away from the console to leave a volunteer to be, “thrown into the fire.” This is where a small difference arises, as it relates to corporate events. There’s not as much room for throwing novices into the fire on corporate events. There isn’t as much grace, as there are no volunteers on the job site. In this space, everyone is assumed to be a professional if they are handling equipment. For this reason, there must be a little more time shadowing more experienced technicians, before arriving to hands on experience. If some had it their way, there would no room for this in the church either. There’s happens to be a little more grace in the church environment, pun intended. We must take full advantage of the technology in houses of worship, to allow the opportunity for young people to see that there is a career path utilizing this technology. This is especially true of large churches that have the latest technologies in their churches. I’ve watched at least eight people transform from the House of Worship environment, to corporate, successfully.
The biggest leap in this transformation is the understanding of engineering. You rarely get the opportunity to see the infrastructure of Audio/Visual in the church. This understanding is paramount when approaching corporate events. In most cases, you are walking into a room where you have ten hours or less to transform it from a blank slate, to a room full of technology. This is where the engineering element comes in. The word engineer is such a loose term to that is thrown around in the field. The church technicians often have difficulty when it comes to troubleshooting, as they are used to “ white gloving” as we call it, and have no idea how to put things together. Everything is easy until you have to build it, troubleshoot it, or repair it. Engineers are built over time in this hands on environment.
When I’m training technicians in the House of Worship, I like to express the idea of building a relationship with the musicians and praise team. There can often be great dissonance between the Music Department and the Audio/Visual Department. If I’m being honest, this is an understatement. I like to point this out to techs, as a negative relationship can impede the progression of the service. There are many times when I’m being asked for something from a musician or singer and they’re simply not understanding how to ask properly. I’m not speaking of politeness in speech, this goes back to the terms that belong to the craft. The terminology must be shared with your co-laborers, or colleagues. There is no difference here, when it comes to Corporate Audio/Visual. Your colleague can be the staff of the venue, as well as your fellow
Audio/Visual team members. You should always look for the opportunity to learn and educate (with tact), in your professional environment. I find myself self-educating my colleagues in the church, as well as colleagues in the corporate space. I’m always listening as well. You can’t be a good teacher if you’re not a good listener. I’m a firm believer in good communication, even if you disagree on something. Disagreement is not the end of the world, but lack of proper and effective communication will destroy an event or service.
The client speaks for itself. In the House of Worship, this would be the entirety of the church, with emphasis on the Pastor and appropriate leadership. Everyone is an expert on Audio/Visual in the church. The key here, is to know your craft in order to communicate to everyone, the “whys” and “hows.” I have found myself talking with people who will compare the audio experience of a room that has analog consoles and a 20-year-old “point source” system, to a room that has digital consoles with a line array. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison, especially when you get into the acoustics and
geometry of a space. I have disarmed many people, simply by understanding and properly communicating the craft. I have had someone to ask me, “Why does that small (confidence monitor) projector that we just installed, look better than the (20-year-old, audience IMAG) larger projectors on the main screen.” This can be easily articulated as well, by discussing advancements in technology, along with throw distances and other factors. This is no different in the corporate world. Your client is more singular, but the same rules apply. Although, I would hope that we are not using projectors that are 20 years old. The point remains, to build the relationship with your client.
There are more similarities than difference between the two. It comes down to taking your craft seriously, and a mind to continue in the pursuit of knowledge. That is the building block from which everything else flows. The colleague relationships will flow from this starting point. The client relationship will flow from the same starting point. Pursue the craft, and respect the people.
Ricardo Hicks, Jr. has 14 years specializing in Event Technology as a freelance technician, Hotel Director, Project Manager, and Director of Sales. He prides himself in training and development within the industry. He is currently the Audio Supervisor at Upper Room COGIC and Sales Manager at American AV. He is a proud husband and a father of four (one of which is a an audiovisual professional).