May, 2021 — Having been broadcasting its services since the 1980s, First Baptist Church (FBC) of Opelika is no stranger to live streaming, so when the pandemic struck, it was nearly seamless for the church to transition to a completely online presence. However, having a reduced production staff on-site to produce the live stream, it was crucial for the church to alter its workflow and capture the service with only one person operating a manned camera and one calling the cues from the broadcast room. To enhance communication capabilities between the camera operator and director, the church called on Pliant Technologies’ MicroCom M digital wireless intercom system.
Looking for a local manufacturer to bring in a coms system, Matt Tabor, campus production coordinator at FBC Opelika, reached out to Pliant Technologies to inquire about the brand’s offerings. After discussing the church’s needs, Pliant took a quick trip down to FBC Opelika to provide Tabor with a demo of its MicroCom M system. He was instantly impressed by the system’s range as he walked up, down, and around the three levels of the facility, each of which is separated by thick, concrete walls.
“I’m always hesitant to purchase new gear because our building is so old,” explains Tabor. “It was a huge help that Pliant was able to provide us with a demo so I could really put the system through its paces. From the third floor of the worship space all the way down to the broadcast room, which is located in a concrete basement, the signal remains strong, and we are able to communicate clearly throughout the entire facility. It’s really amazing.”
As COVID restrictions began to lift in Alabama earlier this year, FBC Opelika welcomed its congregation back inside and expanded its MicroCom M system from two to five packs for its production crew, which includes volunteers ranging from 15- to 75-years old. With the church’s volunteers not having much technical experience, it’s important that they have access to simple-to-operate production equipment. “Working with MicroCom has been fantastic—it truly is a plug-and-play solution that’s super easy to use,” says Tabor. “It’s also really helpful that we don’t have to connect to a basestation since we have two different worship spaces in our facility. When we have back-to-back services and need to transition between the two spaces, it’s really convenient that we can take our packs with us and not have to move any gear or re-pair the devices—the setup process is a breeze.”
Another standout feature for Tabor is that the crew can deploy MicroCom M even when the units are charging. “If someone forgets to charge a pack, I can plug it into a USB cable and the pack can sit there charging throughout an entire service, while still being usable to the camera operator. All of our stations with command cameras have a USB cable plugged into them in case the operator needs to charge the pack. Even if the battery’s dead upon arrival, as soon as it has enough charge to turn on, it’s good throughout the entire service and I don’t have to worry about it again.”
Along with the MicroCom M packs, FBC Opelika also deploys a combination of Pliant’s SmartBoom LITE single-ear and SmartBoom PRO dual-ear headsets. “Having a wide range of volunteers, some prefer the lighter, single-ear headsets and some prefer the more heavy-duty dual-ear headsets for the noise-canceling ability,” says Tabor. “It’s been great to have the flexibility of choosing what type of headset that they want to wear.
Although its live stream presence has surged due to the pandemic, FBC Opelika services are broadcasted over various mediums including multiple websites, social media platforms, a local radio station, and two television stations. “Even as the public continues to transition back to in-person services, we will continue to broadcast and live stream our services to the world, and Pliant will remain a huge part of our production,” explains Tabor. “MicroCom M is a standout intercom solution and has been a huge help for us in producing and streaming our services.”