Welcome to Willow Production!
Willow Creek is a church committed to loving everyone always and extending the hope and grace of Jesus to our neighbors near and far. As a production department, our volunteers and staff support this mission through creating dynamic experiences and distraction-free environments to help our church family thrive.
Willow Creek Production Systems chose the BMD ATEM Television Studio for the following features: It had the correct number of HDMI (4) & SDI (4) inputs for our needs. ProPresenter MacMini - HDMI Stage HDMI (after DTP conversion at both ends) TV Tuner - HDMI Local booth HDMI (after HDMI decimator for scaling/conversion) Panasonic PTZ Camera - SDI Blu-ray player - SDI (after HDMI Apantac for scaling/conversion) Router tie line from main core - SDI (after fiber conversion on both ends) Stage tie SDI It has a multi view output (which we send to the BMD Smartview monitor) It has an Audio Follows Video feature which we use to send a single source to audio output devices. It allows for remote management and control It was a good price point for the features and our needs.Read More
Zoom, and Google Meet are becoming a frustration for a lot of people right now, but it does not have to be. Learning how to make yourself, your system, and your connection better, goes a long way to taking the stress out of video calls. Today I want to talk about how to improve your video conference call, visually improve your calls, and ways to lower your stress level. I am going to break this up into 101 and 201 sections. In today's better video calls 101 post, we will talk about location, lighting, camera position, video, and connection speed. My next post will be the better video calls 201, and we will talk about cameras, real lights, and fun software you can use. Why? You maybe asking why it is important to look better on calls? It's not only about looking good. It's about reducing distractions, allowing easier communicationRead More
I get this question fairly regularly, why do I still use the GrandMa1 lighting console? This console was originally launched in the spring of 1997, some 23 years ago, and yes, it is older then some of my lighting designers. Don’t get me wrong I would love to have a new colorful GrandMa3 console. I absolutely love new technology with being more efficient and all of that. However, it all comes down to stewarding our resources well. To start, Grandma1 was built like a tank, it was way ahead of its time, and honestly it just won’t die. Our consoles have survived coffee spills, stray footballs impacts, power surges, brown outs, and years upon years of daily abuse. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have had this console crash during programming or a service in my tenure here. Most issues we have had are eitherRead More
Hello my name is Jordan Monson and I am the Lighting director here at Willow Creek Community Church, I also do a lot of video work on the side. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of us have been filming service elements, worship, and sermon videos in our homes, and it looks like that is not changing (at least in our area) any time soon. I thought it might be helpful to spend some time talking about how we can up our game a bit and make a decent relatively low cost studio for filming at home. We are going to focus on lighting in this post. You can check out our video and audio articles for more information on those areas. A good looking video is heavily dependent on good lighting. There are many options for lights and ways to set them up to get differentRead More
Hello! My name’s Ben, and I’m the technical director for Willow’s junior high ministry, Elevate. I’m also a musician and a DIY recording enthusiast! As we all seek to facilitate worship in this season, our technology is presenting us with new challenges and new opportunities. There are a lot of different ways you can record a video of yourself playing music. If you don’t know where to start, you are the audience for this post! The following are some tips and thoughts about producing simple, self-shot videos of you or others making music. In this post we will focus on the following: Keep the process practical and simple (you might be repeating this process weekly) Minimize distractions for worshipers (clear audio; solid video techniques; authentic presentation. Not making a music video or studio album) Keep things low budget (self-explanatory) The following are some low-cost, DIY, get-it-done ideas about the basicRead More
Hi everyone, my name is Tom Spindler and I am one of the audio directors at here at Willow Creek Community Church. I primarily mix FOH and in ear monitors, along with Broadcast for our live stream and some studio work. During some of my free time sitting at home I was checking out some hardware that could help improve your audio quality with your smart devices. If you want to stream just the message, or want to include music and worship, one of these items should do what you need. I came across two items that I feel deserve a look when you want to have better results from your Apple or Android device. The first item is the IK Multimedia iRig Pre. This item has a great price of around $39 dollars and allows you to connect a professional microphone using a standard XLR cable that your churchRead More
Hello Everyone, my name is Jordan Monson and I am the Lighting Director here at Willow Creek Community Church, as well as an avid gamer and photographer. I was speaking with my wife about what I could do to help contribute to churches in this unprecedented time in our nation, and around the world. She pointed out to me that as an avid video game streamer and technology buff, I have some knowledge that could be helpful to those individuals and churches that are now having to turn to streaming messages and weekend services online. In this article I hope to supply some basic help with location, lighting, video and sound as well as offer platforms and equipment to give you the best start to your streaming. What do you actually need? I would like to start out by having us think about what we actually need for our congregation.Read More
A few weeks before Christmas rehearsals, I was asked to help create a custom light for the opener. Individual piano keys needed be illuminated when pressed. I started with a portable development kit that would allow me to write and test software without bringing the grand piano home. I attached a Raspberry Pi, MIDI controller, LED tape, and power supply to a clipboard. To meet the short deadline, I took several code fragments from micboard. These provided basic web, configuration, and logging functions. All MIDI processing happened on a Raspberry Pi. A python script parsed the MIDI data and updated the LEDs 50 times a second. The pi also hosted an admin page that allowed the lighting team to remotely edit color presets. This isn't the first time we've used a Raspberry Pi. Last spring, we made a PoE powered button box for a game of "One Big Happy Feud".Read More
Wireless microphones and in-ear monitors play a critical role in our weekend services. As a stage manager, my responsibilities include making sure these devices are in the right hands, charged, and turned on. Last year, I was brought in for a an extra busy weekend, just to check and replace batteries. Our worship band was accompanied by a student band, choir, and drumline. I spent the weekend running between a series of backstage rehearsal and green rooms, the RF rack, and Wireless Workbench at the monitor desk. Installing a computer backstage with Shure Wireless Workbench would be the normal way to improve monitoring backstage. That week we were in the middle of printing custom mic storage clips and programming led tape for an Easter set. I had an idea for something a little different. I wanted something a bit more visual and volunteer friendly; read-only and a bit more colorful.Read More
Hello, my name is Jordan Monson and I am the acting lighting director here at Willow Creek Community Church. I have also worked and toured with the company iLuminate in some capacity for the last seven years. For those who don’t know what iLuminate is, they are a dance company who perform in light up LED and EL wire costumes for full Broadway style shows.They are currently touring their show Artist of Light, and have been on America's Got Talent, several off Broadway theaters in New York City, and worked with artists Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas, and David Guetta. All that to say, I have a bit of experience with unconventional lighting, and using this relatively low cost medium to make stage designs, costumes, and Art. The Physical Stuff: Let's start by talking about the hardware, what it is, what do I need, and how doesRead More
For years our wireless mics have been stored in hanging clear shoe storage bags in our wireless cabinets. It was not a pretty system but for years it was functional...up until a few weekends ago when two wireless mics fell out of the aging containers because the plastic bag had stretched. At that point, I couldn't take it anymore. I and a few of our stage team members started brainstorming on a new storage system.We decided that vertical storage would be best - but weren’t sure how best to mount the mics. A few napkin sketches later, I went to our scene shop and started cutting out a prototype out of ¾” plywood. 45 minutes later, I had a working bracket with a couple of slots. It worked ok but it felt too thick and I wasn’t happy with the asymmetry of the hand cut slots. At this point, IRead More
On a typical weekend service at Willow, we offer live sign language interpretation at one of our main services, click HERE for more info. Occasionally, we have provided Closed Captioning (CC) for our Global Leadership Summit (GLS), as the embedded captioning information can be transmitted along with the video signal & decoded on a TV easily. The captioning for GLS is performed off campus at Riverside Captioning Company. The captioner from Riverside calls into a service called iCap that is tied to the EEG HD492 iCap Encoder which is integrated into our system at South Barrington with an HD-SDI video signal from our router that has embedded audio. This gives the captioner live video and audio feeds to caption from. This connection embeds the live captioning information as Service 1 or S1 of our program video signal for distribution to any HD monitor supporting Closed Captioning. Since the captioning information isRead More