Understanding Multi site video venues

I have noticed that I get some hits about people acquiring about doing multi site, so I thought I would talk a little bit more about it. I have an entire page on my blog listing the different styles of doing a video venue based multi site experience. I have also mentioned multi site in other posts but I think it is time to give this topic a little attention since this Idea has gained a lot of supporters in the past few years.

I’m not going to go into how to make the decision to do multi site, that is really up to your church leaders. What I want to really focus on is how to do multi site video venues, and to do them well. You know, after your lead pastor comes up to and says, we are going to do this.

First let’s answer the question what is a video venue? For our purposes, a video venue is a facility, or room that gets a good chunk of their service brought to them via a video feed rather than by live on stage talent. Usually this is only the message, as far as I have seen.

So before you purchase any gear or make any decisions regarding your multi site experience there are a few things you will need to understand. The first is that you are asking people to sit and watch a video screen for 30+ minutes every week. People do that everyday watching tv, so the quality that you need to bring needs to be placed to a high level in order to make these sites successful. There is not much grace for bad video, there is no other option for attenders and they will stop coming. Your competing with the couch, and the tv. And it isn’t easy. Speaking is the number one draw to a church, it is important to recreate this experience well. This may include big changes such as changing a camera locations to get closer to the stage. Know that you may have to make some severe changes in order to make the site experiences good.

Reliability is everything. Your Cameras, recording gear, and projectors, all have an entirely new importance placed on them. If they fail, you don’t have a service or only half of a service. Do what you can to build in redundancies and have quality gear in place to ensure that services will happen the way they should. This needs to be considered when forming budgets and plans.

Your number one thing to worry about is to make sure that your primary camera looks good, is operating smooth and that the audio levels are good and clean. That is the audiences connection to the pastor. Graphics, ambient mics, stage set, ect. Can be figured out later and are more forgiving than if there are bad, hard to see camera shots.

Back when I was in school I had to take a 3d animation class, I hated it, but, the one thing the teacher would always tell us is that it doesn’t have to look real, it has to be believable. Believable states that not everything will be perfect, it just has to be good enough for people to stop caring that it is fake. With video venues you don’t have to make everything perfect, although that is something to strive for, you just have to give people a quality experience so that they don’t mind watching a screen. I believe that our goals is not to try and make people think the pastor is in the room as much as we want people to forget the fact that the pastor isn’t in the room. The biggest hurdle people face is that they know the pastor isn’t there, once they get over that, video venues work great. Connect them to the pastor in a way that will get them over this quickly and stop reminding them that the pastor isn’t there.

Don’t focus on brining the satellite site to the main campus, focus on bringing the speaker to the site. By trying to bring the remote site to the main campus tells the audience that that is where they should be, not in the seat they are in. But if you only bring over the pastor it doesn’t give them that sense of being disconnected or in the wrong building. For this reason, I would recommend not doing a broadcast style of switching. Lock in tight and stay there. Single camera IMAG works well for video venues, or do a virtual feel if you have the money to invest. To understand these styles better visit my multi site page.

Up until this point my priority in this article has been to get you started on the right foot, but doing video venues well is all about on-going improvement. Worry about quality first, then improve from there. I could write a few posts on the details of doing video venue multi site well, but what I have listed here is in my opinion the most important in launching multi site video venues well so they are successful and grow. I have worked for a church that has done multi site for almost 6 years and we are still finding ways to improve. So be ready for change, trying new things, and allowing the ball to continuously roll. Multi site is a journey, just be sure to launch well so that journey is long.

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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.
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