Gracepoint Fellowship Church was founded over 40 years ago in Berkeley, California, as a local church providing a faith-based community for students on college campuses. Since then, it has become one of the fastest-growing collegiate-based churches in the US. In 2021, Gracepoint more than doubled in size, expanding from 30 to 69 campuses.
Gracepoint is a single church, now with 69 locations across the US. With a volunteer staff of over 1200, they work together across their entire community, not just their local campus. Their vision is “An Acts 2 church in every college town,” and they are working every day to make that dream a reality through recruitment and expansion.
Where did the need begin
During the Covid pandemic, Gracepoint opened forty new campuses, which was just one of the factors that led to more decentralization of the church’s volunteer staff. More than two-thirds of the team is now permanently working away from the main campus.
While that decentralization pushed growth, it also came with new challenging problems. Gracepoint would regularly work with significant levels of videos, photos, and other assets. As the organization became more dispersed due to the pandemic, the staff that worked on media projects in one on-premise location now lived hundreds of miles apart. As extensive amounts of video footage and media assets poured in from all campuses nationwide, there was no longer an on-site location capable of receiving all that media. Conrad Chu, staff volunteer for the past 25 years, is responsible for the video production infrastructure at Gracepoint. Chu sought a solution to their problem.
Suddenly, large projects with assets from sixty-nine different campuses needed to go to the cloud. As a single church with numerous locations, it would be crucial to keep its message clear, cohesive, and concise for the entire community.
Another unique need stemmed from the majority of their 1400 staff members being volunteers. Gracepoint required something universal for their volunteer staff. Volunteers had to have the necessary hardware and equipment to complete these media projects, and if they didn’t have the required tools, they had to be turned away. Since most volunteers don’t work off of powerful workstations, Gracepoint sought a solution to enable all volunteers access to media assets. Collaboration needed to happen across the US, not just from the San Francisco Bay Area headquarters.
Gracepoint found LucidLink, which offered a SaaS solution enabling fast access to media files stored in the cloud and real-time collaboration from anywhere. Volunteers working in multiple locations now had access to data through one centralized cloud location. All that was needed was an internet connection. Gone were the hefty hardware requirements, and users could easily collaborate out of their homes.
“Because our church is primarily volunteer-based, everyone comes with their own machine. I have a hard time telling volunteers they need to buy an expensive workstation with terabytes of fast storage to edit a video,” said Conrad Chu “I sometimes end up having to turn away volunteers who can’t afford expensive equipment.”
Existing solutions fell short
Before finding LucidLink, Gracepoint tried other solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive, their own Synology NAS – with hundreds of terabytes across locations. The NAS solution was extremely slow and exacerbated the problem due to decentralization. A NAS deployment was simply not viable with volunteers working remotely out of their homes.
Gracepoint ended up using Dropbox on a time-critical project, where they had 200 remote editors collaborating on a single video with a deliverable due in 24 hours. They worked with 1,200 video submissions and three terabytes of footage that needed to be synced across 200 remote editors and edited within 24 hours.
“Dropbox completely failed us,” said Chu. “Next time, projects like these will be based on LucidLink, which we know will easily be able to handle 200 editors and 1,200 assets.”
With LucidLink, Gracepoint can collaborate in real-time with video editors across the country whether they are working from home or on a Gracepoint campus. The ability to edit directly in the cloud eliminates the back-and-forth between remote editors and the downloading and syncing of data.
Dropbox did not provide real-time collaboration critical for these workloads, making it virtually impossible due to the ongoing issues with latency and syncing. Gracepoint ended up copying the Dropbox files to a hard drive and driving it around to each location to finish the project, creating more work and time commitment for volunteers.
That “Aha!” Moment and Using LucidLink
“The first ‘aha’ moment with LucidLink was memorable,” exclaimed Chu. “We were very skeptical of storage systems and perceived promises about what they could offer. So we took a set of ProRes video files, dropped them into the DaVinci Resolve, and started scrubbing, editing, and color grading – and it was playing back in real-time. That was just unheard of. I knew those assets did not exist on my computer. The original version came from another editor based in LA.”
LucidLink gave Gracepoint the ability to connect all of their AV editors and the entirety of their staff to the same Filespace. Now their LucidLink Filespace exists as a local drive on any computer. The use case goes beyond video to audio post-production files, photography, and more. It enables their workforce to have access to what they need 24/7, which is crucial when working with volunteers who have jobs and families and need to work odd hours to complete projects.
Another crucial benefit from a usability standpoint is volunteers no longer need to be taught selective sync, finder files vs. internet, etc. Even Dropbox suffered from discrepancies between the local drive and the cloud. LucidLink works like a local drive and requires no training to get started. After downloading the software client and logging in with provided credentials: you can immediately start working.
The Christmas Pageant using LucidLink
Every year, Gracepoint puts on a special Christmas pageant with the congregation’s children, and in 2021 it went virtual. Each campus recorded their own chapter of the children’s pageant, uploaded assets to LucidLink, and a team of forty editors created one story told by twenty-five campuses.
The scripted story was shot across twenty-five locations, often using a green screen of individual children, and edited together to create one seamless storyline in a completely virtual environment. All the assets for this project were recorded, and the collaborative editing was done in Resolve.
LucidLink housed all of this data from twenty-five locations in a Filespace that each editor could access like a local drive. Using DaVinci Resolve in LucidLink, each editor seamlessly went into the project and added their chapter of the story from their personal machine at home—zero downloading and syncing as the project was completed.
“The team was actually worried they would throw too much data into LucidLink with a project this large but was reassured this file footprint wasn’t anywhere close to the massive scale of data LucidLink could handle.”
After using LucidLink, the team created a standard practice for these project types, and trust LucidLink to handle projects with a tight turnaround. In fact, as an end-user, Chu was so impressed that he subsequently led Headline’s Series A investment into LucidLink.
The LucidLink setup
Gracepoint is in the latter stages of rolling out LucidLink, and uses the solution in two modes:
While LucidLink is not fully rolled out to all of Gracepoint’s staff, the first initial set of users is their video team of roughly 115 editors. As they transition even more of their staff to LucidLink, they’re looking at 1500 users by the end of 2022.
Gracepoint will scale to 1500 users by the end of 2022. By Q2 2022, LucidLink will drive collaborative editing throughout the staff, starting with their team of 600 video editors. They plan to max out storage at about 30 terabytes of data on the LucidLink system.
Because Gracepoint is volunteer-based, their return on investment is recognized in productivity and enablement. LucidLink has expanded Gracepoint’s volunteer options and allowed them to work with talent they were previously unable to by eliminating restrictions such as hardware, time on-premises, and location.
Would you recommend this to other religious communities?
LucidLink is ideal for any non-profit organization or church that requires access to strictly on-premises files. Especially with a volunteer-based workforce, you need your assets available 24/7 and from anywhere.
“It’s not just COVID decentralization. People want access to files that are typically on-premises only, all the time,” said Chu. “These aren’t 9-5 jobs, and people need access to this data at all hours. So whether the organization is decentralized or not, LucidLink has tremendous value to enable your workforce.”
Gracepoint will scale to 1500 users in their LucidLink Filespace by 2022, enabling their team to collaborate nationwide. With the dream of ‘An Acts 2 church in every college town,” Gracepoint’s ability to expand without losing its powerful voice and vision is crucial. With LucidLink, their teams can work together to ensure their message is cohesive across locations and provide the quality work that their members expect.
SaaS offering, no hardware or IT support required
End-to-end security encryption
Works with any object storage
Instant on-demand file access from anywhere
Works with any OS