SeedsConf 2017 Screen Visuals

Now that Seeds Conference is over and we all have had a moment to breathe and catch up up on some much needed rest, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about the journey we took while creating the visuals for Seeds Conference 2017.

This year’s visuals were very different than anything we have ever pulled off before. We talked a lot about where we were as church and as a team and it all came down to wanting to create an atmosphere for people to meet the real Jesus. So what does that look like practically? We wanted simplicity, beauty, and for everything to show the light of Jesus. We came up with the idea of having strategic moments where there would be scenic pieces on the LED walls that would show the beauty of God through His creation. We listened to the songs over and over and over and tried to be very strategic about when we would see footage and when we wouldn’t. Sometimes what speaks the loudest is what you choose to take away. With all this in mind, we began scouting locations to shoot these scenic pieces. We knew we wanted somewhere with a lot diversity in scenery, somewhere we could get desert, forest, mountains, and ocean. After a lot of searching, we finally landed on Northern California. So we packed up a ton of gear, flew out to San Fransisco, and scoured the coast for the perfect moments that pointed to Jesus. Below are photos of some of the footage in action in the room during the conference.

FUN FACT: The stars in the song “Behold” (the last set of photos above) are real.

One thing we kept looking for in particular was texture. We wanted our stage background to be beautiful and to help move the story of the song forward but not be too distracting. Something I have learned over the years and am continuing to learn is that sometimes just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Here is a practical example of this idea from my own conference experience. We had tons of beautiful footage that never made it past the rehearsals because they were actually distracting. To be extremely honest, the process of creating the conference visuals this year was THE HARDEST thing I have ever gone through in my creative career and ministry. Why was that? Well, the creative process is best described in these stages:

  • This idea is awesome
  • This idea has some issues
  • This idea is horrible
  • I’m horrible
  • This idea has promise
  • This idea is awesome

If you ever think, “If only I could be that guy or girl—creativity is so easy for them,” that is a lie from the enemy. Plainly said, the creative process is a dark and scary path. In fact, it’s the same for everyone. We encountered problems from the moment we woke up to leave for California all the way up to the night before the conference. Just for fun, here is a list of some of the struggles we had on our journey to Seeds Conference 2017 (it’s okay, we can laugh about them now):

  • A day of flights that was supposed to take 5 hours took 18 hours.
  • The rental company gave our car away because we flew in so late and every other company was sold out completely at 1:00 AM.
  • After 5 days of shooting, our backup drives quit mounting on the computer.
  • I ripped my pants on some rocks.
  • Our computers were taking 18 hours to render some of the videos.
  • Once we got some of the footage on the screens during rehearsals, it wasn’t translating the way we hoped in the room.

What you saw on those screens—whether you attended the conference, were watching via the live stream, or viewing the photos above—was something like draft number five of all the visuals for the conference. Needless to say, I was stuck in that fourth stage of the creative process for a good bit. The enemy had me thinking there was no way I could do this, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I was letting down my team, my church, and every person coming to the conference.

I say all that to say this one thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

It’s so easy to watch other churches online, look at Instagram or Vimeo and think, “Oh, they have it all figured out and it’s easy for them.” I know this is true because I used to think the exact same thing about Church on the Move. Before I was a part of the team here, I worked at churches ranging from 20 people to 20,000 people. I would look at COTM, Hillsong, or Elevation and think, “If I only could do X, or have Y, then everything would be good.” That thought couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is that no matter how far or high on the ladder you get, there will always be someone that seems better or further than you. However, if you build who you are on who you serve and not on what you do, you’ll be able to see that you have a unique calling for your life. It’s so easy for me to see who got another Vimeo Staff Pick or awards like the director of La La Land who was nominated for Best Picture at the age of 32 and think, “What am I doing with my life? Will I ever be that good?” Friends, fear not.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says: “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

This verse was a lighthouse for me. In the darkest moments of the creative process, this verse gave me hope. Hope that I am more than what I create and that my worth is not in how good I do. It reminded me that this conference did not rise or fall on my ability to create. This realization freed me to do what God created me to do.

So many times we get defeated because we rely on ourselves to “achieve” what we feel like God has called us to do. This verse is a great reminder that only in the power of God who calls us can we fulfill that calling. So take a breath and rest easy as you are not alone in feeling this way. I assure you that God’s will doesn’t live or die on your creative ability.

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Tory Cooper
cotmfilm Director
Tory came to Church on the Move in 2013 to join the NEXT Internship Program. He now serves on the creative team as the cotmfilm Director where his passion for the visual story and sharing the gospel in new and relevant ways brings every story we tell to life. He loves getting to help equip other filmmakers to use their gifts for the church. You can find him on instagram @tcooper and cotmfilm @cotm.film