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FOR-A Video Switcher Helps SeaCoast Grace Church Expand Streaming Content During COVID-19 Restrictions

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the church attracted about 400 viewers each week with its online services, but now has about 3,500 viewers each week.

SeaCoast Grace Church in Cypress used to produce live streaming coverage of its three weekend services with its HVS-490 HANABI video switcher from FOR-A Corporation of America. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, however, the nondenominational church can no longer welcome approximately 4,000 people through the doors of its main auditorium every weekend. Instead, it produces coverage of one weekend service, and has added coverage of classes, meetings, and additional worship during the week for various groups within its community.

Normally, the 2 M/E switcher is used to produce two simultaneous productions. The first provides coverage for the two I-MAG (image magnification) screens in the 2,000-seat main auditorium, as well as the streaming feed. The second provides a separate feed for the 1920x1080 LED video wall that serves as a backdrop for the on-site singers and musicians.

SeaCoast Grace Church HVS-490HS Wide.jpg
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, SeaCoast Grace Church is streaming live coverage of Saturday night services, which are produced using its FOR-A HVS-490 video switcher.

Currently, SeaCoast holds a Saturday night service in its empty auditorium. The service is streamed live, recorded on site and converted to an MP4 file, and replayed twice on Sunday morning. Services are streamed to YouTube, Facebook and the SeaCoast website.

Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the church attracted about 400 viewers each week with its online services, but now has about 3,500 viewers each week. “People appreciate what we’re doing,” said Eric Benson, technical director. “Our goal is to get back to producing three live services every weekend, but for now, we’re streaming live content five nights a week.”

Benson said the HVS-490 was part of a gradual AV upgrade for the church, which started with a new lighting board in 2018 and a move to a new audio mixing board and Dante® audio network earlier this year. The switcher was installed in late 2018 to replace an aging switcher in time for the church’s Christmas Eve services.

“We’re looking and sounding really good right now,” he explained. “The first thing we noticed was how clean the image looked from the FOR-A switcher. It also eliminated the latency issues we had with the older system.”

SeaCoast has nine inputs dedicated to cameras, though typical services use four cameras for coverage. Three inputs are assigned to ProPresenter systems for lyrics, video playback, and backgrounds. Two inputs are used for prayer graphics, while another is assigned to the digital signage displayed in the lobby.

The previous switcher, which had been installed in 2009, had only one output. SeaCoast takes advantage of the FOR’A switcher’s multiple outputs, sending separate signals to the LED video wall, I-MAG screens, lobby, and the live stream. Another output provides a four-camera multi-view feed for the shader. Benson said the multiple outputs eliminated the church’s need for its routing system.

With the use of optional input and output expansion cards, the HVS-490 supports 40 inputs/18 outputs, 36 inputs/20 outputs, or 32 inputs/22 outputs, including two-channel HDMI outputs. MELite™ technology eliminates the need for multiple switchers in a multi-monitor staging scenario, while FLEXaKEY™ allows a traditional AUX bus to transform into a functional Mix Effects with cuts, mix, wipes, keys, and DVE including full preview. MELite extends the switcher’s 2 M/Es to 6 M/E performance.

FOR-A HVS-492OU Control Panel.jpg
FOR-A HVS-490 HANABI Video Switcher

The HVS-490 serves as the centerpiece for the church’s oversized control room, which also houses dedicated areas for editing, video playback, and digital signage. Its built-in multi-view populates the control room’s 60-inch monitor as well as a separate reference monitor.

Benson said the professional directors who usually switch the weekend services appreciate the conventional appearance and functionality of the FOR-A switcher. “Everything is laid out so well on the controller,” he noted, “so everything is pretty much at your fingertips. It’s even simplified what used to be a rather complicated process of creating a countdown before the service begins. In fact, it’s so easy that we haven’t had to program macros.”

“The FOR-A HVS-490 is helping SeaCoast Grace Church adapt to the restrictions required by the COVID-19 shutdowns by providing a simple and reliable way to switch live productions beyond standard worship services,” said David Morris, FOR-A western regional sales manager. “It has plenty of inputs, so special events don’t create production headaches, and plenty of outputs, so they don’t need to rely on a separate router to manage multiple feeds.”

About FOR-A

FOR-A, a worldwide, industry-leading manufacturer, offers a wide range of broadcast and production products with a focus on cutting-edge technologies, including: HD, 4K and IP products. FOR-A continues to offer future-ready, cost effective, advanced technology solutions. Products include: video switchers, routing switchers, multi-viewers, full 4K high-speed cameras, IP encoders/decoders, multi-channel signal processors, 8K/4K/HD test signal generators, color correctors, frame synchronizers, file-based products, character generators, video servers and much more.

For a full range of HD and 4K production and processing solutions, as well as IP-based products, visit our web site at www.for-a.com.