Image MAGnification, or IMAG, is all about taking what's happening live, but what is hard for everyone in a venue to see, and making it more prominent, so everyone can be engaged in the moment.
In larger rooms, or rooms with visual obstacles, effective IMAG can be the difference between connecting to your audience and your message falling flat. When you're communicating the most important message ever told, while helping to connect people to God, engaging people is the most critical part of what you do.
The most commonly effective IMAG shots are generally from the waist up or tighter…
Regardless of why you want to do IMAG, cameras, switching equipment, and screens can all add up to a significant investment, in a world where resources are usually limited.
With that in mind, let's look at five keys to IMAG that will help to ensure you have the right pieces in place, to help you effectively engage your audience.
1) Make sure your screens are large enough
Since the goal of IMAG is to make what appears small in the room, large and easy for people to connect with, your screens must produce a large enough image.
While personal preference can always push your screen size a little larger or smaller, a good rule of thumb is for a 16:9 aspect ratio screen, your height should be roughly 1/10 of your distance from the screen to the last row of seating. If the distance between your screen and the last row of seats is 100 feet, a screen in the neighborhood of 18 feet wide by 10 feet tall would be a great place to start.
2) Make sure your cameras can get the right shot
Very closely related to screen size, is ensuring your cameras can get the right shot to put on them.
The most commonly effective IMAG shots are generally from the waist up or tighter, as generally anything wider than that fails to make the person you're focusing on appear any bigger on screen than they do in person.
If they're not any bigger on screen, a lot of money was spent on a video system that isn't helping you engage people. If your cameras are less than 40 feet away the stage, a 12-16x zoom lens (up to 75 mm) is all that you'll need to get the right shot. For cameras 40 to 100 feet away from your stage, a 20-24x (up to 150 mm) zoom lens will be critical to you getting effective IMAG shots. If your cameras are more than 100 feet from the stage, expect to see some large dollar numbers, as you will be looking at 35-50x zoom lens (up to 500 mm) as the appropriate lens.
3) Cover your angles
Sticking with cameras for a moment, the wider the seating areas in your room are, the more your camera angles need to vary as well. Especially during the church's message time, if the seating wraps wide around the front of the stage, and the speaker roams from side to side, facing all of those angles, it will be important to have cameras located in positions that cover those angles, with a straight on shot when the speaker faces in those directions.
If the key to IMAG is to help those farther out engage with those on stage, it's important to have camera shots where you can see the eyes of whom you're shooting.
4) Make sure your screens are bright enough
The two most critical components of your video system are your cameras and the delivery mechanism you use for people to watch that video on.
If the subject of your video looks vivid and clear in person, but washed out and fuzzy on video, you've again wasted your money and are creating distraction.
In spaces with windows and uncontrollable light in particular, it's important to ensure your video will cut through the light and effectively engage people, or you might as well spend your money on other things. This is one of the key reasons why we're seeing liturgical churches express significant interest in installing LED walls in their venues.
LED walls not only offer superior clarity and contrast, but it's rare that outside or ambient light can significantly degrade the visual impact of your video. The same cannot be said for projection, especially if you under specify brightness for your projector. For projection, at a minimum, we're typically looking for 30-40 lumens per square foot (minimum) in a room with controlled light, and 50-70 lumens per square foot in a room with less or uncontrolled light. And for fun, a LED wall running full brightness at 1200 NITS is roughly equivalent to 94 lumens per square foot.
5) Location, location, location
The success of most things depends largely on location, location, location, and this couldn't be truer than with your video screens.
For video to be an effective, natural part of the experience you're creating for your audience, you must find the delicate balance of placing them where they can effectively support what is happening in your service, without being a limiting factor or a distraction.
Many churches place their screens well above their stage, or far off to the left or right of the stage, in order to keep them from being a distraction or in the way for lighting or set design. The problem with this concept, though, is that while those in the back half of your room may have an OK visual experience with such a setup, those in the front of the room will either have to tilt their heads up or look away from the stage to engage with what's on screen.
While your room and/or content may create an exception to this, ideally the bottom of your screens should be no more than 8-14 feet above the stage floor, and the edge of the screens no further than the edge of the stage.
IMAG done right can allow a worship or preaching experience to engage hundreds, if not thousands more people, than you can effectively do without it.
We're in a highly connected and visual society, seeing is a key piece for us in any experience.
Getting your IMAG system set up right could very well be the difference between money well spent, versus money wasted.
Paying close attention to the size, brightness, and location of your screens, as well as the effective zoom length and location of your cameras, are the keys to setting up an IMAG system that will engage your audience.