Enhancing The Worship Experience With Expanded Creativity
by Dustin Lemler
The People’s Church has a long history in Tennessee. It was founded as the First Baptist Church of Franklin in 1838 and grew substantially over the years moving to our present 90-acre campus in suburban Nashville in 1988. The Worship Center, which seats 1,750, was erected in 1998 and enables us to showcase our strong use and support of creative arts and media in worship services and events. The People’s Church also maintains another campus in Spring Hill, about 30 miles south of Franklin.
Since we’re located in the Nashville area we’re blessed with proximity to the latest technology on the market. A lot of People’s Church members come from the performance and technical sides of the industry. So our media volunteers and our full-time staff are professionals in the ﬁ eld; they have the knowledge and expertise to support the latest technology in our worship services and events.
Recently, we were looking to replace our old rear-projection video cube wall. We had reached the peak of what we could do creatively with what we had, and we needed a much larger screen that would be easier to read in the room. So we selected a 33×10-foot 4 mil INFiLED wall from Shenzhen INFiLED Electronics Co. It’s actually comprised of two 16:9 screens side by side; it’s motorized so we can move it up and down. We typically keep it up high but can also lower it to the ﬂ oor. It serves as a backdrop to our performing arts-style stage.
In choosing a replacement for the videowall we didn’t just want a screen. We wanted a palette of myriad possibilities. That meant that the image processing system we selected had to be capable of handling multiple inputs to meet our immediate needs and offer room for future growth.
We did quite a bit of research on the Internet and talked to people in the ﬁ eld who deal with LED walls and large-venue video, and everyone mentioned Vista Systems’ Spyder image processor. We attended NAB 2013 and went to Vista’s booth; we got a Spyder demo and collected all the information we needed. When we got back to Franklin, Spyder was the only solution we proposed to our Elder Board.
Room to Grow
Our Spyder X20 0808 can handle eight sources; it can be upgraded to 16 sources if needed in the future. We’re already using all eight inputs. We can connect two devices to each of the inputs and command the Spyder which one to see, input A or B. So we have about 16 devices hooked up to it: the main program and auxiliary feeds from our Ross Carbonite house switcher, DVRs and DDRs for HD playback of video loops, and Apple Macintosh computers running Pro Presenter for CG and backgrounds.
Our Church Media Director, Mark Hengstenberg, and I went through Spyder training at the Vista Systems headquarters in Phoenix. Our other three full-time staff members quickly picked up Spyder from us and from hands on time with the system. What’s especially nice about Spyder is that you can run it about 50 different ways: Each operator can customize how he wants to run it. So you can ﬁgure out the best approach to use – and all of them are good!
Right now we’re using the LED wall and Spyder for our Sunday worship services. The LED wall displays song lyrics with an artistic background, video loop or still image behind it. We can match colors on the screen with our on-stage lighting.
We also use the LED wall and Spyder for IMAG to ensure that every gets a clear view of the service. During the message from Pastor Rick White, the screen displays his message points, notes and scripture – with the pastor in an IMAG window and the text next to him. It’s all layered on a seasonal graphics package
Fulﬁlling Demands of Special Events
Christmas Eve and Easter are the Super Bowls of our worship services so they will really put Spyder to the test. On Christmas Eve we get 5-6,000 people at multiple services. We tend to go all out with features that set us apart from other churches in the area. Our house band writes a special Christmas tune, we have different artists performing, and we end the service by singing Silent Night and having all 1,750 people light the candle they’ve been given. This year our visuals will be more elaborate, too, with every bit of Spyder dedicated to running the LED wall. At the start of the service we’ll have the LED wall on the ﬂoor then raise it to do a reveal.
We plan to use Spyder for other events as well. We recently had a book signing by Miss Kay of “Duck Dynasty” that drew more than 1,000 people. We displayed a camouﬂage background and footage from the TV series on the LED wall along with information about our church services, activities and website. Spyder enabled us to run so many elements on the wall at the same time that people waiting for their books to be signed were never bored. There was always something different to look at even if they waited on line for 30 minutes.
Our church members have responded very favorably to Spyder and our new LED wall. They have said that our ability to put more on the screen helps them to engage more fully – the expanded visuals have really enhanced our worship services.
My staff and our volunteers are also very enthusiastic about adding Spyder to our equipment roster. They feel that Spyder has opened up a lot of opportunities for creativity. We’re no longer limited by our technology.