Behind the Scenes of Online Worship

The Sanctuary community produces two online worship services each week. They are offered on several platforms, including Vimeo, Church Online, Facebook, and YouTube. But how does the worship service get from “here” to “there?” How many people are involved and how long does it take?

The actual services are recorded ahead of time, but the individual elements of the services are not recorded in the order they appear online. Pastor L.M. Wilson records the messages for the children in a studio she created with the help of Creative Arts in the basement of the Greenbay campus. On Tuesdays, the pastor who leads the prayer for the week is recorded in Geoff Wood’s studio. Next comes the music and spoken parts (other than the sermon) on Wednesday mornings. And finally, on Friday mornings, the sermon is captured.

For the Wednesday morning recordings, there are typically six staff overseeing production in front of the platform – three camera operators, one sound engineer running “front of house,” another setting up stage equipment and gathering microphones, and one person who oversees the flow. “Behind” the platform, a broadcast sound engineer mixes the service; and two other techs ensure that all the right settings and lower thirds are in place. Our track recording tech works remotely. For the Friday sermon recording, there are typically six staff in front and behind the platform in similar roles.

Geoff Wood and Charlie Giesler piece all the audio and video elements together in the proper order and send “drafts” of the services out on Thursdays to be reviewed. After corrections are made, they are forwarded to an audio engineer to be remixed and normalized. Then after the Friday sermon is recorded and the audio has been normalized, the footage is added into each service recording. Oliver Dagher does one final check and then the links for each service are sent to Creative Arts for all of our various platforms.

The final step is the task of “running” the live stream on Sunday mornings. When the final video is up on our Chapelwood Vimeo page and we have a public link. We take the vimeo link and plug it into our Church Online page. Church Online has a timer set for each service to go live without us having to press any buttons to “go live.” However, there are multiple places (YouTube Premiere and Facebook Premiere) that we do have to upload on Friday evening (which again is set to go live at a certain time so need to press any buttons.) While quarantine has made a lot of things more difficult this process of setting the timer and watching when it goes lives it a lot less difficult than when we were live and on campus. Ultimately, every service is edited and archived for anyone who cares to watch them after Sunday.

And that’s “how the sausage gets made” in the Sanctuary community. Ensuring that our church members are able to worship and engage online every Sunday is a total team effort, requiring creativity, collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

Jet Pinkerton
Technology Team