Providing specialty solutions is an essential part of an AV manufacturer’s success. Fixed installations of AV gear in houses of worship are commonly documented, but comparatively little is said about portable church applications. Although portable AV-HOW may not offer much for integrators in terms of labor, there are still lots of sales opportunities in this growing segment of the house of worship AV channel. Sometimes a permanent facility can be superfluous to a young congregation’s growth, and evangelizing requires an “out-of-the-box” approach where resources are better used by not maintaining a permanent address. As a systems integrator, you may be asked to help make such decisions.
Many mobile congregations are completely on their own in trying to determine what products are best suited to their specific needs. There are many affordable projectors with high-end performance to choose from. However, there isn’t much information about what projection screen to use with those projectors. In fact, the ideal screen for the mobile church should be portable. Its key features are that it must present a theater-quality image but be easy to work with, fast to set up and durable for heavy, repetitive use.
I recommend that you keep these three criteria in mind:
- Screen size is important, but here are some general guidelines: For bible study, small classrooms and congregations of fewer than 30 individuals, a 100-inch screen will serve well. For the average-sized neighborhood chapel with about 50 to 100 seats, a 150- to 165-inch screen is generally appropriate.Because most sanctuaries typically have a single aisle bisecting the room seating, it will be more suitable to use a pair of screens, so congregation members won’t have to crane their necks too far to the left or right for a prolonged period of time. These same rules apply for congregations with 100 or more individuals. The only other option would be to use a larger 180- to 200-inch screen.
- Motorized portable screens are useful when there is an absence of stagehands running around the room to do the pastor’s bidding on command. There is also a lot to be said about how a mechanized screen rising on its own contributes to the aesthetic appeal of any presentation. Just visualize it: The screen is hidden when the pastor or performers are active and then, with the push of a button, a big, beautiful projection display appears on cue. This sounds very appealing and is impressive to watch. However, your client must keep in mind that mechanical devices come with logistical requirements.In many cases, there may not be an available power source, or dealing with an additional and unnecessary electrical device is just one straw too many. In either case, you may opt for a manual or “non-electric” solution for them. Portable screens come in a variety of sizes and designs that depend entirely on what is most convenient for your client. There are portable nonelectric designs that are integrated into a wheeled stage case. They come in large sizes and go up in seconds while retracting just as quickly. Some models break down into basic components that are packed into a shoulder bag and carried virtually anywhere. The tradeoff is that they may take up to 30 minutes to assemble. If it is a fast-acting “pull-up” screen of a more lightweight model, the tradeoff is a ratio of weight and size to speed.
- Formal or casual design? Think about how, when and where your client’s congregation will be using this screen. If it is needed for a big top, summertime beach parties or outdoor holiday events, keep the design large, light and simple. There are numerous outdoor designs for this that take time to assemble, but the benefit is that there are few, if any, moving parts, and the failure risk during hard usage is minimal.For indoor services and formal occasions, focus on something more self-contained with a fast setup time. It does not hurt at all to pursue a more polished look, as well. There are designs that feature black velvet drape kits and sleek piano gloss finishes. This is also the time when electric models are more favorable and easy to work with.
The bottom line is that you have a variety of choices from blue-jean comfort to black-tie sophistication. Now that you know what options are available, you can present a better proposal to your clients.