I have a basic principle when it comes to running tech for any sort of event.
Always test it first.
I don’t like to go into a situation where I’ll be required to run some sort of technology and not have at least a basic understanding of its quirks and shortcomings. This gives me an opportunity to figure out workarounds and prepare for potential glitches. It’s served me well over the years and, to be honest, I get annoyed when I see someone trying to work technology for the first time during a presentation. To me, it betrays either a lack of imagination or simple laziness.
And, sometimes, I don’t follow my own principle.
A case in point is the “adventure” I had setting up worship yesterday. It was our second week of using OBS to stream, and I was feeling comfortable enough to add some sources to the mix–so I added our lyrics projection laptop to the mix, connected through one of my HDMI capture devices 1. Over the course of the week I tested the setup and knew it would work. I set up the lyrics in OpenLP and set up a new wide-screen theme to display 2 both the songs and the liturgy 3. Everything was set up great, and I was even able to test the combination of OpenLP and OBS when I used a couple of videos people sent me to create a combination of their video and the corresponding slides. I had hotkeys for switching scenes set up, and was even able to troubleshoot a problem when my HDMI capture device decided it didn’t want to work in MacOS Big Sur any more. Everything was great.
But I forgot that, because we were going to have only a few people present in the sanctuary, I’d switched out the projector for our TV.
Now I knew the TV worked, and how to configure it to fit my needs. I also knew my OBS setup worked and had already trouble-shot a few quirks with that setup. I even knew that my HDMI to VGA cable had no problem sending a signal up to the front of the sanctuary. But I hadn’t put all the components together and tested them. Instead, I figured that, because the projector worked fine with this setup, the TV would follow suit and would not have any problems.
The TV did not like the output it was getting from my MacBook. Something was off–either the TV was not recognizing my output resolution, the converter cable was messing something up, or the refresh rate was off 4, but the TV kept losing the signal and blinking on and off. This was not good.
I already had to finish setting up the audio, get my OBS projection configured, fix part of the liturgy I’d messed up, and test the stream to make sure I’d configured it correctly–but the quirk in the TV sent me trouble-shooting a solution to that problem. I spent a good fifteen minutes I didn’t have trying to get the signal to stabilize, but nothing worked. About a half-hour before worship started I scrapped the TV and finished the other tasks I needed to complete so I wouldn’t have those hanging over my head. Only then did I have our button pusher 5 grab our projector and a small projection screen 6 and get the projection set up for the folks who were worshiping in the sanctuary. I finished all this at 9:18, twelve minutes before worship’s scheduled beginning. What should have taken maybe twenty minutes 7 ended up taking three-quarters of an hour.
The moral of the story is, “Always test your tech.”
- The previous week we had our Mevo set up as the main camera, and a single video for special music. ↩
- Our screen was 4:3, but this will change. ↩
- Which I’d imported from my keynote presentation as a PDF. ↩
- Or a combination of all three. ↩
- Who has now been promoted to “producer” with the live stream expansion. ↩
- Which may be two decades older than me. ↩
- This number will go down the more I set this up. ↩