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Episcopal ordination to be broadcast via high quality webstream

By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 August, 2013

Collaboration between iCatholic, Irish Dominican students and Church Services TV.

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Today’s Episcopal ordination of Fr Denis Nulty as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin is expected to be watched by more people via a high quality web stream than actually attend the ceremony in the cathedral.

Up to 750 guests are expected to attend the ceremony in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, assisted by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown and Bishop Michael Smith of Meath consecrate Bishop-elect Nulty.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin, Bishop Jim Moriarty, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and Monsignor Brendan Byrne, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, will also take part.

In addition to the members of the hierarchy, attendees will include 200 family and friends of Fr Nulty, 170 parish representatives, 100 diocesan guests including members of local religious communities; while a further 100 people will participate in the choir and assist in the liturgy.

Some 200 priests from Kildare and Leighlin, Meath, religious orders and elsewhere will assist at the ceremony.

Arrangements have been made to have the ceremony streamed into the nearby Cathedral Parish Centre and the George Bernard Shaw theatre for those who do not have a ticket for the Cathedral. It will also be available online via iCatholic.

According to Fr Bill Kemmy, who will oversee the broadcast, what will surprise those who watch it online or via the screen is “the jump in quality”.

“It is becoming more and more common for people to be able to have services from churches live on the internet. We will be sending out a high quality picture – a picture that has been gathered from multiple cameras. It will be a professional broadcast – it is not simply a broadcast which has a camera up at the back of the church!”

“People would be used to watching video content online and some of the videos might be recorded in a very low resolution or only available at a low resolution, whereas this programme is more of a HD quality.”

The broadcast is the result of a collaboration between iCatholic, members of the Irish Dominican Order and Church Services TV.

“What is great about this particular broadcast is that it is really done by the Church. Irish Dominican students, who have done great work in this area, are going to be the crew on the day. There will be three of them – all are students training for the Dominican Order. They are building up an expertise and a capacity in the Church that will develop church communications. They would have done some outstanding work recently at some of the pro life rallies in Dublin on the outside broadcast and relaying it on to the big screens.”

Fr Kemmy worked with these students last year in the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Another aspect of the collaboration is the role Church Services TV will play in providing some of the infrastructure for the streaming. “We are availing of some of Church Services TV’s infrastructure for the streaming,” Fr Kemmy explains and praises the tripartite collaboration which has made this technology feasible.

Fr Kemmy describes iCatholic as “very much an in-house player for the Church. It is something that has been developed over the last year or so and we have very high hopes for where we can go with this technology.”

“I think people more and more have been getting used to the idea that churches are able to have live streams on a regular basis. That is becoming more and more common.”

He says that for the emigrant community, this will be increasingly important as they can see funerals and weddings online, as well as more locally, those who can’t get to Mass can still look in.

However, the standard in quality can vary. “It starts with something like a low quality webcam – and can go all the way up.”

The advantage of the multi-camera broadcast is that Fr Kemmy’s crew will be able to provide close-ups at various key moments in the ceremony and show people from the back of the church and from the top of the church.

“So really, on some of these occasions, if you are sitting at home, you almost have the best view because you can see a number of views that you wouldn’t get sitting in any one place in the cathedral.”

The recent ordination of Bishop Brendan Leahy in Limerick was watched by over 1,000 people online.

“We expect that there will be more people watching the ceremony in Carlow than will actually be in the cathedral,” Fr Kemmy states.

“For me this is a beginning for this application. It is wonderful for these types of ceremonies but I think that the same technology and quality could be applied to other live programmes.” He is thinking of interaction with schools and evening classes.

But his first priority is to “develop this platform as something that will support the work of church communications,”he explains.

By Sarah Mac Donald

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