When it comes to upgrades that have been completed at a church, oftentimes Worship Tech Director learns about a recent install a few months after it's been completed.
In the case of Biltmore Baptist Church, though, the installation of two projectors was finalized just on Wednesday, July 13. The first time the new projectors were scheduled to be used for a weekend worship service was this past weekend (July 16-17), with the results shown in a couple of the included pictures.
For the last seven years, the church, with its estimated 9,000 weekly congregants, had been using a trio of lamp projectors, but had become frustrated with their inconsistent performance and the costs associated with keeping the projectors running as optimally as possible.
"The lamp-based projectors were showing their age," said James Dager, Biltmore's director of worship media. "The biggest draw to going to a laser projector was the maintenance and the cost efficiency, as we were spending about $2,000 annually in lamps for the three projectors."
Despite that regular outlay for new bulbs, Dager added, "We were not seeing a great improvement with the projectors in them even with that investment," explaining that with their recent purchase of Digital Projection HIGHlite Laser 11,000 lumen projectors, each is slated to provide 20,000 hours of illumination. Each of the projectors is to also offer a respective performance through their rated lifespans that will represent "more of a straight line," he added. Over the long haul, "the line of degradation will be so gradual; we won't notice it, as it will be such a slow process."
The church opted to move to laser projectors, following years of frustration over spending $2,000 annually for bulbs and inconsistent performance.
By comparison, the church's previous lamp projectors, even following lamp replacements typically after their 3,000- to 4,000-hour rated lifespan, Dager noted the best performance still only showed during the first few years for each lamp projector, and progressively degraded from there.
The difference, noted Dager, is that "Digital Projection calls (the HIGHlite phosphor projector) a lifetime projector. To an average consumer, they will retire before (it reaches the designated hour limit). The projector will outlast them, as we use the projectors about 8 to 10 hours a week, which means at the 20-year mark, they will be only at their half-life."
The church learned about the Digital Projection projector option through Harman, who Dager said the church has a very close relationship with. The church originally contacted Harman over "issues with our PA system," before the conversation turned to projectors. Dager admitted that the church had been "wanting to make a change with their projectors and have been blown away ever since the church followed through on Harman's recommendation of the Digital Projection projectors.One of the reasons that the church went ahead with Harman's recommendation was Digital Projection's relative proximity to the church.
"(Digital Projection is) based in Atlanta that they could ship something in a pinch or we could drive down to Atlanta if we needed to," he said. That proximity proved beneficial to where Digital Projection could be on site with one of their representatives to calibrate the projectors as part of the install.
The recommendation also included integrator Elevate AV, based out of Winston-Salem, N.C., which Dager noted had never paired up with the church on a prior project, but Dager was impressed with their work, noting that the firm installation work was "seamless."
While the church didn't utilize any A/B testing during the decision-making process, Dager did say that they did conduct an A/B test of sorts, as he wanted to show the difference between one of their then-current lamp projectors side by side with one of the new Digital Projection projectors.
Immediately upon seeing the difference, Dager said, "I will say that our senior leadership saw the A/B test from the old projector and the new projector, and (that's all it took to prove a change was necessary.) They didn't know how bad we had it until they saw the two projectors side by side."
Once the churchwhich has been in its current space since it was built in 2000opted to go with a pair of 3-chip DLP projectors which offer WUXGA resolution, or 1920x1200, the install took just a half a day, with no delays or cancellations of any services.
And in the days following the install, Dager indicated that the church's tech volunteers immediately noticed a significant difference as well.
"We were actually concerned that the (old) projectors were so bad, and at (our initial) rehearsals (with the new projectors), we had an overwhelming response from our volunteers who said they didn't realize how bad it was," noted Dager.
Even with the install having just happened, the church's director of worship media outlined a number of immediate benefits that the church has already been able to realize with the new projectors.
"(The congregants) can read the scriptures, and can see IMAG clearly, to where we can effectively advance the Kingdom of God I never would have thought I would say that," he said.