Crowds of up to 35,000 have traditionally gathered weekly in houses of worship (HOW) for religious services across the U.S., but with the emergence of a global pandemic, this practice came to an abrupt halt. Lockdowns across the country sent religious institutions scrambling to find new ways of connecting with congregants, and many found their answer in live streaming. Even though in-person services have partially resumed, some congregants remain reluctant to attend large-scale gatherings, while others now prefer the convenience of online services. To this end, live streaming in the HOW market is proving a trend with staying power. As a result of the pandemic, Atlanta, GA-based AV consulting and design firm STRATA has seen HOW demand for production systems with streaming capabilities skyrocket. Having designed custom video systems for religious institutions across Phoenix, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and other regions for more than three years, the Strata team, whose cumulative industry experience exceeds 90 years, is more than well-equipped to handle the upswing in business.
All projects begin with a discovery phase, during which the Strata team develops a technology blueprint, with equipment from AJA Video Systems a core part of nearly every video system design. “AJA gear is included in a majority of our designs because it supports a wide range of needs in HOW environments, from live streaming and recording to signal conversion, recording and campus-wide audio and video transmission,” shared Joe Paryzek, Strata Co-owner and Video Systems Engineer. “The reliability of AJA equipment is well-known and operation is very straightforward. Those characteristics are ideally suited to our client base.”
With a majority of religious institutions looking to either build a live streaming workflow from scratch or retrofit an existing pipeline, AJA’s HELO H.264 streaming and recording device is woven into most of Strata’s designs. Clients use it to stream live 1080 or 720 HD video to their website or to YouTube, Facebook Live and other social streaming platforms. “Streaming was THE word of 2020, and we don’t see that changing this year. HELO makes live streaming easy, which is why it’s our first recommendation when clients ask about streaming,” explained David Roche, Strata co-owner. “It combines all the functionality of streaming hardware and software into one box without the complexity. It’s also fun for us to see clients have that ‘oh wow’ moment when they realize that they can stream by simply pushing one button. It’s definitely a better way to stream.”
Across HOW campuses, audio visual production often spans multiple buildings, and signals must be carried across long distances. To address this demand, fiber optic cabling has become standard in Strata’s designs, and the team often ends up leaning on AJA FiDO optical fiber converters to enable the transport of 12G/6G/3G/1.5G/270Mb SDI signals, and even RAW data between equipment located far apart. With the Ross Video openGear module supporting a range of equipment from manufacturers, AJA openGear FiDO solutions, in particular, are in high demand among its client-base. “Each client has their own technology preferences, so openGear and openGear-compatible tech from companies like AJA is great in that we can design each setup with the best equipment for the job and consolidate it in one frame,” added Roche.
For clients looking to record footage, whether for archival or to edit and publish online for video-on-demand viewing, Strata often incorporates an AJA Ki Pro Ultra 12G 12G-SDI 4K/UHD/HD recorder and player/multi-channel HD recorder into its system design. Typically, the Ki Pro Ultra 12G is connected to a router. A common application is to route the program feed and three camera ISOs to the Ki Pro Ultra 12G, resulting in a program feed with mixed audio and three camera feeds that can be incorporated into an edit master for later use or distribution. “The Ki Pro Ultra 12G has been a great addition to several of our projects. You can use it as a 4K recorder or to record four simultaneous channels of 1080p,” Roche explained. “With the quad HD recording configuration, you basically get four single-channel recorders in one unit, and in some cases, it can take the place of more complex and expensive servers for our clients.”
New to Strata’s AJA openGear arsenal is the OG-DANTE-12GAM, a 12G-SDI/DANTE 64-channel embedder/disembedder, which is currently set for deployment at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, and Compass Christian Church in Phoenix, AZ. “Dante audio networking technology has become nearly ubiquitous in the HOW space, and if a facility isn’t already using it, they will be soon,” added Paryzek. “That said, getting Dante into the world of video has previously been a complex, multi-step process, so we were very happy to see AJA release the OG-DANTE-12GAM. This new AJA card gives us a very clean way to embed audio into our video; we just connect the card to the Dante network, map the audio and both the audio and video are muxed. I’m certain it will work its way into most every Strata job in the future.”
For more details about AJA OG-DANTE-12GAM and other AJA products, visit: www.aja.com