CASE STUDY: Willow Creek Community Church, Chicago

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With eight locations in the Chicago metropolitan area, Willow Creek Community Church has a wide reach, and its new North Shore campus features an extensive AV network that required a robust, low-latency transport solution.

“We designed a huge AV-IT network that connects the audio, video, lighting, and control equipment and provides video distribution throughout the campus,” says senior design consultant Peter Fitton of Clark, the Alpharetta, GA, firm that designed and installed the system. “This is the biggest network we’ve ever built for a project like this. We deployed 28 Visionary Solutions D4000 decoders, each of which feeds a television monitor, and five E4000 encoders. As a result, five channels of content can be routed to any of 28 TVs throughout the facility.”

“Latency issues have kept us away from doing IP delivery of video in the past,” Fitton says. “For example, the North Shore campus has TVs directly outside the auditorium, so when you’re standing in the lobby, and the doors are open, you can hear the music and whatever is going on in the auditorium. If the live sound is not synchronized with the TVs, that creates problems.”

For Willow Creek, it made more sense to create one big network that could handle everything — if it could be done with low enough latency.

“When I discovered Visionary Solutions encoders and decoders, I was intrigued and impressed,” Fitton recalls. “We did a lot of testing in our office, and we were very excited and happy with the results. There was no noticeable latency, the setup was really easy, and the cost per end point was comparable to what we were paying to do a straight baseband video solution—but we realized a lot of savings in the cabling. We used switches we had already deployed for the extensive audio network, and for the first time ever, we did an installation where there’s no coax, only network cable.”

Fitton’s job was made much easier by a great relationship with the client and early planning. “We were brought into the project early on,” he says. “The architect had done his drawings but they hadn’t broken ground yet. So we were able to work with Willow Creek throughout the process. We designed the audio, video, and lighting systems and the AV network, including systems for the main auditorium, student auditorium, and five children’s spaces. We used Dante distribution throughout the entire facility, which saves money because it’s on the same network as the Visionary Solutions gear, and we didn’t have to run individual lines for every analog input and output.”




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