MRMC Updates Prestonwood Baptist Church In Plano, TX

Bryan Bailey, director of media at Prestonwood Baptist Church and Paddy Taylor, head of broadcast solutions at MRMC chat with Live Design about their collaboration on the install of new broadcast and streaming technology for the church’s campus in Plano, TX, updating gear that was from 10 to 24 years old. This update was completed in January 2024.

Live Design: What was the extent and goal of the new install at Prestonwood Church in Plano?

Brian Bailey & Paddy Taylor: From its modest beginnings in 1977, Prestonwood Baptist Church today is a thriving community of more than 59,000 members between two campuses. Prestonwood’s central mission is “To glorify God by introducing Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible, and to develop them in Christian living using the most effective means to impact the world, making an eternal difference in this generation and generations to come.” This mission has guided every decision and initiative undertaken by the church since its inception, including its journey with broadcast production. Central to this is the work of PowerPoint Ministries, the radio and television broadcast ministry of Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. In 1999, with the completion of the Plano campus auditorium, the church began broadcasting its services to local and global audiences under the banner of PowerPoint Ministries, laying the groundwork for what would become a cornerstone of its outreach efforts.

While Prestonwood’s commitment to broadcast and streaming was unwavering, the technology at their disposal needed an upgrade. The pre-existing setup, comprised of outdated robotics and limited camera capabilities, hindered the church’s ability to fully realize its vision for dynamic and immersive broadcasts. With several services filmed each week and 15,000 weekly online viewers, Prestonwood chose to invest in MRMC Broadcast robotics to allow them to efficiently deliver the beauty of their service in a way that also benefits their volunteers and community.

Prestonwood Baptist Church

LD: What new gear was installed in terms of lighting, audio, video, etc.

BB & PT: All of the AVL systems in the main worship center were anywhere from 10-24 years old, so it was definitely time to make some changes. The audio PA was replaced with a d&b Soundscape system which has totally transformed the coverage and audio experience in the room.

We renovated the stage with a newly designed deck from Paragon360, creating more square footage, cable management, and closer proximity to the congregation.

The LED walls were replaced with a more densely pitched product from ReveLux and in the process, also increased the canvas of digital scenery on the stage. In coordination with the stage and LED, UVLD helped us with a new lighting design which included all new LED moving light fixtures for stage/audience lighting and key light.

After an exhaustive shootout, we decided to partner with Ayrton to replace all of the stage lighting, including all of the main key lighting. The 32 Huracan LT LED fixtures provide key light for the stage and choir loft while the 50 Eurus fixtures provide color and texture in the design. New side lighting positions as well as audience lighting elements have dramatically improved the feel of the room both on camera and in person.

The video system was a 1080i setup that was going on 18 years old, so every element had to be updated. This includes a Sony XVS 6000 switcher, Evertz routing and multi view, Boland monitors (including three separate monitor walls), TBC furniture, and Riedel intercom. Broadcast Technical Services (BTS), along with engineers on the team, spent two years working on the design for the update. 

LD: How does the technology enhance the service experience?

BB & PT: Prestonwood’s previous setup included nine cameras, so they were familiar with the kinds of angles that could be captured and how to build this into a traditional broadcast workflow. The current set-up was one-to-one operator to the camera. During the pandemic, when Prestonwood had the opportunity to shoot with no hindrances, they realized just how much the setup limited the camera angles. The flexibility and dynamic movement provided by the MRMC robotics energizes the content they create, and viewers at home feel more engaged. MRMC’s robotics are much more discreet compared to having a camera operator in the pews. Operators can now control the cameras from a different location, providing them with more creative freedom. They feel more confident knowing that they aren’t going to disturb anyone when moving the camera into different positions (there are now 18 cameras including Sony P-50’s on MRMC heads; Sony FR7’s; and Sony Fx3’s).


Plano camera positions

Related story: MRMC: Unlocking The Beauty Of Broadcast

LD: What kind of large productions, if any, do they do for the holidays?

BB & PT: Prestonwood puts on a very large-scale Christmas production every year for the past 30 years called “The Gift of Christmas.” All of the AVL design work kept that production in mind. The production takes three weeks to load in, runs 14 performances over two weeks, sees around 70,000 attendees, and uses a cast of over 1500 volunteers. It is an immersive production that utilizes a variety of technologies and effects.

LD: Special challenges or problems/solutions encountered along the way?

BB & PT: Possibly the most notable challenge was adapting the technology for how we handle productions in the church environment. Houses of worship operate very different than sports or news, and we were thankful to have MRMC as partners to work through it. From discreet camera placement in the room to adapting the software to be volunteer-friendly, the team at MRMC worked to ensure we would have the solution that we could use the way we needed. I think the work we have done on this project is going to help other churches get a vision for how robotic cameras can enhance their ability to create a quality, non-distracting worship and teaching environment.