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  • Writer's pictureBen Watson

The World's First Green Screen Children's Choir

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

In November 2020, the Rexburg Children's Choir produced, what I think is, the most important video we've released so far. The reason why I think it is the most important is because it demonstrates to the world that choral music can, and should, persist in a world afflicted with challenges. Music is a powerful healer, and choral music especially so.

Earlier this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began its crawl across the world, our way of life completely changed, and a "new normal" was instituted. Social distancing was implemented, masks were donned, businesses closed, religious worship moved online, and schools scrambled to find ways to continue educating children. The new normal was beginning to look like a new nightmare. And the Rexburg Children's Choir wasn't immune to the collateral damage caused by this pandemic. We too had to shut down face-to-face rehearsals in March, cancel a concert, retool a major music video with David Archuleta, and recalibrate our plans for the future.

Rather than allowing our choral program to become paralyzed by the pandemic, I decided to view this challenge as an opportunity for innovation to do its magical work. After all, some of the world's most interesting inventions are products of unforeseen and uninvited challenges. The light bulb was invented during the Long Depression of the late 19th century, the zipper came to us because of World War I, and we have microwave ovens due to World War II.

One evening, in May, I was pondering production solutions for the choir to use if the pandemic were still around in the fall. At the time, it seemed unlikely (at least to me) that the pandemic would hang around that long, but . . . just in case . . . I decided to start planning. And I'm glad I did.

The idea of green screen came to me at a random moment during my workday. To be honest, I look at it as a "God thing." The thought was not of my own creation. Suddenly this idea of using green screens came to my mind and I couldn't get it OFF MY MIND! I knew a little about green screen technology due to my past experience as a broadcast journalist for the Army National Guard. However, I had no idea if it were possible to "green screen" multiple singers and then edit them all together onto the same scene (which in my case would be a performance stage).

I wasted no time in testing the concept.

As soon as I returned home from work, I hopped online and ordered a green screen cloth, a video camera, and purchased a mid-range video editing software solution.

When the green screen arrived in the mail, I couldn't wait to test the concept! To do so, I recorded several singers from the choir singing as they stood in front of the green screen. After importing the raw video files to the editing program, I was thrilled to discover that it was possible to place multiple singers next to each other so it appeared as if they were singing on the same stage. Not only that, but I also learned that it is possible to place singers in rows!

Although I was able to prove the concept, my computer wasn't able to prove the processing power! It could only handle a maximum of eight video tracks before it began to slow down like molasses in a Rexburg January! If my computer couldn't handle eight video tracks, it certainly wouldn't be able to handle 100 video tracks. Yet, I was undeterred.

After consulting with our video producer, Nick Sales, (who, by the way is one of the most talented videographers on planet Earth and an incredibly nice guy), we determined that his computer would probably be able to handle the project. So we moved ahead with the production, using an arrangement of For Unto Us a Child is Born, from Tim Sharp's "Christmas Messiah for Young Voices."

What resulted was not only a magical production, but it was also a testament to the world that with a little innovation, creativity, persistence, and hard work, great things can be accomplished during especially-challenging times. In this case, we did a world-first. We produced the world's first green screen children's choir!

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