What's in a name? The job listings I researched had a consistency in types of skills and duties for the lead job at most houses of worship, but titles ranged from "Director of Media" to "Worship Team Video Producer" to "Video Director." Below the lead job, the job titles are more consistent—such as "video engineer" or "teleprompter operator."
The top job had a consistent set of skills required from the director or producer slot. Duties and responsibilities include leadership of all church media functions, such as live audio, video, lighting, and recording. One job description broke responsibilities down this way:
- Audio mixing, monitor mixing, and audio recording for worship
- Creation and management of text to be projected during worship
- Design and preparation of videos to be used to enhance worship
- Lighting production for worship and special events
- Basic stage management during worship and special events
- Providing audio/visual services for all ministries
- Oversee and manage technical/audio staff, both paid and volunteer.
Many houses of worship expect those in this full-time position to have at least five years of technical production experience across most technical skills, or management experience in these areas. Several also noted that the leader of the video and media team needed to have at least that amount of experience in worship production, with a "strong commitment to excellence in worship."
In short, houses of worship need the same skills the broader event videography industry provides. In addition, they need basic broadcast skills. I found numerous openings for graphics operators, front-of-house audio mixers, videographers, and others.
Live production skills. The two job descriptions, besides the top director or producer jobs, that were most abundant during my search were for audio mixing positions—some of which required an audition prior to consideration for even a part-time job—and camera operators. On the audio side, these skills scale from a small house of worship's single audio mixing part-time position to a large house of worship's four or five person team that includes at least a front-of-house, monitor, and recording mixer position. Likewise on the video side, the camera operator could be working solo or could be part of a six- to ten-person operator crew, responsible for simultaneously capturing shots of the music worship team, ministers, and other worship leaders.
Editing skills. The single most ubiquitous postproduction skill I found during my search was editing. Several of the job openings called for Avid editing, others called for Final Cut Pro. All requested skills in Photoshop and After Effects. A few asked for Illustrator or other graphics skills while others lumped the graphics and compositing together into a job that the live graphics operator would also perform during the postproduction process.
According to Phil Cooke's blog, the greatest need is for "Predators" (producer/editors) and especially those who have skills in editing and graphic design. According to Phil, as of early December 2006 when this column was written, there were about 25 positions open in church media teams for editors who know Avid and After Effects.
"I've worked in the religious media world for 30 years," says Cooke. "The demand for editors/graphic designers is higher than ever. If they can tell a story, cut the segment, and design and produce the graphics, life will be good."
Digital signage or streaming skills. The number of jobs requiring skills in digital signage or streaming media is also growing. Skills in digital signage included requirements for SCALA or Visual Circuits systems that combine RGBHV/computer graphics signals with preproduced video clips that were used around the church or synagogue to highlight upcoming events or recap past events. Also, a few houses of worship are requesting that their broadcast team members also provide streaming during the worship event.
Soft skills. After all the hard skills and technical requirements are met, many of the job descriptions remind applicants of the need for team spirit. After all, it wouldn't do to have the worship team meeting technical requirements while killing the very spirit they're in place to help amplify. Job descriptions included the standard soft skills such as teamwork, flexibility, and communication. And as with all organizations that require volunteers to fill out the crew, every job description I found noted that the soft skill of working with and training volunteers and other team members was an essential skill for every job.
Those of you who might be considering a full- or part-time position in a house of worship should find the skills that you've honed in event videography in high demand. Teamwork is a key factor, so anyone used to working solo should carefully consider volunteering with the worship team before applying for a paid position, to see how your skills mesh with those of the existing team.
Tim Siglin, co-founder of Transitions, Inc., is a contributing editor to Streaming Media. He has 18 years of film and video experience and heads a digital media business consultancy in Kingsport, Tennessee.