First Assembly of God, a Pentecostal ministry established 47 years ago in Fort Myers, FL, recently upgraded to Panasonic VariCam LT cameras with CineLive, as well as AW-UE150 4K/HD pan/tilt/zoom cameras, for live production of weekly worship services.
The cameras are also used to produce eight weekly television programs, one of which, “Celebration Under the Silverdome,” airs nationally on the CTN network, which is carried on DirecTV and Dish Network.
“Using technology to communicate has long been a high priority at First Assembly, and we understood that we needed to ‘contemporize' our visual message,” said Tod Cole, media director, First Assembly Ministries. “Once we experienced the VariCam LT, with its unique signature look, we said to ourselves, ‘That’s the all-in-one solution we’re looking for.’”
First Assembly’s ministry reaches over 6,000 weekly attendees throughout its 25-acre campus, as well as a growing online and TV audience. Three weekend and one weekday service are streamed live on YouTube Live and Facebook Live, as well as on the church’s website. The Panasonic cameras are likewise utilized for IMAG projection in First Assembly’s main sanctuary, and local television station WRXY-TV streams from the sanctuary for its “Living as One” program. First Assembly archives its video feeds on Vimeo for residual viewing.
“In our search for new cameras, we knew we didn’t want a traditional CCD broadcast look, but something modern, with a full 35mm sensor, fiber capabilities, studio viewfinders, and a form factor for lenses,” Cole said. “We found all that and more in the VariCam LT.”
Cole said that three VariCam LTs are positioned throughout the church’s sanctuary, one on a jib, the second in the center, and the third placed at a right angle. One AW-UE150 PTZ is mounted high in the sanctuary to pan left to right for audience reactions, with a second placed on stage for extreme close-ups.
The VariCam LTs are outfitted with Fujinon Cabrio S35 lenses, including the ZK12x25 (25-300) and ZK3.5x85 (85-300) models.
Using a DTS fiber system, the VariCam LTs are connected to the control room, where they are connected to Panasonic AK-HRP1000 Remote Operating Panels. The VariCam LT and HRP1000 combination is referred to as CineLive, and allows complete control and shading of the camera from the control room. While the CineLive system is capable of internal recording and 4K output, First Assembly is mostly utilizing an HD output to interface with its 20’ by 20’ screens and live streaming services.
Cole said that, with 4K projector purchases imminent, he anticipates transitioning to UHD production within six months, and full 4K production within a year.
The VariCam LT features Panasonic’s Dual Native ISO technology for enhanced sensitivity. Cole said, “When we’re shooting under full stage lights, we deploy ISO800 for an amazing look. In low light, we bump up to ISO5000. The ability to blur the depth of field is so eye-catching—the congregation’s response to the new production values has been, ‘How is this possibly the same church?’”