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Carefree Conversion and Wireless Routing at New Psalmist's New Sanctuary
The congregation of Maryland's New Psalmist Baptist Church has seen the Holy City of Zion. In fact, they can visit it multiple times a week right inside the city of Baltimore. Construction of the new sanctuary was finally completed in October of last year. And Minister Joshua Thomas, who serves as the house of worship's Media Director, can proudly say that he played a crucial role in bringing his congregation into the 21st century.
Joshua's job of enhancing the worship experience for churchgoers changed dramatically once the time came to revamp the congregation's entire AV system in HD. As the son of Bishop Walter S. Thomas, Sr., who has served as New Psalmist's Pastor since 1975, Joshua has been a part of the church for his whole life. He was only eight years old when he began helping out in the AV ministry, and as time progressed, his passion for audio and video work grew.
Joshua went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in film from Philadelphia's Temple University. He returned to New Psalmist in January of 2010 to begin a full time position, and his timing couldn't have been better. There were more than 8,000 members visiting the church on a weekly basis for the three sets of services held on Sundays, in addition to the Bible study and Discipleship programs running throughout the week. What was missing was a sanctuary that was expansive, interactive and technologically capable of meeting the expectations of the massive group.
The congregation's technical needs had evolved away from what was offered by the old sanctuary that had been built in 1996. Therefore Joshua had quite a bit of ground to cover in designing an AV system for the new facility that could fulfill New Psalmist's mission of empowering disciples. It would have to not only serve the members of New Psalmist, but also grow with them over time.
The Holy City of Zion, which opened its doors on October 16, 2010, accomplished just that. The state of the art facility boasts 4,000 seats and a solid backbone of high quality products capable of serving every technological need imaginable. And at the very center of that AV set up is a number of Blackmagic Design solutions that saved hundreds of thousands of dollars while offering the ultimate in innovation.
Joshua's set up includes five Hitachi Z-HD5000 multi-format HD cameras configured with camera control units (CCUs) that are used in conjunction with a Blackmagic Design Studio Videohub. The Studio Videohub, which Joshua describes as a "plug and go product" routes footage to three Digital Projection 1080p HD projectors in the main sanctuary, as well as to HD LCD and plasma displays located in areas including the chapel, rehearsal hall, and banquet hall.
Blackmagic Design's Mini Converter Analog to SDI is used to convert programming from a PTZ camera and bring it into the Studio Videohub to be routed around the sanctuary for wide view, and the Mini Converter SDI to Analog is used to down convert the HD signal to create a DVD master of the services for sale. Services are also streamed live on New Psalmist's website, virtually enabling the entire congregation to go global.
For all lyrics and scripture verses, Joshua uses SongShowPlus software and Blackmagic Design's DeckLink HD Extreme 3D card to create lower third supers. And when the Pastor is leading Bible study and decides to integrate a PowerPoint into the session, Joshua relies on a handful of Blackmagic Design DVI Extenders to convert the computer's signal and route the presentation to wherever it needs to go, including online.
Joshua even uses the Videohub Control iPad app as a way to centrally manage each piece of equipment he has running in and out of the Studio Videohub. He explained, "I love the Videohub Control app, because it has dramatically increased the flexibility of my workflow. I can change routing for different needs throughout the sanctuary and across the entire campus, without ever having to move."
On New Year's Eve, for example, more than 6,000 people came for the first service. Joshua was able to route the proper signals from his iPad while standing in the overflow area of the sanctuary, indicating a truly successful start to 2011. And on any given Sunday morning, Joshua knows he can troubleshoot right from the pulpit and make sure every device is receiving the proper signal, without running to a remote location or checking on any wires.
Flexibility and reliability are essential to a congregation like New Psalmist Baptist Church. With thousands of faithful members constantly engaged, new worshippers just a click away online, a weekly HD broadcast on local CBS affiliate WJZ-TV and a weekly national broadcast on the Word Network, members of the ministry cannot be worried about technical difficulties.
And with Blackmagic Design products, "whose simplicity of use is off the charts," they don't have to be. Joshua said, "The Blackmagic products let us cut cost and discover new capabilities, while preserving quality." Now Joshua can devote his attention to what he's been focused on since the very beginning: continuing to enhance the worship experience.
Related Keywords:BlackMagic Design, New Palmist Baptist Church, Pro AV, HD, Media Director
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