Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Just when something has worked consistently enough to be deemed reliable, it goes wrong.

We recently had an LED light fixture malfunction during a worship service.  But it didn't just malfunction.  It malfunctioned in such a way that it caused all the other LEDs in the light rig to strobe randomly.  In the middle of the pastor's message.  Pretty much a TD's nightmare.  Fortunately it was the last light in that particular DMX chain and it was on the ground so I was able to nonchalantly unplug it from the rest of the lights, thereby ensuring an uneventful conclusion to the service.  After switching the fixture out between services, the rest of the morning went smoothly.

I'm sure you've experienced a similar situation.  Something is going really wrong and you have a few minutes (or a few seconds) to decide what to do about it.  Staying calm and taking time to think through the situation are the keys to solving issues during a live production in the least painful way possible.

Stay calm.  If you start to sweat and hyperventilate, you're not doing anyone any good.  You'll figure it out and the world will go on.  This is especially important if you are a team leader.  Nothing will freak your team out faster than seeing their leader fall apart.

Take your time.  If you react abruptly and suddenly to a situation, the likelihood of your reaction being a distraction or not best course of action is pretty high. Sometimes problems work themselves out after a moment.  If the pastor's mic crackles once and you immediately sprint to the stage with a spare hand held, only to realize that it rubbed briefly against his beard, you've probably caused a larger distraction then necessary.  Ask yourself which is more disruptive to the service, letting the situation play out or stepping in to change something?

Decide and act calmly and with authority.  If you decide to go on stage and unplug a malfunctioning light, then just do it. Don't run, don't look around at the audience, don't apologize, don't fiddle, just do it and leave.  Act like it was part of the show.

Tell your leadership that the problem is fixed.  They don't necessarily need to know how, they just need to know you've got everything under control.

Analyze afterwards.  Take the time later to go over the event and see what could have been done to prevent the issue, what contingencies could be put in place, and if your response could have been different.  Learn from these experiences, unpleasant as they may be at the time.

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