Here are some of the technology hardware and software tools that we currently use to record and produce our videos, photographs, interactive tours, and this website.
1. DJI Mavic 2s: This is our main drone for shooting aerial photos and videos. Its camera has a one-inch sensor that we use to capture images in JPG and RAW (NEF 5472 x 3648px, 20 MP High Dynamic Range). It shoots up to 5.4K video (5472 x 3078px) at 30 fps video resolution. Regulations require this drone to be registered with Transport Canada and be flown only by a licensed pilot.
2. DJI Mini 2: Because of its light weight (249 gm), this drone is not regulated. It has a one-half inch sensor with 12 MP effective pixels. The maximum image size is 4000 x 3000 pixels. The maximum video resolution is 4K (3840 x 2160px) at 24/25/30fps. The Mini 2 captures excellent images and videos, but not at the same resolution as the Mavic 2s.
3. Nikon D850 DSLR (AF 24 – 120 mm lens): This is the newest addition to our photography tool chest. This camera enables us to capture very high-resolution images (45.5 MP, NEF 8256 x 5504 px in RAW format). The files will be suitable for creating larger museum-quality prints for displays. This camera has excellent low-light capabilities and very good color rendering.
4. Nikon D7200 DSLR (AF 18 – 140 mm lens): Our secondary photographic camera. It captures great images, including those shot in low light. This is useful when shooting the interiors of churches since no flash or other lighting is needed. Also, the zoom lens allows us to select the best field of view. We now shoot all images in JPG and RAW (NEF 6016 x 4016 px, 24.16MP, High Dynamic Range).
5. Canon XA50 4K video cameras: These are our main video cameras. We use them for livestreaming and recording weddings, baptisms, funerals, liturgies, interviews, etc. Their videos complement those produced by our drone cameras.
6. Video transmitters: We have two sets of Hollyland video transmitters that allow us to send video/audio signals from our Canon XA50 cameras to the Atem Mini Pro switcher (see below) for livestreaming or recording purposes.
7. Black Magic Atem Mini Pro ISO: This is a versatile video switcher capable to handling and recording up to 4 video cameras. We use it for livestreaming events, and recording video for post-production of funerals, weddings and baptisms.
8. RODECaster Pro Podcast Production Studio: An audio interface and mixer that can capture and record up to 4 different microphones. Can be fed directly into the Atem Mini pro to record quality audio for the video production.
9. Microphones: We have an assortment of wired and wireless microphones and stands to to capture and record professional-quality audio.
10. Lighting: Our inventory includes a variety of adjustable lighting equipment (battery and wired) along with stands to provide optimum lighting as required.
11. Joomla CMS: This is an open-source content management system (CMS), much like WordPress. We have developed dozens of websites using Joomla over the past 20 years. We are very comfortable and experienced in working with it. The Joomla community also has thousands of specialized plug-in components to address our specialized needs (e.g., Ignite Gallery).
12. Ignite Gallery: This is a Joomla plug-in photo/video gallery that we have installed to display the images on this website. It was selected because it has features such as: ease-of-use, expanded views, zoom in/out, and downloads of the images.
13. Davinci Resolve Studio 18: A professional video editing program from Black Magic Design. It has features that include basic video editing; color grading; audio editing, and publishing to many different video formats. This is a complex program that requires much learning to make full use of its capabilities. It also requires significant computer processing power to work efficiently.
14. Affinity Photo 2: An Adobe Photoshop clone, but much cheaper, and just as good. It does an excellent job in editing and processing RAW images and publishing them in all major formats. It has all the features to make our photos look better, but we particularly like the INPAINT component. This allows us to very easily remove items such as power poles and lines from our pictures.
15. Acoustica 7: This is our primary audio editing / processing program. It is easy to use and has all the necessary features to fix and/or enhance the audio we use in our videos. We use it mostly to prepare the various audio clips prior to importing them into Davinci Resolve.
16. Auphonic Leveler: This software, designed for radio broadcasting, is an excellent tool that makes it possible to have a consistent volume on your audio files. It also has some clean up functionality including a high-pass filter, and noise and hum reduction. It is especially useful when digitizing audio from other formats such as cassette tapes, LPs and CDs.
17. Amazon Polly: A neural speech-to-text program we use to create the narrations used in our videos. Computer generated voices have come a long way, and now are sounding much more natural. We have tried various other services (e.g., Talkia), but so far Polly has worked the best for us.
18. Vimeo.com: We have a paid Vimeo Pro Plan where we upload and host our videos. We then link to our Vimeo account to access and play the videos on our website. Unlike YouTube, there are NO ads or other disruptions with Vimeo. The fees are affordable, and the storage limits are generous. Videos require a lot of storage disc space which would quickly overwhelm our dedicated server. Vimeo offers a cost-effective alternative, especially as we begin hosting 4K videos. Another benefit is that our videos can also be viewed on and downloaded directly from our Vimeo Channel.
However, we did discover one benefit of YouTube. YT will let you know if any of your content infringes on someone else’s copyright. We were notified that several of the hymns we were using did infringe copyright. Fortunately, in all instances we were told that we could continue to use this music, BUT that any ad revenues would go to the copyright holder! We’re fine with that arrangement.
20. Web Hosting Canada (WHC): We lease a high-end, dedicated and fully managed server located in Quebec, Canada. Currently we host 12 websites for ourselves and various clients. All websites are backed up off-site daily.
The videos were created from photographs shot by our DJI Mavic 2s drone and our Nikon D850 camera. The RAW photographs were processed using Affinity Photo to make color corrections; remove power poles and lines; and make other enhancements. The images were exported to a JPG format at 300 dpi and at a height of 1080 px. These photos were then imported into Davinci Resolve to make the videos. Dynamic zooming was implemented to give the motion effect. The audio tracks were added and synchronized to the photo images. The final videos were published in a MP4 1920 x 1080(HD) format and uploaded to Vimeo.
Technology Expertise and Experience
Some of the other websites that we have developed and/or host include the following.
- St. Anthony Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Edmonton, Alberta
- St. Anthony's Store in Edmonton, Alberta
- St. Stephen Cemetery in Edmonton, Alberta
- Learning Nurse Resource Network – a nursing education site used by 250,000 nurses and students from around the world.
- Steppingstones Partnership, Inc. – our corporate website describing who we are and what we do.