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State of the Worship A/V Market
By: Charlie Leib

Video Mount Products (VMP), a leading provider of mounting solutions for the A/V, communications, and security markets, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. We thought we would take this opportunity to discuss the church AV market with Keith Fulmer, who has been president of Video Mount Products since 1996.

As your company has grown, can you shed some light on how the church segment has grown in the world of A/V accessories during this period?

It would be safe to say that back in 1994, the worship market was a lot more about the A(udio) than the V(ideo).  Houses of worship have taken full advantage of the availability of video technology and content to do a much better job of delivering their message and further, to engage today's youth with a medium they are very comfortable with.

As a follow-up, where is the A/V "mount" accessories market headed for the church market in 2014 and beyond, and where do the product innovations lie?

You will see an expanded use of digital signage within the worship space as houses of worship use every tool available to them to keep their congregations active. It often takes more than just a single reminder to get volunteers involved and digital signage in the narthex or other social areas has proven to be an effective tool.  Also, given the amount of equipment used at a typical service today, equipment storage and management has become an increasing focus. Add in the cost of the equipment and being able to safeguard the investment with lockable equipment cabinets is a must.

As Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a growing technology for architects and designers, can you explain what it is and what the benefits are to those redesigning, adding on to, and building-from-scratch church buildings?

BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. It describes the process of designing a building or project collaboratively using one coherent system of computer models rather than several separate sets of drawings. What that really means is that architects, engineers, builders, and religious administrators are all on the same page as they build or build on to their place of worship.  BIM offers enormous savings in cost and time, much greater accuracy in estimation, and the avoidance of error, alterations and rework due to information loss.

We've seen an explosion of digital signage usage over the past decade, and utilized extensively in different areas of church campuses, from the sanctuary to the narthex to school classrooms to fellowship halls. What makes modern digital signage mounts different from standard AV Mounts?

There is really not a great deal of difference between the two.  Digital signage is more about content than it is about mounting solutions. Specifically in the worship space, digital signage will be used more to deliver a message whereas in a retail environment it would be used to induce a sale. However, some "accessories for accessories" are available, such as small computer housing mounts that attach behind a flat panel mount in order to keep a digital signage computer secure, and, often, out of sight.

Unfortunately, security has become a concern for many parishes as they utilize expensive AV equipment, such as the aforementioned flat panel screens. Can you give our readers a few examples of how some accessories can help deter would-be concerns with integrated security measures?

Unfortunately is right.  Many mounts now come with integrated tamperproof security screws as well as accommodations for padlocks. In addition, flat panels are often mounted in traveled or supervised areas or higher on walls or to the ceiling to prevent tampering. It is advisable to think ahead and make sure the accessories have the adequate security measures before purchase and installation.

We are seeing AV systems becoming larger and more sophisticated in the church market, from both smaller neighborhood parishes to mega churches. Are equipment racks, both freestanding and on-wall, in growing demand for the church market? What are their benefits?

Equipment racks have great benefits. As I discussed earlier, the amount of equipment, even for smaller congregations, continues to grow and A/V equipment is an important piece of the budget for houses of worship. Smaller congregations will often need less equipment and have less available storage space, so a wall mounted equipment cabinet will probably do the trick and, therefore, save much needed floor space for other use. For larger congregations, a floor cabinet would likely be most effective. And for some of the mega churches, several full size floor cabinets might not be enough. Management, organization, and security are primary concerns for all of these substantial investments.

Today, many larger sanctuaries are using a combination of projection and flat panel technologies, such as using a two-piece projection system (projector and screen). What should a designer/installer know about the different styles of projector mounts, for both functionality and aesthetic purposes?

A lot depends on the size and style of the worship space. In smaller venues, a basic projector and mount are often plenty. However, in larger houses of worship and especially in some of the mega churches, multiple projectors may even require custom mounting solutions. While aesthetics are always a concern, the mounts are usually installed to where very little of the mount is visible.  It's also interesting to note that folks will rarely even look at the mount, unless of course you're in the business…we always look.

For more information, visit www.videomount.com.

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Religious Product News