5 Technologies to Future-Proof Church AV

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Out of all of the applications and go-to-market opportunities for ProAV solutions, House of Worship AV (or Church AV) is the most critical to have a future-proof solution. Think about it: No other application of a full, end-to-end, broadcast-quality-ready AV integration is used weekly (or more) by an institution or entity that doesn’t staff a suite of technical staff.

When you compare church AV to a TV studio, for example, here is what staffing looks like:

  • TV studio: technical managers, operations producers, directors, and more
  • Church AV: maybe one or two full-time staff members, plus some volunteers

Granted, the viewership (and therefore the expectations) of a church’s weekly service broadcast is not the equivalent of a sporting event like football. However, the same technology is often used, and both are fixed installs.

Today, I’ll dive into five technologies that can be used to future-proof a church AV solution.

PTZ Cameras

PTZ cameras are a great, often low-budget (when compared to broadcast-quality cameras) solution to power in-house eye-mag feeds, as well as a church’s service broadcast. PTZ cameras are small in their footprint, and many manufacturers produce them in varying colors so that they blend with the environment. Of key importance: PTZ cameras can be controlled by a single tech, which hits on the fact that most churches deploy volunteer staffing to power their technology needs. Further, PTZ cameras can be networked and powered over Ethernet — unlocking the ability to run a single cable back to a central MDF or AV booth in the sanctuary or gathering area. It’s obvious to state, but Ethernet cabling is also the most widely used non-AC power cabling used in modern construction, the easiest to use when retrofitting a space, and is the cheapest to source.

Maintaining a clean space (not interrupting the often historical nature of a church’s sanctuary) with its low footprint and its ability to be flexible in control and signal management makes a PTZ camera a great technology to source when integrating a future-proof AV solution for the house-of-worship vertical.

Lighting Solutions with Cues

Most church services are templatized in nature: There are songs sung, spoken messages shared by a single person, bands that play, videos shared and recited texts involving the congregation. The types and formats of events that take place during a worship service don’t change drastically on a weekly basis.

It’s necessary to source a lighting solution that supports templates, or cues. Most solutions on the market offer this, but the important piece of advice here is to consult with your customer and help them set up those cues. They don’t have a lighting tech on staff — and even if a volunteer helps out, that volunteer will most likely need to spend hours understanding the manufacturer-specific requirements to set up cues.

Spending a couple of hours working with the church to set up lighting cues for the recurring events in their service will future-proof your relationship with them, and set them up for full success (without the hassle of them questioning their investment in a lighting solution after they struggle through using it for the near-term after it’s installed).

ProPresenter

ProPresenter is a presentation management software solution that originally came to market for churches and other houses of worship. As someone who has used ProPresenter for the last eight years, here’s what I like the most about it:

  • It has layered content.
    • You can have keys, masks, props, full-slide graphics and more that all respond individually. So an end user can set a prop that stays stagnant through the entire event while a subsequent layer changes.
  • It streamlines all of your sources into a single output.
    • Videos, graphics, lower-thirds, audio, etc are all routed through a single software on your PC (or Mac) meaning the end user isn’t forced to shift around multiple apps on their computer to send different signal formats to the audience or environment.
  • It powers a stage display.
    • Your on-stage talent, performers or speakers know exactly what is on the screen behind (or beside them) without having to shift their focus away from the audience.
    • Your production team has a direct line of communication with those speaking to the audience to share critical messages through stage display functionality.
    • Built-in countdowns, timers and clocks keep the event running smoothly
  • It can be networked to other instances of ProPresenter
    • If your HOW application includes multiple displays with different content types, a single ProPresenter instance can control other instances so a single tech can manage all of the outputs with a single click of a mouse or press of a button on a keyboard.

Church Online Platform

Church service streaming was used by early adopters prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it is mainstream and critical to the business of houses of worship.

Church Online Platform is a completely free solution that creates a front-end worship experience for members of a congregation that are joining/watching a service virtually. This front-end features:

  • A live video feed of the in-person service.
  • Chat windows.
  • A list of upcoming scheduled events.
  • Ways to give (tithing, offerings, etc).
  • Ways to request prayer.

Church Online Platform works with any streaming encoder via RTMP, including software and hardware options. End users can use tools like:

  • OBS.
  • Sling Studio.
  • Haivision (has a dedicated Church Online Platform integration) and Haivision Connect.

Subsplash

Subsplash is a content management and church business process management solution. It’s a platform that connects members of a congregation to their house of worship through a variety of endpoints:

  • A mobile app to view content.
  • A TV app to view content (think Roku, Apple TV, etc).
  • A website.

Using these endpoints, congregation members can:

  • Watch content (both live and recorded).
  • Give to their church.
  • Interact with chat and messaging.
  • View and attend events.
  • And more.

They also have onboard content (such as religious text, video and audio content to support a service or show, etc) making the solution a great value-add to a house of worship.

Future-Proofed Church AV

Sourcing and implementing a solution for Church AV involves exploring a suite of technology solutions, both hardware and software. End users and buyers are continually expecting AV-as-a-Service offerings from integrators, in which the integrator partners with them to define a full end-to-end experience for their stakeholders.

By using proven hardware and tooling (and consulting on how to use them), AV integrators supporting houses of worship can truly future-proof their installs and make customers even happier with their technology upgrade.

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