Seeing Is Believing

The stained-glass windows at Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls, in Minneapolis, MN, are some of the church's primary architectural features. Triangular-shaped and ceiling-high, the windows with their blue, red and green panes add warmth and color to the sanctuary. Yet these windows-seven along each side of the 90-foot sanctuary-were also the primary drawback when it came to adding visual presentations to services and programs.

"Our problem was that we had too much ambient light," said the Reverend Tedd Ostrem, pastor of Trinity Church. "Our original solution was to install a large front-projection screen on the wall behind the altar. Unfortunately, it took up almost half of the wall and covered some unique carvings, plus the images were so washed-out the congregation couldn't read or see what was on the screen. It was more of a distraction than an asset."

Not until the church installed Vikuiti XRVS-120 rear-projection screens from 3M Company-designed for projecting bright images in daylight conditions-were parishioners convinced that audiovisual technology had a role in building community. And that is one of the church's primary values.

Trinity Church is located in a neighborhood which has recently experienced a resurgence of young families, and has especially strong programs for children and youth ministry, as well as a worldwide mission. "It's important for us to communicate to our church members and to our neighborhood the story of what and how we're doing," said Ostrem. "Adding AV to worship services and to our outreach programs helps us to accomplish that. For example, when we videotape a baby being baptized, or a couple exchanging wedding vows, and display those images on the screen, or even project the liturgy and hymns during Sunday services, we find the congregation feels more involved. And whether it's a weekly supper or our fall festival, we invite the whole neighborhood and give a presentation on our missionaries or other activities. It's a great way to tell people what we're up to and invite them to participate."

Established in 1900, the present Trinity Church was built in the 1960s and features brick walls and stone floors. Forming the entire wall behind the altar is a unique carved oak screen, or reredos, designed by the late Arnold Flaten, sculptor and art professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Together with the large windows, these immense and somewhat sparse surfaces create a monastic feeling, and the architectural features can pose a challenge for modern-day church programs or outreach. "We had to work with what we had to incorporate AV," Ostrem noted. "Remodeling wasn't in the budget, and no one really wanted to cover the windows just so we could show slides. Pulling a huge white screen across the reredos was never a satisfying solution, either."

Working with Spyeglass of Minneapolis, which designs, customizes and distributes audiovisual systems using Vikuiti XRVS-120 rear-projection screens, church officials found their answer in two 95-inch diagonal Vikuiti screens-the largest currently available-which are located on each side of the altar. The system includes two Hitachi CPX-885 3,500-lumen projectors, and a Key Digital matrix switcher, located in the balcony, to feed the projectors. Three monitors in the front of the altar give musicians and other participants views of what is being shown on the screen.

Spyeglass president Paul Krumrich recalled, "We first demonstrated a smaller system during Palm Sunday services, so officials could see the screens during a Sunday morning service with a full congregation. The entire congregation was amazed that they could see the image so clearly from various locations, despite the daylight."

The clear, bright images the congregation saw are the result of 3M micro-bead technology. The Vikuiti XRVS-120 rear-projection screen is designed both to reject ambient light and to enhance light coming from the projector. The screen consists of three layers-a layer of optical microspheres, a light-absorbing layer, and an acrylic layer with a non-glare surface. This 3-layer combination enhances brightness and contrast, and preserves rich colors and high resolution, even when the screen is viewed from the side. The result is a high-contrast image visible from most angles under normal lighting conditions.

"While we primarily customize and distribute systems for AV integrators, we recognized that this application required some special design work for it to succeed," said Krumrich. A team of in-house designers and engineers designed and built frames and supports for the two screens, as well as matching supports for the projectors.

As a result of the project, live video, DVDs, song lyrics and other visuals are now a regular part of the services and programs at Trinity Church. "We solved the light issue without losing our windows, and have an important tool to help us build our church community," Ostrem remarked. "This solution blends in not just with the church architecture, but with our entire church mission. We're very pleased with the result."

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.