With the outbreak of COVID-19, many members of the congregation expressed concern about attending services in-person. Starting in mid-March, 2020, Pete Putman of ROAM Consulting LLC began shooting abbreviated services on Friday mornings, using three Panasonic and Canon cameras and a TASCAM DR-40x digital audio recorder for later editing in Adobe Premiere, which he later posted to YouTube, the church’s website, and the church’s Facebook page. In July, the decision was made to switch over to live streaming of the Sunday services. Accordingly, Pete installed an AViPAS 1080HD pan/tilt/zoom camera in the back of the choir loft, above the AV closet. To get the video and audio signals to the church office, located in the 1984-vintage annex, he had quite the challenge: The construction of the building prevented reliable WiFi linking, as the plaster lathe acts like a Faraday cage, shielding RF signals. For highest signal reliability, his choices were either a network connection (AV over IP) using Cat 6 cable, or HDBaseT connections, also using Cat 6 cable. Pete opted for HDBaseT, given the 220-foot (67-meter) length of Cat 6 cable required to link the two points.
Audio from the master AV rack is injected downstream from an 8-channel mixer through a Kramer VM-50AN into a Kramer TP-590TXR HDBaseT transmitter. This allows the two fixed and three wireless microphones used during services to be heard on the live stream. In the church office, a TP-590RXR HDBaseT receiver converts the AV signal back to the HDMI format. This signal then feeds a Magewell USB Capture HDMI card, streaming HD video into a desktop PC monitor. OBS Studio streaming software controls the video and audio feed and encodes it to the H.264 format for connection to YouTube live streaming. In addition, OBS Studio records each service to the desktop for on-demand streaming and archiving.
The AViPAS camera comes with a standard IR remote and can save 10 different combinations of zoom, pan, and tilt settings. To confirm the camera settings in the sanctuary, Pete piggy-backed a Kramer KW-14 wireless HDMI receiver on a Bosstouch 7-inch HD LCD monitor. This small, unobtrusive monitor can sit anywhere in the sanctuary, as the receiver links up reliably with a Kramer KW-14 wireless HDMI transmitter above the audio rack. For example, during a service, the organist can change camera views as needed while watching this tiny confidence monitor. The KW-14 transmitter gets its HDMI signal from a VM-2xl 1:2 distribution amplifier mounted next to the TP-590TXR above the audio rack.
The entire streaming system from camera to office is activated by touching one power switch, so that anyone can operate it – with no need to adjust any levels or controls. Once the system is running, an operator launches OBS Studio, logs into YouTube, and starts streaming. Thanks to this setup, in September 2020, at the advice of state health advisories, the church was already fully prepared to switch-over to live streaming of Sunday services.
“We are very pleased with the installation of Kramer’s solutions,” confirms Pastor Bob. “They have allowed us to achieve our goal with older members and friends now being able to participate in worship from their homes.”
In addition, the church has appreciated the ease of use and discreet nature of the solution for those attending services in-person. “The camera is totally unobtrusive,” Pastor Bob continues. “Folks don’t see it unless we point it out to them.” Plus, he’s a big fan of the system’s performance, noting “anyone who can use a TV remote can operate the camera. The technical quality is superb.”