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Mars Hill Church Goes HD With Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD Multiformat Production Switcher
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008
Mars Hill Church Goes HD With Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD Multiformat Production Switcher

Kahuna Enables Seattle-Area Church to Deliver Live HD Production of Pastor's Message to More Than 6,000 Worshippers Across Seven Campuses


Mars Hill Church, a dynamically and rapidly growing house of worship with more than 6,000 attendees in metropolitan Seattle, has chosen the Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switcher to anchor the church's transition to HD production. Installed at Mars Hill's Ballard campus, the Kahuna is used to enhance Sunday worship services and streamline delivery of a live HD presentation of the pastor's message to six other congregations throughout the Puget Sound area.

For the main Sunday service, which is shot in high definition, Mars Hill's production engineers use the Kahuna switcher to mix in additional feeds from SD sources such as cameras, character generators, and presentation software that includes talking points for the pastor displayed on a 60-inch LCD screen. Snell & Wilcox's exclusive FormatFusion enables the Kahuna to seamlessly integrate the SD content into the HD production. The result is streamed to the other six campuses with a 15-minute delay to enable congregations to incorporate the sermon into their individual services. In the near future, Mars Hill plans on extending the Kahuna with an auxiliary panel that can be operated by a second engineer, which will enable the church to switch content for other elements of the worship service such as visual and lighting effects.

"With upwards of 6,000 attending our services every Sunday across seven campuses, we view HD production as an important tool for keeping people engaged in the message and excited about worshipping with us. At the same time, a great deal of our content still exists in SD format, and the cost of conversion gear was not within our budget," said Jeff VanderGiessen, Mars Hill's production technology director. "Of the switchers we evaluated, the Kahuna was the only one that could automatically mix SD content into our HD production without requiring upconversion, providing an easy and cost-effective solution."

"Houses of worship face similar challenges to broadcasters as they make the transition to HD production, and typically even greater budget constraints. Churches need to preserve their existing investment in an SD infrastructure, but at the same time, they are trying to reach younger audiences with high expectations for the enhanced image quality and leading-edge 'buzz' that HD offers," said Joe Zaller, vice president, corporate development at Snell & Wilcox. "As Mars Hill Church has shown, the Kahuna's multiformat switching capabilities can help meet both objectives -- enabling a church to deliver a first-rate HD production without a significant cash outlay."