The faith-based Southeast Christian Church (SECC) believes in bringing the church to more communities, based on centralized leadership and teaching from the main Blankenbaker campus in Louisville KY. We will detail the differences and similarities in AVL between two of the church’s five worship center sites (a sixth site is planned).
The two Kentucky campus AV applications under discussion are the previously installed Southwest and Louisville, and the most recent one in La Grange. Design/build was by MGA (Michael Garrison Associates), Fresno CA. Our integrator interviewee is Daniel Durst, Senior Consultant AV Systems, and Chris Perkins is SECC Support Technical Director on the production arts team. MGA onsite crew leaders include Sal Mora and installer Ryan Wissink.
At the time of the Southwest install, it was a new facility in a new building. The worship center seats 1200. “We were brought in as a consultant early on to help facilitate rigging points, structural loads and device locations,” said Durst. “It really helps to be brought in during the early phases of design. It alleviates a lot of those hiccups toward the end of the project. One of the things we found was that the drop-tile ceiling made getting to the beams to put in the rigging a little difficult. But you have to think on your feet, and Ryan Wissink was able to overcome that. Everything went in pretty well as designed.”
A marked difference between the two sites is that Southwest has a much larger main speaker system based on high ceiling height and availability of existing speaker boxes. Thus, the site features the Adamson Systems SpekTrix touring series vertical line array comprised of nine elements per side. In addition, there’s a left/right pair of SpekTrix W wide-angle elements. Adamson Point Concentric 5 front-fill boxes give clarity to the audience seated in the front rows.
“We were working from a budget,” explained Durst, “and one of the ways for them to keep costs down was to repurpose some SpekTrix cabinets they had on their main campus. We had to do modeling to make sure these speakers were the correct fit for this facility.” Six new SpekTrix sub dual 18-inch flown-center array boxes were added later.
Durst noted that the original speaker modeling was done in EASE and then in Adamson’s modeling program. “We worked with Brian Fraser from Adamson to make sure the existing boxes would work and were integrated properly,” said Durst. Impact Subs are two Danley self-powered dual 12-inch bunker speakers. All amplifiers are Lab.gruppen and all processing is BSS Soundweb London. In contrast, La Grange went with Meyer Sound Labs main speakers. The difference was based on the architecture, with the La Grange site converted from a movie theater with lower ceilings to a worship center. That favored a point-source main speaker system. We’ll cover the details later. BSS Soundweb is also used at La Grange.
Both locations feature Tannoy periphery speakers driven by Lap.gruppen amplifiers that serve the hallways, rest rooms, the front lobby and café via a mixture of pendants and installed ceiling speakers.
While we’re on the subject of peripheral audio, there’s a small Soundcraft Si Expression digital console on a rolling rack for Southwest’s café for small and midweek services, and other events. The large space located at the back of the facility can accommodate up to 150 seats. “There’s a little road-ready rack that allows them to have local inputs,” said Durst. “They plug in and [the signal is] sent to the DSP where there’s a preset. From the console, it feeds the room or they go to a different preset that has the main worship center feed. There’s also a preset for running just music in that local area.” In contrast, La Grange has no additional console, only the fixed FOH and monitor mixing systems. The La Grange site doesn’t have the café space for such additional AV.
Southwest’s Mixing System
That leads us to Southwest’s mixing systems. “Southwest features DiGiCo,” said Durst. “This facility has the SD8 for FOH and an SD9 for stage monitors.” That includes the SD racks with assorted cards.
“La Grange is our first Yamaha console campus,” explained Perkins. “So, console to console, campus to campus, we’re trying to maintain standards. If we have volunteers involved at one campus who go to another campus, they can walk up to that console and not have to learn.” At La Grange, the decision was made to install separate Yamaha CL5 32-fader digital audio consoles for FOH and stage monitor mixing with Dante cards. “That decision allowed them to keep everything in the Dante world for not only the main system, but also for coming into the video system,” said Durst.
Let’s summarize here the wide choice of wired and wireless systems available for stage presentations. First, the RF side. For full specifications, see the accompanying equipment list. Stage talent uses 11 Sennheiser EW 300IEMG3 wireless in-ear monitor systems. There are several owner-provided Shure UHF-R handheld transmitters with KSM9 capsules along with several Shure diversity receivers and antenna systems.
Additional microphones include one Audix Studio Elite 8 eight-piece studio mic package for recording four DPA 4066-F10 headset mics. The Blankenbaker central campus pastor used a DPA headset for his transmitted sermon fed to the campuses.
There are two Point-Source Audio headset condenser mics, two Rode NTG2 condenser shotguns and two Sennheiser e906 pro supercardioid dynamics. Then there are various Shure instrument mics, including Beta 52A and 91A for kick drums, SM57-LC dynamic and SM81-LCs. Of course, the rugged SM57-LC is also a vocal mic. Whirlwind cabling is in place throughout the facility.
“We typically feed an independent stereo intermix to three or four satellite campuses,” said Perkins. “There’s a five-piece band of keyboard, bass, drums and two guitars, although it varies from week to week.”
SECC campuses use the Virtual Teaching Center projection screen system. “The term ‘Virtual Teaching’ applies because it’s like having the pastor come downstage,” said Perkins. The pastor’s sermon comes from the central Blankenbaker campus via an Imagine Communications Harris Nexio Volt video server, which feeds the satellite campuses.
Three IMAG projection screens fired upon by 1080p projectors are used during the service. For center imaging, a Digital Projection TITAN Quad 2000 three-chip DLP fires on a Stewart Filmscreen Luxus Model CB motorized rear projection screen. Then on either side of the proscenium, there are two more IMAG screens using two Digital Projection E-Vision 8000 single-chip DLPs firing on Da-Lite Cinema Contour DM 220D fixed front-projection screens.
Accordingly, the center screen features a full shot of the pastor, including the background of the originating Blankenbaker campus. The two side screens allow the receiving campus to do their own cutaways, such as headshots, graphics or song lyrics. The lower third of the screens can also show scripture. So, there’s a lot of production flexibility with a mix of image and signage magnification.
The three rear-wall foldback flatscreens, comprised of Samsung 55-inch LCDs with Chief FUSION wall mounts, are used as confidence monitors for the worship team. “The Samsungs have an internal capability for paneling themselves together,” explained Durst, “so you just tell them what quadrants you want and that allows them to see the signal. Then you can pick what area of the signal you want, and the lower third onscreen lyrics are sent from ProPresenter. That would be on a black background with white text, allowing the worship team to see song lyrics as they come up, in case they don’t have them memorized. There’s also a countdown clock and a block for messages [or reminders] for the worship leader: ‘Sing for another five minutes. We had a transmission error.’ Something like that.”
Related, the Harris video server can accommodate multiple sites that may not be ready for the pastor feed from Blankenbaker, so there’s a 15-minute delayed buffer time for those pickups. Elsewhere throughout the facility are 19 assorted Samsung and ViewSonic LED and LCD HD TVs with Chief wall mounts, which variously display digital signage and worship service content.
At Southwest, three JVC GY ProHD series cameras with dedicated remote control units and a Ross Carbonite switcher are main components for stage service productions. A Panasonic AW series digital PTZ HD camera is used as a skycam-like auditorium view for viewing in the production room. According to Durst, a full production crew would include a director and switcher operator as mainstays. Other personnel would include a shade position, which does the coloring of the camera, and an assistant director, who typically is running CGI. There are two Apple computers. One is for ProPresenter graphics. The other controls video playback/recording. ProPresenter provides the text and other images for the worship service. Other production tools include two Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 4K computer-based video capture/playback/edit units.
The mixing booth layout is similar for both campuses. Specifically for Southwest, the audio mix booth and the lighting operator console are in the house seating area. The video control room is down front at stage left and adjacent to the rack room, where audio, video and lighting components are Middle Atlantic racked. Adjacent to that is the green room for stage personnel, which facilitates communication back and forth.
That leads us to production intercom systems. Southwest and the other SECC campuses other than La Grange use an RTS Zeus digital matrix/wired system. “There’s an RTS digital matrix with key panels for the main stations,” explained Perkins. “Each of those other campuses has a Radio Active Designs (RAD) wireless intercom as well, which the technical director and the stage hands use.”
Perkins added, “The La Grange system has our first non-matrix intercom going back to the two-wire solution because the site has a smaller format and smaller staff; there’s no video crew. At the heart of that system is the RAD wireless. From that, we’ve looped out to some RTS two-wire base stations. The Clear-Com interface is to connect back to our central campus at Blankenbaker.” In summary, La Grange has a Clear-Com/RAD/RTS combination production intercom system with IP connectivity.
“Because it’s a multisite campus, all campuses are tied together via the intercom system,” added Durst. “That way, they can have communication back and forth from the tech directors and production managers, so the staff or the AV teams know when things are being transmitted. Thus, there’s no guessing what’s going to happen. The producer has to be able to communicate to the other campus producers. It’s an interesting way of communicating, but it works really well.”
Previously, the La Grange campus’ 650-seat worship center was a grocery store and then a movie theater that was vacant for several years. “La Grange was a renovation that was gutted down to the walls,” Perkins pointed out. “The theater’s sloped floors didn’t line up. As a result, the back part of the stage, the video control room and the main control room were all newly constructed in the back of that renovated space.”
On the video side, Virtual Teaching Center large center-screen viewing of the pastor is identical to Southwest, using the Digital Projection TITAN DLP and Stewart Filmscreen Luxus rear-screen projection combination. The feed from the central campus also comes in via the Harris video server. According to Perkins, there is no IMAG production support at this facility. Therefore, the proscenium left/right side screens are used for graphic support instead. Digital Projection HIGHlite Laser 3D laser projectors fire on Da-Lite Cinema Contour front-projection screens.
However, local staging still takes place with a band and performers for the ministry program, along with needed audio and lighting and graphic display, such as song lyrics, on monitors. Thus, the show goes on. “We have three Marshall CV620 PTZ cameras that SECC bought for general viewing in the control room,” he said. “Otherwise, we are just doing graphics on the side projection screens. The three rear screens are also used for song lyrics as confidence monitors.”
Signage and church services throughout the rest of the facility are displayed on 19 various Samsung and Vizio TVs. The audio, video and lighting booths have room locations similar to Southwest. There’s a video switcher operator but no video crew. The Ross Carbonite Black switcher and ProPresenter graphics devices are in operation.
The decision was made to install a Meyer Sound Labs main speaker system based on the low ceiling height where point-source technology would be used effectively. “We had a Meyer point-source system at our Crestwood campus and another Meyer system at our Indiana campus,” said Perkins. “It made sense to apply a Meyer solution here. We were trying to implement what we did before and have a standard. So we did.”
Took The Lead
“Ryan Wissink actually took the lead on the audio system design [for MGA], and he used Meyer modeling,” said Durst. Meyer’s UPQ two-way speahers with some UPJunior boxes for delays were chosen because of the way the speaker delays had to fit in. Front fills had to be used to give the front rows a little more high-frequency coverage.
“This facility uses smaller, compact, point-source, self-powered boxes. And the ceiling is really shallow,” Durst offered. “Those factors went into making the decision for coverage patterns and doing speaker layouts.” Those are the differences between this system and the Adamson line array system using Lab.gruppen amplifiers at Southwest.
Specifically, there are left/right Meyer UPQ-1P mains with four UPJunior delays. Front fills are four MM-4XPs. There are three 900-LFC subs center-mounted and arranged in a cardioid pattern. Meyer Galileo 616 digital matrix processing is employed. BSS Soundweb is used primarily because of the digital flow over the Yamaha console Dante digital network. They wanted to keep the campus programming the same way for workflow.
There are no onstage monitors, although the wiring and connectors are in place in case floor monitors are wanted in the future. Presently, in-ear monitoring is done via eight Sennheiser EK 2000 Series wireless receivers with SR2050 Series dual-channel transmitters.
Recall the microphones used for Southwest presentations? Well, La Grange is a stagehand’s dream cache of mics. Again, we’ll synopsize and abbreviate here; details are in the equipment list.
There’s the Audix Studio Elite 8 and eight DPA FIO66F omni headset mics. An interesting Earthworks C30 hanging cardioid choir mic greatly increases intelligibility of singing groups. Several Radial direct boxes for guitars and other instruments are provided, along with a Radial four-channel mic selector. There’s a Rode NTG2 condenser shotgun and several varieties of Sennheiser, including e904, e906 cardioid and the familiar MD421 cardioid. Shure mic choices include Beta 52A, 58A, 91A; SM57 and 81; and ULXD wireless. Mic cabling is all Whirlwind.
There are also ACE Backstage floor boxes with custom connector plates, AVP patch bays and a Listen FM wireless assistive listening system. Equipment racks are Middle Atlantic.
Both campuses have the Jands Vista S1 lighting control with a Mac Mini computer, as well as the new ETC Source 4WRD (watt reduction device) retrofit for the traditional Source Four ellipsoidal fixtures. However, the ETC dimmer racks are different from one location to the other, with Southwest having a Sensor3 48-module rack and La Grange having a DRd6-12-120 modular rack. Otherwise, the control and distribution system models are similar for both campuses with a Unison Paradigm architectural control processor and portable touchscreen control station. The Unison Heritage two-button and five-button control stations are also the same.
There are marked differences between the campuses’ LynTec panelboard components. However, there’s some similarity in the programmable networked-controlled web interface, sequencing master electrical panelboards and accompanying slave panelboards. The exact differences are shown in the equipment list. Obviously, a glance at the equipment lists reveals a lot more going on at La Grange with far more components than Southwest. Thus, La Grange has DMX control lighting control and a lot more breaker circuits.
MGA reported that a serious challenge facing the church was finding a flexible power solution that could be customized to address its unique power control and sequencing needs. At the Southwest Campus, MGA installed three self-contained controllable breaker panels, two with “master” control and one “slave” model. To control both the audio circuits and the lighting system circuits in the slave panelboard, it required control from two independent control networks. Using a programmable power management software platform, MGA solved the issue, bringing the network links together so the two master panels communicate with, and control, the slave panel for seamless power control of both the audio and lighting controlled circuits.
MGA experienced similar issues at the La Grange campus, and specified two self-contained controllable breaker panels and three DMX lighting control panels with controllable circuit breakers. The controllable breaker panels allowed MGA to keep all the control to properly sequence the power load to the audio and video systems on one network and grant them remote access. The lighting panels allowed the organization to control single-pole (120V) circuits for LED and some automated fixtures with two-pole (220V) circuits available for any automated fixture that requires 220V power.