Woodbury, NY — For churches around the globe, video has become an integral aspect of connecting with their congregants, providing a powerful medium to share their message while enabling them to expand beyond their walls. When 75-year old Grace Church of Wooster, Ohio launched its first video initiatives last year, it selected Z-HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to capture live services and events.
Grace Church offers more than 2000 weekly attendees a choice of worship styles, with two venues in the same building. The ‘contemporary’ venue serves the church’s fastestgrowing segment and hosts a live speaker in a transformed gymnasium. Two HITACHI Z-HD5000 cameras support live image magnification on large screens within this setting, and provide video and audio feeds of the sermons for near-live distribution to the separate ‘traditional’ auditorium. In addition to Sunday services, the cameras are used for special events and activities including the Grace Kids Vacation Bible School. Online clips of the Hitachi-captured services are also made available on the church’s website.
The Z-HD5000’s exceptional ease of use immediately delivered valuable benefits. “I love the HITACHI cameras, as we were able to move quickly to multi-camera productions from having no video operations at all,” said Drew Boatner, video producer at Grace Church. “Our camera operators are volunteers, and none had used a professional camera before. The HITACHI cameras were easy for them to learn, and I can entrust new volunteers to pick them up very quickly.”
The dynamic nature of the church’s contemporary venue makes the simple setup and robust durability of the cameras important. “Since the venue is used as a gym, we need to set the equipment up and then take it all down again each Sunday,” explained Boatner. “The Z-HD5000’s are small and portable enough that they’re easy for our volunteers to quickly set up and tear down, and they have been incredibly reliable in withstanding our weekly transformations.”
The Z-HD5000’s image controls enable Boatner to quickly adjust to the varying lighting conditions of the frequent redeployments, while the video quality produced by the cameras’ 2/3” sensors provides impressive results. “The environment changes a lot week-to-week, but we can consistently get a great-looking picture, and most viewers can’t tell we’re in a gym rather than a dedicated space,” he continued. “We’re completely pleased with the quality.”
Purchased through systems integrator CCI Solutions, the cameras are equipped with Fujinon lenses and connected to HITACHI CU-HD500 camera control units (CCUs) and RU-1000 control panels. An AMX network video recorder enables the live video feeds of the sermons to be delayed very slightly before being shown in the traditional auditorium, letting Grace Church deliver a unified message without interfering with the timing of live music performances in the second venue.
“Video is a powerful tool for enabling our ministry to grow both locally and online, and the HITACHI cameras have been crucial in letting us take advantage of the medium,” said Boatner. “Everything starts with the cameras. The Z-HD5000s make Sunday mornings easy for our video crew and create great experiences for all the people who are watching, whether on the web or in the building.”