An Introduction to the Jesus Army video

The Jesus Army recently had a website redesign, which gave it a fresh and vibrant look. As video is a great way to communicate we created a short informative video to help people that come across our website and know nothing about our church discover who we are.

The music track above was a remix of an old classic – “Come and See Jesus Brotherhood”, and was created in Ableton. Each of the 5 sections had their own animated title and you can see them in the video below:
[responsive_vimeo http://vimeo.com/55818222 ]

A still from video recorded on a Canon 5D Mk II with F1.2 50mm lens, at ACC 2012.

A still from video recorded on a DSLR (Canon 5D Mk II) with F1.2 50mm lens, at ACC 2012.

Teamwork was an essential part of making this vid – Nathan, Johnny, and Chris were involved in the music and recording, James wrote the voice-over for Jake to read, Aidan animated the website sections, Gideon turned pictures into moving works of art, Viv captured a dancing crowd for the youth section, and I simply pieced it together. I always enjoy working with people and playing to their strengths, as it makes for a great final product.

The RAW 2012 Youth Event – Behind the Scenes

RaW 2012 – Rise

RAW (Real and Wild) is a UK Christian youth event coordinated by the Jesus Fellowship Church. It is a Christian event for anyone aged 15 – 35 with a focus on the gospel of Christ. There are practical opportunities to live out a radical New Testament lifestyle in the communities of the host city.

RAW always presents a challenge to our technical teams. There are often wranglings over what the aims of the event are; should it be simple, who is it actually for etc. We also use RAW as an opportunity to push out and try new things, as the punters are more forgiving than the average punters we work with. Occasionally these new things work, although rarely on first time of asking. We are all quite accustomed to the sinking feeling as the lights fade, or unintentionally come on full in the middle of the preach, or an item falls flat on its face. It’s an excellent way to learn some humility I can assure you!

Design

The design for this event went through three incarnations; the first never made it to paper as the venue for RAW was changed, so the whole specification changed. The second design was the rig that got away (see image below) – a monster of truss and beam-work lights. Normally at larger venues we are able to hang trusses from the ceiling of the venue, but here this wasn’t allowed, hence the big floor-standing structure. It’s fair to say I was quite nervous about it as it was one of the larger designs (and certainly the heaviest design) that I had created.

Second concept – the rig that never was

However this rig, like most of our rigs, was to rely heavily on the use of theatrical haze to emphasise the light’s beams. Having designed this, we were informed by the venue that they would not permit the use of smoke, thus rendering the design fairly useless… so it was back to the literal drawing board.

Often the concepts for these events begin with a sketch, normally on the back of a script or an old piece of paper. It’s said that most of us can’t think without a pen and paper, and this event was no different.

Sketch concept

The inspiration for the centrepiece actually came from Coventry’s cathedral next door, with its Norman arch and narrow windows. This concept was then created in various bits of 3D-modelling software, first in Trimble Sketchup to get the basic layout & then on into Capture Polar, which allowed us to pre-program many of the effects and looks.

Third and final concept in Trimble Sketchup.

Rig

The rig began on the Wednesday morning before RAW began. The first lorry was offloaded around 8am & by tea-break at 10am all three lorries and two vans had been emptied and the work began.

Vehicles offloaded & ready to rig.

To create the 8 upright legs on the backdrop we used H40 Prolyte Truss and wrapped them in a thin, white material. This would give the video guys a surface to project on to. Within the legs we had an LED par at the top & an old-school Par64 with a Morpheus ColourFader scroller at the bottom. This allowed us to create some lovely two-tone colours inside the legs when the other guys weren’t projecting on to it.

About 6pm on Wednesday.

Lights Used

* CYC 4-lites & Par64s for house lighting & stage wash
* 4no. Studio Duo StudioLED 600
* 6no. Morpheus Colour Faders
* 6no. Chauvet LED Par64 3W
* 6no. Showtec ArcBar3
* 9no. Showtec Pixel Track Pro
* 9no. Thomas Molefay 2-lite

The show was run on an Avolites Pearl Expert running Titan, with Avo T4 dimming. A notable figure on this show was that due to each Pixel Track requiring 160 channels, we actually filled all 4 universes of DMX on the Expert.

Thankfully we had some of the grey-gen (older guys) to help us with the scary bits.

The picture above shows Dave, one of our “non-youth” technicians lending his expertise. Here he is re-wiring the 125A 3ph socket that ran from the huge generator we had hired to provide power for the event (apparently joining lots of 13A sockets together wouldn’t do). This was hired from Impact Production Services along with some of the lighting and staging.

Not everyone appreciated the dubstep remix of “A Song of Worship”

Generally, despite the lack of theatrical haze, we found that the rig really worked for us and helped to provide an atmosphere within which people were able to lose some of their inhibitions and meet with God.

Music

I don’t have much to do with the music, so this is an understated nod to the many hours of preparation that I know the noise boys will have put into creating some of the Ableton soundscapes for the event. From the vocals of several talented singers, AutoTune, the brains of Jonny “Single-Handed” & Nayf™, there were some very listenable tracks created. I’ve included what was for me one of the stand-out tracks from the show:

Projection

We projected on to the set using two Christie LX605 projectors, and media playback and masking using Resolume Arena 4 software. The masking of every surface was slightly complex as the screen shot of Resolume shows:

A screenshot from the settings in Resolume showing each surface with a specific area mapped on to it

A snapshot of the loop of the sun coming up past the RISE logo

Some more photos from the event:

Lighting at RaW12

Lighting at RaW2012

Lighting at RaW2012

Lighting at RaW2012

Writing this I’m reminded again of the days and weeks of preparation that goes into an event like this. Guys and girls, mostly voluntarily, working for our church to produce and manage events to a finished level that is respected in the professional AV world. Theirs are jobs that are only really noticed when something goes wrong & I think that’s probably the way it should be. After all, the show’s not actually about us.

De-rig timelapse (recorded on a GoPro HD Hero 2)

Behind the scenes – A Faithful Collaboration

One of the videos that I am most proud of being part of is one made a couple of years ago called “Faith”.

Why? Quite simply because I was just a small part of a much greater team, and teamwork produces the best results in almost every aspect of life. Even the best individual sporting event athletes have a hard working team behind the scenes. Here is the video:

The video itself was inspired by reading Hebrews 11 and then thinking how faith has been a massive part of the Jesus Army’s past, present, and future. So after asking some friends the following team was assembled and all played their part with hard (unpaid) work:

  • James Normal (voiceover second draft, and a man of faith)
  • Loz (voiceover third and final draft and actual voiceover voice. The only one who could pronounce “faith” correctly)
  • Myself (laborious leg-work, video direction, voiceover first draft, and general tomfoolery)
  • Jonny (backing music producer, drums, and all round hero)
  • Gav (guitars, and musical genius)
  • Stephen (bass guitar, and consumer of large amounts of pizza)
  • Viv (music track finalising, audio levels, and proprietor of a mighty fine beard)
  • Gideon (After Effects animations, and initiator of the “sleeping rights for men” movement)
  • Aidan (3D scene at the end with the lights. Once a proud owner of Nether Heyford’s largest afro)
Viv, Aidan, James, and Gideon work on the Faith video in the worlds tidiest office

Viv, Aidan, James, and Gideon work on the Faith video in the worlds tidiest office

In the picture above see if you can spot the reference to the events we used to have at Wembley Arena – a source of much inspiration and pride. I was still in nappies then but I remember “Jesus Life”, “Bleeding Life” and the others very clearly. Oh and yes there are a few cases of energy drinks next to Viv – as it was voluntary work people gave up sleep to help out and for some unknown reason we had many cases of this stuff.
I don’t think it was a fair swap though – the drink was vile.
The backing music and voiceover actually works quite well as a stand alone piece of music or prose so I uploaded it here:

And finally a little picture of what happens as the deadline approaches and the work rate increases:

The closer you are to the screen the harder you work. Apparently.

The closer you are to the screen the faster you work. Apparently.