It seems like a long time since the COVID pandemic started last year and we have all had to make adjustments in our lives to help minimize the spread of the virus. When the governor prohibited indoor gatherings of more than ten people last year, your technology team scrambled to put together some livestreaming equipment so that
everyone could participate in the services remotely with only the tech team and musicians actually in the sanctuary. As part of this effort, we obtained a suitable handheld camera that we mounted on a tripod in front of the sound booth. This camera has served us well, but once we were able to have people attending services in person, several longer term weaknesses became apparent. Each Sunday, members of the tech team create individual sound mixes for the sanctuary and live stream, advance song slides and control the broadcast to Facebook. We have needed an additional person to operate this camera. Furthermore, because the camera is operated manually, it cannot be too high off the ground, raising the possibility that people attending the service can interfere with the shots, especially when standing. So, we have acquired a camera that will serve our longer term needs more adequately.
The video camera we recently installed is known as a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (i.e., PTZ) camera which means that it has motors to move to different views and change the zoom. This camera has a dedicated high speed wireless connection to the church network and is
mounted on the back wall of the sanctuary above the projector. This configuration has a number of advantages for us. First, since the camera is connected to the church’s network, it can be controlled from other devices (e.g., computers, tablets, phones, even Xbox controllers) on the church’s network. In particular, we are using one of the computers in the sound booth to operate the camera, eliminating the need for one tech staff member each Sunday. Because the camera can save preset positions and zooms, we can transition between different views much more smoothly than is possible with a person manually moving a camera. Because this new camera is mounted fairly high above the floor, we are able to see almost all areas of the sanctuary without interference. Finally, the video quality of this camera is higher than the camera we had previously.
Of course, the most important thing is about this new equipment is to enhance the experience of folks who cannot be present during the services. The tech team hopes everyone watching services remotely will be able to more completely participate.