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A/V upgrades Part 5 - What do those people do?

All the time I was putting this blog series together, I was planning to bring up this topic.  It became even more obvious to me recently, when during the last two weekends I had people asking me this very question - What are all those people back there doing?

There are usually either only one person back in the AV area (on Saturdays), or three people (Sundays).  The big difference is the number of microphones in use.  On Saturdays, there are usually just two microphones, so in general one person who is familiar with all the equipment can run the service.  However, on Sunday there are many more people involved, making it more of a necessity to have multiple people.  We originally hoped to cross-train everybody in the AV ministry on each station, but it didn't take long for the realization to sink in - that plan would not work.  So the decision was made that we would have individuals focus their energy on one of the three stations.

Here are what the three people back there on a Sunday take care of:

  1. Mixer operator.  This person controls the audio mixing desk.  Most of the Sunday operations here are now automated.  A "playlist" is built during the week, by our Production Supervisor, that automatically turns various channel strips on/off and raises/lowers the faders automatically.  This allows them operator to run through the service by pressing one button to advance through each part of the service.  The mixer operator also start up the streaming service for those at home, makes sure to start/stop the recording of the streaming service, monitors Zoom muting (muting people as necessary), and watches for any Chat messages that come in.
  2. Camera operator.  This individual controls the three cameras.  They can see all inputs into the video switching device on the multi-view monitor sitting in front of them, and control which camera to move, set up the shots prior to making changes, and operate the remote video switcher to move between camera shots.  We set up several pre-arranged shots as well, making the job a little easier.
  3. Presentation operator.  This position controls what goes up on the LED screen behind the altar.  They use software called "ProPresenter" for this purpose.  Earlier in the week, our Production Supervisor receives a draft copy of the weekend order of service, and begins to build the worship graphics.  This is usually done at their home, then brought in and loaded from a USB drive.  They also update the weekly announcement loop as well.  By the end of the week, two "Shows" have been built and loaded into ProPresenter - one for Saturday and one for Sunday.  This is necessary as there are hymn lyrics on Sunday that are not needed for Saturday.  The Presentation Operator advances through the show file, and also makes the call as to when to display the worship graphics on the LED screen, and when to display the cameras.

The Production Supervisor is also usually present to assist as necessary, though not usually back in the AV stand on Sundays.  This person also usually sets up additional microphones as needed, and usually will tape down cords for safety - then break it all down once that service is done.

Our current crew:
Mixer Operations:  Steve Crowl, Laura Oldham, Hud Hamilton, Alan Fries, Roger Byler, Bryan Irvine
Camera Operations:  Ronda Hoss, James Lampe, Tony Wedeking, Roger Byler, Bryan Irvine
Presentation Operations:  Roger Byler, James Lampe, Bryan Irvine
Audiovisual crew Lead:  Roger Byler
Production Supervisor:  Bryan Irvine

-Bryan Irvine
Production Supervisor

A/V upgrades Part 4 - The Control Systems

If you've been following along with this blog series, you've read about our Audio upgrades, our presentation upgrades, and most recently, the video upgrades.  Today we are going to be talking about the systems we use to control all the other systems to get you the audio and visual experiences both in-house and via our livestream.

All of our devices are networked together.  They use a separate internal network from the main church network for security.  In fact, several of the devices require network access to be able to adjust many of their parameters. This picture shows the patch panel where all the devices run to, and all the cables that then hook them up to the AV network switch.  This switch not only allows all the devices to communicate, but is also the power source for many of the devices (using "Power Over Ethernet, or POE protocols).  The cameras, camera controller, and video switcher remote all get their power from this switch.

Directly underneath the switch and patch panel is the video switcher.  We use a BlackMagicDesign Television Studio HD switcher.  All the devices capable of being displayed on the LED screen, and the livestream, all have connections that plug into this device.  This allows us to switch between any of the three cameras, the worship graphics being ran through ProPresenter on the Graphics PC, a local HDMI hookup back in the AV stand, or a remote HDMI hookup located behind the organ with a connector that can stretch over to the lectern.  This system gives a lot of flexibility in display options.  We can even use sound from the local connection in the AV stand by running that laptop connection into the mixer.    The video switcher also integrates the main audio feed from the mixer into the video output that is sent to the streaming PC.  This is a very important piece of equipment.


The last piece of equipment, near the bottom of this stack, is a Digital Signal Processor, or DSP.  This device takes the signal that is coming out of the video mixer, and sends it to the LED screen for display.  Without this, you wouldn't see anything on the big screen behind the altar.  Interesting note:  to avoid disturbing our services, our electrical contractor ran power and data conduits for the LED wall along the outside of the building.  The power and data lines exit the building in the corner by the votive candle stand, run through two conduits outdoors, then come back into the building through the exterior wall - all directly behind the LED screen.  We are grateful they did that as it eliminated the need to have the sheetrock repaired had they decided to run it all behind the sheetrock inside the nave.




The livestream is recorded and monitored by the mixer operator, who also controls the sound during the service.  They have a monitor to their right that allows them to operate Zoom controls, see who is online, and if anybody should be muted during the broadcast.  They can also verify audio is going out, and monitor the chat.  Just behind them is the streaming PC, which send the broadcast out over the Internet.





The last piece of the control pie is our Magewell SDI-USB converter.  The feed for the livestream comes from the video switcher using an SDI, or Serial Digital Interface, coax cable.  Both ends of such cables have BNC twist-lock connectors.  Very few computers come with these connections natively, so this signal does us no good.  The converter takes the SDI cable, with the video and embedded audio, and converts it to USB, which the streaming computer can see and process.


Tune in to the next blog post when we'll start to cover the people that make this all happen!

Bryan Irvine
Audiovisual productions coordinator

Introduction to our AV systems Part 3 - Cameras and screens

So far in this series, we have covered our audio upgrades, and how we design and show presentations during services and other functions.  Today, I would like to speak about the cameras and their control system. 

Before our upgrades, we used older analog Standard Definition cameras.  One, by the water wall, was a fixed non-zoom camera, and the other was a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera - with a very limited zoom function - mounted right above the AV area.  Early on, during the discussion and design process, we decided we wanted to replace both old cameras, and preferably get them positioned for better viewing angles.  

The result was the three 30x High Definition (HD) Panasonic PTZ cameras.  We have three of these.  One is mounted in the rear directly over the double doors to the nave, and the other two are mounted to the concrete columns closest to the altar.  They provide great views and give the camera operator a lot of options to find the best view for a given situation.  If you watch closely during a service, you can see the various cameras moving around as the camera operator manipulates them to give them a better viewpoint.




The camera operator uses a Panasonic PTZ multi-camera controller to position each camera.  This controller allows the operator to select which camera to operate (it can control up to five), set the zoom level, adjust the focus and aperature level if necessary (not needed very often), and much more.  We also have several pre-defined "scenes" set up that allow the operator to move to a give preset without any hard work, which comes in very handy!



So, how does the operator know what the view will be, or see the changes they are making?  That is where the multi-view monitor comes into play (you can see it just below).  This monitor actually plugs into our video switcher, but gives real time feedback of the camera view as you make changes.  We have the ability to set one view as the active "feed" while having another camera in "preview" to make changes - allowing us to make a smooth transition.


So, how do they switch between the cameras that show up on the screen?  That is actually done by the video switcher, a BlackMagicDesing ATEM Television Studio HD device, but I'll bring that up in another blog.  What he have, to make our life much easier, is a sort of "remote control" for the video switcher.

This device is a Skaarhoj Airfly.  Although it looks really complicated, is is pretty simple to operate.  One row controls the Program feed, one row controls the Preview feed, and it allows the smooth transitions between the views.  We are exanding what we can do with this machine - for example, on Saturdays I use it to do greenscreen overlays that shows what scripture is being read - and we are looking at other things this gives us control over.  This remote also allows the Presentation operator to control what goes up on the LED screen behind the nave - either the feed going out to our livestream, or the graphics from the Worship Graphics computer.



When we were researching all our options, Mother Vicki chimed in that it would be good for the altar party to be able to see what was happening on the livestream or, sometimes, graphics that may be on the large screen behind the altar.  So we also installed a "confidence" monitor in the rear of the nave, over the double doors.  This is a 75" Vizeo flat panel LED TV that currently is configured to always show what is going out on our livestream.



Finally, we spent a considerable amount of time on the how best to present graphics in large scale format to everybody in the nave.  We discussed LED projectors, retractable screens vs. non-retractable screens, and LED screens.  After multiple discussions, we decided, based on the design of our worship space, that it was not truly feasible to install even an LED powered projector and screen.  It just would not be able to fight the power of the sun.  We instead decided on what is the most visible sign of all the upgrad work:  The Absen LED wall, located behind the altar.

The wall measures 6.75 feet tall by 12 feet long, and allows us to show the current active camera view or graphics from ProPresenter off the worship graphics computer.  We can also tie in a guest computer back in the AV area to show presentations from it - and can even have a guest bring in a computer that we can tie into the video switcher from a port behind the organ.  We are very happy with all these upgrades!

Bryan Irvine
Production Coordinator

Audiovisual Upgrade Part 2: The Presentations

In the prior blog in this series, we introduced you to the audio portion of our upgrades done earlier this year.  This blog will be quite a bit shorter, but is covering another important aspect - not a piece of equipment so much, but what we use to enhance the worship experience for both long-time members, and those walking in the door for the first time.  I am speaking about the presentation that is displayed on the LED screen.

As we worked through the process with our AV contractor, it became more and more obvious that a simple "PowerPoint" solution would not provide us our needs.  Some of us looked/spoke with other churches in town; some of us did online research, but we quickly came to a consensus of what we needed:  A software package called ProPresenter.  ProPresenter is basically the gold standard of church worship graphics, meeting not only all of our current needs, but providing us with so much room to grow in the future.

We realized early on that the laptop we had been using with the old system would not meet the needs of the new upgrades, so we began searching for solutions.  We finally settled on a system powerful enough to handle our needs, but that would not be prohibitively expensive.  In my car I jumped, making a drive to Kansas City to pick up our new systems at MicroCenter.

This computer is a PowerSpec Intel i7 10th generation processor with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of onboard storage, more than enough to meet our needs.  Once I picked it up, I ran it through all the necessary Windows updates and upgraded it to Windows 11.  We then added one more piece of hardware into it:  a DECLink Duo card from BlackMagicDesigns.  This card is what sends the ProPresenter feed to our video switcher.  It also provides expansion for up to 3 more video feeds if necessary.




We are a little limited in this, meaning that we cannot show video from outside ProPresenter, such as something from YouTube, or movies.  However, our AV contractor did think of of that.  We have the ability to tie in other computers into our video switcher, both back at the AV area, and also from behind the organ.  We have devices known as Decimator SDI Cross-Converters that allow another computer to "talk" to our video switcher.  This allows us a great deal of flexibility in putting information up both in-house on the LED screen, and also out onto our live stream.

The weekly presentations in ProPresenter are developed throughout the week and are usually done by Wednesday.  We convert the hymn lyrics and psalms into ProPresenter, usually at home, bring them into the church and import them into ProPresenter.  Once that is done, the announcements and Title Screens are updated, and then separate "playlists" are built for Saturday and Sunday worship services.  

The end result is a series of screens that the graphics operator moves through to show, when appropriate, the liturgy, psalm, and song lyrics.  The Graphics operator has to work in close coordination with the camera operator to switch between ProPresenter presentation screens/camera shots during the worship service.  That is done using the video switcher - but that is a topic for another blog!





Bryan Irvine
Production Coordinator

Introduction to our AV systems

It's been quite some time since a new blog entry has been uploaded, and I am really sorry about that!  I certainly want to keep this up and more to date and will try to do new entries more often.  If anybody would like to do an entry, please let me know!


I am going to do a blog series regarding our large audiovisual infrastructure update.  Perhaps the most visible sign to the those in the building is the 6.75 ft x 12 ft LED wall on the wall behind the altar.  However, there was a lot of stuff that was upgraded, including the "under the hood" stuff that makes the wall work.  However, I want to save the "Visual" part in the nave for another day.  Today I want to bring up the audio portion, providing a much clearer audio experience both in-house and in person.

There are a few "behind the scene" parts that have given us a LOT of room for expansion in the future - namely an Allen & Heath Stagebox.  If you look to the left of the organ you can see this box.  It gives us the ability to add an additional 16 microphones in the future, without having to upgrade to a bigger mixing console!

We have added two new boom microphones meant for choirs and have spent some time tuning them for their best performance.  

We have added a ceiling hung microphone that is meant to provide better organ broadcasting.  It also picks up some ambient noise from the room.





We also replaced the microphone at the podium with a much better model designed specifically for that purpose.  We were still a little unhappy with it's position, but fixed that with a better mounting system.

Some may have noticed that the priest and deacon now have boom style mics taped down on their face.  These are new Countryman mics.  The huge advantage of these is that they are in a fixed position, so no matter how they move their head, the mic is always in a fixed position relative to their mouth.  This makes them much clearer and easier to understand, and much easier to amplify!

With those new microphones came two new microphone "bodypack" wireless transmitters and receivers.  These are Shure QLXD14/84-G50 wireless systems, fairly new and impressive.  The receivers are back in the AV stand.  With the addition of these new mics, we now have 5 bodypack style wireless mics (our old Shure SLX1s) and one handheld wireless mic (our older Shure SLX2).  This gives us much greater flexibility when we need more than just two mics!

The most visible part of the audio upgrade is the new mixing desk or console.  We replaced our old analog mixer, limited to 16 channels, with a new digital mixing desk that can handle up to 40 channels, has digital "rack effects" (for example, we have added slight reverb on the streaming feed so the audio sounds more live and not so flat).    It also allows us to program "scenes" into the mixer.  Each scene will turn channels on/off and set the correct audio levels, which is saved.  This allows the mixer operator to just follow the order of service, move through the scenes with a push of one button on the mixer, and generally not have to worry if they turned a microphone on/off or forgot to raise or lower the fader level.  The new mixer is an Allen & Heath SQ5.  We also had an antenna manifold added to better pick up the wireless signals and route them properly to all the receivers.  Lastly, our AV contractor worked on better balancing the work done by the mixing desk and the amplifiers, to give us a much better degree of control over the final signal being fed to the speakers.



The person operating the mixer is also responsible for starting and stopping our live streaming.........but that is the topic of another blog!

Bryan Irvine
Production Coordinator



Audio-Visual upgrade updates

It brings me a tremendous amount of joy to finally be moving forward on our project to upgrade the parish's audiovisual worship systems!  We started this journey almost a year ago and talked to a LOT of people.  Some of viewed other church worship presentations on-line.  Some of us visited other churches with equipment similar to what we were considering.  Then we met and hashed out what we were looking for, and what company would best suit our needs.

After months of work, we finally agreed on a bid from a company in Kansas City that specializes in such work specifically for churches, Stark Raving Solutions (SRS).  We presented it to the Vestry, who made the decision to move forward.

We had sincerely hoped to debut the upgrades for our Christmas services.  However, the necessary electrical infrastructure was not there for SRS to work that quick.  We need new circuits to handle the LED screen, the LED TV on the back wall, and the power control for the LED screen.  We have contracted to have that work done, and it will hopefully done either right after Christmas, or right after the New Year.  Based on that, we hope to have all the new equipment installed by SRS by the end of January. 

We have just procured the TV for back by the AV booth, along with the computers, monitors and mounts to control everything.

What does all this entail:

  1. Removing the existing 16-channel analog audio mixer and replacing it with a 48-channel digital mixing desk.
  2. Removing the old SD analog camera from above the AV area.
  3. Removing our current digital HD camera from the back of the nave.  It is going to be relocated elsewhere in the building.
  4. Removing the existing joystick controller.
  5. Removing the last old LCD monitor from the AV area.
  6. Removing the laptop from the AV area (it can be used elsewhere in the building).
  7. Retiring two of the old wireless bodypack mics used by clergy, and their old mic cables.
  8. Retiring the podium mic.
  9. Putting a new podium mic in place.
  10. Putting in new mics/stands for the choir to reduce cable clutter.
  11. Adding a new microphone for the organ.
  12. Adding two new wireless bodypack mics and new cables for the clergy.
  13. Adding three new HD PTZ cameras in the nave, along with all the switching equipment necessary to move them and switch between them.
  14. Mounting a 75" LED TV above the main doors into the Nave for the clergy to be able to see what is being presented to the congregation.
  15. Installation of a 6.75' x 12' LED screen on the back wall of the Nave centered between the organ and the Christus Rex.
  16. Installation of computer equipment to control the screen and live-streaming.

All this will not only enhance worship for all in the building, but will also provide a much improved experience for those wathching online!

We don't know exactly when this will all be taking place, so watch here and the ATT for updates!

New camera for online streaming

The pandemic has certainly changed the way we are worshiping.  For several weeks, we were only doing online worship with Zoom.  Towards the end of June, we began a limited amount of in-house services, but with continued presence via Zoom.  Like it or not, online worship availability is here to stay.

Many of us have looked for a way to provide this experience for at least the last several years.  There were always barriers - infrastructure, our network availability within the building, what platform to use, cost, and whether people would even bother using it.

The last factor went away quickly when, suddenly, we as a faith community were forced online.  Many people had their eyes opened up to this new way of reaching out.  For the first time, in a LONG time, many of our parish members who for whatever reason could not step foot in the building could suddenly participate again.  The dam burst open and we, as the Vestry, began to figure out how we could better facilitate the online experience.

My thanks to Jim Edwards, who partnered with me in working this process through.  We knew the obstacles and endeavored to eliminate them.

  1. Infrastructure.  We have recorded services for many years with our current cameras and sound system.  However, what may have been great quality 10 years ago is certainly not today.  Plus, we just could not find a viable, affordable way of getting that audiovisual (AV) feed into the existing computer.  We decided to shop around for a better quality camera, and find a way to use our existing audio system to work with it.  More on the camera in a bit.  Jim got the laptop we now use, and we figured a way to get the signal to it.  Things were looking up.
  2. Our current network configuration allowed a robust connection to allow the AV feed to go out.  That turned out to be a non-problem.
  3. We decided to continue to use Zoom as our broadcast platform.  The parish is familiar with it, and it allows a larger number of users to login and view the services, as well as chat before and after.
  4. Polls of the parish showed us that members of our parish wanted to continue having online viewing as an option.
  5. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place once we figured out how to pipe the in-house audio feed into the Zoom platform.  

The new camera was put in place on August 1st.  After some discussion it was then moved a few feet to the west.  We started running Zoom tests using that camera about two weeks later.


Once we were happy with placement, all the cords were routed into a cable raceway and everything closed up to make the entire thing look neater.  



We have been using this new arrangement for the last six weeks and it works quite well.  Last month we switched Zoom to allow this new camera to broadcast at its full High Definition capability.  It's pretty easy to see from below when that change was made from standard to high definition.








We hope everybody is continuing to enjoy their online experience.

--Bryan Irvine, Junior Warden

Shaking off the COVID Delays

To all - I would like to deliver a huge apology.  Ever since the coronavirus lockdown started, I have been slipping a bit in my webmaster functions.  I could come up with excuses:

  • Lockdown depression
  • Web site overload
  • Other church projects
  • Work overload at my job
  • Vacation
  • Laziness

None of these are really a good excuse.  But some explanation of some of the above:  I was never really depressed during the lockdown.  I was disappointed in how my fellow citizens reacted (I can't count how many masks I have not seen being worn, or worn incorrectly).  But I digress.

One of my fellow stewards for our union local at the VA was taken out of action in mid-June, thrusting all the work on me and the safety officer.  That, coupled with brining on line our new Local Union web site, our new self-managed email syste, and our new non-government phone system tied up my time for a few weeks.  My time is still largely tied up during the day and early evenings as our VA is refusing to grant our officers any official time, pushing the entire load onto two of us since mid-June.  So now I'm running two web sites, taking on a huge union case- and work-load, and dealing with some malaise due to canceled diocesan youth events.  That malaise fed into my laziness.  Finally, I went out of a town for a week on a much needed vacation in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

I've shaken all that off now.  This afternoon (6 September) the following has been updated on our site:

  • The Care Core Ministry page has been updated with the correct lead.
  • The Staff page has been corrected with our new Director of Youth Ministries who is coming on board.
  • The ATT page has been cleaned out, and the page now shows the publications since the office started publishing them again in mid-July
  • Vestry minutes for June and July are published, and that page is up-to-date
  • Sermons are now available - they are taken off the Zoom feed from the new Video Camera

I plan on updating the core web software tonight, so the site may be offline for a bit while I do so.  Over the next week I'll begin rebuilding all the news feed articles.

I appreciate the trust that has been shown in me as the site administrator.  I hope to live up to that trust!

Bryan Irvine
Website Administrator.

It's Beginning to look a lot like....STEWARDSHIP!

Stewardship, stewardship, stewardship - it’s that time of year again! Do you ever think, “Can’t we skip it this year?”

Maybe we could be one of those churches that require that 10% tithe up-front like a contract. Maybe we could be one of those churches that have audiences every week of 600 and more. Would it surprise you to know these Mega-churches like Lakewood in Houston have very sophisticated stewardship programs? These places plan it, preach it, teach it and study it!

I’m not suggesting that St. David’s be more like one of those places but I am convinced that stewardship is a way of life. All things come from God and we must take care of those gifts of life every day, and not just the last quarter of the year we designate as a time for the stewardship campaign.

We do that through our service to the various agencies we support and the ministries here in the church. We do that through our Eucharist and the healing we provide each other. Sooo let's hear that “S” word one more time!



This month's blog was from Steve Crowl
Steve chairs the Inreach Committee



You can watch Steve's Stewardship kick-off reflection by clicking HERE.

Reading the Bible

Do we read the Bible?

I’ve heard it time and time again – that we as Episcopals do not read the bible.  That we are not a “bible-based” church or religion.  It has me wondering – what exactly does that mean?  Is it true that we do not “read the bible?”  Far from the truth!

Think about it – what do we hear at every service?  The Eucharist contains three readings – usually from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalter – and a Gospel reading.  These cycle over a three year period, so if you do nothing else in bible study except attend the Eucharist every week, in a three year period you will hear most of the bible.  Not bad for a church that is “not” bible-based, eh?  How many people pick up, read, and study what the bible tells us?

Reading the entire bible (and for Episcopalians, that includes the Apocrypha) is a daunting task.  It is full of history, wisdom, war, bloodshed, rituals that now seem out of place, good advice, and examples of how to live life.  But how do you start?



There are many schools of thought on how to read the bible.  You could try picking it up, starting at page 1 and reading it completely through.  Many try and fail, getting hung up in the early history books of the Pentateuch (first five books of the old testament).  You could stick to the Revised Common Lectionary, which will have you jumping all over the place from week to week.  You could look for a program that helps.  Many exist online; some are free and some are not.  You could join a formal program such as Education for Ministry, which during its first two years sees the old and new testament read.

Reading is one thing – comprehending is another.  Reading the bible might be better classed as “studying” the bible.  Read the scripture.  Study it.  Find out how it may apply in our times, and integrate that into your life.

Every January the youth across our Diocese attend Miqra, an event where starting Friday and ending Monday, the entire bible is read, from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelations.  It gives our youth an idea of the complexity of the scripture.  Bishop Wolfe once gave a workshop when he noted just how daunting a task it may seem to read the entire bible.  He also broke it down though, by finding the shortest Gospel (Mark) and asking if the kids thought they could read that.  From there, you just add on.  It was a wonderful way to introduce reading scripture.

Regardless of how you do it, reading and studying the bible is a wonderful thing.  Study tools are out there to help if you feel you need them.  Groups exist that you can participate in if necessary.  But please, READ!  I’ll bet you'll be glad when you do!



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