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video jockeys - beyond video technicians; the new "musicians" on worship teams
Topic Started: Aug 8 2007, 07:10 PM (2,406 Views)
HelenaZF
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"more is more"

Although many of us are still in the charismatic dark ages when it comes to projection technology, (our church still uses an overhead with transparencies), most of us have at least heard of video technicians.

Video technicians pre-plan the visuals for the entire worship service, sometimes with a PowerPoint presentation, or sometimes even with video clips and customized images worked into the backgrounds of song lyrics. This can be done by standard video technology and someone who knows how to use a laptop computer.

But the new trend is to Video Jockeys...VJs. A VJ comes to the service with hundreds of video clips and a video mixer to fade in and out, vary speed and mash up and overlay multiple backdrops for songs during worship. He plays his instrument like any other musician, but what he produces is not sound....it is the perfect visual backdrop that can be adjusted instantly as the character of the praise and worship atmosphere progresses through the service. The VJ provides on-the-spot sensitivity in the visual accompaniment for worship.

You'll see VJs used in some of the bigger music tours this year: Integrity is one that will be doing this, and also Beth Moore and Chris Tomlin.

Anyone experienced this yet?
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Dave
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Helena,

I am familiar with the concept and have seen it used at secular events, but haven't personally encountered it in worship.

I'm not sure I'd find it helpful. I'm not a fan of pictorial backgrounds for song lyrics - to be honest I find them embarassing and they certainly don't help me worship (quite the opposite usually). I don't think having to look at moving images (even if they are done in a supposedly sensitive manner) will be an improvement.

I can see it being of possible value (1) in a youth setting, (2) at alternative worship events, or (3) in a concert environment. But at regular church services or conferences, I would question whether it's the right approach.

OHPs started to be used when the desire to sing new songs made songbooks impractical, and we also found that they brought freedom from having to hold a book and turn pages. This corresponded with the change from singing songs about God to singing songs to God. The whole idea was to minimise the distractions so that people could focus more on worship. Projecting the words enabled this, but the screen was never intended to be anything more than a communal songbook.

Computer projection continued this development, making it simpler and better, but also enabling more use of the visual at other times. However, to have a dynamic video backdrop during congregational singing is actually quite a major transition. The idea of video images during music was developed by the pop music industry, and I am concerned that this concept is being brought into worship without without thinking a bit more deeply about the issues involved. To me, the idea is a symptom of the consumerist mentality and it will contribute to the completely mistaken view that worship meetings are a performance - something we go to and watch rather than participate in.

I'm not saying the visual is unimportant - of course it is - and like you I have been involved in decorating spaces for worship. But I don't think having constantly changing video backgrounds is going to create an environment that will help people meet with God.

Than again, my view might be different after I've experienced it...

By the way, I am a big fan of contemporary worship music (without it, I'd be virtually out of a job as a dancer) and I have absolutely no problem with bands and worship leaders, including when they are on a stage at the front of a church (just so long as they leave space for dancing). I'm also pleased that the overall standard of worship music and musicianship has improved vastly over the past 25 years. But we need to remember that the worship setting is different to a performance and we must be very wary of importing the trappings of the rock concert. This does seem to be a growing problem today (in some circles at least). Lighting is one of my big concerns - there is nothing wrong with using appropriate creative lighting for atmosphere (and I've done this myself), but when I see flashing lights during worship music it worries me greatly.

Blessings,

Dave

(Incidentally, I have another hat as a sound/lighting/video technician!)
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HelenaZF
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"more is more"

I quite agree with you, Dave....and I will go so far as to say it is a bad trend. If it becomes the norm, it will effectively wipe out the phyisical/visual aspect of live worshipers dancing and doing pageantry....because there's already something visually dynamic going on in the lyrics projection.

Instead of engaging people, I believe it will keep them in the spectator mode at worship services. I have enjoyed how lovely powerpoint backgrounds can be for lyric projection, but even there, it is best when the the images are abstract or just washes of color so that your mind is not drawn off by thematic suggestions. [The best combination, I think, is when white/light words are on a backbround that is very deep or fades into surrounding sanctuary colors. It in effect blends into the overall visual impact of the worship setting. Only the words are featured and you don't have that glaring white rectangle of the standard overhead projector screen. ]

The reason I think this might all catch on anyway is that now churches can abandon trying to deal with all the messiness of overseeing teams of people who now bring visual presentations in favor of hiring one VJ who doesn't need rehearsal space, dressing rooms, storage areas or scheduling.

The warning to taking on the trappings of the commercial music styles and pop bands should be heard. Look what has happened to contemporary Christian music. One has to sort through tons of secular style clones to fine the real worship music that is not just hyped up 'hook" songs that masquerade as worship. Christian artists comply to this style because getting air play depends on having he right "formula". So that is what we hear on the radio and becomes familiar....and that is what is sung in many churches.
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DeanZF
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It's back again to the whole concert mentality, IMO. Entertainment, not worship or praise. Might do well in a teaching environment to enhance PowerPoint or slide type presentations. Jazz 'em up a little bit. Great maybe for the MTV or Sesame Street trained consumers of media, but it's distracting at best.

One site that Helena shared off-line with me is hard to get to work. It needs a very, very current version of QuickTime in order to play, maybe the latest Java plug-ins, too. Maybe more than that! QT & Java are both easy and safe to download, but chances are good that you're going to have to absolutely shut down your browser in order to get it to work. Maybe. :huh:

And that brings me to another pet peeve (I have so many!!): why do we have to choose this kind of "cutting edge" where people and churches who don't have it, can't afford it, don't otherwise even WANT the stuff have to have it in order to participate?

Bothersome in so many ways. IMO.
Blessings!

Dean
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DeanZF
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And in a different direction...

I don't mind them using the term video jockey. The other term mentioned, "video technician" is another ambiguous term, sadly, open to application to so many things. I'm glad they did not hijack the term for their very own.

In my own mind, video still refers to people who record things with a video camera. A video tech runs cameras, recorders, or other related equipment.

What should we call the person who operates the computer to provide us with projected words, announcements, sermon outlines, etc.? Overhead flipper is a little demeaning, and overhead technician seems a little over the top somehow. :innocent:

Suggestions?
Blessings!

Dean
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HelenaZF
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"more is more"

projectionist comes to mind......
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Dave
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DeanZF
Aug 10 2007, 07:26 PM
And in a different direction...

I don't mind them using the term video jockey. The other term mentioned, "video technician" is another ambiguous term, sadly, open to application to so many things. I'm glad they did not hijack the term for their very own.

I've also seen terms like "video DJ" or "video artist" used.


Quote:
 
In my own mind, video still refers to people who record things with a video camera. A video tech runs cameras, recorders, or other related equipment.

There's a fair bit of truth in that. But there's a lot of convergence in the technology now, and most people who work in this field are familiar with both computer graphics and traditional video.


Quote:
 
What should we call the person who operates the computer to provide us with projected words, announcements, sermon outlines, etc.? Overhead flipper is a little demeaning, and overhead technician seems a little over the top somehow.  :innocent:

Suggestions?

"Projection operator" is a good term IMO. You could also use "graphics operator" (a TV industry term), but technically if you're projecting video of any sort (live or recorded), that's not graphics.

I'm sometimes asked to do "AV" on jobs, which in practice means I set up and operate computers and video projectors. I don't like that term as someone else does the A (audio) part.
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Dave
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DeanZF
Aug 10 2007, 06:35 PM
And that brings me to another pet peeve (I have so many!!): why do we have to choose this kind of "cutting edge" where people and churches who don't have it, can't afford it, don't otherwise even WANT the stuff have to have it in order to participate?

Whilst I agree with you, technology does have its place and can make life easier.

As I said before, OHPs were introduced to free us from songbooks, but they ran into their own set of problems. Churches found they needed large numbers of OHP slides, a filing system to keep them in, and an operator who was on the ball. One church I knew need 2 OHPs (with slides and operators) because of its size and architecture. Once you get above a few hundred people, OHPs are often impractical. And before the days of laser printers, the slides often had to be written by hand.

So the introduction of video projectors was a huge improvement. But they are a step up in technology and still have their own set of issues.

I used to dance at a large bible week where they did have a high-tech approach, with giant video screens either side of the platform, and repeater screens further back in places with poor sight lines. The screens were used for image magnification cameras, song words, sermon notes, and also to display messages like "Mrs xxx from yyy, please go to the crèche as your child is having a crisis".

Although I realised that this took a lot of resources to do, in my view it really made the task of holding a meeting with several thousand people a lot smoother.

But yes, let's think carefully about what we do and why we do it. Just because someone else is doing it doesn't make it right for us (eg there was talk of installing extra lighting in my church, but I suggested that it wouldn't be a good use of resources at it would only get used a couple of times a year).
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Dave
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And whilst I'm on a roll, people sometimes say that installing video projection, lighting, or a sound system in a church is "making a statement", normally in the context that it's a statement they don't think the church should be making.

But the same has been true for centuries.

Building a church in a particular style is making a statement. Seating people in pews is making a statement.

I was recently at a church where the first thing you saw on entering the sanctuary was a massive pipe organ (the biggest in the town) that occupied almost the full width of the building. The architect had done a good job and the organ had been carefully and aesthetically incorporated into the building's design. But, when the church was built 100 or so years ago, they were definitely making a big statement with their new building.
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