Published in April 2009

A Closer Connection
By Dawn Allcot

Hayes-Barton UMC builds community through technology.

AVCON took great care to ensure that technology did not detract from the aesthetics of the very traditional sanctuary. For example, speakers, painted to match the columns in the sanctuary, are barely discernible at first glance.

Today’s Christian churches are no longer open just on Sunday mornings. Many churches of all sizes have become “24/7” facilities; they are in use nearly round-the-clock, seven days a week, with the technical staff kicking into high gear for special Easter and Christmas productions or during high-profile contemporary Christian concert performances.

What keeps a church’s doors open seven days a week? In addition to multiple services, many churches offer Bible study groups, children’s worship, youth groups and educational classes (K-12 and adult ed).

In addition, many churches host musical performances, praise band and choir practice, and administrative meetings. A local church might even make its building part of its outreach efforts to the community, providing space to local businesspeople for meetings and conferences.

All this activity, although good for a church and its mission, makes it even more challenging for contractors and integrators to upgrade existing systems, and makes coordinating between the different trades during a major renovation project even more complicated. This was exactly the situation that Cary NC-based audiovisual contractor AVCON faced when it installed new systems at Hayes-Barton United Methodist Church (HBUMC) in Raleigh NC.

A Major Renovation

The audiovisual and control systems were part of a major renovation project at the 60-year-old church campus. “They gutted the entire space,” said AVCON President Frank Yarborough.
Careful planning, communication and compromise were the keys to keeping the client happy, and meeting the church’s needs with extensive AV systems in Fellowship Hall and sanctuary, a parlor/cry room with overflow capabilities, and complete connectivity between all three, thanks to a CobraNet system and AMX controls.

With tongue only halfway in cheek, Yarborough compares his work to surgery. “I want to have an anesthesiologist put the client to sleep, because I’m going to do major surgery—cut them open—but I don’t want them to feel any pain. I want them to wake up, look around and say, ‘Wow, you’re done?’”

In the case of a project such as Hayes-Barton, that “anesthesia” takes the form of a buffer zone in his price quote, so unexpected delays leading to additional man hours don’t result in a higher final price. “I try to price any job so it’s reasonably profitable but gives us the flexibility to make sure the client is not in pain throughout the process,” Yarborough explained. “We build our projects with the anticipation that we’re going to have some level of issues to work through. You always do.”

Construction Delays

At Hayes-Barton UMC, those issues involved construction delays, which brought the timeline quite close to Christmas. Of course, the church had special services planned for Christmas, and required AV in the sanctuary to celebrate that important Christian holiday with its congregation members.

“Our goal was to stabilize the sanctuary, to give them audio at the levels they needed for a good holiday performance,” Yarborough said.

Integration of the systems between the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall couldn’t begin until after the New Year. At that time, Yarborough’s team tore down the racks, completed the necessary DSP and AMX programming, and put everything back together in the control room located above the balcony in the main sanctuary.

Yarborough’s “A-team” for the design and installation project included Senior Field Technician Shane Hall, the lead technician for the project; Senior Field Technicians Benny Dellinger, Duane Pierson and Brandon Fischer; Senior Design Engineer Eb Strickland; Senior Programmer Jonathan Meeks; and Project Manager Jeffery Southern.

The system includes JBL VP Series speakers for contemporary worship in the Fellowship Hall, and Control 226 speakers for conferencing, with a Panasonic HD projector and 16'x9' dropdown screen. The sanctuary sports a Renkus-Heinz left-right system and three Vaddio HD cameras. The sanctuary and Fellowship Hall share a Yamaha M7CL 32-channel digital mixer. The parlor houses JBL Control 226 ceiling speakers and an NEC flat screen.

Tuning, Tweaking And Testing

At press time, AVCON had just finished the entire project, with all tuning, tweaking and testing—along with interconnectivity and AMX control throughout—complete. “I can tell you that a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this project,” said Project Manager Jeffery Southern. “It’s a very sophisticated system.” Yarborough agreed, saying, “It’s an elegant facility and an exciting project.”

The second-story Fellowship Hall hosts contemporary worship services, as well as youth services and special events. A true multiuse venue, the space is used additionally for Bible study classes, movie nights, district meetings for the Methodist church, youth group activities, musical performances and business conferences. Fellowship activities, such as the church’s Autumnfest gathering and the Easter Sunrise Breakfast, also take place in the hall, which is located adjacent to a full kitchen. “The space is rearranged several times a week,” noted HBUMC Communications Director Doug Gill.

At maximum capacity, Fellowship Hall holds about 400 people, although it typically accommodates about 350 comfortably for contemporary worship services. AVCON provided room-combine capabilities to divide the space into five separate sections. The space includes a main, center section with a stage and then two smaller “wings” off to the side. Each wing has an automated wall that can divide the wing into two separate rooms, front and back. When the rooms are combined or uncombined, the AMX control system automatically detects the setup and configures the AV systems appropriately. The wings can receive an audio signal from a computer, iPod, DVD or TASCAM CD player.

Five JBL Professional Control 226 C/T 6½-inch coaxial ceiling speakers, powered by Crown amps, provide reinforced sound for conferences. Fellowship Hall was also outfitted with Shure wireless systems, including a UR4D dual-channel diversity receiver, PSM 700 wireless receiver and PSM 700 system (transmitter and receiver), a UR1 bodypack transmitter, UR4S wireless receiver and eight Shure Microflex cardioid subminiature lavalier microphones.

As do many churches, HBUMC has a volunteer technical director and an entirely volunteer tech staff. Although Yarborough observed that the technical director is “very technically astute,” ease of use was a primary consideration with the new AV systems.

Key Challenge

The key challenge for AVCON was to create a user-friendly system in Fellowship Hall so anyone could run the systems if the technical director is not present, with interconnectivity throughout the venue. “When the technician isn’t onsite,” Yarborough said, “anyone on staff can push a button on the AMX and control volume levels in an unattended manner.” Slide fader controls programmed into the control panel permit level control even when the system is in unattended mode.

During worship services, Fellowship Hall uses the Yamaha M7CL 32-channel digital mixer, which it shares with the main sanctuary, and JBL powered loudspeakers for full-blown, high-end sound. The M7CL uses a CobraNet card for control over the church’s IP network, but can be rolled into the main sanctuary or Fellowship Hall as needed.

While construction was being completed in the main sanctuary, Fellowship Hall also hosted traditional Sunday services, so a flexible system suitable for both high-energy contemporary worship and traditional services, with crystal clear spoken word, was required. Additionally, the church had plans to bring in contemporary Christian national touring acts, so concert-level sound pleasing to even the most discerning ears was required. “When you consider the caliber of sound they wanted, from good to better, then best,” Yarborough stated, “they wanted to be between the ‘better’ and ‘best’ range of audio. They have a cranking system in there that will accommodate all sorts of worship.”

Painted to match the columns, the speaker boxes are barely noticeable.

Four JBL VP7212/95 DP 12-inch two-way loudspeakers hang in a left-right configuration. For some applications, the church employs the conference sound system along with the concert system, using the Control 226s for speech reinforcement and source playback.
“The VP Series from JBL provided the level of performance for the type of impact the client wanted to have, along with the level of fidelity they wanted,” Yarborough offered. “Space was limited in terms of where we could house equipment, so it helped that they were powered. We didn’t have to set up a separate amp rack.”

Head End Rack

The head end rack is located in a control room in a loft above Fellowship Hall, where a balcony might reside. Typically, amps should be placed closer to the speakers, so powered boxes were the best solution. “The engineering data indicated that, for the level of impact, coverage and fidelity we were looking for, these speakers were going to serve the purpose.”

Finally, Yarborough said, he took the client to visit another church with a similar worship style where he had installed the VP Series, and that sold them. “They enjoyed the performance aspects,” he added.

Connections were installed for the church to bring in an existing subwoofer, and a Crown CTS 3000 two-channel 1250 watt amp was added to power the sub. “They don’t need that low-end all the time,” Yarborough said, “but they wanted the ability to support an existing sub during high-energy worship and for touring acts.”

Monitoring is accomplished through an Aviom system, which interfaces with the mixing board via a 16-channel A-Net card.

Video In Fellowship Hall


Fellowship Hall uses a Panasonic PT-DW5100U 5500 lumen DLP WXGA projector with a 16:9 aspect ratio, with a pre-existing 16'x9' screen. The screen, Yarborough recalled, had previously been used with a 4:3 projector, and the church wanted to move to 16:9 format to fill the screen. Because the projector is used for both worship and conferences, it had to perform well in situations where the house lights are high enough that people can read. “We didn’t want to put people in the dark to use the projector,” Yarborough said. “[This projector] had the level of brightness and impact from a visual standpoint, whether the lights were on or off.”

If the rooms are being used independently, the screen is only available to the main room. No video exists in the wings, but hooks are in place if the church staff wants to bring in a portable projector and portable screen. Connections are available to use room audio for a DVD or PC presentation.

Video systems also include a DN-V310 DVD player with RS232 control and an Extron scaling presentation switcher. Finally, an NEC 60-inch plasma hangs on the outside wall of the control room—the loft area—as a confidence monitor for the stage.

Sanctuary Sound

As one of the oldest churches in Raleigh, founded in 1937, maintaining the aesthetics and elegance of the main sanctuary was a primary concern. The church wanted crystal clear sound, but didn’t want worshippers to see the technology that makes it happen.

In addition to the tight timeline, which had the church in the sanctuary by Christmas and then out again the next week so AVCON could finish connecting the systems between the two venues, the sanctuary represented some additional challenges for the AV integrator. “The sanctuary is sacred,” Yarborough said. “Aesthetics were a huge concern.”

Working in such an old building with decorative stone floors also created challenges with running cable. “We had to drill through concrete in certain areas to complete our cable runs,” Yarborough said. “It was a lot of work, physically, to get the whole project done.” In several instances, Cat5 cabling was used due to long cable paths and distance limitations of the AV gear.

As the main sound system, Renkus-Heinz IC16 steerable line arrays hang from columns to stage right and stage left. These were custom painted to blend in with the columns on which they are mounted. “They wanted to hear them, but not see them,” Yarborough offered. “When you walk into the space, you don’t know there are speakers there unless you really look for them.”

A Renkus-Heinz monitor on the floor on the side of the stage is movable. “If they configure the stage differently, it can be repositioned,” Yarborough noted.

Sanctuary Video

Three cameras required for image capture for streaming video to the web or feeds to overflow spaces created a similar challenge. “We had to find cameras that would look reasonably elegant within the space,” Yarborough said.

The integrator opted for three Vaddio WallVIEW Universal Pro HD 700 PTZ three-chip cameras. The camera hanging from the balcony, offering a view of the platform, is mounted in a custom box so only the lens is visible. A second camera hangs to stage right of the chancel area, offering a bridal/congregation view. The third camera is hung one-third of the way into the sanctuary in the center of the space.

Typically, there is no video projection in the main sanctuary; it’s not required for traditional services. However, the church does have special occasions when video is desired in the space. AVCON supplied a second Panasonic PT-DW-5100 5500 lumen projector and a Da-Lite Deluxe Fast Fold screen with a velour drapery kit and a Project-O-Stand for those situations. “This was a compromise, because there wasn’t an acceptable place for us to put a projection display, but they do have functions and special performances where they need video capabilities in the sanctuary,” Yarborough explained.

This flat panel is used as a confidence monitor for the stage.

Floor Box Connection

At the very back of the stage near the choir loft is a floor box connection for a laptop for presentations. The laptop connects to the projector for rear projection, so it doesn’t impact the congregation area or mar the aesthetics of the room. They can also connect the projector or a laptop through the BSS systems in the control room, and the signal can then be routed throughout the building, into Fellowship Hall or the parlor located just outside the sanctuary.
A parlor that also features full AV systems has multiple uses, functioning as a green room for speakers, a bridal suite, a cry room or overflow space. The room includes an NEC M40-AVT 40-inch LCD flat-panel display with tuner, and two JBL Control 23 speakers powered by Crown amps.

Through the BSS Soundweb and AMX control system, the parlor can receive audio and video feeds from the main sanctuary. It also includes an internal presentation system with a DVD player and laptop hookup. The screen features a decorative frame, which looks like a picture frame, to match the traditional décor in the room.

Interconnectivity

The systems’ interconnectivity opens the door for greater capabilities in the future because Hayes-Barton plans to expand its outreach ministry through streaming video services on the web. At the heart of the campus’ AV systems is a control room located above Fellowship Hall in a loft area.

The control room contains the AMX control system and a Vaddio controller/switcher for the three sanctuary cameras, as well as BSS Soundweb processing equipment, including a BLU10 programmable touchscreen controller and the BLU80 networked signal processor with CobraNet chassis. The control room also houses an array of Extron technologies for switching, routing and distribution of signal fields.

In addition to connecting systems throughout the facility and permitting Fellowship Hall and the sanctuary to share the Yamaha mixer, the AMX system and CobraNet give the church staff access to the facility’s systems over the web. “If they have an event and don’t have their technical people there at the time, someone can support them remotely,” Yarborough said. This is a huge benefit for a church that uses a volunteer tech staff, but hosts events seven days a week.

The control room also houses audio/video production equipment for recording services and events or for streaming to the web. The church uses Final Cut Pro for video editing; AVCON installed a Canopus ADVC-300 video-to-FireWire interface to send video signals to the church’s Mac.

At press time, HBUMC hadn’t taken this next step but, according to Yarborough, “They’re at the starting gate for that to happen.”
 

AVCON, Inc.

AVCON, Inc., an AV integration firm based in Cary NC, was founded in 1997. It is recognized as an AudioVisual Solutions Provider (AVSP) Gold Certified integration company by InfoComm.

AVCON’s specialization in corporate environments and houses of worship attracted Hayes-Barton United Methodist Church to the company. “We were able to bring both those worlds together in this project,” AVCON President Frank Yarborough said, referring to the high-end concert-level sound in the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall, and the conferencing systems in Fellowship Hall.

Particularly in the church market (although this is also true in the corporate environment), a large part of AVCON’s job as the AV integrator is educating the client about the technology that will meet its requirements. A successful project, Yarborough said, is one where, upon completion, the client doesn’t have to say, “But I thought we were going to get….” Yarborough explained, “We go through an incredibly extensive process of gathering client requirements, and we educate the client through the process.”

He noted a three-tiered approach to his firm’s commitment to customer satisfaction: defined expectations, predictable results and guaranteed success. “If we define the expectations well enough, it establishes predictable results where I, as the business owner, guarantee the success. We want to define projection expectations at a level where we’re going to be 99% on with the solution,” he said.

Yarborough has been recognized as one of 15 Triangle professionals with a distinguished business career by The Business Journal magazine and was presented its Triangle Excellence in Sales Award. The Business Journal named AVCON as a Top 25 Multimedia Company in the Research Triangle area.

With a staff of nearly 25 full-time employees, AVCON offers design, engineering, installation and integration services, as well as service and repair, of AV, lighting and control systems.

The company’s first projects were systems integration for Duke Clinical Research and the SAS Institute. Corporate clients have included McDonald’s Corporation, Cisco Systems, BASF and IBM. Recent church projects include Raleigh Road Baptist Church, Covenant Church of Raleigh and Deeper Life Church Ministries.

For more information, go to www.avconusa.com.
 

Equipment

Sanctuary
1 AMX EXP-8431 EXPerience Kit (MVP-8400, NI-3100)
1 AMX MVP-7500 7½" Modero ViewPoint touchpanel
1 AMX MVP-BP Modero ViewPoint battery pack
1 AMX MVP-TDS table top docking station
1 AMX MVP-WDS wall/flush mount docking station
1 AMX NI-700 NetLinx integrated controller
1 Atlas Sound AT-10 10W 70V volume control
2 Atlas Sound FAP42TC 4" ceiling speakers w/low profile back boxes
1 Atlas Sound FAP42-TR construction ring pack
4 Audix M1280 wide frequency response micro condenser cardioid mics
2 Audix MB1280 50" carbon fiber booms w/M1280 capsules
2 Audix MGN-12 12" gooseneck XLR-male base to mini XLR-female top
1 Biamp MXA-35 6-channel, 35W mixer/amp
3 BSS BLU80 networked signal processors w/CobraNet chassis
9 BSS BLUCARD-IN 4-analog-input mic/line cards
3 BSS BLUCARD-OUT 4-analog-output cards
1 Canopus ADVC-300 video to FireWire interface
1 Chief PRO-2241 wall mount w/adjustable tilt for plasma
1 Crown CTs 4200 USPCN 4-channel power amp w/CobraNet
1 Crown CTs 600 USP3CN 2-channel amp @ 300W per w/CobraNet input
1 Da-Lite Deluxe Fast Fold 83"x144" Da-Tex rear projection screen
1 Da-Lite Project-O-Stand portable projection stand
1 Extron Cable Cubby 300S surface mountable interface
1 Extron DA 3AV RCA 3-output composite video, stereo audio distribution amp
1 Extron DA2 RGBHV 2-output wideband RGBHV distribution amp
1 Extron dual output wideband board
1 Extron ISM 824 8-input, 2-output, modular integration scaling multi-switcher w/audio
1 Extron MDA 3V 3-output composite video mini distribution amp
1 Extron MTP R AV mini twisted pair composite video, stereo audio receiver
3 Extron MTP RL 15HD A SEQ Cat5 RGB/audio receivers w/loop thru
2 Extron MTP T 15HD A Cat5 RGB/audio transmitters
1 Extron MTP T 15HD A WM Cat5 RGB/audio transmitter on single-gang plate
1 Extron MTP T AV composite video w/audio to twisted pair transmitter
1 Extron MTP U R RSA SEQ mini twisted pair universal receiver
1 Extron SYM BNCF/0.5 6" 15-pin HD male to BNC-5 female mini hi-res non-plenum
2 Extron RBG universal video, RGB scaler output boards w/analog RBG output
1 Extron VGA M-M MD/25 25' male-male VGA cable
1 Extron VSC 700 hi-res computer-to-video scan converter (to 1600x1200)
1 Extron VTR001 Cat5 to VGA receiver
1 Extron VTT001 VGA To Cat5 transmitter
8 FSR FL500P-8 8" deep floorbox backboxes
2 HP 2824 ProCurve 24-port 1Gbs switches
2 Intellisense DT-435T 35x30 wired motion sensors
1 JBL Control 23T 3½" 2-way 70V speaker
1 JBL Control 23T-WH 3½" 2-way 70V speaker
1 JVC HRXVC14B DVD/VCR combo
1 JVC SR-DVM700US DVD recorder
1 Marantz PMD580 solid-state audio/media recorder w/internal web GUI
1 Marshall Electronics V-R70P-HAD 7" widescreen LCD monitor
2 Middle Atlantic 29-space (50¾") KD rack frames, 20" deep w/accessories
4 Middle Atlantic RLM-15-1C 15 amp standalone power modules
1 Middle Atlantic USC-6R rackmount universal sequencing controller
1 NEC M40-AVT 40" LCD flat-panel w/speakers, tuner
2 NEC SP-M40 display speakers w/hardware
1 Panasonic PT-DW5100U 5500 lumen 16:9 WXGA DLP projector
1 Powerware PW5115-1500-RM rackmount UPS
1 RDL TX-J2 stereo unbalanced to mono balanced transformer
2 Renkus-Heinz IC16 steerable line arrays w/wall-mounting hinge kits
2 Renkus-Heinz TRX61 6½"+1" compact 2-way speakers
4 Renkus-Heinz TRX81/12 8" compact 2-way speakers
4 Sharp LC-19D44U 19" HD flat-panel LCDs
2 Shure UA830WB wideband UHF in-line antenna amps
1 Telex BTR-300 wireless intercom base station
4 Telex PH-88 single-side headsets w/boom mics
4 Telex TR-300 wireless transceivers
1 Vaddio ProductionVIEW HD operator camera control system
3 Vaddio WallVIEW Universal Pro HD 700 pan/tilt/zoom camera systems
2 ViewSonic N1700W 17" computer monitors
2 Wiremold AV3 poke-thru devices
1 Yamaha MY16-CII 16-channel CobraNet network I/O card

Fellowship Hall
1 AMX MVP-7500 7½" Modero ViewPoint touchpanel
1 AMX MVP-WDS wall/flush mount docking station
1 Aviom 16/0-Y1 16-channel A-Net card
1 Aviom A-16D PRO 8-channel pro hub
6 Aviom A-16II 16-channel personal monitor mixers
2 BSS BLU10 programmable touchscreen controllers
2 BSS BLU-10-WHT touchscreen programmable remote wall controllers
2 BSS BLU-80 networked signal processors w/CobraNet chassis
1 BSS BLU80-0x16 16-channel output processor w/DSP
1 BSS BLU80-16x0 16-channel input processor w/DSP
4 BSS BLUCARD-IN 4-analog-input mic/line cards
4 BSS BLUCARD-OUT 4-analog-output cards
1 Chief CMA-100 ceiling plate w/adjustable extension column
1 Chief PST-2042 wall-mounting plate for plasma
1 Chief RPA-U universal projector mount
2 Crown CTs 1200 2-channel 600W power amps
1 Crown CTs 3000 2-channel 1250W power amp
1 Crown CTs 8200A 8-channel power amp
2 Denon DN-V310 DVD players w/RS232 control
1 Extron IN1508 scaling presentation switcher
2 Extron MDA 2V EQ 1-input, 2-output composite video distribution amps
1 Extron MDA 3SV 3-output S-video mini distribution amp
1 Extron MTP R SV A RCA mini twisted pair S-video, stereo audio receiver
1 Extron MTP RL HD15 A mini twisted pair receiver
1 Extron MTP T 15HD A Cat5 RGB/audio transmitter
1 Extron MTP T SV A RCA mini twisted pair S-video, stereo audio transmitter
1 Extron MTP T15HD A WM VGA wall mount transmitter w/audio
1 Extron P/2 DA 4XI 4-output VGA-UXGA distribution amp
1 Extron P/2 DA2xi 2-output VGA-UXGA distribution amp
1 Extron VSW 2VGA A 2-input VGA, stereo audio switcher
1 Horizon Music custom cable system
2 Intellisense DT-435T 35x30 wired motion sensors
5 JBL Control 226 C/T 6½" coaxial ceiling speakers
4 JBL VP7212/95 DP powered 12" 2-way speakers w/90x50 horn
1 Middle Atlantic 14-space (24½") KD rack frame, 20" deep w/accessories
1 Middle Atlantic 37-space (64¾") KD rack frame, 26" deep w/accessories
1 Middle Atlantic RK4 4-space (7"), 16" deep black laminate KD rack w/accessories
1 NEC P60XC10 60" 1366x768 plasma display
1 NETGEAR FS105 5-port fast Ethernet switch
2 NETGEAR GS516T 16-port rackmountable gigabit Ethernet switches
6 New Line IRE-200 IR sensor beams
1 Panasonic PT-DW5100U 5500 lumen 16:9 WXGA DLP projector
1 Powerware PW5125 1.5k RM rackmount UPS
3 RDL TX-J2 unbalanced input transformers
3 Shure UR4D dual-channel diversity receivers
4 Shure ECL2-CL earphones w/single high-energy drivers
3 Shure P7R-H3 PSM700 wireless receivers w/o earphones
1 Shure P7TR-H3 PSM700 system
4 Shure SCL2-CL earphones
2 Shure UA845 US wideband UHF 5-way active antennas, power distribution systems
8 Shure UR1 bodypack transmitters
2 Shure UR4S single-channel wireless receivers
8 Shure WL51B Microflex cardioid subminiature lavalier mics
1 TASCAM CD-160MKII CD player
1 Telex HR-1 single-muff intercom headset w/boom mic
1 Telex SS-1002P 1-channel desktop station
1 ViewSonic NX1932w 19" 1440x900 widescreen LCD monitor
1 Yamaha M7CL-32 32-channel digital mixing console
1 Yamaha MY16-CII 16-channel CobraNet network I/O card
1 Yamaha MY8AD24 8-channel line-level analog input card
List is edited from information supplied by AVCON, Inc.


Dawn Allcot is a freelance writer specializing in the audiovisual and health and fitness industries.
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