Church Uses Inexpensive Equipment to Deliver High-Tech Service

( [email protected] ) Aug 16, 2004 10:15 AM EDT

These days many charismatic churches increase their ranks by implementing high-tech equipment to deliver the multimedia experience that many worshipers seek. Usually, the price tag for such costly technology forces the “little” church to be left out, but Christian Life Centre in Sydney, Australia is bucking that trend.

Starting out humbly with a Canon 8mmm camera combined with an Pinnacle DC30 capture card and Adobe Premiere 4.2 some 6 years ago, the 300 strong church has recently gone digital by using a Sony TRV series camera coupled to an Acer Ferrari 3000 laptop. As well as capturing the actual sermons for later encoding and adding to the church's website as appropriate, the system doubles as a "repeater".

With the main auditorium on the second floor of their rented building, a number of parishioners cannot climb the stairs for various disability reasons, so the video output is channeled downstairs into an overhead projector. Audio is similarly handled from a mixing desk and piped through a speaker system in the downstairs breakout room.

The system runs Sony's Vegas 5 video editing software which can record to hard disk on-the-fly direct from the Firewrire connection. In MVCLC's case, it is recorded to an external 120gig IceCube hard disk tank. As a security backup measure, the footage is also recorded to mini DV tape set in the 90 minute long play mode to accommodate the length of the services (one annoyance of Sony's TRV series is that the DV tapes are bottom loading, so if the camera is mounted on a tripod, significant delays can be had when changing tapes).

After recording, the footage is edited to simply top and tail correctly and the outputs created for Windows Media 9 (WMV), back to VHS tape and a master DVD created using Sony's DVD Architect 2.0.

It hasn't been requested by anyone as yet, but due to the makeup of the system, it is also possible in the future to make the in-house cassette tape machines redundant by burning the audio potions of the sermon as well to audio CD.

Future plans include a second locked off camera controlled by a LANC controller and upgrading of the lighting system as the fluorescent tubes in place give notoriously bad light under these circumstances.

But the system proves that a reasonable job can be done by a basic system at minimal cost with a bit of ingenuity and still create the end goods required - a watchable DVD, VCD or VHS tape with little fuss at a low cost.