Taking Your House of Worship from SD to HD: What You Need to Know
The use of digital technology in church settings has boosted congregation engagement in recent years, leading to an overall stronger house of worship. Making the switch from standard definition (SD) video equipment to high definition (HD) may seem like an overwhelming task, but you don’t need to be tech-savvy to understand the process.
Why Choose HD?
When HD (16:9) technologies entered the home entertainment market, people were quick to prefer it to grainy SD (4:3) resolutions. The high quality, clarity, and crispness of HD brought viewers closer to their favorite TV shows and movies and made them feel like they were part of the action.
In the same way, HD in a house of worship inspires a close and personal connection. The technology enhances the churchgoing experience, and can make even the biggest mega church experience seem personalized, warm, and welcoming. This can connect worshippers and deepen the experience in amazing ways.
If you’re unsure about making the switch, consider the ways you use technology in your ministries each week. If you’re posting sermon videos online, or broadcasting sermons to multiple church campuses, you can see that SD is no longer a sustainable tech solution. It’s wiser to switch to HD before you discover your SD system is unstable or dying.
Obviously, investing in HD equates to more than simply jumping on the tech bandwagon—it’s a step toward stable video output, increased parishioner engagement, and security moving into the future.
Selecting the Right Equipment
If you don’t know the first thing about HD equipment, read up on the main system requirements in relation to what your church needs. Contact local churches to find a good systems integrator who can help you make sense of the process and put an upgrade plan in place.
You and your ministry partner will need to research each piece of equipment to ensure you can integrate it into your church’s existing technology. For example, if you use video for online blogging, big-screen viewing, or live streaming, you’ll need HD cameras, new cabling, and possibly upgraded players (e.g., DVD and Blu-ray).
Often, you can use your old SD equipment and purchase converters instead of completely replacing all of your current gear. Just keep in mind that if you’ll be converting some of your old SD video footage to HD resolution, you’ll need to purchase a video scaler that can compress or uncompress a video signal without downscaling it to a lower resolution.
But don’t panic—if your church is not comfortable committing to a complete overhaul, start by replacing failed SD equipment with multi-definition equipment. Multi-definition equipment works in SD and HD, so you can use it in your current configuration as well as when you’re able to fully migrate to HD.
Want a blueprint to follow for migrating your house of worship from SD to HD? Sharefaith.com recommends updating SD equipment to HD in the following order:
- Recording Media
- Main Projectors
- Secondary Screens
Counting the Cost
As with any large-scale purchase, it pays to shop around. Ask other congregations that have already integrated HD where they purchased their gear. To cut costs, check out refurbished and used HD equipment instead of buying brand new. Read online forums for advice, and compare prices between used tech stores, eBay, and other secondhand stores to save.
When it comes to embracing new technologies, your church most likely doesn’t have a substantial budget. To keep the trustees from voting down the project before it begins, consider the HD upgrade a multi-phase process rather than a one-time expense. Create a step-by-step plan that makes sense for your church—whether that means starting with cameras, projection, wiring, and so on—and use this slow-and-steady approach to gain buy-in from leadership.
Obviously, HD is initially more expensive to integrate into your services than SD, but the return on investment is well worth the cost. Just remember that the transition won’t happen overnight, and it will require patience. However, the upgrade will serve your church for years to come, and will help your congregation worship freely and without distraction.