The River Church in Durango Colorado reached out to Lambda looking to upgrade their older and beginning to fail projectors. They had installed them almost 10 years ago, so it was time to help them with a fresh start on their projection!
Many churches and other corporate venues have old, noisy or dim projectors with fuzzy images making it one of Lambda’s most popular system upgrade. We swap the old Standard Definition projectors for High Definition projectors with lasers instead of bulbs for an almost maintenance free long life. Making this one change brings big results and most importantly, everyone can see those results. Most people know and can see the value in doing a visual upgrade, but what they don’t know as much about are the supporting pieces that make a new projector look its best. With that in mind, we wanted to take a different look at this projection case study by not talking about the projectors! What else is there to talk about? Keep reading!
After some investigation we discovered the church was using VGA cabling. Most new projectors will still take VGA, but in trying to allow the projector to really show what its capable of we want to give it the best signal possible. VGA was discontinued as a standard years ago. It’s an analog solution with a limited max resolution. One of the issues with analog cabling is its bulk and degrades signal over distance. To bring TRC up to current standard we used HD-SDI cabling. This is a single coaxial type cable designed for digital transmission. Having this cable allowed us to bring the screen resolution from a 4x3 aspect ratio (1024x768) to a 16x9 aspect ratio (1920x1080P) which is industry standard now. We used an adapter at each projector to change the signal from SDI to HDMI, another digital standard, with no quality loss in the conversion. In addition to the new digital signal cable, we tied the projectors into the church network for easy control. By running cat6 network cabling to each projector with the HD-SDI it allowed us to control, adjust, and power on and off projectors from a web browser on a computer. No one likes walking around a room trying to find the perfect spot to use a remote to power projectors off and on. Having this capability over network makes it quick and easy for volunteers and even allows monitoring of the projectors for hours of use and scheduled automatic turn off.
Another piece we looked at on this job was the rigging infrastructure. Most venues with professionally installed gear have safe clean rigging for any objects hanging above people’s heads. As this was a ten-year-old setup, we were certain we wanted to revisit this area. Things wear out over time, mounts don’t adjust as well and some things may have moved. For TRC we did a complete rigging update. We hung new cross members with rated hardware and new projector mounts. Projector mounts are something often forgotten in a projection upgrade or neglected. It’s easy to pick a projector and buy whatever is the cheapest thing “people also bought” on amazon and move on. Lambda love’s and uses only Chief projector mounts. A good projector mount makes the projector noticeably easier to hang, easier to adjust into place, and easier to keep in the same place. Cheap mounts tend to slip over time, requiring your team to get out or rent high reach equipment to re-adjust the projector. It’s always a good idea to use the highest quality mounts and hang them correctly according to the manual so there is no room for error. Safety is always our first priority in hanging any kind of rigging and projectors are no exception.
The last element we wanted to check for the projection install was the church’s screens. The first reason for changing screens in this venue was aspect ratio. As you remember earlier, the standard aspect ratio was 4:3 10 years ago, but today it is practically gone. You can project 16:9 aspect ratio video on a 4:3 screen but the image does not look finished or professional with the extra white screen area not being covered.
TRC not only moved to new laser projectors, but new screens and new secure rigging. New equipment is great, but it’s important to remember not to focus only on one piece. Just like any great stage production, it’s not just about the star of the show but the play itself and the supporting cast that makes a show great! TRC loved their new upgrade with screens that give a clear image, cabling for crisp signal, safe rigging, and long life, low maintenance projection.
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