Audio Analysts Upgrade AV at Parkway Christian Church, Part 2

In this edition, SVC contributing editor Bennett Liles completes his chat with Preston Smits of Audio Analysts about the sound and lighting upgrade done by the company for the Parkway Christian Churc 2/16/2011 9:38 AM Eastern

Audio Analysts Upgrade AV at Parkway Christian Church, Part 2

Feb 16, 2011 2:38 PM, with Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

The Parkway Christian Church in Surprise, Arizona called in Audio Analysts to do a complete sound and lighting installation for their new sanctuary and performing areas and a FOR-A switcher, Vaddio cameras and Christie projectors were put in. Preston Smits is here to wrap up his talk about the project. That’s coming up next on the SVC podcast.
Preston thanks for being back with me for Part Two on the Parkway Christian Church upgrade project in Surprise, Arizona and you had Christie projectors in there and a FOR-A switcher and Vaddio PTZ cameras we were talking about before. And we got on the subject of using the Vaddio cameras for IMAG. I always thought that was interesting using PTZ cameras for IMAG. Sometimes that might be a challenge—I mean even with big broadcast cameras—each with its own operator especially if you’ve got a rather animated pastor. How do the cameras connect? Are you running Cat-5?

Yes each one of them has a Cat-5 cable going to them which can also provide power to the unit itself and that’s all routed back into the video control room which is above the sanctuary and has a big glass window that looks down into it and inside of there, there is a camera control station with the Vaddio ProductionVIEW camera controller and this controller when it boots up it auto-recognizes all the cameras connected to it and it’s got your basic PTZ functionality as well as being able to set speeds and different settings within the cameras themselves. [Timestamp: 1:54]

Did you have any trouble as far as architecture and running the cable to the cameras? It says it’s Cat-5, I wouldn’t think it would be that big a deal.
No and we had the conduit in place to begin with so since this was a new facility it made it easier to route everything to where it needed to be. [Timestamp: 2:1]

Now when you have these cameras manned, I guess there are church volunteers working the PTZ cameras. Did it take a lot of practice for them to use these for IMAG or did they fall into it easily?
That’s one of the great things about Vaddio is they really have a fast learning curve on all of their products and I felt like the volunteers were able to get the hang of it pretty quick and some of them had been camera operators before in other positions they had so they already had a lot of those basics down. And because you’re able to set the speed for pan tilt and zoom it made it easier for them to find what they are comfortable with and work that joystick. They also have, as well as the glass window looking down into the sanctuary—they have a rack full of monitors so that they can see right in front of them the shot. [Timestamp: 2:57]

I figure that wouldn’t be too much trouble. You mentioned something in Part One about this and it got my attention, is this a multipurpose church in that they stream straight out to other church venues or record sermons and send those out to other campuses on a delayed basis?
Well right now it’s a…one campus although I believe they’re looking in the future to have off-site campuses. But within this one campus there is multiple facilities and worship services that go on in each of those facilities and the reason…part of the reason for this upgrade was the ability to do a Telepresence-type sermon where the pastor could speak in one facility and be recording that and simultaneously broadcasting that out to other facilities on the campus using the 360 video server which functions much like a DVR where you can be recording and only seconds behind in the playback. [Timestamp: 3:52]

Right and I guess that’s all part of the control room gear that the church staff is working up there.
Absolutely, yeah.

And you’ve got the audio and video signal going to a lot of different places on the campus. That seems to be the way that a lot of the multi-campus video churches start out. They do different locations on the same campus and then they branch out to other campuses instead of trying to build a bigger church in one location. So what was the biggest thing to get by on this? Did you have a hurry up on it?
Oh yes, actually this was one of the more challenging projects we worked with due to specifically timeline and communication. I would say that was the hardest part. Mostly because, as I talked about with you in Part One, we came in real late in the game where they had originally had a different contractor and so it was difficult to get back on board and make sure that everybody was communicating on the same plane because with that contractors design and infrastructure already built into the system—the structure was already three-quarters of the way finished, we had to make sure that we respected old parts of the design as well as met the churches needs and manipulate parts that maybe needed to be changed and still fit the infrastructure of the old system and maintain what was at that point a very fast track timeline. [Timestamp: 5:13]

Did you have to make any changes as far as lighting for the video system upgrade?
Um yes, we did all of the lighting systems as well and I have a engineer here that works with me, Terry Taylor, and he does all the lighting for us and I worked closely with him on this project to make sure the lighting in the venues didn’t interfere with the screens but were able to give the proper output that we needed on the people and where we needed it. [Timestamp: 5:37]

Audio Analysts Upgrade AV at Parkway Christian Church, Part 2

Feb 16, 2011 2:38 PM, with Bennett Liles

Yeah, that would be a real trick with the lighting because they’ve got so much projection going on and so many different places and they were trying to do video at the same time. The lighting could be a little tricky.
Yes it was because with the video screen backdrop and the Telepresence shot going straight ahead there was very short distance between someone speaking up front and that backdrop behind them and so being able to get the light…what we needed for the video system and still not be washing out the screen took a lot of work but it worked out really well in the end. [Timestamp: 6:11]

Do they have lighting control? Is it just an on/off thing or do they have dimming and motion on the lights and all that?
Oh yes, it’s a full production lighting system. They have a control and large lighting console and intelligence throughout the system. [Timestamp: 6:24]

So they’ve got to have people for that. How many people do they have on a crew there usually for doing Sunday services?
Well in the main sanctuary they usually have, from what I could tell on the couple services I was there, one person for audio down at FOH, light…one person for lighting down at FOH and two up in the video production booth, one running the switching system and one running cameras. [Timestamp: 6:49]

Well that’s a skeleton crew but I guess that’s all you need when you’ve got everything remoted for the camera operation and most of those bigger churches a big chunk of the crew is camera people.
Yes and that was, again, one of the reasons to go the PTZ routes on…they didn’t have as large a technical staff as some other churches with the staff amount of needs and so we really in the design process tried to make things streamlined and easy for users and design things in a way where you could use less people and still have a high level of production and output. [Timestamp: 7:22]

Did Audio Analysts do training for this, any kind of training sessions?
Yes, we did training for the audio, video and lighting. We do training for all new installations that we do as well as retrofits and I spent a fair amount of time with both the technical director, who does a lot of the video work, as well as some of his volunteers to make sure everybody was up-to-date and ready for their first production. [Timestamp: 7:44]

Yeah that can sometimes be a bigger challenge than just getting the equipment in—just sorting the volunteers out as far as who may have experience or aptitude in one production area. You don’t have too much of a problem motivating volunteers but sometimes you may have more enthusiasm than practical ability when you’re trying to put a crew together or break in a new production system.
Sure, that can often be a challenge but I was actually surprised and quite happy with the volunteers that came in at Parkway. They all seemed to do a great job and had some experience beforehand. [Timestamp: 8:15]

And we talked a little bit about this in Part One but do they use that system for other things than just Sunday services?
Yes, the little bit of time I spent there I did see funerals and weddings going on in there as well as occasionally youth events and then different services throughout parts of the week much like any church of that size. [Timestamp: 8:34]

Audio Analysts Upgrade AV at Parkway Christian Church, Part 2

Feb 16, 2011 2:38 PM, with Bennett Liles

Were you there for the debut for the system after it was upgraded? Was this a process, gradual thing or did you just do the whole upgrade and unleash it all at once?
For the most part, it was released all at once. There was a soft opening one week just so that they could go through the process before they invited people outside of the general congregation and really marketed it and then the week after, after doing that then they did a grand opening and our team was there for both of those services. We would mostly stand back and let them do it and just be there for support in case anything was necessary. [Timestamp: 9:1]

So how did they seem to take to it? How did everything go? Quite well, I don’t think that there were any technical problems within either of the services. [Timestamp: 9:18]

I guess sometimes the volunteers may be more up on it than maybe the pastor who may be the one who that’s more nervous about it.
Yeah, I think so.

So what’s up next for Audio Analysts? I know you’re into a lot of different things there. Have you got any particular future projects or things coming up in the works?
Yeah we have a lot of exciting things on the table. Right now we’re speaking with a church that’s about 7,600 seats and they’re looking to upgrade an outdated audio system. We also are halfway through a couple of local church projects that I’ve been real happy with. One of them is a historic building downtown that has given us the chance to be creative in implementing quality AVL but hiding much of the equipment within the sanctuary in order to maintain the aesthetics that the room has. [Timestamp: 10:03]

Yeah the historical buildings—that can really be a problem sometimes because there are so many places that they don’t want you to get into or disturb in any way.
Yep, it’s a challenge but challenges are fun. [Timestamp: 10:14]

Yeah, that keeps it interesting and it makes the new equipment and volunteer tech people in churches…things are never dull. I sure appreciate your being here. Preston Smits with Audio Analysts and the Parkway Christian Church upgrade in Surprise, Arizona. Thanks for being here to tell us about it.

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