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From the Field: House of Worship Perspective

Responses provided by: Daryl Cripe, Technical Director, Grace Community Church, Noblesville, IN

If 3D is the next progression for media formats, do houses of worship need to develop infrastructure to migrate to 3D when the time is right? 

I would want to be cautious as a church with developing an infrastructure for a technology that is still this new and under development. We all know that once a technology ‘takes off’, its usage, format and structure will change quickly over time. Given that 3D is just now taking off in the entertainment industry, I would think that additional changes to how it is captured, displayed, etc. will also change rapidly. I would hate to get stuck with the wrong infrastructure. Even at NAB and InfoComm (2010) it was obvious that specific formats have not yet been settled amongst manufacturers. Active glasses, passive glasses? Etc.

However in the coming years, once a particular standard “sticks”, then I would at least want to be talking about what it would take to have the proper infrastructure in place, especially in relation to new construction or major renovations. Infrastructure costs are always cheaper and easier on the front-end of a project vs. retrofitting later.

Would you say the main hurdle to incorporating 3D environments in houses of worship is expecting the congregants to wear glasses- compromising the physical (and spiritual) connection to one another? 

I would agree that the idea of wearing 3D glasses, especially in a church-setting, seems counter to the physical, spiritual, and communal connections churches are seeking to provide. At least for the short-term, I believe the necessity of 3D glasses is a deal-breaker for church applications outside of a specific, special element within a given worship service. Don’t get me wrong, used in the right context, within a worship service, it could be quite powerful. But I believe the glasses are a significant barrier to this becoming mainstream within a church environment beyond a special element within the large service.

Another reality of the hindrance of 3D glasses is that I believe it is one thing to pay to go a movie theatre, sit in long rows, and be entertained. However, to sit in my living room with my family in a horseshoe shape around a TV, and for us to regularly wear 3D glasses, that seems like an entirely different thing. I am not proposing that this might not become more normal over the long-term, but I would contend that UNTIL this becomes more normal at home, it cannot become normal for church.

If and when the technology is finally achieved to allow 3D without glasses, that’s an entirely different situation.

I also believe there is an additional hurdle that isn’t being talked about much yet, especially in the church environment. The discussions of using 3D within a church are coming about as a result of the sudden influx of 3D within film & TV. However, a church is not “most” like film or TV. In terms of ‘entertainment’, church is most like a concert or live theatre. And, to my knowledge, outside of Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour, no other major concert or live theatre application has even yet experimented with 3D technology.

Part of the reason for this is because the issue of “focus” is being confused. In other words, 3D makes sense in film and TV because the only thing an audience is looking at is the screen. 3D enhances the experience on the screen, so why wouldn’t it become popular? However, in concerts and live theatre, as well as churches, the “screen” is secondary (outside of video venues). If I went to a concert that is presented in 3D, I will likely only be watching the screens. But if that’s the case, why have anyone performing on stage? And wouldn’t that be the same for a worship service? I wonder if this is why no one is, as of yet, investing heavily in 3D for concerts or live theatres?

What are effective ways in which small to mid-sized churches should prepare themselves for the coming transitions in media capture and display? 

In the short term, people can now experience high quality video in a theatre, in their home, even on their phones. As such, I think it is important to try not to do a lot video in an average way. Focus on doing what you can afford, and what you have time for and do it with excellence. I am fine watching video on an IMAX screen, and I am fine watching video on my phone, as long as the quality is good.

In the long term, I am a big believer in infrastructure. Pay attention to what types of media capture and display have been and will be long-term, and build around those types. In addition, recognize that you have no chance of keeping up with all the transitions, with the latest and greatest. Don’t be discouraged by that reality. Again, do what you can do well, and don’t get caught up in what you can’t do. – See more at: http://www.tfwm.com/0910field#sthash.O9NxB29Y.dpuf