Lithurgy of the Hours webcast
Sometimes, our productions bring us to special places and with special people. In 2003 we were contacted by the internet department of Dutch broadcaster KRO/RKK to talk about webcasting the ”Lithurgy of the Hours” for the Trappistines of Abdij Koningsoord in Berkel-Enschot. Monkhood was something a little known to us, because for several years we have been webcasting and recording for the Trappists of Abdij Maria Toevlucht in Zundert. It was a special experience for us computer-nerds, walking around in a monastery. You feel your equipment is a little out-of-place there, feeling as if you’re going back 100 years… Let alone walking around with your mobile phone, and a green Apple Clamshell laptop.
KRO/RKK asked us, to develop a live-webcasting solution, making the Lithurgy of the Hours available to the world, six times a day. It should be portable to be able to move the set to other events and locations too. The live-stream should be small, for listeners using telephone lines to connect to the internet. It demanded from us to think well about this solution, because it would be custom work, as it did not exist commercially (and still doesn’t) and we could not ask the nuns to start-up the encoder by typing in some UNIX commands in a Terminal.
The result was a 1-meter high flight case with audio mixer and Compressor Gate. With this we could control the sound and volume. The signal was then sent to an audio encoder. A computer with the Linux operating system that generated the mp3 audio-stream, small enough for all listeners but with enough quality to enjoy the prayers, hymns and psalms. There was also a no-break, preventing the set to cease working after a power failure. Furthermore we used a second hard-drive raid system for extra protection.
Starting and stopping the stream, was another story. We developed a small box with a start and stop button and a light. The box was in the church up on the wall. One of the nuns would press this one button, the light started blinking and the stream was running. It looked simple from the outside, but within this box, was a little server sending signals to our audio encoder. Pressing the button would make some scripts start on the encoder, call into the streaming server via ISDN, and start streaming. After a few years, the availability of ADSL in the monastery made us change some things again and also install a video-encoder. With this it was now possible to listed and view the Lithurgy of the Hours live. We controlled the video encoder remotely to keep the peace in the monastery.
In 2009, the whole monastery moved, form Berkel-Enschot to Oosterbeek near Arnhem. KRO/RKK asked us to move the whole setup and install a new installation there. We used the opportunity to improve it all, place new microphones more suitable to the acoustics of the new church. And a CMS system was developed, now making it possible for the nuns to program the start-and-stop times of the broadcast themselves in a user-friendly way.
We are now 12 years ahead., and have replaced the old encoder for a new one. This time a new energy-saving encoder was built. Again it was a custom-made job because the solution did not exist. We did this together with the server experts of Warpnet in Groningen. Ready for the next 12 years, and the monastery also for the special Christmas broadcasts the coming days. If you would like to listen, please visit the website of the Trappistines via this link:
link: Lithurgy of the Hours
Michiel Overeem - managing director Connecting Media Netherlands