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Working for the Weekend at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

They use Blackmagic Design's Media Express software and H.264 Pro Recorder for frame accurate deck control with EDL import

Some have classic tastes, while others prefer rock and roll. There are those that enjoy the chance to take a step back and listen, and again others that will settle for nothing less than a live experience. At Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, known as the 'one church with two locations', there's something for everyone.

At the main campus in Liberty, Missouri, a band led contemporary service is held every Saturday evening. Two Sunday morning services follow, one traditional and the other contemporary. Pleasant Valley's Kansas City (KCI) location offers two contemporary services each Sunday morning, complete with a full band. Though the variety of services appeals to all sorts of churchgoers, whether they be young or old, conventional or modern, one thing remains the same throughout. No matter which service Pleasant Valley's congregation of 5,000 partakes in, they will all hear the same spoken word by the pastor.

But how can a multi site church capture one moment in time and recreate it fourfold the very next morning? No stranger to the many difficulties time, or lack thereof, presents to a church like his, Pleasant Valley's Media Director Marcus Hammond selected Blackmagic Design's H.264 Pro Recorder to broadcast Saturday evening's sermon to Sunday's four services.


Now he can deal with time in whichever way he likes. He may chose to freeze it, slip it, sync it or save it. Whatever it takes to deliver the same message to all churchgoers, no matter which of the five different services they choose to attend across Pleasant Valley's two campuses.

Time is of the essence for Hammond, whose job of delivering video content to Pleasant Valley's different venues relies almost entirely on quick turnaround. And though his extensive background in audio engineering and pro video may make Hammond's time sensitive work less daunting, he credits the real time H.264 video encoder for making it a breeze.

"We used to record ProRes, then trim the sermon in Final Cut Pro and begin the painful process of compressing. It would take us about three hours to get the results provided automatically by the H.264 Pro Recorder," says Hammond. "The old way was always nerveracking," he remembers, "because we'd leave the Saturday evening service while footage was being compressed, and we could only hope it would be ready for the next step early Sunday morning."

Now, Saturday evening at six o'clock means only one thing for Hammond and his team of 60 volunteers. It's go time. The first of the weekend's five services, which takes place in Liberty, is shot on multiple DSLR cameras. There is a full service production studio on the Liberty campus, where video graphics are instantly added and images are magnified to ensure that everyone tuning in has the best seat in the house.

This footage is compiled with previously prepped interview pieces and Pastor commentary that was shot and edited in Final Cut Pro over the course of the week. Everything is fed into the H.264 Pro Recorder as it happens, and by the end of the service, the video file is ready to be uploaded to an FTP server and ready for playback in a matter of a couple hours.

"The challenge we used to face was having to compress a file in order to send it. We simply didn't have the time to do that. The H.264 Pro Recorder is working while we are, and we end up with a 2 GB file of the entire sermon, that still looks like ProRes." Hammond will usually trim the file down to its message content, then prep it for use the next day in Liberty, and send it along to the KCI campus.

H.264 Pro Recorder includes Blackmagic Design's Media Express software for frame accurate deck control with EDL import. This sort of usability was a huge selling point for Hammond. He explains, "One of the best things about the Pro Recorder is that it's very user friendly. And Media Express isn't timeline based. They're simple enough for all of our volunteers, both experienced and inexperienced, to learn and use."

They're also flexible. "The H.264 Pro Recorder's various inputs are designed to work with almost any video system," says Hammond. It connects to his computer via USB 2.0, and includes HDMI, HD-SDI with embedded audio, Component Video, S-Video and Composite inputs, all on BNC connectors. It also has balanced left and right TRS jacks for analog audio input no matter which analog video format is active. The inputs on the H.264 Pro Recorder sense the type of video being fed to the device and automatically select that input for the encoding process. 

"Nothing comes close to the flexibility offered by the H.264 Pro Recorder, together with the high quality output and quick turnaround it affords us, all at an unbelievable price. It has done what, up until this point, I thought was impossible. It gives us time. And for worship facilities like ours, you can't put a price on time."

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Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, Media Express, H.264 Pro Recorder, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

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