By Will Waters
The benefits of live video production in the House of Worship world were recently outlined in an article looking at the work of Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, California. Live video helps worship teams widen the borders of their congregation, reach new members, increase participation, and improve the vibrancy of the mission overall. A white paper looking at Live Production and Delivery with IP for Religious Organizations is also free from NewTek.
That said, many might still be asking: is live video production the right avenue for my worship team? While the benefits might be clear, is there perhaps too much difficulty and cost involved to truly make this worth the effort?
The good news is that advancements have largely mitigated these concerns in technology over the past few years. More accessible production systems, which bring down both cost and learning curve, coupled with the power of NDI, which removes the need for costly cable runs, means getting started with live video production has never been easier or more cost-effective for churches.
Let’s take a look at the simple steps necessary to facilitate the addition of live video production to your worship space.
NDI – The True Enabler
One of the most significant enablers in this process is removing point-to-point video cables in favor of elegant, simplified, and free-to-use NDI. NDI allows individuals and organizations to access the benefits of IP-based live production with software-defined visual storytelling (#SDVS) for a fraction of the cost of other complimentary IP protocols. By using common network infrastructure – typically already installed in your facility – you not only save money but also improve the management of your video and audio signals. With NDI, all sources are available on the network for use in live video production.
There are NDI-native live production systems, cameras, and converters – which allow nearly any video device to join an NDI network – on the market that make production setup a simple matter of plugging the device into the network. Additionally, since IP is the native language of software, many computer applications can join the NDI network using the free NDI Webcam Input software – one of many offerings in the free NDI suite of software offerings – to either become a video source (for screen capture) or to grab video from other NDI sources for use in applications such as Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
Further, NDI Android and iOS applications allow our many mobile devices to quickly become video cameras or screen sharing opportunities – meaning nearly every individual can quickly become part of a live production!
The benefits do not end there. NDI allows the direct injection of audio from software based sound mixers or even connecting multiple locations together across the Internet. In addition, video sources at the main campus can now be connected to satellite facilities with ease.
Live Productions Systems
Of course, this expansive infrastructure needs a central hub to bring it all together. That link is made in the form of live production systems such as NewTek’s TriCaster. These systems are available in various levels of sophistication and form factors. They offer the ability to quickly and effectively bring NDI, other IP sources, and traditional video sources into a production environment where you can live switch between them in a production.
Further, these systems can quickly and effectively add remote participants to the production via native integration with the most common video conferencing applications. That means a remote participant is a simple invite link away from joining your service!
These systems also offer the ability to add video effects such as lower thirds and green screen capabilities. When these effects are packaged with multiple camera angles, multiple video sources, and live switching, they craft a level of professionalism that viewers expect from live broadcasts.
And when it comes to the broadcast, the live streaming options are just as impressive. YouTube, Vimeo, and social media channels are all supported, ensuring you reach your audiences in the method they prefer most.
Cameras, Audio and Lighting
With the live production system and infrastructure in place, you can now look at the addition of the many input elements you might want. There are multiple PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera offerings on the market that are NDI-native and allow for control from the live production system. Using the NDI Bridge – an application within NDI Tools – it is possible to control NDI PTZ cameras not only from across the facility, but potentially across the country. Camera operators don’t even have to be on-site to contribute to an amazing production.
That said, there is no need to toss traditional cameras from the workflow as they can be brought onto the network easily with NDI converters.
Many cameras allow for audio sources to be connected directly, making the addition of lav mics and other microphones as easy as plugging them in. But, for those that want to capture an audio mix or use a separate workflow, the live production systems also allow for traditional audio connectivity.
Finally, it is worth looking at a lighting investment. Adding quality lighting to a production can greatly improve the look and feel of your production. Lighting is one of the most critical components in delivering professional looking video. Use of proper lighting can even change the way people and objects appear in the video.
Partnering for Success
These upgrades can be made quickly and elegantly with the help of a local reseller and/or integrator. These partners can quickly set up the system and walk you through the basics of the operation. Many free tutorials are available online through manufacturer websites that will answer nearly any query you run into during the operation of your new system. And, of course, support options are only a click away.
The goal, of course, is to find manufacturers that are invested in your success and take your production as seriously as you do. By working with teams that can demonstrate a history of success in the house of worship space, you ensure that your story will be better told with video. And with that approach we ensure there are more stories being better told by all!
Will Waters is head of product management at NewTek, www.newtek.com. As a leader in IP video technology, NewTek is transforming the way people create network-style television content and share it with the world. From sporting events, Web-based talk shows, live entertainment, classrooms, and corporate communications, to virtually any place people want to capture and publish live video, they give customers the power to grow their audiences, brands and businesses faster than ever before.