In a serene setting along the shores of Lac Saint-Louis, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church is the spiritual home for hundreds of Coptic Christians in Montreal’s West Island neighborhoods. As a missionary church, they are devoted to spreading the gospel and fostering a community of Christians — both in person and online, via a livestream Sunday service.
When Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s opened their new facility in 2015, the young parish took the opportunity to integrate technology in order to engage their congregation, including the ability to stream their services live to a wide online audience to give them a similar experience as those attending the services in person.
Over 300 people attend services on a regular basis, and according to Bishop Ishak, a Saint Peter and Saint Paul congregant who takes care of in-house technical needs. The goal of the church is outreach. “Streaming lets us reach local shut-ins, the elderly, and the disabled and opens up our message to people around the world — in a way that’s affordable for the church and convenient to our members.”
The set-up consisted of four pan-tilt-zoom cameras (PTZ cameras for short) located throughout the sanctuary, allowing every event to be shot from multiple angles and capture unique aspects of every ceremony. The cameras feed into a switcher in an adjacent computer room, where a deacon or volunteer can pan, tilt, and zoom each camera, and switch to provide the best shot for the viewer. The output of this switcher is sent to a nearby encoder, which was intended to easily push the video to the web.
However, due to disruptions in the video caused by switching, the video encoder would freeze and stall, causing streaming to fail. There were also complications around streaming protocols, preventing them from using multiple platforms, and limited them in reaching more people. With Easter — a major holiday in the Coptic calendar — approaching, the church decided that they needed a better, more reliable solution after a year of working around their current limitations.
Ishak learned about the new Monarch LCS, a dedicated H.264 encoder originally designed for lecture capture, offering high-quality streaming and production capabilities. The Monarch’s built-in frame synchronizers allowed it to correct the signal issues due to switching, ensuring uninterrupted streaming. Working with the existing HDMI switcher, the LCS also offered the freedom to transition to an SDI input if needed.