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CASE STUDY: Willow Creek Community Church, Chicago

With eight locations in the Chicago metropolitan area, Willow Creek Community Church has a wide reach. The new campus is served by an extensive AV network that relies on Visionary Solutions E4000 PacketAV 4K-Encoders and D4000 PacketAV 4K-Decoders, which provide ultra-high-definition video over IP, with extremely low latency.

“We designed a huge AV-IT network that connects the audio, video, lighting, and control equipment and provides video distribution throughout the campus,” offers Senior Design Consultant Peter Fitton of Clark, the Alpharetta, Georgia, 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 5 E4000 encoders. As a result, 5 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 remarks. “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. In addition, the building is a single story, and it’s entirely round. From the inside of the auditorium, you can look through the courtyard and into the windows on the other side of the building and see the hallway, which has TVs. People potentially could see those TVs through the windows, so we could not have latency there either.”

In the past, Fitton’s team would have distributed baseband video over coax to every television because even a modulated solution is not fast enough for HD video. For Willow Creek, though, it made more sense to create one big network that could handle everything-if it could be done with low enough 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. 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.”

The integrated AV-IT network required the Clark team to work closely with Willow Creek Community Church’s IT department. “On this project, because we were deploying such a substantial network, I wanted to share space with IT in the network closets. Fortunately, Willow Creek has a great IT department who were willing to work with us. They took a trunk line from our main network switch in order to manage Internet access, security, and connectivity to the rest of the building. IT also installed a buildingwide fiber infrastructure to connect their switches, and they pulled extra strands to ensure we had the fiber we needed. It was a very good experience.”

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