Projection Screens for House of Worship

When Calvary Lutheran Church decided to overhaul their 1990s-era sound and video system, they turned to Steve Diamond, owner of Diamond Church Install_Crystal Screens_medSupport Services based in Junction City, Oregon.  In addition to a new digital console and wireless microphones, Calvary wanted to replace their retractable stand-up screen and pico projector with large fixed frame video screens just above the pulpit area so that parishioners could read the sermon notes and hymn song lyrics during services. There was a slight problem, however.  The church’s architecture included three floor-to-ceiling glass walls that streamed in an immense amount of horizontal light. “Horizontal light is the enemy of video,” says Diamond. “Even the best projector and screen couldn’t compensate for that much ambient light.”

An LED video wall was out of the question, not only because it was beyond their budget but the church didn’t want a flashy display that would interfere with its tranquil interior. Diamond suggested options to control the light such as motorized shades, curtains or even window tinting; however, Calvary’s volunteer project manager knew that would not go over well with the congregation. “Our church is mostly older folks who are not too quick to embrace change,” notes Larry Weaver. “They didn’t want anything to obstruct the natural light.”

New Technology Solves an Old Problem

Diamond knew that pairing a high-gain screen with a high lumen-projector would be the only solution  and contacted Crystal Screens, a relative newcomer that manufactures 2.5- and 3.0-gain projection screens that were originally developed for the aerospace industry. The screens use holographic technology to manipulate light energy and produce a highly reflective, near mirror-like surface. The technology results in screens with high gain and ambient light rejection, wide viewing angles and no hot spots, ideal characteristics for the Calgary project.  

Diamond sent the specs to Crystal Screens who immediately got to work on building two screens using their Reflect 3.0 material. “When we saw the floor plan and the large glass windows, we knew that our Reflect 3.0 screen would be perfect,” exclaims Dave Cusick, Crystal Screens Director of Sales. “Our technology is different than other screens because it’s highly reflective yet maintains a wide viewing angle.”

The crew installed twin Reflect 3.0 high-gain 134-inch diagonal screens with three-inch-wide, velvet covered bezels. To mount the screen, holes were drilled into the aluminum frame and threaded hardware was used to suspend them from the cathedral ceiling  at a slight angle for ideal viewing from both sides of the aisles. In addition to the high gain, Crystal Screens Reflect 3.0 material has a 70° viewing angle, which was more than this space needed. Twin Crystal Screens Reflect 3.0 high-gain screens are suspend from the cathedral ceiling at a slight angle for ideal viewing from both sides of the church’s aisles.

A Match Made in Heaven

The screens are paired with two Eiki EK-810U WUXGA 8,000 lumen large venue laser projectors. Each projector is outfitted with a long-throw lens and installed in the back of the sanctuary, mounted on a shelf and secured to the top of the heating and air distribution ledge.  “The EK-810U delivers stunningly vivid colors because of its use of both red and blue lasers,” says Diamond. “These units produce sharp, high contrast images that maintain true to life color reproduction.”

Diamond’s lead installer and video designer Enoch Howell knew that the projectors were a great fit but was unsure about how the screen would perform, given the excessive amount of  light. “Even with 8000 lumens, there was so much light that  images would be lost on a traditional screen surface,” he says. “We were all nervous when we fired up the projectors but were absolutely blown away by the clarity and the contrast of the system.”

Two Eiki EK-810U WUXGA 8,000 lumen large venue laser projectors are installed in the back of the sanctuary. The project was completed on time and within budget. Diamond estimates that installing an LED video wall or adding shades or curtains would more than doubled the price of the installation and would not have resulted in this level of video quality.  In the end, however, it came down to improving the experience of the congregation. “The video is absolutely radiant and exceeded everyone’s expectations,” concludes Larry Weaver. “After we played the first video, the entire congregation erupted with applause, and several people commented that they could finally read the words.”