Wasteful spending on expensive equipment

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
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Wasteful spending on expensive equipment

Postby michaelfish » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:41 pm

Last minute purchasing of retail consumer equipment to produce a television quality broadcast can be a waste of time, resources and money.

I cringe when I see rinky-dink set-ups that can cause headache, frustration, unreliability, not to mention the hours and hours spent trying to fix bugs. For example, why use “Y” cable splitters to distribute video (causes unstable, distorted, restricts cable length and washed out pictures), or passive video switchers that disrupt the video signal as it is being uploaded (causing disconnections and lockups) or still camera tripods to hold cameras (no fluid movement there)? How many times have we seen a Radio Shack lapel microphone purchased on the spur-of-the-moment at full retail, but end up tossing it into a cabinet to never be used again because of feedback problems due the poor quality microphone element (pathetic gain before feedback), dropouts (from being non-diversity) and lack of range (consumer channel allocation)?

The answer is purchasing good quality equipment DESIGNED to do what we need.

If you look closely and do a little research, anyone can find professional broadcast equipment at a fraction of their original price (cameras, tripods cables, ADAPTERS, baluns, special effects generators, time base correctors, professional monitors, video distribution amplifiers, etc.). This is really GOOD, robust, dependable and high quality equipment. Much of this equipment sells at 1/100 of the original price and is still perfectly good. That means that for the SAME price of consumer or prosumer gear, professional quality gear can be purchased instead – equipment designed specifically for what we do. The broadcast industry’s move to digital has caused perfectly good equipment to be dumped on the market, but it takes time to research and shop prices.

In addition, from what I’ve experienced, many Stakes wait until just before a conference (especially if there is a GA visiting) to allow spending of money on needed equipment…and then expect the STS to make everything work just a week or so before the conference (like magic). I’m sorry, but I feel that is a little abusive. We need time to shop, order, secure, run wires, schedule resources, etc. We need to bring the committee together to test, work out bugs, learn how to use the equipment, cross-train, etc. Just before a conference is a great time to ask for money for equipment but let’s get real, it’s not enough time to work out a bug-free experience.

Side Note: It’s sad that some stakes won’t allocate even just a few hundred dollars per year to secure decent equipment but instead, rely on the time and talent of dedicated individuals trying to work with donated, borrowed and substandard “Mickey-Mouse” set-ups. Not to mention how many hundreds of dollars can be saved by being given time to shop around and getting better pricing. For the past several years, I’ve been able to purchase more than twice as much (value-wise) than what was allocated by the budget instead of just going out and impulse buying at full retail.

This forum could be a place where the unknowing STS can come to find out WHAT WORKS and save time, money and frustration by avoiding what has proven to NOT work, but why even try when we don’t get necessary money allocated to us until just before the conference?

We should work with Stake presidencies to plan and budget building-to-building communications needs, and it is OUR responsibility to research, recommend, and make proposals for the needed equipment.

The church has been very responsible providing recommendations for equipment to purchase but they can't fill every need for everybody. Perhaps we could provide additional recommendations for things not found on the church distibution site or catalog?

What do you think about an on-line basic course on the basics of setting up video, sound or distribution for conferences? Or what equipment actually works well in certain situations and why not to use the wrong equipment?

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Postby jdlessley » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:58 am

michaelfish wrote:What do you think about an on-line basic course on the basics of setting up video, sound or distribution for conferences? Or what equipment actually works well in certain situations and why not to use the wrong equipment?

The purpose of these forums is to discuss these situations and experiences. The wiki is where the information is congealed into articles and posted as a repository for those searching out this information. If you have something to contribute you can add to those articles at the wiki. You can also start a new one if the topic doesn't already exist. Check out the Meetinghouse Technology Wiki. You may find what you are proposing already there.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

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