Walthall went on to say, “The second biggest advancement is the onslaught of new digital equipment. Almost everything is digital now, allowing for increased ease of use and new approaches to using [equipment].” For my church, that statement couldn’t be truer. Take, for example, a few pieces of gear that we couldn’t function without:
At the heart of our video control room sits a Blackmagic Design Video Hub router. This is the backbone of our system. All video comes in and out of this unit. This wasn’t actually part of our original install; we switched to this system several years ago after we outgrew our previous router. When upgrading, we asked ourselves: "Besides more inputs and outputs, what do we want?" The quick reply was that we need digital access to it. Since our video room is under the auditorium, making changes when working upstairs is quite a trek. While I enjoy the exercise (I don’t really), it was very difficult with our previous router to make changes and see the effects of those changes without going back and forth several times. The solution for us was the Video Hub, which has a native iPad app for ease of use. We can also access the router from any computer in the audio/lighting booth on the main floor. This was a game changer for us.
That was video, but what about audio? We have a flown line array system. When this was installed there was not an easy way to get to it. Now it’s just a speaker that we don’t need to access every day, but how do you know what is going on with it when it is 35 feet in the air? That is why we went with a system from Meyer Sound. This was installed original with the building four years ago and hasn't been touched. It hasn’t even ever been turned off. We know it works and just don't have to worry about it. There are network connections on each of the powered speakers that allow us to monitor them from the safely of the floor (I may have a slight fear of heights) via iPad or computer screen. The same for our audio consoles, we can walk the auditorium, making tweaks as we need to for each section of the room.
Lighting is an immense element to consider—requiring a great amount of power consumption and, arguably, the most upkeep. In our auditorium, we try to utilize LED fixtures as much as possible, especially in hard-to-reach places. We have several points in the house where it is necessary to bring in an aerialist to change the lights: this is where LEDs come in handy. Once installed, I will most likely never have to see those replaced. On stage, we incorporate a mixture of LED, intelligent moving lights that use a compact arc lamp, and conventional fixtures. Oh, and guess what? We can control them all from an iPad. The thumbs up from volunteers
These are just three items I could think of that our volunteers use on a regular basis ... things that we couldn't function without. Our daily operations rely on the fact that during the design stage of this auditorium project, the forethought was there to make all of these elements possible. Having additional conduit for us to pull additional CAT5/6 cables, SDI video, or analog audio lines is crucial. The size of the church doesn't matter, either. We all have a similar goal and way of achieving said goal; and getting there always starts with a pencil and an idea ... well maybe not a pencil anymore.
Having additional conduit for us to pull additional CAT5/6 cables, SDI video, or analog audio lines is crucial.
Even though I have a work force consisting of highly trained workers, we still like to think in terms of volunteer- and budget-friendliness: how can we reduce the amount of hours required of those who are serving, and can we make our work during the week more efficient? With the changes in technology even in the past four years, we have been able to combine positions to save time and money. This comes full-circle to designing churches for functionality, not just beauty.