Camera and monitor for conducting organ
  • Hi all,

    Our parish is having our annual Christmas concert, and we are using the Saint Saens Christmas Oratorio this year. Our traditional setup for a concert is with the choir and instrumentalists in the front. However, this piece also requires organ with the strings and choir.

    My goal is to put a wireless video camera in with the strings, and the corresponding monitor up at the organ console (it's a long distance, and my back will be to the organist). When cuing the organ, I will simply gesture to the camera. Two questions:

    1. Has anyone tried to do it this way? Does it work?

    2. What equipment would you suggest to get this setup? How large of a monitor / what kind of resolution is necessary to make it work?

  • donr
    Posts: 969
    I don't know how large your church is but remember there will be a latency between what you hear, what they hear and what the congregation hears. Simply putting video or audio monitor may not work or even make the sound horrible. Is there a reason why you can not have the instrumentalist and the choir in the loft with you?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    My experiences with wireless have taught me that it isn't 100% reliable. I do know someone locally who did it with wired audio headsets. Something strange happened with wireless audio in the large, cavernous space.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Is mirrors not an option?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    Wireless video camera is but modern reflection of older mirror technology.

    Bad luck with broken wireless video camera connection is but modern reflection of older broken mirror.
  • The church is quite large. Mirrors are enough to tell what's happening at Mass, but not conducting gesture. There's also a second-or-so delay in sound from the organ to the front of the church.
  • I would think hard about whether the choir needs to be in front, particularly at a concert where a satisfying musical outcome should be the prime consideration. At St. David's we have the console and a continuo-sized antiphonal division at the front, adequate for accompanying violins and the choir in Buxtehude's In dulci jubilo, but the grand piano moves to the back of the church before Christmas to make way for the creche. Some years we've started the pre-midnight music at the back and midway through the prelude processed singing Conditor alme acappella with the early-comers of the congregation; other years we've started in front, recessed, and ended with Britten's Deo gracias with piano from the back, before a second procession to Adeste fideles. In any case, nothing says Christmas like walking and singing at the same time. ;-)
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    Andrew, I have limited experience being the organist in this situation, including in spaces where there was a noticeable delay. The organist just has to be ahead of the beat -- how far ahead is something you must determine by practice.

    The best illustration was a situation at the National Shrine in DC where the choir was in the sanctuary, and I was at the chancel console, accompanying the choir using the gallery pipes. We practiced it, and it worked fine. The hardest part as the organist was trusting what I saw (and being ahead of it) and not what I heard. (Incidentally, they just got a new system at the Shrine in the past few years, and it is pretty nice.)

    The screen does not need to be large. Even just one foot diagonal is large enough. I would think any A/V shop could furnish the equipment you need.

  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,912
    The theory sounds solid. From my experience in orchestral conducting in college, including instruments such as organ into the group is always a challenge, but I believe your solution is ingenious and will work flawlessly, so long as the technology doesn't take a nap on you!