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Redemption Church: A Renovation Driven by Social Media

by PLSN Staff • in
  • October 2017
  • Video Production
• Created: October 12, 2017
‘We knew social media was a key role to the ministry and a major outreach in the way the pastor wanted people to experience it,’ says Donnie Haulk, president and CEO of AE Global Media. ‘My idea was to make it appeal from wherever they were and the impression would be positive. So that was the basis of the redesign.’

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A selfie is responsible for setting off a massive three-year technology renovation at the Redemption Church in Greenville, SC.

Since founding the church in 1991, Pastor Ron Carpenter sought new ways to spread the church’s religious messages. As his popularity grew, so did the rise of social media.

In 2014, he reached out to AE Global Media of Charlotte, NC, for guidance.

AE Global Media President/CEO Donnie Haulk knew the pastor, but visited the church to view the sermon through the eyes of the iPhone. He had an epiphany, but not of the religious kind.

“We knew social media was a key role to the ministry and a major outreach in the way the pastor wanted people to experience it. I realized the social media experience was poor. If you took a selfie and put it on Facebook or Instagram, it was not appealing,” Haulk says. “My idea was to make it appeal from wherever they were and the impression would be positive. So that was the basis of the redesign.”

Haulk led the Redemption Church through an extensive three-year technology renovation, ultimately giving it the title of “One of the fastest growing social media/broadcast churches in the country.”

And now, what happens at Redemption doesn’t stay at Redemption. Its worship services, special presentations, programs and concerts are visually fed to the church’s three other physical satellite locations and across all major media platforms — TV, Facebook, Instagram, Spanish TV and live to the worshiping audience.

Shading cameras takes more than one person at times

‡‡         The Installation

The first phase of the massive project started in 2014. In this first stage, AE Global Media conducted a complete remodel — tearing out all the staging and bringing in broadcast design. The first half of the Mega Systems LED wall along with the tour level d&b speaker/amp system went in then.

“We created some new lighting looks using existing, and some new, fixtures,” Haulk says. The rig now includes ETC Source Fours for stage wash, ETC Ellipsoidals, and ETC Source Four Pars for architectural down lighting; Elation Platinum Beams and Design Washes; and Chauvet Q-Washes and COLORado Batten 72s. Generic LED fixtures are used for the crowd color washes. The installed ETC, Chauvet and Martin fixtures are controlled with a new console, the grandMA2.

To resolve the issue of the podium getting in the way of the pastor’s physical delivery, the lectern was put on a hydraulic lift to let it disappear into the stage when not needed.

For the second phase, the AE Global media team was waiting for technology to develop, and for the church budget to allow for it. So recently, they’ve installed the camera package, broadcast room, and new LED walls — in addition to the existing ones.

Says Haulk, “We had several design meetings with the pastor and it was said that how he delivered ministry was not going to change. It was how he communicated the message through media that was to change. So we didn’t change his movement or path of movement or delivery style of his sermons. We changed the way it was perceived by people.”

By changing the stage, the lighting, the graphic content, the LED walls — and then adding broadcast cameras and different video switches — audiences through the different digital mediums would see content customized to whatever platform they were using, Haulk explains.

The redesign would out-rival what other broadcast companies in the area had, Haulk says, noting the state-of-the-art technology chosen for the project.

“This project is the first church in the country to have a 4K Live worship experience with Panasonic’s new 27K lumen 4K laser projection and New Panasonic HDR (High Dynamic Range) Broadcast cameras that output 4k and 1080p simultaneously,” Haulk explains. He details the process:

All video signals to a 80 x 80 matrix. The 4K signal goes to a 4K switch for live, while the 1080p signals go to five switches: 1. Panasonic Broadcast Switcher for television; 2. Spanish switch for TV/live streaming; 3. Facebook Live switch; 4. iChurch, the ministry’s web broadcast; and 5. Multisite campus switch.

“It started as a simple thing to redesign the platform —- and instead of designing the system for four to six cameras, we designed it for 4,000 cameras,” Haulk says.

Mega System LED walls and offstage projection was fed media from the Green Hippo servers

‡‡         Choosing the Right Media Server

Rounds of research led to finding the right media server for the project. Their previous media server, installed in phase one, would not handle the 4K technology installed in phase two.

But, Green Hippo would. Two Green Hippo Hippotizer Karst v4 media servers were installed to feed multiple LED walls and the 4K projection system.

Tim Riley, Green Hippo’s Eastern U.S. sales manager, and Cory Froke, of Green Hippo’s Special Projects team, were called in to help.

Green Hippo assisted by reviewing drawings in the design phase, and provided system commissioning and onsite training after the installation was complete.

Froke says, “With two HD outputs and a 4K output on each machine, the Hippotizers perfectly fit the requirements of the project. The Hippotizers are the exclusive means for which content is delivered to the LED surfaces, and they also output a pair of optional feeds back to the broadcast switcher that can be cut to in any of their broadcast streams, or sent to the outboard projection screens flanking the stage. They control the servers from a grandMA2 out at front of house.”

“It fit the project perfectly,” Haulk says. “Some of biggest issues Green Hippo helped us solve was how to push content and time the content and make it smooth. This is a broadcast church — on several networks, on cable, and internationally. Content in the different outlets and getting the content in the right place and timing it with the grandMA console was a beautiful thing.”

Haulk says the process went smoothly, thanks to Cory, who also provided training and guidance for the church operators and programmers. “That was the biggest coordination — pixel mapping of the space and getting the content to look the way we wanted it to.”

The concept design was larger than what the church had envisioned, Haulk adds. “The pastor wanted to be relational to a larger international audience. He wanted the look to be conversational and for people to enjoy watching and experiencing the ministry at the church. He knew he needed to change the platform design because the look was of an older presentation. Part of modernizing it was to implement the video servers for a much more immersive visual presentation.”

Elation Platinum beams provide the shafts of light

Green Hippo did not provide any custom content, but did create a couple of delivery templates for the church content team to facilitate the various looks they were going for (e.g., a look where there is content accounting for negative space between the screens while displaying one contiguous image; a look where each screen is separate, etc.).

The Hippotizer V4 servers ship with around 60GB of royalty-free stock content in HD and 4K resolutions, but Froke believes Redemption deleted all of that to make room for their extensive content library.

Froke explains, “Because of the large resolutions of the various screens and projectors, this installation relied quite heavily on our VideoMapper component — a pixel remapping tool that allows you to quickly and easily cut up a media file and reposition every pixel where you need it to be on the output.

With a fixed number of outputs to work with, as well as the sheer number of LED tiles and screen dimensions, VideoMapper allowed us to create delivery templates for the content team that made sense (mimicking the real-world setup of the screens), while still being able to map the LED tiles in the processor in such a way as to make the most efficient use of each output.”

AE Global urged the church to create their own content, so they now have an-house marketing and graphics team, along with volunteer camera operators. A full-time executive producer and production manager keep the services staffed.

A state of the art video suite in use for the sermon

“It’s a great thing for a local church to do. The church is equipping technicians and training them,” Haul says. “This church has better technology than any of the broadcast companies around them. It’s a huge production.”

He explains again the special feeds: Their i-Church is their regular webcast ministry, which broadcasts on people’s computers through Redemption’s satellite churches. The Spanish station content features translated captioned messages on its screens. There is a Facebook Live switch, which needs content to be readable on Facebook. And then, for the live audience in Redemption Church, there is the 4K switch for the live audience and the IMAG and the new laser projectors for I-Mag, so that switch switches for the content on the church’s LED walls.

About the entire renovation, Haulk says, “It’s been effective, and the reason it’s growing online. They can tailor their worship service and the message to whatever audience — and in whatever location — is seeing it.”

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