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Amen Corner: Amen to That
Posted Jan 23, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

While I'm writing this column just before the close of 2005, it will be published halfway between two of Christendom's most famous holidays—Christmas and Easter—at about the time that the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention is held in Dallas, Texas.
     It's a fitting launch to a new column focused on the use of video production, nonlinear editing, and projection in the worship market. While many EventDV readers are familiar with event videography like weddings, mitzvahs, funerals, ballgames, and graduations, as well as various aspects of corporate video production, the use of live video acquisition and playback in the worship market is a growing trend. Event videographers who may use their equipment on Saturday for a wedding are now lending their expertise to their local house of worship on Sunday to create a compelling worship experience.
     This bimonthly column will cover a variety of topics over the next year. We'll first explore the growing trend in mega-churches toward installing and using multicamera setups, displaying video on multiple giant screens, and beaming it across the U.S. Some of these systems rival or exceed systems used in convention centers and civic auditoriums.

Many churches, mosques, and synagogues started with audio-only tapes and CD recordings for local congregants, so we'll then proceed to the opposite end of the spectrum—a single video producer in a small church juggling the institution's many A/V needs as she makes the move from older analog audio equipment to newer digital video recordings, dealing with budget constraints and the challenges of "selling" the higher-ups on technology investments that anyone doing video production on a departmental level inevitably faces.

Along the way we'll hear real examples from churches that are using video to enhance the worship experience, reaching out to others around the world (or in their own backyards) via streaming, and cataloging years of sermons in easily accessible rich media databases. We'll even listen to a few churches who have "crossed the chasm" to using video to connect multiple satellite locations in real time.

The previous use of audio-visual technologies in many houses of worship, including tapes of sermons sent to invalid or ill members of a local congregation, has prepared the worship market to make the leap to these newer streaming or videoconferencing technologies. In fact, an article on the topic in the July/August issue of Christianity Today (http://www .christianitytoday.com/yc/2005/004/7.58.html) suggests that streaming was a natural progression, especially for houses of worship that wanted to have an impact on more than just their local congregations.

We'll also explore how to combine killer video applications and techniques with tried-and-true audio tools to enhance the worship experience—from wireless audio to video podcasting as a replacement for those churches looking to move beyond traditional audio-only recording but uncertain of where to turn in the maze of video options. We'll look at live projection and I-Mag applications, touching on live video- and audio-mixing and feed-switching technologies and their use in worship environments.

The overall worship market, like different denominations or religions, is fragmented and remains under-represented by digital media production and use. As an example, SermonAudio.com, one of the largest sites for online sermons, has more than 71,000 sermons online, with almost 9.2 million downloaded since the site's inception in July 2000, including more than 90,000 downloads within a recent seven-day period. Yet it hosts sermons from only 400 churches, which is equivalent to less than one-half of one percent of the total potential Baptist church market in the U.S.

In closing, before we begin this journey, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I would classify myself as a born-again Christian. I was raised in a Christian school and attended a well-known religious university for a degree in Cinema and Video Production.

During my teen years, I helped run the soundboard at a mid-sized church—cringing when my tendency to let the gain ride a little too high on the main pulpit microphone created the occasional feedback loop—and then graduated to video lead in a church during my MBA program.

I have about 15 years of production experience as an editor, sound technician, and producer, as well as about 10 years of system design and installation experience, ranging from churches to corporate boardrooms to video production facilities. In the past few years, I've taken time off to teach business strategy and technology at a state university and a small Christian college, but have recently returned to the digital media space to provide additional consulting services to end users and product manufacturers. I also am a contributing editor to an online sister publication to EventDV called StreamingMedia.com.

Several of my former students are now responsible for communications and digital media infrastructures at churches around the country, which gives me the opportunity to see and hear first-hand the "behind-the-scenes" issues that face the growing worship market. I love to hear from others how they are pushing the envelope in any market, so if you are willing to learn—and to share your experiences—I think we can use this column to grow both the quantity and quality of EventDV readers that work or volunteer in this exciting growth market.

Can I get an "amen" to that?

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