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

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