MEMORIAL SERVICE EQUIPMENT
Memorial Service Equipment is vital for a seamless and successful service. Unfortunately you will need a certain amount of technology to pull-it-off.
Usually, the venue will help-out enormously in this department; it is their venue and they (should) know their equipment and facilities; but don’t always rely on this. Memorial Service Equipment can vary from venue to venue. Asking questions and double checking can alleviate problems before they arise and especially on the day. A check-list of what you need and are expecting is an invaluable tool.
For outdoor venues such as forests, parks, hillsides and so forth, Memorial Service Equipment will have to be listed (requirements), assembled and brought on the day and then set-up. Delegating someone to 'be in charge' of this department is essential.
Some of the techy (and not so highly techy) equipment you will need for indoor venues includes:
- A Speaker system with amplifier
- Lectern with microphone
- Visual Tribute equipment (projector, screen etc)
- Table for the Urn or Casket
- Table for Refreshments
You will need a speaker system for background music, the lectern microphone, service music, visual tribute music backing tracks and perhaps recorded voice tracks. All speakers will need an amplifier. Most venues have this Memorial Service Equipment, but not all.
The speakers may be permanently mounted on the wall or be standalone speakers on speaker stands. Each venue has different methods of providing speakers and sound. The key is to check they have a sound system and that it works – not leaving it until the day of the service.
For outdoor services, you will need to bring the speaker and amplifier along with you – delegated to someone ‘technical’ or system savvy.
A number of portable speaker systems these days have built-in amplifiers. Beg, steal, or borrow or, if no one has a speaker system they can lend you, hire a system from a music or DJ store. It is then just a matter of plugging-in a microphone or an iPad/Tablet or even mobile phone to play the music you wish. Music is generally an integral element of a Memorial service. Get the right Memorial Service Equipment for the location and everything will be plain sailing.
Check whether the sound system needs to be plugged into an electricity socket or can be battery powered. Your Master Spreadsheet should have this listed - to be checked and double checked.
Making Yourself Be Heard
Not everyone has a loud, clear speaking voice. An amplified system is almost (but not always) essential. For big rooms with lots of guests, it is a good idea. For small intimate gatherings, a speaker system may be a tad over the top for just amplification. However, for music (or pre-recoded items), iPads, iPhones, tablets, and other such devices may not have the same impact in terms of volume and tone to convey the music how you originally envisaged it or wanted it to be.
Nothing is really 'standard' when it comes to devices and amplification systems. A mobile phone may have a 3.5mm jack socket - but the amplifier/speaker system will use a 6.25mm jacks. An adaptor will thus be required. A simple thing, but can be forgotten or over looked. If not brought on the day it could prove to be a small disaster - music and microphone wise.
Microphones generally have a 6.25mm plug but can (depending on the quality and price of the microphone) have a 3.5mm plug. More professional (and more expensive microphones) can have a Canon plug (three round pins)
For most indoor Memorial services, a lectern for the Celebrant, the family and friend’s speakers and Tribute givers, it is almost an essential piece of equipment required. Having a microphone (and linked to a speaker system) is an enormous bonus and would help quieter spoken people.
If the lectern does not have a built-in microphone stand (flexible arm), then a boom microphone stand may be an option. Hand-holding microphones whilst reading can be awkward, cumbersome, and difficult to master. Professional speakers make it look easy and simple. Trying to read a Tribute of several pages whilst holding a microphone is a difficult task. A Lectern should be on your Memorial Service Equipment list.
Visual Tribute - Slide Show
What is a visual Tribute?
Images, photographs, slides created in an App and projected onto a screen or wall. A visual tribute is a wonderful, poignant, and loving way to show everyone the person he/she was in images, photographs, music and perhaps video.
When is the best time to show the visual tribute?
The theme, length of the service and when you think it is appropriate to show a light-hearted, and fun side of the person who has passed away is up to you.
Generally, it is one of the last items on the Order of Service. It can be seen as the finale; the most uplifting aspect of the service, showing him/her at his/her best. The last slide/image being the one you would like everyone to remember him or her by.
How long should a Memorial Video be?
Videos that last longer than 6 or 7 minutes unless professionally produced, edited, and crafted can or have the ability to lose the attention of the people watching.
A badly shot, edited, or put together video as we perhaps all know from experience, can be rather tedious and painful to watch no matter what the content is or is about.
The camera dropping down to show the floor or suddenly pointing up to the ceiling when the cameraman is walking can be amusing and humorous once or twice, but continuous ‘mistakes’ can uncomfortable to watch.
Photographs or still images can be incorporated into the video to ‘break-up’ or mask the not so well shot, lit, or created video.
What editing software is available?
There is a myriad of video editing software applications on the market today from Free versions (like Microsoft’s Movie Maker) through to Movavi (around £50), Camtasia (around $250) and dozens of other brands.
Each software is slightly different in the way they work and facilities they offer. Some have a steep learning curve and others are very intuitive. Demo versions are well worth downloading and trying first. If you feel you cannot edit or put together a visual tribute, there are many companies that can do this for you. If the cost is too prohibitive, ask a ‘techy’ family member if they would put it together for you.
Visual Tribute Looped
Instead of having a ‘sit and watch’ slide show during the service, another idea may be to have images continuously playing or looped; projected on to a side wall or screen. The screen should not be directly behind the lectern/speakers, but to one side where it will not interfere with the proceedings or be a ‘distraction’.
There are advantages and disadvantages of having a Looped Visual Tribute.
• Dozens and dozens of images can be shown throughout the length of the service.
• The life story of the person can be shown in images – not just pictures but also quotes, messages, sayings, school reports and so forth all projected onto a screen.
• Images are perfect for Reflection times throughout the service (if that is what you have planned or would like).
• It may distract people from the service. People may be watching the screen as opposed to listening to someone deliver a Eulogy or Tribute.
• If all the images are not of the same standard (in focus, attention grabbing great photos and so forth) it may be become irritating and not achieve the goal you wish.
• Competing. If the visual tribute is superb, professionally done and very interesting, live performers and Tribute givers may appear to be ‘not as good’ as the visual tribute; especially if they are not professional performers or speakers.
Visual Tribute Content
What images should I include in a Memorial Visual tribute?
The overall theme to the visual tribute will indicate what images to include. As an example, a chronological order of images may be one approach. Images of: Their parents and growing up with them; images as a baby, toddler, first school, teenager life, holidays with parents, college, parties, first jobs, wedding, their career, their children, and so forth. The last shot should always be the most memorable one.
Hobbies, sports, pastimes are great themes. The most amusing and fun shots create the most impact and connectivity. ‘When things went wrong’ show the human side to our lives which most of us can identify with and enjoy watching. We are smiling with them and not at them.
Beware of having too many images that are very similar and placed together; one-after-the-other.
If he or she was a football fanatic for example, having a number of football related images is great. However, it is easy to fall into the trap of every slide/image being one of him/her kicking a ball. After a while, no matter how much we loved him/her, unless everyone in the room is ’into’ the sport as well, it can become heavy-going and become ‘uninteresting’.
Not all the images will be interesting to everyone right throughout the Visual Tribute. A diverse selection or range of images will capture the attention of the guests.
Should a Visual Memorial Tribute be just images?
No. Include captions, dates, comments, sayings and so forth. It is not needed for every photo; just where appropriate and where needed. Too many dates or amusing comments can detract from the visual enjoyment.
Fading images one to the other is far more preferable than distracting fancy wipes, images sliding in-and-out or whizzing around the screen like a whirlwind. The Visual Tribute is about the person, not the gimmicky, technical, and different ways to get each image on to the screen. However, images shown at angles, portrait, landscape or cropped or layered create drama and interest.
What Memorial Service Equipment do I need?
Most venues will have all the Memorial Service Equipment you need. It is just a matter of outlining what you are planning for the service and they will suggest or provide the right equipment for you - if they have it.
Some indoor venues, like village Halls, a community centre, a friend's home, will generally not have all the Memorial Service Equipment you need. Funeral and Memorial Celebrants have a check-list of the items that will be needed. Once hired, they may need to adapt, adjust and add items to their list in order to fulfil you wishes. You may require several hand-held microphones for guests seated to be able to 'say something' from their chair without the need to going to the lectern.
Most indoor venues will have overhead, room lighting. However, you may need or would like some more specific lighting to highlight areas such as: Remembrance tables(s), lectern, a Portrait of the person passed away specially lit or even a floral tribute.
We live in a visual world. We are bombarded with images on TV, the Internet and all around us every second of the day. When we see a theatre show, a band, an 'experience performance'; an integral part of that is lighting whether we realize it or not.
You may wish the room's overall lighting to be slightly dimmed and spotlights on the Lectern, the table with the Urn/casket, a flower tribute display and so forth. It may be a little theatrical in approach, but it will set the stage and emphasize or highlight things that are important to you. Some overhead lighting systems can be a little harsh and stark.
The content of the Memorial Service is important, but so is Music, Staging and Lighting.
Coloured Lighting Gel
If you wish to have a Candle Lighting Ceremony for example, just as this starts, the lighting in the room can be lowered to a suitable level and a spotlight with a yellow, light orange or warm coloured gel slowly fades up on the Candle Table. This will focus peoples' attention on the what is about to happen. If a reading, poem or someone wants to say something at the lectern, a warm coloured light can fade-up on the lectern. If done subtly and carefully, people seated will not consciously notice what is happening but be drawn-in to this part of the service.
Do I need to provide the lighting myself?
Some venues will have a few theatre spotlights mounted on the ceiling. If the lights are permanent, the venue will have a lighting-Board for dimming, fading up-and-down those lights. The venue may provide a lighting technician to set it all up for you and operate the lights on the day.
If you see there are no lights or lighting gantries at the venue, there is a good chance you will have to provide the lights yourself. All is not lost,
Theatre Groups for Lighting
Local theatre (amateur dramatic) groups can lend or hire the lights you need. There are theatre groups in most bigger towns and cities. 90% of the time, their lights or even their theatre room is not in use. Another idea for a Memorial Service venue. They may be happy to help out in whatever way they can. They may lend you the lights, stands, cables etc., you need or ask for a small donation. As they are an Amateur group, they may also be willing to help in whatever way they can on the day.
Disco and DJ Shops
Disco shops will have lights you can borrow or hire. Most, not all DJ shops will have a huge amount of technical equipment you may need for either indoor and outdoor venues. Many ex-band Roadies and lighting technicians setup their own 'local band' lighting and PA companies when they leave the big touring circuits for big named acts. Their knowledge and expertise can be huge - to pick their brains!
Local bands or groups may have their own stage lighting for when they play live. Borrowing or hiring their lights may be an option. The type and variety may be limited, but depending what you have in mind, may be suitable for your needs.
Table For The Urn Or Casket
For a Memorial service, generally the urn or casket containing the ashes of the person passed away will be present. Placing a table to the left or right of the lectern may be preferable to having it as an ‘altar’ at the front centre of the room if it is a Celebration of Life service.
A crisp, clean, ironed white or black tablecloth over the table is usual. The urn or casket placed on the table with a large, framed photograph next to it is a quite fitting and respectful for the service.
Table For Refreshments
Should we provide refreshments at the Memorial Service for attendees to help themselves?
The type of service you wish or planning for, will dictate this. At some services, waiting/venue staff hand-out refreshments at the beginning, during the service or just at the end. This is up to you.
If you have a table with light refreshments (coffee, tea, water, orange juice and so forth) attendees can help themselves at any time if they wish. Cold drinks may be appreciated in venues with no air conditioning or on very hot days and hot drinks on cold days.
The downside to this may be attendees getting up and walking over to the table and possibly distracting others from the service especially at an important part of the service.
Attendees may get-up at any time and visit the toilet; again, possibly distracting to those around.
Memorial Service Equipment
The Memorial Service Equipment is generally not high-up on the list of most people when thinking about organizing a service. The equipment needed are the tools to achieving the goal of a successful Memorial service. Get the Memorial Service Equipment right, the content of the service will shine.
Let's move on to SECTION FIVE - The Bar
Sections to The Ultimate and Complete Memorial Service Guide:
Section ONE - The Basics
Section TWO - The Logistics
Section THREE - The Room
Section FOUR - Equipment
Section FIVE - The Bar
Section SIX - Catering and Food
Section SEVEN - The Invitation
Section EIGHT - The Service
Section NINE - Decorations
Section TEN - Give-away, Take-Aways and Afterwards
Section ELEVEN - Memorial Service Summary