Victor Kubik sits down with Peter Eddington to discuss the new recording studio being planned for the Home Office.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. Here we are at the Home Office, early January 2017. Our guest today is Peter Eddington, Operation Manager from Media and Communications here at the United Church of God. Welcome to the podcast.
[Peter Eddington] Hi, Vic. Thanks for having me.
[Victor] Peter, today I'd like to talk to you about the newly approved TV studio building to be built here on the grounds of the Home Office. For all of us here, it's a very exciting development as we have a great need to upgrade our video and television capabilities.
[Peter] You know, Vic, it's a really exciting time for us here at the home office to have had this particular idea approved. The idea is to add a new facility, a new soundstage, really, to the end of the Home Office building out by the loading dock. We're thinking of a soundstage area, at least 75 feet by 50 feet or so, with quite a high ceiling so that we can do quite a lot in there. Of course the first step, with our limited budget in the Media Department, is to have some funding for it. So after presenting this to the Council of Elders earlier this month, well, actually earlier last month now… we’re into the new year… early in December, the Council of Elders themselves got quite excited about the idea and approved for a special fund to be created for those who would like to contribute to the development of this particular idea.
[Victor] I was there at that meeting and, certainly, it was great unanimous acclamation for pursuing this project. I know that when we started our other studio, what, 10 years ago or so now?
[Peter] Twelve years.
[Victor] Yeah, 12 years ago, it was so exciting. We thought that was a great development. But now, it's really something that is obsolete and really does need a lot of upgrading. And with the new types of technology and techniques that we're using, we really need that studio. Peter, tell us more about the facility and what it will do that we have not been able to do now.
[Peter] Anybody that has come to the Home Office and taken a tour, almost without exception, has been surprised at how small the current studio space is, where we record, not only "Beyond Today" programs but BT Dailies and other projects for the Church. It's a very small room and when we have three or four cameramen in there and the rest of the crew, there's not much room to move. So it is time to have a bigger space with which we can do a lot more.
The new facility will be a large open space in which we can have two or three different areas to use as a set. The formal Beyond Today studio area, where we record the Beyond Today television program, but also some other areas where we can have more of a living room or casual interview area, a green screen with a cyclorama where other backdrops and scenes can be dropped in, a very, very flexible space with a much higher ceiling than we have just in our office building now, that will enable a lot more flexibility. In fact, we can even have room for a small studio audience is our goal so that even now Beyond Today Bible studies and other projects can have that live feel, which actually helps our presenters up their game, shall we say, when there's a live audience there. It’s going to be a very flexible facility.
Some of the other areas or things we could do with it… a greenroom where they can go over their notes and go through the Scriptures and also have some glow-reduction put on, you know, a makeup room and greenroom. Of course, the control room will have storage for our equipment, cameras, lights and a place to store many of the props that we've purchased and put together over the years as well. In addition, there’ll be a place for doing this very thing like we're doing now…
[Peter] …which is a podcast and audio recordings, sermon recordings. We have two areas here at the Home Office that are used for this kind of thing now…an audio studio where we are here and also what we call Studio B, which is for other small video projects. All that can move into the new space when it's built and free up, actually, two or three offices here for future needs at the Home Office. One additional benefit in having a new video studio is that our current space can be repurposed as office space here in the Home Office for staff.
And, in particular, we will be able to have more of our Media Department working together in the same part of the building, which is very helpful for collaboration, for sharing ideas, for seeing what's going on and keeping up to date on the work of the department. So the current studio will be turned into office space, and it’ll be right adjacent to what is now our “video editing cave,” we call it. So that’ll bring even more of the staff together for collaboration, which will be a benefit as well. Of course, the first step with this is to get funding and so that's why the Council approved the new restricted fund for this. So not a lot can start until we have at least half the money here in the bank so that we can start getting official plans together, contacting an architect, and that type of thing.
[Victor] So, how much is this going to cost?
[Peter] We asked the Council of Elders to set aside $500,000 to $600,000 for this project. So that's the goal for the restricted fund. Probably, at least half of that will be construction cost for the soundstage building itself and about another half for equipment. We want to upgrade to 4K equipment, 4K monitors, 4K cameras. That is the direction, believe it or not, that online streaming is going. Online providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, are now starting to stream in 4K-resolution, which is four times resolution of HD.
[Victor] That's a lot of throughput.
[Peter] Yeah, a lot of pixels. So we want to be keeping up with that game. In addition, we want to design a completely new set for Beyond Today, for our half hour television program that will have space for the presenters to walk. There’ll be space for them to go over and look at illustrations and, we’d like to have a big video wall for maps and charts and they can go over and point things out in the program. So the program will be a lot more dynamic and have a lot more movement in it than a little four-foot by four-foot restricted area we have right now for the presenters to stand in.
[Victor] I know. I mean it's just almost claustrophobic in that studio. And also the control room is an adjacent room with no window into the studio as it is right now and we’ll have a proper control room with a glass window and it’ll be just fantastic, the way it looks.
[Peter] Right. And so this is a project we're very excited about. And once we see the funding start to take shape, we will go ahead and contract with an architect and designer to help us with, of course, all the official construction plans, or the brick and mortar, the concrete, the plumbing, the water, the electricity.
[Victor] Well, this is exciting. We do want to give you regular reports about the progress of this starting at the beginning of this year. How long, Peter, will it be before we'll start producing programs in this building?
[Peter] I would say it’ll be at least a year. Let's say that we get enough funding in the next month or so to draw up plans, then groundbreaking could take place perhaps in July. So that’ll be July for groundbreaking. Maybe by the end of this year, the end of 2017, we might see the building up and in place and equipment being installed. So that puts us into January of 2018, a year from now, to actually begin recording Beyond Today programs. But we'll share with everyone the plans once they get drawn up, artists renditions of how it will look. And I actually did a time lapse of the Home Office going up years ago. Maybe we'll even do a little time lapse of the building going up and show everybody what's happening and keep everybody informed.
[Victor] Well, Peter, how can one donate to this project? What's the plan?
[Peter] There are two fairly easy ways. On our website, we do have the "donate" link on our website. And when you click on that, you have several options of what to donate to: regular tithes and offerings, building funds, that type of thing. There is now a button for the new studio.
[Victor] Oh, okay.
[Peter] And in addition, we sent a letter out to the membership here in the United States a couple of weeks back, and there's a reply envelope in there that can be used. And then people just need to make a notation on their check that it's for the new video building, and that should take care of that.
[Victor] And we had some nice donations come in just before the end of the year. Well, thank you for telling us about these marvelous developments, Peter. We'll be giving regular updates about the new facility as the time goes by. Well, I always enjoy talking to you about what we're doing and doing the work of God and proclaiming the gospel messages. Thank you for coming here, Peter.
[Peter] You're welcome.
[Victor] Thanks for joining us on “Inside United.” Please come back again soon for more.
[Announcer] This is a production of the United Church of God. For more, visit ucg.org.