New Pro AV Technology Raises The Bar For Congregations

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New video, audio, and staging tools have raised the bar for congregations in recent years. Add in the urgency for new and improved live streaming, and the house of worship market is poised to grow even further.

For many AV integrators, the house of worship market has been a key vertical for decades. With over 350,000 congregations nationwide, there’s no limit to the potential for pro AV system upgrades. This market traditionally has many facets: AV system design and installation, acoustic design and analysis, IT system integration, user training, service and support, equipment rentals, and show and event services. 2020 brought the immediate need for live streaming, something many churches were already doing.

Raising the bar for congregations

These trends have been strong in every region of the country over the past five years:

• Churches are transforming their worship experiences for cross-over appeal to millennials and Generation Z.
• Communications are happening, not just on one campus, but across multiple sites. Many churches stream services to a nationwide audience.
• Many churches are also moving to end-to-end 4K/60p production-value solutions.
• Laser projection for IMAG screens is now a must.
• Laser projectors are now the gold standard. They were designed to drastically reduce maintenance needs, typically delivering 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation.
• Some churches are also replacing brick-and-mortar stage sets with digital scenery by using edge-blending projectors.

Twenty-five years ago, there were less than 200 multi-site churches in the U.S. (churches with more than one location). In 2019, there were approximately 20,000 multi-site churches. What made that rapid growth possible? AV technology that enables church leaders to easily broadcast services. Live video is at the heart of that explosion. No longer the exclusive domain of large studios, live video is now within most churches’ budgets and capabilities. In fact, many houses of worship consider it a requirement. The opportunities for AV integrators to grow into live video are enormous, and the disruptions of 2020 have only fast-tracked this trend.

Even 4K and HDR, previously affordable only to high-end broadcasters, are now accessible to facilities wanting to expand into live production. Falling prices for the high-speed, robust storage solutions necessary to capture live productions also helps. The quality, flexibility, and increasing affordability of PTZ cameras that allow churches to create elaborate webcasts with easy-to-use multi-camera systems is perhaps the main driver for house of worship video solutions. That’s why AV integrators and resellers are ramping up live video and video streaming offerings. Congregations expect live video to look as professional and seamless as a professional sporting event production, complete with multi-camera coverage, fades, wipes, and other video effects.

New challenges for houses of worship
Livestreaming offers many possibilities for ProAV. PTZ (pan, tile, zoom) camera integrations with software such as Tricaster, Wirecast, Livestream Studio, OBS, and other live video platforms can be a great way to help churches integrate new-generation cameras into their workflow. For example, PTZ camera controls that are built into livestreaming software allow a single volunteer to operate the entire system with a simple keyboard and mouse interface. And the latest video production software solutions can store a picture of the room inside the software, so volunteers can simply click a picture to move the PTZ camera.
When creating multi-camera presentations, houses of worship must capture ISO feeds from all cameras and stream that live feed to remote viewers if needed. Everything a church produces or broadcasts should be available to livestream. Fortunately, it’s now easy to achieve the workflow your customers need to produce and stream complex events or presentations without a hitch. In fact, video production staff can now bring streaming, recording, and archiving into one small box. For example, on-staff AV personnel at a church can record and playback live while the show is going on and immediately have a recorded segment to hand off to an artist or presenter who may want a copy of their performance for another purpose.

Key takeaway: The house of worship market is one of the best growth areas for AV integrators and resellers. It’s all part of huge trends to create a more connected church where shared media content and unified AVL (audio, video, and lighting) systems are required. Houses of worship can be among your most loyal customers. Many of them are in continual expansion mode, and with a distributor partner like SYNNEX to back you, you can achieve that trusted partner status.

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