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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.


In 2010 we switched our entire campus over from a CG system called Harris Inscriber to Renewed Vision's ProPresenter and we haven't looked back since. We are keeping up to date with Renewed Vision's updates to ProPresenter and have been using them since the days of ProPresenter 4. A lot has changed in the software since then! In our IMAG equipped venues, we use the SDI and Alpha Modules to add lyrics and other content over live video. We've also had some success with the Master Control module (It has some definite personality quirks) and the Midi module taking commands from a GrandMA lighting console. We use StageDisplay as often as possible as a key tool to help our on-stage friends be the best they can be.  When it comes to playing videos in Main Auditorium, we need consistent stability and playback quality. This is achieved by using a 4 channel Abekus Mira server. As
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A main element of the Systems Team at Willow’s job is to maintain gear in our venues and train users when needed. Since we operate as Engineers on Call (EOC) during services and events, much of our feedback on how users interact with our systems comes in the form of helpdesk tickets or calls to our tech hotline - lovingly known as the CRAP line (x2727 spells CRAP for “oh crap!” technical moments...or ASAP - as in, “We’ll be there right away!”). On a given event day, we could get a ticket or call from a basic quick fix, to learning that our LED screens failed. A good portion of our calls come from well-meaning users who aren’t aware of the technical abilities and limitations of the space they are in. This got us thinking...How can we help set proper expectations for those using our venues through pre-communication? As most
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We are often asked what our volume policy for SPL levels during a worship service is at Willow Creek. Our official policy can be found here.
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Many of our conference rooms and classrooms around Willow have aging 4:3 SD projectors and wall plates fitted with VGA inputs from times gone by. We've been swapping out these projectors and VGA infrastructures with wall-mounted TV's that are fitted with HDMI infrastructure. Each time we install another TV, something pops up that helps us learn something new. Here are a few things we've picked up along the way. Start with understanding the needs of the end user. Ask questions: What will be the primary purpose of this setup? What gear will help fit the user’s needs? This is the installer’s version of measure twice, cut once. Tip: We've found that with many conference rooms where running a physical HDMI cable to the TV isn’t ideal, outfitting an AppleTV for screen sharing is helpful (in a Mac-primary environment). Barco’s ClickShare button is a similar solution that works for both Mac
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We often get asked what comm headsets our production team uses for our events and services. Ask no more!  Sensaphonics makes an earpiece called the TC1000. It runs about $600 (not including cost for in-ear molds and visit to an audiologist) and is an ear saver.  Why do we use this? Great question! When over the ear muffs are used in a live setting, the effect can sometimes be like a musician playing with a wedge for a monitor. The levels coming out of the muff (or wedge) have to overcome the ambient noise in the room, which can lead to extremely loud levels and hearing damage. Having an in-ear headset enables the user to use lower overall levels, which helps protect one of our most precious assets - our hearing. When paired with a molded musician earplug in the other ear, overall comm levels can be lowered for greater comfort
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The on-stage LED grid (lovingly dubbed "Homebrew" around Willow Production) was an idea turned into reality for a specific event, which then evolved into a ministry staple. Below, Jordan Monson, our LED guru, explains more of the nitty-gritty details.   12” LED Grid (aka Home Brew) Notes: General Dimensions: 75'w x 24'h with a 12" pitch Attachment Notes (what are the LED diodes attached to): the LEDs are attached to a wooden frame that was simply plywood sheets ripped down to be an inch or two wide. Super low cost. And then the LEDs are stapled to the wood...carefully. What Equipment Was Used: The LEDs are a product from holidaycoro.com called Brilliant Bulb in the 12” spacing, we popped off all the plastic C9 bulbs and went with just the LEDs showing. The driver is another product from Holiday Coro called Alpha Pix 16 powered by 2 - 29Amp 12v power
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As one of the largest churches in the United States, Willow Creek Community Church places a very high value on the power of video to connect with its congregation within the church and beyond its campuses. When the church upgraded its production equipment to HD at its main site in South Barrington, Illinois, it selected Hitachi Kokusai HD cameras to capture and enhance the rich, immersive visual experiences for which its worship services are known around the world. Read the Full Article: Hitachi HD Cameras Enhance Worship Experiences for Willow Creek - The Broadcast Bridge - Connecting IT to Broadcast
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Mega Church migrates from flip factory to vantage to automate transcoding workflow for weekly multimedia services across regional campuses click HERE to go the the article on Church Production Magazine
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We recently completed a full upgrade to our Digital Asset Management System (DAM). Our previous system was old and no longer supported, so we needed a new robust system that could manage our entire library of digital media and take us into the future with all the new content & digital assets that we make on daily basis. We chose Keycode Media to help us find and design a system to our specific needs. We ended up with the Reach Engine DAM product by Levels Beyond with a Quantum StorNext SAN for editing and storage, an LTO for archive and Telestream Vantage & Pipeline for transcoding & live event recording. Here's a brief video from Keycode Media on this project. [yframe url='https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlV0Qo-fTPA']
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We record (capture) our services to several digital video recording devices. We use a networked digital recorder called Telestream Pipeline and also several AJA KiPro Rack recorders, which basically look and feel like a VTR replacement. The Pipeline is a two channel device that's attached to a local PC and the files are recorded directly to our SAN, for immediate access by our editors. The KiPro recorders have 500GB removable hard drives and the files can either be copied from the KiPro over the network or the KiPro drives can be removed and mounted locally in an edit suite. We use the KiPro recorders for recording clean feeds, camera ISO's and Program backup. Our house recording format is ProRes 422 at 1080i. The Pipeline recorders capture the "Program" feed on one channel and a "wide shot" camera feed on the 2nd channel. These two video files are available immediately following the
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Behind the scenes look at our HD Upgrade from start to finish
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Update Summer 2016 - This post was originally written when we were still using Sony DXC-D35 cameras in our old SD system. Since our upgrade to HD in 2015, we now are using Hitachi SK-HD1200 cameras in our Main Auditorium. The viewfinders are an LCD studio style monitor, Hitachi model HDF-700H,  that mounts to the top of the camera, so we had a similar issue in that we wanted to have the studio viewfinder at the back or side of the camera. Unfortunately, the Cambracket system we used in the past on the Sony cameras would not work on the new LCD studio viewfinders. But, we found an easy solution by using a heavy duty articulating bracket by Noga. It's model MG9038CA CineArm MG-large and it mounts to the underside of the camera plate & the other side mounts to the bottom of the studio viewfinder. The Noga CiniArm is available
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