UPDATED: Getting Organized

A while back, I wrote about how I found a project management software called ASANA and something we were going to start using called ‘Start Sheets’. You can read about how we got started with ASANA here: Getting Myself and My Team Organized

As I stated in my original post, the challenge we were having was we couldn’t stay on top of what was being requested. The bigger challenge was the requests were coming in from so many different ways and people, to anyone on my team, so it was difficult to know where to start attempting to try and manage it all. Here is what we had:

ConfusionConfusion

Requests were coming in from everywhere and to everyone. On top of that, my team didn’t have a good way of managing what was being asked of them, so even if the requests were manageable, there wasn’t a good way to look at all of them in a high level to know what was really going on.

The other item I discussed in the previous blog post was Start Sheets. The idea here was to ask the questions that needed to be asked, so we could get to work on what needed to be done. This seemed to be a good idea, but the problem here was having this ‘sheet’ with you at all times or the questions readily available to be asked.  So, we had software that seemed to be easily useable and understandable, but now the challenge was getting the info into ASANA.

After doing a bit more reasearch I found that I could connect Wufoo, an online form builder, and ASANA. Once the online form was filled out on Wufoo, the form would simply load into ASANA, and it was ready to be processed. We call it the Media Request Form. I’d be more than happy to show it to you if you like, so just ask.

Here is how our new system works. When a request comes in, it gets entered into our Media Request Form or MRF. When the form is submitted it get’s emailed to the person that requested it and to an email list for my department. It also loads directly into ASANA into a project called “New Media Request”. At this point, everyone in my department can see the request. The requested then gets assigned to the appropriate person for the project to be completed.

This system is much like a funnel. When you pour a liquid from a container with a large opening into another container with a small opening, you’ll end up with a mess. When you add a funnel, now that liquid is channeled into the smaller container and nothing is spilled. This is much like how our system works. When all of these requests come from the larger container (all the other departments in the organization) and get submitted to the smaller container (our department) there’s no mess.

Order

Order

Now, obviously there is always an exception to the rule, but here’s the nice thing about ASANA. If something comes in last minute or something gets requested without using the request form, no problem, we add it into ASANA and it’s now a part of the system. We really try our best to enter everything we can into ASANA using the Wufoo form for consistency sake. Because, you know, there’s power in consistency.

What are the ways you are managing the things you, your department, or organization are involved in? I’d love to know. If you’d like to know more about the details of ASANA or our request form, I’d love to share.

4 Ways To Achieve The Best Results

Recently my team was working on a rather significant video for a large event. Many hours were spent in the planning and preparation of the video shoots, and many more hours were put into the shooting and editing the video. I have to say the final video was incredible. I’m so proud to say that I’m a part of such a talented team.

While in the editing process, there were times I would step into the video producers office just to see how things were going and to see if there were any ways I could help. At a certain point we needed to determine the style of music needed to play in the background of the video. I decided I would be able to give some suggestions and even send some files I thought would best fit the tone we were attempting to set. I suggested a few different files, but there was one that I knew was it. It fit perfectly. It built when it needed to and became somber at the right places as well.

I sent the file to the video producer and told him the time where he needed to start, and the different places that needed to be edited. A day or two passed, and I went to ask if there was anything else I could help with on editing the song file. He ended up using something entirely different. I was a little bit hurt, but honestly more confused. Why would you use something different from what I sent, because I sent the right one?

I learned something that day. I learned that just because I had a different opinion didn’t mean I was wrong, but at the same time it didn’t mean the video producer was wrong either. So, let me ask you a question. What’s more important, for you to be right or for the outcome to be the best that it can be? I believe there are ways for you to achieve the best desired outcome but it’s going to take some work.

Create an atmosphere where people can share their opinions.

This is far from an easy task, partly because I have to swallow my pride and potentially say someone else has a better idea than I do. Arguably, it takes more pride, in my team or organization, for me to embrace another person’s idea. The other challenge here is it requires time. It requires me to actually get together and discuss the task at hand with my team. I have to plan for those meetings or that time will never happen.

Do a little arguing.

 I really do mean this. There has to be some strong feelings about what we are working on, because if there aren’t, we might need to find something else  to work on. I believe having those strong feelings and expressing them helps us process what we are trying to convey.

Ask the quiet ones to speak.

I’ve found that my personality can sometimes (probably more times than I think) rule a conversation or a meeting. So much so, there are people in the room that listen and process far more than I do, and if I don’t ask they will potentially never share their opinion. The funny thing is when I ask them to share, the wealth of information and knowledge they have is potentially the most valuable information that is brought up. I think some of this has to do with personality, but I also think it has to do with the way people process things differently.

Sometimes you have to take charge and go with your decision.

As a leader, sometimes there are circumstance surrounding a decision that have to be made, and I have to be the one to make it, even if the rest of my team thinks it’s the wrong decision. I need to create an environment where my team understands that if I put my proverbial foot down, then the conversation needs to be over. This is also something that takes time to teach, learn, and understand. There has to be a level of trust among my team to know when this time comes.

I believe without a doubt this has taken my team to the next level. If I truly believe I want my team to succeed I need to find ways to give my team a voice.

unsplash-logoHeadway

Equipment List: Audio

For a few of these posts, I’d like to give you an overview of our production equipment and tell you a little bit about how we utilize it. These posts will only be about our main auditorium, but I will discuss in other posts how we utilize equipment in our other venues. Also please understand this, in a world of new and shiny gadgets it’s easy to see things other people have and want those things, but part of my responsibility as the Media Director is to be a good steward of the finances I’ve been given to oversee. So remember this, just because someone else has something doesn’t mean you need it. Get what you need and not what you want.

|Just because someone else has something doesn’t mean you need it. Get what you need and not what you want.|

via @allenwfarr

Over the last year or so we have made a significant upgrade to our audio system in our main auditorium. At front of house (FOH) we are using a Digico SD10. This console fits our needs well. The biggest challenge for us and the reason we decided on this console was the output capability. On any given Sunday, we have roughly 30 mixable outputs between in-ear mixes, wedges, main out puts, and other peripheral mixes that go throughout the campus.

Previously, we had a Digico SD8 at FOH, but it didn’t have the output capability we needed. We decided the SD8 would best be suited in our Production Suite as our Broadcast Console. Both the SD8 and the SD10 have basically the same layout, and they both look very similar, so cross training on either console is very easy.

Within our audio system, we have a total of 3 digital splits to manage audio. The first two are our audio consoles, but the last split is used for our multi-track recording. For our digital spliting we use a device called a MADI Bridge built by RME. This device allows all of the control devices to see all of the inputs from our MADI racks. Each device, the consoles, and the multi-track computer see the inputs at the headamps and can affect change all on their own. In other words, mutes, EQs, FX, Channel names, and anything else other than Gain can all be applied differently at each location.

As far as our speaker system goes, we utilize a EAW KF730 line array system for our main arrays, and then supplement for coverage in different areas of our auditorium. This system suits our needs well for our style of music and size of our room.

For a reference, I’ve put a pretty high level list together below that talks about our main components of our system. We use far more gear to make services happen on a weekly basis than the list below. Cables, microphones, mic stands, DI boxes, and audio interfaces. If you have questions about those, I would be more than happy to tell you what we use and the experience I’ve had with them.

Equipment List:

What is the primary gear you utilize on a weekly basis?

FB Live: How To Livestream Your Church Service

I’ve had a few people recently ask me how we actually accomplish our Facebook Live stream with our church service. So today I want to answer most of those questions (hopefully), but if you have others, please don’t hesitate to ask me about them.

So you come to the place where you want to stream your church services, and you’re trying to figure out how to accomplish it, but don’t know where to start. Perfect! I’m here to help. In the way we have it setup there are 5 main components. I’m not going to talk about these components in much depth in this blog, but I will in other posts.

Cameras

So the first thing you will need when setting up your FB Live streaming setup will be cameras. We have a multi-camera setup, but that is not a requirement. The advantages for a multi-camera setup would be:

  • the ability to be on one camera shot while setting up another camera shot
  • camera placement can change weekly for some cameras while still keeping a consistent look of the overall production
  • making the viewing audience feel as though they are apart of the service rather than simply observing through a window
  • more interesting camera shots

Some of the cameras we have are manned cameras and others are stationary. The manned cameras are the kind you would see a news crew using. These are large cameras on a tripod that have excellent image quality.

If you are only going to use one camera I would recommend two things: don’t stream the music portion of your service and make sure your stage is the only thing in frame on your camera. You’ll want to make it the most pleasant you can for your streaming audience so determine where your pastor will be on stage and frame up that portion of the stage on camera. This will make it so your pastor is as large as possible on screen for people watching.

Sound

The next thing you will need to determine is what and how you will manage your sound. We determined the best scenario for us is to have a separate audio mix for the stream. We do this with a separate console that is located in our production room. The person mixing in this position can focus solely on the mix that will go out through our stream. This is definitely not a requirement, however it does provide the best audio quality.

One option would be to simply use the onboard microphone, or an external mic plugged directly into the camera. While this option will work, it will give you the worst audio quality.

The option I would recommend, if you don’t have a separate sound board, is taking a mix off of your main audio console. The easiest mix would be a matrix feed of the main mix. This will provide separate volume control for the streaming mix, and it will also ensure that what you are hearing in the main room live is also going out to the stream.

Video Switcher

If you plan on using more than one camera, some kind of a video switcher will be required. We have found the Blackmagic Design equipment has been a very good fit for us. It’s very versatile and cost effective.

The video switcher is really the heart of your streaming system if you have multiple cameras. It’s where everything comes together from audio and video and is sent to where you need it to be sent. The Blackmagic Design switcher requires that everything be in the same resolution and frame rate, and once you have that accomplished, then you are all set.

If you don’t plan on using multiple cameras, then you don’t need a switcher. You would need something like a capture card or a capture device. This is a device that takes your audio and video and allows you to input it into your computer. BlackMagic Design also has some devices for that.

Computer

Once you have all of your audio and video equipment setup, you’re now ready to get everything into the computer. For our setup, we use one of the Blackmagic Design Deck Link capture cards in an older Mac Pro. Our audio and video are combined within our switcher, and then sent to the capture card using a HD-SDI cable. This is a high quality coax cable.

On our computer we use a piece of software called Wirecast. Wirecast is a virtual software switcher, but the real advantage for us is it allows us to send multiple streams to our streaming provider.

Streaming Provider

Finally, once you have everything setup and ready to go, you need to figure out how to get your audio and video you are capturing, and put it into the hands of your people. For this we use a company called ChurchStreaming.tv. The nice thing about a streaming provider is they make your job a lot easier. You have enough to worry about within your physical building, so let someone else take care of where your signal goes outside of your building.

For us, we send our streaming provider to two separate streams. One is a high quality HD signal and the other is a lower quality SD signal. The reason for this is so that no matter what kind of wireless signal strength the person watching your service has, they should be able to see the service, even if it is the lower quality stream.

Final Thoughts

Understand none of the items listed above are a requirement, however, I would argue there is great value in putting more money and personnel toward your online streaming platform. Right now we see an average of 10,000 – 11,000 viewers per month across all of our streaming outlets.

I’d love to hear how and what you use to stream. If you have a question about how we stream or maybe some equipment you might be looking into, I would be more than happy to give you my opinion.

The Problem With We

So it happened today. I was sitting in a meeting, and we were discussing a fairly large event that was coming up. We were discussing all of the logistics and making sure we had everything covered. I looked over to one of my teammates and said, “we need to setup all the gear and make sure everything is working properly.” He responded by saying, “when you say “we,” do you mean me?”

It happened and I didn’t even realize it. I absolutely love my team and I love gathering my team, setting a course and accomplishing a mission together. So, what’s the problem with my team? Nothing. Actually the problem is with me and how I was communicating. Now, I can’t say that I get it right everyday, but I’m now aware of the problem.

In meetings I found myself always saying “we.” ‘WE’ need to accomplish this or ‘WE’ need to accomplish that. Unfortunately I wasn’t communicating well on what needed to be accomplished, and who was going to be responsible for accomplishing it. Here are a few things I’ve become aware of when it come’s to the problem of ‘WE’.

It sets unclear expectations of who’s responsible. 

We’ve all heard the saying about what assuming does. By saying ‘we’ and not actually delegating responsibility, it sets you up for failure and even still the responsibility falls back on your shoulders. The responsibility will always be on your shoulders if you’re the boss. You are responsible for the task being completed but not necessarily physically doing the task.

It reveals insecurities of the leader. 

For me I had to realize that I was in charge, so I needed to be in charge. God called me and placed me where I am, so I need to live out that position to it’s fullest extent. Not in a wrong way, but in the way God has placed me there.

|people want clarity more than they don’t want to be responsible for something|

via @allenwfarr

My team wants me, their boss, to make the decision, have clarity and be decisive about the task at hand much more than they want indecisiveness and unclear expectations of who needs to complete what.

It makes you miss your goals.

If no one is in charge, then how are you ever going to meet your goals? Better yet, how are you even going to know what your goals are? Someone has to be responsible to set the goals and expectations. The truth is, if you’re the boss and you don’t delegate the job clearly, then you are possibly going to be the one doing the work or the work simply won’t get done.

So, using clear expectations about what needs to be completed and communicating to the person or people that need to complete it, will give you the exact results you hoped for.

Are there other problems with ‘WE’ that you’ve seen when communicating with your team?

The Freeing Power of the Deadline

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been involved with music. I’ve been in concert band in school. I’ve been in marching band. I’ve been in jazz band. I’ve been in garage bands. I’ve been in bands at church. I’ve even been a one man band. Throughout all that time and all of those various bands, I had never played with a click until a got into college. In fact, I’d really never heard of the idea.

I would argue being a musician and playing with a click track is much like having a deadline. Now you might think I’m crazy, but first let me explain. Being a musician and playing with a click allows everyone to stop guessing where the beat is. It allows you to focus on the music, rather than trying to keep time. I will say at first it’s somewhat annoying and difficult, but once you get used to it, it becomes a necessity.

This is much like a deadline. With a deadline, everyone knows where to end without question. And if you’re smart, you’ll create deadlines along the way. You could call these soft deadlines. I’ll talk more about soft deadlines in a later post. These are deadlines that no-one but you and your team knows about. This will help accomplish the big goal at the end. In the beginning, deadlines will be annoying and possibly stressful. Some deadlines will probably always be stressful, but hopefully they’ll get easier to meet once you’ve set a few.

|with a deadline, everyone knows where the end is without question|

via @allenwfarr

So what exactly is a deadline good for?

  1. Everyone knows where the end is.
  2. It sets clear expectations for what needs to be accomplished.
  3. It helps everyone work toward the common goal.

If a deadline is never created, then chances are whatever you are trying to accomplish won’t be accomplished. It’s also probably safe to say that you will be met with many assumptions and much frustration.

I’ve heard it said that dreams are goals without deadlines and the things that are important to you will always have deadlines. So, are there some deadlines that you need to set?

Organization Hack: note taking

There seems to be a new wave of task organization that uses pen and paper. You open your notebook, write your tasks down, and then you complete them. Maybe I’m out of the loop but there are tasks that I create today that I won’t complete for weeks and maybe even months. These tasks could be meetings or things I need to do, but they each belong to a point on my calendar that need my attention. For me, when it comes to note taking and task management, I use pen, paper, and digitial to stay organized. Here is how I do it.

First of all, I take my notes in a journal or a note book. I personally like the Cahier journal from Moleskine and the 8″ x 5″ is the perfect size for me. When I get a new journal, the first thing I do is number the pages. This will help when transferring your notes from your journal to your computer. You might only have one meeting today and you end up not taking up the whole page. Because of this I add the date and the meeting title to the top of each note section. You might even think about using a new page when going into a different meeting, because those Cahier journals are really pretty cheap and the pages aren’t that big so you really aren’t wasting much paper.

So, once I’ve been to a meeting, dated and titled the section in my journal, and taken the notes from the meeting, I go back to my office to transfer my notes. The reason I add the details when I label the page is I might not be able to transfer these notes for a few days, so when I have time to transfer the notes everything is neat and organized.

The other reason for the labeling system is sometimes I’ll go back through my journal and see everything that needs to be transferred to digital, and I make some notes that look like the following:

  • pg 27 west campus
  • pg 29 east property signage
  • pg 33 west campus video

It makes it easy to know what notes or tasks need to be transferred and where they’re located. It takes minutes to make the notes on what needs to be transferred, so this usually happens when I’m waiting on a meeting to start or when I have a free moment.

Once I’ve transferred my notes from my journal to my computer, I put an “X” on that page or section with a marker. I don’t want to mark it out completely, because I might need to go back and reference it. When my journal is full it goes on a shelf in my office, and I start on numbering the pages of a new journal.

Get your journal > number the pages > date and title that page or note section > transfer your notes to your computer > put an ‘X’ over that page or note section

And that’s it! Obviously this method won’t work for everyone, but if you are having trouble keeping track of what you need to do, this might be something that helps you.

The Power of Consistency

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I know in my personal life, consistency is a big thing. For me, when I return to the routine after a vacation it’s honestly a refreshing thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love vacation and I wish I could take it more often but there is something about the routine that feels good.

I believe this is something we can also apply to church media as well. Over the last few years I have tried really hard to get our equipment around our campus more consistent. I’d like to think I’m looking at the campus as a whole rather than each room individually. So what has consistency done for me?

It creates redundancy. 

Let’s say you have a piece of equipment fail in one room where you have an event that is happening in the near future. If you have that same piece of gear in another room, well grab it and put it back in the failed gears place. Even better, once you have the broken gear fixed, it doesn’t have to go back to its original home. It can go back to where you pulled the gear from to get you by.

It allows your volunteers to be cross trained.

Everything we do in all of the different areas of our church are not the same, however if you have the same gear in all of your different rooms it’s much easier for a person to walk into a room and recognize that the equipment is the same as the room they came from. And at that same time they feel more comfortable and now they only need to know what’s going on in that room and not how to use the gear in that room.

It makes purchasing equipment easier.

There are a lot of times you can get better pricing when purchasing things in quantity. Also, if you’re trying to find some obscure part for that particular room, it makes it easier not having to look for many different obscure parts or solutions because all of the equipment is the same.

It makes upkeep of equipment easier. 

Storing files, repairing parts, replacing batteries, buying spares parts. All of this is now the same for every room.

dictionary.com defines consistency as follows:

steadfastadherencetothesameprinciples,course,form,etc.

OR

agreement,harmony,orcompatibility,especiallycorrespondenceor uniformityamongthepartsofacomplexthing

Please understand this doesn’t happen overnight AND not every piece of equipment I have throughout our campus is exactly the same. However, where it’s feasible and where I can I try to make things consistent when it comes to the gear we use.

Do you have consistency issues? Do you need to try and make your campus more consistent? What are your struggles? What are you waiting for?

So I Built A Table…

A few weeks back I decided to build a dining room table and some benches to match. The benches aren’t shown but look very similar. We made the decision to make our own table simply because of the cost of something like a dining room set. Those things are expensive! It’s unfinished in the picture but I’m in the process right now of staining and sealing it. That seems to be the most time consuming part of the whole process.

IMG_1623

I was proud of my accomplishments so I posted a picture of the table on my FB, Twitter, and Instagram and got a bunch of comments. Most of the comments were “good job” or “looks good” but one of them stood out more than the others.

I have the dining table my daddy built for my mom. Just know that one day your children will be sitting around it with the people they love. You won’t be present but you will not be forgotten. They will continue to give thanks for you, their daddy.

Oh to be able to remember half of the things that were said across my parent’s dining room table. I know there were tough discussions, because I’m sure I was apart of them, but I also know there were many laughs. I’m sure there was some crying, but I know some of that crying was tears of joy.

The idea of if the walls could speak, or rather our furniture, what memories would they be able to recall or stories would they be able to tell. It’s funny how a table, or some other inanimate object, can bring so many thoughts to my mind. As I’ve been thinking about it lately, the one thought that keeps coming to my mind is thankfulness.

And for me, I’m thankful for meals around my parent’s dining room table, and I’m thankful my wife had the same experience with her family.

I’m thankful that my Lord calls me one of His own.

I’m thankful for my parents and the truths they instilled in me.

I’m thankful for the time I had with my mom, and I’m thankful for the time I still have with my dad, Gramps.

I’m thankful for the woman that chose to call me her husband, and I’m thankful for the wife and mother she is.

I’m thankful for the two adorable little rug-rats the Lord has entrusted me to care for and raise. And I pray daily that I’m setting a good example as the man that Owen needs to become, and the man Olivia will one day look for to marry.

I’m thankful for my great aunt and my great uncle and all of my aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and soon to be nephew/s.

I’m thankful the Lord has shown favor to me and my family in ways that I can’t even count.

So, I built a table, but now to me it’s more than a table. It’s an object where life will take place. This table will be witness to everything that happens and everything that’s said. If only there was a way for this table to record it all for the next generation of Farr’s that will sit around this table.

Perfection… Maybe Not So Much

Perfection is the enemy of profitability. – Marc Cuban

My wife and I love the TV show Shark TankI was watching the spin off, Beyond the Tank when I heard Marc Cuban say the quote above. I had never heard that quote or any variation of it. Once I googled it, I realized you can interchange the last word, profitability, with many different words; Progress, completion, success and innovation just to name a few.

For me, I say it all the time, “I get that from my mom’s side of the family.” Perfection that is. I so struggle with making things perfect. You probably wouldn’t know it if you came and looked at my desk at work or saw how messy my garage was, but I can honestly say the word perfection has held me back from starting so many things.

Take this blog for example. I’ve probably owed the domain name for six or seven years. I’ve even attempted to start blogging when Apple had the program called iWeb. As you can see if you follow the link, it’s been gone for years. My problem was couldn’t start something that I couldn’t see the ending to and the end had to look perfect. It’s not that I was afraid to fail, I just really wanted to succeed.

It was funny, when I heard Mr. Cuban say the quote to the company he was trying to help succeed, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to rewind it to hear him say it again. I’m pretty sure I rewound it a few times. It was like I had been doing something wrong of so long. I literally went to work and started some things that I was waiting for the perfect time to start.

Maybe your like me and you want things perfect. Or maybe you just can’t see the end. But maybe that doesn’t matter. I encourage you to start something today that you’ve been waiting for the perfect time. Today is that time.