When the coronavirus shut down in-person gatherings, many houses of worship were forced to shut their doors. Wanting to achieve the next best thing to in-person worship, Reverend David Jones, pastor at Newnan Presbyterian Church in Georgia, called upon custom audio, video and lighting solutions provider STRATA to provide a reliable live streaming solution. STRATA found the camera upgrade the church was looking for with the CV730 30X UHD60 IP (HEVC) PTZ Camera from Marshall Electronics.
Prior to implementing the CV730 camera, the church was using a smartphone on a tripod to stream to Facebook Live using the church’s Facebook account. There were no microphones except a small built-in boom mic on the tripod and lighting was nonexistent besides ambient room light.
“We like to think of our worship style as ‘traditional with a twist,’ meaning, that you can expect pews and hymns and a sermon in a classic sanctuary setting,” says Reverend Jones. “However, we work hard to add kinesthetic and visual touches, and a plethora of musical genres to our worship services. All of these elements come together beautifully in person, so we had to figure out what we could do when you could no longer physically gather. Initially, our worship committee devised a plan to stream our worship services live to social media using a basic set-up. We were blown away by the positive response to this evolution in worship presentation necessitated by the pandemic.”
With positive results using a relatively low-tech operation, Jon Moss and the church’s Long Range Planning Committee began to explore how to make online worship a better experience while maintaining excellence for in-person assemblies. It was at that point that the church reached out to David Roche and STRATA for their expertise in this market.
“STRATA was the right fit for us because they were the most articulate about a holistic approach to producing content (for streaming and/or recording),” adds Moss. “They helped us by presenting the different possibilities for digital vs. analog sound, for PTZ cameras, lighting and streaming, and offered the training needed for our staff to be able to use these tools, which were essentially all new to us. Their selection of the Marshall PTZ camera was impactful in ways that we probably did not fully appreciate initially. By upgrading to the CV730 camera, we were able to provide something more compelling, personal, relatable and approachable.”
Reverend Jones and the committee realized the importance of being able to maintain a connection with church members during the pandemic and recognized that the church needed technical upgrades to stream more effectively. “Reverend Jones was tired of trying to stream services with a smartphone, so he was thrilled with the Marshall CV730 camera solution we presented him,” says David Roche STRATA co-owner. “We installed two CV730’s mounted side by side in the back of the sanctuary in the middle of the room. We have worked with Marshall cameras on other projects so we know they would be the right fit for them, not only are they broadcast-caliber quality, but they’re also very easy to use.”
Even as the church returns to in-person worship services, the live-streaming of its services will continue. According to Moss, “There is an audience that exists distantly for our worship services. There is an opportunity for growth in this space of online worship, as we think about ways to make it more meaningful and more accessible. We want to reduce the touchpoint barriers for folks interested in worshiping remotely, college students, homebound/assisted living folks, those on vacation or have moved, or people that live elsewhere but have somehow found us to be relatable and important to their worship and faith experiences.”
The addition of the CV730 cameras allows Newnan Presbyterian to capture more of the feeling of being in the room, while giving the team an ease of setup and deployment of its streamed services, especially as it moves to a more hybrid approach. “Before, the furniture and chancel had to be rearranged to fit in the lens of a smartphone camera,” says Reverend Jones. “Now, we have the capabilities to move all around the room and grab whatever live shot we want. I love that the pan, tilt, zoom features allow us a range of shots for our at-home worshipers. David and his team shepherded us through the process to the final outcome and we are extremely pleased. Marshall and STRATA have helped us reach out to our members and the community, near and long term, and have empowered and enabled us to think past a provisional worship plan, in the face of a pandemic.”