Almost every church is recording their service in one format or another. For the rare church that is not, it’s most likely something you are thinking about. In this digital age we live in, deciding not to record and distribute your service is deciding to miss a huge opportunity.
Most churches have transitioned to CD, DVD and Internet distribution of their services. There are a few churches still hanging on to cassette tape. These churches are most commonly made up of an older demographic – but even many of these churches are seeing the cost savings and quality increase in transitioning to digital media.
The most important thing about duplicating your recorded message is this: utilize the format that best reaches your audience, and realize that this might mean duplicating in multiple formats.
One error many churches make is trying to duplicate for the cheapest amount possible. All too often, they will buy less equipment than they need. For instance, if you are doing more than 2 or 3 CD’s a week, you need more than a single one-off disc burner. You are going to waste a lot of time, but more to the point, the equipment just isn’t made for that much use. The result is worn out equipment and more expense in the long run.
How will you record the service initially?
Today, the church must answer several questions in regards to duplication. The trick is, many of these questions are about how you will capture the information in the first place.
Are you going to record the entire service or just the sermon? If you are going to record the entire service, have you settled all of the legal issues with duplicating copyrighted music? Are you going to do a multi-track recording or a simple archival recording?
As a quick sidenote, if you are recording a service to home-bound members or small numbers of local people, it might make sense to do a down and dirty mix out from the aux send and record it. But if you are planning to distribute on the web – where the message will reach the masses – you really should settle on a solution that will give you a good quality mix.
If you are simply recording the sermon, it’s fairly easy to get a good recording via an aux or matrix output. Remember – your duplication will only be as good as your original, so make sure you get a good original master to work with.
What media will you record to?
This is often overlooked by churches, but it plays a key role in how you duplicate and distribute your message.
For instance, if you are doing an immediate turn around after the service, you might want to consider recording your master directly to CD. This way you can take the original directly to the tower duplicator for distribution. If you are planning to distribute via the Internet, you might want to consider recording directly to a computer, networkable digital recorder or Compact Flash where the data can be transferred as a file versus having to wait for a CD to be captured.
If you are planning to distribute to the Internet, design a smart workflow so you are not wasting time with the media. Some manufacturers are already offering digital recorders that are networkable. Simply point your computer towards the IP address of the device and pull the file from the device to any computer on your network.
How will you distribute (duplicate) your final product?
If you are not making your service available via Podcast – do it. Do it now. It’s easy to create and easy to publish. Likewise, it allows you to make your message available by a wide variety of locations (such as iTunes). This means people don’t have to find your site to find your sermon. It truly allows your message to reach many more people than simply relying on people coming to your website.
If you plan on distributing CD’s directly to your audience immediately after the service, you really need to use tower duplicators. If you are planning to make the disc available later in the week, then you might want to use an automated printer/duplicator machine. This way the unit can print your discs and duplicate them without supervision. Simply start the process, and come back later to pick up the finished product.
If you are using towers, then you need to look at an automated disc printer (or if you are doing very small volumes you can do them one at a time with a desktop printer capable of printing to CD’s). The other option is to find a place that will pre-print your discs for you. So, instead of ordering blank CD’s that are printable, buy blank CD’s that are pre-printed. Obviously, the more quantity you can buy, the cheaper the price.
Some people choose to have a large quantity of discs pre-printed with a spot left in the design to later add the date and time. This can be done with printers that are calibrated to look for the opening and simply add the time and date to that opening.
If you are community focused, you might want to seek out independent event videographers. Most all of these small business owners will already own a disc printer and duplicator. You might find that you can work out a reasonable price for them to pre-print (or even duplicate) your discs on a smaller production run. While the cost per disc will be higher, the fact that you are doing small runs (usually 50 or less) will make up for the cost. Plus, it’s one less thing your staff has to worry about doing.
When the pastor goes long— What to do?
The first choice is to start recording the sermon digitally directly to computer. This will allow you to edit the sermon, remove pauses, and compress for time (if your software permits). If this is not an option, you might want to consider buying a CD recorder that allows you to span multiple discs. These units will record to end of one disc and then start on the next! If you do this, you have to offer multi-disc packages, which can get expensive.
Another option would be to record to Compact Flash or some other solid-state memory and import the file to computer, compress as necessary and burn to disc.
If your pastor continues to go long, you might want to change formats. Instead of doing audio only, you could transition to video recording (even using just a single camera). The video format will allow longer record times (2 hours plus). Then you can distribute your message on DVD, video Podcast, YouTube, Google Video or your website (just to name a few).
Case Study: How Another Church Does Duplication
One church I work with records the entire service. However, their workflow is very smart. They record the music portion of the service to a PC-based recording solution – in their case they use WaveLab
As soon as the music portion is done, an engineer turns his or her attention to the digital recording in WaveLab. The music is quickly normalized, pauses are deleted, track markers are added and the entire project is bounced to disc. This CD is immediately run up to the bookstore where they begin duplicating onto pre-printed discs via tower duplicators. Now, the music portion is done before the pastor is halfway finished with his message.
Remember – in this case the pastor’s message is being recorded directly to CD. As soon as the pastor finishes his sermon – and before the invitation – the disc is stopped, finalized and rushed to the bookstore. Again, they immediately start duplicating on to pre-printed discs. By the time the first customers arrive to pick up disks, the music is already done and the first 30 are coming off the towers. While the first 30 orders are being processed, the next 30 are passing through the duplication towers. They find that some people want music only – so this gives them more buffer time to get the message out.
Each step is recorded with redundancy. The pastor is recorded to two different CD recorders. The music is recorded to CD as well as WaveLab. This way if something goes wrong, they have a backup.
The Pros of Podcasting
If it’s not evident, let me state plainly, I am a fan of Podcast delivery. It allows the ultimate control for the end user. They can choose to watch it on their computer, transfer it to a mobile device (including their cell phones in many cases), burn their own disc or whatever they might choose.
The cost for duplication plummets and the flexibility skyrockets. Give the end-user ultimate control. As a fallback you can offer your message on a traditional media such as CD if you are worried about your audience being tech-savvy enough to use the web. Ideally, you will have enough people going to the web that your duplication cost will be reduced dramatically.
Hopefully, over time, you will see a transition to web-based delivery as people harness the full potential of what they can do.
If you are trying to push your audience towards Podcast delivery, you might consider creating a short video tutorial on how to use them. If you do a short enough piece (30 seconds or less) it could even run as a service announcement in your videos. It’s really up to your creativity – but educating the masses on using Podcast could be a real smart move.
In the end, the most important thing is to match your audience. The idea of duplication and distribution is to get your message out to more people. Regardless of how you do it, it’s more important simply to do it. Hopefully this article has helped you think about new ways to capture and distribute your message.
With Aaron Pratt, Director of Marketing, Microboards Technology
TFWM: Do you know of some creative ways that churches are conducting duplication ministries?
AP: We continue to see the best adoption of discs as right after a service. But we are seeing more creativity in terms of churches exploring mixed media, by offering supplemental material online, becoming more interactive, and offering video-rich content.
TFWM: How have sales been for your USB drive duplicators?
AP: USB Drive duplicators are not catching up to or surpassing duplicator sales. But there is a solid market for them, and we have a strong number of installs now. USB flash media is not as commonly used for audio/video content as it is for more document, text, and photo applications. So we haven’t seen wide adoption in the church, although I can see a day very soon that it will be the delivery mechanism of choice for study, training, and leadership materials. Flash offers a certain tangible value that enhances the documents themselves in a way that online delivery (downloads) cannot, and that encourages people to use the documents in a way that CDs and DVDs do not.
TFWM: What patterns do you see coming up for the duplication industry?
AP: The duplication industry is maturing in a wonderful way, because ‘on-demand’ is the norm, the expectations that content producers have for is creating growth and countering market contraction. Of course, we are seeing many people choose to download files to their iPod, but we are also seeing organizations that previously did occasional very large disc runs through replication come to the duplicators. They are looking for variable print and data, more frequent revisions, and to prevent inventory loss due to obsolescence.
Not only do the users demand more control, they have more options for producing a professional disc. JVC’s WaterShield and PrintPlus recordable disc offerings are two good examples – now they can use inkjet printers and still get a water-resistant, even glossy disc. That brings the hardware cost way down – because expensive thermal printers are unnecessary – and puts durable printing within the reach of even a low-volume, desktop user.
Disc-ography Part 2
With Kellie Garber, Public Relations Specialist, Primera Technology, Inc.
TFWM: Are houses of worship still using tape duplicators?
KG: Yes, some churches are still using tape duplicators, but we do see the trend shifting towards CD/DVD duplication. It seems as though tape duplication still takes place in smaller congregations and congregations where the population is a bit older. Once churches realize the cost of using CD/DVD duplicators is a lot less expensive than they anticipated and the quality and look is so much more appealing, they tend to start to want to use this technology. Duplicating CDs and DVDs is almost always less expensive than duplicating cassette and VHS tapes. Not only that, but the quality is also much better. The cost to produce a CD or DVD is inexpensive at just $0.50 per disc or less.
TFWM: How are some ways you have seen houses of worship distributing discs?
KG: There are a few ways that the duplicated discs are being distributed. Churches usually choose one of two types of duplication and printing systems:
(1) a tower duplicator with a CD/DVD AutoPrinter or (2) a fully-automated CD/DVD disc publisher. A tower duplicator is an upright box (much like a tower PC case) that includes a stack of drives for recording and one drive for the master. In this case, discs are usually pre-printed by an automated CD/DVD printer. A CD/DVD printer prints directly onto the surface of CDs and DVDs. This is a good choice for churches that require many copies immediately after a service or event.
For churches not on a time crunch, fully-automated CD and DVD Publishers can be a better choice. A CD and DVD publisher integrates both a recorder and printer in one machine. First, the discs are burned by the built-in, high-speed recorder. Then, the discs are printed. The entire process is automatic and “hands-free.”