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Reaching New Heights of Technology
By: Candace K. Clarke

While planning a much-needed relocation, the church leadership behind Madison Park Church of God sought enhanced audiovisual technology to complement the energy of their growing congregation. Based in Anderson, Indiana, the new facility operates as an impressively designed house of worship that occupies just over 77,000 square feet. Equipped with user-friendly, state-of-the-art technology, the new structure is more than three times the size of the previous facility.

Leading AV integrator AVI-SPL was responsible for providing an acoustical analysis of the space, with teams utilizing the techniques and tools EASE diagnostics for this task. Design Engineer Joseph Thomas coordinated with K.R. Montgomery & Associates, an Anderson-based architecture firm, to provide infrastructure requirements that included conduit, power, and heat load.

"As with any AV project, the importance of a structure's architecture and its effect on acoustics plays a key factor," said Thomas. "We had the advantage of being brought into this project during the building-design phase."

Over a two-year period, AVI-SPL's team of designers, engineers, and installers dedicated themselves to this project, delivering a new look, feel, and rhythm to the congregation.

"Every day, we're communicating a life-changing message of hope to everyone who accesses our facility," said Ryan Woolsey, technical and multimedia director for Madison Park Church of God. "Since it's important that our message is communicated clearly and effectively, it's a priority that we use the latest technology to create the finest production quality possible."

The Sanctuary
With a very wide, fan-shaped structure and seating for approximately 1,800 people, the modern sanctuary posed numerous challenges for the integration team. In order to provide an even distribution of audio throughout the space, the teams installed left, center, and right three-cabinet speaker clusters configurations. The fringes of the seating area are reinforced using a ceiling-suspended eight-speaker delay ring. Front seating areas also receive an impressive array of audio through the help of six front fill speakers; these are installed into the front lip of the stage.

Each of the main loudspeaker clusters has three separate elements so that the signals from the left, center, and right locations could be adjusted to have uniform amplitude coverage across the majority of the sanctuary. The delay loudspeakers each had an associated delay matrix in the signal processing so that the alignment of the left, center, and right signals through the delay loudspeakers was accurate for each delay coverage zone. The result was that stereo imaging of sound was maintained for each seat in the sanctuary, and the listener's impression is that all of the sound is coming from the area of the platform.

"The sanctuary's sound system has many features and a lot of flexibility, including 'in ear' monitoring, two channels of independent intercom, and digital recording," said Thomas.

Ceiling suspended projectors are located directly behind the left and right speaker clusters. The main screens are 120"x60" Draper Onyx screens, and the choir makes use of an additional projector and a 120"x60" screen located on the back wall of the sanctuary as a monitor. Additionally, the sanctuary's Yamaha digital console makes operation of the technology easy for new users, while providing a wide range of flexibility for the more experienced.

"A Crestron control system is provided to allow a single user to control all video aspects of the sanctuary," said Thomas. "The system keeps operations simple for even novice users."

A setting has been included in the system control that pre-configures all parameters and enables a smaller automatic mixer so that an operator is not required. While backstage, the simple push of a button configures the audio processor into a mode that allows a CD player, wireless microphone, and eight microphone jacks to be used.  

"This is an integral design for applications such as weddings, funerals and lectures, where a technical staff member may not be available to operate the system," said AVI-SPL Production Manager Dan Waltens. "There is also a laptop connection point at the front of the stage with a 'show me' feature. When this button is pressed, the sanctuary's two projectors are turned on, and the laptop signal is routed to them."

Additionally, audio and video tie lines are provided from the sanctuary system to both of the other main AV systems within the church. This facilitates simultaneous use and overflow configurations from each space of the building.

"With this newly customized AV design and integration, the choir, onstage members, and congregation are all able to share in an amazing new acoustical and visual experience," said Waltens.

The Commons
The commons area is equipped with AV systems configured for a variety of uses. While the commons acts as an overflow area from the main auditorium, it can also function as an independent performance space. In this area, the worshipers of Madison Park can deliver presentations such as banquets, dinner theater, and receptions. A small stage is equipped with audio and video input connections and monitoring capabilities that can be used with a portable mixing and control console. High-quality ceiling-mounted loudspeakers are distributed throughout this area for sound reinforcement. Audio and video can also be configured to function as an overflow extension of the main sanctuary.

Youth Auditorium
The youth auditorium is equipped with three large video screens. The largest is the center screen, which is located above the stage. This is used primarily for "movie-type" presentations. Two 108" x 144" projection screens flank the stage and are used for the presentation of words and graphics during youth worship, as well as for the displaying video game tournaments. This room has a complete 40-channel audio system, including provisions for floor and personal "in ear" monitoring. This space doubles as a presentation and teaching venue for the church.

An Additional Touch: Digital Signage
An RF distribution system is installed throughout the church, with inputs and controls located in the video control room on the mezzanine level at the rear of the sanctuary. This system serves to distribute announcements and other instructional information to video displays located across the facility.  

Embracing New Technologies
"Compared to our old system, it's been a contrast similar to that of night and day," said Woolsey. "Screens are much brighter, images are bold, video cues and transitions are smoother, and everyone on stage just loves the rear screen." 

There is also a new level of excitement that the change in technology has helped to generate, not only with current members of the church, but also to those in and around the community. 

"One of the ways I've measured this is by the sheer number of outside events we hosted from local businesses, organizations, and ministries," said Woolsey.

While the main auditorium has played host to several large-scale productions that otherwise would not have been possible, the AV system of the commons area has given the church a great place to accommodate a variety of requests.

Candace K. Clarke is communications editor for AVI-SPL, www.avispl.com.

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