Common myths when upgrading a video system: Churches are just like the broadcast world; it all boils down to one output

When working with integrators and vendors this is one of the hardest concepts to get through to them.  In news, sports and any other type of TV production everything boils down to one output.  But in the church market we can be much more complicated than that.

In the church market we can do just one output, but we can very easily move beyond that.  In this myth I will explain what my experience is in the church market with the systems I have used and designed.

Now in an IMAG situation our main Goal will always be the screens in our worship centers.  However, we can do much more that that.  We may add a screen or screens on stage as part of a set.  We put monitors on the front of the stage or projectors facing the back of the room for lyrics to help the band, and we may have TV’s around the building showing live shots of inside the worship center for those in the rest of the church that are not able to be inside.  We can go even farther with multi-site venues, web feed, local broadcast feed and even more.

So let me paint the picture of all the different feeds that I work with at Eagle Brook.  All the outputs that we have are done so using our production switcher.  The first is obviously our main IMAG feed that hits our projectors in our main worship center.  This involves camera shots during worship and message with graphic overlays from our Character Generator.  For at least one song we will roll a full screen moving graphic to the screens to help people focus more on God rather than what is going on on stage.  On special occasions we will roll a video with a click tack and maybe some loops that will go the screens and the band will play with the video. We will also some times roll an alpha channel with the video to take the song in and out of IMAG in a creative way. During the message we just hold on a medium tight shot of the pastor and bring graphics in and out.

The next output is what we call our Broadcast output.  During IMAG we cut the same shots for IMAG as we do broadcast, our broadcast is without graphics though.   During the songs with full screen graphics we continue to cut cameras for more of a broadcast feel.  When we hit our message time we cut the message for broadcast for our web and building feeds.

We also have a center screen that we roll full screen moving graphics on with CG overlay, play videos on, and once in a while we go to IMAG.  During the message we put the series graphic on it.  Sometimes we have even more set elements other than just this center screen that we send video too as well, most of the time it is just moving graphics or elements created by our editors.

Next we have our stage monitors.  During the music the bands just wants to see our lyrics so we route them their lyrics, our pastors don’t want to see anything on them so we take then to black, if we leave CG on them then they get confused when we load a graphic but don’t take it live.  Both hate seeing IMAG on them, as they don’t like to look at themselves.  They do, however, want to watch videos on the stage monitors so they don’t have to turn around and look at the screens.

Next we have our broadcast feed that goes around the building, most of the time this stays the same as our broadcast switched feed but before and after service we switch the feed to an announcement loop so if we need to work on something we can do it without it going into the rest of the building.  There are times though when we need to send it IMAG or a static camera so everyone in the building can know what is going on in the worship center.

For our multi-site video venues (message only) we give them a direct IMAG feed for their side screens but we drop a center screen onto the stages to give it a virtual feel.  Here we dissolve in and out of black, and when there are message videos we dissolve into them as well.

This is just a glimpse at how we use our outputs and what we manage during a service/ production there are a few more that we do but I’m not going to bore you anymore with those.

The idea here is there are many different needs, and like you, we started out delivering the same feed to all the sources and soon found  that we needed to do it differently.

When you design a system or at least start your planning, start backwards and work forwards.  Make a list of all your output destinations and how you want them to look.  It doesn’t matter where they are getting their feeds from just list them out. By listing out all your outputs, this will helps to give you an idea of what kind of system you need.  Now you can make some compromises to save money, for instance you can just have your stage or rear projectors getting the same feed as the rest of your projectors.  This gives you the starting point you need to get the system that is right for you.

Next you can decide how it will all work and how things are tied together.  This can be a challenge especially if you are designing this with limited volunteers or an all-volunteer crew.

People ask us all the time how we are able to pull of what we do and how we can manage all our outputs. The secrets are that we eased into it and utilize gear that can handle it. We tried it one-way and we had to be creative in order to do things a different way.  Another secret is that our productions are ran by staff members who are trained on how to use our gear to the max.  And lastly we rely heavily on Makros pre-programmed to a pre-planned script to execute all our transitions seamlessly on all our outputs.

The church market has a demand for more than a 1-output production.  I have seen this in a wide variety of churches both big and small and once you understand that more than one output is required you can effectively design a video system for a church.  Many integrators and professionals from TV backgrounds miss this concept.   It is unique to the church market, but when done right, it can open up so many production possibilities for a church.

In a conversation I had with my friend David Halvorsen of Ross Video he said, “ First you have to learn all the rules, and once you really understand them you can bend them and break them to accomplish what you need.” At our other facilities we don’t have quite as many outputs but we still have more than 1. There we have a smaller switcher and utilize the clean feed functions and aux outputs to pull off a lot of what we need to do, you can do a lot even with a small production switcher, you just have to know the rules and the bend them to get the production that you want.

About brhoda

I freelance doing a few different thing in the video and live production market. I worked for a church for 5 years directing services and designing control rooms.
This entry was posted in All, Common Myths When upgrading a Video system. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Common myths when upgrading a video system: Churches are just like the broadcast world; it all boils down to one output

  1. Taylor Charboneau says:

    “Many integrators and professionals from TV backgrounds miss this concept. It is unique to the church market, but when done right, it can open up so many production possibilities for a church.” That’s exactly what churches NEED to hear today when investing into video systems. Spot on post, favorite so far.

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