Remote controls are very useful, but when you are controlling a new audio-visual system, is there a better way?
Usually, when a screen or projector is installed it will come with a remote in the box that can be used to turn the projector on or put the screen up and down, but these can be easily misplaced, leaving you with no way to easily control those devices. Therefore, we usually recommend a wall-mounted control panel, meaning that you can leave the remote controls locked away safely.
One particular product we use a lot is a small wall-mounted panel that takes away the need for remote controls, by becoming a central controller for the visual system. These controllers come in a range of sizes to suit the size of the system and some have additional features such as volume controls which can be programmed to control background music volume, for example. Ultimately, you still need to keep the remote controls handy as a backup - better to have them and not need them, as the saying goes.
Why is it better than lots of remotes?
Centralised Control: These controllers allow for centralised control of multiple AV components, including projectors and input selection from a single point. This simplifies operation and reduces the need for multiple remote controls.
Making life easy: Wall controllers can automate various functions, such as turning on or off the projector, adjusting brightness and volume, and selecting input sources. This streamlines the setup process and enhances user experience. In other words, it makes controlling your AV system much easier, and that is always a good thing.
Integration: The wall control panels we use are designed to integrate with various AV and automation systems, making them compatible with a wide range of equipment. This means they are useful in all sorts of installations.
User-Friendly: This is especially important in environments where multiple groups of people will be using the system, such as village halls or education installations. Each button function can be labelled accordingly, making the process of operating the system self-explanatory.
But what if I really like remote controls?
There are not many people who feel that way, but we want to be inclusive, so if you do love lots of remote controls, here are some reasons why you might want to stick with them over a control panel.
Cost: High-quality controllers can be relatively expensive, particularly when factoring in installation and programming costs. This cost may not be justifiable for smaller or budget-conscious setups.
Complexity: Setting up and programming SY controllers can be complex and time-consuming. It often requires specialized knowledge and expertise, so unless you are tech-savvy, you will need to call in the professionals.
Compatibility: While SY controllers are designed to work with a wide range of AV equipment, compatibility issues can still arise, especially with older or non-standard devices.
They can go wrong: SY controllers rely on technology, which can sometimes fail or experience glitches. They also rely on power supplies, which can get damaged by power surges or simply overheat due to age. When technical issues occur, they can disrupt presentations or events until resolved.
Maintenance: Regular maintenance and updates may be required to ensure that the SY controller and associated equipment function smoothly. This can lead to ongoing costs and potential downtime during maintenance activities.
In conclusion, wall-mounted AV controllers are user-friendly, simplify control of equipment and will bring all system control to one central location. While you still need to keep the remotes safe, you will not need to juggle them to turn your system on, but instead walk over to one point and within 2 buttons, the projector or screens will be on and the input source selected.
Faculty-free systems or temporary systems are audio or video systems that don't need to be fixed to anything e.g. speakers on speaker stands, a portable rack on wheels or a projector on a stand.
The main benefit to these systems is that they are ‘’faculty-free’’, you can set one of these systems up without a faculty. This being said though, for any events or events like this it is always best to notify the DAC beforehand, you can do this on their online portal (More on faculty application below).
Cost-Effective: Temporary audio systems are often more affordable upfront than permanent installations. They can be a practical solution for smaller churches or events with limited budgets.
Flexibility: Temporary systems can be set up and removed quickly, allowing for flexibility in accommodating various types of events and changing needs. They are ideal for churches that host different activities in the same space.
Portability: Portable audio equipment can be used in different locations within the church or even outside the church premises if needed. This mobility can be an advantage for outreach programs or outdoor events.
Ease of Maintenance: Temporary systems may require less maintenance since they are not exposed to the same wear and tear as permanent installations. Repairs or upgrades can also be easier to manage.
Quick Installation: Setting up a temporary audio system is generally faster than installing a permanent one. This can be advantageous when time is a constraint.
No fixings: Temporary systems don't need to be fixed to anything, this means there are no fixings or holes that need to be made in the church so you wouldn't need a faculty
Cons of Using a Temporary Audio System in a Church:
Limited Quality: Temporary audio systems may not provide the same audio quality, coverage, or features as permanent installations. This limitation can impact the overall worship experience and event quality.
Aesthetics: Temporary setups may not blend well with the church's interior design and aesthetics, potentially affecting the visual appeal of the worship space.
Reliability: Portable equipment may be more prone to technical issues or failures compared to fixed, permanent installations. This can lead to interruptions during church services or events.
Sound Consistency: With temporary systems, achieving consistent sound quality and coverage can be challenging, especially in larger or acoustically challenging church spaces.
Long-Term Costs: While temporary systems have a lower initial cost if they are used frequently, the cumulative rental or maintenance costs over time may exceed the cost of investing in a permanent audio system.
Setup and Teardown Time: Setting up and dismantling a temporary audio system for each event can be time-consuming, which may not be practical for churches with frequent activities.
It depends on what you are looking for, if you are having a one-time event then a faculty-free temporary system will probably be best for you, but if you know that there are going to be a lot of events or you want to use the system for services every week then you will most likely need a more permanent solution. It is always worth talking to a specialist who deals with audio-visual systems in churches.
To read more about pertinent installations see our article here.
Scheduling videos can seem like a terrifying task, so luckily for you, we have created a short guide to walk you through scheduling a live-stream video on Facebook.
Navigate to your Facebook home page - This is where you see the news feed from all your friends, and you have the option to write a post to share with the world.
Underneath the box to type your thoughts, there should be a Live video option. It will look like this.
You will then be taken to another page, where you will have the option to Create a live video event. At the bottom of this box, you will find a Select button. Press this button.
This screen is where you can then add in the details that will make that video identifiable from the others on your channel (e.g. by adding a title) and where you can set the start and end time of the live stream. Once you have filled in all the details, click on the Next option.
Click on the Create Event button.
You will then see a box appear to tell you that you have successfully created the live-streaming event, and will tell you the time that the video has been scheduled for. You then need to select Set Up Live Video.
You will be given a choice of video sources; either your webcam or the other option, we want to select, will be Streaming Software. This means that Facebook will look for external hardware to provide a video feed at the time you have set the video to go live.
This step may be necessary for your organisation, or it might not be, so it is worth briefly explaining the mysterious Stream Key. A stream key is a unique code that allows streaming equipment to communicate with the Facebook channel it is to stream to. Each channel has a unique code so that the equipment always sends the video feed to the correct place, otherwise, it has no way of knowing where to send the video stream. As default, Facebook will use a new unique code each time you create a new video, and this is useful in some situations, but with most of our system, we advise using a persistent stream key, which means that the key remains the same for every live video you create. However, you need to turn this option on by entering the advanced settings. It's important to note that if you use a persistent key, you can only schedule a video up to 24 hours in advance.
Lastly, on the left-hand side of this page, you can choose where your video is posted. For example, you can choose for it to appear in a particular place, rather than your timeline.
So there you have it, our short guide to scheduling a video.
I want to live stream, but I'm not sure what equipment I need to get started, can you help?
Live streaming has become very popular since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to find new ways to 'meet' without being in the same physical location. The same applied to church services, which, even when lockdown restrictions were lifted, had a cap on the number of people who were allowed to attend.
Now that COVID is behind us, churches are still finding immense value in continuing to live stream their services so that people who are not able to make it in person are able to attend and be part of the congregation and stay connected to people. The same goes for events such as weddings and funerals, where family members may not be in the same country even, so the facility of live streaming the event online from the church is invaluable to them.
This short guide talks you through the different levels of equipment that you can use to live stream in any context, whether that be at church or from home.
What are the key components for live streaming successfully?
A camera - it seems obvious, but it's important that people can see what is happening!
A microphone - people do not just want to see what is happening, they want to hear what is being said too.
Streaming server (hardware or software) - in simple terms, we are referring to a device (most commonly a laptop or computer) which has the capability to stream to the internet.
Broadband connection with minimum 6mb/s upload speed. If you have a slower speed than this, it is likely that the people watching your stream are going to experience lag and buffering while the stream tries to squeeze the content out to the internet with the limited upload speed it has available.
Hosting platform e.g. Facebook Live, YouTube. This is where the stream is being uploaded to and broadcast from. The two listed are the most commonly used, but there are other options too and you can stream to more than one at once.
A smartphone actually contains all of these elements in a single device, so many people when making personal live videos will simply use their phone rather than any additional hardware.
So what different levels of streaming are there?
Entry Level - Smartphone, ideally with external microphone -remember the audio is the most important carrier of information so this should be a lapel type ideally to reduce the amount of room noise and reverberation picked up.
Level 2 - Laptop with integrated or separate webcam and microphone.
Level 3 - Laptop with video capture device. One or more remote cameras with a means of switching between them, plus a feed from an existing sound system, wired or radio microphone.
Level 4 - Laptop with installed remote cameras, a production switcher and a feed from a sound system.
OR as above but with a dedicated streaming unit instead of a laptop (this provides a simple-to-operate and very reliable system removing the need for a dedicated laptop).
Within level 3 and 4 the cameras may be fixed or temporary and may be purpose-built units or a camcorder or digital SLR camera with HDMI output.
This needs to be somewhere quiet, background noise can be distracting and reduce intelligibility, particularly for those who are hard of hearing. Make a test recording and listen back through headphones - how much of the ‘room’ do you hear? If you are recording in church then speaking softly rather than projecting your voice may produce a lower level of reverberation which will be less noticeable. If recording at home try hanging a spare duvet up out of sight of the camera this can reduce the ‘boxy’ sound from small spaces.
Make sure you have enough bandwidth - check who else is using the broadband and kick them off if necessary!
Simple and reliable is better than complicated and flaky.
Check your background - no bright lights or windows.
Do a test recording and listen back on a similar device that your users will be using.
Audio is king! Ultimately good clear audio is far more important than super-high-quality pictures. Avoid reverberant spaces and keep close to your microphone.
To discuss how APi Sound and Visual could assist your church with live streaming your services, please call us on 0845 5578350 or contact us online.
Members of the Institute of Sound, Communication and Visual Engineers. The Institute of Sound Communications and Visual Engineers is a professional body promoting excellent technical standards and practices in the industry. Members maintain a code of conduct in professional activities, embodying high ethical standards and concern for the environmental and sociological impacts of professional activities.
Church Sound Systems - making technology work for people. Part of the APi Group.