Church Webcasts on YouTube and Facebook with Matrox Monarch LCS
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.
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 Bishoy Ishak, a Saint Peter and Saint Paul congregant who takes care of in-house technical needs, the goal 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 PTZ cameras 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 located 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.
The Monarch LCS seamlessly integrated within their environment, instantly working with their existing set-up, while also supporting RTMP—necessary to live stream to YouTube.
“Our volunteers and deacons had no trouble handling the transition to the LCS,” said Ishak. “With its intuitive user interface, the operation of the LCS is straight forward and very easy to stream live to the world."
In fact, the Monarch LCS allowed the church to be up and running weeks before their Easter deadline. In the 4 months since moving to the LCS, the church has successfully webcast its services to over 22,000 viewers.
The Monarch LCS allowed Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s to go beyond their initial requirements. With the Monarch LCS they realized they can enhance the remote viewing experience by tapping into its second input and its Side-by-Side production mode support.
To accomplish this, the church employs an interesting solution: Running the “Coptic Reader” app on a tablet, and passing this feed through the Monarch LCS’s second HDMI input. This not only allows them to pass the reader along to the screens throughout the sanctuary, but also provide a single side-by-side stream featuring both the camera feed and the “Coptic Reader.” When pushed to the web, this presentation format ensures a more complete worship experience for remote parishioners.
Beyond its ability to stream side by side, the Monarch LCS has provided a consistently noticeable improvement in video performance and quality allowing the church to expand its reach. Its second encoder has allowed the church to stream to Facebook Live as well as YouTube. With over 1,700 Facebook followers, this added feature was a major bonus, which only furthers their mission.
“Like most small and medium-sized churches, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church needed to offer consistent, high-quality streaming with production value, without the need to invest in major production-level equipment,” noted Francesco Scartozzi, director of sales (Americas), Matrox. “Matrox offers congregations the ability to easily expand their reach, at an affordable price. This installation really showcases the potential for the Monarch LCS to give houses of worship a platform to extend their message to a larger, more engaged congregation.”
Matrox Monarch LCS is a comprehensive webcasting appliance built for government, houses of worship, enterprise, and others who need to record or stream live presentations. With powerful frame-synchronization, scaling, deinterlacing, and noise-reduction engines, Monarch LCS delivers H.264 encoding at 1080p at 20 Mbps per stream, ensuring that videos are of the highest quality. The appliance can be configured in a number of modes, including picture-in-picture (PiP) and side-by-side (SbS) layouts.