The house of worship community – of all different types and different sizes – are increasingly realizing the value of including video as a means to keep congregants informed, along with delivering inspirational messages.
It is increasingly common for a house of worship to have some combination of standard IT wired or wireless network.
Live streaming media around facilities, to multisite locations, or to individuals with remote access, is becoming both simpler and less costly, thanks to the shift to implementing video over Internet Protocol, or IP.
Creating attention-getting event productions that engage viewers has also become easier, using IP-based systems and workflows.
It is increasingly common for a house of worship to have some combination of standard IT wired or wireless network. Therefore, utilizing that existing network for video and audio is uncomplicated and much less costly, versus installing dedicated wiring for traditional video and audio distribution.
With a network that is set up to use IP for video and audio, there are a wide variety of cameras, production systems, graphics systems, and streaming devices that work entirely with IP – along with converters that take the outputs from existing equipment and convert them to NDI® signals, which are optimized video signals, for use over standard networks.
NDI requires no special hardware of any kind. NDI works with existing software applications, computer platforms, and network infrastructures to acquire, store, and deliver video, audio, and data streams.
In addition, there are NDI tools – such as Studio Monitor, Scan Converter, and Virtual USB Camera – that are available at no charge, to get live video moving across networks using Windows, MacOS, and Linux components.
NDI devices are simply connected to the network, discover each other, and are ready to transport media back and forth. This connectivity can be extended across the network, to other locations using streaming, even over the public internet.
Streaming using NDI can occur in real time to connect sites, guests, and viewers to a specific event, but can also be used at a later time by congregants, by recording the event, and saving it as a file that can be put on a local server or on to a Cloud-based video hosting platform. Streaming can also be set up with social media platforms on an organization’s website.
This level of simple and affordable setup and operation is a true enabler of live streaming. It democratizes the technology to allow houses of worship of all sizes to seriously consider live streaming as an option.
This is further enabled by the advent of more IT-based practices and IP transport. This enables volunteers to deliver event coverage, without needing extensive media production experience. In addition, software-based tools and systems are embracing a more inclusive user experience.
Devices have more auto-configuration and discovery functionality to take the technical complexity out of connecting various components together. Customized software control panels optimize common tasks and limit the variables, to just what is needed for a particular program or operator. Control surfaces can even be deployed on touchscreens and tablets. Program details such as effects and graphics are set up with presets and templates, to make it fast and easy to add or change production elements.
As many events are preplanned, simple program automation based on written scripts manage the teleprompter, switching sources, effects, video playback, and graphics to run an entire show, without having to know about the operation of these systems.
Many organizations have conducted basic production with a single camera, microphone, and streaming encoder. Now they can be empowered to create more sophisticated programs. The next steps involve multiple cameras to capture more action from multiple positions, and then using multiple displays within a sanctuary, capable of showing different content on each one or across all of them.
A common need is image magnification of a camera source to a display that must be kept in correct video and audio sync. These aspects require a live production system for switching, transitions, effects, video clip playout, and managed outputs. A more advanced system can also integrate audio, graphics, using virtual sets as backgrounds, and control of devices such as cameras.
The best part? All these functions can be done over IP. Sending signals around a building or campus to multiple displays and screens can also done using IP.
Video toolmakers have long understood the need of houses of worship to make their video production look as professional as possible on a tight budget, using an all-volunteer crew that may not necessarily be well-versed in the art of video production.
With the advent of IP-based workflows, and increasingly powerful and affordable tools, smaller organizations are empowered like never before, to look as good as better-funded and bigger organizations. This is making it a very exciting time to be in charge of worship AV.
To take the next steps in developing an IP-based live streaming workflow, seek out a nearby AV integrator that deals in NDI, and the many products and solutions that NDI enables. Both the price point and the end production are likely to impress.
(Matt Allard is a product marketing manager at NewTek.)