Mick Hall gets a lot of questions from technical directors and other at houses of worship. That’s not surprising since the HoW category is one of the fastest growing markets for Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the professional audio division of mega-retailer Guitar Center, located at 43 GC Pro outlets at Guitar Center Stores around the country. Fortunately, Hall, an account manager who specializes in the HOW A/V technology at GC Pro’s Tampa-area location, also has lots of answers.
Tech Decisions: House of worship budgets have been under pressure for the last few years as a result of the economy. That’s caused a lot of capital spending for A/V system updates to have been put off. Now that revenue is once again increasing, what are you finding to be the areas that are most in need of attention (PA systems, video displays, etc.) and why?
Mick Hall: Different ministries have differing priorities, but overall we see a strong trend towards HD video upgrades and lighting. The most common requests are for projector, plasma and IMAG HD upgrades, along with digital delivery solutions for video such as live streaming and local digital signage options. The lighting upgrades are usually a requirement to improve video quality. Also, we see a larger focus on improving visual impact and immersive worship experience both through lighting and video.
Generation “i” is extremely tech savvy. Most people have one or more iPhones, iPads, iPods, HD TVs, etc. They hear great live audio and see incredible video, lighting and graphics on shows like American Idol, The Voice and others. Most people carry personal technologies with them that provide them with greater audio and video experiences than what is found in most churches. Restaurants, malls, workplaces, public schools and even gas stations and public restrooms are embracing technology to communicate their messages. I often hear from clients resistant to change that the HOW market is not an entertainment entity and that their message may somehow be trivialized by embracing certain technologies. However, many more have begun to take the steps to remain relevant and better connected with this short attention span generation. While the message should remain unchanged, it is important to adapt the delivery methods used so that the message is ultimately heard.
TD: What are some of the major technology changes of the last couple of years that HOW technical directors should be looking at including in their upgrade strategies and why? What major technology changes should they be thinking about now for the future?
MH: One of the driving forces behind the recent trend towards HD video and lighting upgrades is due to the performance/price changes which have occurred in the past couple years. There