Testing and Backup
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To ensure that a stake conference goes as planned, you must perform preliminary testing and put viable backups in place. These precautions are especially important when the internet is being used to transmit the meeting to other buildings in the stake. Technology tests for stake conferences can include checking microphones, audio distribution, media playback devices, and broadcast equipment. Backup preparation can include readying extra microphones, AV alternatives, internet hotspots, and audio conferences.
Tests should be carried out a few weeks before the scheduled event to ensure that equipment is working properly and can be replaced prior to stake conference if needed. After multiple tests have been done, a widely used best practice to prepare for stake conference is setting up and using all the technology during the Saturday evening session. Testing everything the night before acts as a dry run and can help identify any problems before the main event. Please take some time to document your process. This will help you remember your configuration, as it may be six months until your next broadcast event. Having documentation can also help future stake technology specialists be more successful. To prepare fully, follow the tasks below prior to stake conference:
Task 1: Perform Test Events
Make sure to test the system before every production event.
- With the help of assistants, set up the actual equipment that will be used at the broadcast site and at each receiving location (computers, displays, audio amplification method, etc.)
- It’s best to have sound and motion in the camera’s view when testing to get the most accurate results of your broadcasting capabilities. To achieve this while testing, you can have someone stand and speak at the pulpit, or you can place a TV monitor at the pulpit with video and audio playing, such as a conference talk, with the camera zoomed in on it.
- Multiple tests will need to be performed to completely understand what settings will work best for your broadcast. This is especially important in areas with low or unstable networks. Test the system by adjusting sound levels and testing during a similar time and day of the week as your future event.
- Connect and test each microphone. Make sure that each device works properly, and that the volume is set at the right level to avoid any distracting feedback. Ensure each microphone has a new or fully charged battery.
- Visit each room that will receive audio or video and ensure the distribution system is functioning properly.
- Set up each TV screen to be used for viewing the virtual meeting. Make sure it turns on and has the necessary cables. Locations can include other rooms (like the cultural hall) and on the stand for speakers.
- Test your internet speed at all locations to understand their internet capacity. Run several tests using different encoder bit rates (e.g., Medium: 750 Kbps, Low: 500 Kbps, Mobile: 250 Kbps) to understand the best bit rate you should use.
Note: Using lower bit rates provides good quality and excellent stability. If reliability and stability are your primary objectives, it is recommended to use the Low (500 Kbps) or Mobile (250 Kbps) video encode rate.
Even if you are successful in using a high bit rate during your testing, you may want to consider lowering the bit rate for extra reliability.
For information on running events utilizing Zoom, please review instructions at Zoom’s site:
- How to perform a test call: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083
- How to test audio: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362283-Testing-audio-before-Zoom-Meetings
- How to test video: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362313-Testing-your-video
- How to test a webinar: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206316975-Webinar-practice-session
If you encounter issues during a test event that you cannot resolve, contact the Global Service Center.
Task 2: Preparing Backups
Prepare an alternate technical solution in case there are problems with audio or video during the event. There are numerous points of potential failure in a broadcast. Create a plan of what you will do in case of failure at any of those points. Some recommendations include:
- Verify that you have enough batteries on hand for every device you will use. This includes disposable batteries for wireless microphones and remotes and rechargeable batteries for translation headsets.
- Work with the stake president to know who will be presiding at each receiving location. Have the technology specialists at each location meet with the presiding leaders for these locations.
- Ensure that contact information has been shared in the event of technical failure so that you or other technology specialists can assist in troubleshooting any issues.
- Consider having an audio backup for each building where the broadcast will be received. This audio backup may be as simple as having a phone sitting on the pulpit in each building or as complex as setting up an audio bridge that all participants can call into.