Two days before the teens arrived in Offenburg, 25 people gathered around the main stage, shoved to the side during set up, to move the massive structure back into place for TeenStreet (TS) 2015. Among those pushing were the TS programme team, the sound and light experts, and the entire OMNIvision crew—OM International’s media ministry team specializing in live events and video production.
For most of the year, OMNIvision team members travel in small groups around the globe, filming various OM ministries worldwide and producing events for OM as well as other Christian organizations. TS, however, as OMNIvision’s biggest annual event, brings the larger team together for almost two weeks.
According to Jay, associate producer and director of photography, OMNIvision’s motto is Psalm 96:3 (ESV), “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” At TS, OMNIvision doesn’t directly tell the teens what God is doing around the world, but team members work behind the scenes to facilitate an environment where attendees can easily connect with what’s happening on stage.
Managing the video screens makes that connection possible. Because TS takes place in a large venue, the Main Hall meetings could get lost for teenagers sitting farther back in the cavernous room. “It seems like people are really able to engage more with sessions, with the teaching, with the videos and things that are happening if they can see the person talking close up,” said Katie, associate producer and writer. “On a screen, they can see expressions, they can see emotions behind what the person’s saying,” which, she continued, communicates the message more powerfully and more personally. “Literally, we’re setting the stage for what God’s going to do.”
Ant, production manager and senior editor, explained that OMNIvision’s role at TS is “very technical as opposed to what we often do” (which is already incredibly technical). The set-up’s more complex, the days longer, and the actual sessions more intense. “Anytime you see something on a screen, it’s probably us,” Ant noted. And the directing process happening behind the scenes—a multi-screen maze of visuals and camera angles—is also much more complicated than the pictures being shown. “The director has to be in the present, but he also has to be ten seconds in the future,” Jay said. Every ounce of concentration counts.
Between sessions, though, OMNIvision also knows how to have fun. Whether it’s singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the translation booths during sound check or upgrading the flimsy wooden backstage sleeping cubicles affectionately dubbed “the slum,” the team makes the most of TS. The conference is special “because we get to travel and be together as a team,” Katie said. For her, the highlight is threefold: “just to do life together as well as connect with people around the OM world and be part of these teenager’s lives, even though it’s in a background support sort of role.”
Success, the team agreed, means invisibility. “It’s kind of like glass,” Katie said. “We want to be transparent so people can see Jesus through us,” or, in the case of TS, “for people to be able to concentrate on the message and content,” Jay added.
Although OMNIvision wants their production to be invisible, they still see TS as a key opportunity to show teens how media can be used in missions. Lars, a creative engineering for performing arts student, first connected with OMNIvision while attending TS as a teen and ended up working as cable grip, making sure the camera operator didn’t trip over the long cables trailing on the ground. Now, Lars has returned for the third year as an OMNIvision volunteer, having discovered how to serve TS with his talent for camera and lights. Not only is OMNIvision a great way to give back to TS, it’s also a chance for him to interact with the long-termers on the media ministry team. “There’s a real connection within the team. They work together. It’s one close group,” he described.
As for what HOME, this year’s TS theme, means to OMNIvision? It’s the team.
“Home is where your family’s at, so we become each other’s family. When we’re sick, we take care of each other. When we’re sad, we give each other hugs and pray for each other. When we’re irritated with each other, we throw things at each other,” Katie answered.
“Home is where the heart is,” Jay stated, not as cliché but as truth. Because OMNIvision travels so much, being with the team and the wider community at OM events means being home.
“Over the years, OMNIvision has tried to foster a spirit that it’s not just another job, it’s not just another thing you’re doing in missions…you’re part of a family, you’re part of a close-knit team.” Ant added. “I’ve felt at home every time I’ve been working with OMNIvision.”