When looking for the most accurate ways to describe "environmental projection," I think TripleWide Media has one of the best definitions I have ever seen: Environmental projection is the act of creating a visually immersive worship environment that ushers the intimate and powerful role of visuals and media back into our modern worship spaces.
Since this process began, I have used EP to transform multiple spaces in our church.
A lot of the time, our modern worship spaces have a disjointed and disconnected feeling from the stage to the congregation. Therefore, I feel like using EP has been a great solution for my church to bring some intimacy back into our space.
The entire room feels like one, instead of the standard worship team on the stage and then everyone else not on the stage. Whether you use old school cathedral images, new style geoscapes, or just some good looking loops incorporating your visuals farther out than just on your screens, the use of environmental projection can really pull your entire room together.
How did I get started in EP? Well our Executive Pastor at Trinity Fellowship Church pitched doing a new sermon series for Christmas, and wanted it to be a blend between a sermon and production, so he would narrate/preach from a voice-over, while actors portrayed the scenes out on stage. The entire idea was great and we were all on board with it, but there was one small flaw in the plan; we can't have any set pieces. You see my church is in the round which provides a few obstacles, not the least of which are there's no backstage space for scene changes, and you can't have props on stage that are too large or else people can no longer see the screen for IMAG. So as my pastor was describing his vision he began to talk about Jesus and the disciples in the garden; he was casting a beautiful vision for it, and at one point said, "I just wish there was a way to bring the entire congregation into the garden with us."
Boom! There it was!
The answer hit me, and I began to describe EP and how in our room the scenery would be in front and behind out members and literally bring them into the entire journey as we told it. They all loved the concept, and I walked out of the room feeling so proud and thinking this was the greatest idea of all time.
But then I realized I have no idea how to do EP, let alone doing it in a 360 degree space. Time to research.
My research led me down a few paths, but ultimately we still weren't 100 percent sure this was a venture we wanted to be glued to, so budget was the name of the game. We ended up finding some used DLP 35,000-lumen projectors for sale at a good price, so we nabbed those. Around this time I had heard about new software (this whole process happened back in 2012 by the way) that had come out which would put media server-like power in my laptop, so I also bought a license for ArKaos MediaMaster, and I was off to the races.
We really wanted the space to be fully encompassing, so we decided to also include our current DLP 45,000 projectors into mix as well and swapped the lenses out, so they would cover the area around the screen more, then it was a simple picture in picture set up to include them into the mix.
In the first year, I used one laptop and did a triple wide set up. We ran the cables out and split them into four groups North, South, East, West to create the look we wanted. By the second year, I added a second laptop in and linked them together to create a six wide set up. All said and done, the room became exactly what we had in mind, and everyone loved it so much that we actually still use it every weekend to this day.
Since this process began, I have used EP to transform multiple spaces in our church. To me, it's always an interesting challenge to try and think of projectors and their use in the same way, that I try to think about the flexibility of a light.
I have done basic double wide blended setups for our youth with high energy graphics, a single projector mapped onto Coroplast rectangles to give a stained glass effect, and all the way to mapping a projector into a 3D diamond filled with haze to bring it to life. The point is, if you let yourself stop thinking of the video thing hanging in the air as something stuck there and only doing what it does, you can end up taking your church members to all new places and changing the overall feel of your services.