Not Just Press and Record
How the 9 am Online Broadcast Service is produced
by Sammi Si-Hoe
First pre-recorded broadcast service
For the last 20 years, Covenant Community Methodist Church (CCMC) held two main worship services every Sunday: the 9am Contemporary Service and the 11 am Traditional Service.
However, since 2018, CCMC has embarked on a steady growth and expansion plan. A Korean Worship Service was added in May 2018, followed by the 11.15 am Contemporary Worship Service in March 2019. Then the Chinese Worship Service was started in December 2019 and the 5 pm Gospel Hour Service was introduced in February this year.
Unlike the other services, which took months of consideration and planning, the 9 am Online Broadcast Service had to be put together in a matter of days!
Unlike all these, the starting of the latest and most novel 9 am Online Broadcast Service was driven by the sudden announcement from the government to stop all religious gatherings in Singapore from the 26 March as a drastic measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the other services, which took months of consideration and planning, the 9 am Online Broadcast Service had to be put together in a matter of days!
Today, the Online Broadcast Service has come a long way from its first airing. The evolution has taken the preacher’s recording from the Chapel on Level 3, to home recording and now to its base at Wesley Hall on Level 4.
If you think all it takes is to point and shoot a video and air it on Sunday, please think again! From a pool of people from the CCMC community who volunteer as video editors, the church now hires a professional editor to put the service together. The entire process of getting the Online Broadcast Service together still involves much coordination involving many people, church members and staff, and is a testament to the unified work of the Body ministry.
The entire process of producing the final video which comprises a worship segment and a preaching segment can be divided into pre-production, production and post-production.
The worship segment is led by the Praise Leader and comprises the Call to Worship, Songs of Praise and Opening Prayer. A different Praise Leader is rostered every Sunday. In order to qualify as a Praise Leader, one had to meet all five minimum criteria. First, be able to carry a tune and have a good track record as a Praise Leader in on-site services. Second, be able to play a musical instrument confidently. Third, have their own musical instrument at home. Fourth, be able to know how to use digital audio workstation software, like Garageband, for recording and mixing of the audio. Last, to have the right equipment such as microphones, cables and audio interfaces to do the recording at home, and also to have good lighting and a non-distracting background for the recording.
In order to qualify as a Praise Leader, one had to meet all five minimum criteria.
These days, with the easing of restrictions of group gathering and the recording of the worship segment in Wesley Hall, the last three criteria no longer apply, The Praise Leader, a musician and a sound technician can now meet to work together. For special Sundays like the recent MGS Sunday, this worship segment is entirely recorded, edited and produced by the school. Still, to ensure a smooth flow through the service, close coordination is needed between the school and church.
The preaching segment makes up the bulk of the broadcast service. Here, the preacher is Rev Dr Malcolm Tan, the Pastor-in-charge of CCMC. In this segment, he gives the words of welcome, church news, leads in the Prayer for Illumination and Offering, preaches the sermon before ending with the pastoral prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and the benediction.
The pre-production and production of the worship and preaching segments are done separately. Once the recording of the videos and audio for both segments are done, these are uploaded onto a common OneDrive folder, where the work of editing and stitching together the two segments take place in the post-production phase by the video editor. At this stage, the video editor starts synchronising the video and audio footage of both worship and preaching segments.
Working concurrently with the video editor are the secretary, the graphics designer and the production assistant. The secretary reviews both videos to verify and collate all written material into a text document which is sent to the graphics designer. On the production assistant’s part, the job is to watch the video to transcribe the church news announced by Pastor Malcolm on another text document which is also given to the graphics designer. From both these text documents, the graphic designer then prepares all graphics and slides which is sent to the video editor who adds them to the synchronised video and audio footage of both the worship and preaching segments.
Once this is done, the first draft of the broadcast video is considered complete and is ready to be sent to the vetters to check for mistakes. Only when it is verified that the draft broadcast video has no mistakes is the video considered final and ready for uploading onto the CCMC You Tube channel by the production assistant. Typically, at least five full working days are needed for this entire process to be completed.
The production of the weekly 9 am Online Broadcast Service has been a steep learning curve for all.
The production of the weekly 9 am Online Broadcast Service has been a steep learning curve for all. Nonetheless, it has been a very fruitful one as it has now garnered a faithful following of viewers comparable, if not more, than the average number of congregants at the on-site services in church.
The recorded service is also accessible to those who are unable to attend normal services because of physical limitations or health reasons, those overseas who wish to keep in touch with their spiritual family at CCMC, and even to those interested to find out more about CCMC and Christianity.
The broadcast service was the staple worship service of CCMC during the Circuit Breaker period, and continues to be the main worship service that will serve our congregation even with the impending re-opening of limited and controlled physical worship services in Blackmore Drive. Thus, the 9 am Online Broadcast Service will continue until we are once again able to worship together as we did before.