AJA Ki Pro Ultra, HELO, FS1 and Mini-Converters help facilitate HD production workflows
Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, uses television, cable, online and OTT broadcasts of worship programming to reach global audiences. The scope of Green Acres’ broadcast team includes 11 fulltime and one part-time staff member across video, audio and lighting, in addition to dozens of faithful volunteers to deliver high fidelity video to the global audience. Director of Video Engineering and IMAG Operations, Casey Hawkins, a 30-year broadcast industry veteran, recently assisted with an overhaul of Green Acres’ broadcast infrastructure, which upgraded all Worship Center television and cable channel production from SD to HD.
Central to Green Acres’ robust production workflow is a range of AJA gear supporting the broadcast of high quality video content for their audience on the national and global stage. As part of the recent HD upgrade, Sunday morning Celebration services in the Worship Center are captured with eight Sony HD cameras, connected via fiber to a pair of Ross Carbonite switchers (one for IMAG and one for broadcast) in the production suite. Footage from the service is recorded on a range of AJA Ki Pro Ultra devices in the Apple ProRes codec. “When I joined we had 6 of the original Ki Pro models, and we’ve been upgrading to Ki Pro Ultra because of their lightning speed, compact size and durability. They’re definitely worth the investment,” noted Hawkins. FOH audio feeds an average of 90 audio tracks recorded from the Sunday services that are re-mixed and re-mastered, then edited together with the video files in Adobe Premiere Pro. Following captioning, the final project is exported as an MPEG2 file and delivered to the cable channel and local ABC affiliate, KLTV for broadcast.
To further expand the reach of Green Acres’ Broadcast ministry, Hawkins created a Roku channel in March of 2017 to distribute Discover Life TV, the name of the church’s weekly telecast. The broadcast features live cable channel programming and popular on-demand content, including WEBS bible study sessions, special sermons, weekly announcements and events, like their annual Christmas Program and the annual Fourth of July celebration, “I Love America”, that historically draws 15,000 attendees. The cable channel feed is live streamed using an AJA HELO for encoding to the Roku CDN. “HELO is rock solid,” noted Hawkins. “We rely on HELO for 24/7/365 live streaming our cable master control output to our Roku channel. If there’s ever a CDN error or issue with our local internet connection, HELO will reinitiate the stream on its own, so I don’t have to come back to our broadcast center and reboot it. It’s been a true game changer!” An Amazon Prime Video Direct offering is currently in the works as well.
During the cable channel upgrade to HD, Green Acres purchased an AJA FS1 frame synchronizer and converter to cleanup and sync the master control output from the master control switcher. FS1 features two outputs for different scaling and resolutions, with the first routed to the cable headend via fiber and the second sent to HELO for encoding for the Roku channel. “Right now I have HELO down-converting our 1080i signal to 720p for a lighter stream payload, but I can easily lessen that workload within HELO and have the FS1 convert to 720p,” said Hawkins. “FS1 provides me with workflow flexibility and allows me to sync everything together with our house black, and clean up all signals from various sources throughout the campus.”
Fiber runs across Green Acres’ campus and to-and-from the cable headend simplify transmission of high bandwidth signals across long distances. Countless AJA Mini-Converters for fiber transmission, embedding/de-embedding audio, and HDMI to SDI/SDI to HDMI conversions help the production team maintain a consistent infrastructure throughout the campus. “They’re a lifesaver! Especially in our CrossWalk conference center where we have a lot of presenters come in,” said Hawkins. “They’ll bring a computer or iPad and need to convert HDMI into composite or HD-SDI, and AJA Mini-Converters do the trick. They’re great tools and we use them everywhere!”
In closing, Hawkins stated, “Working in a live broadcast environment, it’s critical we’re up-and-running 24/7 with no downtime, and I trust that I can depend on AJA gear. The company stands by its products, provides impressive customer service and technical support when I need it, and they continue to improve performance with regular software and firmware upgrades.”
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