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How Dante AV Networked Video Elevates the Visual Experience for Grace Community Church

Grace Community Church in Southern California has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the 1950s. What started out as “two small buildings and a chicken coop” in 1956 has expanded to a multi-building campus that now meets the spiritual needs of thousands of weekly congregants. Today, the non-denominational, evangelical megachurch comprises a 3,000-seat worship center, the original 300-seat chapel, a family center, a children’s center, the Master’s Seminary, a tower featuring five large classrooms, and several small outbuildings. To streamline its AV management and keep the focus on worship experiences, Grace Community Church has deployed a large Dante-based networked AV system throughout the campus, including video capabilities using Dante AV.

The initial Dante implementation began in 2014 with buildouts in the family center and worship center, and the church has added Dante endpoints regularly, now totaling over 150 devices. During full orchestral performances, over 100 microphones are deployed between the musicians, choir, and worship leaders running through Dante-enabled Yamaha consoles. The church employs separate networks for IT, security, and AV traffic to avoid conflicts. Given the size of the existing Dante network, they began using Dante Domain Manager in 2022 to great effect in maintaining and managing the sitewide deployment. The ability to route Dante audio between VLANs/subnets has been the biggest plus for the church, allowing them to consolidate ten isolated audio systems into one integrated network.

Recently, the church created a feature documentary slated for theater release, but they wanted first to broadcast the premiere campus-wide. Not knowing how large the audience would be for such a venture, the church felt it prudent to have the worship center and several overflow rooms prepared to receive guests and broadcast the documentary. The church felt that the documentary needed to be broadcast in 4K for maximum effect, and while Grace Community Church had a pre-existing video distribution system, it could not deliver video reliably. So church leadership turned to John Mark Conaway, Sunday Technology Supervisor for the church, to coordinate the enormous challenge of distributing reliable 4K video and audio to each screening space.

“We were fully committed to Dante on the audio side, so when we heard about Dante AV, we were interested in trying it out,” said Conaway. “Our initial test in the main overflow room was a ‘set it and forget it’ trial, which worked perfectly. That’s the type of reliability we were looking for, and we didn’t need to tinker with it continuously.”

The church’s AV team deployed nine Bolin D20 Dante AV Ultra transceivers throughout the campus to facilitate the live video stream from the sanctuary to overflow rooms in the satellite buildings. Bolin’s D20 Series Dante AV Ultra transceiver device can be programmed as an encoder or a decoder. Bolin’s D20 Series devices are single video channel networked AV-over-IP transceivers fully compatible with Dante audio devices within a Dante ecosystem like Grace Community Church. Each transceiver supports up to 4K60 streaming over a standard gigabit network with ultra-low latency and offers embedded audio output via HDMI or SDI and PTZ camera movement control via IP or IR pass-through. Based on the pre-existing SDI infrastructure, the church installed three D20H models (HDMI) and six D20S units (SDI) across the campus.

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“The flexibility the D20 transceivers provided regarding audio and video distribution is a big plus,” said Conaway. “Expanding our existing Dante infrastructure to include Dante AV was not only plausible but also usable and cost-effective.”

The church wanted to provide a live introduction in 4K across the campus and then cleanly switch to the documentary being fed from a Blackmagic Design Hyperdeck. The premiere at the church was a huge success, and audience reactions to the AV experience were highly favorable. The power of being able to independently route the audio and video streams while guaranteeing clock synchronization provided the AV team with the tools needed to route de-embedded audio from the main feed and resynchronize with the video stream before inputting the signal into six video matrices serving the overflow rooms and the three large screens in the family center.

Another event the church held where Dante AV was a huge benefit was their Shepherd’s conference. The conference brought hundreds of religious leaders together from across the country, and Conaway’s team distributed video streams with locally translated audio for non-English speaking attendees to temporary hospitality rooms around the campus. The audio resyncing with the video was made easy by Dante AV. Grace Community Church also uses Dante AV regularly for communion, offering an English service in the worship center and a Spanish-led service in the chapel building. When communion begins, the AV feed from the worship center is streamed to the chapel, where spoken words and music lyrics are translated into Spanish in real time, providing a consistent worship experience for all congregants.

“Adding Dante AV to our Dante implementation brought together audio, video, control and management in a single platform for maximum scalability and flexibility,” said Conaway. “For us, the selling points were, first, we were already in the Dante ecosystem, so there’s a familiarity with the technology. You’re not starting over. Plus, our staff doesn’t have the time to train on new systems. Second, ease of implementation. Because Dante AV is in the same ecosystem, the integration happens much faster and easier. I don’t know another way we would have accomplished as much in the last 18 months without spending a lot more time and money.”

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