This spring has brought multiplatform worship in full swing: congregants and visitors find us weekly onsite in the Sanctuary, on Zoom, and on YouTube. We stream Sunday services live, and we have the recordings available on YouTube for anyone to access after the services.
These are all great–and all necessary–offerings which ensure OUUC’s services are widely accessible to the greatest number of people possible. These endeavors also mean additional responsibility for OUUC’s Tech Team. The exceptionally skilled and adaptable Tech Team members have masterfully stewarded numerous transitions throughout the past 26 months, and they continue to take on more challenges and opportunities as needs arise.
In late February and early March, the high COVID risks and residual effects of the flooded Sanctuary eased a bit and we were able to continue the planning, teardown, installation, integration and workflow phases of the tech installation project. You may recall that in December 2021 I gave an update about the purchases we had made toward optimizing our streaming capabilities and an orientation of our new equipment.
Integrating these contemporary digital components with OUUC’s existing legacy analog components has been one of the most challenging parts of this process. Digital audio/video management and analog audio/video management are two very different skill sets–not to mention Zoom operations and running our brand new broadcasting software. This software, called vMix, controls the new PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera mounted in the Sanctuary and incorporates any graphics, video, or other media we use during services. The vMix software produces a quality program and has lots of room for future development–but the basic learning curve to operate it is significant.
When you attend Sunday services, regardless of the setting or platform where you’re joining, your experience is made possible with the help of OUUC Tech Team members who fulfill at least three roles: soundboard operation, vMix software operation, and Zoom/streaming operation. Additionally, there is usually at least one Tech Team member online and/or onsite who is observing and monitoring the audio and video production to provide feedback to those who are operating the various components.
Soundboard mixing, vMix livestream operation, and online Zoom moderation are each challenging roles, and switching between those responsibilities–let alone doing so while live–can be daunting even for those who do any one of these things professionally. OUUC’s Tech Team is made up completely of volunteers who are taking on this training with exceptional vigor.
The training progression began with Zoom meeting moderation, which Tech Team members (and many, many of you!) started embracing in 2020. This year we have added soundboard operation and an orientation of OUUC’s microphone and amplification setup. Finally, volunteers build up to vMix operation.
The largest bottleneck in this process has been the fact that only one person can run the new broadcasting software at a time. Orientation can happen at any time that is convenient for them, but running the live production has a massive learning curve with only four (or maybe five) opportunities a month. Realistically, it takes one of our fully oriented adept Tech Team members at least four full Sunday services to feel comfortable and deliver a consistent experience for all congregation members online and onsite. And our tech needs for Sunday services vary greatly in terms of the number of worship leaders, types of microphones used, order of service and worship components, and many other factors. Because of this variability, it may be even harder for a Tech Team member to “find a groove.”
However, for all the irregularities and peculiarities we encounter, and for all the learning curves, we all have the same goal: helping create and facilitate a worship experience that honors the people and messages that are part of it–including observers both present and future. I am in immense awe of the creativity, flexibility, and talent that each of the Tech Team members has. We are incredibly fortunate to have these individuals in our community!
I and the OUUC Tech Team value your patience with and attentiveness to all of the work we are doing. We are grateful for your feedback and we share your awareness of the ways we can continue optimizing our connections. While we know we may not achieve constant perfection, we can find the moments where imperfection teaches us more about our process of connection, and the moments where connection is the most enduring perfection.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Tech Team and joining us, please email Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org.