Published May 2008

House of Worship: Business
By David Lee Jr., PhDi

This ‘savior’ promises to give new life.

On February 18, 2009, all full-power television stations will be broadcasting digital signals, possibly high-definition (HD). Blu-ray has become the high-definition DVD standard. These two factors genuinely enable us to motivate House of Worship leaders to adopt high-definition media technologies for use inside and outside of their worship settings.

Over the past four years in particular, I have described, to numerous worship leaders, the multi-sensory experience that can be created with the use of HD technologies (HD video and surround audio). Many of these leaders expressed interest in updating their standard definition (SD) gear to HD to enhance their worship experience, and to record their worship services (music and teaching) for distribution on broadcast/cable outlets, internet outlets and portable media. However, although I spent a lot of time explaining the life-changing attributes of HD media, only a few leaders shared my faith in HD. The reality was that these leaders did not have compelling reasons to give up their SD technologies for the glory found in HD.

Their lack of conversion was simple to understand. First of all, although consumers are shedding their SD television sets for HDTVs, few have invested in any other HD video and audio (5.1, etc.) technologies. Second, the HD process (acquisition to display to distribution) was incomplete for most organizations. HD broadcasters were among the few that could gather and broadcast or display HD content.

In other words, there was not a functional, cost-effective or complete HD solution to cause worship leaders to convert to HD. I fervently preached that SD was dying and that new life experiences could be found in the resurrected, heavenly form known as HD. I had very few converts. Here is the problem in more detail.

I believe that HD is currently the way, the truth and the life for our industry, as well as for house of worship leaders. The reality of the slow adoption of HD video players and other portable HD media did not offer salvation from the bondage of SD technology. Although HD technologies could be used in a House of Worship to record and display teachings, music and other worship activities inside the auditorium, there was no cost-effective way to distribute HD content, via portable media, to congregants and people in the community.

Distribution of portable media is vitally important to worship leaders. The only solution was to record the content in HD, then down-convert the HD content to a standard definition format with stereo audio. Well, they already had SD gear. Therefore, this self-defeating argument led worship leaders to ask, “Why should I invest in HD technologies when the final product would be SD and, at best, stereo?”

That was then. Now, as previously noted, we have at least two good reasons for worship leaders to adopt HD: broadcasters are less than a year from broadcasting only in digital, and a standard appears to be set for high-definition DVD in the form of Blu-ray. Therefore, I believe that, in the United States, worship leaders are on the verge of trading their SD baggage for the hope of new life experiences found in HD technologies.

This new hope is huge for our industry. It means that revival is underway. In more concrete terms, this means we can design systems that describe a fluid HD acquisition to display to distribution process. Or, this means we can sell HD video cameras for acquisition. This means HD projectors, HD signage and HD video monitors can now be fully integrated for display. This means HD audio systems in 5.1 (and other surround versions) will be adopted and used for recording, live sound and distribution. This means HD audio/video editing hardware and software will have to be purchased. This means HD authoring software has to be acquired and learned. This means technologies for duplicating and distributing HD content, and a host of new HD technologies, will soon make their way to the marketplace. Our savior has come to give new life to our industry!

I believe that now we can take a fresh look at HD technology use in the house of worship market. I predict that HD technologies, of some type, will be adopted and used in many houses of worship across the United States. I believe that houses of worship that have never used media technologies will adopt and use HD technologies. I believe that we have new opportunities to earn a living in this industry and to help worship leaders select HD technologies that enable them to share their messages with more people than was ever thought possible. That’s what I believe. But I want to know what you believe.

 

David Lee Jr., PhD, CEO of Lee Communication Inc., Orlando FL, is a licensed minister and has more than 25 years of experience as a systems integrator. He is a member of Sound & Communications’ Technical Council. Send comments to dlee@testa.com.

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