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New Video Design

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Steve Tye:
Hiya

We are doing a refurbishment of our video / projection infrastructure and would love some advice.

Our current setup uses two projectors each with a laptop (and operator) since, during the message, we display sermon notes in a number of different languages. During worship, we only use the one projector. We use "Presenter" for display of song lyrics and MS PowerPoint during the sermons.

We are building a new facility and I am looking to try and fit in the best solution which makes use of both screens during worship (or displaying DVDs etc) with an identical image but can then split to two different screens for the message. This would be VGA only (1024x768) - we have no need for higher resolutions / hdmi etc.

Secondly, during worship, we want to have a video line to the stage for on-stage LCD screens with words for singers.

Thirdly, (and perhaps a separate question), we want a fixed video camera to be able to have its signal split to 3 other rooms in the building (only via svideo or RCA). There is no need for the video signal to be integrated into the main house projector screens (we aren't that big).

Here is a mudmap of what I think i need:


Questions:
1. Can this be achieved with a single PC with either 2 dual video cards or a single 4-head video card (I have noted a Matrox QID-E128LPA or something similar).

2. I have seen an add-on for MS PowerPoint which allows more than 2 monitors (Power Show) does anyone have any experience with this? Would it be better to use a different product for this purpose?

3. I am not all that impressed with the "Presenter" software. I have seen some posts on this board recommending EasyWorship and and playing with a trial. Would this software utilize the 4 different video outputs? (left and right projectors, singer LCD screens and operator screen). Are there any other suggestions on this?

4. Would a simple splitter be sufficient for the signal to the singer LCD screens (presuming the length is acceptable).

5. For the re-broadcasting of the video camera signal to other rooms - is there any other specialized equipment needed here?

I am not sure if any other equipment is needed. Originally I thought I would need a matrix switcher or something similar but now I am not sure.

Finally - and maybe I should have mentioned / thought of this earlier.... we also need the option of an additional single VGA feed coming from the stage for use by speakers that want full control of the projectors (which would have to be in clone mode).

Any help is appreciated - sorry for the long question.

Steve

George Linkenhoker:
Hi Steve,

It sounds like you have a lot going on with your projection. Overall, I recommend that if this all sounds a bit over your head, it might be best to take the general plan to a consultant and have them set you up with some good options. Sometimes spending more money now is actually fiscally smarter than trying to buy something and finding out it is the wrong thing when you are stuck with it.  Anyways, I will go on in case I can make some sense of this for you.

I think that you are on the right track with the matrix option. With a matrix, you would feed all of your inputs and outputs into the matrix switcher. So, for example, inputs one and two for your computer feeds from the control booth area, input three from the stage, and input four from the DVD player (which would need to be upconverted before going in on a simple matrix) then output one is the left projector, output two is the right projector, output three is the choir monitors. Then you simply push the button for an input then the button for the output(s) you want it on and hit enter/take to make it go. On a simple matrix switcher this would not necessarily be seamless/smooth but would work, the lower end models do not offer fade times or allow for multiple routing changes at once, you would only be able to do say input one to whatever output(s) and make that change.  Higher end switchers would allow you to setup changes on both screens at once, say input one to screen one and input two to screen two, then execute both changes on a take command.  There are also higher end models that will take in various formats of either data or video and do the conversion internally.

Analog Way has some cool new switchers coming out like the SmartVu, Pulse, and the Opus which would give you some added power over a simple push button matrix, www.analogway.com In Matrix mode, those switchers use the preview output as a second output, might have to find a different way to do choir monitors like feeding it the same send as one screen.  There are also plenty of other options out there as well, those came to mind as I just had a demo of some of them the other day.

On software, I know our church uses LiveWorship though I have only had limited interaction with it. I know they demoed it against MediaShout and LiveWorship was their favorite but that has been a few years. I am not sure it can do more than one output screen.  

The LCDs should be fine with a distribution amplifier on them, using whichever cabling setup you decide to output to the projectors.  If RGBHV you can always adapt that to a VGA on the LCDs if they have VGA in, or just run VGA if everything will take it.  You would have to find a converter box if you are doing component or composite in.

S-video or composite distribution amplifiers should be fine for you camera feed, check the manufacturer's specs to make sure that you do not exceed the maximum cable length.  Usually a couple hundred feet is safe.


Hope that helps,

-George L.



Arnold B. Krueger:
Steve Tye wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 07:17
Hiya

Questions:
1. Can this be achieved with a single PC with either 2 dual video cards or a single 4-head video card (I have noted a Matrox QID-E128LPA or something similar).



Depending on the software, yes. Doing 2 or more concurrent displays on one PC is not the rocket science it used to be. Running two dual video cards is now a farily common motherboard option, and even running an onboard dual video facility and a separate plug-in dual card is supported. On-board video used to be slow and limited, but some newer boards (NVidia and AMD) will support 1920 x 1200 HD motion video on one side of the onboard video, and 1024x768 or larger video on the other.

Quote:

4. Would a simple splitter be sufficient for the signal to the singer LCD screens (presuming the length is acceptable).



Probably. Simple splitters with up to 4 outputs are now pretty inexpensive.

The problem you're likely to deal with isn't the splitter per se, its the cable lengths. The cable lengths can easily run over 100 feet, and that can take some special mouth holding. Your options are cable extenders that convert RGB to CAT-5e or CAT-6, or low loss cables of various kinds. We use RGBHV low-loss RG-6 for our longest runs in the sanctuary, which is a decidedly old school (but effective) approach.

More expensive splitters have gain controls that you can use to overcome some cable losses. We use one for the in-room video runs which are over 100' each.

You get what you pay for but if your lines are short and have low enough loss, a simple active splitter or DA can suffice. Note that as another post clarified after I initially wrote this post, this would be a powered splitter, or more properly a distribution amp or DA. Video is an impedance-matched system. Passive splitters for VGA are rare and will at the very least cause a dramatic loss of brightness and contrast.

Quote:

5. For the re-broadcasting of the video camera signal to other rooms - is there any other specialized equipment needed here?



Depends on the format and quality levels you are going for. We have an analog feed to 3 locations via 100s of feet of RG-6 as RF - Channel 3. An inexpensive consumer-grade converter  converts the output of our video mixer and sound system back into RF. We have inexpensive RF-to-VGA converers at the other ends, each driving a 24" LCD computer monitor or XGA video projector.

This all implies what some might find to be dire quality issues, but frankly there have been no complaints, even in the room with the big screen and video projector.

Quote:

I am not sure if any other equipment is needed. Originally I thought I would need a matrix switcher or something similar but now I am not sure.



If there is only one source for each display, then no switching is needed. We got into the video switching game because we let the pastor run his own Powerpoint for the sermon. We got deeper into switching because we sometimes run live video through the main video system and we fade our remote locations between live video and presentation video sources.

Quote:

Finally - and maybe I should have mentioned / thought of this earlier.... we also need the option of an additional single VGA feed coming from the stage for use by speakers that want full control of the projectors (which would have to be in clone mode).



See above - that's what got us into the video switching game. Once you start switching  high rez video you either have to use the switching in the projectors which can be really awkward but some people do, or you get something like a scaler. We're using an old black interval swtich, and a true 2-input scaler looks really attractive!

Brad Weber:
Just a detail but a "splitter" usually implies a passive device with through loss while a distribution amplifier or DA implies a splitter with at least offset gain for the split losses.  Whether a DA provides anything more than that, such as additional gain, cable EQ, etc., depends on the specific device.

RF or cable distribution often uses splitters but baseband video distribution typically uses distribution amps.  Wanted to make the differentiation as I have seen people use RF splitters to try to derive multiple baseband video outputs and that does not work well.

George Linkenhoker:
+1 for Brad.  I was a bit vague as I did not specifically say reasons for a DA over a "splitter".  

-George

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