In this post, we continue our three-part series on AVL, which stands for audio/video/lighting. One reason it’s so important for modern church designs to incorporate these technologies is because they are so attractive to younger generations, which are used to interacting with the world through AVL—especially video; the topic of this article.
Doubters need only look at this statistic: Research shows that American adults spent an average of 5.5 hours per day watching video in 2015. Clearly this is an area that deserves considered planning when approaching one’s church design.
We begin our discussion of video with projectors and screens. Once upon a time, the best way to project a bright image on a large screen was with what’s called “rear projection.” In this case, the projector was placed behind a translucent screen—but that created a lot of otherwise-empty and unusable space in back.
Fortunately, improvements in technology have created very powerful front projectors that can handle a large room and even the ambient light needed for a worship service (as opposed to the darkness of a movie theater).
You do have more options when it comes to screens, and a lot of that has to do with personal preference. You can have one major screen up front, or three, or one to each side (if you want the center wall, behind the stage, left free for crosses or other images). These days, especially if you’re creating a new church design, we always recommend installing wide screens, and that means a 16×9 format rather than 4×3.
Screens need to be installed high enough so that everyone can see them, especially if you have a choir on the stage. Screens can go up and down, but most churches use screens throughout the service, so we don’t see a need for retractable screens that much anymore.
If you want to bypass the screen entirely, you can paint the wall with photo-luminescent paint, but screens are usually the better choice from a picture-quality standpoint. Some churches also put a “confidence screen” in the back of the church so that anyone who’s facing that way (like the choir) can easily follow along with, say, the projected words to a song.
Of course, you’ve got to capture the images you’re projecting on your screens, and that means cameras and controls. Live feed requires cameras, and the positioning of those cameras creates some of the same issues we discussed in the first part of this series, regarding obstructed views.
Fortunately, modern cameras can be controlled remotely, so we find that most churches install a combination of manually and remotely controlled cameras. There are even special lenses that can allow a good video capture from the very back of the room. Cameras, like sound booths, can also be installed on an elevated level and remain “out of sight, out of mind” for most worshipers.
You will need a video control room of some sort, because you will be switching back and forth between live stream, slides with words and pictures, etc. The good news is that, unlike sound control, there’s no reason for the video control room to be in the middle of the worship space.
Since all the video feeds are available to controllers, most modern church designs place a control room in a separate space from the worship center. This allows plenty of room for two or three technicians, because you will want to mix sound separately from the video. You might also want a post-edit space if you’re recording your services and other events for later broadcast.
Keep Up with Technology in Your Church Design
Another important consideration, therefore, is how you connect all the cameras and other inputs with the control room. When renovating or constructing a new church building, you can install computer-access flooring that is easily pulled up in case you need to run new cables and wires or make other changes. Given how fast technology is developing, this is a wise investment in the future of your broadcasting vision.
If you find yourself concerned about keeping up with all of the considerations of church design and building, don’t worry. That is exactly why we created our free i3 webinar series. Visit our website and sign up today for our next webinar—and stay tuned for part three in this series when we focus on lighting!