We recently converted our video system from analog (VGA) to digital (HDMI). There are a lot of benefits – mainly the ability to run high def video throughout our building without the loss of quality.
I’ll walk through the different components of our system and try to highlight some of the features as I go through.
This is sort of the brain of the system.
We use a 27” iMac to run our worship service from.
The software we use is ProPresenter.
We have a subscription to churchmotiongraphics.com so we receive brand new worship backgrounds every month. Fresh motion backgrounds for only $99/year.
Pastor Bob uses his Macbook Air to run his own sermon slides. This may or may not apply to your church, but I wanted to include this detail because it applies to our video switching system.
We purchased a new Panasonic EW 730 WXGA and new 16’ x 9’ screen in the Fall of 2014. The projector is only 720p not 1080p, but for our purposes was sufficient. The lumens are 7500. We have a very bright room and this was the best fit for our budget.
The best advice I can give is get some demo’s. You simply can’t compare specs between brands. There were other projectors we looked at that had better specs but looked washed out in our room.
Here is the vendor we worked with:
John Frederick – AV Solutions
150 Metro Park Rochester, NY 14623
Tips – It helped us to paint our main wall (with the projector screen) a little darker. This gives the impression that the picture image is brighter.
For our Worship Team we have a large 55” Westinghouse LCD TV mounted on the back wall. This displays the lyrics for the worship team. It does this automatically as a feature built into ProPresenter. The display shows the current slide’s text and the next slide’s text.
TV Buying Guide: This was the most inexpensive tv we could buy at the time. I recommend checking amazon.com, walmart, and target when you are looking to buy a tv. LEDs are very inexpensive new and really lightweight. I try to stick with the following brands: Samsung, Vizio, Westinghouse, LG. I don’t buy any warranty because LCDs and LEDs tend to last forever. I’ve never had a problem.
Wall mount Buying Guide – I recommend finding a wall mount on Monoprice.com or Amazon.com. You should be able to purchase one for $25-$40 depending on the size/weight of the TV.
For all of our video switching needs I’ve purchased equipment through Monoprice.com.
I have had mostly good luck. Recently a few pieces of equipment have failed on us, but they have replaced it for free (still in warranty). So I’m starting to have mixed feelings, but the prices are very good. The following is a list of the major components we use:
Video Splitter – We use this for splitting the HDMI signal to go to multiple displays or switchers. ($80)
Video Switcher – We use this to switch between different inputs. I’ll explain this in more detail below. It was important to me to have a unit that had an actual push-button option rather than just a remote. Warning – this is one of the units that has failed twice now for us. ($80)
HDMI Extenders – We use these to run HDMI over ethernet cat5 or cat6 cable over long runs. We have tried some other brands but this is defintely the most reliable one we have used. ($60)
Video Splitter/Extender – This is an amazing unit! It is a video splitter and also includes the HDMI extenders for 8 receiver units. ($270)
HDMI Cables – Monoprice has a whole bunch of colors and lengths. I love the color options as we were able to color code different signals.
Ethernet Coupler – This little guy from Target for about $3 has been super handy in a few cases. I try have too many splits in the cable, but in a jam – this can connect two ethernet cables together. ($3)
VGA to HDMI Adapter – You’re probably wondering how do I connect my laptop’s VGA display out to the new system? Well this adapter works perfect for us. ($25)
USB HDMI Adapter – We needed an additional display output on our iMac. One for the main screen, and a separate video out for the Stage Display. This is what we used to add an additional monitor out for our iMac. ($48)
MiniDisplayPort to HDMI Adapter – We use this to connect from your iMac to the HDMI Video switchers/splitters.
How we use our Switchers
In our tech booth we have 3 hdmi video switchers.
Switcher 1 is for the Projector. We can choose between iMac (which is the worship slides), Laptop (Pastor Bob’s message slides).
Switcher 2 is for the Stage Display. Here we can choose between Lyrics for the worship team, the iMac (which would match what is typically showing on the projector) and Laptop (Pastor Bob’s slides).
Switcher 3 is for an Overflow TV that is used in the auditorium. Here we can choose between iMac, Pastor Bob’s laptop, and we’ve recently added LiveStream (which is the feed that we use for LiveStream). I’ll cover our LiveStream details in a later article.
LiveStream Switcher is a switcher that we have at our LiveStream station. The output goes to a Video Splitter/Extender which delivers video to currently 3 different TV displays in our Lobby and Nursery. The switcher gives us the option to choose between the LiveStream feed, the iMac feed, or another input (if someone wanted to hook up a laptop for example). The reason we have these options is so that if we are still setting up the LiveStream feed, we can show the iMac feed in our Lobby and people won’t see all the setup we are doing.
How we use our Splitters
We have several splitters in our tech booth. Our main video sources all go to a splitter first and then that splitter sends the signal to all of the video switchers we need.
iMac – The iMac goes from an HDMI out to a video splitter and then onto the Switcher 1, Switcher 2, Switcher 3, as well as to our LiveStream system.
Pastor Bob’s Laptop – This goes into a video splitter and then out to Switcher 1, Switcher 2, Switcher 3, and onto the LiveStream system.