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Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.

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Jointly, the group decided the best avenue was to strip the control room of its antiquated components and bring the video front end up to HD standards. To conserve capital without compromising image quality, Saddleback divided the project into phases, with the initial work centered on upgrading the cameras and switchers. The back end of the video system, with its older Barco RLM R6+ Performer projectors, would have to soldier on as an SD letterboxed product. The HD signal from the control booth is downconverted with Cobalt scanners for use by the existing projectors. For the camera upgrade, Thompson and Carlson chose the Sony HDC-1400 camera system for its high-quality image, depth of HD integration, and simple fiber connectivity to the control room.

Six of the HDC-1400s were placed in the sanctuary: two fixed position, two on tripods, and two on monopods that are secured into the cement floor. “I knew the posts would save floor space, but I was not sure they would be stable enough for telephoto shots. But they have worked out well,” Baker says. A seventh unit with a recorder back is used as an upscale camcorder for street capture.

With the Sony cameras delivering fiber-based imagery to the control room, the task of accepting and routing the signals fell to a new Thomson Grass Valley Kayak switcher. Graphics chores are still handled by the church's existing Avid Deko 3000 unit, while a freshly minted Thomson Grass Valley K2 media server captures the signal and then passes it to a Sony DSR-DR1000 hard drive for record and forward functions. Thanks to an innovative setup based on using multiple outputs from the K2, the graphics operator can make immediate changes and updates befitting the onstage performers. The K2 offers a scalable architecture that fits nicely with the church's phase-oriented implementation goals.

Baker says the out-of-production DR1000 is adequate for the short term, but it will probably be replaced in the near future with a Thomson Grass Valley Turbo iDDR. Saddleback will continue to archive its services on XDCAM format as a backup to the hard-drive units.

All 10 buildings on Saddleback's campus are now able to view the main worship center feed, but only the Refinery — a youth facility — is presently set up for HD signals, again owing to the need to develop the project in phases. As the second-largest facility at Saddleback, the Refinery is designed as a youth building with teen-specific live music and teaching. It's available, though, to handle large overflow crowds at Christmas, Easter, and special conferences. For regular services, several other rooms — including a Sprung building called Praise and Overdrive, which acts as a music room — are able to handle the remote attendees. All the buildings are connected via industry-standard 62/125 fiber run underground from the primary control room. This setup offers every attendee a focused live band and announcer with only the sermon piped in to give the proceedings vibrancy and immediacy coupled with the impact of Warren's words.

For the Saddleback technical team, the first phase of the multisite project has been a success as families now stroll casually across the campus, settle easily into readily available seats, and enjoy the worship service, while remote sites in other cities serve distant attendees with unique music and a cohesive sermon.

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