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NewTek in the Worship Space, Part 2

Aug 15, 2013 12:53 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Every church and congregation has its own personality and that’s being conveyed more and more on video. In part one we learned how Community of Christ Church is using the NewTek TriCaster, and Philip Nelson is here to give us the company’s side of the picture, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Philip, thanks for being with us for part two on the SVC Podcast, from NewTek where you’re the Senior Vice President for Artist and Media Relations?

Philip Nelson: Yes, sir. Thanks, Bennett, for having me. I’m really excited to talk to you today.

And a couple of weeks ago I was talking to Bob Haworth at the Community of Christ Church in Independence, Mo. That’s a big NewTek outfit. They’ve been through lots of NewTek gear over the years. They’ve had a chance to get used to the new features as they’ve come along. That’s a pretty big church but just because a church is big doesn’t always mean that they’re on top of things with the media side of it. Big churches can also have big AV problems. Philip, what in your experience seems to be the most frequent video problem that churches encounter?

Well, you know it’s funny that you ask because as you well know, “churches” is such a broad category that you have the big churches, the small churches, the medium churches, the megachurches, and so the problems that face all of those are so very different. But I think the biggest challenge in churches is the volunteers that are well-meaning, willing to help, and they need to learn how to become television producers very quickly. And also another problem that churches encounter is when they’re buying equipment, because they’re a non-profit and they have to stretch their dollar as thin as they possibly can, they need to buy technology that’s very flexible, that has a lot of different uses within the church, and that gives them a lot of value for the money they spend so that they’re spending the money wisely. [Timestamp: 2:23]

Yeah, one of the things about churches is that it’s not often the case that they get to start with a clean slate and an overall plan for their AV operation. It much more often that they’re adding this and tacking on that and the new equipment doesn’t always mesh with the existing gear.


They end up with a patchwork quilt of stuff they try connect and make work.

Yeah, it’s funny. A patchwork quilt of gear that’s been bought by multiple people, you know? Everyone trying to help and everyone trying to make it great, and then that is a nice challenge. You really have to be pretty creative if you’re in church—if you’re in video and media at a church—because like you said, it’s rare that they just say, “Hey, let’s build this from the ground up.” It’s more like, “Here’s our control room. What can we add? We have a little bit of money to do something cool. What can we add to this?” [Timestamp: 3:12]

Now, Community of Christ Church that’s a pretty big place and they’ve got a full time tech crew so they don’t have to do a lot of training and when they do, it’s just working in one or two newbies at least so that’s one advantage that Bob has there. But from NewTek’s perspective what do you think that a church needs most from a video switcher, something that’s easy to operate, one that can do a lot of things, special features? What do you think the most important thing is?

I can’t really name just one, but I’m going to name two. I think that flexibility, as I mentioned a minute ago, is very important because when you’re in a church you have various needs depending on the different areas of your church. So the youth group is big into video in most churches. In the worship service they want to do song lyrics and hymns to the screen. They want to do multiple cameras with broadcast-looking graphics. So the needs are various throughout the church and so a piece of equipment that’s very flexible I think is important. But also at the same time, ease of training is very important because in most churches, you have usually one or two video professionals that are very talented and very skilled and trained, but you also have a lot of well-meaning volunteers that will do anything you ask them. They’ll be there as early as you ask, but they’re not television producers so you have to balance that flexibility with volunteer-proofing your setup. When we actually designed TriCaster back in 2005, we worked with a house-of-worship consultant. He told us that was one of the very important things is volunteer-proofing so that in the middle of a show you have something that’s easy enough to use—that a volunteer can’t bring the show down—but at the same time it’s powerful enough that it can give you a broadcast-quality show, which is one of the reasons TriCaster has been so successful. It’s because we bring in the portability, the ease-of-use, the high power of the TriCaster and the broadcast look and all the bells and whistles, and as I said, make it very affordable to churches. [Timestamp: 5:15]

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