The Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI knew it need a technology makeover. Its original sound, lighting and video systems had been installed circa 1996, when its current sanctuary, which seats 1,800, accommodating the 4,500-member congregation over three Sunday services, was constructed. Since then, the church’s physical area has expanded to include two new wings and a chapel gymnasium. However, the A/V systems hadn’t kept pace until relatively recently, and those upgrades were staggered over the course of the last four years. The video system was upgraded in 2008, when a drop-down rear-projection screen was replaced by a larger fixed 16 x 9 screen illuminated by a Sanyo projector, with additional balcony monitors installed to cover difficult line-of-sight areas. The existing point-source sound system consisting of a six-unit EAW center cluster PA system was augmented two years later with an L-Acoustics line array system. Lighting was bumped up with the addition of ETC Source 4 ellipsoidal reflector spotlights over the stage.
Mark Kotlarczyk, Calvary’s director of Technical Services, says the staggered upgrade strategy was driven by budgets, with just under $250,000 dedicated to video and another $160,000 for the audio systems. “Video cost more not just because of the larger screen and the move to HD but also because we needed to address line-of-sight issues to make sure that every seat had a good view of what was projected,” Kotlarczyk explains. That’s even though, he adds, the upgrade for audio seemed to more pressing, citing intelligibility and coverage problems with the old system.
“The existing EAW PA system was a top-of-the-line touring system — for the 1980s, anyway,” he observes. “There was no doubt that it needed to be either replaced or upgraded. But video was what was getting the emphasis in the church market at the time, so we decided to upgrade that system first. It would have been great to simply say, let’s re-do all of the systems together all at once, but that’s just not necessarily feasible from either a budget or a logistical point of view.”
In addition to the main screen and projection system, the church added 12 new plasma screens around the sanctuary to increase visibility to all of the expanded seating areas, six of which were installed for under-balcony areas, as well as raising the height of the main screen