EACH YEAR, THE Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minn., puts on a Christmas spectacular that is not to be missed. The production includes more than 400 singers from nearby high school choirs, a full professional orchestra, ballet dancers, aerialists performing over both the stage and audiences, all enhanced by a technically-gifted production.
“We call this show a gift to the community, and we don’t make any profit, so everything we make from ticket sales, goes into the production or back to the community in some form,” Taylor Mason, broadcast and production manager for Hosanna Lutheran says. “Our sole focus is to invite other people, and make it welcoming concert for all.”
During the performance, musical selections range from classical to modern, and have pieces that reach guests of all ages. Key to the event’s design philosophy is keeping the stage activity as dynamic as possible, with a full immersion of sound, light, live performance, and digital display.
“We really started to explode as a church, and we were looking to grow and add multiple campuses,” notes Mason. “We did this Christmas concert every year, that tens of thousands of people experience. With that level of production, I needed more channels, so our production teams could all communicate effectively.”
To address this need for a strong hub of team communication, Mason looked to a wireless solution from Clear-Com, whose communication systems have a long and prestigious history of addressing the needs of live production.
“When realizing that I could link our different campuses through Clear-Com’s HelixNet and have cross-campus communication, as well as increase my in-house channel count, it was a no-brainer to go with this solution,” Mason explains.
While the gear was ordered, due to some unfortunate planning, the church wasn’t open when the FedEx shipment arrived. As a result, the system didn’t get into Mason’s hands until the day the show was opening.
“We were going to just run with our original configuration for the first day of the show, but what happened was a beautiful, seamless installation,” Mason says. “One of the reasons I love Clear-Com’s solutions and HelixNet is we were able to use our initial wiring, which was analog, and get the system up in a day.”
In addition, Mason says, “We literally just removed the old system and used the existing wiring between the front panel display and the remote installations, it was just so easy and quick from our standpoint.”
The first night of the event with the newly installed HelixNet Digital Network Partyline Intercom System, everything fell into place and those involved with the production fell in love with the vast improvement to the system quality-wise over its predecessor.
KNOWING THE NEED
When Mason isn’t working at the church, he freelances at a production company in the Twin Cities, and that company by chance also used Clear-Com’s HelixNet, so Mason knew up front the quality of the product. When the need for a smarter communications solution became clearer, Mason started digging more into the benefits of the system and found the right modules for the church’s configuration. “We also bring in rental cameras throughout our Christmas season and Easter, so I needed to be able to tie in with two-wire communication to get com out to those cameras, and this system could accomplish this.”
Additionally, Mason was very impressed with Clear-Com’s FreeSpeak II, a digital wireless intercom system, with wireless headsets, which offered great range, quality and an attractive price point. With some help from Brad Van Voorst of Reach Communications in Champlin, Minn., as their purchasing vendor, the church was able to get all the Clear-Com gear it needed. Another benefit is that older Clear- Com headsets and gear will still work with the latest technology provided by this company.
Jay Wallace, Clear-Com’s regional sales manager (Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Canada), explains that as the needs have arisen at Hosanna Lutheran, he has helped the church add on to its system with other solutions that have paid big dividends.
“We have done several worship projects and one of our strengths at Clear-Com is our IP connectivity,” he says. “Talking through their needs, and with Taylor’s understanding of the system already, it was easy to present what would work best for them.”
A challenge that Mason recently presented to Wallace came from some of his tech team, wanting to run a separate monitor board for the Christmas show for the musicians and orchestra.
“My monitor audio engineer wanted to wear in-ear headphones, so he could hear what the musicians were listening to and doesn’t want to wear a regular Phad 8 headset com. I asked Jay if there were other ways I could get one of my channels converted to analog XLR and get it into a format that his audio board could see, so he can talk back and forth,” Mason says.
Not surprisingly, the answer was “yes.”
Clear-Com presented another solution that helped all of Hosanna Lutheran Church’s communications team to stay connected. Mason reached out to Wallace about wanting to stay in touch better while he was overseas and asked his thoughts on a way to do that better.
“I wanted to Facetime my team and use my cell phone and told Jay I wanted an app that would make it clearer,” Mason says.
Clear-Com’s LQ-4W2 with Agent IC licenses was the solution.
“LQ is unique to the industry, in that it is something that can be added on to any intercom system, Clear-Com or another brand, it’s easy to operate, it’s remotely controllable and it’s cost effective,” Wallace says. “Another strength is this will work on the public internet, so we can literarily have a box in Minneapolis, a box in the San Francisco Bay area and a box in Tokyo, and as long as everyone can see the internet from their location, you will have dependable, high-quality, low-latency audio intercom between those venues.”
Mason calls the LQ box “a lifesaver” and he also uses it while driving between campuses, so he can easily listen to his teams while he goes to the next location.
“It has been amazing, and we use this religiously,” he says. “I was able to sit in my hotel room overseas and talk to my team, and even though I wasn’t physically there, I was connected to my campuses. It’s easy to use, has stability, and the expandability has been rock solid.”
That’s been true for the entire process and the Christmas show has been the better for it.
“I continue to pinch myself about Agent IC, because of its remote capability,” Mason says. “Everything has been such a dream to work with.”
GEAR LIST FOR BOTH HOSANNA LUTHERAN CAMPUSES:
2x HelixNet-HMS-4X Mainstation
3x HRM-4X Remote station
1x FreeSpeak II Base station
2x FreeSpeak II beltpacks but rent more for larger production shows
1x LQ-4W2 with Agent IC licenses
1x HelixNet HMS-4X Mainstation
1x FreeSpeak II Base station
1x FreeSpeak II beltpacks (but rent more for larger production shows)