Offline again… update.

July 29, 2007

1- ok so i’m not totally offline. I’m sitting in the car outside a house near the church where our mission is using their wifi… with permission.

2- half of the team who should have been here haven’t turned up. Seven people were supposed to be coming from the US and no one really knows why they aren’t here. So if anyone is feeling like coming to do some children / youth work in Ayr this week – and is fully disclosed – and especially if you are good at sports stuff give me a call :-)

Also, prayer would be good!

Offline again.

July 28, 2007

I don’t feel I’ve recovered from all the adventures of last week yet and have had a busy week back home – it’s time to go away again.

For the next week I will be off to Ayr on the sunny Firth of Clyde.

I will be doing a ‘mission’ with Impact Scotland (the Church of Scotland summer mission thing).

I am (more or less) sure this will be fun, certainly it will be busy, but there is very little chance it will have any wifi connection so I’ll be offline for a while.

Ck blog Day 7

July 21, 2007

Friday/last day – wet again to start with then sunny in the afternoon.

On the morning of the last day we try to make the parents proud.  The children are crocodiled across the muddy field and into the big-top to sing some songs (with all the actions) in front of whoever has turned up early to find a seat and all the parents.  It is easy to be a bit cynical about whether this is tokenism or not but the kids (I think) enjoy it and the parents get nice photos to take and everyone gets to see that something special has been happening over in the kids venue.  On the tech side it worked well, I was at the sound desk to help queue the DVD/CD track change over and climbed onto a GodTV camera platform with my little camcorder and tripod to film our band on the main stage (more footage I don’t know what to do with?!)

The rest of the day was great with lots of goodbyes, kids suddenly being confident enough to come to the tech area and request songs or ask us about stuff and even someone giving us a box of chocolates.  It is nice when the kids think of giving their group leaders or the up front core team something to thank them but to also thank the techs is very considerate.  I also enjoyed a proper afternoon off with free coffee and a walk around town – St Andrews is a great wee town.

One more “only with the help of God” moment on the technical side… just before the team meeting for the last evening session and Gordy has passed on a request that if possible could we get hold of the theme music from Superman to play tonight.  As mentioned previously our wifi was patchy and slow, I really didn’t think we could do this.  I also wasn’t sure where to try to get it, but google is the place to start, so “superman movie theme” brings up as top hit this page which has EVERY theme tune and lots of incidental music for superman radio shows, TV and movies, and spin-offs including exactly what we needed which downloaded in seconds and was the only time all week I saw three bars on the strength indicator of my wifi connection!  Probably copyright infringement, but I’m weighing this against having it on an old Movie Themes LP at home.  Anyway, if that doesn’t sound impressive enough – try searching for “Star Wars Movie Theme”, or ET, or Indiana Jones, etc…  (BTW I don’t count midi as a hit because midi=rubbish and I don’t want any of these themes so don’t tell me where they are or send them to me I’m just making a point).  It took a couple of minutes from request to playing this tune and it looks like we couldn’t have done it with any other movie, so I count this one as God’s

And so comes the tear down… By my reckoning it took about two and a half hours and a miraculous pack to do this.  I honestly didn’t think we would get everything into the van, but somehow everything got packed somewhere.  I did at one point think that people had hidden half the stuff behind the portaloos but it was too muddy and smelly to go and check.  Finally, off to the flat for the last time, but still stayed up late packing, sorting out files and photos and watching 4 episodes of Scrubs to wind down.  One more early start to get down the road and unload the miracle van.

(photos soon)

Ck blog Day 6

July 20, 2007

Thursday – wet again in the morning but cleared up.

All our main events today seemed to go just fine I think.  The main difficulty at this stage is becoming complacent and not having things ready when they need to be.  There have been ongoing issues with some of the equipment, but nothing too drastic, just lighting gels burning through every day, one of our projector keeps loosing power, the PS2 doesn’t always play DVDs, that sort of thing.  But you discover ways to work round to these things.

One nice thing that came together purely thanks to God…  We had been told that today it would be good, if possible, to have some photos of butterflies at the end.  Whenever I had heard this request it was fine because a friend had visited Canada last year and among other things took a lot of photos of butterflies for DeepRiver.  So I knew I had the images I just had to put them into powerpoint.  Somehow I never actually got around to doing this, which is where God came in.  I happened to take one of my external HDDs with me today (the first time I’ve done so) and it was one that had what will become our second stills collection if I ever get around to doing it.  Also, on the mac it is very easy to set a screensaver to take any images in a given folder and randomly display them with some movement which gives a really nice effect.  So under 20sec from being reminded that this morning we need pics of butterflies and job done! How cool is that?

Also, a first for me this week in that I didn’t leave the site at all from 8am to around 9pm, but spent a good couple of hours in the afternoon finishing off the video I’ve called ‘Filmed at Ck07’ for now which is to be shown in the main adult venue tomorrow morning when the kiddies get traipsed in to get pointed at and stared at and generally to make the parents happy.  This video isn’t as good as I’d like it to be, but it is all that is possible in the time permitted and will do the job.

I am also starting to worry about all the follow up work to be done post –this event that I’m still not going to name for search engine reasons.  I have 5 or 6 hour long tapes of video, a lot of which is worth keeping for future info.  I’ve been adding to that and in fact how could it be possible not to film the kids going into the main venue tomorrow?  But what will I do with all these tapes?  When will I have time to look at them or sort them into something meaningful and if I do what can that be used for?  And let’s not get into the number of stills to sort through!

We lost one of the tech team today as well.  We have known all week that our Irish PA-man would be leaving us today but he managed to go out in style.  Deciding shortly before it was time for the kids to come back that the tech area behind his desk was a little dirty he went to grab the hover – which of course came apart in his hands and spewed dust and dirt onto the carpet.  We – his three tech colleagues – seeing this minor disaster immediately rushed to his assistance … or more accurately a better position to take photos and laugh!

Late night fun was had once more in Le Rendezvous (after a failed attempt at a curry house).  Then home to bed… early start tomorrow again.

Ck blog Day 5

July 19, 2007

Wednesday – Started wet, got better.

The buzz of event helps with the early start, but that has started to ware off, so today was difficult.  But did get in on time and managed to park without as much hassle as most mornings.  The morning session had a reasonably complicated drama with some specific queues, unfortunately it was only during this when I realised that I would have a very quick DVD change at the end so started getting ready for that and missed a queue.  I’m sure the kids didn’t notice but you don’t want to leave the actors ‘hanging’ like that.

The worship and all the rest of that session was great and then I realised that because we have filmed all the voxpops I wasn’t scheduled to do anything till 5pm.  So, as I’ve been filming lots of stuff that has been going on and hope to cut it together for Thursday evening I headed back to the accommodation.   Managed three and a half hours to get the last voxpops down and ready for DVD burning, backed up all the video work so far, sort out all the stills so far (aprox 230) and grab in all the ‘filmed at Ck’ stuff from tape – this in itself is a slow process.  However, really pleased to get that much done, it means that with a push tonight I can possibly take the afternoon off tomorrow (only had one full afternoon off so far, but that was the plan).

Tonight is when the parents are allowed to come along and watch what goes on in the main kids meeting at this event.  To make this happen, first of all we turn our program around so that instead of everyone together first and worship early on then teaching, some kind of symbolic act and then off to their group times, we have group time first and when they all come together it is drama and followed by teaching and finishing with worship.  The other thing we have to do to make this happen is open up the sides of our tent – which resulted almost as soon as we started with a visit from the main adult venue saying we were too loud and turning the PA down.

The kids were really much more unsettled than normal, and this grew worse as parents arrived during the talk, and it was a very hard job holding their attention.  This seemed to change once the singing started when they had more to do and could show off ‘their’ songs to the adults.  We were able to grab a live audio recording of this which is just awesome, with the kids really going for it all the way through!  I have no doubt this could be heard in the main venue but the PA was limited and all the noise was coming from the kids.  Fantastic!

Grabbed a panini on the way home and ended up editing to way past my bed time (2am), and didn’t have much to show for it (opening 1min 40sec to be precise)

Ck blog Day 4

July 18, 2007

Tuesday – hot!

OK, in order to remember the set up and reason’s behind it…

To describe this I’ll start in the middle – we have six video lines running from the front of the stage to the back of the venue (tech desk). These are taking 5 video signals towards the front and one feed back from a camera near the stage. On the stage we have two video monitors facing the band (these are dedicated to showing words from EasyWorship and I don’t think I’ll need to mention them again). This leaves four video feeds facing the ‘audience’.

Our simple set up is to have a projector/screen either side of the stage and six video monitors along the front of the stage. The monitors are fed two different signals, one going to the ‘odd’ numbered screens and the other to the ‘even’ ones reading from left to right across the front. [I aim to add photos when I get back]

The desk end set up is with the following video sources;

  • four DVD player (OK one is a PS2, but used as DVD player)
  • two VCRs in case anyone pops up with a tape
  • Mac – for stills taking during the week and to play the videos made on site
  • PC – for powerpoint and Easy Worship output
  • Live camera at front

Most of that goes through various switches and amplifiers down to a MX55 four-channel mixer with that output optionally being keyed with the song words from EW using another video mixer. Each of the input sources as well as the outputs of the mixing desks are also switched to an 8×8 matrix (are you following this) the 8 outputs of which are the four feeds to the front and four of the six video monitors used to figure out what is playing where. Anyway, somehow it all works.

Why do we need all this? Well, the aim is to keep the attention of the children by having lots of things going on all the time, in different places at different times. Then when we want them to focus on one thing we can bring all these visual (and audio) stimuli down to a minimum. We are also able to turn around videos of people (adults) at CLAN so that the kids feel part of what everyone else is doing and the adults see that there is children’s work even if they don’t have any children them selves (you can’t easily miss a camera disguised as a 6-foot cross). The other great benefit of the video side is to take photos of the children, what they are doing, the work they produce and add that onto rolling screen savers so that they see themselves on screen or to have a live camera that can grab stills when the kids mess around in front of it – doesn’t add much to the ministry but is always a laugh.

Last thing, but I think worth raising is that there are always one or two kids who are interested in the camera or seeing how things work behind the desk so it is good to be prepared and know what you can show them and how to draw up limits.

Ck blog Day 3

July 18, 2007

Monday – wet!

Woke up around 7 to discover it had been raining for some time and started to worry about how to get onto the site and where to park.  Three of us headed in around 7:40 and had to park about a 15min wade away from our venue.  Lots of mud, puddles and still raining, so generally soaked right through feeling but hey it could be worse.

Generally the day was good, muddy and wet but good because we managed to get lots done in the ‘between’ times.  However, all the fun was in the evening.

By this time it was dry and even fairly sunny and warm (still lots of mud obviously).  The evening’s program was fantastic.  For a start we had lights working again which really does make a difference to the atmosphere.  We also had a large and dangerous *looking* bridge taking up a large area of the front.  This had been built out of bits of scrap – or at least to look that way and to make it look much riskier than it was.  We had our mad up bean start using some fantastic tracks from the Tribe and gradually welcoming in each tent/age group … it really is cute to see a ‘crocodile’ of P1s carrying their tiny wellies at arms length … we started with a game show spoof drama thing, then some worship songs leading into a movie clip then a talk –Gordon’s turn tonight- tonight this was to end with the children being given the opportunity, if they wanted it, to make a commitment by walking across the bridge.

It was just as Gordon had started to speak that we lost all the power to the venue (apart from lighting which is on a different supply).  Our wonderful sound man managed to trace the broken tripper and re-set it but we couldn’t see what had caused the problem.  We also seem to have a dodgy power supply to one projector, which turned itself off several times.  What I was aware of while running around trying to sort this was how Gordon had managed to cope after loosing PA and his powerpoint stuff.  He seemed to grab two of the kids to come join him and become living visual illustrations.  It seemed to go down well.

Eventually all the kids had their chance to cross the bridge and (in order to film this) I had a chance to go to the front with a camera.  What was incredible was not just that the bridge crossing commitment was very real to most but just how much worship and fun is had during these times. There is no questioning of the theological correctness of what is being sung or self-consciousness of what those around you might think if you raise your hands (as far as I could see anyway).  Kids were just going for it and having a blast!

Oh, and we also had our first request from the main adult’s tent to turn our volume down.