Friday, November 28, 2014

What, no Conference Video?

The NZ Methodist Conference apparently entered a new age this month with the use of large screen images of the ordination service so that everyone could see what was going on in the very large venue.  It obviously made a good impression. But, we have been told today, nobody ran the final program mix into any kind of video recorder, so there is no archive copy of the event.

Back in 1986, when "prosumer video" was an unknown term, the Video Connexion Volunteers produced a three-camera, field-produced record of all the major events of the Conference. Not only that, but they handed out ten-minute professionally-edited videos for members to buy as they left the venue.  Many people used these for their "back-home" reports in church the following Sunday. In 1990, this report video was recognised as an international first for religious communication.

The Administration Division contributed the cost of transporting the equipment for a few Conferences. It amounted to a generous subsidy for each video purchased at $15. But when that assistance was no longer forthcoming the volunteers were not able to meet that cost as well as provide their time and skills. So the Conference video programme died.

The Church has a Communications Endowment, conceived by the outgoing Prince Albert College Trustees to develop a national strategy for Connexional communications. An indirect product of three major Commissions on Communication in earlier decades - most of which foundered on the the question of where the money would come from! - the advent of this endowment has failed us in the area of audiovisuals and has not been over-generous in support of the church's newspaper. What was to be a Connexional resource continues to be frittered away on parish projects like hymnbooks, computers and projectors.

And in the technology-rich environment of Conference a few days ago, we apparently had no strategy for how to get the best out of it. How could that have happened?

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