I had always planned to use this blog for a mix of “How to..” guides and some of the spiritual Christian aspects of using visual media in a worship context. Of course the practical stuff is not only easier to write about than the spiritual side, but this week I have a good example which should illustrate how I find video mixing a spiritual experience.
So this month’s Deeper service at St Silas had a set up of three projectors all taking the same signal from a Mac Book Pro running ArKaos Grand VJ software – with the middle screen also having song words keyed over when needed.
We kept the set up fairly simple in that it was a straight forward 800×600 screen size. Two of the eight available layers had a chroma key type mix, the others were just opacity mixes.
The first part of the service was more or less a scripted running order with mostly specific videos to appear on queue for the talk etc. but once it gets to the sung worship time the song words are provided by another operator and I have no script to follow for what visuals appear on screen, when to change them, how to pace it, etc.
I had a look through the song list a few times, praying and thinking about insperation but I don’t generally go into any great detail with any song – I don’t look through the words too much in advance just the general feel for direction. During the set I will often have a look at what is coming up next and glance at the words at that point. It’s also worth saying that I’m not particularly good with worship music, I can never remember how something goes until I’m singing it -but that’s just me. Song list:
- Blessed be the name
- It’s our confession
- You chose the cross
- Holy God
- God in my living
- O taste and see
- Who is like you
- Let the weak say
So the way the set developed seemed to be working well. I started off with mainly abstract & conputer generated graphics which fitted the tempo but not generally trying to say anything. Then through “It’s our confession” I added in some stills of hands tied together being opened up, and gradually added more footage of a celtic cross, then flames, etc. frequently coming back to the CG abstract stuff to weave that through as a sort of theme.
For some reason (let’s call it God) during the second last song I noticed that I hadn’t used any water type images so I had a quick look at the name of the next song: “Let the week say..” (aka What the Lord has done in me” ) – it didn’t particularly bring anything to mind so I loaded up a set of watery videos ready for the last song. During the song I moved from water splashing to sparkly light reflections on water and so on. Then during the song it turned out these were the words (my emphasis)…
To the river I will wade
There my sins are washed away
From the heavens’ mercy streams
Of the Savior’s love for me
I will rise from waters deep
Into the saving arms of God
I will sing salvation songs
Jesus Christ has set me free
So, what I’m trying to say is – pray before hand, be prepared and pray during. I now have a large and constantly growing ‘pallet’ of video footage to draw on and try to listen for insperation. Sometimes I come away thinking or feeling as if I’ve done it all with my own effort, and sometimes I have no idea why I decided to use a certain type of image (like the water ones) and they fit exactly with what God is doing.
This leaves us wuth a fine line between preparing well (i.e. having the footage available and knowing it well) and not over preparing (i.e. scripting what image to use with each song) – so that God has space to do his own stuff through what you are doing.