Not many churches are willing to tear into their kids' ministry space when the space is proven to be fun and effective. That is precisely what Resurrection Fellowship in Loveland, Colorado did. Church staff and leaders decided to scrap the successful "Rezcue Island" theme, which included full wall murals of island and rain forest pictures as well as a puppet stage, in favor of a more flexible multipurpose space that could be adequately used by the entire church body.
"The former theme was designed and installed more than ten years ago," Senior Pastor Jonathan Wiggins said. "The design was hard-themed, and although it was well executed, the desert island theme limited the room's usefulness."
Resurrection's main issue with the space was that it could not be used effectively for other church functions. The room, which has a capacity for around 300 adults, is one of Resurrection's biggest spaces outside of the sanctuary. Other ministries and meetings ended up reluctantly using the room because of this ample amount of space, but the décor continued to make the space an unfavorable for uses outside of the children's ministry.
With this dilemma, Pastor Wiggins turned to project manager Joe Jones at Summit Integrated Systems for help. Wiggins and church staff put together a master plan of what they wanted to turn Rezcue Island into. Their plan entailed using projection to dictate design—which would make the room adaptable for whichever group or ministry wanted to use it.
Wiggins and Children's Pastor Sethry Connor both envisioned a space that was functional for multiple ministries without taking anything away from the children's ministry that would still occupy the space on Sunday mornings. Their idea? Use projection mapping to transform the space into whatever those occupying the room required at any given time.
This technology would allow for kids in children's church to learn about the Israelite escape from Egypt while actually being surrounded by the waters of the Red Sea. Or the space could be adapted for a business meeting, retreat or wedding and provide an unequalled ambiance for each venue. The technology represents an ultimate model of flexibility.
While this retrofit was a less costly alternative to the construction of a new multipurpose facility, it was by no means a quick and simple undertaking. Summit, along with Lee Architects and Fransen Pitman Construction began work on the project in April of 2014 and was completed in October of last year. The project dictated that almost every aspect of the room had to be altered to accomplish the projection mapping that Resurrection Fellowship envisioned. Once completed, however, it would make this space, now labeled "Theater One," anything but ordinary.
“We want the kids to have an experience that they can’t get anywhere else; that’s fun and immersive,” Connor said during Theater One's open house. He continues, "This room is unprecedented in how cool it is. We have an awesome opportunity to use this room and bring lots of kids in here and help them understand what the gospel is and how much Jesus loves them.”
Pastor Wiggins agrees, "[The project] took a tired room that was not useful for varied purposes and turned it into one of the most effective parts of our facility."
The trio of Summit Lee and Fransen Pitman pulled out all of the stops to make Theater One a one-of-a-kind space. By completely gutting and retooling the room, Jones and his team were able to give the space an IMAX or Universal Studios feel in a way that just is not done on a large scale in worship facilities. At least not yet. Jones explains some of the areas that had to be revamped to create the Theater One experience that Pastor Wiggins and his team envisioned:
Of course that was only the beginning. Once "Rezcue Island" was taken down, walls and ceilings had to be painted for optimal projection imaging. Fresh carpeting , projectors, new lighting, audio, acoustics and a mixing system all had to be integrated to achieve the results that Wiggins and the staff at Resurrection desired. In the end, the renovation ended up costing $1.2 million, but that includes state-of-the-art audio, visual and lighting technology that alone cost $680,000. Summit, Lee Architects and Fransen Pitman Construction seamlessly integrated this technology with the room to create an incredible 4D experience for those that will use the space.
"We worked with Lee Architects to maximize the space as a virtual environment. Neutral white paint provided an optimum projection surface," Jones said, "while a blackout line at fourteen feet served to hide the ceiling mounted equipment and to signal the top of the projection."
The Theater One project called for the installation of eight caged Panasonic PT-DW830 DLP projectors, 26 LED house lights, three main EAW QX3 loudspeakers, two Danley TH212 subwoofers and extensive 3-D modeling. Along with the custom made acoustical fittings, Jones and his team worked to find just the right mix of technology to make the room an experience.
The spacing of eight Panasonic projectors creates seamless imaging creates an overall image covering 270 degrees and is 8500 pixels wide. The image from the Panasonic equipment projects from the floor of the room fourteen feet up the walls. Summit chose to use the Coolux Media Systems Pandoras Box to generate and manage the content of these images.
"Coolux was the right solution for this project because the system has no trouble playing back multiple 4K videos in perfect sync," Jones says, "live HD-SDI inputs bring worship lyrics from Renewed Vision's Pro Presenter."
The Coolux widget designer also comes with a simple control interface that different ministries can control and access with single button operation. The church can do anything from just sending Pro Presenter to the center screen to bringing up environmental projection and selecting a look for the room from thumbnails.
"Theater One can be used for any group of people. They regularly use it for meetings and Bible studies of all age groups," Jones shares. "They've gotten quite a bit of interest in hosting weddings. Just think a beach wedding in Colorado!"
Recently Resurrection had the room set for attendees of a big conference. There were couches and food available, music playing, and informational content playing on the walls about the different organizations represented at the conference. The possibilities really are endless.
Pastors Wiggins and Connor say that feedback from the congregation has been overwhelmingly upbeat. The kids are experiencing the Bible in a completely new way, and the room is a great fit for whatever ministry uses it throughout the week.
The response has been so positive, notes Wiggins, that their next project following Theater One is Theater Two, formerly Wee Church, which is due for completion in May of this 2015.
"We are doing something similar [to Theater One] for our Birth-Kindergarten Ministry worship experience," Wiggins said.
"As costs continue to go down and quality goes up, projection is constantly finding new uses. Projection is allowing churches to keep things fresh and changing throughout their facilities… Projection has the ability to keep these places looking fresh and modern far into the future," says Jones.