A little over a year ago, Victory Church broke ground for its $7 million, brick and stucco building.
The sanctuary, which seats 1,200 with average attendance of about 850 for Sunday worship at two services, has a wide platform with an orchestra pit, risers for the choir, a baptistery, and state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and video projection systems designed and installed by All Pro Sound (www.allprosound.com) of Pensacola, FL. A complete video production system was assembled by the church itself, and interfaced to the other systems by All Pro Sound and lead designer, Chad Edwardson.
Central to the new sound system is a Yamaha DM2000, 96-channel digital console, capable of handling 24-bit/96 kHz audio, plus effects and processing. Important options specified for the Victory Church console are three Yamaha AD8HR’s, combination eight-channel mic preamp and analog-to-digital converters, and two MY16AE 16-channel digital I/O cards for interface with digital recording devices.
The church initially had in mind a standard analog console. But dialogue between All Pro Sound’s Edwardson, project coordinator, Frank Iddings, and Tim Putprush, Victory Church Head of Technical Ministry (a title he shares with wife, Charlene) later moved toward digital. Yet behind that decision, even before turning to All Pro Sound and lead designer Edwardson, says Putprush, were “many brainstorming sessions over a period of six months about what we wanted to do with this facility.”
“One thing that dawned on us almost simultaneously,” says Putprush, as the AV systems committee discussed systems details, “is that technology could be used to enhance worship.” While he admits that this “revelation” seems quite obvious in retrospect, nonetheless the idea permeated the church’s thinking about AV technology for the facility. “Even in our old location, we were always a little bit out front technologically. But our old sound system never quite fit our building or our ambitions. Ultimately what we try to achieve in the worship setting is the feeling of a personal relationship with God, for anywhere from 500 to 1200 people. To do this, we needed a sound system that would be crystal clear; clear to the point of being transparent to the worshippers, no more noticeable than the chairs or pews they sat in, but something that would move people to communion with God.”
A good sound system is only part of the formula for achieving such a goal, really only “a delivery system for the content,” says Putprush. But by involving All Pro Sound early in discussions with the architects for the new facility, the church was able to maintain their focus on first principles. Technically speaking, says Putprush, “we achieved a uniform sound pressure level for every seat in the sanctuary… the sound is impressive but not overwhelming, and it’s beautifully clear.”
The audio console
Among the things the church wanted to accomplish with a front-of-house console were the ability to expand their capabilities as their needs grew, and scene recall. The church is using scene recall for a variety of base setups, at this point, six in all: Sunday morning service, Wednesday night Bible study, weddings, etc. “We’re also adding things as we go along,” says Putprush, “like the Aviom personal monitoring system with the optional plug-in card for the DM2000.”
The Aviom system was purchased in part because of unpleasant memories of the acoustically dead platform in the old church sanctuary, says Putprush, where the volume for the stage monitors had to be turned up so high that they reflected out of the platform shell, spilling into the sanctuary itself. “Now we can supply each player with his or her own mix, right out of the console.” Six JBL SF12M floor monitors supply a traditional monitor mix to the platform, as well as two EAW monitors for the choir. “The architecture of the Yamaha makes it very easy to make changes to the Aviom system via the board itself—like adding a new mic set for drums.”
Front of house loudspeakers mounted to the proscenium above the platform EAWs: two EAW AX364’s (with a horn pattern of 60° x 45°) flanking one EAW AX396’s (with a horn pattern of 90° x 60°) and two EAW MK2164’s serve for left and right fills. The FOH system is supported by two Turbo Sound 2 x 15″ subwoofers. Six OAP NF-241’s in the front face of the platform stairs serve as front-fill speakers.
Edwardson specified a single Turbo Sound TCS40 (a 2-way speaker with two 8″ LF drivers and a 1” HF driver) to cover the problematic small upper balcony behind the FOH position, which extends from the balcony and down a few steps, out over the main floor of the sanctuary balcony area. “There was some skepticism that we could get the sound in the balcony area to match the sound on the floor,” says Edwardson. “We spent a good deal of time tuning the system, getting the SPL set as well as the EQ curve in balcony to match the floor. We were successful, completely satisfying the most critical listeners.”
FOH loudspeakers are driven by eight QSC PLX model amplifiers and one Crown MA model. Digital signal routing is via Biamp Audia Solo 4 x 12.
Video projection and production
Video projection in the church is based around three Sony M3 cameras on the floor, five Eiki digital projectors, and five Dalite screens (four 90” x 120” and one 87” x 116”). Central to this setup is a ScreenPro Plus multi-screen presentation switcher (from Folsom Research) that supports up to six screens, with the ability to select from up to 16 video sources. The switcher takes video in different formats and converts to RGBHV video signals that are sent to the projectors. “We send video direct from the video cards in the computers,” says Putprush, “NTSC composite video from each of the cameras on the floor, and video from the DVD / VHS tape player. In the future we will be adding satellite video reception from the Global Pastor’s Network.”
“We did make an addition to the system,” he says. “We took an auxiliary output from the Folsom matrix and designated it to follow the center screen. The aux output is fed to a scan converter to give NTSC composite video from the digital computer inputs. The video is sent to the videotape production switcher so the computer generated video can be recorded on tape.”
SongShow Plus, a database-driven worship presentation software program—which the Church has used for a number of years in various upgraded versions, says Charlene Putprush—allows instant display of song lyrics, scriptures, images, and videos during praise and worship service.
“Basically, we have the ability to project simultaneously from the floor and from our video production studio with a live feed of materials we’ve put together in either SongShow or PowerPoint,” says (Charlene) Putprush. “That was a big jump for us. We didn’t have live feed in our other facility.”
Video production at Victory Church, according to Charlene, began quite modestly as basically a service for shut-ins: video recordings of their Pastor’s sermons for those who could not attend services. “At this point,” she says, “we’re taping the entire service, including praise and worship. We’re still going to VHS, but we’re in the process of moving to a full editing suite and producing on DVD. For one of our congregation serving in Iraq, we duped an edited VHS to DVD. When he returned from his tour of duty, he told us that the DVD’s we sent were like letters from home. In the future, we’d like to be able to edit digitally in order to produce direct to the DVD format.” Looking ahead 3 – 5 years, says Charlene, broadcast starting with the local cable-TV channel is their goal.
As with audio, the careful use of video resources is used to enhance the worship experience at Victory Church. “We’re finding that there’s a direct relationship between how much of the video display you operate and congregational participation, especially in praise and worship,” says (Tim) Putprush. “I think that people are much more comfortable looking up at a screen, rather than looking down trying to sing. Looking up at the words on the screen, your chin is lifted and you’re in a much better posture to sing. Plus, you can see better.”
Victory Church is still in the exploratory phase of working with their newly gained technological capabilities. The new facility and all the new AV capabilities have registered very positively with the congregation, and in the only way that matters—in providing a positive, meaningful, and fulfilling worship experience between the congregation and God.