The role of a creative technician is to ensure that the technology matches with the purpose of the experience.
One massive responsibility.
The role of a creative technician is to ensure that the technology matches with the purpose of the experience. In some instances, this could mean a simple portable system, to support a courtyard movie night, or it could mean an elaborate time-coded AVL experience.
When done well, the marriage of purpose and technology is what allows our delivery to be transparent, letting the message to shine through.
I am writing this article, while attending a large technology trade show where the latest and greatest is on display. All this technology causes me to think, “Cool, but when would I ever use that?”
This question is at the heart of intentionality.
Trade shows like the one I’m attending remind me of the immense importance of purpose to steer me away from using technology, just for technology’s sake.
At the end of the day, intentionality is truly the most important thing we do as creative technicians, for without it, we just create noise.
Intentionality with technology starts well before any equipment is ever discussed. It should start with the simple question, “What is the message we are trying to send?”
This question seems simple, but it can be deceiving. The obvious answer is that we want to create a comfortable environment for worship and to be able hear the message.
But that is not enough.
To truly be intentional, we must push ourselves deeper.
So how do we get deeper? We communicate with those who are responsible for the moment itself. Senior pastor, creative director, worship leader, etc., should each have an influence into answering such a question.
What is leading up to this moment? What should the feeling be in the room? What do we want the focus of the moment to be? These softer questions truly define the purpose of the moment. It is only when we have these answers, that we should begin discussing how technology can help accomplish it.
Another key piece of intentionality is choosing your moments wisely.
If you have been to a Broadway production, you know that there are moments where every light in the theater is on, and every member of the cast is belting the chorus in one pinnacle moment for the audience. But this moment is not exciting, without a juxtaposition. Think back to the moment where the stage was dark, except for a single pin spot on one singer. It is this moment that helps to create the climax feel, that seems like the roof is about to lift off.
So how can projection mapping allow us to fulfill this purpose? Here are two uses of projection mapping that I feel are a great use case for the church.
Extension of the Platform
Extending the platform means bringing technology out from the stage to the congregation, so that they can feel like a participant in the moment, instead of as a spectator.
Using projection mapping, we can color and texture the side walls or proscenium (the vertical plane of space on the stage), to mimic what is on the platform. We could also project onto the ceiling to give a truly immersive feel. The goal here is to make the window of the stage feel like it is wrapping around the congregation.
One key consideration here is that when you open the window of the stage that much, and begin to wrap around people, it is imperative that we intentionally chose the content being shown as well. A slow-moving background could look tranquil on our 27-inch computer screen but blown up onto a 40-foot wall, a small movement can literally be represented in feet of movement.
I always recommend testing your content by having a few people sit throughout the worship center and see what feeling that it generates. Does it create the desired feel for the moment? If not, make some adjustments, and then try again.
With the cost of projection continuing to come down, projection can be used in more inventive ways than could be done previously. Utilizing a small desktop-style projector to illuminate a set piece allows not only for color to be applied, like you would with a typical light, but also allows one to add texture, text, pictures, etc. This allows you to use a much more expansive medium, greatly increasing the ability to tell a story to those that are in the congregation. Video on a flat surface is great, but video on something with texture gives dimension and life.
Use projection for an entire set or just a few key elements throughout it. Either way, projection is a great way to tell a story, therefore just push yourself to think outside of a 16-by-9 rectangle.
A Full Experience
While projection mapping and video are amazing tools for creating an intentional moment, it is only a small piece of the puzzle.
Video on its own can quickly lose it punch and effectiveness, if not coupled with other senses. Engaging someone’s sense of hearing with accompanying audio, brings another level of depth. Couple video and sound with supportive lighting programming, and now you have an entire experience which is solely created to support the message being told.
At the end of the day for me, intentionality with technology should be at the heart of what we do. Take care of it, and it will allow you to reach a much deeper level of creative expression. Dismiss it and we are just noise to a world that already has too much of it.