St Mary’s Tech Team
Who are the Tech Team?
The tech team is made up of volunteers who are usually found at the back of church by the tower door during services when on duty. Currently on Sundays we have Tim, Philip, Graham, Philippa, Emily, Sam and Charlie (with occasional guest appearances from members of the music team and a huge thank you to Jasper.)
What does the Tech Team do?
We manage all the AV (Audio and Video) during regular Sunday services.
The audio aspect
The audio aspect involves setting up all the sound equipment to suit the musicians and speakers before the services. During the service, the sound operator mixes all the various inputs on the mixer desk, adjusting the levels of the individual musicians, and fading them in and out as necessary. They also control the output volume of service leader, preacher and anybody speaking at the lectern or into the handheld radio microphone. They also try and ensure that levels of spoken word are sent at a suitable level into the loop system for hearing aid users.
The video aspect
The video aspect has increased recently, now requiring two operators.
The first uses a laptop to provide a feed of song words, Bible passages etc as well any PowerPoint type slides or videos needed during the service. This requires the operator to keep the page changes in sync with the musicians or speaker. The software used on this laptop is OpenLP, a free piece of software especially for church worship presentations.
The second video operator is generally responsible for the video mixing/switching and operating the two cameras. Taking video feeds from the first operator’s laptop and two cameras and changing scenes or switching sources as necessary. This video feed is fed into the livestream connection to YouTube. The second video operator also keeps an eye on the overall audio volume level being sent to the YouTube livestream and also looks after the audio levels of the organ being sent to the stream when that is in use.
After the service
After each service, we carefully pack away the moveable items and put them away safely in the tower. We also edit the title of the YouTube recording and extract the audio of the reading and sermon and upload it to the church PodBean account to make the audio podcast available.
What Tech does the team have?
Thanks to the generosity of the congregation in recent gift day appeals, we are lucky to have some quite sophisticated modern hardware to use.
Project ReSound upgraded all the audio equipment and is centred around an Allen & Heath QU-24 Digital Mixer which is capable of sending different mixes to different outputs at the same time as well as lots of other clever functions.
Project Envision replaced the front projector and screen, added two 49” TVs on stands, a ‘comfort monitor’ for presenters at the front showing the same image as well as a pair of motorised cameras and source switching box. A generous donation of hardware extended this project by adding a WiFi bridge between the church offices in the parish rooms and the belfry of the church enabling an internet connection at the back of the church.
Project “We’re in lockdown and we need to work out how to livestream church services(!)” involved a lot of trial and error but also the discovery that the previous two projects could not have been better timed and were much more future-proofed than we could have imagined. The digital sound desk can connect to a laptop or PC via a USB cable and send various combinations of audio data to it. Some relatively cheap USB video capture boxes can take video feeds from the EnVision hardware and initial trials and early streams were done using an old laptop and some free software called OBS Studio. A small 4th generation i3 PC running the same software has been upgraded to cope with the multiple inputs and this is hardwired into the church network.
Can I join the team?
Yes please, we would be very happy to welcome anybody to join the team or even just have a go. There are enough users that you would never be on your own and any of the roles can be practised separately without the pressure of an audience. If you are at all interested in sound, music or video mixing, podcasting, live-streaming / recording for YouTube or even becoming a roadie for a band then this could be a good introduction for you!
Please come and have a chat with any of the team after a service.