Brain-dumping Quality Thoughts

Here’s something I’ve been rolling around in my brain lately. Why is quality worth chasing? Why is it worth trying to make something the best it can be? And is it worth the challenge to chase after something great?

Over the years I’ve seen a variety of “spiritualized” answers churches and church production folks and church creatives will use. There’s probably some truth in these, but they almost always come across as pretty cheesy to me. If that kind of thing motivates you to put in the time and effort, that’s great. But for me these answers always feel like they’re trying too hard, and the answers come up thin.

So I’ve been pondering this.

There’s a scene in American Graffiti that always stood out to me. Richard Dreyfuss’ character gets caught sitting on a car, and when he gets off the car owner’s friend notes Dreyfuss scratched the car. Dreyfuss points out it’s barely noticable and not much of a scratch to which he is met with the response of, “It ain’t the size that’s in question here. It’s the principle!”

Sometimes I wonder, do I just want to do a great job because of a principle? Is it just great work for the sake of doing great work? And in that case, does it then just really become great work for me? Is the whole thing and motivation actually just some self-righteous kind of act?

If that’s not the reason, am I doing it because I think there’s some kind of competition? Am I trying to do a great job to be better than someone else? Am I trying to win at a competition that’s probably not even a real competition?

If I’m being honest, I’m sure some of this stuff is a motivating factor for me. However, I also think there is an actual reason why quality is important, why it is valued, and why it’s something worth striving for.

Quality matters because Quality affects Clarity.

At the end of the day, facilitating the communication of a message is fundamentally what we are doing in audio production. That message may present in the form of a musical composition or performance, spoken word, a video, or even some combination of all these things. The quality of our audio work directly impacts the clarity of that message within the chosen form.

Higher quality provides more clarity than low quality. When something gets too low in quality, the message may even be completely lost or obscured.

I believe this holds true for all of production and not just audio world.

And I think knowing this may also be a line to a potentially better approach to what we do.

Quality IS important, but maybe it’s the wrong thing to chase. What if clarity is actually a better thing to go after?

What if instead of trying to do great work, we focus on helping someone communicate their message in the clearest way possible?

These are just some of the questions that roll around my brain often in the middle of the night.

But what do you think? Let me know in the comments why you think quality matters.

David Stagl

One Response to “Brain-dumping Quality Thoughts

  • Mark Triplett
    7 years ago

    As someone in church work, the message is most important. Clarity of the voice, cameras in focus, well lit staging all help to enhance the message and help to remove distractions from the presentation of the Gospel. Feedback, 60 cycle hum bars in the video, misspelled words in the lyrics and pastor’s message all give reason to dismiss our efforts and create disinterest in the message being spoken sung.

    For me, all of it wraps up in who I’m working for, not my employer, a local church, but the Lord. Everyday, I attempt to do my best with the tools that have been provided. Some tools in the box are the best money can buy, some are not. But I try to do the best with what I have. There’s a lot of Video Directors in churches that are way more talented than me, but I try to remember Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” and it helps me to stay away from the competition to do better than the guy at the church down the road. And since I live and work in Houston, there are some very good directors at the churches down the road!

    Thanks Dave for the thought provoking comments. It help to put these things down to remember what is important!