Port City Community Church (PC3) moved into their very first permanent facility during the summer of 2008 with a full SD-SDI system in the main auditorium. This was a major upgrade from our existing mobile solution which consisted of all composite video lines that found their way to an old Panasonic MX50 video switcher. The new system at the time was pushed by a Ross Synergy 100 SD switcher with 16 inputs, which at the time gave us room to grow. The initial set up had no multi-viewer, but instead consisted of a video wall of different size monitors for viewing each input. This system served us well over the years until we began to upgrade existing smaller rooms in our building with new HD switchers and projectors. And then as we began to launch new satellite campuses we ran into multiple issues with our original campus, which now is our dedicated broadcast campus.
Before we upgraded our video system at our Wilmington Campus we had three satellite campuses and two other auditoriums on site that were equipped and ran as a full 1080p HD system. Over the years we also had upgraded our entire camera package and computer graphic suites to 1080p as well. At one point we were downgrading seven cameras and four Mac Pros from 1080p to a 480 SD signal before hitting the Ross Synergy. And then before hitting other campuses, auditoriums, recording and other destinations we had to upgrade back to 1080p. The problems that all this caused at times can be discussed in another article in the future. But all of this was solved plus many other incredible additions after we upgraded to a FOR-A HVS–390HS.
For months we had researched many different switchers and had landed on moving forward with the Ross Carbonite series. We had had only one issue during the seven years with the Ross Synergy and the customer service team helped us solve it in less than thirty minutes. Ross is an industry standard and knew what type of product we would be getting. We contacted Next Creative Media who we have worked with on multiple projects over the years that include all three satellite campuses launches. Bob Nahrstadt from Next Creative is a trusted friend of PC3 asked us if we would be willing to demo one more switcher we may not have heard of. So we linked up with Marc Shroyer to demo one of his many FOR-A switchers to walk us through all the options and more importantly why he chose FOR-A. Marc is the go to guy for Hillsong United and Hillsong conferences when they make their way through the U.S., so we trusted what he had to say.
So now that you know our past, let’s talk about a few key features from the FOR-A that made us change our mind from moving forward with anyone else.
We had a budget that we were aiming for and we know that project scope creep can occur and will mostly likely happen once you get into a project. So we were looking to begin with a project quote that would come in under budget. After looking over the many different control surface options we and the additional output and input options we were able to land on exactly what we wanted and stay under budget. We decided to move forward with the HVS–392WOU: 2 M/E 28-button with two additional HVS–30HSDO: HD/SD-SDI Output Cards and two HVS-AUX16A AUX control panels. I will go over a few of the features below, but we were able to do this all for under $33,000. That price gave us room for additional items, one-on-one training session with Marc Shroyer, and one onsite tech to help with the install.
The FOR-A came packed with features that we began to use from day one that we just simply never had before. A simple list of the features include: 16 HD/SD-SDI Inputs, 12 HD/SD-SDI, 2 Down-Converted SD-SDI and 1 HDMI Outputs, Frame Synchronizer on each Input, 4 Channels of Resize Engine, 4 Keyers with 2.5D DVE per M/E, 2 Chroma Keyers per M/E, 2 Independent 16 Channel Multi Viewer Outputs, 4 Still Stores, Redundant Power Supplies.
Those are the main “physical” features that we loved, but there were many other features that helped us make the decision.
Advanced AUX & DVE
The HVS–390HS offers a full powered primary Mix Effects (M/E) like any other broadcast switcher, yet this one also offers what FOR-A calls Advanced AUX technology. Each AUX can cut, mix, wipe, key and move graphics with a DVE. This has opened up the door on utilizing AUX outputs to send to multiple auxiliary screens or confidence monitors. The HVS–390HS also has 8 channels of 2.5D and 4 channels of 3D DVE. All 12 channels are included in the base price. This differed from most at the time because most suppliers required an upgrade beyond the typical 4 DVEs included.
These advanced features allowed for us to adjust the size and location for our alpha channel lyrics coming from one single Mac Pro. Pro Presenter is set up for lyrics to be lower-third/centered. But we wanted to also display these lyrics on a center screen from the same input source. With the AUX and DVE capability we were able to adjust the lyric location to be in the absolute center and decrease the size of the font via a KEY and then send that KEYER to an AUX output. This allowed us to have one signal operator for all lyric content and the timing in in perfect sync.
Web Browser Control Center
Another feature we love is the web browser control surface that comes with the HVS–390HS. After connecting the HVS–390HS to our production network we are able to set up, adjust and operate the HVS–390HS via a simple assigned IP address. This allows us to use a simple web browser to access the system from anywhere in the building if connected to the private network. This works even via wifi which allows us to use our iPads or iPhones to make adjustments. We use this feature often when we are making adjustments in the room and have no one in the video control room which is located on the second floor. The web browser allows us to cut cameras from anywhere on campuses which is a huge help when troubleshooting in other auditoriums within the building. This also allows easy recalling and editing of macros, key-frame sequences and event memories.
Independent Dual Multi-Views
This is a simple one but it was a major upgrade for us after having a monitor wall. The system gives you two independent multi-viewers right out the box with up to 16 windows that can display safety area markers and audio levels.
The HVS–390HS comes with frame synchronizers on all inputs. We will use a black burst generator and use the reference genlock on all cameras and our two primary Mac Pros, but with the frame synchronizer we are able to add additional inputs without needing to send the devices a reference. This has been a huge help when adding additional laptops from stage or additional cameras such as Go Pros. One thing to note is that if you are passing audio through the SDI line you cannot use initiate the frame synchronizer on that input or you will lose the audio signal. We learned that the hard way.
It has now been about a year and half since we originally upgraded our video system. We continue to find new ways to use the HVS–390HS to our advantage. Overall the system has given us a numerous amount of output configurations and dozens of macros that we did not have on the old Ross Synergy 100. You can find most of the above features from other great companies for the right price point. We went with FOR-A because they were able to deliver a great product that brought along great features we needed for a price that we could fit into our budget.