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Church Reaches New AV Heights, Part 1

Apr 21, 2010 10:59 AM, By Bennett Liles

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Heights Baptist Church

Why did you, particularly, choose that one?
I had read about it and saw it at one of the tradeshows and looked at several other alternatives that I felt would fit into our budget range. It had a great combination for us. It had a well-founded company that has a great track record. It fit in our budget range and when I saw it and compared [to other units], I liked the way it looked and I don’t mean cosmetically [but] the system itself. The output of the system was just as good as anything that I could afford and particularly their multiviewer was incredible. The clarity and quality of the multiviewer was, in my opinion, as good as it gets, but the bottom line, since we mainly deal with volunteers, I couldn’t pick just anything. I had to pick something that I thought the volunteers could adapt to real easily because 90-plus percent of our crew each Sunday is volunteer operators. The For-A, the more I looked into it and when we auditioned some other gear from other manufacturers that was incredibly good quality, the For-A just came out on top as far as the ease of use and what I perceived as ease of training. Now that’s proofing out. We brought [it] in when it was first brought online. One of the factory people came in, one of their sales reps came in, and did a 2-hour training session with our video crew and that was it. They took it and ran with it two days later for four different services and a major event that evening without a glitch. Now part of this is because we have some really great guys on our crew. None of them are professionally involved in video outside of church, but they just work at it and they’ve learned it and understand it. But, also, kudos to For-A. This switcher is incredibly intuitive. [Timestamp: 9:34]

And you’re using, I guess, more than one video format?
We do, because at this phase, our projectors are not HD, so we are taking HD up to this point. Everything that we do is 16x9 format, but the switcher is mainly used for live. I mean, we do live switching for IMAG coverage out in the auditorium. But, obviously, we have to take it down to get to the SD projectors that we use, but also, it feeds our campus TV sets which is a little more archaic but adequate for our needs right now in that it’s SD modulated to an MA TV system throughout the campus. [Timestamp: 10:13]

OK, and what are you doing, have you got graphics like up on the screen during the service and everything?
Yes, we do. IMAG out there is not only used for live image, but we do lyrics—project lyrics—during the worship set. Now sometimes those are over moving backgrounds, you know, jump backs or sometimes they’ll set up live shots that the image is over or PRI, preservice and postservice. We’re running promotional pieces, for lack of a better term, advertising for upcoming events, or reminders to the congregants about things that are happening on the campus or time changes that they need to know. It’s pulling double and triple duty sometimes. It’s not just doing the live event. [Timestamp: 11:01]

Yeah, and it’s a challenge, I guess, to make it look easy, what you’re doing just on the screens in the sanctuary, I mean, when the people are out there.
It can be a challenge.

Yeah, especially, when you are training people all the time, like you said, it’s got to be easy enough to do but look pro at the same time. So what kind of cameras did you get in there and I guess these are used not only for services but for other events too?
We do concerts like any other church does and then special conferences and events like that. Once again, in our budget range, I chose something that would give me an image that was a visual upgrade. I mean, [it] would be obvious to anyone walking into the room as far as the congregants are concerned. But to be real honest, I was less concerned about bragging rights on the cameras as opposed to quality versus money spent.

What we chose was something you seldom would see in this particular use, probably, and that’s the Canon XL H1S. It has a good image; it’s a good price point for us; does not have the capability of CCU control, but we didn’t anticipate implementing that, particularly within our budget range and that requires an additional volunteer. We got the S version of it, so we did have HD/SDI output and genlock sync for it also. So we’ve got four of those that are manned and then we’ve got one—and we hope to grow in this also—one Sony BRCZ700 remote camera, and we did have that with the HD/SDI option also. [Timestamp: 12:37]

Well, it sounds like you’re really sort of targeting these things the way you should be, as far as working the volunteers and giving the professional look. Now, you mentioned recording these things, how are they recorded?
We still archive everything on DVD. That’s the way it has been up to date and that’s in the foreseeable future what we record on. We’ve got two Datavideo MP-6000s. One of them records everything: worship, sermon, everything for both services each Sunday morning or at a concert—it records everything. The second MP-6000, for our regular services, is only used to record a separate DVD for the 9:15 sermon and a separate DVD for the 10:50 sermon. Those DVDs are used to upload for a web delivery the afternoon after the Sunday that they air. So that’s our format of recording right now. We have one additional Sony DVD recorder that we use occasionally for ISO camera records. [Timestamp: 13:41]

OK, I was going to ask about that, if you just recorded a straight line feed for everything?
Well, we do on that one DVD, and what we use it for is a lot of the events like a children’s event—like a children’s musical or something. There is a combination of animated graphic content that may come with the particular musical they are doing, plus obviously parents want to see their kids up on the screen. Well, since you are switching back and forth between those, we would like to have something that was a static shot of the stage that’s always the kids singing, so that’s another advantage that we had that we didn’t have before with the For-A switchers. We used one of the aux busses and do a dedicated camera feed to this one DVD recorder and that gives us something that we can set always to be live as opposed to switching, the IMAG feed being recorded; which is going to switch between graphics and live content. [Timestamp: 14:38]

Well, that’s enough to keep you on your toes; that’s for sure. Sounds like you have a lot going on.
Sometimes I am glad I am working out front and not back here.

Well, that’s going to be good. In part two, we are going to get into kind of what’s your bag and that’s the audio stuff but for right now. I really appreciate you being here for part one and filling us in on that, and we’ll go into audio and intercom and all that stuff and how you kind of take us through a routine service on this thing. I really appreciate you being here for part one. Thanks very much, Bobby.
Wonderful, look forward to part two.

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