Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, Randwick
HoW streaming is here to stay. But traditional congregations don’t want complexity.
Like many churches faced with a Covid lockdown in 2020, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, did whatever was necessary to bring Sunday services to its parishioners. Church volunteers who had little or no streaming experience grabbed whatever they could to ensure continuity and connection.
As a version of ‘Covid normal’ set in and in-person services resumed, the church noticed something that every other church has experienced. Not everyone came back. Clearly streaming needed to remain a fixture of its weekly approach to reach members of the community not ready to come back, as well as to those who had now made online mass part of their attendance mix.
FROM AD HOC TO INSTALLED
A permanent streaming solution was required. Setting up and pulling down temporary streaming gear was no longer an option — it was obtrusive and time consuming. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart contacted its long-time technology partners, Clare Communications, for some advice on which way to jump.
“We pride ourselves in these long-term relationships with churches such as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and connecting them with the right technology,” reflects Clare Communications’ Systems Design & Project Manager, Kyle Stuart. “They may not know exactly what they need, but we can join them on that journey — including the follow-up and support — and ensure they get a system that’s properly fit for purpose.”
THE STREAMING SETUP
Clare Communications worked with church leadership to determine the key touchpoints during mass and what that meant for the streaming rig and camera placements. PTZ Optics cameras are strategically positioned around the sanctuary. The cameras run SDI into the a Roland V60HD vision mixer. Kyle Stuart explains:
“The cameras provide everything from locked-off wide angle vision from the rear of the church through to the flexibility of a pan/tilt/zoom unit attached to a pillar that has the capability of capturing anything that might be missed by the rear camera. The Roland switcher can achieve a very professional package with a short period of training.”
The output from the Roland vision mixer is streamed to the internet via a Tascam VS-R264 — a streaming encoder and decoder that simultaneously records, encodes, streams, and decodes full HD video streams.
“We always recommend hardware streamers,” confirms Kyle Stuart. “It’s one button to start the stream and one button to start recording, it removes the stresses of using a software encoder on a PC or a Mac, with the risk of crashes and internet problems.”
Weddings, funerals and other events are being streamed and recorded for family and friends around the world
SENSITIVE, SIMPLE, AFFORDABLE
It’s a system that works well for the church. It takes into account how mass is conducted; where the choir is positioned; along with the unique ebb and flow of the spoken word and music. It also demonstrates Clare Communications sensitivity to the space:
“You can’t lose sight of the fact that these are absolutely beautiful spaces. The first thing the solution needs to be, is discrete. It can’t detract from the visual integrity of the space nor the spiritual integrity of the space.
“The second main consideration is ease of use. It needs to be accessible to a wide variety of people on the team.
“The third aspect of importance is cost. Churches’ ambitions for systems such as these are high but often they work within tight budgets. Clare Communications is very well placed to balance those three considerations and provide a solution that works out well for the client.”
BUILD IT & THEY WILL USE
It’s fascinating to see how capable streaming and recording systems such as the one installed into Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Randwick, fulfils a need — keeping parishioners in touch and connected with weekly mass and the goings-on of the church — but also meets an unimagined demand. Weddings, funerals and other events are being streamed and recorded for family and friends around the world. These packages are more than professional enough to allow loved ones to feel connected, while the church fulfils its ancient role of being a nexus point for moments of grief and joy, as well as maintaining a spiritual community and connection.