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The Woodlands First Baptist Church Seamlessly Transitions into a Connected Campus and Mega Church with Blackmagic Design
In 2011, Timothy Thornton officially got tired of traveling the world. But who could blame him? After working in every possible facet of the A/V and live production industries for more than 30 years, Timothy had traveled the globe pushing road cases, hooking up wires and designing systems and workflows for everything from churches and fast food chains to concerts. His company was also involved with the Democratic and Republican Nationals Conventions, the Golden Globes, Grammy Awards and Oscars.

Timothy has always had a faith based background, so when The Woodlands, TX based The Woodlands First Baptist Church asked him to revamp its A/V, he put away his suitcases and said yes. In his role as Technical Director of the Media Department, Timothy began by producing several in house events.

"When I came to Woodlands, they had a hodgepodge of gear and technology. The church was also exploding at the seams and becoming a mega church, so all this disjointed technology that couldn't communicate with each other was really holding it back," said Timothy.

Timothy began the search for new equipment. "In reality there was no other choice, but Blackmagic Design. The products have so many features at a fraction of the cost. Blackmagic Design also offers everything the church needed, so all the products work with each other, and I didn't have to call 15 different manufacturers. Even on a budget, the church could afford everything," he said.

When Timothy first began evaluating The Woodlands First Baptist Church's A/V needs, the output wasn't complex, just a few screens here and a few projectors there. However, as soon as he began investing and implementing Blackmagic Design, new possibilities began to present themselves.

"Since it's all Blackmagic Design, I didn't have to change much as we implemented more products and there was no learning curve, since we were already familiar with the overall setup," said Timothy. "Also, as we embraced new products, it opened up new workflow possibilities, which caused us to continue to ingest additional Blackmagic products. Try this with any other company, the budget would have exploded, and we wouldn't have had such a seamless integration."

Growing into Its Own
In its main worship center, The Woodlands First Baptist Church now uses three Blackmagic Studio Cameras HD, an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K, Smart Videohub 40x40 router, five SmartView Duo monitors, four SmartView HD monitors, ATEM Camera Converter, DeckLink Quad I/O device and a handful of Mini Converters.

Every Sunday, the three Blackmagic Studio Cameras capture the service, which is broadcast on two large 15x19 ft. projections screens to the 2,000 seat auditorium, as well as to several overflow video screens located in the back of the auditorium. The ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K sits at the heart of the production room and is used in conjunction with an HP TouchSmart computer running the ATEM Software Control.

"I loved the option of using the ATEM Software Control instead of being forced into a hardware switching interface. It allows Woodlands to grow into its own workflow," noted Timothy. "On top of that, it includes the ATEM Camera Control, which controls camera settings and color correction over fiber. It was easy to install since it's all the same software and provides broadcast features at no additional cost. Blackmagic Design is also great at adding even more features with free firmware upgrades. Other solutions just seem so archaic, while Blackmagic repeatedly provides the power to do things not possible before."

Timothy added: "I've worked at production companies that have big, heavy and expensive equipment and CCUs where something fails or is damaged by an inexperienced person, and they lose all control. Woodlands cycles through volunteer operators, but it's not a problem thanks to Blackmagic. The features empower them, help them do their jobs better and compensate for potential failures. The production room can also catch things faster and utilize the ATEM Camera Control's zoom and focus, so if the camera operators miss a cue or aren't paying attention, the director can talk to them or take over."

A Connected Campus
During services, the ATEM's multi view feature is used to monitor all the feeds and final program output. The SmartView Duos and SmartView HDs are also used throughout the setup for confidence monitoring. Three of the monitors are fed with lyrics for the band, as well as cues. The pastor even has his own dedicated monitor, so he doesn't have to look behind him to see what's going on.

"The director can communicate to everyone on stage through the monitors, which are all routed through the Smart Videohub 40x40. It's really helpful for the pastor because everything he needs to see is right in front of him," said Timothy. "We even have a SmartView HD so the lighting controller can match the color correction."

In addition to switching and monitoring, the production room also houses graphics stations that feed into the ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K and Smart Videohub 40x40.

"Everything we did was through a tie line system, so it all feeds back to the monitoring station in the production room, which is routed to televisions that we have all over campus," said Timothy. "Some of the televisions are only a short distance away, so we run through the Videohub and use a Mini Converter straight into the television. However, some parts of the campus are far away, so we have fiber connections to six different buildings."  

The farthest building is the children's campus, which the Videohub sends two HD digital channels: one for digital signage and another clean feed of the service so the counselors know when the service is ending and the children need to be ready to leave.

"Woodlands plans to build a 100x100 lobby feed with multiple televisions, so overflow crowds can participate. The Videohub is great because it has multiple functions and lets us route any feed to any television on campus," said Timothy. "Woodlands is a totally connected campus now, and Blackmagic Design provides a total solution that is affordable, feature rich and expandable."

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