Florida Church Building a Global Congregation with ATEM and UltraStudio 3D
Senior Pastor Joel Costa is a visionary. He has to be in order to keep a widespread group of smaller communities tied together. And more importantly than simply maintaining a unified congregation, he has to grow that community both physically and spiritually.
Costa is the Pastor of the Assembly of God Bethlehem Ministry and he has a vision for how to bring enthusiastic teaching and worship together while simultaneously nurturing the strong bonds of his Brazilian Christian community. His vision surpasses his teachings from the pulpit, and looks forward to developing new ways to preach using the Internet and professional broadcast and online learning technology.
The Assembly of God Bethlehem Ministry is a Christian church built around Brazilian citizens and people of Brazilian background. Headquartered in Lighthouse Point, Florida, the Church counts more than 300 members among its immediate congregation and has more than 30 sister congregations for a total of more than 1,000 church members spread across the globe.
Though their congregation is passionate and loyal, the Assembly of God does not come close to the size and financial strength enjoyed by many huge Churches that take advantage of large broadcast budgets, multi thousand person congregations and professionally trained, full time technical staff. But under Costa’s vision, the Church streams weekly sermons, offers an online Bible College and runs a 24x7 stream of (include random examples of activity streamed) from the Church. Costa and his technical coordinator, Dario Migliaccio along with William Gutnik, have built a workflow around Blackmagic Design’s ATEM production switcher family, UltraStudio 3D Thunderbolt based capture and playback cards and Blackmagic Design Mini Converters to help accomplish this.
“The Brazilian community has spread across the world, and the Assembly of God Ministry has grown to be a vibrant Church that reaches beyond South America, to the United States and Europe. To maintain that sense of closeness while continuing to grow, we have to use all of the broadcast and streaming technologies available to reach our congregation and new members,” said William Gutnik, editor and technician at the Assembly of God.
Each week, Costa records, finishes and streams four sermons in HD, while running a 24X7 prayer/Church video stream of live HD footage from the Florida location. These sermons, all done in Portuguese, are available to every single one of Assembly of God’s congregations spread around the world, as well as for potential new members on the Church’s public web site.
“Our vision was not to just rebroadcast sermons, but to do high quality HD broadcasts that were just as good as the biggest churches’ and build innovative teachings using the Internet. Blackmagic Design’s ATEM and UltraStudio 3D really have made that dream possible,” he continued.
Sermons are shot using four JVC HD cameras, which are connected and switched directly from the church’s ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher. Graphics and character generation from Adobe Photoshop are added to the live broadcast using the ATEM 1 M/E as well. Using the ATEM to create a line edit, footage is captured into a Thunderbolt laptop using a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D, where it is then edited using Final Cut Pro and then played back for final monitoring again using the UltraStudio 3D.
The final edited version is then streamed directly to the Internet using Livestream, where it is viewed online by more than 700 people each week.
“One of the big advantages of the ATEM was its ability to allow us to work with a wide number of inputs and cameras. We easily connect our JVC cameras into the ATEM using SDI and HDMI inputs, and have a workflow that allows us to use any equipment we want,” continued William.
For the Church’s 24X7 live camera feed, footage from a stationary camera based at the main site in Lighthouse Point is switched through the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher to a Livestream feed on the organization’s main site.
All switching is done using the ATEM 1 M/E’s software control panel. This free software that comes with every ATEM production switcher can be used on any Mac or Windows computer, including laptops. It gives the Assembly of God a professional M/E workflow control panel, where William can manage his media assets and set all switcher adjustments and shortcuts.
“The ATEM is so reliable. We plugged it in, connected an HD camera in and have left it running and handling our constant stream without a single pause. Simple to use and easy to maintain are two of the biggest advantages that ATEM has brought us,” said William.
Online Bible Studies
Beyond weekly sermons, the Assembly of God has built a popular online Bible Study Course, the JW Bible College, where members of the congregation can earn a theological degree or simply improve their knowledge of bible lessons. Each week, new lessons are given by Pastor Joel and are captured in HD using several JVC cameras and an ATEM Television Studio.
ATEM Television Studio is a live production switcher that combines a professional switcher with a broadcast quality H.264 encoder. This allows the Church to perform live multi camera productions and real time broadcast encoding for the Internet. It includes six inputs with both broadcast SDI and consumer HDMI inputs for cameras and computers, as well as two program SDI/HD-SDI outputs and one program HDMI output.
Using the ATEM Television Studio, William is able to capture lessons given by Pastor Joel using several cameras, add graphics such as Bible verses, and then stream directly to the Church’s main site in a single session.
“Pulling together a live broadcast then streaming that media to the Internet with the ATEM Television Studio cannot be simpler. For less than a $1,000, we can now do something that was completely out of reach only a year ago,” said William.
William continued: “The ATEM family and the UltraStudio 3D are available at a great price point and are reliable and easy for our group of volunteers to learn and become proficient on. We can trust them to perform exactly how we need them to, and ultimately help us grow as a Church.”