Posted in projects on February 1, 2017 10:00 am EST

Systems Integrator Helps Alabama Church Revamp Streaming Capabilities

Fast-growing multisite Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., completes a high-tech upgrade of its broadcasting and AV equipment with the help of Clark and Sony.











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TAGS: audio, av, avl upgrade, broadcasting, community connection, design, missions, streaming, sustainability,


By Church Designer Staff

Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., was founded in 2001 and has since grown to host more than 30,000 members at its 11 campuses across the state. The church aims to help people connect with God in their own way, offering regular services on-site, and streaming and on-demand services for members across the country. The church also works closely with more than a dozen correctional facilities to offer worship services for those who are incarcerated.

"Because we’re streaming all of our services live online to several thousand viewers, there’s a tremendous emphasis on having a high quality experience originating from our main campus."

—Justin Firesheets, Production Manager, Church of the Highlands, Birmingham, AL

Recently, Church of the Highlands completed an extensive, high-tech upgrade under the guidance of Atlanta-based systems integrator Clark, which has a longstanding relationship with the church. Clark helped the Church define its needs and after carefully reviewing their options, they gradually selected a comprehensive complement of Sony’s broadcast and AV equipment, including cameras, projectors and switchers to meet the needs of the local and nationwide audience. According to Justin Firesheets, production manager at Church of the Highlands who oversees all of the live production elements and equipment for the Church’s campuses, Sony offered the right combination of quality products and project expertise.

“We really wanted to make sure we were partnered with a company that we felt confident in our relationship with, and confident in both their products and their level of support,” Firesheets says. “Sony’s products are easy to use, which benefits the volunteers running and setting up our equipment, and the quality looks great to those participating in a service.”

This installation, which came together in stages, serves as a technology upgrade for the church. Progressively, they purchased several of Sony’s HDC-2400 HD camera systems, multiple MCS-8M compact production switchers and a variety of Sony’s laser projectors, the 4,000 VPL-FHZ55 and the 7,000-lumen VPL-FHZ700L.

“Over time the technology that we were using, including our cameras, was really starting to show its age,” notes Firesheets. “The quality was no longer there and it wasn’t handling the full range of the color spectrum very well. The colors didn’t pop and they weren’t as crisp as they were when the technology was newer. Compared to newer technology, it became apparent that there was a gap in performance.”

Streaming needs

Firesheets adds, “Because we’re streaming all of our services live online to several thousand viewers, there’s a tremendous emphasis on having a high quality experience originating from our main campus. We decided to invest in an upgrade because it would make everything downstream look that much better, because we were starting off with a better quality product. We chose Sony because they offered a package with a variety of different features that we really liked.”

Firesheets notes that the facility has always been HD, but this project marked the church’s second camera upgrade. The new cameras have already proven their performance in low light and overall imaging quality and he believes they now have a system that can grow with them.

“As the church has grown and we added another auditorium, we purchased new cameras for the main room, and we moved our older cameras to the second auditorium,” he reports. “But this is the first camera package that we’ve had that would ultimately allow us to broadcast or capture in 1080p. For now, we’re staying at 720p because that’s what our current system is set up for, but it obviously helps from an archive standpoint because if you’ve got to re-edit for something down the road, having a better quality file to start with is going to give you a better end product.”  continued >>