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Video Walls and Screens for Houses of Worship

Video Walls and Screens for Houses of Worship

In a house of worship, having some form of video display can greatly enhance the worship experience. From song lyrics and scripture to speaking notes and image magnification (IMAG), a video display can accentuate what’s happening on stage, and make the service more impactful and memorable for the audience. Whether you’re using a traditional projection screen, an LCD video wall or direct view LED panel wall, adding displays to a house of worship can create a multisensory experience that keeps parishioners engaged.

In this blog, you’ll learn about the various display options for houses of worship. We’ll start by comparing projectors to video walls and look at some of the benefits of LCD and LED video walls. Then, we’ll address some things to consider when upgrading your display, as well as give some recommendations on a few products for various use cases within houses of worship. Of course, you can always reach out to the team of experts at Guitar Center Professional to receive a free consultation and get assistance finding the right display option for your application.

Projectors vs. Video Walls

One of the first questions you’ll need to consider when looking at adding or upgrading your display for a house of worship application is whether you want to use a traditional projector and projection screen, or instead use a video wall. Either approach can add interesting and informative video content to your service. However, video walls, particularly LED panel walls, can also serve as visual elements on the stage, enhancing the look and feel, and serving as decor as well as a communication tool.

Other than the look and feel, the other major concerns when comparing video walls to projectors are brightness and image clarity. Projectors are reflective displays, meaning the technology works by shining a light on a reflective surface (a screen), which then bounces the light back to the viewer like a mirror. In the process, a good portion of the light output is lost in the transmission to the viewer. Additionally, the screens are very susceptible to ambient lighting, not just from the house lights, but the stage lighting as well.

Video walls work differently. LCD video walls, which are made of multiple digital signage televisions in a grid pattern, are transmissive, meaning light is transmitted to the user through LCD color filters, so this is a more direct and less “lossy” path for the light to travel. LED video walls are displays built using specialized LED panels. Sometimes called “direct view” panels, the emissive LEDs output colored light that travels directly to the viewer, for the least amount of light loss. Both technologies tend to be brighter and are less impacted by ambient light than projectors.

Because video walls are generally brighter and clearer, they also tend to improve accessibility for parishioners as well. With wide sight lines and clear images, words and other imagery are more visible in more areas within the sanctuary. This can be a big advantage, as the goal of displays in houses of worship is to reinforce the message and help everyone in the audience be able to better understand what is being communicated.

That said, projectors can be adjusted to cover a larger surface area for less cost, although increasing the size of the image doesn’t actually increase the resolution, as adding panels to a video wall can. This may make you think that projectors would be more flexible down the road, as you can replace the screen and not need to replace the projector itself. However, video walls can also easily be expanded as needs and requirements change simply by adding panels to the system.

A final point of comparison for video walls and projectors is how they handle power. Projectors are a single power drop for the display, whereas a video wall will require power for each display in the video wall. Sometimes, this amount of power requires multiple circuits to run properly. If you’re looking at a video wall for your house of worship, the system designers at Guitar Center Professional will inquire about your power system to ensure you have enough power where you need it.

Considerations When Buying a New Display

No matter the type of display, there are certain considerations that will be common to any application. First, you’ll need to know where you want to put the screen and how big you need the screen to be. These two concerns go hand in hand, as you’ll need to be sure you can fit a screen the size you need in the place where you want to mount it.

When looking at the size of the screen, you’ll need to look at the rear seats in the sanctuary and see how far they are from the screen location. Although there are many differences of opinion on how large a screen should be, a general rule of thumb for a house of worship is that the maximum distance from the screen should be six times the width of the screen. Put another way, if the rear seats in the sanctuary are 60 feet from the wall where the screen will be mounted, the minimum recommended screen size would be at least ten-feet wide and roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall.

Similarly, you’ll want to look at the field of view. How wide is the viewing angle? This is partially a question related to the display type (different displays can sometimes have different viewing angles) but is also related to the basic physics of what’s comfortably viewable. This is also why you should make sure there’s nothing blocking the line of sight. A quick walkaround of the sanctuary can ensure everyone is able to view the screens, particularly if there are balconies in your sanctuary.

You’ll also need to determine if your new display will work technically with the rest of your system. This means selecting a video resolution that works with your devices, and ensuring the video types and connections on your display can integrate with your existing AV gear, such as camera, video switchers, etc. As well, you’ll need to determine if the power requirements of your display will work with your power infrastructure. And you’ll need to look at your lighting system to ensure the output of your display can be seen over your stage lighting without overpowering it. The experts at Guitar Center Professional are always available to help you address all of these questions.

Considerations When Buying a Video Wall

Now that we’ve looked at some of the common considerations when looking at a display for a house of worship, let’s look at some considerations for the different types of displays, starting with video walls. While we’ve mentioned that video walls are available in a few different types, we’re going to focus on LED panel video walls. This is because they’re more common in house of worship sanctuaries due to their seamless visuals (LCD televisions designed for digital signage applications have much narrower bezels than in years past but are still not truly seamless like LED panels).

LED panels are available in different aspect ratios, depending on their model (typically either square or 16:9), and snap together like bricks to form a video wall of any desired shape. Because of this, LED panels can be used to create a large video wall behind or to the sides of the stage, or they can be used as artistic set pieces that can show movement and color during the service. If you’re using LED panels as artistic pieces, the options are only limited to your creativity and budget, and you can even add panels designed specifically for visual design displays, such as curving panels or linear strips.

No matter your video wall design, if you’re using LED panels, you’ll want to be sure you look at the pixel pitch. For LED panels, the narrower the distance between LEDs, the finer quality the image will appear. If the panel is far away from the viewer, a wider pixel pitch won’t be as noticeable. However, when closer, the black space between LEDs can be distracting. For house of worship applications, LED panels typically have a pixel pitch of 1 mm–3 mm, although if you’re using them for creative stage design applications rather than just a video wall, you can use larger pixel pitches on certain panels to save cost.

Due to their cost, LED video walls are most commonly used in larger house of worship applications, or smaller houses of worship looking for maximum visual impact. That said, there are a variety of different LED panel options available at different price points from leading brands such as Planar, SNA and CHAUVET DJ.

Considerations When Buying a Projector

Moving on from LED video walls, let’s now take a closer look at projectors and screens. Because they’re affordable and easy to install, projectors are a great option for small to mid-sized house of worship applications. When shopping for a projector, it’s important to consider both the projector and the screen. Different projector screens have different materials that can greatly affect the quality of the image, affecting brightness, sharpness, contrast, color rendering and more. Because of this, it’s important to select a screen that matches the projector you’re using and the environment you’re placing it in.

There are several features in projectors themselves to consider as well, including light quality, video resolution and source type. The projector’s light quality is determined primarily by output (measured in lumens) and the contrast ratio (which determines how vibrant and clear the picture is). When looking at resolution, you’ll find most modern projectors use widescreen 1080p video resolution as standard, although more affordable 4K projector options are becoming available as well. Finally, when considering source type, you’ll need to find out whether the projector uses a lamp (which are often more affordable but need to be replaced every so often) or a laser source (which rarely, if ever, need to be replaced in the life of the projector, given normal use).

All of these features are important to consider when looking at projectors. Adding a projector and screen can be a good option for some house of worship applications, but you’ll need to be sure you get the right projector and the right screen for your sanctuary. Excellent projector options are available from top brands like Panasonic and Barco.

Considerations When Buying a Confidence Monitor

While we’ve mostly been speaking about the displays that the audience sees in a house of worship environment, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also address confidence monitors and teleprompters that the worship team and speakers use during the service. These displays are used to provide notes and lyrics to those on stage, allowing them to sing and speak with confidence (hence the name). They can also be used to display the time to help keep the service on schedule.

When adding confidence monitors, there are two general approaches. Some houses of worship will choose to have discrete floor-mounted monitors added down front close to the stage. These are typically standard television displays from leading brands such as Panasonic or Samsung. The other option is to add a larger display at the rear of the room. These have the benefit of being eye level for those on stage but are somewhat less discrete than floor monitors (if anyone in the audience chooses to turn around to the back of the room). When using this approach, the common choice is to use a projector, with or without a projector screen.

In Summary

As you can see, there are a wide range of options for adding displays into a house of worship environment, with several considerations when selecting the different options. Smaller houses of worship may choose to use a projector, which is an affordable option, but you’ll need to ensure the projector and screen are a good match and that the display will work with the rest of the equipment—and the ambient lighting—in your space. Larger houses of worship, or those looking to upgrade their displays, may choose instead to go with LED video walls. These buildable panels provide better light output and crisper images, but you’ll need to be sure the pixel pitch and power requirements align with your application.

No matter your space, the experts at Guitar Center Professional are ready to help. Reach out for a free consultation to find the right display type for your house of worship.

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