Environmental Projection

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by Mike Sessler,

I was about to start this article off with the phrase, "A few weeks ago..." but then I realized it was actually a few months ago now. Anyway, a few months ago, we had the privilege of hosting Camron Ware at Coast Hills as he did a hands-on demonstration of Environmental Projection (EP). Camron is a great guy; very knowledgeable and very humble. He will say he didn't invent EP, but he certainly has been a driving force in helping churches all over the world get up and running with EP systems and media. 

When I was approached about hosting this event, I was a little concerned that our room would not be conducive to EP as the front of our auditorium is a mishmash of curtains, walls, screens, angles and the stage. It didn't take long to find I was wrong. The first thing Camron did was to set up three projectors. Two were supplied by a local vendor (a pair of Chrisite 5Ks). The other one arrive with Camron in a suitcase. No kidding. He walked in with a rolling suitcase in tow, and pulled out a projector the size of two pizza boxes. Made by Hitachi, it spits out 4000 lumens and costs about $2,000. I believe this is the one: Hitachi CP-X4021N LCD Video Projector

After connecting all three projectors to his MacBook Pro using a TripleHead2Go from Matrox, he threw up this very cool grid in Photoshop. He created this to help him create the mask he uses in ProPresenter to mask out the areas he doesn't want to project on. He spent about 10 minutes creating the mask, though he conceded that in a real installation or bigger show, he might spend quite a bit more time getting it dialed in perfectly.

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The Final 10 Percent

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The first factor was that we’ve radically overhauled and upgraded our infrastructure since last year. This made set up and rehearsal go very smoothly. I also had a great team in place, which meant that I could really focus almost all my energy on being the audio director for the week. That, combined with our relatively new SD8 and virtual soundcheck system meant I could spend two entire mornings refining our mixes.

Normally, we don’t do a mid-week rehearsal for our weekend services. So even though we record one service a week in multi-track, it’s really more for training than anything else. But this week, we had a Tuesday night rehearsal for Easter, and a Thursday rehearsal for Good Friday. I tracked both rehearsals, then spent the morning after tweaking. I have to say, it was a lot of fun.

Now, it should be noted that the mixes didn’t get radically better as I tweaked.

Read more: The Final 10 Percent


CTA Classroom - Working with Limited EQ

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by Mike Sessler,

I’ll admit it. I’m spoiled. For the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to mix on digital consoles. One of the benefits of most digital consoles is the EQ section; typically a full 4-band parametric plus a variable high pass filter. Frankly, I’ve gotten so used to it that it’s tends to be a bit of a shock when I work on an analog desk that’s not so equipped. It occurred to me the other day that many of you live in that world all the time so I thought I would share some thoughts on making the most of limited EQ.

The first thing to keep in mind is that getting good sound at the source is of paramount importance. Often times, simply moving a mic an inch or two to the left or right; or closer or farther will clean up 80% of what you need to fix. Choosing the correct mic is also important. For example, if your vocalist has a sibilant voice, perhaps there is a mic in your locker that rolls off some high end. Swap mics and perhaps you no longer need that narrow notch at 8K in the EQ that you can’t have anyway. Sometimes you’d like to get more punch from the kick mic; instead of turning EQ knobs...

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Rechargeable Batteries - The 1 Year Test

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by Mike Sessler,

Last year, I wrote a series on rechargeable batteries. I’ve long been a proponent of them, having started using them in wireless mics in 2006. In that series of posts, I did some pretty extensive testing to see exactly how long two modern, NiMh AA batteries would run a Shure UHF-R mic with an SM58 capsule on it (with music played through a wedge to simulate the mic processing audio). I compared the run time to a brand new Duracell ProCell (considered the standard for alkaline–aka disposable–batteries). I expected the NiMh batteries to hold their own against the ProCell, as I’ve had good experience with them for years. What I did not expect is for the ProCells to be completely trounced by the rechargeable cells.

In that test, the best NiMh cells ran for 14 hours before the mic switched off. The ProCell only managed 9.75 hours before going dead. So not only do rechargeable batteries save you a bunch of money, they also run longer than a ProCell (by over 4 hours!).

Faced with that clear and decisive victory, many people made the switch. However, some remained unconvinced. “Let’s see how they hold up in a year,” was a comment I heard often. So here we are, one year later. This time...

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CTA Classroom - Are You Suffering from ET?

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Transitions list in FCPSome time ago, I was trying to watch a show on the DIY network the other day about sustainable building practices. Those close to me know that I’m really into building. It’s been a hobby out of control for a long time, really, so I was very interested in the content of the program. However, I had to stop watching because I became so annoyed with the editor’s attempt to use every single transition his editing package came with (and perhaps a few third party ones…). Even my wife was irritated by it, which says a lot. Some of the transitions were really cool and had they been used sparingly, would have been great. The problem was, the transitions got in the way of the message. After 10 minute of yelling, “STOP!” I had to turn it off.

Back in the old days of editing (the real old days of cutting film with a razor and taping it together), cuts were pretty much all an editor had to work with. Even dissolves took a lot of work. This was fine however, because editors developed a language of editing in which cuts ruled and dissolves marked the transition from one scene to another (or a change of time)

Today, now that editing has become very easy and hundreds of transitions are just a mouse click away, many editors find themselves afflicted with ET—Excessive Transitionitis. Thankfully, there is a cure...

Read more: CTA Classroom - Are You Suffering from ET?


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What others say

"We love the mic! It was a great fit for us." -- Greg Ferrara, Holy Trinity Church, GA

(on the Heil PR30 when used for children's choir)