My Church's AV Setup

Hi all,

My name is Philip, and I work as the “Worship & Tech Ministry Coordinator” for a relatively large Lutheran church in the suburbs of Washington, DC. (I started working there in January of 2015. Before COVID, we averaged about 450-500 people in worship per week across 2 Sunday services: one traditional service with choir & pipe organ, and one contemporary service with a praise band.) Here is a photo of our current AV setup:

For anyone interested, here’s a little backstory on how we got to our current setup:

We built a new, larger Sanctuary for our church about 12 years ago, with a fairly robust (and, at the time, fairly cutting-edge) audio-video system. But even though that AV system was fairly cutting-edge at the time, it was definitely time to start upgrading certain parts of the system, and we had actually already started making plans over the last couple of years to upgrade some of our equipment so that we could start live-streaming our services at some point, long before we knew that COVID-19 was coming. At the time, we figured live-streaming would simply help us widen our ability to reach more people within our community, as well as give any of our members who were out of town or otherwise unable to attend worship in person an opportunity to still worship with us online. Little did we know that those plans would soon turn into our primary way of connecting and worshiping with our congregation during a global pandemic.

Once the pandemic hit and things started shutting down here in the US, we were thankfully able to pivot and adapt our original AV setup to start live-streaming our services right away (March 15, 2020 was our first live-stream only worship service), but our old system was only capable of streaming in 480p using our 12-year-old Vaddio PTZ cameras and an analog Soundcraft GB-4 audio mixing console.

Thankfully, because we already had some rough plans in place for our AV upgrades, we were able to talk to our AV installation contractor and get some of our new AV equipment ordered within the first few weeks of the pandemic. However, as we all know, due to the spike in demand (because everyone was buying new equipment) along with COVID-related delays in the supply chain, it took several months until all the equipment we ordered finally arrived.

We were finally able to upgrade to the current system that you see here in June/July 2020, and that system has been serving us fairly well since then (although there are certainly still things I would like to tweak/improve in terms of device/software settings and my personal workflow, and there is also additional hardware I would still like to upgrade or add to the system in the months and years ahead, once we have the funds to do so).

As far as personnel to run the equipment, in pre-COVID times, we usually had 2 people in the AV booth for our worship services (usually me plus a volunteer) - one person to run audio and the other to run video display for our projection screens and to record the sermon each week using our Vaddio PTZ cameras for posting to YouTube. During the pandemic, though, I’ve obviously had to run all of the tech by myself, as there is not enough space in the booth to have multiple people in there and still follow COVID safety protocols, so I’m certainly looking forward to the day when I can have more help in the AV booth again.

What I’m curious about is if we will end up going back to having 2 people in the booth most of the time, or whether we decide that we might actually need a third person in the booth, since at that point we’ll have to pay attention to both how things look and sound in the Sanctuary for those people worshiping in-person, as well as how things look and sound on the live-stream.

Anyway, with all that said, here is a brief rundown of the primary pieces of gear/equipment we are currently using (not a complete list of every little thing, but rather just the main “highlights”):

  • Allen & Heath SQ-6 Digital Audio Mixer
  • Allen & Heath ME-U Personal Monitor Hub
  • 8 Allen & Heath ME-1 Personal Monitor Mixers (for our praise band)
  • 4 DataVideo PTC-150 PTZ cameras
  • DataVideo RMC-180 camera controller
  • PC running ProPresenter for screen display (3 projectors in Sanctuary) as well as a second feed sent to video switcher for the live-stream
  • Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K (primary video switcher)
  • Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro (currently only used as live-streaming encoder & for recording of program feed to a Samsung T5 SSD via USB)

I just recently found a link to this forum in the video description of one of @aaronpk 's YouTube videos, after having watched and followed his and @John 's YouTube channels over the past year or so, as I’ve been trying to learn about and improve my livestream production skills during this pandemic. I really appreciate all of their work, along with the work of several other YouTubers I’ve started following in this past year (who are not on this forum, as far as I know).

I’m really glad to have found this forum, and I look forward to learning a lot from everyone on here (and hopefully being able to contribute meaningfully to the conversation myself as well, sharing whatever information & knowledge I have learned over the years that might be helpful to others).

8 Likes

Thanks for sharing. I don’t know how you do all this yourself. As we at Centenary UMC started live streaming we spread out our “booth” so now only sound opp is in the physical booth, and video director and ProPresenter opps are both outside of the booth.