Archives For Gear Update

A series on the gear we use for ministry

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Gear Update

panasonic-AGHMC70

I wanted to start a new feature here at FaithEngineer and share about some of the tech gear we use at church and some of the gear that we want to use (but can’t afford yet). I’m kicking it off by sharing about the new camcorder that we are using now to film video clips, announcements, and even our services. We have been wanting a camcorder for a while now, and we were blessed to receive this one for free from someone in our community.

The Panasonic AG-HMC70 is a HD camcorder that records in the AVCHD format.  What makes it unique is that it records directly to small SDHC memory cards.  It also has professional audio connectors including two XLR microphone inputs and one 1/8″ stereo input.  It doesn’t have a ton of options, but it does what it is supposed to do, recording great HD video with excellent audio options.  We will be editing footage from this in iMovie, Final Cut Express, and Adobe Premiere.  I will probably transcode the video to 720p, since that is what our widescreen projectors use.  It also has an HDMI output that we can use to send through a switcher or directly to a TV.  It is a great entry level prosumer camcorder for churches that sells for under $2000.   It is big and it is ugly, but it does exactly what we need it to.  Here is a review that shares more about the camcorder.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8FIgQa1-xg

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Gear Update

presonus-studiolive

We have wanted to make the leap to a digital board at church for a long time, but we haven’t found a board that had everything we needed and was easy to use.  I think we have finally found one that meets our needs and is inexpensive.   This is definitely on our wish list right now.  The PreSonus StudioLive is a 16 channel, digital mixer with Firewire recording capabilities.  It would be perfect for smaller churches who want to have a nice live mixer, but also have the ability to do multi-track recording of their services.

For praise bands, this is awesome.  You can record your practice onto a computer through the firewire interface, then go back to the board and mix the sound just like you want it using your actual practice.  You can save your setup so that on Sunday morning, it’s as simple as hitting load to dial in your sound.  If you have ever wanted to do a live worship CD, then this is a great way to easily record the band. The board offers all the great benefits of a digital board, including EQ, compressors, limiters, and gating on all channels.  PreSonus has a blog for the StudioLive with great instructional videos that really highlight some of the advanced features.  If you need more than 16 channels, they offer the ability to join up to four mixers together.  This means that you can physically bolt the boards together and have the board function as a 32, 48, or even 64 channel mixer.

The best thing about this board is price.  You can find the board for purchase for under $2000 at Sweetwater or Northern Sound and Light.  I get excited when I see a product with high-end features for a price that puts it in reach of new & smaller churches.  The best way to understand how it works is to get on the blog or check out the many videos on YouTube about the StudioLive.  Now if only someone would get excited enough about this board to buy two for our church :-)

Gear Update: Kodak Zi8

October 22, 2009 — Leave a comment
This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Gear Update

kodak-zi8-hd-video-camera

Last year, I shared about a new Kodak Zi6 pocketcam that I was using as my main camcorder.  I have been extremely pleased with the camcorder and we have used it a lot over the past year.   But with the cheap price and small size, pocketcams all have some drawbacks. Typically the battery life and recording times are short.  Because of the small size, it is almost impossible to keep the video stabilized while filming.  So expect some shaky footage.   But the biggest drawback for filming footage for youth and church is the audio quality.  The first generation pocketcams did not have the capability to hook in an external mic.

Fast forward to today.  All the major makers have updated their camcorders.  Flip, Creative, and Kodak all have new models out, and all the other camcorder makers are quickly jumping in this growing market. I wanted to spotlight the newest model from Kodak, the Zi8.  Here are the new features

  • Record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio)  The old Zi6 that I have only goes up to 720p resolution
  • Expandable SD/SDHC card slot up to 32 GB. The new SDHC cards are getting cheaper all the time
  • Rechargeable batteries and charger included.  It uses a battery pack now, but they have also added a DC port to power the unit continously.
  • Vibrant 2.5-inch viewfinder; Watch footage on HDTV with included HDMI cable
  • Get sharper videos and less blur thanks to built-in digital image stabilization.
  • But the biggest new feature is the external mic port.  This is HUGE!  You can hook up an external mono or stereo mic to record audio from a distance.  I have not been able to use my Zi6 for many of the church videos because of the poor sound quality. With this camcorder, you can use a lapel mic or boom mic to get the sound directly from the source.

And the price … currently it is $179 on Amazon.  I have been able to simply drop the footage into iMovie from my Zi6.  If you are looking for a cheap high quality camcorder, then you may want to check this one out.   You can find out more info about using this camera over at worshipideas.com.

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Gear Update

I have been looking for a camcorder mount for our sound booth area for a long time and I finally found one that works well for us. In many churches, a camcorder is permanently fixed in one location. Tripods take up valuable floor space, so I was looking for a mount that could be attached to our sound desk.  This mount from Davis & Sanford is cheap and I could see it working for many smaller churches needing to record their services. I found a good deal on it at B&H Photo. Since it took me a while to find it, I wanted to share it in case you need something similar.

Here’s a picture of it in action at our church.

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Gear Update

atr3350A few weeks ago, I picked up a great little microphone for church. What made it really great was that it was under $25. The Audio-Technica ATR-3350 is a wired lavalier mic that works great with camcorders, pocketcams, and even iPhones. It is an omnidirectional condenser mic with a 20 foot cord.

I picked up a Kodak Playtouch pocket cam on clearance at the same time to use for leadership training and video testimonials at church. This microphone works great with the Playtouch and the sound quality is noticeably better. The microphone comes with a built-in battery pack to power the condenser microphone and it also includes a wind-screen. Since it has a 20-foot cord, you have plenty of room to get a good video shot, but the cord will get easily tangled if you are not careful.

The microphone plugs into the 1/8 microphone jack on a camcorder or pocket cam, and it is simply plug and play. For churches, this is a great microphone to have on hand. It is much much cheaper than a wireless battery pack system, and the sound quality is top notch. I recorded a quick leadership training video with it that you can check out on youtube.

And finally, here is what will take your video recording to a whole ‘nother level. If you pick up this adapter from kV Connection, you can use this microphone with your iPhone or android phone. You can thank me later for saving you time. Simply record the video, edit it directly on your device, and upload it to youtube, facebook, or vimeo. This is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to improve your audio on video recordings.

Gear Update: AppleTV

December 7, 2012 — Leave a comment
This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Gear Update

appletv

I wanted to share the latest piece of gear that I have picked up for our church. Last week, I bought an AppleTV. This is a tiny little box that hooks directly to a TV or projector via a HDMI cable. It allows you to stream media from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, and it is simple to setup and use. Here are a few things we plan on using it for.

  1. DIgital Signage - This is a great device to run digital signage. I needed something to run a TV that we can place in the front window of our church. You can either stream photos from a flickr account or send a movie file to the device. I made a presentation using Apple Keynote using both slides, animations, and videos, and then exported the presentation as a quicktime movie file. I added the movie file to an iTunes playlist, and then just set the Apple TV to loop the playlist. It’s a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to run digital signage without an additional computer.
  2. Movies – AppleTV supports iTunes movie rentals, Hulu, and Netflix, all straight from the device for your next youth or children’s movie night.
  3. Music - If you have iTunes Match, your entire music library is available from the cloud. If you have computers on the same network, you can access all of their music using Home Sharing. You could also stream music from your iOS device using Pandora or Spotify.
  4. Small Group Videos – We have a subscription to Rightnow Media, and with the AppleTV, we can play all of our small group videos directly from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer and use Airplay to wirelessly send video to the TV or Projector.
  5. Games and Live Video – The AppleTV gives you the ability to mirror the display on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad. So imagine an Angry Birds tournament shown on the big screen, or even switch to the camera app and show live video on the screen from your iPhone. You could show your YouVersion or Glo app on the screen and let students or adults follow along as you read the Bible. And you now have a digital whiteboard that can be shown straight from an iPad screen.

All of this is for under $100. You can even pick up a refurbished model from Apple for under $90. For that amount of money, this is a good investment for any church. After using it for a few days, I plan on getting one for home as well. It really works great. Click the picture below for more info on how the AppleTV works.

apple appletv12 rear lg