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Worship Facilities Conference & Expo (WFX)

November 17, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend WFX in Atlanta this year along with one of my best friends. It was a great opportunity to meet with some vendors, find out about the newer technologies that are being released, and a great chance to get to touch some of the items that are currently available. Roland, Yamaha, Canon, Panasonic, Grass Valley among MANY others were at the expo showing their wares. During the conference I, along with the other attendees, received hands-on training on a few devices such as the Yamaha LS-9 digital mixing console and the Panasonic AG-HMX1000 video mixer. I was able to take classes such as Live Mixing, Lighting for Video and Broadcast, and Exploring Acoustics for Worship. Wave sponsored the training and Yamaha provided the equipment.

Let me just get a few gripes out of the way and then proceed: The hands on classes were overbooked; that didn’t leave enough room and time to work with the equipment. For example, during the Live Mixing class there were 3-4 people to one console. That is a lot of people to try to work on the same mixing board at the same time while getting instructions. I would have liked for there to have been a greater effort made to ensure those who signed up for the classes received preferential treatment to those who were on standby. Also, some of the classes named “hands-on” really were lectures and Q&A sessions with no hands-on. Wave admitted that this was the first time they had sponsored the event so they were opened to suggestions. That is definitely a plus in their favor

There was far more good than bad to the event. The information I received from both parts (conference and expo) was excellent. I still have quite a few handouts to go through and I met with some interesting people who might be able to help me down the road with my business or I can help them. The classes were taught by professionals and even though there was some sales pitches and self promotion made it wasn’t overwhelming or even close to over the top. It was usually in the context of the questions being asked and answers being given.

I think I enjoyed the Expo more than the training only because I am a hardware guy at heart. I loved seeing the new line of Canon Video Cameras (XF300, XF305) the TPZ (Tilt, Pan, Zoom) remote cameras by Vaddio, the new (at least to me) digital audio consoles by Allen & Heath and the line of mics by Shure. Digital mixing consoles have come a long way and they will need a blog all on their own.

One of the major points I got from the conference is that if I intend to grow my business I *have* to know what is out there and how it can best be used. I was really surprised at some of the equipment that is available. It goes to show you that if you blink in this industry you can miss out on a lot. I truly understand why people end up specializing because it is very hard to try to absorb everything and stay on top of it all.

Another major thing I learned is how far churches have come in their usage of technology. Gone are the days of one camera recording to a VCR. We have entered the era of Production Churches were the tech in a church is close to a broadcast truck. Perhaps not in the quality of equipment but in the complexity of the setups.

I had the opportunity the same weekend of the Expo to assist me friend in recording a concert done at his church. They recently had the opportunity to redo their entire audio/visual system and I was really impressed with what they came up with. The church seats about 800-900 people, has a balcony and a very high ceiling but the sound seemed even across the entire sanctuary. For audio they are using a Roland system including an M-400 digital board for live sound, and M-300 digital board for studio recording (to Cakewalk) and a Roland individual monitoring system for the band. For video they have 1 balcony camera, one camera on a dolly and 2 PTZ cameras. They record to DVD and computer as well as stream their live service.

I was able to record about 20GB of Audio from the concert that I need to put together just to stay on top of my skills. 🙂

All in all I had a good time but it showed me that I have a lot to learn to stay on top of my game. Time to crack opened some books, get in some stores and get my hands on some new equipment. A $20,000 donation should about do the trick!

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