By Seth Thiesen
North Point Community Church is the original church that was started about 22 years ago. As we have grown, and as part of our multi-site strategy, we have six churches in the Atlanta area that all fall under the North Point umbrella. All the churches reflect the community that they are in; we all have our own unique identity, with a campus pastor responsible for overseeing the ministry. We are all connected via a fiber network, and the sermons are broadcast via that network with a one-to-six minute buffer. Each campus has the ability to originate the message and share it with the other campuses; however, the bulk of our sermons have recently been from our Buckhead campus.
We don’t look at North Point Community Church as being the main campus; it’s the first campus. As far as purchasing equipment and new gear, we try to keep everything equitable amongst all campuses. We try to evaluate a variety of different manufacturers before we make any purchases, so while there are some staggered life-cycles for gear, the equipment is being used as it’s needed. We try to keep everything as consistent as possible between all the campuses, from the look of the stage to the broadcast quality, etc. All the campuses have a production director; some have an audio director, a lighting director, etc., based on their size and needs. We have the ability to pick and choose and tailor our gear towards what we feel will make us most effective across all church communities.
We also create the same scenic design for each campus using Vectorworks. For the design of our scenic pieces, we use Vectorworks. Each campus has a Vectorworks license, and can draw up, create renderings, and share ideas. We can sketch our ideas to share with the team through our Microsoft Surfaces. Once we land on an idea, we take it into Vectorworks to work out the drawings and take the conceptual sketch and put hard dimensions to it.
From there, we can figure out materials, costs, come up with a more professional looking render to further the collaboration abilities of the team. Vectorworks allows us to take the staging concept and allow our multisite campuses to tweak the design to fit better within their own space. We don’t want the stages to look different from campus to campus, so building the sets to look the same helps us keep the continuity in staging that carries over through our broadcast and offers our members a way to feel connected with one another.
On a typical Sunday at North Point we are using seven cameras. Four cameras on tripods, two hand held, and one jib. One of the stick cameras and the jib are used primarily for the online stream to give wide shots. Since we are doing IMAG on our side screens, we typically don’t take any wide shots. The video team is comprised of 125 volunteers and two staff. We are staff led, but volunteer driven. Our lighting system is set up to support the video well. During the music portion of our service we allow for a little more creativity on the lighting side. I am not a fan of color front light, but we use a lot of side and back light to create a mood and atmosphere that matches the music. For the message or speaking portions of our service we take a more straight forward approach. We have a 20’ wash at 40 foot-candles and 1/2 CTB color correction. The key light comes in at a 30 degree angle and helps with any under eye shadows. There is also a row of foot lights that help fill.
Being able to use Vectorworks to create our scenic design helps us to keep the feel of service cohesive across all our campuses. This continuity contributes to the feeling of community we foster for all members, across all our platforms and campuses; Vectorworks makes it happen.
SETH THIESEN IS PRODUCTION DIRECTOR AT NORTH POINT COMMUNITY CHURCH. PREVIOUSLY, HE HELD ROLES AS A LIGHTING AND SCENIC DESIGNER AT HEARTLAND COMMUNITY CHURCH AND SVL PRODUCTIONS. HE’S BEEN IN THE HOUSE OF WORSHIP INDUSTRY FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS AND HAS EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF CAD, VISUALIZATION SOFTWARE AND LIGHTING DESIGN.