This post is part 2 of the producing worship series, if you missed part 1 you can check it out here.
What do you see when you think of art? You probably picture a painting or sculpture, maybe some musicians or a photographer. When you think of art, do you ever think of an audio engineer or a lighting designer? Do you imagine a lighting show or a great mix?
The art of production
Production is often not thought of as a form of art, most people see it as a technical trade. This is because production is a different type of art. Art is about creating beauty, about creating something new and sharing it with the the world. Production does this, but in its own way.
Production is a unique type of art
Production isn’t like a painting or a piece of music. No, production is an art form that exists to enhance and amplify other art. In a way it’s a “service-art,” it’s not the focus of your attention. Production’s job is to get out of the way so other art can be front and center.
Production is a collaborative art. It lives at the intersection of creativity, digital media and technology. It takes various works of art (dance, music, speech, visuals, lighting) and uses them to create one seamless work of art.
Production requires a unique skillset
Art isn’t about about what you do, it’s about how you do it. Anyone can play a few hits on a snare drum, but a professional drummer knows how to hit the drum in various ways, how to control the dynamics and get different sounds from the drum. Production is the same, it requires a certain artistic subtlety to master the nuances and transitions that make productions excellent and beautiful.
There’s a difference between having lyrics on screen and having them appear in perfect timing as the congregation sings. There’s a difference between someone switching off a light and a lighting designer slowly fading the lights before a video. There’s a difference between being able to hear the worship team and being able to hear them well mixed in a way that’s pleasant and comfortable to hear.
Production takes a unique type of artist.
Since production is a different form of art, it needs a different kind of artist. To produce worship with all of these subtleties and complexities, it requires a well trained and highly skilled artist: the technical artist.
The Technical Artist
What is a technical artist? Most of us don’t usually think of people working in production as artists. We mostly think of them as technicians. This brings up a good point: what’s the difference between a technician and an artist?
Technicians vs artists
A technician is someone trained to execute a specialized skill with excellence. A good example might be a car mechanic. A mechanic has to know the specialized details of repairing a car and how it works, but you wouldn’t typically call a mechanic an artist unless he or she created something new or beautiful.
An artist is someone who creates art. Examples range from musicians to dancers to photographers and filmmakers. To understand the technical artist, you must see their work as art – something new being created.
Technicians do a job with specialized skills to a predefined set of instructions. An artist takes certain tools, combined with specialized skills to create something beautiful, a work of art. In the church production world, technicians create excellence, artists create beauty.
How to become a technical artist
All church techs start as technicians and as they study and master their craft, they become technical artists.
For example; when it comes to lighting, a technician would fade lights smoothly and beautifully, but a technical artist would use lights to help others worship, creating beautiful scenes with light. For cameras, a technician would make excellent camera shots and transition smoothly between them, but a technical artist would use those shots to create a visual narrative that tells the story of what’s happening in worship.
The true amazement comes when a person transcends the role of technician and becomes a technical artist. This is our call as tech leaders – to equip our teams to grow beyond the skills of a technician and become technical artists.
The Art of Producing Worship
We’ve talked about production as an art form and the technical artist who performs it, but how exactly does that translate into worship?
Production exists to enhance other art, but more than that, as we talked about in part 1, the purpose of production is enabling others to worship. This means production in worship is much more than amplifying art: it means taking art and using it to glorify God. This also means the technical artist is not only called to be an artist, but a worship leader.
The technical artist uses their tools and skills to create beauty with technology that tells the story of God and helps others worship. This means taking the art, whether that’s the songs we sing, the stories we hear, or the message being preached, and using it to glorify God.
We’ll take an even closer look at this in Part 3: enhancing the worship experience.