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Video on a Budget: Seek Cost-Effective Solutions Over Cutting Corners

Poorly designed and underpowered church video systems are oddly prolific. It's your job, as a steward of the video system at your church, though, to instead push for the right tool in the right application, for maximum impact.

You Get What You Pay For

No matter what area of tech that you serve, the right equipment for you is rarely the least expensive equipment to accomplish the goal at hand. Video is no exception.

Are we really telling the Greatest Story there is to tell, in the most efficient and impactful way possible?

I can't tell you how often I walk into churches that are using PowerPoint 2011 on a Dell desktop PC running Windows XP, along with a Sony HandyCam from 2009 set up for (unnecessary) IMAG, and a projector that is no more than 2,000 lumens, tasked to project on a large 4:3 screen, all while being flooded with ambient light.

Poorly designed and underpowered church video systems are oddly prolific. It's your job, as a steward of the video system at your church, though, to instead push for the right tool in the right application, for maximum impact.

Are we really telling the Greatest Story there is to tell, in the most efficient and impactful way possible?

Cutting Corners

When it comes to projection, the sun will always win! There is no projector in the world that can compete with the sun coming through a large window, and flooding the screen surface area with light none!

Churches are notorious for letting budget determine their vision, and that often means underpowered projectors, a slow graphics computer, or a DIY wiring job that is nowhere near code, along with being rarely fully functional (or is frustratingly intermittent)!

In the world of church tech, video is often the least understood area. Getting a video signal on your screens is one thing, but knowing how to make it look good, and to use the medium in an impactful way, is video at a whole other level. It's easy to cut corners when you don't really understand the impact of what you're cutting.

Then we wonder why it doesn't look that great later.

Some Winning Formulas for a Small/Medium-sized Church

While the future holds great promise for affordable and high-quality video networking/distribution via NDI (IP-based video protocol), the cost-effective and reliable standard right now for pro-level HD video design, is still SDI. An SDI video cable can send HD video signals, with high-quality embedded audio, over 100 meters easily, via an inexpensive and fairly robust and resilient coaxial line.

For a season, the trend toward HDMI-over-Cat5 solutions seemed like the most "future-proof" solution, but the cost of reliable converters, or balun system, and churches self-installing the least expensive category cable they could find, leads to signal dropouts as well as occasionally unreliable results.

Companies like Blackmagic Design, and many others, are offering incredibly low-cost SDI solutions, often with prosumer-friendly benefits like HDMI inputs/outputs or low-cost conversion from HDMI to SDI, and vice-versa. Only a few years ago, a built-in multiviewer on a video switcher seemed like a luxury, and now it's included on nearly every switching product on the market today. Gone are the days of "Program is Everything" now we live in a world where a cost-effective video switcher can have multiple auxiliary outputs or even multiple M/E buses.

Laser projection solutions and LED wall technology have also reached a level of low-cost and efficiency, where they are now seen as very attractive by churches that just a few years ago could not afford them. 

With laser projection, you never need to change a lamp, or filter. It uses a fraction of the power consumed by traditional lamped projectors and has an average light-engine half-life of more than 20,000 hours!

LED walls are becoming a financially viable option as well for many churches, with a lot of ambient light or windows typically a factor in their worship spaces, where projection is just impossible to get the desired level of contrast.

Stewardship

So many churches end up throwing away funds on what to them seems like solutions, that at first seem too good to be true. Good stewardship is realizing a solid solution that is often brought about by wise counsel, yet churches are rarely equipped with people in their congregation with knowledge in a particular area, like video.

Partnering with an experienced church integrator will help your church make wise decisions and likely save a significant amount of money to accomplish your goals the first time.

 

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