Earlier this summer, the Board of Trustees approved an upgrade to our audio/visual technology that will significantly enhance our capabilities for livestreaming worship as well as other programs and events. This past week, the installation began on this enormous upgrade to our AV capabilities that will help maximize the online worship experiences of our online congregation and guests.
This upgrade came about ahead of schedule, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and our resulting need to livestream all our worship services and other events from our church each week since mid-March. And, by all estimations, we will be relying on this technology to “take church to people” well into the future.
This dramatic upgrade will bring our weekly livestream broadcast up to High Definition (HD) quality and will offer considerable flexibility and new opportunities for viewer engagement via six new, strategically located (including two moveable mounts) High Definition Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras plus one person camera with upgraded lens capabilities. This upgrade promises to vastly improve viewer experience of our FUMCFW worship services and other events held in our beautiful sanctuary.
Another part of this project, the addition of theatrical lighting, will create opportunities for maximizing our online impact by offering greater flexibility to accommodate and enhance our different worship styles, with optimum, uniform, camera-friendly lighting for the chancel area.
“This improvement in quality will be more inviting and attractive for younger and more discerning audiences who will appreciate and support the difference this upgrade will make,” says Barry Hudson, Building Committee chair and longtime Media Ministries volunteer. “Taking our existing lighting to dimmable, flicker-free (made-for-cameras) LEDs with the addition of theatrical lighting in chancel area will add balance, depth, and dimension for a better viewing experience, with accent color alternatives that could transform the space for contemporary worship, concerts, and special events.”
Hudson adds that taking advantage of this opportunity to attract a larger online congregation in a time where this connection feels essential, we will also help guard against the inevitable failure of our aging (13 ½-year-old) studio equipment. “With replacement parts hard to find and technology that is incompatible with more current equipment, sudden failure would call for an emergency response that could easily be more costly and less efficient than this well-planned approach,” he explains.
As our online attendance and engagement metrics continue to show increased participation and an expanding audience, we are now beginning to envision the creation of a “digital FUMCFW campus” experience that will live and grow and reach more people, far beyond the current pandemic circumstances.
This week’s work in the sanctuary begins the installation of our new lighting and AV equipment features an enormous scaffolding structure that will enable the installation of new theatrical lighting for the chancel area as well as upgrades to existing lighting for cleaner, clearer, more even lighting — as well as capability for some innovating use of “lightscapes” for special events and worship services, contemporary worship, music and worship arts performances and more!