Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interlocking | Spring Stage Design

Check out TBC's recent stage design featured on ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com. Thanks to all our tech arts volunteers who make it happen every week!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Going the Distance

It's impossible to know exactly what the future holds.  However, planning for contingencies and being prepared for the unforeseen is vitally important.  When you're selecting and installing equipment that costs thousands of dollars, this becomes paramount.  It's part of being a good steward of time and resources and it definitely makes life easier when the unforeseen appears.

For example, the tech team here at Topeka Bible Church is in the midst of our long awaited upgrade to an HD video production system.  As our old equipment begins to show its age and the proliferation of high definition media continues, the time has come for us to take the next step in improving and optimizing our video system.  But there is another factor at play in the decisions that are made during this upgrade.  

TBC is currently preparing to launch a building project that will provide us with a second, full sized auditorium that will function as both a live venue and a video venue.  This means it will receive a live video feed of the teaching occurring in the other auditorium, located across a city street.  A set up like this requires a flexible and powerful video system.  Would it make sense to purchase video equipment the meets our needs now and then have to replace it in two years because it can't meet our future needs?  This may seem like a cost cutting measure in the present, but being a steward does not always mean being cheap.  Sometimes it means making a long term investment.

What are the benefits of thinking long term in this scenario?  Our volunteers will already be familiar with and trained to use the equipment when we expand our facilities.  We've actually spent the last two years putting this idea into practice as we've upgraded our audio, lighting, and graphics areas.  Another benefit is that we won't need to replace our existing video system in the near future.  It will be ready to step into a more demanding role with just a few additions.  The life span of our new system could approach 10 years and TBC will be able to get the most out of its investment.  It also removes some equipment costs from the future new construction, while allowing us to experience all the benefits of the equipment in our current space.  

Thinking about the quality and the flexibility of equipment is important, but thinking ahead doesn't stop there.  It also extends to how that equipment is installed.  A properly executed installation can extend the life of a system by many years.  Conversely, a poor installation will eventually cause equipment and cable failures, user frustration, and increased maintenance costs.  Here are some not-so-good examples:

Hard work and attention to detail in the beginning will go a long way.  Being a steward means taking care of what you have, and that extends far beyond finances.  This is a principle that applies to all areas of life. Making the best choices you can now will enable you to go the distance with excellence, whether those choices affect your personal, professional, or spiritual life. 

*If you're interested in the technical details of TBC's new video system, check out my previous post.

The Nuts and Bolts of Our HD Upgrade

For those who enjoy reading up on image resolutions, frame rates, HD-SDI, output bus counts, and H.264, I've compiled this list of the major components in TBC's new full HD video production system.

Black Magic Design ATEM 1 M/E

This is a 1 M/E (Mix Engine), 8 input, 3 discreet aux out, 5 program out broadcast switcher with a built in multi-viewer.  It has 4 SDI inputs, 4 HDMI inputs, and one analog input which can be use in place of one of the HDMI inputs.  We'll be using two SDI, one HDMI, and the analog input.  This enables the operator to switch three cameras + computer graphics in 1080/60i HD.  The aux outs will feed our main projector and one of our video venues.

This switcher is also a true preset/program bus switcher.  If you serve as a video director at TBC, you'll appreciate this, as its a big improvement over our old A/B bus switcher.

Panasonic HPX250

This unit will become our primary camera for capturing teaching and worship.  It has a 22x lens and can shoot in resolutions up to 1080p.  It has 3 of the same 1/3" CMOS sensors found in Panasonic's HPX370 but in a compact format.  HD-SDI out and genlock allow seamless integration with professional broadcast systems.

Black Magic Design H.264 Pro Recorder

This handy device allows for real time HD H.264 encoding of our services.  This means that they are immediately ready for uploading to the web or can be edited quickly and easily.  It will take in our 1080i video over HD-SDI and output via USB to an iMac.

Black Magic Design Media Express

This is a easy to use media capture program that works with the H.264 Pro Recorder to capture and organize our video.

Sony VPL-FH500L Projector
With 7000 lumens of output and 1920x1200 resolution, this higher-than-HD projector will provide incredibly clear, high definition content for our main auditorium.  Its lamps and filters are rated for over 6000 hours of use, making it extremely affordable to maintain compared to similar units.  And because it features an HD-SDI input card, it can receive an extremely low latency, all digital signal for pristine image quality.

There are lots of other pieces involved in tying this system together, but those are the big ones.  If you have any questions or want to get involved in tech ministry at TBC, drop me a note below!