News

Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities. 1/01/2009 7:00 AM Eastern

Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.




As part of the Saddleback Church video system upgrade, TV Magic owner Pat Thompson; installer Dwight Crumb; Saddleback’s volunteer project manager Dirk Carlson; and Saddleback’s video director Elaine Koehler came together to select a system that was composed of the church’s existing Barco RLM R6+ Performer projector and Avid Deko 3000 as well as six new Sony HDC-1400 cameras, a new Thomson Grass Valley Kayak switcher and K2 media server, and a new Sony DSR-DR1000 hard drive.

As part of the Saddleback Church video system upgrade, TV Magic owner Pat Thompson; installer Dwight Crumb; Saddleback’s volunteer project manager Dirk Carlson; and Saddleback’s video director Elaine Koehler came together to select a system that was composed of the church’s existing Barco RLM R6+ Performer projector and Avid Deko 3000 as well as six new Sony HDC-1400 cameras, a new Thomson Grass Valley Kayak switcher and K2 media server, and a new Sony DSR-DR1000 hard drive.

SADDLEBACK CHURCH

Greg Baker's journey at Saddleback Church began in 1992 when he started attending services at the Lake Forest, Calif., facility, and it progressed as he later turned his passion for AV equipment into a career at the venerable Orange County megachurch. Baker is now the church's technical arts director, responsible for overseeing the interwoven audio, video, and lighting systems spread across almost a dozen buildings on the site's 120 acres.

Saddleback's well-regarded pastor, Rick Warren, became familiar nationally in 2008 when he hosted presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain at a special forum on faith at Saddleback that was broadcast around the world, and he was recently asked by Obama to give the invocation at his January inauguration. But long before the forum, Warren had birthed a vision for relevant teaching and social outreach that has resonated with the thousands of churchgoers who worship at Saddleback each week.

However, as the congregants multiplied, the church campus began to resemble a Black Friday shopping frenzy with families rushing to find open seats in the packed sanctuary. Warren and his staff knew they needed to either build a larger main facility to house the throngs or develop a way to make the overflow rooms more in tune with proceedings in the sanctuary. After deliberation, the leadership decided to improve the multisite experience to a position equal to the one in the 3,200-seat main room. This concept became the basis for Warren's 10×10 vision of growth through satellite facilities, with 10 new regional campuses able to add 10,000 members to the Saddleback community.

The Saddleback technical team looked over its control room and knew immediately the video system was not up to the task of convincing multisite attendees they were part of a larger gathering. Baker called on TV Magic, a systems integrator out of nearby San Diego, to evaluate the jobs needs, remove existing equipment, and install a system capable of bringing the members of Saddleback into a unified community. TV Magic's owner, Pat Thompson, brought together his team — including lead installer Dwight Crumb — to partner with Dirk Carlson, the church's volunteer project manager, and Elaine Koehler, Saddleback's video director.


Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.




Jointly, the group decided the best avenue was to strip the control room of its antiquated components and bring the video front end up to HD standards. To conserve capital without compromising image quality, Saddleback divided the project into phases, with the initial work centered on upgrading the cameras and switchers. The back end of the video system, with its older Barco RLM R6+ Performer projectors, would have to soldier on as an SD letterboxed product. The HD signal from the control booth is downconverted with Cobalt scanners for use by the existing projectors. For the camera upgrade, Thompson and Carlson chose the Sony HDC-1400 camera system for its high-quality image, depth of HD integration, and simple fiber connectivity to the control room.

Six of the HDC-1400s were placed in the sanctuary: two fixed position, two on tripods, and two on monopods that are secured into the cement floor. “I knew the posts would save floor space, but I was not sure they would be stable enough for telephoto shots. But they have worked out well,” Baker says. A seventh unit with a recorder back is used as an upscale camcorder for street capture.

With the Sony cameras delivering fiber-based imagery to the control room, the task of accepting and routing the signals fell to a new Thomson Grass Valley Kayak switcher. Graphics chores are still handled by the church's existing Avid Deko 3000 unit, while a freshly minted Thomson Grass Valley K2 media server captures the signal and then passes it to a Sony DSR-DR1000 hard drive for record and forward functions. Thanks to an innovative setup based on using multiple outputs from the K2, the graphics operator can make immediate changes and updates befitting the onstage performers. The K2 offers a scalable architecture that fits nicely with the church's phase-oriented implementation goals.

Baker says the out-of-production DR1000 is adequate for the short term, but it will probably be replaced in the near future with a Thomson Grass Valley Turbo iDDR. Saddleback will continue to archive its services on XDCAM format as a backup to the hard-drive units.

All 10 buildings on Saddleback's campus are now able to view the main worship center feed, but only the Refinery — a youth facility — is presently set up for HD signals, again owing to the need to develop the project in phases. As the second-largest facility at Saddleback, the Refinery is designed as a youth building with teen-specific live music and teaching. It's available, though, to handle large overflow crowds at Christmas, Easter, and special conferences. For regular services, several other rooms — including a Sprung building called Praise and Overdrive, which acts as a music room — are able to handle the remote attendees. All the buildings are connected via industry-standard 62/125 fiber run underground from the primary control room. This setup offers every attendee a focused live band and announcer with only the sermon piped in to give the proceedings vibrancy and immediacy coupled with the impact of Warren's words.

For the Saddleback technical team, the first phase of the multisite project has been a success as families now stroll casually across the campus, settle easily into readily available seats, and enjoy the worship service, while remote sites in other cities serve distant attendees with unique music and a cohesive sermon.


Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.




Opting not to build a new, larger sanctuary to house it members, Church of the Open Door provides video feeds of its live sermons to a remote room—the RNC Room—1500ft. away. This fiber-intensive installation took more than a year to complete.

Opting not to build a new, larger sanctuary to house it members, Church of the Open Door provides video feeds of its live sermons to a remote room—the RNC Room—1500ft. away. This fiber-intensive installation took more than a year to complete.

CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR

Jim Madden has a unique perspective on how his clients think and behave. With a background as an ordained minister, he brings empathy to his primary customer base: churches in and around Cleveland. Madden is part of the design team at Northeast Projections (NPi), and he understands the challenges and opportunities the worship environment represents. After years of uninterrupted growth, the worship market recently reached a plateau as pent-up expansion evaporated and church attendance leveled off. However, Madden has been at the forefront of a new thrust in the church marketplace: the multisite worship experience.

In the past, evangelical churches normally expanded by building a larger sanctuary to replace an outmoded one and then renovating the original facility into a youth or fellowship space. Once the available acreage filled with buildings, many congregations traded their urban setting for a vast campus situated on relatively inexpensive land near a busy thoroughfare. With proceeds from the sale of the downtown parcel, such churches were poised to erect modern buildings, complete with state-of-the-art media systems. Typically, the surrounding area grew in sync with the church, with retail shops and eateries sprouting up everywhere.

However, when a congregation reaches the saturation point, overwhelming the worship center each weekend with its numbers, the church must decide between two divergent paths. On one hand, an even larger sanctuary will house the entire worship community in one service, making each member feel a part of the whole. On the other, the price of such growth will loom heavily over the budget for years to come, and the room will only be filled a few hours per week. Madden and NPi have recognized what many growing churches have in the modern worship market: An oversized main auditorium is as outmoded as a full-size SUV. In essence, efficiency has become of paramount importance to the worship environment.

In place of a single large room, innovative houses of worship have moved to a live sermon in the sanctuary with video feeds to multiple overflow rooms elsewhere on campus. The newest trend is to go multilocation, with several remotely located venues displaying the same sermon simultaneously. In most of these environments, music and announcements are locally live and the video is near realtime. Thanks to current capture and transfer technology, the price of this approach is within reach of many congregations — and, with the right vendor, relatively easy to implement.

For Church of the Open Door in Elyria, Ohio, NPi was the vendor of choice to bring the benefits of remote video to the church's expanding membership. NPi was no stranger to the inner workings of Open Door, having finished a complete renovation of the loudspeaker system with an Electo-Voice line-array package in early 2008. Thus, NPi was prepared when the call came for a proposal to deliver the sermons of Senior Pastor Jim Mindling to a remote room 1500ft. away.


Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.




To keep audio and music in sync, Northeast Projections’ John Powell spec’d and installed a 
Thomson Grass Valley Turbo iDDR and Indigo switcher. The necessary AV-over-fiber conversion, transmission, and reception are covered by a Hall Research HR-722A extender.

To keep audio and music in sync, Northeast Projections’ John Powell spec’d and installed a Thomson Grass Valley Turbo iDDR and Indigo switcher. The necessary AV-over-fiber conversion, transmission, and reception are covered by a Hall Research HR-722A extender.

From initial contact to finished installation, the project lasted more than a year, with numerous design changes required to fit the budget and meet new needs.

NPi's lead installer, Roger Spitale, used his years of hands-on experience to successfully guide the most difficult aspect of the installation: running the four-core, multimode 62/125 fiber up, around, and through the building. The fiber's destination, termed the “RNC Room” by the church, serves double duty as a youth room during the rest of the week, while its origin point — a classroom-turned-control booth — resides behind and below the stage. Connecting the two rooms required Spitale and his team to route the fiber through conduit, over doorways, onboard a purpose-built raceway, and in a drop ceiling above an adjacent hallway.

As with all fiber-based installations, the install crew had to avoid direct turns while delicately terminating the fiber lines. To ease the process, the team used Mohawk's Connectors & Field Breakout gel-based termination kit with excellent results.

“The Mohawk system reduced our terminal burn in spades,” Madden says. “In fact, we saved money on the material and labor, while delivering a better product to the client.”

Madden's foresight in using four-core fiber also paid off handsomely for the church, since the system is now prewired to allow worshipers in the sanctuary to see the reaction of the overflow attendees with the addition of a few future components.

While NPi was busy planning and installing the video system, the church staff was not standing still. Chad Doran, Open Door's pastor of worship arts, was tasked with developing a second worship team to lead the music in the RNC Room. Typically, worship teams model sports teams with first-string players onstage the majority of the time and a second string filling in when necessary. However, adding a remote site is equivalent to starting a second team, with the accompanying need for a redundant roster of players. Thus, Doran had to develop enough depth in his musicians to field two teams simultaneously.

When separated into two rooms, though, even the best bands cannot begin and end songs at same moment. Therefore, designers were forced to implement a method of recording, forwarding, and playing video imagery independently in each locale. Fortunately, NPi employs John Powell, a veteran broadcast and video specialist with an impressive roster of satisfied clients. His solution is centered on a Thomson Grass Valley Turbo iDDR and its powerful record-and-forward capacity.

In practice, the sanctuary purposely starts its service a moment before the remote site, thus allowing the Turbo to spool up a minimum 8-second lead on the remote so the second room can be free to end the music as appropriate. Switching duties are handled by a Thomson Grass Valley Indigo, while the necessary AV-over-fiber conversion, transmission, and reception are covered by a Hall Research HR-722A extender. The Hall Research product was chosen for its reliability and ease of installation. An array of Extron Electronics pieces — including a P/2 DA4xi, a pair of P/2 DA2s, an SW2 VGArs switcher, and two DVI-RGB interfaces — complete the system. The Extron switcher's automatic input switching capability grants the church technician-free rehearsals, since the MediaShout operator only needs to generate output from the computer for the image to be seen on the primary screens.


Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.




In the RNC Room, the image is viewed on a Draper Targa electric screen. As a youth facility, RNC has the innate technical look to complement a video-based sermon and naturally draws media-savvy worshipers. The result has been a seamless broadening of the worship services with few repercussions. Compared to the live version of the speaker in the sanctuary, viewers in the RNC Room have — in Madden's words — “a better visual image of the pastor, his motions, and expressions.” As an added bonus, the traditional core of the church is now able to rejoin the sanctuary they built and bought.

The new system, which has been online for only a short time, has many in the remote room virtually unaware they are watching a video. Part of the installation's success, according to Madden and Doran, is attributed to Jason Brown, the church's technical director. By their account, Brown combines the virtue of technical competence with the rarity of high interpersonal skills, along with a sincere passion for excellence. As a liaison between the church and the integrator, Brown represents a key element of vendor success when dealing with worship clients.

His role has been to take the church's desire to improve the worship experience and mate it to the realities of a hardware installation on a constrained budget. According to Madden, Brown was able to reduce the project to its core application of providing improved delivery of the remote signal while restoring traditional worshipers to the sanctuary room. As with many church projects, the scope of work changed several times as the influx of funds waxed and waned. Brown was able to keep the focus centered on these two goals while making pragmatic alterations to the equipment list. For instance, the fiber-transmission scheme was value-engineered, but the high-level switcher was retained.

Manufacturer representatives form another vital link in the chain of success on projects like this one. For the Open Door undertaking, NPi and Brown depended on Jason Jacquemain, a rep with the venerable firm of C.L. Pugh & Associates. From the heart of the audio upgrade with Electro-Voice line-array and amplifier components to the Hall Research VGA-over-fiber transmission scheme, Jacquemain provided timely logistics and technical support for the vendor and client.

“Jason is one of those reps you count on as part of your company structure,” Madden says. “You just know he will be there when an issues arises and will remain on the project as long as necessary.” Integrators with thriving businesses often point to their field and inhouse reps as critical members of the team. The rep's deep knowledge of the product — and more importantly, the company's inner workings — can smooth rough spots in the installation process when items are back-ordered or not performing as promised. Jacquemain was also vital in bringing a few church members on board with the project by pointing out the recurring savings the church would enjoy by not needing to rent a video overflow system at Christmas and Easter, since those items were integral to the multisite equipment list. He further added value to the project as a designer, taking Madden's information and providing suggestions and options the church could explore.

At an early site visit, Jacquemain asked Don Mitchell — a principal with DSM & Associates — to address the pressing acoustic challenges of the sanctuary, a gesture which paid off handsomely as the room was transformed from an acoustic abyss to a pleasant environment. Following several more site visits, Jacquemain and Brown sat down together and went over the final details.

“As a rep, it's not often I get to see the results of my effort or even interface with the end user to glean their viewpoint,” Jacquemain says. “This project, though, brought together several layers of our industry from manufacturer, rep firm, integrator, and client with a very solid result. I think everyone involved is proud to be a part of this successful endeavor. I know I am.”


Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Past Issues
June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014