Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

Discussions around receiving, originating, and holding Church broadcasts and conferences in meetinghouses including schedules, setup, equipment, and support.
plott
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Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#1

Post by plott »

We're now going on over two years of Zoom broadcasts (Sacrament Meetings, Classes,...). The Church has wholly relied on members to foot the bill and implement Zoom broadcasts. When members asked if we could utilize existing equipment in the Church Buildings to help with the cost and time of implementing Zoom broadcasts of meetings - we were told "NO!". (To me this makes little to no sense - the equipment is already there but OK .)
We were required to purchase our own equipment and muddle our way through training - trail and error of getting quality audio and video.

However, the church hasn't released any recommendations or training on equipment or implementation of meetings. At the beginning of the Pandemic it was understandable that there wouldn't be any responses - but the utter lack of movement in this area over the past 2 years is becoming increasing frustrating and concerning. I hear from members that try to attend virtual baptisms, funerals, sacrament meetings - where audio or video is horrible. So, obviously the whole "let them figure it out" isn't working in some areas.

In our building, we have 3 wards and the Stake that meets - meaning there are 4 different setups. The Stake has access to the buildings Audio Video Setting and is therefore unwilling to support or train Wards - all while telling wards that they are responsible to keep providing virtual broadcasts. We finally got the approval from the stake to allow the wards to invest in some equipment - however, there are currently 10 different ideas about how it should be implemented.

When will the church finally get past it's inaction and release some guidance on this. We are not Audio Video experts, but we are being required to spend our money and time researching different solutions to address the need. It's getting to the point where the lack of inaction is just embarrassing and disgusting. There are members that still can't attend in-person meetings due to medical conditions and rely on us to provide the broadcasts.

It's frustrating for me - because it's easier for me to buy a cable, headset, audio interface, microphones, stands - while the ward and Stake are unwilling to purchase anything. Even getting a replacement XLR cable for an existing microphone took 6 months.
bradpeterson@gmail.com
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#2

Post by bradpeterson@gmail.com »

Yes, navigating the bureaucracy on this issue is a pain. While church has provided some phone support here, I've personally found either limited or nonexistent resources from the church in assisting in hardware solutions.

The church likes uniformity in building AV tech. I can't blame them for that, but that uniformity apparently means they haven't yet decided upon a consistent camera solution. For example, stake centers should get PTZ cameras but ward buildings will not. I also know that the few stake centers my FM is trying to upgrade are backlogged due to labor and long lead time contracts. So if the church does come up with a uniform AV camera solution soon, it's going to take several years to roll it out at a minimum. Here is what I'd recommend in the meantime:
  • Zoom is good. The church funds enterprise-level Zoom licenses per unit. Get them. Get each ward/branch a license and share that freely. Use them for webcasts. Also make sure ward members doing a broadcast have a way to access email to get a 6 digit pin if they're on a new device. Zoom is far from perfect, but it functions within the broadcasting guidelines.
  • Use the same hardware for all wards on a Sunday. If you aren't the stake STS, then just find the other ward broadcasters and coordinate with them. Set it up on a Saturday night. After the first ward is done, leave the hardware in place for the next. After the last ward, take it down. If possible, also create a webpage that provides easy access to links to these broadcasts.
  • Share hardware among wards. Don't seek out help from your FM in equipment, ours pre-Zoom wouldn't even buy us an video encoder or a broadcaster. Ask the stake for purchasing help. Our stake gave us a budget which we made work. Our stake hasn't received any pushback for funding our full permanent setup, we just weren't allowed to mount anything via FM insistence. If your stake is hesitant on broadcasts (and I know many still are), then I bet among your three wards you have enough hardware to make a broadcast function cleanly.
  • Ask for help in these forums in your particular situations. Every stake seems to do something unique. I found that reaching a permanent solution was surprisingly difficult, and people here helped me past some sticky points.
Last edited by bradpeterson@gmail.com on Tue May 24, 2022 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
russellhltn
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#3

Post by russellhltn »

bradpeterson@gmail.com wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:08 pm Our stake hasn't received any pushback for funding our full permanent setup, we just weren't allowed to mount anything via FM insistence.
I would talk to FM about what they're willing to do. It might be a extra power outlet, or a line for audio. Whatever can help make your setup less reliant on long wires tapped down to prevent trip hazards. Not to mention making the setup quick and easy.
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.
davesudweeks
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#4

Post by davesudweeks »

Our 3-ward building has a mounted camera in the chapel - mounted by the FM group as I understand. We are not in a stake center. But our stake center is just a regular building with stake offices added (it has a camera mounted in the chapel also) - if we have any multi-ward or stake-wide meetings for all the units in the stake, we have to rent a local auditorium or broadcast across the buildings in our stake for members to attend in their building because none of our buildings are large enough for more than 2 wards to meet at the same time (and even 2 would be a stretch for the 3 wards in our building).

That said, we have ended sacrament meeting broadcasts except for special cases approved by the bishop on a week by week basis.
bradpeterson@gmail.com
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#5

Post by bradpeterson@gmail.com »

russellhltn wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:39 pm
bradpeterson@gmail.com wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:08 pm Our stake hasn't received any pushback for funding our full permanent setup, we just weren't allowed to mount anything via FM insistence.
I would talk to FM about what they're willing to do. It might be a extra power outlet, or a line for audio. Whatever can help make your setup less reliant on long wires tapped down to prevent trip hazards. Not to mention making the setup quick and easy.
I've tried. FM over the last couple of years has denied me the following: ethernet jacks near ward broadcasting spots, audio jacks for ward buildings and the stake building near the broadcasting spot, an audio jack anywhere in our oldest ward building, teredeks (this was 2 years ago) when our stake didn't have any, camcorders for video as listed in the church store, and shelves on which we could place a PTZ camera for long term use.

The only hardware support FM gave us was an extra ethernet jack in the stake center.

For the rest, I had to come up with my own solutions, and the stake foot the bill.
awchan13
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#6

Post by awchan13 »

I have heard of Stake Tech specs restricting access to the mounted camera etc... But I believe this is not a "Church" issue, but more of a local or area issue. The church has a "Meetinghouse Hardware Guidelines" document that tries to address many of the concerns you mentioned.

We have opened up the stake technology closet to the wards so they can use the permanent camera for Sunday services. Our stake has also purchased and permanently installed PTZ cameras in the meetinghouses, with the FMG's approval. These were just active this past Sunday and I'll be training the other ward's TS' on how to use them.

What will be nice is I will then have an additional 10 TS' in the stake that have enough familiarity with the permanent cameras that they will be able to assist in stake conference broadcasts or other meetings.
Wattsuk
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#7

Post by Wattsuk »

bradpeterson@gmail.com wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:51 pm
russellhltn wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:39 pm
bradpeterson@gmail.com wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:08 pm Our stake hasn't received any pushback for funding our full permanent setup, we just weren't allowed to mount anything via FM insistence.
I would talk to FM about what they're willing to do. It might be a extra power outlet, or a line for audio. Whatever can help make your setup less reliant on long wires tapped down to prevent trip hazards. Not to mention making the setup quick and easy.
I've tried. FM over the last couple of years has denied me the following: ethernet jacks near ward broadcasting spots, audio jacks for ward buildings and the stake building near the broadcasting spot, an audio jack anywhere in our oldest ward building, teredeks (this was 2 years ago) when our stake didn't have any, camcorders for video as listed in the church store, and shelves on which we could place a PTZ camera for long term use.

The only hardware support FM gave us was an extra ethernet jack in the stake center.

For the rest, I had to come up with my own solutions, and the stake foot the bill.
Our FM group was exactly the opposite.

Maybe the pictures I sent them of the potential trip hazard helped? I don't know, but they acted quickly and installed a new Ethernet and audio socket exactly where we needed them.

Our equipment has all been purchased from ward budget to reduce the burden on any single member and also to ensure the equipment is ready to go no matter who is in attendance that week.
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Biggles
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#8

Post by Biggles »

bradpeterson@gmail.com wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 3:08 pm
  • Zoom is good. The church funds enterprise-level Zoom licenses per unit. Get them. Get each ward/branch a license and share that freely. Use them for webcasts. Also make sure ward members doing a broadcast have a way to access email to get a 6 digit pin if they're on a new device. Zoom is far from perfect, but it functions within the broadcasting guidelines.
After it was found to be causing serious problems. I think you will find, certainly in Europe, that the issue I've highlighted above has been rescinded by Zoom, at the request of those responsible (In the Church) for the licences.

This was the response from the church Product Manager!

FYI, due to negative customer response, Zoom has disabled this new security feature system-wide as of an hour ago. We’ve registered our need to be opted out for the local unit subaccount if/when they ever decide to re-implement it.

This was introduced several months ago, unknown to most of us!

I was partly involved in getting this issue brought to the attention of those in charge and was able to confirm that the issue had subsequently been resolved!
bradpeterson@gmail.com
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#9

Post by bradpeterson@gmail.com »

Wattsuk wrote: Wed May 25, 2022 2:48 am Our FM group was exactly the opposite.

Maybe the pictures I sent them of the potential trip hazard helped?
I tried that angle too, my goal was to remove all cords off the floor and keep the camera in the back of the congregation so it would be out of sight and not a distraction during worship services.

Our FM rep is certainly approachable. I've had several friendly conversations with the regional rep and our secretary. I certainly felt they were eager to assist me. But turning it into to action has just repeatedly not worked. For example, one of our old buildings has a pulpit with no audio jack, it's just a mic with an amp in the back and speakers. I asked for a 3.5mm jack, and was told that this certainly won't happen because other wards have requested it and they were denied. So I bought a mixer and an XLR splitter, and basically created my own 3.5mm jack that way. In another example, the FM manager told me he would be happy to put in ethernet jacks and audio jacks, but when I put the FIR request, he called our high council rep instead of me and had a long conversation with him on overarching issues, and then the FIR request was cancelled. So instead I bought a 5.8 GHz transmitter/receivers for audio and found a spots closest to wifi routers. I've got more examples like these.

At this point, my conversations with FM are becoming uncomfortable. Being denied repeatedly means I should probably stop asking FM for any further assistance.

I understand the church is still trying to find an overall equipment policy solution here. We're not even at the 2 year mark of broadcasts. So I'm not mad that I have to go it alone, that's just the pioneer part of all this. I just get the impression there isn't a single employee who works on the technology side who communicates with the FM side. And it seems that FM groups don't talk to each other either to learn what policies they're implementing. For example, someone here referenced the August 2021 Meetinghouse Hardware Guidelines document. Throughout the document it references PTZ cameras, that we can buy them, and that FM policy is to install them (and install more than one PTZ in the stake center building if we request!) But I know this past fall I spoke with my FM head regarding a PTZ camera, and I was told in absolutely no uncertain terms will he not install a PTZ camera or allow us to install one. He said his direction comes from the Presiding Bishopric and he's heard little else regarding permanent broadcasting policy. I've seen others state their FM rep told them the same thing. But then I see other STS folks here and that Meetinghouse Hardware Guidelines document state their FMs were eager to assist in hardware jacks and installing PTZ cameras.

It seems we're currently in a Wild West of policy communication and action.
Wattsuk
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Re: Standardized Equipment & Implementation Guidelines- What & When????

#10

Post by Wattsuk »

Ah, the dark arts of dealing with FM! Sounds like you're fighting the good fight brother and doing all you can.

I'm sure you've got this in hand but I always make sure I have stacked everything possible in my favour when approaching them. For me that usually means that I have the full support of the Stake President.
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