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FRESH POND MONTHLY MEETING

COMMENTS/DISCUSSION BY THOSE ATTENDING HYBRID WORSHIP AT BEACON HILL

APRIL 24, 2022

 

Different fonts below designate the comments of those who attended.

 

Friend from FPMM on Zoom. First of all, throughout the time, there was a clicking-banging kind of noise which was sometimes quite loud; I could not locate the source, since everyone on line was muted and no one physically present seemed to doing anything to account for the noise There was someone identified as the tech host who appeared to be on line via Zoom. She was muted and didn’t seem to be the cause of the noise.  I was left feeling that perhaps it had something to do with the equipment or something some unseen host was doing. Does anyone have an explanation?

 

Friend from FPMM on Zoom. Yes, I noticed the noise and turned my volume way down. I realized that in my hopes for hybrid in-person worship that I did not take into account whether the noise in the meeting room would be heard, possibly amplified with an electronic dynamic, and/or easy to reduce. Had no idea what it could be, unless it might have been ‘old house’ noises, like a heating system.

 

Friend from FPMM in person. There were several air purifier units making quite a bit of background noise. I suspect that that was what you were hearing. One of them was sweeping back and forth and would click at the end of each rotation. 

 

Friend from BHFM, occasional attender at FPMM: I appreciate being invited to comment. I have been pretty regular in on-line attendance at BHFM for months. I have not attended in person. I find the noises coming from the House somewhat distracting. The background noises that wouldn’t bother me if I were there in person can be annoying when they come through a speaker into a room that has its own background noise. Good air purifiers do not need to make more than the slightest noise. 


Friend from FPMM on Zoom. I attended Beacon Hill on line and heard the same noises you did. I assume that they are ambient noises in the meeting room amplified by the microphones so they were a bit distracting.  For the first part of the meeting I pinned the meeting room window. This has the effect of showing that screen as if it were in speaker view but not changing if someone else spoke. This gave me a chance to familiarize myself with the room and the people there. I even dragged the column of thumbnails of people on Zoom so that it fell in a spot in the screen where no one was sitting. After a while, I just went back to gallery view so I could see everyone on Zoom. I would also like to see us try with the Owl or CoolPo to see how that works.


I noticed that if we were on gallery view or speaker view that the people physically in the Meeting House were all on one frame and that when one person there spoke, the camera did not switch to focus on that person. Nor did the microphone. My memory is that this is different from other technology which we experimented with before; with CoolPro, the camera and microphone both moved to focus on the area of the speaker. Yes?

 

Also wondered about the differences between the previously tested system from last summer, at CFS, and this with the D7 system. If the CoolPo focused on the speaker, and amplified the voice, that would be a plus.

 

There might be different settings for the D7 so what I saw might not be the final word but, at least at this meeting, the D7 did not focus on the speaker like the CoolPo did. I could only see 12 people on the screen, I believe because the D7 was damaged. I am not sure what the full capacity of the D7 – If it can do up to 25 (like Zoom) then that seems sufficient for a hybrid meeting at Fresh Pond even assuming a 50/50 split between in-person and zoom. I found the D7 speaker to be hard to hear (again, that might be a setting that can be changed). The auto chyron at the bottom of the screen was extremely hard to read and I was fairly close to the screen.

 

I am disappointed that the audio quality in the meeting room was not good. The sound quality of the two messages over Zoom seemed good. I feel that the sound from the meeting room often comes through poorly on Zoom. A few years ago, Beacon Hill had used a system that allowed anyone who wanted to use it to wear headphones that relayed the signal from a microphone that was handed to anyone who stood to offer a message.  During Fellowship I asked about whether it seemed practical to pass a handheld microphone in a similar way. It seems that there are some technical issues that make that complicated, especially that the D7 seems not to accommodate input from another microphone. I don’t want to criticize the work or judgment of the BHFH and BHFM people who have done very well, especially since I didn’t offer to help. I feel that use of a handheld microphone would make a large and important improvement in my ability to hear someone speaking in the meeting room. (Often I can’t understand them at all.) It could also eliminate the background noise from the meeting room. 

 

Part of that means that if we were on gallery view, we could see all the people on Zoom but the folks at the Meeting House were all in one frame, so they became unrecognizable; and if we were on speaker view, we got a better view of the people in the Meeting House but could only see 3-4 people who were on Zoom. We had a choice but neither gave the on-line people a good view of who was there all together. I’m wondering what it was like at the other end. To our in person Friend could you see everyone on Zoom clearly? And could you hear the two different people who spoke?

 

Yes, hoped to hear from our in person Friend what he was seeing on the D7 screen. The view from our gallery was sufficient, not great. In may be that we have to give up the idea of knowing who the speaker is, because if someone is bringing a message under diving authority then we don’t really need to attach it to a person. Though that would take some getting used to in our smallish meeting. When I have attended worship in large meeting rooms, such as in Philadelphia or in Quaker conferences, it was usually not possible to know who was speaking unless I was close by or recognized a familiar voice.

 

I could see everyone on the screen just fine. I have grown accustomed to Zoom showing people’s names beneath their faces – the D7 does not do that. Also the speaker is not highlighted.

 

The video of the meeting room is of very little value to me. I wish it allowed me to see the people there. Personally, I feel a great loss that I do not know who is in the meeting room. I feel supported by Friends I know when we are in worship together, but only if I know that we are worshipping together. When I join worship in person, I look around to see who is there. (I try not to be distracting about this, and try to take care when I look behind me to note who is there without “gawking.”) I don’t know how to handle this in hybrid worship. A Friend noted during Fellowship that it certainly wouldn’t work for each person in the meeting room to have a laptop! I wish I could either see people well enough to recognize them, or have a list of names, but that latter possibility seems troublesome. I wonder whether a substantial portion of people would be willing to choose seats that would make them visible to the remote participants. 

 

I was struck by the fact that there were 9 people in the room and 13 people on Zoom, not counting the 5 of us who were from Fresh Pond nor our Friend who was physically present. So, even though Beacon Hill has Hybrid meeting, more people participated on line than in person. I wonder if this is the norm. 

 

I was counting, too. First, we know that Beacon Hill was deliberately limited how many in-person attenders there could be, where possible. If three newcomers arrive, as they did on Sunday, I am certain they would not have been turned away. However, Fresh Pond was invited to send as many as five, and David Coletta wanted us to let them know if there would not be that many so that would free up more spaces for others. Believing Beacon Hill Meeting to be larger than FPMM, I assumed the combined numbers attending would be higher. I don’t know their usual attendance, yet I guess that their attendance has fallen too—due to the impact of the pandemic?

 

There were actually 12 in-person attenders at Beacon Hill – 4 of us were visitors and 8 were regular BH attenders.

 

That seems roughly normal to me. Sometimes there might be more on-line. I think I remember that a limit of 20 in person seems desirable, and has not been approached.