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Trends in Design for Video: Spread Message with High Production Tools

The progression from hymnals, to overhead projectors, to video projectors, and now LED video screens, continues to evolve.

I remember back to my days in kindergarten, sitting down crisscross applesauce, while listening to the teacher who would read from a storybook. I would always wait with eager anticipation, for the book to be turned around, where I would get to finally see the picture.

It is today’s art forms that compare to what churches many years ago used, including stained glass, paintings and other forms, to convey the message of the gospel.

Fast forward a few years, and I remember going over to my best friend’s house, and his dad was a multimedia producer. In that house was a darkroom, to make presentations for multiple slide projectors. The synchronization of them was an art form, that led to creating a dynamic and moving presentation to a soundtrack.

One of the tools he had was a black-and-white camera and a VCR, where I was able to create my own news TV show, with the security grade camera in black-and-white. The one thing I remember about my producing that news video – all while being the talent, as well as the editor - is that I tried to hide the fact that I had the hiccups, while rolling tape.

That got a good laugh from my audience.

Images, in the form of photos or video and physical objects, tell stories where using just words, cannot convey. Art and visual aspects of life are something to be enjoyed, and when reading through chapters of the bible, it’s hard to ignore some of the vivid descriptions of what heaven is like. (not to mention some of the horrible situations as well …)

It sure would be cool if there were real photos to show the reality of the words, just like when I was in kindergarten.

God created us with eyes, ears and many senses, for us to learn and enjoy. We can look back at what did the church of yesteryear do to bring glory to God, and by comparison, what are today’s churches using for methods of conveying their message? Anything from a sermon to announcements or wayfinding throughout the church facility use visual cues.

The definite trend today is working with high production value video, and motion backgrounds, to go along with the message. These elements help in the congregation to connect and have a more memorable experience. It is today’s art forms that compare to what churches many years ago used, including stained glass, paintings and other forms, to convey the message of the gospel.

The progression from hymnals, to overhead projectors, to video projectors, and now LED video screens, continues to evolve. With that, it brings newer, brighter and a greater potential for more accurate video content to be viewed, even while not needing to dim the lights.

What I see many churches doing these days is using a large screen like an LED wall as the set backdrop, allowing for changes very quickly, based on the song, the key points of the sermon, or anything like that. It is the blank canvas that can be used to show any content – both static or fixed.

In the world of projection technology, the trend has absolutely shifted over to laser-based projectors, where it’s funny to think the first one was released by Sony in 2014. Since those five years have passed, I’ts now become pretty much mainstream for every manufacturer to offer laser projectors in its product lineup.

Some of the advantages of the laser projector, over the older lamp technology, is that the laser models run cooler, last longer and have lower maintenance costs. Secondarily, they offer improved image color consistency, over a lamp projector.

Even older than laser projectors is the first LED video panels, date back to more than 10 years ago. Despite that, it has become a staple in many churches, and the desire of a growing number of smaller churches. Part of the challenge with making it a reality for smaller churches, includes the high budgetary cost and support for something like this.

As a means to keep the overall cost down, many churches have turned this typically significant capital purchase into a lease, which makes the upfront cost more affordable. With regard to the cost – one question I get regularly is, “Will the cost drop significantly in the near future?” The answer? I don’t believe so, when you consider that when this technology first came out a decade ago, it was tremendously expensive. Since then we have seen the costs decline significantly, as the technology continues to improve. Most recently, the costs for LED wall technology have stabilized, to where I envision that it should remain steady for the foreseeable future (not including any effects of any future rounds of added or increased import tariffs, which will drive costs up).

Something else that really started gaining popularity about 10 years ago, is the use of multiple high brightness projectors by churches, for what’s called environmental projection. This would be where the projectors are not focused on a simple square or rectangular screen, but instead is designed to shine light on entire wall surfaces in the worship space, such to create an enveloping environment.

Some of the challenges for a church considering such an option, is one of brightness of the projector, versus the vast square footage of wall area to illuminate. This makes these systems work best in darkened rooms, with high brightness projection.

The big picture here is that there’s a variety of tools available. The important part is implementing them properly, by making the decisions that look at not just at the right here right now cost, but the total cost of ownership, where one should account to include things like replacement lamps, or eventual replacement for the product.

In any case, it’s important to count the cost of any upgrades you want to do and filter them through the idea of a total cost of ownership. A prime example is if you buy a new car that is very low cost, but the fuel consumption is excessive - you won’t really save money over the long run. In much the same way, the laser projector typically ends up with a bit higher upfront cost, but with no lamps to replace, the upfront savings by going with a lamp projector diminish over time.

In conclusion, I would say that the LED wall as an option is definitely the most popular or has the highest wow factor, and I’ve written other articles on this topic to help you determine and decipher what makes for a good LED wall among the many available options.

The big issue here is to ensure if you are going to purchase an LED wall, that it will function for your intended use, especially if it will be on camera, for livestreaming. Look at my recent pieces in late March and early April of this year:

Part 1: LED Video Walls: Blending the Line Between Art, Presentation

Part 2: LED Video Walls: The Advantages in Brightness, Color, and Accuracy

Part 3: LED Walls: Ready To Finally Purchase One?

Finally, with the advent of the laser projector and now multiple contenders coming in to that field. it’s important to understand how they work and one of the big pitfalls of color brightness on the single chip DLP, as compared to the three LCD technology. The three chip - either LCD or DLP - will offer far better color and accuracy, than the single chip models.  This can be seen on the website www.colorbrightness.com

If you are in the market for projector technology, please pay attention, and if you want proof of the superior performance – check out my lamp versus laser long-term test at "What Is All the Fuss About LED Walls."

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