Boundless harmony: the Pentecost hymn 2020

They managed to finish just in time for Pentecost: the International Virtual Choir. And what a job it was sifting through some 80 hours of music videos from 1,600 singers in fifty countries.

Friday, 29 May, seven o’clock in the morning: Théo, Cédric, Cathy, and Pascal are dead beat and can finally get some sleep. They have been burning the midnight oil for two nights straight. Now the computers are processing the data.

The days and nights before they had spent sifting through and sorting videos. By Wednesday, the deadline, 1,317 videos had been submitted, and another 150 or so trickled in afterwards. And on many videos there was more than one person singing.

A working holiday

Which vocal part, which language, which video or audio quality? There was so much to consider until the proper spot was found in the montage. In which order should the recordings be presented? How do you best mix hundreds of audio tracks?

The four friends were extremely well organised. They had set up an extra website and a database to store the clips, and they even worked in shifts. In fact, they took a few days of unpaid leave from their jobs to tackle the project.

Not every video made it

The response was so overwhelming that they just could not do everything they had planned, such as the newsletter. And the odd request or question by email or Messenger just could not be answered. Nor did every video clip make it into the final edited montage—for organisational, time-related, or technical reasons.

The team hopes that no one will be disappointed and that everyone understands. The ultimate goal was, after all, to be done by Pentecost. Not only did the team need time to process the clips, but even more so the number crunchers.

They really put their heart into it

Théo, Cédric, Cathy, and Pascal combined four computers to a cluster—and then added extra cloud capacity. Processing the enormous amount of data of 80 hours of stacked audio and video clips into a few minutes of track length requires a lot of processing speed.

Maybe they will create a bonus version after Pentecost with the remaining material. But now it is time to relax and enjoy. “We really put our heart into this,” the four say. “It was a great experience to be able to chat with so many sisters and brothers from around the world.”

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Andreas Rother