Video Infrastructure

Content Sources

Before discussing the output channels for video in the church, a brief description of video content sources is required. Video production and editing are managed by our Worship Coordinator, who utilises his office as a small studio for filming and editing. His main tools are his Macbook Pro – Retina Display (top-end 2012 15-inch model) which also runs Final Cut Pro. The primary use of video production has been for filming announcements – most weeks feature video announcements. PowerPoint derived slides are always prepared by the Church Office and main available Thursday/Friday each week. Finally, sermon slide notes are now a mandatory inclusion for all preachers – also developed in PowerPoint.

Presentation & Handling

All video content is handled by the computers located at the ‘Sound Desk’ – in reality, the desk area is technically the AV Desk since it manages much more than simply sound! Located immediately behind the iLive mix controller is our video camera set-up on tripod. Other than that, all other equipment for handling video distribution is located on the rear desk area. As of April 2014, the following computers are located on the rear desk to handle the AV worship presentation requirements:

  1. Desktop PC: The sole function for this machine as of August 2013 is to control the stage lighting. Read the separate article/page on Lighting Infrastructure for details. It currently remains built as a Windows XP machine but will be replaced during 2014.
  2. Apple iMac (21.5-inch 2.7GHz) [Late 2012 Model]: Acquired in March 2013, this machine represents the strategic future for handling church worship during a service. Read the separate article/page on Church Presentation Software for details.
  3. Mac Mini (2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5) [Late 2012 Model]: Acquired in April 2014, this second Apple Mac unit is currently lying dormant. It is poised to replace the desktop PC later in 2014 once a suitable Apple Mac lighting control software has been identified for adoption. Read the separate article/page on Lighting Infrastructure for details.

All computers connect via VGA to a Kramer VP-8×8 Computer Graphics Video Matrix Switcher. The first three inputs of the Kramer map directly to the three output channels of the Matrox TripleHead2Go Digital Edition graphics expansion module (GXM). The input source for the Matrox is the iMac, although this has alternated over time. The following details the video inputs defined for the Kramer switch:

  1. Matrox output #1 (iMac MiniDisplayPort #1 > VGA signal conversion)
  2. Matrox output #2 (iMac MiniDisplayPort #1 > VGA signal conversion)
  3. Matrox output #3 (iMac MiniDisplayPort #1 > VGA signal conversion)
  4. iMac MiniDisplayPort #2 > VGA signal conversion
  5. VGA output (Asus laptop)
  6. [Sony model TBC] Video Camera
  7. AppleTV (signal is converted from HDMI into VGA) – details below
  8. VGA output (Lighting desktop machine)

Output & Delivery

The cabling infrastructure aforementioned also serves the distribution of video signalling. Downstream from the Kramer device, the first four output channels are converted from XGA signal to ethernet; the four individual conversion adaptors located in the mobile rack with the Kramer switch. The use of ethernet cabling/signalling extends the reach of the video projection system, and the Cisco gigabit switch further provides flexibility in rerouting video signals as needed, to different rooms throughout the building. The following list describes the Kramer outputs:

  1. Mitsubishi [model TBC] – serves as the FOH left projector
  2. Sanyo [model TBC] – serves as the FOH middle projector
  3. Mitsubishi [model TBC] – serves as the FOH right projector
  4. Mitsubishi [model TBC] – serves as the stage fold-back projector
  5. Mitsubishi 40-inch LCD TV – located in the foyer, left of chapel entrance
  6. Mitsubishi 40-inch LCD TV – located in the foyer, right of chapel entrance
  7. Panasonic ?-inch LCD TV – located in the cafe area
  8. Multiple distribution channel – output to:
    1. Front room (utilised as a crèche during the main service) projector (receives both audio & video signals directly)
    2. Rooms 1/2/3 projectors via local ethernet cabling.

All projectors have ethernet signal conversion adaptors located on their mounting. The local ethernet patch panels for Rooms 1/2/3 are required as an intermediary routing device since each room can be operated in isolation, with their own sound mixer and local AV inputs. Thus, the patch panel provides a physical cable connection for switching the local projector input source from a local laptop to the main chapel output (as determined by the Kramer switch).

The three television display units receive both audio and video signals but have their unit volume control set to a minimum, given the audio signal is redundant. Further, this video signal is converted from ethernet to HDMI connectivity. The replacement of the television displays from Samsung to Mitsubishi enabled direct HDMI high-resolution signalling without any conversion or processing in between.

Wireless Real-time Video

Use of the AppleTV and AirPlay over WiFi is occasionally utilised, where portable video sources are sought. Examples of this include Skyping, where the Service Leader or Preacher has used an iPad/iPhone to run a Skype session with an overseas VIP. Another example use case has been where a Service Leader has demonstrated real-time use of a particular online function. One example was the demonstration of how to access the church website and complete the Multiple Discipleship Conference registration form, and another example involved the use of Instagram for the Eventstagram stream feed that was set-up as a background motion at Easter 2014.

On another occasion a guest speaker elected to use their own iPad to drive the sermon material using the app he was comfortable with. Technically, any one of our pastors can elect to use their Macbook laptops and AirPlay their desktop from the pulpit. The one limitation of this video delivery method is that it prevents use of the triple-wide screen capability that the iMac/ProPresenter provide. Whenever the AppleTV is used, the video output is limited to single screen.

Wireless Control of ProPresenter

At some point in late 2013/early 2014, the next step in the adoption of ProPresenter manifested in the form of iPhone/iPad devices controlling the flow of slides via the ProPresenter iOS apps. Two practical applications of this have emerged:

  1. During the worship practice session, the separate vocal sessions that are held in the Cry Room leverage the app so that lyrics can be read and sung directly off the FOH screens, instead of look at separate devices.
  2. In-house preachers have started to use the Chapel iPad directly from the pulpit, where the responsiveness of the touch-screen seems to be more reliable and quicker than the previous USB slide clicker.

As mentioned in the previous section, the next step beyond the preacher iPad app would be to directly connect their own laptop via AirPlay to the AppleTV… Indeed, the use of triple-wide screens has created the awkward experience for preachers where the iPad app only shows the middle graphic instead of the full wide-screen output.

July 2014 Update: Apple TV Conference Capabilities

As of July 2014, my church has taken another step further in our ability to offer up-to-date conferencing facilities, for both internal and external use. In addition to all the interconnectivity described above, the following video output channels, as bundled up within the distribution item (#8) have now got dedicated Apple TV devices attached to them:

  1. Room 1 (Downstairs)
    • Projector model information = Mitsubishi
    • Apple TV was previously installed before this most recent infrastructure update
    • No changes were made to this unit/set-up although a future task may be required to make the configuration consistent with this latest standardisation of Apple TV/Airplay interfaces.
  2. Room 2 (Downstairs)
    • Projector model information = Sanyo
    • Installation is currently incomplete due to a lack of ceiling-mounted power-point connections
    • The power cabling is located in the ceiling cavity and is accessed via the rear fluorescent lighting…
  3. Room 3 (Upstairs)
    • Projector model information = Mitsubishi
    • Installation and testing was completed successfully
    • A double-adaptor was required as the Apple TV power source
    • The Apple TV unit neatly rests on top of the projector, with cables bundled up along side the ethernet signal conversion adaptor
  4. Room 4 (Upstairs)
    • Video output is via simple LCD television
    • Installation and testing was very straightforward, although later demonstrative testing with the Pastor produced undesirable results of poor latency and slow responsiveness.
    • Given the successful earlier test (MacBook Airplay), the poor results could have been caused by other simultaneous traffic on the Wi-Fi network…
  5. Cafe (Downstairs)
    • Video output is via the Mitsubishi LCD television
    • Installation and testing was completed successfully
    • A double-adaptor was required as the Apple TV power source
    • Initial challenges manifested in the overall location of the devices being the furthest distance from the originating Wi-Fi signal; more information provided below.
    • The initial first-time use of the Apple TV was without internet connectivity so the device has NOT been fully activated and the update to Version 6.2 is yet to be performed

As mentioned above, the Cafe is the furthest away from the Chapel/Backstage where the Wi-Fi network base station is located, and this distance (coupled with the numerous physical barriers) meant that Wi-Fi signal strength has always been poor. The solution to this was to add a Wi-Fi network extender into the mix. This was achieved by:

  • Replacing the original Apple Airport Extreme (2012 generation) with a current generation form-factor redesigned unit, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds.
  • Converting the original Apple Airport Extreme into a Wi-Fi network extender, and physically installing into the upstairs network/server rack, side by side the Linksys wireless router – this unit controls the separate office Wi-Fi network.

Further work in the future may be undertaken to ensure the Wi-Fi network frequencies are optimised to prevent the presence of two Wi-Fi networks competing for airspace.

In this way, the Wi-Fi network coverage of church should meet the needs of the new network of Apple TV devices. If required, replacement of the old Airport Extreme with a (yet-to be delivered) Airport Express with 802.11ac capability will further boast and support the needs of AirPlay. It was considered briefly a solution design of having each Apple TV coupled with their own Airport Express so that each venue could operate in isolation, without relying on the one main Wi-Fi network being available. This solution design would be considered an ideal end state, which is why if it can be avoided, we will for keeping costs down. However, creating up to five different Wi-Fi networks within the walls of church seems like overkill. One alternate design could be to use each Airport Express as Wi-Fi extenders, which would ensure maximum network signal strength and negate issues of latency. Further discussion of the church Wi-Fi network will be covered in a page specifically dedicated to Church Internet Infrastructure.

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