New Year’s message number five

All in all, it went well. In French, the Chief Apostle needed only one attempt to record his 2019 New Year’s message. However, not everything went that smoothly. A look behind the scenes.

What is happening in the Chief Apostle’s office in the New Apostolic Church International in Zurich is a team-effort. Paul Huser from the New Apostolic Church Switzerland has brought along a whole cart of equipment: cameras, tripods, microphones, and more. Together with Kevin Glor-Ockert from Germany he is putting everything together. Kevin, who does professional video editing, is once again using his know-how to help the Church.

The Chief Apostle’s New Year address has become a tradition. It all started with the launch of on 1 January 2015. This was the first time that Jean-Luc Schneider addressed the Church members across the globe in a video message to convey his good wishes for the year ahead and to give them a guiding word for the time ahead. “Joy in Christ” was his motto at the time. This was followed by “Victory with Christ”, “Glory be to God our Father”, and “Faithful to Christ”.

A missing screw in the teleprompter

The teleprompter is acting up. It is a nifty piece of equipment without which hardly any proper production can manage nowadays. A horizontal monitor projects its image onto a semi-transparent mirror so that the newscaster or speaker can read the text without looking away from the camera. And this is where the screw is missing. But Paul and Kevin are good at improvising and before long the teleprompter is up and running.

Hundreds of thousands of New Apostolic Christians watch the message every year within hours of its going online. The Internet is only one of several channels. In South-East Asia, for example, the video is often shown after the divine service. And the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa includes the video in its programme on NAC TV. Even as the year moves on, the video still finds new audiences—whether in youth meetings or during get-togethers of seniors.

A way to slow the Chief Apostle down

A teleprompter is not only a useful tool for the speaker, but also for the audience: especially when the Chief Apostle starts talking a mile a minute so that even his own countrymen have difficulty keeping up. “People at home have complained,” he admits with a smile. One advantage of a teleprompter is that you can adjust the scrolling speed of the text on the screen. However, this time it is not even necessary: the speed and flow are good, there are no mistakes, everything is perfect.

Two cameras are used to record the message. One gives an overview, the other is directed at his face. Switching between these two perspectives not only creates a bit of variety for the viewer, but also aids in emphasising certain passages. Setting up the cameras also takes time. Is the angle and camera position optimal? Is the background and sharpness ideal? And what about the lighting? If the shadow is not on the wall, it is on the face—and vice versa. Once this is fixed, the technicians still have to bring the audio to life.

Why the work really only begins now

The German version requires several attempts. Granted, the Chief Apostle is using the German version of the message to warm up. He has to find the right rhythm before the words begin to flow. A mistake is nothing to worry about. Let’s start again from the last paragraph. Another take, please, for good measure. The Chief Apostle insists on reading the English message himself. It is after all the official international language of the Church. However, when it comes to Spanish, he has to pass.

It’s a wrap. Now the real work begins. Picking the best passages, selecting the optimal frames, and so on. For the Chief Apostle too, the day’s work is only beginning. The African District Apostles will be meeting in the afternoon, and tomorrow the International District Apostle Meeting will be in session.

Chief Apostle Schneider leaves his office in a good mood, while the technicians begin to dismantle the cameras. All in all, things went well.

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