10 December 2020

St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church of Richmond with Hudswell and Downholme and Marske, like many other houses of worship around the globe in 2020, has had to adapt to continue connecting with its audience, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The church, like so many others, realised that the best and most efficient way for them to do this, would be to stream and record their services and share them on YouTube and Zoom. St Mary’s drafted in the help of AV integrators, Audioworks, a specialist for installing audio and visual equipment in churches, schools and local authorities, to find them a solution.

“With COVID threatening to close churches, we needed a long-term solution to enable us to film services, as well as weddings and funerals”, said Peter Trewby of St Mary’s Church. In order for St Mary’s to achieve their goal, they needed a system that could seamlessly capture the service they’re holding and distribute it to their platforms of choice. The system that Audioworks put forward to them was the Angekis Saber Plus PTZ camera and a Angekis RS-232 Joystick Controller.

“We chose the Angekis Saber Plus as it has good connectivity, an excellent optical zoom and the cost was reasonable,” said Martin Hodgson from Audioworks. The Saber Plus allowed the church to distribute content direct to its YouTube channel because of its IP video output. The connectivity benefits don’t end there either, with the church also wanting to connect with its audience over Zoom, a USB output is needed, and the Saber Plus can offer that too. With simultaneous USB, HDMI and IP outputs, St Mary’s can distribute to Zoom, YouTube and a display all at the same time.

A factor that Audioworks had to consider was the positioning of the camera, in order to maintain the aesthetics of the building. Placing the camera higher in the room and out of site of visitors allowed them to achieve this, however; it meant that the camera performance would be compromised. The Saber Plus was able to offer a solution to this as well, with a 12x optical zoom, the camera can easily capture the head and shoulders of the priests, in addition to providing a wide-angle shot of the entire service area.

“We used the joystick controller as this was recommended with the camera. The supplied remote had a limited range due to the placement of the camera and we needed a device to save and control the presets,” Martin Hodgson said. The Angekis RS-232 Joystick Controller connects to the rear of the Saber Plus camera, offering smooth pan, tilt and zoom and up to 46 camera presets. St Mary’s church mainly required the presets aspect of the controller as there are a number of positions the church wants to capture during services. The joystick aspect of the controller is used less due to the consistent positions of the services, however; it’s a feature that could be useful in the future.

The Angekis Saber Plus and Joystick Controller has allowed St Mary’ church to easily and effectively communicate with their audience throughout the pandemic. It has also allowed them to branch out and provide filming and capture of ceremonies like weddings and funerals, which they weren’t previously able to offer.