Worship Video Production, Part 1

Michigan’s Kensington Community Church had to find a way for video production in their main sanctuary and in several satellite locations and make it easy enough to train volunteers to do it fast an 8/05/2010 6:52 AM Eastern

Worship Video Production, Part 1

Aug 5, 2010 10:52 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Worship Video Production, Part 2
Training a volunteer tech crew and keeping the video operation up and running on five church campuses is a big job....

Michigan’s Kensington Community Church had to find a way for video production in their main sanctuary and in several satellite locations and make it easy enough to train volunteers to do it fast and right. The For-A HVS-300HS switcher fit the bill and video operations director Jeff Reynolds is here to tell the story.

Jeff, thanks for being with me here on the SVC podcast and you’re, I believe, the video operations director at Kensington Community Church. What all do you do in that job?
My job involves maintaining all the video equipment within our church, whether that’s cameras, projection. Pretty much all of that falls under my job description. All of our video switchers and equipment racks that house those pieces of gear are my responsibility and that’s for our entire ministry. [Timestamp: 1:18]

And of course, there’s a huge range of ways that churches use video; it can be anything from a lock down shot in a small church where they just do DVDs or something, all the way up to live music. What sort of place is Kensington Community Church? What kind of style of worship do they have there?
We have our mid-week service is more of your contemporary style of worship and with fault live band, lights, really cool stage, and then our weekend service is more of a seeker-oriented service where we may play a piece of popular rock music to open up the service and then eventually leads into your typical message. It’s very relevant for where people are at today. [Timestamp: 2:00]

OK, and I know Kensington Community Church has a number of different campuses. Where’s the one where you work?
The main campus is located in Troy, Mich., pretty much central to all of our campuses right here in the city. [Timestamp: 2:11]

OK, so you’ve got a lot going on at the different campuses and how are they all using video? Are they all pretty much doing the same thing or is your campus leading the way on that?
The main campus does have a full-blown production control room, and we have five cameras in our auditorium. The other ones vary. We’ve got one that does service an overflow area, so they’re using a multicamera scenario, but then the others, their cameras are basically being used for archive of the service. And we have just with our most recent campus started using a pan tilt zoom camera by Sony so that we can have our whole video team operate in a back room and not be separated. Everybody just runs it from the back room. [Timestamp: 2:59]

At your location, are they doing stuff like IMAG and that kind of thing?
Yes, yes, we do IMAG. We also do overflow IMAG in the room and then overflow to our chapel areas as well. [Timestamp: 3:09]

And the way you distribute that around the church, is that an RF-over-coax thing?
In the campuses, it is. If anything is distributed like to the nursing mother’s room, that kind of thing is all over the schools—RF network. And all of our campuses actually operate out of some of the local schools. We only have one fixed facility. And so that is all over the modulated networks in the schools. Here at the main campus we do have point-to-point coax from room to room, and we do have an RF network as well in this campus. [Timestamp: 3:44]

So on the RF network around the church, the services are just one of a number of sources they can select on the monitors?

So you recently installed some For-A HVS-300HS switchers?
That’s correct.

OK, what’s the particular reason you went with those units?
We came across those units at NAB two years ago, and we were looking for another solution for our campuses. We were running into equipment that was starting to fail or not meeting our expanding creative needs. And started looking around. I was with our main vendor, Advanced Lighting & Sound, and we were just looking around and came up on the For-A and immediately realized that that was the piece for us. [Timestamp: 4:28]

OK, now what kind of sources have you got coming in there? You must have more than just cameras. I mean you got to have some kind of, maybe, text sources for hymn lyrics and things.
That is correct. We bring in two different computer feeds and then we also bring in a DVD player, our video playback system also comes into the switcher. Everything either comes in as VGA/DVI or is upconverted to SDI. [Timestamp: 4:51]

OK, so you got all kinds of formats coming in there.

And what do you feed out to the projectors from that?
We take SDI out to our projectors, and then to our modulated networks, we’re down-converting an analog signal. [Timestamp: 5:06]

OK, and you mentioned a number of cameras that you’ve got at the church where you work. What kind of cameras are you using there?
At the main campus, we use Sony D35 cameras. At one of our campuses, we have a JVC GY-HD250 and then it partners with one of our field cameras on the weekend. Then the other campus that does the overflow, has the overflow set up, is using a older JVC GY-550s. [Timestamp: 5:35]

Ok, so I guess you’ve got volunteers operating all that stuff?
We do, yes we do. Our volunteers are crucial to our weekly operation at all of our campuses, and in all facets of the services, whether it’s the kids’ areas or the technical areas, or what have you, we rely heavily on our volunteers. [Timestamp: 5:56]

Worship Video Production, Part 1

Aug 5, 2010 10:52 AM, With Bennett Liles

As most churches do, and that always presents a challenge because the churches have, as you well know, have gotten very sophisticated in their video production. At the same time, using volunteers you can’t always count on having continuity, the same people. So what all do you do there technically on that side of things to make it, well, you might say, make the production set up as easy as you can for volunteers?
Right, well part of the reason that we did go with the For-A as well was to bring standardization and continuity to all of our campuses. We had, pretty much, a wide variety of equipment everywhere and as things were starting to age out and we replaced them, it was a great time to bring everything under one manufacturer, so to speak, and this way we can bring a volunteer from one campus to another if we have that kind of need. But we’ve tried to make the set up as easy as possible. Everything is very well labeled. We’ve minimized the hook ups by having so much of it contained within the road cases that it’s a connection to the projector, it’s a couple of computer connections, couple of audio connections here and there, and they’re pretty much up and ready to roll. [Timestamp: 7:12]

And of course, another thing you can do with those switchers is save set ups and just in case something happens you can get back to where you were.
That is correct. We have a default setting built into the switcher, so that if they get out in left field somewhere and don’t know how to get back, they just hit that default button and they’re right back where they started from. [Timestamp: 7:29]

Well, you obviously had to do some training on that and people tend to learn in different ways. How did it go with that? Did the crew take to it pretty well? What’s the learning curve on the For-A switchers?
It’s not real high. With volunteers that we’ve already had in place, it was just a matter of teaching a different style, more of a traditional style, of video switching. Some were more accustomed to a boardroom-style switcher—just push a button and it was there—whereas these were more of your traditional production-style switchers. But everybody really embraced it. Training was not hard. Typically when we start a campus, a local campus, I’ll go and spend anywhere from four to six weeks—it just depends with that campus and with their teams and just holding their hand, getting them accustomed to the systems, and then I release that training then to their leaders and they pretty much take it from there. And we have not run into any significant issues with training on the For-A. It’s very straight forward, easy to understand, easy to implement. Obviously there’s features in it that we don’t show people because it’s not necessary to their job experience, some of the set ups and things. But general, everyday operations is very simple for the volunteer—another reason we picked the For-A. One of the biggest challenges that we’ve had was keying graphics over video and being able to have those settings preprogrammed and just hit one button has proved to be beautiful experience for some of the volunteers because it’s just so easy. [Timestamp: 9:14]

Yeah, you always have in every group of volunteers a few that are just like totally afraid of it and then some who just want to pick every opportunity they can get to come in there and just play around with it and see what they can make it do.
That’s correct.

So when you had to do all this, I would think that the bigger challenge, rather than having them learn how to operate the switcher, would be training people how to do IMAG on the cameras because you’ve got a live audience for that and you really have to stay on top of things.
That’s correct.

So, I mean, holding focus and wondering around, depending on how animated the pastor is. So you’ve got projectors up there. You mentioned you send HD-SDI to those. What kind of projectors are you using up there?
We use Barco, Christie, and Sanyo primarily in all of our main auditoriums. [Timestamp: 10:07]

I guess that’s front projection. What kind of distance are we talking about?
Actually, for the most part, we’re totally rear-projection. Projectors live on the stage. Occasionally in our main campus we will do front projection, but that’s because of our main facility we’ve got a little more flexibility, but at the campuses, we’re almost exclusively rear projection. [Timestamp: 10:27]

All right, and there are a lot of advantages to that where you can get at the projectors and you don’t have them out in public view, and I guess maintenance is a little bit easier with that kind of thing too.

Plenty of advantages to rear projection

Jeff, I very much appreciate your being here for part one and giving us the technical layout for Kensington Community Church. In part two I’d like to get into that JVC camera they’re using at one of the locations and I’d like you to tell us a little bit more about some of your future plans. I understand there’s a national campus in the works.
That is correct.

Thanks again for being here and we’ll see you in part two.
All right. Thank you very much.

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