Florida Church Adds to Projection System, Optoma Again the Choice

After about a year running two Optoma projectors in their worship space, Connect Church added a W515 for center projection, along with a Da-Lite retractable screen.

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. For Connect Church, having already had some experience with a pair of projectors in their worship space, this April it then sought to further add to their projection capabilities.

"It catches the eye, and you are now a part of what you are watching."

Having installed a pair of Optoma X600 native XGA projectors last spring, the church deemed them a worthwhile investment. Therefore, when deciding on what manufacturer to select for a center screen projector, Optoma was again the choice.

And like the X600, the newest addition, an Optoma W515, offers 6,000 lumens of brightness. One significant aspect where the W515 is an upgrade over the previously installed Optoma projectors, though, is with maximum resolution. For the X600 offers 1600x1200 pixel resolution, while the W515 can run with a maximum resolution of FullHD, or 1920x1080. Along with the W515 projector, the recent install also featured an 18 feet by 10 feet projection screen, the Da-Lite Professional Tensioned Electrol.

As explained by Connect Church's AV Tech Director, Joshua Dillard, the timing of the install was crucial. Completed three months ago, the install needed to be done prior to Easter in preparation for that time of year at the Baptist church.

To complete the install, the church received help "from a couple of contractors who attend the church," explained Dillard. When installing the projector, Dillard assisted by running some CAT5 cables and mounting the bracket.

One of those contractors on the install of the projector and screen was Henri Dietlin, a member of the church. In addition, Dietlin is the owner of the general contracting firm, Wise Developments, based in West Palm Beach.

"There was nothing to the projector install, except for (mounting it to the) stand," noted Dietlin. Much more challenging, though, was the install of the retractable projection screen, he explained.

"I didn't have a concrete wall (to suspend the screen from). It was not a small job. We ended up having to rent two lifts to move the screen about 16 feet high," he said. "I had to rebuild the ceiling to attach it to, attaching it to the frame of the building. I put in extra beams when I resuspended the ceiling, to make it really strong." Dillard agreed, adding, the work involved "cutting the drywall, and reframing the studs to support it."

Prior to deciding on the Optoma to handle their center projection, the church was permitted to demo the unit, Dillard said. "We were able to really try and test it out, for about a month. Then we decided we were going to buy (the W515)." Dietlin concurred, adding, "They had one on loan, where they could try it out and see if it would meet their needs."

Beyond just installing a third projector and a screen in the space, it necessitated that the center screen be retractable. That was because the church's back central stage area has a prominent baptismal pool in the proximity.

With this new retractable screen by Da-Lite, it allows the church to display content as one cohesive scene. Or unique ones on each of the space's three screens.

"It added a whole new world. We now have a triple wide head, and now do lyrics," noted Dillard about the changes arising from the install. "It catches the eye, and you are now a part of what you are watching." Aside from lyrics, the church's new screen has allowed it to also display livestreams, scripture, motion backgrounds and slideshows.

Such improvements aren't altogether surprising from a church that continues to grow. The main campus began in a cultural center, then a gymnasium, before moving into its current space 17 years ago.

That growth, though, extends beyond a single campus. These days, the church's main campus averages about 700 members each Sunday for services. With those that attend services at a second location, it brings their average combined weekly congregation to about 1,000.

Nonetheless, with the new projection system now at the main campus, Dillard has been impressed with the final results.

"It frees us up to be more creative visually," he said. With the benefit of a retractable projection screen, the install "meets our expectations, especially with the panoramic views." Beyond installing the retractable screen, the church had to contend with center speaker placement, in relation to the new projector's location. "It left us with a different obstacle, and dealing with the throw distance. As a result, the speakers didn't line up to get the same clarity and crispness," he added.

Since the project's completion, Dillard also explained that the installed equipment has not necessitated any tweaking or adjustments. "After the initial setup, we have not had to do anything," he explained.

The new system was introduced to Connect Church's congregation on Palm Sunday, or April 9. "That was our goal date, prior to Easter," he added. While he considered that the project amounted to a "very clean install," he also noted the work had to be broken up into many parts, "as we didn't have the ability to do it all at once."

By completing it for Easter, noted Dietlin, "We had to make sure that it would work well for Easter." Having the new central screen projector and the expanded projection abilities for that service "was very nice," he added.

The overall project took about a week-and-a-half, Dietlin added, and was finished without any service cancellations. If the work could have been scheduled in an uninterrupted fashion, he added, and "didn't have to stop and clean up," the work could have been cut down to three days.

Since the Connect Church congregation has been introduced to the expanded system, "we've pretty much been honestly wowed," noted Dillard. "It was received very well, and it's great to have so many different visual aspects." Dietlin added, "They are really enthusiastic about it, they like it, and are enjoying (the expanded projection system)."

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