Over the past few months I have been involved in the design and upgrade of our video system. The reason for the design and upgrade is to facilitate a second video driven campus for the Church. First and foremost there are countless ways to design and upgrade a video system to accomplish this task. Some of my assumptions in the pre-design were as follows:
1. The equipment should be designed to maximize it’s usefulness, not just on Sunday mornings but through-out the week is possible.
2. The equipment must provide a high b/c (benefit/cost) ratio.
3. The equipment should be reliable.
4. The equipment should be portable and be operational in 3 months.
It should be noted that we started with a few consumer video camera’s and a 4 channel switcher. So we were basically starting from scratch. Our current venue seats 400 and our sound booth is the size of a McDonalds bathroom. We are currently running three services and with the layout of our facility, it is not necessary to incorporate IMAG (Image Magnification).
Our second venue (located at Treasure Coast High School) seats over 800 and will open on April 4th 2010. This location will make it easier for a measurable percentage of our congregation to attend since several of them live near this facility (it’s only 6 miles away from our current facility). As a point of interest, prior to lining up this facility several of our staff members (including myself) felt impressed to get involved at Treasure Coast High School so over the years we have built a great relationship with the students and staff of this school. The moving forward this is a very healthy relationship between the Church and the school.
The pie in the sky design included a direct HD feed via the internet. Preliminary numbers indicated that this was a bit too pricey for us. To carry a 10-15 MBS signal over dedicated bandwidth was going to cost $1,200 /month plus any ‘improvements’ necessary to terminate (or so says BellSouth). It must be noted that this price was for a year contract. The price does move down with multiple year contracts however not by much (15-20%). In my heart I would have loved to have provided a direct stream solution…but since we were starting from scratch it made more sense to utilize a video playback system and ease our team and church into an affordable solution and one that had a high benefit to cost ratio.
I met with Marty Taylor (Northland Church) to get some ideas of what a video venue could look like and how his team pulled off the weekend service. I also read and consumed every resource that I could find. In addition I gathered information from the 8bit network ,from the staff of Calvary Chapel Melbourne, and from Spinnaker Multimedia. From what I can determine, it seems that most larger churches are going to a video delay playback (cost and human resources go down) and dumping live feeds (not all, but a few notable ones). Since we are a Calvary Chapel, we teach verse by verse, book by book so delaying by a week or more would be difficult to do. Upon meeting with our staff, it was determined to move forward with a video playback of the same day. With the scope of our vision ahead of us, we jumped into the design.
My next post will deal with the design of the system and edge closer to a more technical review of what we have found and are currently finding to be viable solutions.