Church On The Move Goes to Full HD With Hitachi Cameras

Show 136, Part 2
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SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 136-2:

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles continues his talk with Andrew Stone, Production Manager for Church On The Move, about a recent facility-wide upgrade that includes seven Hitachi Z-HD5000 HDTV cameras. Stone details his use of Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter for displaying song lyrics and other media during the services.

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From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Andrew Stone. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma Church on the Move is moving ahead with new Hitachi HD cameras, a Barco switcher and other upgrades to keep them at the forefront of technical production capability. Production Manager Andrew Stone is back to wrap up his account of how this all came together and how Church on the Move is using the new gear. Coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Andrew, thanks for getting back with us for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast from Church on the Move in Tulsa with recent upgrades in Hitachi cameras and a Barco switcher. You’re also using Renewed Vision’s Pro Presenter, I believe, and there are so many things you can do with that so how many versions of that have you been through so far?

Oh man, we’ve been with them for a lot of years now and we’ve been following them – every version they’ve got. We just started making the rounds of getting Version 6 uploaded on a lot of the different machines. It takes a while. We did a count a while back and there’s something like 72 or 74 different computer systems in place that we utilize Pro Presenter on and that’s a lot. That’s in all of our buildings and all of our venues and a couple of different campuses, so if you want to upgrade it takes a while to let my tech staff kind of make the rounds, but we’re very much invested. [Timestamp: 1:45]

You’ve got, I guess, song lyrics and scripture verses and things like that on there?

Man, we use it for everything. So everything live that you see that has graphic content, and a lot of times just straight audio content, is coming from Pro Presenter, so our lyrics, our lower third graphics, our entire graphics package that we use for any live event, video rolls, video clips. Sometimes we’ll do our house music from it because it’s just easy to do. It keeps the guys in the audio booth from having to scramble sometimes balancing CD players and all that junk. So if it can do it, we’ll do it. We have the alpha channel module so we can do keying on all kinds of different stuff. So we do a lot of lower thirds and stuff that have an opaque quality to them, very much like you’d see on an awards show or something. And it’s great. It just handles it great. So we’re in. It’s a good product. [Timestamp: 2:45]

And you’re using a lot of volunteers. You’ve got a lot of people to train so what’s the learning curve on Pro Presenter for the most part?

Man, I tell you. We can usually put someone in there and get them to observe with a trained operator for a couple of services and then they’re on. I mean it’s just not much. And that’s more of them just learning our format of just how to get around. The program is easy to operate. What takes a little longer is them just getting the pacing of how to do lyrics right, how to lead the song and put the lyrics up just a hair before they’re sung so people can stay with it. But it’s fast. We do live training using Pro Presenter, so we’ll record a service and we can play it back on all of our multiviewers and they can hear in the monitors, or in their headset they can hear all of our cues that were done simultaneously with whatever we recorded. So they can sit there and we can essentially play back an entire service with all of our communication calls, all the headset chatter, and they can sit there at Pro Presenter and practice and get really good at it. [Timestamp: 3:52]

They can get the theory and all the book learning down and then once you put them on an actual service it’s like learning to drive a straight shift. A lot of it is just in the feel of it.

That’s right, it is. It is. It’s just the feel. You gotta feel where the clutch is and you just gotta – you gotta get through it. So that’s exactly how it works. It’s literally been a no-brainer and that’s to the credit of the Renewed Vision guys of putting this together thinking of the end user. We’ve used some other products in the past and it just seems like they’re so tech-heavy that it’s not real convenient to put a volunteer into that mix unless they’re an IT person. So it’s been good. [Timestamp: 4:30]

Well, there are a lot of dominoes you have to get lined up and falling in the right direction so just in a nutshell, what do you have to do to get set up for the services once you have everybody in there?

I’ve got a staff with all the production and operations people combined. It’s about 28 different people plus some interns. That’s everybody that handles all of our live events. The tech side of that is about 12 or 13 people, so during the week they can really work on getting everything set up. Obviously we’re not setting our main venue up from scratch – it all lives here – but getting all the graphics lined out, getting them developed, figuring out how they’re going to play, getting all the stuff tweaked, mastering the audio all that kind of thing, figuring out what the format’s going to be for the event, getting the lyrics straightened out, all that stuff – once things are loaded the operators can come in, the volunteers come in and they are set up to win. So they basically have all the stuff in front of them that’s going to happen. Now we’re worried about execution and we’re going to focus on timing and we’re going to focus on feel, transitions, things like that. So it’s really good for them and that’s just something I chose to do. I could leave it all and let them all do it, but I would rather take the time that a volunteer would be needed to set up all that and I would rather focus on the training or the repetition of the live event. It just makes more sense. So by the time we get to the live event they’ve literally been able to run this through five, six, seven times and they’ve got it. And that’s very effective and one of the big reasons why we’re able to get the product we get. [Timestamp: 6:05]

And how do you record the services? What do record them on?

We have long gone away from anything that has DVD written on it. In fact if you told me to go find a DVD player in our building right now I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if we have any. So we record everything to hard disk and honestly we have a whole stack of Mac mini recorders. I know that sounds crazy, but what we do is we’ve upgraded those with maximum RAM and solid-state drives and all that stuff, but they’re just very convenient because you can gang them together – network them all together – and control them all at once. So we will ISO record every camera so if we have a problem, if something goes wrong, we have individual ISO recordings of everything and we could effectively rebuild a program that we need to do. We have had to do that before. It has been needed because you have glitches, I mean you’re using computers for everything, so it’s really effective. And then we basically record straight to a Premiere – Adobe Premiere. And we do have a backup so there’s two of those running all the time and it’s great. We record straight to it and we’re immediately able to polish up the endings and do some light editing if we need to and export. So it’s a very simple way to record. [Timestamp: 7:24]

And you’ve got to know not only how all the equipment works but I would think that an even more challenging part is just coordinating all the people. So what’s more challenging in the role of Production Manager, the people or the gear?

It’s people. The gear, I’ll tell you what. I’m not a huge gearhead. I don’t love tech stuff. I know a lot about it just because I’ve had to, because that’s my career path, but the people matter. I could have the fanciest gear. I could have the church buy the most expensive stuff in the universe. If I don’t have the right people and the right mentality and the right situation presented for those people to excel in, we’re nothing. It’s only as good as the team. You know, we’ve heard that my whole life. You’re only as good as your weakest link. It is very, very true. So I would rather focus on the harder part of this, which is the people, and make that a win and then let the gear thing happen as needed. We have a lot of stuff. We do. But we have a huge place. It’s scaled. If it was a very small church I wouldn’t have a lot of gear, but I wouldn’t have as many people. So it’s just scale. The bigger you get the more complex it has to be, but I would rather focus on staffing and how our core group is treated and used and how they feel about what they do when they’re here than worry about all the gear. [Timestamp: 8:40]

Yeah, the people will always be the more challenging part and the equipment will fall into place if you have the right people on it. And we talked about the video part of it with the new cameras and switcher but what do you do on the audio side? What do you have for a front of house mixer?

Front of house is a pretty elaborate setup. We are running analog right now and we’ve been analog here since I got here. I installed two Midas Heritage 3000 consoles, which is in my opinion the nicest analog desk in existence. And they’re both hooked together so they’re slaved together, so it’s about 110 analog inputs at front of house and that’s what we do. That’s great. That has fit the sonic need that we had here and is very organic. Our music is all about the realness of it and the depth of what we can get from the sonic field so Midas has really been a great way to go. That probably can’t be a forever thing. Analog is slowly getting phased out in this world, but while we have it I’m making great use of training our young engineers on this equipment so they are getting some great experience in what the real art in mixing is back before you had computers attached to everything. So that’s pretty cool and we do all the monitoring from front of house. I know that’s crazy for this big of a situation, but it just makes sense. We don’t have a great location to put a monitor board and it’s easy. It’s just easy. It sounds awesome, so there’s no reason to do it any other way and our musicians are very well served and they love it. So we just – we rock with it. [Timestamp: 10:17]

I saw a couple of pictures of events going on in there. I don’t know if it was a Sunday service or another event but I didn’t see a lot of floor wedges or anything. How do you handle all of the stage monitoring?

There’s not a wedge. There’s not a wedge in existence. We have a few wedges in our arsenal that are used for other little rooms and little events and stuff. We don’t have any onstage. It’s all wireless in-ear monitors. It fact we used to have a few wired in-ear monitors and we’ve kind of gone away from that now. It was just a little cumbersome for the people to wear. So it’s all wireless. It is a massive wireless situation on stage where we’re in the middle of a revival week here and it’s a very complex week, but it’s just our basic, regular events. I mean they’re big events, but it’s what we do normally. This is how every weekend would be. I’ve got about 200 frequencies in operation tonight in this main room from a lot of stereo ear packs to all of the wireless stuff, to the comms – all the wireless communication devices that are everywhere. It’s a lot of stuff and our frequency coordination is a massive ordeal so again, we spend a lot of time and effort on making that good for everybody. [Timestamp: 11:29]

I can imagine that you use all the features they have. What kind of wireless mic system do you have?

They’re all Sennheiser and we use all Sennheiser in-ears at all of our facilities and all of our room and buildings and stuff. And it’s great. They approached us a few years ago and wanted me to try their products. I wasn’t opposed to it, I just had always stuck with other product lines. And I was so happy with the performance. It just sounded better to me than what we had been using and that’s a preference. And it’s great. They really came alongside us and helped us explore some other options that we wouldn’t have had otherwise and it’s been great. We’re very, very happy. [Timestamp: 12:08]

You’ve come a long way with the upgrades you’ve done in there and it sounds like you’ve done everything in the right order so what’s ahead? What’s down the road? Do you have more upgrades planned?

Well, there’s always something. Every time you turn around there’s something else happening. We still are upgrading rooms and upgrading systems. This stuff gets a beating and we treat it nice, but some of these systems get used seven days a week, multiple times, and that takes its toll so we’re very heavy into maintenance and preventive maintenance. We’re always looking, okay where’s the new campus that’s going to open, what are we going to put together, what package are we going to need? And we continue to try to morph our equipment as well. We are not trying to waste money, but we’re trying to make very smart decisions with what we have and how we can serve our people. So as the needs change I may need to change the gear specs for a room. So that’s kind of a continual process that’s always happening in the background. [Timestamp: 13:05]

Alright well that’s a lot to balance and a lot to take care of and it’s a big job but you’ve done it all the right way and I appreciate your telling us about how all that has come along. Andrew Stone, Production Manager with Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thanks for this look at it.

Well thanks very much for letting me be on here. I enjoyed it.

Thank you for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Andrew Stone. Show notes are available on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Be right back here with us next time for the SVC Podcast.

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