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Episode 8 – HOW Special Is That?
House of worship AV systems – are they just large presentation spaces? Or is there something special about them and how they should be designed? Tune in to find out about the latest trends in HOW technology and how you can succeed with AV systems built for a higher power.
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Matt D. Scott
President OMEGA Audio Video, Co-Founder, AVNation.tv
Matt started in pro audio video at a very early age, running his first live FOH event at age 12. Matt continued in the industry starting OMEGA Audio Video in 2001, specializing in HOW and professional audio video design and installation. He expanded the services to include residential AV in 2004 and continues to work heavily in both markets. Matt specializes in HOW, live sound, lighting control, home theatre design, control systems, and connected home technologies.
Justin Kennington (00:07):
Hello. Hello and welcome everybody to SDVoE LIVE!. I’m your host, Justin Kennington and this is TV for pro AV. We have a very interesting show for you today. This episode is called “HOW Special is That?”. And you see our little capital letters there. It’s an initialism. We’re going to be talking about houses of worship and we’re going to try and get to the heart of the matter. Is a sanctuary a house of worship? Is that the same thing as a big lecture hall from an AV perspective, or are there special considerations that you need to understand? In either case, is this something that you should be doing in your business as an integrator, as a system designer? Should you be serving this market? We’re going to look at that today with our guest, Matt Scott, an old friend of mine, who works with AVNation.tv and also with Omega Audio Video, where he does many successful installations in houses of worship.
So I hope he’s got some insight for us today, and we’re looking forward to that. We’ll be showing you a clip of a new SDVoE Academy video about how SDVoE can be applied in the house of worship application, so watch for that. You can click in the resources section to see the whole video “SDVoE in Houses of Worship”. After the show, we’re going to have our aftershow. Can you think of how we came up with that name? Because it’s after the show, that’s where we’ll all loosen our proverbial ties a little bit and sit down with me, my co-host Matt Dodd and our special guest, Matt Scott, and take on your questions. So pay attention to the chat box. You can chat with the other audience members of the show and ask us questions for later. You can also reach us on Twitter at hashtag #sdvoelive, and we’ll be seeing your tweets and questions live throughout the show.
Matt Dodd (02:53):
Hello everybody. Got a great show for you lined up today. The video that we’re going to show is just a snippet exploring how houses of worship have changed when it comes to the use of AV technology. So with no further ado enjoy, and we’ll see you shortly.
We often think of our places of worship as being traditional buildings like this church. However, as the younger church goers are perhaps more familiar with, our houses of worship have evolved to include more modern buildings, which support large audiences through the use of technology. People across multiple areas of the building want to experience a service in real time and the service doesn’t just stop at the delivery by the priest or the vicar. Many places of worship encourage congregation interaction through music and song. Let’s take a look at how SDVoE technology is supporting this global transition to the modern church.
Modern church environments can range from a smaller room, which resembles a meeting room to large arenas, which look more like an auditorium than a church you would normally think about – a large stage with multiple displays, musicians playing live music instead of a single pipe organ playing to the room. A multi-screen setup is now the most common projection used in churches and this is where SDVoE can provide massive benefits to this video distribution.
Let’s begin by looking at a typical AV layout used within a church. The first screen added to most auditoriums is actually at the rear to act as a teleprompter for the worship team to read the sermon and lyrics. It’s entirely possible that projectors are used to adapt to large arenas, but with SDVoE technology now being integrated to some projectors, the application benefits are immediately available without the need to add additional hardware or infrastructure. Smaller screens can also be placed in various locations. On the side of the stage, screens can hang like digital artwork and small screens can be placed around a large backdrop screen to add supporting images. Alternatively, if space is tight, multiview can be used and we’ll discuss that shortly. Large screens can either be hung or placed in the entrance hall to establish the feel before the audience gets into the room. Even circular and other shaped screens can also draw visual interest.
The SDVoE multiview application allows a single projector to display multiple feeds to a display without any extra hardware being added to the system. This represents a huge cost saving because traditionally multiview processors are very expensive and adding more projectors and screens is not only financially prohibitive, probably not viable with the room size you have available. You can learn more about SDVoE multiview by clicking this link. During his message, the pastor may like to refer to a specific scripture multiple times. Multiview layouts can be designed for specific applications, such as this.
For example, the scripture can be placed on smaller multiview sections and kept for the entire sermon while the main central section of the display shows the sermon notes or imagery, which the pastor is using to support his message. Using mood, pictures, and graphics like this, the feel of the drama can be set even before the pastor walks on stage and during worship, additional multiview displays can support the song being played without impacting the song lyrics being displayed. Now this multiview application allows smaller churches also to offer the same immersive experience with a single screen that would usually only be found in larger arenas with multiple displays.
Justin Kennington (08:41):
Interesting topic this week. I’d never given a lot of thought to the systems that go into a house of worship before and all of the things that they’re doing. I know the trends towards bands and live music and interacting with the audience, but the way that AV has been integrated into all this for more than sound reinforcement was news to me. And I thought it was very interesting stuff.
Matt Dodd (09:09):
Yes, but the research that we’ve been doing for this show, and obviously for the video that we’ve just made, it’s really opened my eyes. There’s been a huge amount of stuff that I thought, wow, wow! It’s incredible the technology that’s being embraced.
First news piece, Justin, what brought you to this?
Justin Kennington (09:45):
Well, kind of what you were talking about, our traditional understanding of these buildings. I’ve been familiar, of course, with the large-scale mega church, the kind of facility that, is a broadcast studio effectively and does broadcast their sermons nationwide or globally. Of course, those have existed for some time. But now in the past year, since COVID has hit and people aren’t comfortable sitting in chairs or pews or in close proximity with one another has come along, we’ve seen all of the medium and smaller churches and others want to get their message out. And there’s been a big interest in live streaming. And that I thought was interesting from their perspective, because it’s what we’ve been up to, right, Matt? We’ve taken some of our live events and turned them into this TV show out of necessity. But it’s cool to see all of the different markets and all the different ways that this technology of live streaming can be used.
Matt Dodd (10:42):
This is an interesting news topic. This blew me away, actually, when you saw that install they did with the LED panels, LED screens, but the real takeaway here is this doesn’t just stop at houses of worship. It’s great that we’re seeing this embraced in an auditorium environment where space is a premium.
Justin Kennington (12:23):
Well, and I think you just touched on something at the beginning of this. This article was about LED walls versus projection for churches in particular, but this is a much bigger topic. This is a trend in the industry of moving towards these direct-view, micro LEDs. What’s happened fundamentally is we’ve invented a display technology. That’s just once again about printing smaller and smaller transistors, and now we get a Moore’s law effect. These things get smaller, they become more dense and price falls. I think that’s a super-interesting future for our industry. We’re going to be able to have more video content, more places, in more shapes. We’re going to move away, not only from 16×9, but move away from rectangles. Who said a video screen has to be a 16×9 rectangle? I really think 10 years from now, we’re going to see so much more video content, so many more places. And it’s because of the technology foundation that we’ve laid in the last few years, and that is readily accessible and even practical today.
Matt Dodd (13:50):
Justin, who on earth is this?
Justin Kennington (14:08):
It’s Matt D Scott. It says right there. Matt D. Scott.
He’s an old friend. He’s a Canadian. That just means he’s extra polite, which we appreciate on this show and, he works for Omega Audio Video where he does residential installs, but also has a lot of experience in over a thousand churches that he’s been involved in the installation of their AV system in the past 20 years. So I think he’s the guy to talk about this. Why don’t we bring him in?
Matt Dodd (14:49):
Listen, before we get started, I’ve got a story to tell you about a church install when I was an integrator. This is a good story. It was a modern church and it was one of the superstructure things where to make the congregation area as big as possible with no supporting pillars, they suspended the whole of this concrete ceiling. And it was huge, massive concrete ceiling with all of these Acrow props for weeks on end. They decided before they took the Acrow props away, it’d be a good idea to get a second opinion on the infrastructure by another structural engineer. The guy turned up and said, “no easy way to put this chaps, you take all those props away and the roof will fall down”. We’d all been in there pulling cables. It was a hundred volt line system. We were, “oh my God”. These wonky, rusty things were holding up the ceiling. So yeah, needless to say, not many people were going in there and they had to redesign and redo. I would not have liked to the original engineer.
Matt D. Scott (16:09):
No, it’s always fun when you see churches that occasionally try to questionably outsource their design. Just like the construction side, you see it a lot in the tech side too, where they do things internally or they’re, continually looking for a low bid that means they get to do things like buy a video wall twice, which is always fun.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to a great conversation.
Justin Kennington (16:58):
Let’s dive in right to the question that I was interested in at the beginning of the episode. There’s an easy way, I think, to look at a house of worship and its main sanctuary as essentially a giant lecture hall. Somebody stands up at the front, they give a presentation to a big audience sitting in front of them and maybe there’s a screen behind them with some supporting imagery, some supporting texts. How is one of these systems the same as any university lecture hall and how is it different? Because I don’t want to bias your answer, but I suspect that it is.
Matt D. Scott (17:43):
Well, Justin, that’s a really good question. And typically, almost every house of worship facility starts in a lecture hall configuration. It is. It’s about an individual at the front giving a presentation and an audience actively listening and participating. Where that changes and where that evolved recently, the last 10-20 years, is you’re seeing a big push to make that more dynamic. I love the image that you guys used at the start of your presentation because it was that traditional synagogue church facility that has the towering ceilings and there’s a little spot way up front where somebody stands and nobody can see them from the back. Whereas as that’s evolved, we now have these big auditoriums and everything from your smaller hundred-seat auditorium up to 20-to-30-thousand-seat auditoriums.
You start to add in, you start with that typical lecture atmosphere, but then very quickly you start adding IMAG, which is image magnification. Then take that speaker and put them again on a TV, on a overhead projector, on a video projector, on an LED wall, and do a center hang, do two side screens, and then start adding lights and atmospheric effects. It really becomes, or can become, something depending on the flavor of the church. It can become a full-blown show not dissimilar from something at Disney or that you’d see in Las Vegas in one of the big stage shows or even Broadway. The level of production that goes into a lot of houses of worship, rivals anything else out there. And the interesting side of it is that you have, as I said, everything from the top-end stuff to even the smaller local community churches that are doing their best to keep up. So it really expands possibilities.
Justin Kennington (20:12):
On the one hand it starts out like a lecture hall, but then it morphs into a live event venue. Right? You mentioned the image magnification and I don’t know where else I’m going with that, but it’s like an interesting mix of those two elements, which bring the challenges of how image magnification carries a strong latency requirement with it. I think that’s interesting.
Matt D. Scott (20:46):
Last year, we worked with a church where we were fighting them to put a projector in, to show lyrics up at the front so that when they were doing their music side of the service, the parishioners didn’t have to open a book and follow along in a hymnal. Then at the same time last year, we dealt with a church who was looking at a triple-wide LED wall, and we’re talking well into six figures, if not into seven figures for that wall, I think it was a 72 foot wall. That’s a massive wall even by commercial standards. So you have that whole gamut. I love that you brought up the live streaming side of it because live streaming is something that in houses of worship, was typically done by churches that respectfully couldn’t afford to go on to broadcast TV, whether it was local cable access or onto a regional partner or a national partner.
Even those churches that were national, the streaming side was an afterthought, and then about this time last year, very quickly, every single church was looking at ways in which they could stream. That brought a whole different gamut. You had everything. I think the smallest church we dealt with was like 20 people who was trying to figure out how to do it with an iPhone. Up to, we were working with a couple-thousand-member church that had all of this TV infrastructure for broadcast, but they could not get it condensed down, their network wasn’t sufficient to get to a point to where they could live stream that. It’s a very interesting market that’s really big right now.
Matt Dodd (22:58):
I imagine there’s an area of sensitivity around the traditional sort of older-style building, and you’ve got the iconography and you’ve got the scale of the building to start with, but you can’t just start throwing screens around the place and running cables everywhere. What sort of challenges does that bring?
Matt D. Scott (23:30):
A lot. And you know, I don’t want the audio people to yell at me, but it’s not that hard in a typical lecture hall to achieve quality audio from a PA standpoint. When you get into some of those traditional buildings and especially some of the heritage buildings that are a couple hundred years old, it’s incredibly challenging. Not only just from an audio standpoint, but from a decor standpoint. When you start working with a facility that’s got woodwork that was carved 150 years ago by hand, they won’t let you come and put a line array in.
Matt Dodd (24:12):
No, of course they won’t.
Matt D. Scott (24:13):
It ruins it. So then it becomes a challenge of what kind of column solution can we put in that we can have hand painted to match the woodwork and deal with all of the idiosyncrasies of working with time delays and trying to fire down a very narrow sanctuary that has these massive marble pillars in the middle of it.
Matt Dodd (24:40):
We’re going to pick this up in a short while in the aftershow.
Matt Dodd (26:49):
Hashtag #sdvoelive, send us your tweets.
So where are we at? The next show. Interesting title this, JK.
Justin Kennington (27:14):
Episode nine – “It’s 1:00 PM. It’s 1:00 PM. Do you know where your network is?”
Our guest will be Alicia Hendley who is a network engineer. And she’s going to talk to us about how do you troubleshoot a network. This is a more and more critical question for AV professionals every day, as more and more of everything we do ends up on that IT network. So when something goes wrong, where do you start? That’s what we’re going to hear from Alicia about and we’re going to learn some things in SDVoE Academy about it as well.
Matt Dodd (27:48):
Awesome. Well, in that case, let’s make ourselves comfortable in the aftershow.