LAS VEGAS If your church tech team staff had a chance to come to NAB this year, choice was certainly not a hard thing to come by. Whether you had an eye out for options relating to your church's audio, video, lighting or streaming needs, spending time with any of the more than 1,800 exhibitors provided a solid window into what solutions might be a match for your church.
The show certainly provided many learning experiences, particularly for any of those among the 103,000-plus that were able to attend the conference.
Over the course of three days last week at NAB, the opportunity to learn about intriguing products was something that more than 103,000 attendees took advantage of this year at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
On the final full day on the exhibit floor, there were a handful of companies that stood out, particularly Haivision, NEC Display, Broadcast Pix, and Bittree, among others.
At the Haivision demo room in the neighboring Renaissance Hotel, meeting with a quartet of Haivision representatives, Alan Haefs, Paul Gauthier, David Kay, Jay Abbott, two products were the focus to how well suited they are for houses of worship, beginning with the KB Max, a small, portable ABR encoder/transcoder capable of handling 4K UHD or quad HD H.264/HEVC live, along with the Haivision Media Platform.
For the KB Max, as an all-in-one streaming device, it supports up to a single 4K/UHD 2160p channel using 12G-SDI. If interested in 1080p60, the KB Max is capable of handling up to four channels, with quad 3G-SDI cables. It is ideal for configurations ranging from live events, 360-degree virtual reality content, or 360VR, and installations that aren't permanent. For churches seeking quality streaming for special events, or a device that can be moved throughout a church's campus for streaming needds, the KB Max would be ideal.
In addition, there was the Haivision Media Platform, a worthwhile tool for churches that find themselves overburdened with massive amounts of high-quality video content that is poorly organized. Aside from managing and organizing such content with the software, it also is very helpful when looking to share secure video, that is either live or on-demand.
At the NEC Display booth, the discussion began with the S[Quadrat] Sky SI 1.58mm dvLED wall panels. The company from Germany, was purchased by NEC in January, designed their wall panels to be front-serviceable, and are configured in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The most unusual feature for the panels looked to be the ability to exchange out pixel cards when upgrading the panels to higher resolutions in the future.
Some of the notable specifications for the Sky SI 1.58mm panels is a lifetime (50 percent brightness) of 80,000 hours, and a contrast ratio of 3,000:1.
For churches looking to a video solution aside from video walls, NEC's projector line provided plenty of choice, especially ones paired with ultra-short throw lenses or 10,000 or more lumens. Among the projectors on display by NEC featuring plenty of lumens was the NP-PH1202HL1, a 12,000 lumen projector. The 3-chip DLP laser/phosphor projector has a native resolution of 1080p, and a lifespan of 20,000 hours, along with features like edge blending when working with multiple projectors when creating nonstandard images.
Keeping with video, was video switcher maker Broadcast Pix BPswitch, and their NAB-related release of BPfusion, which offers the ability to "data connectivity to automate graphics," as noted by product manager Tony Mastantuono. At the booth, he demoed how the software can be integral for houses of worship, in how it can control independently multilayers of motion graphics, up to six layers of graphics, so that one can automate the inclusion of the church's logo, for example, during times of a service for streaming, or the necessary graphics for lower third frame information, along with scriptures or hymns.
With BPfusion, one can even create presets, where for certain standard parts of a service, one can bring over with one touch the necessary graphic elements without having to redesign them each time. Taking it a step further, under the "scene bin" section, a user can select from a series of templates that can be used, created for certain parts of the production or service.
At the Bittree booth, I got a closer look at that manufacturer's offerings of high-performance audio, video and data patching systems, including the recently released ProStudio series. With systems built for uses ranging from broadcast to houses of worship, such as the audio patchbay PS96DB25F, a 2x48 TT (bantam) jack patchbay, it features protected programmable normalling and grounds, paired with a DB-25 rear interface, made up of a series of 12 female DB-25 connectors connectors for interfacing with Avid® ProTools® and Tascam® equipment. In addition, for normalling, the 1.5RU unit’s circuits can be programmed to full normal, half normal, or non-normal, while grounding can be bussed, isolated, or looped. The company's units come with gold cross-bar switching contacts, ideal for handling higher electrical current rates, paired with a lower noise floor. The product was one of six during the NAB conference to earn a highly acclaimed "Best Of Show" award determined by one magazine dedicated to the business of the professional audio industry, delivered during my meeting with general manager Ari Baron.
Considering all the video, streaming and audio demands on vast number of churches these days, the need for quality and reliable storage is tantamount. Among those on site at NAB to discuss their storage solutions was Facilis, who noted an upgrade last year at Mosaic Church, a multisite church based in Los Angeles. As noted by vice president Jim McKenna, the church transitioned to a "full 4K pipeline, from injest, to projection and display, and delivery of product." While a significant amount of infrastructure was in place for that delivery, "they needed storage to keep up." With the company's high-performance storage, it features files systems optimized to the application one is using, including Adobe Premiere. In addition, the software offers an incredibly flexible shared file system, allowing for full administrator access for full access to the campus' array of drives, to having a freelancer only having limited access to a single drive or two that their associated work is connected to.
Such access to those drives can be done via desktop on a browser, as well as even from a phone. That allows a user to potentially create or mount a volume from their phone, managing project-based workflow from their phone or iPad, preventing them from having to step away from what they were doing to go to their workstation in their office, and physically adjust settings at a coworker's computer.
Lastly, there was Telestream, well known for Wirecast, a multifaceted tool for broadcasting or streaming. With prior releases, the company had "been missing a physical control panel," noted Scott Murray, vice president of product management, but with their upcoming release of Wirecast 9, the company "partnered with X-Keys, a company that makes a lot of control surfaces, to make one tailored to Wirecast." The surface, sold through resellers like Amazon, is under $600, with it being something that "we wanted to put out on the market that is really useful, to make it accessible to users, without there being much of a cost," added Murray. Among the many features to be included in the upcoming release will be some enhancements with Facebook Live, including a subtle tweak toward access by third-parties for production. For users who might be a freelancer and not a staff member, it will offer "an additional authentication, to give access to post-production, but not give the keys to the castle," such as full access to one's login credentials to post or delete on one's social media pages.
Overall, having had a chance to meet a nice sampling of 46 exhibitors over three days, out of the more than 1,800 that were on hand at NAB this year, spent investigating a wide range of products that would be best suited for houses of worship, it provided a share of eye-opening moments. The show certainly provided many learning experiences, particularly for any of those among the 103,000-plus that were able to attend the conference.