Rockwall, TX For a church to produce a service to be viewed fourteen times in seven different locations seems next to impossible. Lake Pointe Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas does it with help from a RTS Digital Matrix Intercom System. Communication is becoming more sophisticated in church services with the use of high-tech A/V equipment. Trying to troubleshoot an audio problem during a service becomes difficult when a person needs to contact someone on the other side of the building.
Wes Hartley, Media Arts Pastor for Lake Pointe Baptist Church, describes how the new intercom system makes a big difference. “This is a busy, modern Church with a large congregation. Churches like ours have to take audio and video technology seriously, as we need to provide a quality worship experience for thousands, rather than a couple hundred, of people. Behind the scenes, we have an audio team, a lighting team and video team, along with stagehands. Onstage we have a praise band and a praise team for worship, a praise pastor and a teaching pastor who use multiple media elements throughout the service. It's our job to coordinate all these elements – and we needed new equipment to help make this happen more effectively. RTS Regional Manager Britt Bowers helped the media team at Lake Pointe select components for an intercom system that would help us achieve their goals for a new level of production sophistication.”
Pastor Hartley continued: “We had been on a two-channel party line type system – one channel for cameras and one for audio. This was tricky if something broke in the video setup: if the video team was troubleshooting an audio issue, we'd be unable to execute video cues. Personnel changes have also made it necessary to expand the system. We created a couple of producer positions in-house: the house producer, who has overall responsibility for ensuring the program cue happens, and a video producer who helps the video director execute cues. Previously, there was no way that these two guys could have a discrete conversation. Now we have ISO channels that allow discrete communication to occur between specific locations, for specific sets of ears. Another advantage of the new system is that a channel doesn't have to latch to be switched on – the AZedit software allows the system to be configured so certain channel switches need to be held down to be operational. Details like that keep things clean and running smoothly. Perhaps the best part is that we already had a two-wire system in place, and we were able to interface with that two-wire using the new matrix. RTS equipment is backwards compatible – another added value. We didn't have to run new cables to our cameras; we could utilize the existing two-wire system that still worked perfectly. Saving a considerable amount of money.”
Christian Latzelsberger, Senior Product Manager for RTS Intercoms, comments on the flexibility of RTS. “If you bought a keypanel decades ago, you will still be able to use it on our newest VoIP matrix card because we provide the interfaces. When competitors come out with new technology, they stop supporting their older systems. RTS seamlessly integrates the newest technology to use with existing systems. Customers appreciate this philosophy because their huge investments in our systems have another added value. This made it easy for Lake Pointe to grow their system along with their congregation. When it came time to expand, Pastor Hartley easily integrated their existing two-channel system with a digital matrix system from RTS. The new system featured a Zeus DSP Intercom Matrix, a TIF-2000 Digital Telephone Interface, and several beltpacks. This strengthened Lake Pointe's production value by adding multiple channels and allowing the production team to choose the channels with which they communicate.”
“On any given weekend, we have around 45 volunteers working.” Pastor Hartley recalled. “We have to be careful how we communicate with our volunteers, in order to ensure things run smoothly, and also to offer assistance and constructive criticism. These aren't professional A/V guys: this system helps us alleviate certain frustrations that might occur, so instead we can help the volunteers work to the best of their abilities by effective communication. In the middle of a production, we need to be able to communicate quickly and clearly.”
“The system not only helps us do that seamlessly, it helps ease the tension that could occur between a seasoned pro working with a good intentioned volunteer – a situation common in the modern House of Worship. The chain of communication, from the decision-making pro to the volunteer camera operator, is what holds a successful service together. In the heat of production, this system helps things stay cool, calm and collected. As our A/V system became more and more complicated, we required more channels where one-on-one communication was possible. We now have that system.”
Pastor Hartley was able to achieve one-on-one communication with a KP-32 keypanel from RTS. This keypanel enables talk-listen capabilities on 30 individual channels. It also reduces the “chatter” noise typical of partyline systems. As Pastor Hartley noted, more keypanels can be added to increase the number of channels.
“We have a remote campus about 15 miles away in Mesquite – They do live worship and DVD presentations there. This is basically Lake Pointe at another location. We had specific requirements for this arrangement, for which we installed a TIF-2000 Telephone Interface: if we needed to execute simultaneous cues to troubleshoot an issue, they could dial into our main system and talk to the right person immediately.”
Multi-Site congregations are becoming more common every day. This concept involves a single church, which includes a unified staff and budget, spread over multiple locations. Although these different locations are part of one congregation, each site develops its own unique identity. Some Multi-Site churches record their services to DVD and replay them in their remote locations, while others like Lake Pointe broadcast their services to different locations. These churches are often known for the high production value of their services, and many borrow techniques from the broadcast industry. The multi-site setup is growing in popularity and often draws very large congregations.
RTS has been the broadcast industry standard for decades, and they use that experience to adapt and enhance the production values of their house of worship clients. Lake Pointe has a system on par with a small television station, and it is simple enough to be operated by almost anyone.
“We're considering going live on Sundays at Mesquite – at the moment they're showing our Saturday Lake Pointe service on DVD. Times have changed at Church, and technology is an essential element of Worship: this installation represents the commitment this Church has to improving our growing congregation's worship experience.”
Lake Pointe's commitment to their congregation is reflected by the sophistication of their service. When the church was more modestly sized, they started out with a two-channel system from RTS designed for smaller single-site operations. Today, Lake Pointe is a model multi-site church that keeps in contact using a robust Digital Matrix system. RTS eased the transition by providing components that let Lake Pointe gradually scale their system and ensure a smooth transition to the multi-site model.