Worship Broadcasting

Find out how Avid-based workflow has vastly improved the qualities of its live and pre-recorded television broadcasts, and extend its production into the realm of DVDs, CDs, and Podcasts to reach a broader audience.

The First Baptist Church of Richmond, Va., is not new to television broadcasting. The church, which is well known in the central Virginia community, has been airing its one-hour Sunday services and special live broadcasts on local ABC affiliate WRIC-TV8 for more than 19 years. What has changed for the church is the means by which it acquires, assembles, stores, and shares its coverage. By using an extensive Avid-based workflow, the church has not only been able to vastly improve the audio-visual qualities of its live and pre-recorded television broadcasts, it has also been able to extend its audio and video production into the realm of DVDs, CDs, and Podcasts to reach a broader audience.

 Once we started down the Avid road we didn't look back. The workflow is great, and our broadcasts are sleeker and easier to produce than with linear systems.
David Powers, Media Minister, First Baptist Church

The Avid implementation started six years ago when the church purchased its first Avid Xpress system as an affordable means to explore digital nonlinear editing. Based upon the performance and ease-of-use of that system, the church then added a Media Composer Adrenaline system in 2004, bringing facility-class productivity and functionality into the organization along with an advanced editing toolset for top-quality, professional broadcasts. In 2005, the church expanded the workflow, adding an Avid Unity LANshare EX solution for shared-storage networking, an Avid Unity MediaManager system for streamlined asset management, and three Avid AirSpeed video servers for tape and feed ingest and output. The church also added a Pro Tools|HD system for state-of-the-art sound editing. This seamlessly integrated digital workflow was designed and installed with the assistance of Ashland, Va.,-based Digital Video Group, an Avid Authorized Reseller that worked with Powers to create a powerful and streamlined postproduction process capable of quickly and easily supporting the church's growing communications.

The Core Workflow

The production process starts each week in the church's 1,000-seat sanctuary, where five video cameras capture the vivid visual content of the church's Sunday morning worship service. In the configuration, three of the five cameras generate direct ISO feeds to the church's three AirSpeed systems, while the remaining two cameras gather footage for later ingest. By way of the AirSpeed system's integration with the Avid Unity LANshare EX system and MediaManager software, the footage shot on the ISO cameras is available seconds after recording starts. This allows Powers to start editing on the Media Composer Adrenaline system before the service has finished, easily accessing footage from multiple cameras.

This automated ingest process saves digitizing time, which enables Powers to spend his time more productively. For example, he can use the Media Composer Adrenaline system's advanced editing toolset to produce a visually diverse record of the service, ranging from establishing shots of the interior and exterior of the church to views of the pulpit, the choir, the organist, the congregation, and many other elements associated with the church and the service.

Powers describes the implementation: One ISO camera is linked directly to AirSpeed, and the other two ISOs are linked through our Grass Valley switcher to the two remaining AirSpeed [systems]. This not only gives us flexibility in terms of which of the four remaining cameras will be our ISOs, but it also ensures that our most important assets are available right away. Optimized for Avid media and metadata, the Avid Unity MediaManager software enables Powers to find, sort, and retrieve media quickly and easily while maintaining secure, project-level access and control. The workflow is further supported by an Avid Unity LANshare EX with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for high-bandwidth performance throughout the network.

I'm capturing and managing media and producing a show that is far better than anything we could have produced in the past, says Powers, who adds that because his ISO cameras share the same timecode, it's very easy for him to find and match moments captured on multiple cameras. He uses the Avid timeline and intuitive drag-and-drop functionality to create the show and relies on the Media Composer Adrenaline system's effects and graphics tools to create roll-in clips and generate corrections and adjustments to the footage. In addition to this power in the editorial suite, he has a copy of Avid Xpress Pro software on his desktop computer, which is connected to the LANshare EX network.

 We're a ministry that believes in sharing our worship services with the greater public, and Avid helps us to do that.
David Powers, Media Minister, First Baptist Church

Richness of Sound

With the Avid workflow, Powers can generate his rough cut by Sunday afternoon, begin work on audio and video on Monday, and finish postproduction by Wednesday. During this phase, Powers works with his sound editor, who uses the church's Pro Tools|HD system to sweeten and improve upon the already high-quality sound that has been picked up by as many as 24 microphones that are set up for the worship service. These microphones are placed in critical pick-up areas and record as separate feeds onto the AirSpeed and Pro Tools systems. Powers explains, With three AirSpeed systems I'm recording each of 24 audio sources. We record the mixed audio on Adrenaline, so the sound is already very rich. But in addition to this, we also record directly into Pro Tools|HD so that we can remix anything that's not exactly right. We can also add effects and DSP during postproduction. And with the 24 channels of audio also recorded on the AirSpeed [systems], I know that we have a high-quality backup if something goes wrong with the audio.

The Pro Tools|HD system enables Powers to apply the latest and most advanced digital audio workstation technology to his editorial projects. In the three days of postproduction, Powers typically builds the package on the Media Composer Adrenaline system and exports an OMF2 file for use in the Pro Tools|HD system, which is equipped with the DigiTranslator software option for full AAF/OMF import and export support. Because both the picture and audio editing systems share the same timecode, it's easy to locate moments for sound replacement or sweetening. When the sound work is complete, the file is saved and imported into the Media Composer Adrenaline system, where the changes are applied to the timeline. The interoperability between Pro Tools and Adrenaline is great. I can have my sound editor working on the audio while I'm working on the video. We don't lose any time, and we're constantly achieving new levels of quality, he says.

When the piece is complete, Powers uses the Media Composer Adrenaline system to generate the videotape, which WRIC-TV8 picks up on Thursday for broadcast on Sunday. He also uses his Avid infrastructure to generate videotape and DVD versions of the broadcast, which he makes available to the public for a nominal charge through the church's Web site, http://www.fbcrichmond.org/. With the rich audio that's captured on the Pro Tools system, he generates CDs, audio cassettes, and Podcasts of the sermons, which are also available from the Web site. We're a ministry that believes in sharing our worship services with the greater public, and Avid helps us to do that, he explains.

Live Broadcasts

Six times a year - Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and the four Sundays of the Advent - First Baptist Church produces live broadcasts of its worship services. While the editorial work is more intense than with the pre-recorded broadcasts, Powers has found that it has gone smoothly. In addition to relying on his workflow of Avid editing, sound, and media management solutions, he uses additional products, such as Deko FX from Avid's Deko family of on-air graphics systems, to create live graphics. The resulting production strength and performance makes Powers more confident than ever in his Avid systems. Avid has provided us with a powerful workflow and a reliable means to share our worship services with the greater public. I can't say enough good things about Avid. I really couldn't imagine my life without it, he says.

*CREDIT: Courtesy of First Baptist Church