Forestville Baptist Church is a vibrant, mission-minded congregation located in the foothills of Northern Greenville County, South Carolina. Originally organized by 13 believers in a one room country schoolhouse in 1883, the church constructed, by their own labor, their first facility, a single room wooden frame structure, in 1886. This original “sanctuary” had no electricity, no running water, no musical instruments and a wood burning stove for heat. That same spirit of faith and enterprise was just as evident on Easter Sunday, 2006 as Forestville opened the doors to a newly completed 1300 seat worship center, the fourth to be built on the site. This building, professionally designed and constructed of brick and steel, contains some of the most technologically advanced multimedia systems of any worship space in the Carolinas. The majority of these systems were designed or built by volunteer labor from within the church.
At Forestville we teach the importance of service. Service to God, service to the body of Christ, service to a lost world who needs to know Him; all are themes that are expounded upon regularly.
Our deacons, true to the biblical model, are servant/leaders, not administrators. All members of the body are strongly encouraged to commit to service in one or more of the 100 or so ministries that are active at Forestville. Whether your gifts are working with children, ministering to the homebound, or singing in a worship team there is a place for you. If your contentment comes from landscaping, preparing meals, or simply taking out the trash, there are always rewarding service opportunities to be found.
One of the most dynamic, exciting and active ministries at Forestville is our Multimedia Team. This is my primary area of service, having led this ministry since 1990. Since that time, our work has grown from the simple one man operation of a 12 channel audio mixer to full blown multi-media production, including computerized intelligent lighting, digital audio, and high definition video. Seven to eight technicians are now required during worship.
In early 1997 we installed the first projection system in our main sanctuary. Very few other churches in upstate South Carolina had this technology. The progression of our abilities and our growing reputation as regional pioneers in church multimedia led others in our area to seek the assistance of the “Forestville guys” in setting up audio visual systems in their own churches. By 1999 it had become apparent that more churches than we could possibly service on Saturdays were going to be jumping on the video bandwagon. Our little ministry had given birth to a business.
I started Advanced Media Systems, officially, in March of 2000, working out of a room over my father’s garage. Just like the technologies that we purvey, my business progressed rapidly. Six short years later, we have designed and installed more than 150 church video systems and at least 40 other systems in our South Carolina Baptist institutions. Of the six AMS employees, five are Forestville members, and four of those are active in the Multimedia Ministry. This relationship is a marriage made in heaven (no pun intended) as Forestville serves as our primary “beta site” or testing ground for much of our emerging technology. We can see very quickly how well something new is going to work in a worship setting. At the same time Forestville receives the benefit of being able to convey the most important message in the world using tools which many churches can only dream about.
A 21ST CENTURY WORSHIP SPACE
Our Long Range Planning Ministry began preparing for the new worship space, in earnest in 2003. We had long been in multiple service mode in the old 450 seat space and folks were ready to worship together again for awhile. We had retrofitted the 1967 shoebox sanctuary again and again with multimedia updates and were about at the limit of what we could reasonably do there. A modern facility was needed with enough seating to facilitate our growth, provisions to accommodate a large Easter production, and cutting edge multimedia systems.
Rev. Marshall Fagg, now Director of Evangelism and Missions for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was our pastor at the time. He strongly supported the high tech stance of the multimedia team and made it clear during planning meetings and from the pulpit that while the new facility would incorporate a few “traditional elements”, we were “going to build a modern worship facility.” Following his lead, I believe we have done just that. Architect David McAbee and I had worked together on several other church projects, including a previous education building for Forestville and David’s own church, Lake Bowen Baptist of Inman, S.C.
He was accustomed to my throwing him the occasional architectural curve ball and always responded favorably as our multimedia design progressed. David was aware that my company was in a different church every week and that we were trying some unique ideas that we had learned in the field. Duane Greene of Durham Greene Inc., the general contractor came into the project with considerable church building experience and a dedication to Christian ethics, rarely found in building trades. Duane and Site Foreman Gerald Bledsoe cooperated fully with all of our strange requests for special load points and other provisions within the worship center.
Early in the process, an open ceiling design was decided upon in order to allow total flexibility in terms of stage lighting and audio. A steel catwalk system and conventional stage lighting rig were decided against after hearing advice from lighting designer Tony Hansen, of Techni-Lux, Orlando, Florida. We had the good fortune of meeting Tony as both of our companies were exhibiting at TFWM’s Inspiration Technology Conference 2004 in Charlotte, N.C.
Scott Taylor, Forestville’s former music minister spent considerable time listening and learning from Tony and, in turn convinced us that we would enjoy far more adaptability with a completely intelligent lighting system. The added cost of the intelligent system was easily offset by the savings realized from the catwalk deletion. Tony’s services were secured and he quickly turned around a preliminary design.
Forestville’s Jacob Allen was chosen as our primary lighting operator and traveled to Orlando to train with Hansen. Jacob later served as the lead installer of this system. Some of the more challenging aspects of getting the system in place involved conveying design requirements to the electrical and general contractors, who had never been involved in a project quite like this. Another trip to Orlando was required by me, in order to be able to intelligently coordinate the various trades involved.
Fortunately, the electrical was handled by another Forestville tradesman; Dennis Black of Black Electrical & Development Co. Dennis and his son Will, although unaccustomed to this type of system, demonstrated trust in our design and fully accommodated the power requirements of the system. Three Global 40’ box trusses were installed with custom wire raceways for power. Tony’s design included the trusses being lifted by R&M StageMaker 1/2 ton motor hoists. This feature has proven to be worth its weight in gold for our team as the entire lighting system can be lowered to the floor for servicing and then raised again to the show position. It was this important element that eliminated the need for the catwalk and would not have been an option with a traditional ceiling design.
The trusses are loaded with (12) SGM Giotto Wash 400 and (12) Spot 400 moving head fixtures. Additionally, two Giotto Spot 400 CMY heads are on the front trusses and another identical pair is on the floor, downstage left and right, providing a little eye candy. The Spot 400 CMY’s allow additional color temperature adjustment beyond that of the standard Spot 400, as well as true Cyan, Magenta, Yellow color mixing.
Large wall areas, on either side of the baptistery are “painted” by four SGM Ribalta LED color changers. These comprise one of the most unique and versatile parts of the system. With 16 million possible color combinations, virtually any lighting mood can be created as a backdrop to whatever is happening on the stage. A Swefog Ultimate 300 hazer makes the light beams from the moving heads more visible and gives our services “that concert look.” This 32 fixture, fully intelligent system is controlled by the SGM Regia 2048 Pro console, loaded with WYSIWIG. All lighting parameters are created and stored here. A PC with 19”monitor at the control position shows the WYSIWIG visualization while two additional 19” monitors display cue and program data from the Regia. House lighting fixtures, installed by Black Electrical, are dimmed by the Leviton Topaz 24.
Strategically located Leviton Sapphire touch pads activate house lighting presets except during service times, when control is taken over by the Regia console. This allows the house lighting to literally become a part of the stage system. In addition to setting the scene on stage, Jacob can lower the house lighting during prayer time or dramatic scenes and raise the lighting during times when folks are reading from their Bibles. For times when stage work light is required, but no lighting operator is available, there are 8 Altman StarPars, also truss mounted, which can be switched on separately from the stage lighting system.
While there were some minor hiccups during the installation, Tony’s design has proven its worth again and again. Showing true dedication to his craft, Tony gave up his Easter weekend to be with us at Forestville for our opening service, assisting with last minute adjustments, programming help and system training.
Video system design fell to me. I don’t mind confessing that the Forestville project was a matter of pride. I had designed and installed many really nice systems in a lot of leading churches in the area. Some of the work was more impressive than what I had previously done at Forestville. One of my goals was to correct this aberration. (Hey, it’s my church!)
For us, the eternal question, “Do we go 16:9 or 4:3 with our screens?” was a no brainer. I had already done some earlier widescreen systems and was confident that if we didn’t go wide, we would soon wish that we had.
As a rule I have, from the beginning, advised most churches to stay with the standard 4:3 video format. Let’s face it. The vast majority of the available content out there is still in 4:3. It’s changing, but slowly. Creating all widescreen content is a ton of work for volunteers in small to medium sized churches. These, of course are most of the churches in the U.S. Secondly, native widescreen projectors that are bright enough for use in such high ambient light situations as church sanctuaries, are just now becoming available at a palatable cost. I have, however, advised churches with new facilities under construction, particularly those desiring rear projection, to seriously think about going 16:9. Nobody wants to be forced into coming back to retrofit later.
There are three 9’ x 16’ projection screens in the Forestville worship center. The two stage right and left screens employ rear projection, and are served by a pair of Sanyo PLV-HD10 projectors, with LNS-WO1Z wide angle lenses. Because these are fixed focal length lenses, and have no zoom capability, we opted to put the projectors on AV carts to facilitate easy projector placement when making image adjustments. These are true high definition projectors at 5500 ANSI lumens with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. They reside in two 25’ deep projection rooms, designed and built specifically for this purpose. The walls, ceilings and floors of these rooms are painted flat black to cut down on any reflections.
The Da-Lite Cinema Contour screens are set into rough openings provided by the contractor, and feature Da-Lite’s Da-Tex rear projection surface. There is virtually no ambient light competing with the projected image. The third projector is a standard 1024×768 model. The Sanyo PLC-XP57, with standard lens is front projected to another 9’ x 16’ Cinema Contour with Da-Lite’s Da-Mat front projection surface. This native 4:3 projector, at 5500 ANSI lumens, serves the choir, and other worship leaders on stage.
In the old facility, our video content was 98% computer generated with the occasional video clip, either imported or of our own creation. We have used R-Technic’s SongShow Plus since 1997 for song lyrics, scripture and announcement slide show creation. The release of Version 7 roughly coincided with our move into the new worship center.
In the old building, which seated only about 450 people, continuous image magnification would have been ridiculous. But the move into a 1300 seat hall was another matter. Live camera shots could be tastefully used in conjunction with computer generated images, keyed text, and video clips. Professional video cameras for IMAG had long been a part of our plans, but I never dreamed until later in the building process that we would actually be able to produce high definition images from camera to projector. Last year’s introduction of the GY-HD100 camera system from JVC helped to bring this within our reach.
The cameras are astride SLIK-Diawa tripod systems, with handle bar mounted focus and zoom controls and Marshall HD video assist monitors. The tripod and the camera operator stand atop SpiderPod camera support systems. The SpiderPods prevent any camera shaking as the operator moves around. While there are three HD-100 cameras, a total of six camera positions are available, allowing us to move cameras to different locations as needed. During baptism, a camera operator is temporarily positioned at the baptistery, allowing the entire congregation to get a close up view of this very important ordinance of the church. Most times the cameras are in their right, left, and center positions at the rear of the room. The cameras are sending a 720P component video signal to the control room, where rack mounted Marshall V-R72P-2HDA monitors allow the video director to view the camera shots and choose which will be displayed on the projection screens. ClearCom headsets facilitate communication for all involved.
All inputs, camera, computer, DVD, and video server are managed and mixed with the Analog Way DiVentix. The DiVentix is the heart of this multi-format system, allowing virtually any flavor of standard or high def video to be seamlessly switched and scaled to the appropriate resolution. PIP and keying functions allow for very smooth and powerful visual effects. Seamless full motion fades from one input to the next, as well as lower third text overlays are frequently integrated into our worship. The video signal leaves the DiVentix in the form of HD-SDI, at 1080i. This digital signal split four ways by a Gefen HD-SDI distribution amp. Two feeds go directly to the two HD10 projectors. The third is routed to a Marshall V-R72P-2HDSDI monitor for, well, monitoring, and the fourth signal is fed to the distribution rack, which sits nearby. Here begins more extensive conversion and distribution.
In our hallways and welcome center are three NEC 50”, and seven Sanyo 42” plasma displays. Because the plasmas, and the aforementioned “choir projector” are designed for analog signals, the HD-SDI signal is converted to analog RGBHV at 1024 x 768. This trick is accomplished by another Analog Way box known as the VIO 1600. It’s sort of an “anything in, anything out” conversion device, with three inputs.
From the VIO, this RGBHV signal enters the Altinex Multitasker, a fully configurable card cage system, loaded with enough distribution amp cards to distribute signal to 14 different locations. The 10 plasmas receive their signals from here. One split however goes to an Analog Way XTD 820 scan converter. Here the signal is converted once again, to composite video, and along with audio is fed to a Channel Vision RF Modulator. This RF signal is managed by a Channel Vision distribution panel and is sent to six 32” televisions, for those folks working in the nurseries. Surprisingly, video latency is a non-issue. This is testament to the quality of the Analog Way components. With no more than one frame delay per device, the latency is almost imperceptible, even at the televisions.
In order to bring all of this lighting and video to life, powerful, but pristine sound was required. Mixing and building small PA systems have been among my skill sets since the early 80’s. As the primary audio engineer at Forestville since 1990, I knew what we needed to accomplish. But I was an old analog dog, in need of some new digital tricks. Designing line arrays, and programming DSPs and digital consoles were a little out of my league. I needed to call in the big guns.
Alan Simonton, another servant and owner of Audio Solutions, Inc. is a dear friend. We’ve done a ton of jobs together and talk almost every day. We had spent countless hours hashing out how this system should be designed and what components should be used. The guys from QSC had brought their new ISIS Wide Line Array to Alan’s shop for a demo and we had cranked it up in his parking lot, much to the dismay of passing motorists. The 140 degree horizontal coverage of these boxes convinced us that this is what we needed for a room as wide as Forestville’s. With a well designed array and just a couple of small fill cabinets for the extreme wings, we believed that the whole room could be covered evenly.
QSC helped with the design and we settled on the Wide Line and QSC power. BSS London BLU 80’s provide the signal processing. The Audio Solutions guys flew the six ISIS WL2102 boxes along with two QSC MD-S218 subs per side. A pair of QSC ADS828Hs filled in the far left and right dead zones. The amp rack resides in the stage right projection room and is loaded with nine QSC Powerlite 230s, five Powerlite 224s and two CX-502s, enough power to literally “scald the dog.”
Guest performers get foldback from EAW SM129z wedges which can be moved virtually anywhere on the platform. A unique patch field on the rear of the amp rack, laid out in the shape of the stage, allows us to patch any monitor mix to any combination of available monitor jacks. The praise band and worship leader uses Aviom A-16II Personal Mixers with Shure E-2 “in ear” monitors. These are fed by the Aviom A-16D Pro A-Net Distributor, which gets it signals from the Aviom 16/O-Y1 A-Net card, installed in the Yamaha M7CL console. Jack plates around the perimeter of the “band pit” and FSR floor boxes on the stage provide mic inputs, monitor outputs and Aviom CAT 5 connections.
Other worries were confronted. With a 100 seat choir area and a fifty foot open ceiling, where do you hang choir mics and monitors? We eventually chose to fly two more ADS828Hs on the lighting truss, directly over the choir, to provide an unobstructed and invisible monitor mix. Eight Audix Microboom M1245s were selected as choir mics, due to their sonic quality and pencil thin dimensions. We have ten Shure ULX wireless receivers, which are shared by eight Beta 58 and 10 ULX-1 transmitters with Countryman WCE6Ti headset mics. Shure UA870 Active Directional Antennas receive the signals. Playback comes from a Marantz PMD331 CD Player, a Marantz PMD510 Cassette Deck, a Tascam MD-350 MiniDisc machine, and a PC at FOH.
Audio recording is accomplished with two Marantz CDR510 CD recorders. I had originally coveted a Yamaha PM5D console, but could see no way that the church could swallow the price tag. Alan advised that the new M7CL was a lot of console for the money. It suited our situation well, and would be a less painful leap from analog to digital.
At the March NSCA Expo in Las Vegas, I attend Yamaha’s digital mixing training. The room was full of M7CL’s and after a few hours of test driving, I was convinced that Alan was right. All mixing, routing, channel specific equalization and dynamic control are handled from the M7CL. Its virtual rack contains a generous compliment of EQs and effects units. The touch screen, Centra Logic section and moving faders, allow for quick adjustment of any of the 48 main inputs, as well as groups and DCAs. Contrary to most digital consoles, there are none of the menu layers that serve to confound and confuse novice mixers. This console has become very popular for many reasons. It was certainly the best choice for Forestville. I cannot say enough about the quality of work from Alan Simonton and Audio Solutions. Their design and installation of the entire worship center audio system is second to none.
A stereo line out from the Soundweb at FOH goes to the video control room where an audio distribution amp card in the Multitasker splits the signal to feed several devices. One of these is the Bose ControlSpace ESP-88. This fully programmable sound processing system, allows control and distribution of audio to multiple listening zones. 32 Bose Model 16 ceiling mounted speakers are installed throughout the hallways, welcome area, and restrooms.
The speakers, powered by Inter-M 70 volt amps are currently divided into six zones, each of which can be individually controlled from the ControlSpace CC-64 control center. Sources for each zone, as well as volume, equalization, delay, compression and other parameters are easily adjusted here. Content for the background music system typically comes from Forestville Radio; a customizable IP based Christian radio service that we subscribe to. During worship the ControlSpace takes its feed from the house console, providing the audio to go along with the video shown on the hallway plasma displays.
POWER and CONTROL
Electrical service for all video, audio, and stage power is transformer isolated from the rest of the building power to prevent interference and noise from other electrical devices in the facility. A separate power transformer and distribution panel, also located in the stage right projection room, is provided for this purpose. The Lowell 225 amp loadcenter has, in addition to standard breakers, 14 solenoid operated 20 amp breakers, controlled by a Lowell ACSC-248 sequencer. This causes every component of the audio system to power up or power down in the proper sequence when activated by a low voltage key switch at the FOH position.
Projectors and plasmas are controlled through RS-232, by the Aurora Multimedia WACI (Web Access Control Interface). The WACI is accessed and all displays are powered up or down through an NEC MultiSync 1860NX touch monitor. Future programming for event scheduling and content downloads is also possible with the WACI.
EASTER AND BEYOND
Obviously, this project has been a labor of love. For six weeks, as building completion neared, we found ourselves doing double duty, installing systems in other churches by day and working on our own by night, rarely seeking rest before about 1:00am. The first service, Easter Sunday brought the largest single gathering of worshippers ever at Forestville. Tony Hansen was there looking over Jacob’s shoulder and Alan Simonton was with me at FOH. Linwood Hagin, Gene Loftis and other volunteers were at video control and camera positions.
Headsets chattering, hands shaking, my mind was spinning. What did we forget? The praise band cranked up catching me by surprise. Moving heads in position, house lights down, the screens said “Welcome to the House of The Lord.” My mouth was open. I couldn’t believe the lighting scene. I looked at Tony who shrugged and said, “Not me. That’s your boy, here.”
The audio was clear, full, and powerful, befitting His worship and praise. The first camera shot faded up. Voice choking, I said to Alan, “Look at the quality of that image.” He smiled and reached in front of me to cue up a mic I had forgotten. Everyone was where he was supposed to be. All were doing what they were called to do. The praise went up. The Spirit descended. He was in the house. That service lasted more than an hour and a half. It seemed like it was over in two minutes.
I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a project that brought with it more concern, anguish and sleepless nights. But then, I’ve never completed a task that resulted in such spiritual blessing, contentment and satisfaction. This facility was completed at a time when Forestville was without pastor or worship minister. Strong lay leadership stepped up to the plate. Spiritual gifts were realized. Skills were put into practice. Our service model, under the acronym “ACTS – A Church That Serves” was thoroughly tested and proven. Sanction by God was all that was required.