HD Church video Recording

Our church recently bought a mobile HD video recording production studio for our Sunday services, and I've been seeing a lot of searches about using HD cameras for a video ministry, so I thought I'd shed some light on our experiences with this new system configuration we are now using in our church.

Before I do that, I would like to ask the question, do you really need to record your church services in High Definition?
Most church video cameras available on the market today are HD or HDV capable, so you might be tempted to shoot, edit and output in High Definition, but before you do, always ask the question why am I recording these church services, as this usually dictates if HD is required or not.
House bound church members are most unlikely to have Blue Ray DVD players, most video podcast subcribers will probably be watching on a portable handheld device which might be HD capable but what is the point of watching full 720P or 1080i content on a 4 inch screen?

The other main issue most people never consider is that processing HD is much more processor and time intensive and considering most church video ministries are run by volunteers will you have people able to devote the additional resources required?

HD is better quality and looks Good

The church video recorded with the Datavideo HS-2000 shown below illustrates this point, but HD does not guarantee good quality video content. You still need decent camera operators, good lighting conditions to shoot in and a competent technical director in a multi-camera configuration.

Church HD Video Datavideo HS-2000

Recording church services in HD

I'm going to briefly describe what we use to record our church services in HD for TV broadcasting.
1. Sony EX1 XDCAM Full HD cameras using the SDI output.

2. High grade SDI BNC cables to connect cameras to video mixer up to 30 metres apart.

3. Datavideo HS-2000 HD mobile video production studio. The HS-2000 is based on the popular cheap HD church video mixer that I recommend to ministries interested in starting HD production on a budget. Our HS-2000 also has a built in 5 station intercomm system which is vital for effective Multi-camera directing, so if you decide on the Datavideo SE-2000, make sure you think about how you will communicate with camera operators especially in a loud worship service.

4. A 320GB SDI input HD tapeless digital recorder. This recorder captures full resolution 1080i images directly to a hard drive that we plug directly into our church MacBook pro for editing (no file copying needed) and has XLR connections for audio input.

While not required for HD recording, don't forget good camera tripods as these add to high production values.

Recording in HD how we get on

Before we bought our church HD video switcher, we for a few weeks hired a mixer for proof of concept purposes and to test the ropes, and this served as an eye opener. We had to make sure our HD equipment could interface with existing Projectors, preview monitors and also test what type of digital video recorder we would need.

Other considerations include making sure we knew how HD would affect our current church podcast production workflow, it is amazing how much more time is required to process, store and compress high definition files.

We have now streamlined the process, aquired the additional video editing software required to handle the M2T files produced by the hard drive recorder.
We are now settling down into a routine, and I will in the future post an article on how we connect everything together to help those of you that might want to go down the same route.


Anonymous said...

I would love to hear the latest on this!
We have 2 HD cameras and are looking at purchasing a Blackmagic ATEM 1 M/E for mixing.

It's the recording stage that has me worried. Can we record the HD final product, even using a compressed format (such as AVCHD)...

How does it work with having to capture the final mix?

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