BROADCASTING WITHOUT BORDERS: TFWM’s Broadcast Round table Discussion

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

PHIL COOKE, President & Creative Director, Phil Cook Pictures
As a producer and media consultant, Phil speaks at workshops, seminars, and conferences on a global basis and works with many of the largest churches and religious organizations in the world.

GEORGE HORTON, Sales Manager, Solid State Logic
George’s areas of responsibility include the following markets: House of Worship, Production Broadcast, Music, Post Production and Film. He has been with SSL for 19 years and started his career with SSL HQ outside of Oxford in England.

MICHELLE INGRAM, Marketing, Chyron
Initially involved in the marketing for ChyTC (Chyron’s video signage and information display division), Michelle is now instrumental in the promotion of Chyron’s flagship graphics product HyperX, and WAPSTR (for mobile content delivery.)

ROBIN RICHARDS, Marketing Manager, Houses of Worship, Sony Electronics
Robin Richards is the marketing manager for the houses of worship segment at Sony Electronics. During her 18 years at Sony, she has worked in a variety of marketing roles, successfully supporting several key Sony products.

RAY TERRILL, Broadcasting Consultant, Communicon
Ray’s experience ranges from advanced telecommunications to radio, television, and live performance venue engineering. His focus has been the design and integration of control rooms and studios into larger facilities.

What do some key manufacturers, a film director/producer and a design consultant from all around the U.S. have in common? Broadcasting.
TFWM asked these people some questions to find out how recent changes in the broadcast industry will affect the worship community.
Broadcasting isnít just for mega-churches anymore. Because of the declining costs of HD cameras, editing equipment and storage options, broadcasting has become an outreach platform that is within reach for churches large and small. And if the past few years are any indication, it appears that this is only the beginning.

TFWM: Education is a vital component of working with houses of worship. Which specific areas do you feel are most critical for churches to learn about as they plan to develop a broadcast ministry?

PhilCooke: We’ve discovered that there are many excellent consultants and teachers that deal with technical issues such as lighting, sound, engineering, projection, etc. That’s why we focus on branding, media strategy, and production. Having all the right technical elements still doesn’t make a successful program. We like to ask about motivations, gifts and talents, what separates you from the pack ñ the kinds of questions that help create a successful brand and distinguish your church and ministry in the minds of the audience.

George Horton: The answer to this depends on what level of broadcasting a HOW is trying to achieve. Specifically from my point of view the areas that can require education are in the audio field. With the advent of HD broadcasting the possibility exists for multichannel surround sound. Add to this the use of digital audio systems and the ability to use multi-channel digital audio over distribution systems like MADI.

Ray Terrill: I believe that the missing element in HOW education is perspective, especially among the leadership. Many leaders in churches are not television watchers or radio listeners, except within the religious broadcasting marketplace. They often lack an appreciation for what it takes to draw and keep an audience, and wind up producing programming for themselves instead of the broad audience. The Technologies for Worship Pavilion at the NAB convention is the best effort yet taken to address this deficiency. By bringing HOW staff and leadership into direct contact with the broader industry, the first response is the realization of how vast the opportunities are, and how a focused leadership can use them.

Michelle Ingram: The most critical areas that churches need to learn would be how to apply colors and text correctly to a composition that leads worshipers to the message rather than distract from it. The problem with graphics systems is that they provide the capability to do virtually anything and it is only through experience and a talented graphic artist that a sophisticated look can be achieved. Also, another area of education is how to institute a workflow that is conducive to a smaller staff and yet still provide a sophisticated look and the ability to make near to air changes as the course of the broadcast changes.

Robin Richards: Houses of worship need to be well-versed in all the technical and creative aspects of professional video production, from acquisition to editing to acoustics to lighting. They need to be aware of different signal formats, the differences between 720P and 1080i, interlaced or progressive, the various media formats, tape or tapeless, and the list goes on. Our goal is to work with ministries to help them better understand how they can use our technologies to communicate with their members more efficiently and cost-effectively. The most important thing is to remember who you are and what your vision is. Ultimately, the message is yours; technology is just the tool to help you communicate that message.

TFWM: In a recent HOW broadcast survey conducted by TFC Info in partnership with TFWM, 69% of respondents answered that “technology upgrades” were the leading unintended costs in broadcasting their message. Do you feel that churches are mainly using antiquated equipment for broadcasting?

Cooke: No question about it. Worse, they’re using a lot of equipment that’s out of the mainstream. For example, Avid and Final Cut Pro are the mainstream editing systems out there, and if you use others, they might work, but it will be very difficult finding qualified editors that know how to use them. Plus, companies like Avid and Final Cut Pro have a proven system of upgrades and service. Buying a fringe system might be a little cheaper up front, but the frustration and expense down the road is what kills you. It’s the same story with cameras, lighting equipment, etc.

Horton: The equipment is not always antiquated. It is more that so often the equipment that exists is focused around “Live” and FOH type applications. For professional broadcasts, focused systems are required. To maintain quality, broadcast systems require many subtleties that are not always obvious on first viewing.

Ingram: Yes, most churches have old AV equipment at their facilities rather than broadcast equipment, which is becoming more popular in churches. As churches migrate from AV to Broadcast, their lack of experience along with budgetary constraints often leads to lower end products being initially purchased. The graphics and production abilities end up “lower end” which leads to unexpected and unbudgeted purchases to upgrade the capabilities.

Terrill: Visiting HOW facilities is generally disappointing. With a few major exceptions, usually very large churches, most Houses of Worship generally wind up with equipment dictated by small dealerships and product reps who have a need to push minor or obscure products. Their lack of contact with the industry makes them vulnerable to the “I have a friend in the business” line of reasoning, hence, much of their gear is made up of orphaned products that aren’t used by “real” broadcasters.

Richards: “Technology upgrades” can be defined in many different ways. An upgrade can be as simple as installing a new version of software, or as complex as building new control rooms and edit suites. It’s always difficult to make blanket statements regarding an entire market. Yes, there are many ministries still using standard-definition legacy formats that have not yet made the decision to move to HD. They’re either constrained by budgets, limited personnel resources, time or a variety of other factors. On the other hand, there are those that, in terms of technical savvy and A/V production values, are on par with or even ahead of what the most sophisticated facility is doing.

TFWM: What in your opinion is the driving force for Houses of Worship to start broadcasting?

Cooke: When it comes to broadcasting, it’s very simple. When so many people are demanding to hear your message that you can’t pack them in the building, then it might be time to consider a wider audience through the media. I’ve never understood why a pastor who has trouble getting 40 people to come on a Sunday, thinks that millions of people want to hear him on TV. My suggestion is to always take it step by step. Start podcasting, start an online blog, start a radio program, then graduate to TV. Become comfortable with less expensive media before you go out on a limb financially.

Terrill: With modern society being highly mobile, the historic definition of community is no longer a viable concept. At first, the mega-church symbolized this wider concept of community, and it now extends citywide, statewide, nationwide, and with the internet, worldwide. This perception of the field of harvest being so vast is igniting a vision for media outreach unheard of in even the recent past. Not since Guttenberg has the ability to reach out grown so rapidly.

Horton: One of the primary goals of a House of Worship is to spread the Word of God and get their message to as many people as possible. With the advent of new technologies and a much more connected world the opportunities exist for the ministry to extend beyond traditional geographic boundaries. The driving force is a desire to spread the Word; the newer technologies allow this to happen.

Ingram: There are a few driving forces for the House of Worship to start broadcasting. One of those forces is clean, clear and uncompromised family value messages from trustworthy movies, comedians and talk show hosts. The migration away from smaller churches to larger arenas/churches is another. The larger churches are currently using broadcast graphics to put the lyrics to hymns and readings on screens so the entire congregation is able to see. Also, the ability to reach a wider audience with their message via closed circuit broadcasts, public access, local network and cable/satellite channels is very appealing.

Richards: It’s a simple matter of meeting customer demand. In the case of a ministry, the “customers” are the members and the community at large. The very definition of community is changing. People are more geographically dispersed, either because of work relocation, being away at school, or military service. These people still want to maintain ties to their hometown. The ability to broadcast services nationwide and even stream services over the Internet so anybody, anywhere can participate, lets people stay connected to a community no matter where they are. The technology and tools that make this happen are becoming more affordable and more available every day.

TFWM: How is working with the HOW market different than working with other market segments?

Cooke: I love working with churches and ministries. I’m also a partner in a secular commercial company, and although the budgets are dramatically different, at the end of the day media projects we do with churches and ministries make me feel like we’ve made a difference. We’ve had the opportunity to work with major, national clients like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Ed Young, Billy Graham, and more, and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done for them.

Terrill: The HOW marketplace is purposeful. Whereas the broadcast marketplace counts its success in dollars per viewer reached, churches are looking at dollars per soul reached. What more significant difference can there be? This brings a sense of purpose to our collaborative efforts that cannot be overestimated. As the number of HOW clients, along with ministry organizations continue to increase, I believe that this shared goal will bring a continuing increase in significant opportunities to compete for the attention of the entire community.

Horton: Honestly I really enjoy it. There is an openness and a willingness to learn that is really refreshing. For many HOWs, these are the early days of being involved in broadcasting, and so there is an opportunity to embrace new technologies and not be limited by traditional setups.
Ingram: There is not much difference between the HOW market and the traditional broadcast market ñ every market is looking to provide information and inspiration and reach the widest audience possible.

Richards: Overall, a ministry’s A/V needs are very different from those of a traditional broadcaster or corporate video producer. The decision on how and what A/V solutions to incorporate is a very individual and often highly personalized decision as ministries try to balance what enhances versus what detracts from a message. Content delivery decisions need to be made regarding over-the-air broadcasting, streaming on the web, and repackaging content for distribution on DVD. Technical support for the main sanctuary also often needs to support overflow” areas, including multi-purpose spaces for services, concerts, events; classrooms, lobbies and other gathering spaces.

TFWM: What types of training does your company offer? If you haven’t already, would you plan to incorporate educational programs for houses of worship specifically?

Cooke: We consult with all kinds of organizations, and media training is a big part of that. We focus more on production issues ñ producing, directing, set design, lighting, and less on engineering ñ but we’ve taught on a global basis.

Terrill: As a design consultant, my entire relationship with Houses of Worship is based on education. I take them from a desire to expand their place in the broadcast media world, to the fulfillment of that desire. That requires first that I educate their leadership to the realities of the industry, help them develop budgets, design a building or rehab program, and then train their personnel on the uses of their new facilities. Frequently I find myself being a friend of their ministry… a voice to offer valued advice, even when no financial relationship exists.

Horton: When clients purchase systems from SSL we include comprehensive training packages. This is operational and maintenance training. We tailor the training for the needs of the client and it lasts as long as the client feels they need it. We also offer technical support for the first time the client is “on-air” so everything goes smoothly.

Ingram: Chyron offers a variety of different ways for our customers to be trained on our equipment. The methods of training include online learning, Remote, interactive WebEx sessions, as well as on-site training either at the House of Worship or our Melville facility. The training programs are designed for graphics designers, design operators, producers, directors, production managers and anyone who is interested in learning Chyron’s products and can be tailored to a specific audience’s needs.

Richards: Education and training are critical, whether the customer is a house of worship, or a broadcaster, a school or any type of professional working in any market. We dedicate a tremendous part of our time and resources to training people on how to use technology effectively to communicate a message. In addition, our resellers, distributors and the system integrators we work with also conduct their own training and are fully up to speed on the latest tools available to houses of worship.

TFWM: Have you hired people to specifically deal with the HOW market?

Cooke: That’s the main focus of our work, so everyone on the team is here for that.

Horton: My role as Sales Manager for SSL specifically covers the HOW market. As we have expanded into these new markets we have employed new engineers in all our offices to cover the additional installations and training required. We also work closely with existing clients and integrators in the HOW market to stay current and to understand all the needs of the market.

Ingram: Several people on our staff are involved in various aspects of worship, multimedia and broadcast in their personal HOW.

Terrill: I operate as an independent consultant, and my associates join me on a project by project basis. Although I sometimes have commercial clients, some are rather large ones; I have shaped my business primarily to serve the Christian marketplace.

Richards: We have experienced marketing and sales professionals dedicated to each market. In addition, we work with a national network of resellers, distributors, system integrators and of course Sony’s own force of support engineers and sales professionals who are available to train, educate and support houses of worship in every aspect of their operations. We’re continually training and educating our own people so they can better understand and respond to the needs of the market. In addition, we think it’s important to maintain a large presence at house-of-worship events and trade shows, and not only NAB, but also regional shows and seminars.

TFWM: Are there currently broadcast standards for the HOW market?
Cooke: Nothing official that I know of. However, part of our branding and identity process is to create a style guide for our clients, to help them understand how to effectively use their graphic design, look, feel, and production quality.

Horton: I would say that the standards for HOW broadcast are set by traditional broadcast mediums. A HOW will want it’s programming to look as good as everything else on the spectrum, it will want it’s radio broadcast to sound as good (if not better) and it will want it’s webcasts to stand out. There is an opportunity for HOW to actually exceed traditional broadcasters by embracing HD technologies in the next few years.

Ingram: There are three different ways that a House of Worship can broadcast their services. The services can be broadcasted either live or recorded and broadcast later on a local TV, cable or satellite networks. With these types of broadcasts, the HOW must comply with the FCC regulations. The third type, a closed broadcast, in which songs and readings are broadcasted on screens within the house of worship during the service. This type of broadcast does not have any standards in which they must comply with.

Terrill: Since the technology of broadcasting is unchanged for HOW broadcasters, I believe a better term would be “expectations”. Unfortunately, for most of broadcasting history, expectations of the HOW community have been rather low, both technically and performance wise. Now, however, HOW broadcasters are themselves realizing that an inferior product not only poorly represents the Gospel, it also fails to gain an audience. Their self-expectation is being elevated. This is a great time to be a consultant to the church market.

TFWM: There seems to be a push for tapeless production, where do your products fit into this new emphasis?

Horton: At SSL all our products are designed to integrate with all the current production standards. This includes features such as router interrogation, workstation integration and audio networking. At the same time we also integrate this with more traditional tape based systems with things such as machine control and synchronization. This allows us to blend all production environments seamlessly.

Ingram: Tapeless production is inevitable. You can obviously see the trend towards this innovation [DVD, MP4, RAM Disk and so on]. All Chyron products are tapeless and interact with other tapeless systems. All Chyron products that record video or playback clips are all hard drive based.

Richards: Already, there are 20 religious organizations currently using Sony’s XDCAM system, either SD or HD, to streamline their operations. These range from broadcasters like EWTN to churches. Since Sony’s XDCAM system was launched in 2004, we’ve worked to refine and enhance the potential of a tapeless workflow. This trend continued with last year’s launch of the XDCAM HD system, and at NAB, we’ll be talking about our plans for rolling out new tapeless production systems.

Terrill: As a consultant, I represent the USER in the marketplace. Tapeless production represents primarily a time saving function. This is very important when deadlines are short and inflexible. To the extent that a HOW client has a need for this technology I encourage it, but sometimes there can be significant cost savings for equal quality, particularly as tape pulling systems have already paid off their R&D investment. I have little doubt that Tapeless systems will increasingly dominate, and in due course, videotape will go the way of audio tape… an anachronism.