Published in June 2007

An Entirely New Experience
By Dan Ferrisi

Dramatic growth prompts AV overhaul for Christ Church at Grove Farm.

Christ Church at Grove Farm has expanded dramatically both in size and AV usage.

    For Christ Church at Grove Farm, dramatic growth in the congregation necessitated proactive steps. Given that high quality audiovisual is central to modern worship, church leaders knew a new sanctuary would have to feature the latest technology. But, before we delve into the “goodies” that Stanley Systems Integration (Pittsburgh PA) installed, let’s cover some background. Christ Church was founded 12 years ago, and has grown from 100 founding members to about 1400 today. Although non-denominational, the church practices in the Anglican tradition. According to David Case, technical coordinator and a church volunteer for the project, it serves a substantial portion of Western Pennsylvania from its Sewickley PA site.
    The church recently built a facility with a new sanctuary that seats 1200 people, representing substantial growth. “The problem was that we simply were out of space in the old sanctuary,” which accommodated only about 400, said Case. “After you reach about 80% capacity, your congregation stops growing because people, quite frankly, don’t want to sit in each other’s laps.” In building its facility, the church was able to foresee potential problems and effectively design around them.
    It took about 18 months to do the job, from the time Christ Church started the original design process until the facility started being used in 2006. The sound and video systems, from design through implementation, took about nine months. According to Case, although the church knew what it was going for, it took some time to ensure the actual plan and implementation would meet its needs. Church leaders realized how important the technical elements were, and planned for an A-level system. “It was designed with the thought in mind that we were going to be serving a large congregation. We took projection into consideration, as well as the acoustics of the room, the surfaces on the stage, the lighting on the stage, the type of sound system, the speaker locations, etc.,” Case continued.

The stage is enhanced with lighting, projection and pristine audio, delivering a fully media-integrated experience.

    It took a lot of effort from a lot of individuals and organizations to ensure that Christ Church at Grove Farm had a functional and up-to-date sanctuary. Dave Baret, pro sound sales and engineering, and Jason Godek, senior AV technician, both of Stanley Systems Integration, took the lead on all elements audiovisual, particularly installation. Indeed, the church wanted to do as little of the installation itself as possible. Acoustics and systems design was done by the Sextant Group. Lighting and stage design was by Bob Steineck and Associates. Active collaboration was particularly crucial in this project, because a lot of the specs that Stanley executed were driven directly by the Sextant Group’s acoustics work.
    Beginning with audio gear, Baret commented that the facility makes use of a Yamaha PM5D-RH digital mixing console. Core to the sound system are 14 Nexo GEO S805-PW line array speakers, two GEO S830-PW speakers and seven GEO S830 speakers. He explained, “There’s a left and right line array, also with a center system that uses the Nexo components, but it’s built more into two center point clusters: one in the front of the church above the cross and one spaced away in the middle of the room on a delay system.” A pair of Nexo NX-242 processors is for audio signal processing.
    According to Baret, some of the brand choices were governed by the Sextant Group in the original scope of work. “However, the Nexo equipment was picked because of the way it played a part in the church for spatial fit. And also, the technology that Nexo brings to the room enhanced it for the application and the program that [the church] was going to do.”
    From Shure, the church makes use of PSM 600 and PSM 700 wired in-ear monitor systems. Aviom supplied four A-16II personal mixers and eight A-16R personal mixers (a rack-mountable version of the A-16II). Also from Aviom, there is an A-16d A-Net distributor. Power amplifiers include a pair of Camco Vortex 6s and three Vortex 200Vs.
    With respect to source devices, Baret and company blended an assortment of manufacturers to ensure the best possible performance tailored to the church’s needs. AKG Acoustics supplied 12 CK 47 hypercardioid capsules, 12 HM 1000 hanging modules and two GN 155 Set 61-inch gooseneck floor stands. Audio-Technica is represented with a pair of AEW-5416D wireless systems, as well as AEW-R5200 receivers, AEW-T6100 hypercardioid condenser mic/transmitters and AEW-T1000 body pack transmitters. Also employed are four DPA Microphones 4060F miniature lavalier mics.
    Godek shed some light on the video elements incorporated into the install. A Stewart Filmscreen ladder-style 147"x259" rear projection screen with 144"x256" projection area delivers bright, attention-grabbing images. “Everything is in 16:9 format, for the entire room,” he remarked. There is a pair of 6000 lumen Panasonic PT-DW7000U DLP projectors, boasting 1366x768 native resolution. “There are left and right projectors on the side of the stage opening. And also, a rear room projector, so the choir can view the song lyrics on the back wall, while facing the congregation,” Godek explained. From Sanyo, the church has a 4000 lumen PLV-WF10 LCD video projector and a pair of 2200 lumen PLV-70 LCD video projectors. Video source devices include a TASCAM DVD-6500 DVD player and a JVC SR S365U S-VHS VCR.

Microphones hang unobtrusively from the ceiling, while the back wall has projection capabilities.

    The control system is Crestron, and a broad range of gear is employed to keep things running. The church has a TPMC-10 wireless color touchpanel, two TPS-2000L touchpanels and a TPS-4000 touch-panel. A PRO2 control processor is in use, as well as a pair of PW-2420RU universal power supplies. Cardwise, there is the C2ENET-2 dual-port Ethernet expansion card, C2Com-3 three-port bi-directional interface card and five ST-Com two-port bi-directional interface cards. Racks are Middle Atlantic, including two SR-40-28 wall racks as well as horizontal and vertical lacing bars. The church employs a communications system from Clear-Com.
    According to Baret, the process of taking all these disparate pieces of equipment and making them function as a cohesive system was focused largely on meeting the client’s point-by-point preferences and requirements. “We looked at the list of equipment that was specified by Sextant Group. Then, Jason and I worked closely and diligently with David Case and the church’s senior engineer, Jamie Brallier, on how the church wanted this equipment to work for them. As everybody knows, equipment can be connected in multiple ways, especially when controlled by Crestron.” The primary foci were making it as easy and trouble-free as possible for Christ Church, along with building in longevity.
    Not only did multiple pieces of gear have to work together, but rooms had to, as well. When the system was put together, Stanley considered the children’s ministry and youth ministry, in addition to the sanctuary. According to Case, “Those ministries actually interconnect to the sanctuary. So, we can route various audio and video signals around to accommodate something that might be going on in conjunction with an event in the sanctuary.” The church, at present, is about to undertake a revamp of the adult ministry area, which will be just as tech-centric as the other spaces.
    Balancing technology with aesthetics was at the forefront of the client’s mind throughout the job. According to Case, “First and foremost, we’re a church. So, anything that we do has to support that effort, as opposed to being the effort itself. We don’t want this to become a ‘production’.” To that end, subwoofers actually are suspended and recessed in walls on either side of the stage. And they’re disguised, so parishioners can’t even see that they’re there. Added Case, “The only speakers you can see in the sanctuary are the two line arrays that are on either side of the proscenium opening. But, they’re about 28 feet off the floor.” They’re also white, to blend with their surroundings.
    Case stressed that technology is being integrated into church services in stages, rather than hitting the congregation with everything right off the bat. And, future AV system enhancement already is in the planning stages. Case explained, “The system was designed to support image magnification [for example, projecting and magnifying hymn lyrics]. Occasionally, we do that for specific events and services. However, that probably is going to be the next major step we get into.” Tentative plans include not only robotic cameras, but also cameras that are operated by people located in four positions within the sanctuary. The outputs of those will be used for image magnification, as well as for streaming to the church’s website. Case added, “It also will enable us to record and post-produce some of the services and programs for distribution onto the web, DVDs and, perhaps, broadcast.”
    Case was happy to report that the congregation has been receptive to the technological upgrade. “We’ve heard nothing but positive responses, generally speaking,” he said. The excellent acoustics in the room probably are a major contributing factor: The last time measurements were taken, the dB levels varied plus or minus two anywhere in that room. “And that’s pretty good,” added Case, “when you can achieve that in a space that is 100 feet wide, 120 feet deep and 50 feet high at the ceiling’s peak.”
    Aside from a receptive congregation, the other major sign of a successful AV project is a continuing positive relationship between the integrator and the client. Case said, “From the client standpoint, I think Stanley has been more than responsive to our needs, and it’s an organization I can recommend.” He continued, “Speaking on behalf of the church, I can say we’re pleased with the overall installation and what the technology delivers.” He added that he thinks the congregants will be receptive in the coming years as the church introduces additional capabilities and technical services throughout the facility.

Dan Ferrisi is Sound & Communications' Associate Editor.

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