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A Tale of Two Churches

Jan 7, 2011 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

How to use staging technology to differentiate and market.

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Cornerstone has a modern layout, and the church’s narthex—the entrance foyer at the opposite end of the church from the stage—is purposely large, configured like a coffeehouse to encourage hanging out and interaction, but also wired into the main PA and with its own separate source distributed sound system through five SoundTube CM500i ceiling speakers.

“This is an important room in the staging strategy of the church because it can handle so many things: overflow from the ‘Big Room,’ as they call the main worship area, but still keep them engaged with what’s going on on-stage. And it acts as its own self-contained space with a club-like atmosphere that also has its own music system,” Zandstra says. “You can plug in a portable mixer and have a small second performance area there.”

Cornerstone’s video projection is large for the space: A 14’x25’ edge-blended image hovers over the rear of the stage flanked by a pair of Da-Lite Screen Company 9’x16’ side screens. A Barco CLM HD8 projector illuminates the main screen, and the two side screens have a pair of Panasonic PT-D6000 video projectors aimed at them. The projection video is used to provide sermon support graphics such as lyrics and background images. “That’s one of the good things about how intimately the stage is with the seating area,” Zandstra says. “The large image on the back wall helps to engulf the parishioners into what is taking place on the main stage.”

Not Biblical Proportions

At the Zion Global Ministries church, the stage technology there is giving a slightly smaller house of worship a boost. It also has a large stage—80ft. wide and 20ft. deep—relative to the facility’s size. The stage is built less than 2ft. off the floor, giving the large performance area an unexpected intimacy. It’s in the congregation’s original building that was completely renovated last year, complete with a waterfall that runs into the church’s baptistery.

Zion Global Ministries

The interior design is classically Biblical, designed after a stylized ancient Hebraic temple, but the AV isn’t intrusive. Above the stage is an EAW JFX system composed of four clusters: The two center hangs have a pair each of JFX560i two-way enclosures firing outward and downward, and two exterior hangs have the same configuration of JFX590i speakers. The areas underneath the balcony and in the foyer are filled by 17 JBL Control 26CT ceiling speakers powered by a Crown CDi 1000 amplifier. An EAW SB1000zP is floor-mounted on either side of the stage. The system is powered by QSC RMX series amplifiers and uses a Yamaha SP2060 speaker DSP processor. The audio is mixed through a Yamaha 01V96 digital console. While the sound system’s main mission is worship, it’s also a full-range system capable of handling the Christian and gospel music performances the church also puts on.

In a classic showdown between systems and interior designers, Chip Allen recalls that the decorators feared that the PA system would block the view of the sanctuary’s large skyline mural and asked Allen to hang the PA system towards the rear of the stage. That, of course, would have created instant and chronic feedback problems, so Allen scaled back his initial plans for a line-array-type system in favor of the smaller multiple clusters. But he stood firm on their placement at the front off the stage. “The compromise was we used white speakers,” he says. “I told them, ‘Think of them as clouds.’”

Zion’s projection video consists of two Da-Lite custom fixed-frame 4:3 144”x108” projection screens illuminated with a pair of 5000-lumen Sanyo PLC-ZM5000 projectors fitted with LNS-W20 lenses. The projectors are pole-mounted from the ceiling, with Extron MTP series series Cat-5 baluns for impedance matching. Zion’s projection content is also sermon supportive, using Sermon Assistant software to generate lyrics, scriptural quotes, and image graphics. But, Allen says, that gave them good bang for the buck. “There’s good line of sight from all the seats to the stage, so you can really use the projection video for support rather than reinforcement,” he says.

Since the renovated church reopened, it has hosted a number of concerts. Allen says it’s too soon to tell what beneficial effect the new stage technologies have had yet on the congregation’s fortunes. But he has seen the positive reaction that the systems have instilled in his pastor and the church members. “It gave a real bump in people’s reactions,” he says. “It makes them feel good about the church, and that helps keep a church together. Compared to some other churches, what we have is kind of middle of the road, but it still makes you feel like you’re competitive with other churches. Being able to put entertainment across well is important, especially these days.”

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