Church of the Highlands Relies on AJA Video Systems for Mega AV Workflows

Church of the Highlands Relies on AJA Video Systems for Mega AV Workflows

July 24, 2017

Founded in 2001, Church of the Highlands is a thriving mega church with 16 campuses across Alabama. Today the church serves tens of thousands of members both in person and online, leveraging a robust video workflow to broadcast live worship and enhance live presentations at its main broadcast campus (Grants Mill), and to record all services at its other campuses throughout the state. The church’s average Sunday attendance is 40,000 in person plus an additional 10,000 tuning in live online. Justin Firesheets, Production Director for Church of the Highlands, relies on a variety of AJA hardware – including Ki Pro, Ki Pro Ultra and Ki Pro Rack digital video recorders, FS1and FS2 framesyncs and converters, KUMO routers, FiDO fiber converters, Mini-Converters, and ROI scan converters – to keep everything moving with ease and confidence.

“We’ve always been impressed with the quality, durability, and flexibility of AJA gear, which is why we use so much of it,” said Firesheets. “It’s easy to use which is crucial for a live environment; everyone from staff to volunteers can manage the AJA gear and we typically don’t have to worry about any failure points.”

Working with integrator Clark, Firesheets has built a technology infrastructure to manage the live production and broadcast needs of the state’s largest congregation. Firesheets manages a mixture of staff and volunteers at each location, including a dedicated team for the Grants Mill broadcast campus. There, a typical weekend service is shot on three Sony HDC-2400 studio cameras on tripods and one more on a jib positioned house left, plus a Canon XF205 camera riding on a 15-foot dolly track positioned house right. A confidence monitor is set up at the front of the stage so the speaker can refer to notes or lyrics, plus there’s a 55-inch touchscreen monitor on stage to run presentation content. Each side of the stage also has a 24-foot screen with rear projection, and a 450-panel 3.47millimeter LED wall across the back of the stage provides scenic backgrounds and video playback.

Firesheets utilizes between 30 and 35 Ki Pro Racks and Ki Pro Ultra recorders system-wide as the primary devices for recording all services, giving each campus the option to playback a pre-recorded service if necessary. The main broadcast campus has two Ki Pro Ultras to capture the program feed, and ISO capture different camera shots and graphics are recorded to six Ki Pro Racks 1RU rack mounted recorders. 

In addition, Firesheets has two FS1s and one FS2 to embed multiple channels of audio from the broadcast campus; multiple KUMO SDI routers to route feeds from different venues to broadcast online and to other campuses; FiDO fiber converters for long cable runs; ROI region-of-interest scan converts to scale output from computers into its graphics system; and dozens of Mini-Converters to handle signal conversion from SDI to HDMI and vice versa.

“At the main campus we have five services every Sunday plus smaller events throughout the week, and all of those are captured on some combination of Ki Pro Rack/Ultra units,” shared Firesheets. “The FS products are really great for handling signal conversion when we have to manipulate frame rate or format—or really any unexpected needs in production, we rely really heavily on the Mini-Converters for a variety of things, and we feed the KUMO router into our main broadcast router to push content externally.”

As the largest congregation in Alabama, and one of the largest in the country, Firesheets is always on the lookout for new technology trends and workflow improvements that will help him stay at the cutting edge. He concluded:

“A church doesn’t always have the same budget flexibility as a corporation, so we make our purchases very carefully – we may only have one shot to get it right for the next few years. We’re always confident that AJA gear will outlast problems and time.”