Celebrate Christmas


We go live this Saturday at 7pm. Looking forward to seeing everyone out again this year.

Digitize Everything


The Vatican has a mission to digitally preserve roughly 40 million pages of library archives.

The first phase of the project will scan about 3,000 of 82,000 manuscripts. That part of the project is expected to take four years.

Digitizing the entire library could take 100 years or more. And about 43 quadrillion bytes of storage.

From what I could find on the Vatican Library website, the project is starting with the following manuscripts:

  • 142 manuscripts originating from the old library of the monastery of Lorsch, in the context of a project to virtually reconstruct this famous library (Bibliotheca Laureshamensis ”“ digital: Virtuelle Klosterbibliothek Lorsch), with the support of the University of Heidelberg
  • the over 2,000 manuscripts of the Palatini latini collection, in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg
  • several thousand Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula, in collaboration with the Bodleian Library
  • around 30 of the most significant Slavic manuscripts, in collaboration with the University of Sofia “Saint Clement Ohridski”
  • several dozen Syriac manuscripts, in collaboration with the “Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts” of Brigham Young University (U.S.A.), with which the Library had already produced an earlier series of digitisations in the context of the project Syriac Manuscripts from the Vatican Library
  • over 600 Chinese manuscripts and over 100 Chinese printed books regarding the history of China from the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth century, in collaboration with the “Chinese National Committe for the compilation of Qing History”

The Manuscripts are described this way:

The extraordinary richness of the Vatican manuscript collections – Latin, Greek and Oriental – make it one of the world”™s outstanding libraries in terms of the quantity and the quality of the manuscripts preserved there, which range from papyrus codices of the Gospels and of other New Testament writings, transcribed only a few decades after they were composed, to late antique manuscripts of Vergil and Terence; from famous palimpsests to precious manuscripts of the High Medieval period; from the masterpieces of Byzantine miniature to those of the Italian Renaissance; from musical and Oriental collections to the libraries and archives of the great families which gave the Church Popes and Cardinals; from scholarly notes and papers to collections of letters and of autographs from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Here is an example scan (you can take a guess at the English language equivalent):

In principio creavit Deus cælum et terram

Mic A Grand Piano

Recording a grand piano can be every bit as challenging as recording drums. The instrument generates some very complex sounds and it is percussive and dynamic with rich overtones across a broad spectrum of sound.

I use a number of different approaches when I record a grand piano. This setup is similar to the path I usually start with:

I space pair Neumann U87s around 30cm or so above the strings, stereo pair a smaller set of condensers up and outside the piano and, to capture the low end, I like using the Neumann U47 fet. I sometimes position that mic close up to the lower registers underneath the piano or set back outside the piano itself.

All of that typically works fine in a controlled recording space.

For live sound, I do not often get called to mic a grand piano. Actually, I fear pianos in a live sound setting.

My church has a grand piano that lives outside the starting line of the front of house loudspeakers. Very difficult to mic this piano without getting feedback. Obviously, if the lid is lifted, the mics also pick up a lot of ambient sound from the stage as well as from the audience. With more folks serving on the piano, we needed to find a solution.

I just received a pair of C-Ducer tape mics to try on the piano.  The mics are taped to the underside of the piano up against the soundboard. I am hoping that these mics will capture a reasonable sound for live playing and that they will also provide a high degree of isolation from ambient sound. I will be installing them on Saturday. We’ll see how they sound.

Concert Planning

Friday evening will be a busy time. Actually, the past several months have been quite hectic. But this is what I truly enjoy: the opportunity to serve.

That said, it is a remarkable amount of work.

The picture is from the Celebrate Christmas event of last year. It was the second Christmas concert for the team and it took a lot of time and effort to produce. Earlier this year, I was asked to help coordinate an event in the fall with my good friend Trevor. Which, of course, I was only too happy to support. The event became a lot more than coordination. It was more like a full production including marketing, promotion, ticket sales, rider fulfillment, sound system and lighting system setup and teardown, media support and finally, making a 25 to 30 minute musical contribution with my own band.

Trevor and his team will do a wonderful job presenting their music. My band will help in that presentation. To get things ready for the musical contribution, I selected a set of songs, prepared charts, developed the media support for the songs, developed enhanced backing tracks to support our presentation, scheduled rehearsals and personal time practicing the material. We are a four-piece team for the event on Friday: vocals, electric guitar, bass and drums. To fill things out, we will be playing to a split-track with a click for the players and a program of ambient pads, percussion, background vocals and keys.

That work, in and of itself, can take a bit of time. My wife was kind enough to help on the marketing, promotion and ticketing of the event. She went to dozens of places around town to get posters up and to communicate the event and she has been working through the logistics of helping to ensure that we have a good turnout.

Our drummer was good enough to help me with the rider. We have a compact line array system with subs coming in to the site which we will install on Thursday evening. We will also have intelligent lighting and audio/visual. We will have to setup the environment to accommodate two bands as well as prepare in-ear and wedge monitors. Trevor travels with his own sound engineer and that engineer will be driving the FOH for the evening. Our plan is to have everything set and ready to go by end of evening on Thursday. Friday will be the setup for Trevor and soundcheck for the two bands.

It has been so busy at work that I have been having some challenges keeping the rest of life in balance. A major event like this one does add to that challenge. Although it would be nice to take a bit of a break after the event on Friday, I will be back at rehearsals on Saturday morning and playing again on Sunday.

Production Crew

I spent about 12 hours on the production crew at the K-Rock Centre yesterday. Fortunately, I was working graphics and video, not sound. My hearing is far from ready for mixing live sound right now.

My son was playing bass at the evening concert. I’m usually on the stage playing with him and I did miss that part of the experience. But I had my hands full keeping up with all of the graphics work. I spent roughly 30 hours in pre-production working out all of the visuals. The prelude section alone had about 50 graphics which consisted of motion images, flat stills and advertising content. All in, I used about 400 “slides” for this event.

The rig included a 12×9 video wall. I had a triple screen splitter to create a virtual display of 3072 x 768 pixels. Three projectors were painstakingly aligned at the rear of the video wall to create the illusion of a single display. ProPresenter was used to control the visuals from the Mac. ProPresenter is simply awesome. Terrific software.

Here is a shot with the house lights off and some minimal lighting to showcase the stage.

This shot is the band rehearsal prior to the evening concert. House Lights up so things look quite stark. My son Joshua is covering the low end for the team on the far rear right.

Everything comes alive once the house lights go down and the band begins to play.

Console Install

What better time to install a console than during the Christmas holidays.

I had performed an assessment of a fixed location sound system at my home church. Like many churches, the sound system just happened over time. Not much thought given to longer term requirements for sound nor much thought given to the ability to effectively present sound in a variety of styles. This system was adequate for very traditional activities — spoken word, choir and organ — but not suitable for more complex applications such as contemporary worship and multimedia delivery.

I have done a number of assessments like this one over the years. And generally they pretty much turn out the same. Aging and obsolete equipment that needs to be upgraded. Proper acoustic measurements that need to be taken to appropriately specify loudspeaker arrays and the requisite outboard. Monitoring systems that need to be either introduced or upgraded.

Back to the console install.

I specified an Allen and Heath GL2400 32-channel board similar to the one pictured here. This was an appropriate recommendation given the size of the church and its budget.

The installation should have been quite straightforward as we were not changing anything else at this time. Notate and disconnect the existing input/output. Remove old console. Insert new console. Reconnect input/output. Test.

This photo shows one reason why it was time to upgrade the console.

The old Mackie board had been in use for a long time and it was well past its expiry date. Channels had started to fail and the time had come to upgrade this particular device.

What took almost 4 hours of effort had very little to do with the actual console replacement. It was sorting through this:

I have seen some interesting cable plants in my time. I have never seen anything quite like this. Although you cannot see it in this picture, buried underneath all of the cables were things like an active power bar, dozens of pens, masking tape labels that had come loose from the cables, unused cables, unmarked cables, dozens of unused adapters.

Uh oh.

It took a couple of hours just to untangle and sort through the cables. And then, because many of them had not been labeled, many of the lines had to be traced. Unfortunately, several of the lines went to another closet which was just as chaotic. I had not allocated two days of effort to sort and clean up the cable plant so I stayed focused on the existing console install. The outboard closet will have to be dealt with another day.

After 6 hours, the new board was up and running. The cable plant behind the board is now properly tied and dressed and everything is labeled — and not with masking tape.

It took much longer than expected but the new console will provide many years of service and at least the installation and cable dressing was done well.

Front of House

Trevor was in town to host a Compassion Canada presentation at our church. Although I do not serve as part of the technical team, I was asked if I would be willing to run sound for the two services on Sunday. And I am so pleased that I was able to serve Trevor and the Compassion team. Both services were powerful reminders of the plight of many children in the world and the opportunity we have to sponsor a child and make a difference in their lives. We took out a sponsorship on behalf of our youngest son.

Joshua and I spent Saturday afternoon preparing the environment for Trevor. We then spent most of Sunday in terms of load-in, sound check, services, tear down and a late lunch with Trevor, Brad and Andy. Great friends and a special time to get together.

I brought my own direct boxes, microphones, monitors, interconnects. I tried to bring in a proper sound system for the event but I was too late for booking. Summer is a busy time for the audio houses. The system at the church is very, very rough. I was able to get the job done but I’ve never had to “fight” with a sound system to try and wrestle out a decent sound like I did with this one. Joshua did a great job on the multimedia component and we made all the cues and transitions without a blip.

A very powerful and moving morning. I know Trevor often drops by the blog. Trevor, you are amazing! Well done.

Special Evening

Over the past few months, I have been hard at work organizing and planning an evening of music at our church. We had a great team of players and support folks helping us out and we enjoyed a very special evening last night.

Although a lot of planning went into the event, the past two days have been exhausting. I am very tired today. However, the memories will last a lifetime. A few photos from the event.