discovering creative intent

To be a technical artist in the local church, you need to become really good at asking questions.

Not only are there details we need, so that the right gear is set up, but a key reason for asking questions is to get a better understanding of what we are actually trying to do.

3294014627_d34779dc88_bI have been a part of so many misunderstandings derived from assuming you know, or they know, or that everyone is thinking the same thing. As it turns out, nobody is thinking the same way about any one idea. We are all coming at it from very different angles.

At the baseline, production exists to support an idea, someone’s creativity. In our case, we are trying to create an environment where people can meet with God. Without fully understanding the intent of an idea, and how production can support this idea; things can get pretty out of hand quickly.

There was an era of my production life, where I wasn’t asking enough questions about intent. As a result, our production team just did what we thought was best, which turned out more often than not, to be 180 degrees from the intent of the idea. Production can get pretty distracting when there is a misunderstanding about creative intent.

If creating a distraction free environment is a key value (and it should be), without understanding the point of an idea, we will more often than not distract from what the idea is trying to achieve.

This kind of question asking is less about going after the answers you need and more about making sure the answers in your head are correct. The kind of answers you are looking for are less black and white: “How many snare drums will the drummer bring this week?” and more gray: “Are you wanting us to blast the audience with light, or do we want them in the dark at that moment in the song?”

Getting answers to how production can support an idea can’t happen without you asking the right questions.

learning from Disney housekeeping

disney housekeeping

Easter is coming, and for some crazy reason, you and your spouse decided it would be a good idea to host the family Easter dinner. Don’t you know you have some huge Easter production going on?

One of the things I love about having people over, is that it causes a flurry of activity to clean up, pick up and organize your house. For many of us, the mess in our homes becomes invisible to us and we let things pile up. Having people over means that they are going to see the mess that we’ve been living with for who knows how long.

On the other hand, one thing I don’t love about having people over is that it takes so much work to get the house ready and presentable. But it must be done. And it must be done before anyone arrives. I don’t want people walking in while I’m still cleaning up. I want to be relaxed so that I can enjoy the people I’ve invited over.

For the guests, there is a certain expectation that they will be taken care of and that any needs they have during their visit to our house will be taken care of and met. They are anticipating an enjoyable, relaxing time.

setting the stage
My friend Marty O’Connor taught me years ago that this principle applies to what we do as technical artists. One of the key factors in being prepared is that we have the table set, so to speak. When our counterparts on the stage arrive, everything should be ready for them to dig into the task at hand.

For the musicians, vocalists and speakers who have a task to perform on our stage, they have many things going on in their heads and hearts as they prepare to lead our congregation. Our job as technical artists is to have everything set for them, so that they can concentrate on the part they need to play.

This means that line check has already happened, that the lights are aimed before they walk in, that the graphics are correct and ready. The goal should be to have everything prepared before they walk in the door, much like the dinner party. If a guitar player has to go digging around looking for a music stand, she isn’t able to focus what she does best, play guitar.

I’m not suggesting that musicians should be above helping out and getting a music stand from time to time, but when you boil it all down, making sure the stage is ready to go when people walk in is my job. It’s the production team’s job to have everything prepared and waiting for people to walk up and do their thing.

As technical artists, our thing is to take care of the technical details of our services. Our pastors and worship leaders should be able to walk in and only worry about what they have prepared, not their stuff plus whether or not the graphics will be ready.

taking it up a notch
What if you spent some time to figure out how people like things to be ready for them? To learn what each person’s preferences are? The drummer only like to use one tom, not three, so our team takes the time to make it so. The senior pastor always likes a small table for water to the right of the podium, it’s there.

For those people who have ever stayed at a Disney resort, you know that the service is amazing. A friend was telling me that after housekeeping cleaned their room, his son’s stuff animal was moved around and posed in some fun way: brushing it’s teeth, looking out the window, watching TV. Was the room clean? Sure. But the experience was taken to another level by spending a few extra minutes to show some thoughtfulness.

Are you and your team ready to go when people arrive on stage?

What do you need to change to make sure the table is set and ready to go?

How can you go out of your way to create an unforgettable experience for your worship team?

don’t wait to stretch yourself

2570526012_e61ef1c166_oAs the technical artists at your church who stewards the resources that have been entrusted to you, you are responsible to get the most out of every piece of equipment.

Sometime we might not have the exact right piece of equipment to accomplish a someone’s creative idea, but don’t wait on new gear to try something new.

How can you take what you have do something new and amazing? How can you leverage the tools you do have at your disposal for kingdom impact?

Being ingenious with what you have can be a creative challenge.

Think differently about what you have and see what you can come up with. In this mode, you may not be doing things by the book, but who cares. Try it anyway. You might learn what doesn’t work, but you might also learn that your gear is capable of much more.

Along the way, you might also learn that you are capable of more.