Lifehouse Church, located in San Antonio, TX, with a congregation of over 300, has a mission of reaching out to people in the community as well as around the world including churches they have partnered with in Columbia. To ensure that its remote and absentee members receive the sermon and experience the fellowship without missing out, the church streams their whole Sunday morning services live. The services are also recorded, edited and made available online as videos of the full services, as well as lessons portions only, for absentee worshippers and those who wish to reflect on the sermons at their own time and pace.
Seeking a better encoding solution when they started having issues with their old encoder and CDN that resulted in poor stream quality in both the video and audio of their Sunday morning services, Lifehouse Church came across the Matrox MonarchTM HDX H.264 streaming and recording appliance. With the help of a local live streaming company, MediaFusion, Lifehouse Church set up the Monarch HDX for testing. [The] simplicity of set up that even the basic user could configure, as well as its affordability and reliability, have made the Monarch HDX an integral part of Lifehouse Church’s Sunday services. Alex Well, technical director of Lifehouse Church says, “With the URL stream information provided by MediaFusion, a simple copy and paste to the Monarch HDX’s web-based Command Center was all that was required; it was up and streaming in seconds! Monarch HDX resolved all our issues; it brought more clarity to our stream and gave us the capability for immediate local storage for backing up our services.”
Easy setup and operation
Lifehouse Church used the presets from Monarch HDX’s Command Center as a starting point for configuration and subsequently customized it to their exact requirements. Set to stream in RTMP at 2.1 Mbps, only the destination location is changed by the A/V operator as the Sunday service is followed by a youth service, each recorded to different destinations.
A Cannon FX1 camera is connected to an iMac® that runs the ProPresenter media presentation software, which mixes the video feed with its lower thirds (lyrics, verses) along with audio from the soundboard (x32), then sends its out as an HDMI feed that goes into the Monarch HDX. MediaFusion provides Lifehouse Church with the necessary content delivery services.
Using Monarch HDX’s H.264 encoding, Lifehouse Church simultaneously records the services in HD resolution at 10 Mbps, for archiving and backup purposes. By taking advantage of Monarch HDX’s ability to create split files, that is particularly useful when recording for extended periods of time, Lifehouse Church is able to automatically divide its recorded files into convenient 4GB sections, without losing a single frame. This feature also ensures that the majority of the content is preserved should a disaster, such as power failure, occur. The files are edited/trimmed using Final Cut Pro® and posted online to the church website via the Vimeo® video sharing platform, enabling the congregation to view the entire services or the lessons only, anytime, anywhere, with an experience of almost being physically present in the church.
High quality of streams and recordings
Moving over to Monarch HDX, Lifehouse Church is now blessed with a reliable, high-quality encoder. Cleaner picture and crisper audio being webcast makes the Lifehouse online church experience enjoyable and allows the church to reach more people — those traveling, having moved temporarily or from partner churches in Columbia; or those unable to attend owing to inclement weather, limited mobility, sickness or other reasons.
Lifehouse Church is also able to save high-resolution, pristine quality hard copies directly from the Monarch HDX encoder; gaining easier and instant access to local backups. Previously, they were downloading files from the content delivery network (CDN) service provider. The quality of these files depended on the Internet and stream quality prevailing at the time, and often looked terrible. CDN service provider’s Internet bandwidth restrictions meant they were unable to record in Full HD (1920×1080) with any reasonable quality.
Wells remarked, “The Matrox Monarch HDX product works hand-in-hand with MediaFusion settings and makes our channel clean; one we really want to brag about and show off. It makes live streaming a breeze! Monarch HDX has brought clarity to our live stream, post-production and archives of the services.”
Learn more about Matrox Monarch HDX matrox.com/video/monarch_hdx/MinistryTech02