As ministry needs grow and applications for video switching expand, manufacturers' offerings rise to the challenge.
In the past, selecting the right video switcher for a church mainly involved finding the best solution for worship image magnification (IMAG). With the rise of multi-screen stage design, digital signage, multisite worship and live streaming, the demands on video switchers for ministry have grown exponentially.
"Ease of use is definitely something that needs to be considered when you’re using a lot of volunteers."
—Bob Caniglia Director of Sales Operations, Blackmagic Design, Philadelphia, PA.
“The biggest decision church designers will make is which audience they’re trying to design for,” states Greg Huttie, director of technical marketing at Grass Valley. “Twenty years ago it was either live broadcast or recording directly to tape. Today we could be going live to streaming, we could be going to IMAG, or we could be going to simulcast for multiple campuses.” Church AVL designers and architects will need to carefully consider which features are crucial for the success of the individual ministry they’re designing for.An issue of control
One recent trend that church designers will want to consider is the rise in software-based control schemes that utilize laptops and tablets rather than traditional hardware-based control surfaces. “Ease of use is definitely something that needs to be considered when you’re using a lot of volunteers,” shares Bob Caniglia, Philadelphia-based director of sales operations at Blackmagic Design. “I find that some people are more comfortable with a software interface or a touchscreen, rather than a hardware interface. Their comfort level depends on what they’re used to or expecting.”
The important thing for designers to remember when weighing the pros and cons of different control schemes is that the actual video switching is still taking place at a hardware level, and that the hardware still needs to be professional quality to produce predictable results. “There’s a cool factor to switching everything on a tablet, and that’s great,” says Craig Harper, Dallas-based national manager of faith for Sony Electronics. “But when you’re using software control for everything from IMAG to message broadcast to streaming, you really need to have a dedicated hardware switcher at the core of the system that’s designed to do exactly what it’s designed to do.”
In order to help churches get more familiar with some of the best new options on the market, we assembled an overview of some of the newest video switchers available today. Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro HD
The Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio is designed for broadcast-quality live production and professional AV applications. It features eight video inputs, analog audio inputs, dedicated multiview, program and aux outputs, flash-based media players, a built-in LCD monitor and talkback communications functionality, all in a compact and affordable package. The ATEM Television Studio HD features a professional control service, but can also be controlled via software on Mac or Windows platforms, allowing for multiple operators to work together simultaneously. Broadcast Pix BPswitch
Billed as the industry’s first “control-over-IP from anywhere by tablet, phone and panel” solution, the Broadcast Pix BPswitch is called a unique approach to event-based video switching. This approach allows video directors secure, cloud-based control of their event and includes powerful features such as CG, video clip storage, multiview and control of robotic cameras, streamers and recording. FOR-A HVS-490
Built for a balance of power and affordability, the FOR-A HVS-490 has been designed specifically for houses of worship, mobile applications, live productions where space is at a premium. The HVS-490 supports configurations of 40 inputs/18 outputs, 36 inputs/20 outputs, or 32 inputs/22 outputs, depending on the needs of your production. The switcher also supports up to ten 4K video inputs with the use of an optional expansion card.Grass Valley GV Korona
The Grass Valley GV Korona Production Switcher is a professional broadcast solution designed specifically for small studios, studio trucks and houses of worship. The GV Korona features an extensive control surface that includes a large OLED touchscreen for intuitive control of menu applications. The power and functionality of the GV Korona can be greatly enhanced when paired with the K-Frame V-Series Processing Engine, allowing for an all IP or mixed SDI and IP signal environment. Ross Carbonite Black Solo
As one of the newest members of the popular Carbonite families of switchers, the Ross Carbonite Black Solo is designed to provide professional power in a compact, portable form factor. The switcher features six SDI and three HDMI video inputs, six assignable outputs, built-in synchronizers and format converters. The Carbonite Black Solo also includes advanced chroma keying, transitions and built-in Xpression Live CG software for incorporating graphics directly from the switcher’s internal storage. SAM Kula
Designed with live event, broadcast production, sports and houses of worship in mind, the Snell Advanced Media (SAM) Kula switcher provides an affordable solution that’s both powerful and future-proof. Featuring its award-winning FormatFusion3 technology, the Kula can incorporate multiple video formats up to 4K without the need for external converters. It’s also extremely flexible in how video I/O is configured with 18 inputs, six outputs and six bi-directional connections that can function as either input or output, depending on the needs of a production. Sony MVS-3000A
Building on 10 years of experience developing the MVS line, Sony’s MVS-3000A switcher is designed for houses of worship, stadiums, production studios and similar applications requiring multiple input options within a more limited space. It features 32 video inputs and 16 outputs, a two-channel multiviewer, internal chroma keying, and input-specific color correction. The MVS-3000A includes Sony’s ICP-3000 control panel and can be paired with the ICP-6511 for additional touchscreen control. Roland V-60HD Video Switcher
When it comes to small-format switchers, Roland has been leading the charge and continues to with the new V-60HD. The I/O of this “small” switcher is actually rather large, it supports six input channels via four SDI and two scaled HDMI inputs and a scaled RGB input. These can all be viewed on a standard TV via the built-in multiviewer on a dedicated HDMI output. The scaler on the HDMI and RGB inputs is an excellent feature because it allows the V-60HD to accept video from pretty much any source. This means that odd computer resolutions will play nicely with standard video resolutions without the need for an external converter. On the audio side, it has an 18-channel audio mixer with four TRS/XLR combo jacks with 48V phantom power, an RCA stereo pair, plus audio de-embed from the six video inputs. Audio processing capabilities include a high-pass filter, gate, compressor/limiter, three-band EQ, delay and the ability to select audio-follows-video, and more.SIDEBAR: A Worthy Tool for Mobile Ministry
For many small- and medium-sized churches the name of the game is flexibility and affordability. This is especially true for ministries utilizing a mobile ministry model. For tech directors leading in these contexts the new SlingStudio by Foster City, Calif.-based Sling Media LLC, a subsidiary of DISH Network Corp., may be an ideal solution for live multicam image magnification (IMAG) and livestreaming.
“A couple of years ago we looked at the entire setup,” states Jeff Sasagawa, director of product management for SlingStudio. “Our goal was to improve the process, set-up to post, for multicam broadcasting. We also wanted to address the issues of cost and complexity of setup.”
The SlingStudio is an extremely portable solution centered around a small central hub that connects to one camera via HDMI and up to 10 additional cameras wirelessly. These wireless cameras could be smartphone cameras utilizing the SlingStudio Capture app or existing cameras connected to the SlingStudio Cameralink wireless devices.
The switching takes place entirely on an iPad running the free SlingStudio Console app, which can also livestream directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Periscope, Livestream and other RTMP destinations. The whole system fits easily into a backpack and can be powered remotely for up to three hours using the optional SlingStudio battery base.
“Ease of use and portability are a primary concern,” continues Sasagawa. “For churches on a fixed budget it provides an affordable, wireless solution. Whether you need something for the sanctuary, youth room, gymnasium, or a mountaintop, it’s one solution that fits all.”
For ministries just getting started in live streaming, or for older churches wanting to incorporate multicam IMAG in spaces that would otherwise be difficult to incorporate traditional broadcast systems, SlingStudio certainly deserves a good, long look. SlingStudio starts at $999 and can be purchased directly at: (visit link