For six months in 2013, the parish of St Gertrude’s in Smithfield was blessed with the placement of Deacon Josué David Quej Moran under the care of the Parish Priest, Fr. Michael. In that time, he had become a strong part of the community, and his ministry ranged from visits to the sick and elderly, young families, the Antioch youth movement and the Neo Catechumenate community (of which he is a part).
His ordination was set for Friday the 29th November 2013, on the vigil of the Feast of St Andrew. His Eminence George Cardinal Pell would preside the ordination, with St Gertrude’s open to a number of guest communities and priests from all over Sydney.
In the lead up, the parish worked diligently to raise the funds needed to host the event, rallied groups to organize the agape receptions and so forth. In particular, money was raised through generous donations in order to fly his parents and sister to Australia from Guatemala.
A few weeks prior to the event, we were asked whether it would be possible to stream a broadcast of his ordination to the rest of his family in Guatemala, as well as a community in Melbourne. What was needed was a way to stream audio and video from – preferably – multiple views to local and overseas locations without complicated remote user setup or connections. There was also a language component to consider, as Dcn. Josué’s family in Guatemala did not speak English.
In order to ensure this stream could properly traverse some 13,500 KM across the globe, it was clear that something web based would be the most efficient method of delivery. It would also be the most convenient way for his family and friends to access the stream. Equally, it would also mean less traffic being required to be uploaded on the modest Internet connection available.
Therefore, there were three items that needed to be addressed by a solution:
1. There was no internet connectivity in the church itself
2. Combining the streams of multiple cameras and perhaps mics as well into one single, easy to manage view
3. Provide a simple way to access this broadcast
Final streaming setup – Mikrotek SXT G PtP for internet connection, MacBook Air to run the Network Video Recorder software for the AirCams and an Apple Airport Extreme holding this little LAN together.
The Internet connectivity was addressed using the excellent Mikrotek SXT G PtP wireless devices. Parish IT have used these particular wireless appliances before, to great effect, for creating point to point (P2P) links between buildings. They are cheap (available as a preconfigured pair for $253 from Wireless Professional Solutions), powerful (extending to ranges of many hundreds of metres) and reliable. We relocated the receiving end-unit of a pair that St Gertrude’s already owns to the church for the purpose of providing an Internet connection. So far, so good.
Ubiquiti AirCams installed and ready to roll.
After some research and product comparisons, we decided to use the Ubiquiti AirCam range of high definition (HD) surveillance cameras. These are IP cameras, receiving their power from the same Ethernet network cable (Power over Ethernet) that provides the feed to the recorder software installed on a Microsoft Windows or Ubuntu Linux computer. After testing, we found that the video quality was very good, as was the ability to give access to the live views of the cameras from anywhere in the world via the server’s web interface (while recording the same stream simultaneously). Specifically, we advised the purchase of a three pack of AirCam Ubiquiti with AirVision, once again from Wireless Professional Solutions.
Web console view of both cameras, set side by side. While the image is slightly compressed, it serves well as an overview.
Detailed view of the congregation, eagerly awaiting the beginning of the Mass.
Detail view of the altar, with choir and organ in the background behind main altar.
We setup the entire system with an Apple Airport Extreme holding the network traffic together; acting as a switch for the cameras and recording AirVision server (installed on the MacBook Air), the gateway to the Internet (via the SXT device), and a wireless network for management from an iPad.
As far as the network configuration for this setup goes, once the SXT device was connected, we received IP addresses and DNS information from the onsite server in the parish office. In order to allow viewing of the web console from outside the local network, we simply added a Virtual Host NAT rule to the firewall. We then forwarded instructions with screenshots, in English and Spanish, to the family and communities invited to watch.
Parish IT was also present during the event, just in case there were any issues with the devices or the feed (of which it is worth noting that there were none whatsoever).
It was clear that (now) Father Josué and his family were overjoyed at this solution – so much so that we were asked to broadcast his first Mass on the Sunday after his ordination (where we received two honourable mentions in his thank you speech!)
We wish our friend Father Josué all the best in his vocation to the priesthood, and thank him for allowing us to serve him at this special time of his life.
If you would like to know more about this solution, or how Parish IT can make the impossible a reality for you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Prepared by Jürgen Mertin
Approved by Father Josué Moran and Father Michael Szymanski