Five Questions For Marty Taylor of Northland Church

1. How did you get involved in media production for Northland Church?
I began serving at Northland as a congregant in 1998 when I owned a production company in Orlando. At the end of a very long and diverse path, I ended up joining Northland as creative media director in 2006.

2. Can you describe the media department and its biggest daily challenges?
Our team is a unique mix of people with great technical and creative talent, coupled with a specific drive to serve the church. Our biggest challenge is striving to craft a high-quality, high-creativity worship environment on a weekly basis. The looming deadline of each weekend is constantly on everyone’s radar.

Having a larger team allows each member to focus on specific areas of production. We have audio technicians who specifically mix at FOH, some who mix primarily in the studio, and some who function as the audio designer, crafting the plan for the audio environment long before an instrument is even played. The same applies to video, where some technicians are focused on the live production, and others are focused on capturing stories or pre-producing content. Everyone from the producers down to the camera volunteers needs to understand the purpose and mission and how vital they are to it being accomplished. That clear vision allows the team to work with the synergy necessary to execute great creative ideas in such a short time frame.

3. How has technology changed the experience in houses of worship, generally and specifically at Northland?
It has made a significant impact on the church as a whole, both good and bad. When a church embraces technology as a tool or means to achieve a purposeful result, it sees great success. Conversely, when we view technology as the goal itself, without identifying the bigger purpose behind its use, we distract from the very content it exists to promote.

For us, technology is much like an instrument, or voice, or even air conditioning. It is a great tool for creating an environment for worship. Using technology to affect the audible and visual environments of our worship venues helps focus our congregation toward specific content and themes of worship. In addition, good technology that is utilized well helps eliminate the distractions associated with poor quality audio, video, and lighting.

4. How do you decide when to update technology and what to incorporate?
Any purchase or upgrade decisions are based on the impact they have on our environments and/or the execution of services. We don‘t choose to upgrade simply because it is new, but only because it significantly enhances what we do. We built what would be considered a monumental upgrade, going from a remodeled, 40 year-old roller skating rink to a $40 million, 3,200-seat theatre. The choices were based not on what was the latest and greatest, but on what would build upon the philosophy of creating environments and connecting with others that we developed in our shabby roller rink. The tools were new and better, but the goal was the same.

5. What would you tell a young designer/technician who wanted to work in the houses of worship sector?
As you pursue a career in a house of worship, never let the technology get ahead of the content. Let your passion for the content drive how you use the tools of technology.

Marty Taylor will lead a full-day mini-conference dedicated to technology for houses of worship, at Northland, A Church Distributed, on Thursday, November 19, 2009 as part of LDI2009.

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