David Hammons kept us worshiping during the pandemic
Long before COVID hit, David Hammons was Wilshire’s main videographer, recording worship and managing the livestream of the 11 a.m. service. His role became even more vital — and he got a lot busier — when the church shifted to online-only worship in March 2020.
“Before COVID,” David says, “we did two services and a Sunday School class, live. And whatever happens happens, and you’re done with it.”
Wilshire live-streamed worship for the first few weeks of the COVID shutdown, but technical issues caused by increased internet demand caused the church to shift gears and begin prerecording its service. This added a new time-consuming wrinkle for David: editing. Worship segments were usually filmed in the Sanctuary on Friday mornings, and this footage would have to be combined with other pieces, like videos sent in by congregants.
“After we shoot on Fridays, I bring everything home and start editing almost right away — anywhere from three to five hours on Friday afternoon and evening,” David says. “Then I export it and upload a draft, and send Doug and Jeff a link, and by Saturday morning they’ll have watched it and sent me notes. I’ll make the changes and usually by noon Saturday I’ve got the new version uploaded to YouTube and set to premiere on Sunday.”
Associate Pastor Doug Haney says, “David has been a Godsend and a gifted partner through the pandemic, helping the worship planning team to pivot to an all-prerecorded worship service. Thank God for David’s willing spirit and adaptability as we navigated the past year.”
In addition to the weekly service, David led the production of special programs like Hanging of the Green, Maundy Thursday, Jeff Brummel’s organ concerts and Faith in 3D’s The Living.
David says the extra production during the shutdown helped him grow creatively, providing “good opportunities for me to learn more of the craft of editing, and even shooting. It’s been a lot of fun to shoot these things, and then watch them come together. I’ve learned to use my cell phone as my second camera. I love walking around shooting with it, shooting details in the Sanctuary to use in editing, especially when the nativity set was out and other decorations. That was just a chance to be really creative and have some fun with it.”
David is quick to point out that he’s not doing this work alone. “There were some of those weeks, especially the special services, we had to have all hands on deck. It has to be a group effort,” he says, citing Jim Tapley as another key player in video production for the church. Tapley will be handling the livestream for Midweek Bible Study going forward, and a team of volunteers has been reactivated to assist with the Sunday livestream.
David came to Wilshire in 2007 when his wife, Joan, became minister to preschoolers, and he began doing video work for the church a couple of years later. He has been instrumental in helping the video ministry grow and become more sophisticated. When the worship livestream began several years ago, he says, “we started with one camera and now we have five cameras — four regular and a fifth with a wireless connection.” Coming out of the pandemic, David reports that new equipment and software are in place that will help the livestream be more stable.
Reflecting on the past 15 months, David says, “The whole staff and congregation have just been marvelous through all this with their patience and understanding, and being supportive of our efforts to keep the service on the air. That has been huge.”
■ You can drop David a note at email@example.com or catch him at his spot in the Sanctuary balcony this summer.