The 2022 New Year’s message is in the can

The French wine connoisseur travels to Germany and all he is offered is water. Even so the words flow fluently from his lips—and in three languages. Here is a look behind the scenes at the recording of the New Year’s message for 2022.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee and welcoming smiles greet the communications team at the church in Sachsenhausen, a city quarter of Frankfurt, Germany. There is also an inviting “Come” in the windows. The church hall, built in a timeless Bauhaus style, is friendly and flooded with light.

Due to the pandemic, the communications team was unable to travel to Zurich to do the recording for the New Year’s message. Seeing that the Chief Apostle had a meeting in Neu-Isenburg—to chair the board meeting at Bischoff Publishers—it seemed only logical to do the recording in the area. The offices of Bischoff Publishers were not available because of ongoing renovation work, but the modern church in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen was a perfect fit. In addition, the congregation celebrated its centenary just yesterday.

The set-up

The camera team met at the Sachsenhausen church at ten in the morning. The best spot for the recording had to be found, and the camera and the teleprompter set up. And some flowers were needed too. The team spent hours getting everything ready: image and sound, light and shadow, foreground and background… then everything was put through its paces.

The church was a fairly cool 16 degrees Celsius. The heating had broken down the day before. For the men the temperature was just right, but not for the only woman on the set. Thank goodness cameraman Kevin had brought a heated jacket along.

The Chief Apostle has no issues with a such temperatures either. He was in a good mood. After a bit of banter, the New Year’s message was recorded in German, English, and French—in that order. The home game came last. Although the French text was a lot longer on paper, the Chief Apostle managed to read it in half the time.

Blunders

Hardly any professional production does without one: a teleprompter. This is a computer that projects text onto a mirror so that the person being filmed can read the text without it being visible to the viewers and maintain eye contact with the viewers.

Already over the last several years, the device had been a little temperamental. One year the text was displayed upside-down or back-to-front. This time around, it would not allow the lines to be scrolled at the desired pace. The Chief Apostle spoke faster and faster until he burst out laughing because he could not keep up—all the while the technicians were trying in vain to stop the text from scrolling.

No problem, they just started over again. The Chief Apostle did not need to eat between takes. A few slips of the tongue later he sighed for a glass of wine. Water and cookies were all there was.

“Together in Christ” is the motto for 2022. The Chief Apostle explained what this means by counting the points off on his fingers. But how do you show first, second, third, and fourth? Do you start counting with your thumb or index finger? That depends not only on a person’s dexterity, but also on his or her cultural background. But the Chief Apostle mastered this little feat with aplomb—and in the correct language to boot. Will the audience notice?

We did it!

That was quick. Before everyone knew it, the message was in the can, or rather, on two independent storage media—just to make sure. Then it was time to dismantle everything. Everything had to be stored away and secured for transport. The Chief Apostle drove home to France, where a well-deserved glass of wine was hopefully waiting for him.

But the work is far from done: the video has to be edited, subtitles and trailers added. The result can be watched on 1 January 2022 on nac.today, nak.org, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Katrin Löwen
15.11.2021
Chief Apostle, New Year's Day, Media, motto