Behind the Creek: Lights, camera, action
by Mason Phillips
DAVIS—My trip to Falls Creek was different this time. In the past, I’ve gone to the Creek to meet with an individual and find out how they contribute to the operations of the camp. This time around, I wanted to see what it was like inside the booth. How does a camp run a multi-media service five days a week like Falls Creek does? It takes more than one person, so I got to meet the team.
I once saw a documentary of a famous pop star as she verbally walked through her performance back stage. As she spoke each moment of the concert, they played the performance split-screen. She was describing her performance second-by-second before she ever stepped on stage. I thought it was so remarkable. The media staff at Falls Creek does the same thing every night. There are spreadsheets everywhere that describe the finite details of that night’s service.
One of the many major responsibilities of the media team is at the soundboard. Most Baptist churches in our state have some kind of need for an electronic sound system in their sanctuary. With that comes what is more widely known as the “sound-guy.” In the Falls Creek tabernacle, his name is Cory Sams, and he is better known as an audio/visual strategist. He also helps by managing the media staff.
Every week, a new band comes through the camp, and there aren’t many that do things exactly the same, so Cory is there to adjust monitors and mixes to make sure it’s adjusted the way the band prefers, adjusting variables with the inputs and numbers of instruments. They reset the stage every Monday and they strike it every Friday night. With every soundboard, there’s room for error.
“The most critical part of my job is paying attention,” he said, “The goal is to remain unnoticed. If the error is simple enough we quickly fix it so we stay invisible.”
Next up was the man behind the camera, better yet, many cameras. In fact, it’s several people behind several cameras that he takes care of. His name is Josh Canfield, video producer. The first thing he does is make sure all the cameras are in working order. Each night, he oversees five camera operators, and they’re all primed and ready by 6:50 p.m. so that the service can start at 7:30. All night, he communicates with the camera operators to shoot the scenes that end up on screen. He speaks to them through the headset so that the screen always has a different shot.
“When I talk to them, it might sound like this, ‘ready one; take one; ready five; take five; fade out of focus and pan out,’ which are all commands for the camera guys via headset,” said Josh.
I got to see him later on as he prayed with the camera staff and sent them on their way.
I spoke with Luke Smith, who told me about his job behind the light controls. He’s the one who changes the lighting depending on what’s happening in the service. At 6:15, he makes sure that all the lights are warmed up and ready to go. This is his sixth summer at Falls Creek, and he said that the camp has definitely changed for the better with the new tabernacle. Being inside from the heat, the service takes on a whole new dynamic.
“The whole flow of service has changed. The stage is more like a set since it’s so much bigger. The new tabernacle has given more room for opportunity,” he said.
Finally I spoke with the man who is at the center seat of it all, Michael Davis, producer. He has to understand every step of the service down to the minute. He has several computer screens in front of him with a timer he watches to keep everyone on point. He keeps everyone on time. He told me about the room they use, the tabernacle, and how they really push it to the limit. Over the years, the room has changed from very basic to extremely complex. The team is really what makes it happen. Michael told me something pretty impressive about the live streaming service. He said that the night before, 505 people watched the service around the world. That’s one night. If that many people are watching each night, it adds up to an entire week of camp. As we watched the service, Caleb Harrison was singing. Ted Harrison, his brother, is currently in Iraq filming a documentary of a group of doctors and their work. As we watched, we could see Ted log in to the streaming service to watch his brother sing. You can see the link for the streaming every night from Falls Creek at www.skopos.com.
As always, I needed to know the mission behind this process. But it was different this time. Instead of just a person, I was interviewing a whole team. So I asked everyone. After getting everyone’s input, I tried to see what their mission looked like as a team. The team picture looks like this: the multimedia team is called to serve God and to create an environment where students can engage in worship. Their duty is to worship God with the task He has given them. Perhaps in our own lives we can listen for God’s call so can serve Him.
If you would like see the faces of these guys, check out the youtube channel at www.youtube.com/behindthecreek. You can also see my tweets at www.twitter.com/behindthecreek.
Mason Phillips is Falls Creek correspondent for the Baptist Messenger.