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Expanding to Satellite Congregations, Part 2

The Highlands Community Church in Renton, Wash., had to expand, but with no physical way to go, they upgraded to HD video production, added a control room, and sent the signal out to satellite congregations at a distance.

Expanding to Satellite Congregations, Part 2

May 20, 2010 11:03 AM,
By Bennett Liles

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Part 1


Part 2

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 Highlands Community Church in Renton, Wash., had to expand, but with no physical way to go, they upgraded to HD video production, added a control room, and sent the signal out to satellite congregations at a distance. Mark Siegel of Advanced Broadcast Solutions is here to give us the low down on how ABS pulled it off.

Mark, thanks for being here for part two (read part one) of the Highlands Community Church HD upgrade and we were talking before about the Christie projectors that were brought in for IMAG and various other things. What video format do you feed to those? Take us through the video path from the cameras to the switcher and to the projectors.
The acquisition of the cameras: We are using Panasonic. I believe they are [AW-HE870N] box-style cameras with a significant upgrade in the lens. That is an error that a lot of people sometimes make and that’s probably one of the areas where you spend much more money than you anticipate is in the area of glass because if you’ve got a throw over 60ft, and they have a throw of 75ft., you’ve got to get some long lenses so you can get into that nice tight shot, try to keep some depth of field, that type of thing. Actually, we are using a progressive signal to go to the projectors. The cameras come into the switcher, they go out of the switcher HD/SDI through AUX busses, we take that HD/SDI signal all the way up to the projector, and at the projector, we convert HD/SDI to either HDMI or DVI. We feel that’s the best way to get that quality signal up top. [Timestamp: 2:09]

OK, and those are Panasonic PTZ cameras. How do you control those? What kind of control? How do you convey the control signals up there to the cameras?
Panasonic happens to be one of the vendors that offers a nice integrated solution. They have a controller called a 655, and it’s a controller that controls up to six concurrent cameras. You can preset those cameras to specific areas and specific moves. They have joysticks on them so you can do zoom, focus, pan, tilt, and all that type of stuff. There are a couple of other manufacturers like Vaddio that also make some very nice controllers. And it’s just a matter of what your budget will allow and how much control that you really want over the camera. [Timestamp: 2:55]

Do they have any distance constraints on how far you can run the control signals?
No, fortunately these days a lot of stuff has moved over to Cat-5. It’s an IP control, so if I’ve got Category-5 or Category-6 cable between that camera head and that PTZ head, I can go 1000ft. [or] 2000ft. There are no restraints on that, and we locally power the cameras. There are some systems that allow you to bring power over Cat-5, but these happen to be local powered PTZs and cameras, so we had to bring power to each one of the PTZ camera heads as well. [Timestamp: 3:32]

How long did it take you to do all of this? What was the time line on finishing this thing?
This was actually a very, surprisingly, a very fast tracked project. I think we came in a month and a half earlier than they had hoped. We prebuilt some of the system at our facility. They are located 20 minutes away from our headquarters. We deployed it, [and] we were onsite for one week. We did not even miss a Sunday service. We started on a Monday morning and went all the way to the next Saturday and were done. I am not saying that the people were up and trained and doing everything that they needed to do comfortably, but we were able to, at least, replicate what, if not do a little bit better, what the congregation was already used to before we started doing any construction. So we hung three projectors, three screens, did the lighting grid, did audio, did video, did everything. [Timestamp: 4:25]

Did that include all of the power modifications that you had to do?
The power modifications were done the week in advance. That took a week to do, but that doesn’t mean that you have to clear off the entire stage and you have to take all of the chairs out of the sanctuary to do all of this stuff. So they were able to do that during the prior week. And they didn’t have to bring in any lifts to do any of the power and all of that stuff. Most of the power was done at the panel. [Timestamp: 4:50]

I know that sometimes you have to do a little translating when you are talking to the higher ups and the church organization about what you have to do and how long things are going to take and not only how much it’s going to cost, but did they surprise you with any thing or did you have to do any changes or anything during the job?
We actually did not. This customer, I must say, did a tremendous amount of homework. They took their time. They had a very good plan in place, and we were part of that process with them. And that’s the advantage, I must say, of a systems integrator rather than having perhaps your volunteers do something like this that think they know what they’re doing. We’re professionals. We do this everyday. We went in there with a very clear plan, with a very tight tim-line, with a Gantt chart, and we said this is what we’re going to do; this is how we’re going to do it, so we laid out the whole plan for them and they were quite surprised. If you go to our website you could see a proof of performance on the job. If you go to, you can see the testimonial and actually how the job came together. We have a little time-lapse of when we were building it, how it all came together. [Timestamp: 6:00]

Oh that must be really neat. I am going to have to look at that. I always wanted somebody to do that.
It’s pretty cool. Oh, we do it.

So where does the other congregation meet?
The other congregation meets at another church at another location and it doesn’t stop them from there. Then they also have a mobile congregation, which is in a trailer—they can take it any where. What we find is we find a lot of churches starting to take their congregations to movie theaters that are not being occupied on Sunday mornings before noon or 1:00. If we can get the signal there one way or another, whether it’s over bringing the recorded service on a mobile medium, if you will or getting connectivity into these theaters, we’re able to get dual T1’s and 45MB signals into some of these theaters these days. [Timestamp: 6:49]

Yeah, I read where the other congregation or one of the other congregations is meeting at a high school somewhere.
They’re meeting at high schools; they’re meeting at theaters; they’re meeting wherever they can meet; wherever they can get a group of people together. It’s pretty cool. We have another one with Calvary Church here that meets at, I think it’s Lowes or Regal Cinemas on Sunday, and we do the same thing with them. It’s just an extension of that main sanctuary broadcast. We’ve been doing that for years with another church organization in the specific northwest called the City Church, and the City Church is up to 12 remote campuses. [Timestamp: 7:27]

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Expanding to Satellite Congregations, Part 2

May 20, 2010 11:03 AM,
By Bennett Liles

It’s interesting the way they do that. I’ve read that they have the sermon transmitted or they have the video of the sermon and then they surround that before and after with live music and other things right there from the location.
Mark Siegal: That’s correct. We actually have one which is with City Church, which is bi-directional. We have cameras in the remote location going back to the main sanctuary so the people that are in the main sanctuary can get a feel of what’s going on in the remote sanctuary. There’s many different ways to do this. [Timestamp: 7:56]

Yeah, that adds a whole new dimension when you’re going two-way really because there are lots of things they can do with that.
It’s very expensive.

Yeah, I can imagine it is.
And some of our bigger congregations, we have terrestrial. We are going over satellite and we have people going over IP to various places, and there’s a movement in the house of worship market, obviously, to grow the congregation therefore you’ve got to put remote campuses or remote churches out there to be able to bring people in to hear that message. [Timestamp: 8:27]

Right and they have to weigh the cost involved…
The cost.
…against what it would cost them to either expand their own brick and mortar right there in the location…
…or build another church somewhere else or renovate a place. And so sometimes it works out less expensive to just transmit the service to someplace that’s already set up and they just set it up and tear it down right after the service.

All right, so what’s the reaction been so far from the church? I imagine they must be loving this.
When I don’t get phone calls and I call up and say everything’s fantastic, that’s the, I hate to say it, that’s the best way. Some of the phone calls are is they say, “Mark, we want to grow again. We want to expand this even more.” That’s why it’s very important to have a very good plan at the business and to ask that pastor or the leaders of that church,“Where do you see yourself in seven years?” I mean you really have to do some, no pun intended, soul searching to find out where you want to really take your congregation and how far you want to go and then work things backwards in a plan and say, “what if…what if” because you never know someday somebody could walk in the door and believe in the cause that the church is doing. And, obviously churches, like any other entity, require funding to move forward. Somebody with an open heart and believes what the church is doing can drastically change the direction of the church by being generous with funding. So, to get back to the question, I think this customer is extremely happy. They are looking, “What can we do next?” They were very successful in deploying this method of delivering their message. I think they just want to do it more and bigger. That’s the best way to say it in the house of worship—everyone wants more and bigger. They want more people involved. [Timestamp: 10:15]

Yeah, and there’s no substitute for when they actually see the result as compared to having it explained in technical terms ahead of time when they really see what the possibilities are. You never know what they’re going to come up with after that.
I must say it is just like anything else. It’s a very competitive landscape. It’s a very competitive market place in house of worship. You say, “Competitive? But we’re all serving one: god.” Right? Well, it’s not that way. I’d rather have that person over at my congregation than over at Bob’s. [Timestamp: 10:46]

The church market is one of the most competitive places around particularly in AV stuff when they’ve got the equipment that’ll do what it’ll do and can be operated so easily now by volunteers.


The possibilities are really multiplying.

Well, this has been fabulous Mark, the Highlands Community Church in Renton, Wash., and the way you put in the control room for them and showed them what they could do with it and branching out electronically rather than physically. It’s a new idea, but a lot of people getting into it. And I appreciate your being here to explain all the details on how you made it all happen for them.

Well, thank you. Appreciate it.

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