Carversville United Church of Christ (Carversville, PA) has a sanctuary that dates to 1837. It's a stone block exterior with plaster inside, and was a pretty rustic church for years until a fire burned the interior and roof in 2010. The historic church was completely rebuilt and brought up to code in 2011. As part of the upgrade, a new sound system and AV rack was installed. In addition to Sunday services, the church has also hosted live concerts in its sanctuary, including jazz vespers. The acoustics are wonderful and many instrumental and vocal groups have performed and also recorded in here.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, many members of the congregation expressed concern about attending live services. Starting in mid-March, Pete Putman of ROAM Consulting LLC began shooting abbreviated services on Friday morning, using three Panasonic and Canon cameras and a TASCAM DR-40x digital audio recorder for later editing in Adobe Premiere and eventual posting to YouTube, the church's Web site, and the church's Facebook page.
In July, the decision was made to switch over to live streaming of the Sunday services. Accordingly, Putman 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. Putman opted for HDBaseT, given the 220-foot 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 video/audio signal back to the HDMI format. This signal then feeds a Magewell USB Capture HDMI card, streaming HD video into a Lenovo IdeaStation dekstop 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, Putman 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 - no need to adjust any levels or controls. Once the system is running, an operator launches OBS Studio, logs into YouTube, and starts streaming. It is anticipated that the switch-over to live streaming of Sunday services will take place in early September, pending state health advisories.
“We are very pleased with the installation of Kramer’s Solutions,” observed Pastor Bob Fogal. “The camera is totally unobtrusive—folks don’t see it unless we point it out to them. The technical quality is superb. Older members and friends can now participate in worship from their homes. And anyone who can use a TV remote can perform as the camera ‘operator.’”