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Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral takes services online

Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral takes services online

Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral takes services online

United Kingdom:

At the start of the national lockdown resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, Kate Lucas from Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King contacted technical services provider Adlib to get support with taking their services online. Adlib has a long-standing relationship with the cathedral and has provided support for a wide range of live events in the past.

Hoping this would only be a temporary measure, Adlib’s rental department, led by Tom Edwards and assisted by lighting and video technical manager, Nick Whitehead, provided a package comprising a Panasonic AG-DVX200 camcorder, a Blackmagic Web Presenter and a MacBook Pro running OBS, along with full training and support for the cathedral’s team.

However, as the weeks went on, it became clear that the livestreams were popular with a broader audience than just the cathedral’s regular congregation with over 5,000 views a week. Even as the cathedral began planning its reopening in a Covid-secure way, it was felt that streaming would remain an important channel for its ministry and the decision was made to invest in an installed livestreaming system.

Though the rental system was ideal on a temporary basis, it was not suitable for permanent installation. The tripod-mounted camera was subject to movement or even theft; cables, though neatly run, could pose a hazard once the general public were readmitted; and the Web Presenter, though convenient, limited the resolution of the stream to 720p.

As a manned camera would create an obstruction, a Panasonic AW-HN40 PTZ camera was specified. A second HN40 was added behind the High Altar, providing views into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and shots of the choir and organist. Both cameras make use of the NDI|HX protocol and are PoE+ powered, allowing them to be installed with just a single cable.

To capture the organ, Adlib installed four DPA 4098 microphones, with two as general ambients aimed at the congregation and two directed at the organ and still-empty choir stalls. These are processed and mixed with a mono sum mix from the cathedral’s sound reinforcement system, before being transmitted to the production gallery via Dante.

The scale of the cathedral posed several challenges to the installation team. With all audio inputs and one of the two cameras coming from a point almost exactly in the centre of the circular building, Adlib needed to find a route for cables some 97m to the production gallery, which was established on a previously unused balcony overlooking the sanctuary from three storeys up. Adlib’s installation designer, Tim Robinson, specified Cat-7A cable with especially large 0.5mm2 (22AWG) conductors to ensure that not only data, but also PoE and any analogue signals which may be sent down spare cables in the future, would make the journey intact.

“It’s been so great working with Adlib,” confirmed Lucas. “They’ve always been there to offer advice and support and this project has gone so smoothly. The engineers onsite were so friendly and professional and the relationship with Tom, Nick and Tim has been amazing. The system is so easy to use. We’re not technically minded; however, we managed to stream our first mass all by ourselves (though with Nick sitting next to us, just in case).”

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