Snell & Wilcox Press

A little while ago Snell asked if we would answer some questions about our new Kahuna so they could craft a press piece about our install. we eagerly agreed, because the Kahuna is amazing, and we love it. here are the questions and answers. They will pull from these for their release. I thought it might be interesting, so here you go:

Please describe your production facility and the type of productions you do for the church including worship services and other programs.

For almost 50 years First Baptist Orlando has been extending our ministry through broadcast television. Currently, we have 3 weekend services with full video support. We do a “broadcast” cut, which streams live on the web, that we later edit for our two TV programs. We also do a separate cut for Image Magnification.

In addition our 5500 seat worship center has hosted a lot of different kinds of events. From concerts to conferences, we find that flexibility is key for us to accommodate the needs of these events. Many have really stretched our ingenuity.

As we looked ahead to the future, and completing the transition to HD video production, we wanted to make sure we could not only do anything a conference might ask, but also be able to integrate media into our services to a greater degree. The decision about new switcher is a major factor in that.

How were you handling production switching before, and what were the issues with the old system?

We had two separate switchers. We cut for broadcast on a Grass Valley 200. It was a workhorse, and lasted for almost 2 decades, but pieces and parts began to fail. The equipment began to compromise the production. At one point one the internal fan broke, and we placed a small fan on the front of the mainframe so we could keep working. It was time to replace it.

For IMAG we had a 10 input Snell Golden Dave SD SDI switcher. It was a great switcher, but with somewhat limited capability when compared to where we wanted to go. Obviously it would not be able to go with us through transition to HD video.

What were the drivers that led you to purchase the Kahuna? Was an HD upgrade part of the decision?

To be honest, I was opposed to Snell products, and the Kahuna, when we first started looking at what production switcher to buy. I assumed that we would be able to get more capability for less money from a competitor. Then I went to a trade show, and a friend (Dana Meeks) dragged me over to the Snell booth. I walked away from that presentation impressed with the abilities of the Kahuna, but still unconvinced we should go that way. When we explored actual costs, with real numbers, we were very surprised.

Ultimately, we found that the capabilities of the Kahuna were the best fit for our needs. Being in a process of transition from SD analog to HD, the options the Kahuna offered for conversion were a huge factor for us. We were able to get one with enough features to accommodate the needs of the events we host, as well as enhance the technological parts of the worship services we produce every weekend.

What model (# of M/Es) of Kahuna did you purchase?

We have a 3ME Kahuna with 2 control panels (compact 2ME and compact 1ME) and an Aux panel

How is the Kahuna used in your operation? Are you using it to mix SD sources into HD productions?

We run the Kahuna as 1 physical switcher, instead of breaking the two panels off into separate MEs. In normal operation we still do a separate broadcast cut and IMAG cut. But by having access to all 3 MEs we can do more. For example, lately, we have been doing a lot with multiple video feeds directed to different locations. Using a macro we can load, switch and fire three separate video feeds to three different screens. Not something we do every day, but we like the flexibility.

In a place where we rely on volunteer labor to accomplish our weekly service production, we love the ease of programming the Kahuna to perform complicated switches with the touch of a button. Recently we needed to do one switch which would required a volunteer to hit 12 buttons in the right sequence, within about 3 seconds. The Kahuna allowed us to very quickly and simply preset that entire switch to one button stroke.

We also use the multiple auxes and outputs to deliver different signals to various video confidence monitors and screens. In many ways we use it like a router.

Please describe a typical workflow, such as that of a worship service, and how the Kahuna comes into play. How many feeds do you typically mix?

In a given weekend service, we cut 5 cameras, 2-3 graphic sources, and up to 4 video playback sources. 2 of our graphic sources are keyable. We also have a logo or 2 stored on the Kahuna. We are just scratching the surface of what we can do.

Generally, IMAG has control of ME 1&2, with 2 as the main output to the screens. Broadcast switches ME3. Depending on what is going on, IMAG may take the ME3 cut, or do a separate cut, and we may split off ME1 to another source. Broadcast calls most of the camera shots with IMAG following, but IMAG can grab one for a specific need. There is a lot of communication between the two directors.

What have been the overall benefits of the Kahuna to: your operation? The church? The congregation?

Installing the Kahuna was the first major step toward a complete HD transition. The production switcher forms the cornerstone of the system. With this in place, I know that we are ready to move forward.

In the meantime, we can do more that every before. We talk about leveraging technology to create an environment where people can meet God, and the Kahuna gives us more capability to do that. The benefits of this directly impact the people in the pew and at home watching on TV. We can not only continue to facilitate the ministry of the church through video, but enhance and extend it in ways we have never been able to before.