In 2010 Sutherland Sight and Sound was contacted by the Mountain View Baptist Church in Phil Campbell, Alabama to do a major audio/video upgrade, with lighting upgrades slated for phase two of the project. Literally, three weeks upon completion of the job in April of 2011, a massive tornado ripped through the South leaving a wake of devastation—including the church and its newly installed A/V system.
Several months later, Sutherland's was again contacted, as the church was able to pull together the funds to completely rebuild not only the A/V system, but to install a lighting package as well. The 3-camera high-definition PTZ system would be used to record their services, which would be broadcast throughout the facility, on local TV, and distributed on the Internet. Because the lighting was critical to Mountain View's specific filming needs, Sutherland specified 16 ElektraLite Dazer warm white and eight 1018 RGB fixtures for color.
"I believe it was the Thursday before the tornado hit we felt we had all the bugs worked out and were ready to go," recalls Steve Bell, Mountain View's A/V Chairman and the town's Mayor. "The tornado literally took it out before we used it on our first service. While the building was decimated, we were able to salvage a lot of the A/V gear, and in fact, we're now using it in our youth theatre area. We tore the building down to the dirt and started over, upgrading everything in our sanctuary—audio, camera, and lighting systems—with the newest technology.
"The lighting was absolutely critical for filming and broadcast," he continues. "Internally, we have some overflow rooms—the children's activities area and an upstairs dedicated to youth, college & career, which has a theatre of its own that seats about 75-80 people. We take the live edit and distribute a closed-circuit HD signal within the facility so there are several places where you can view the service from outside the main sanctuary. But more than that, we will be streaming online soon. We've been very pleased with the ElektraLite fixtures, and the best part about them, especially with the warm light fixtures, is the selectable dimming curve. Now, we can dim the stage lighting at the same rate as the incandescent house lighting, so it makes for a very smooth dimming curve that looks great on video. And we're able to get a very even wash of the stage with the warm light fixtures. We're using the RGB fixtures mainly used for special events when we have plays or dramas."
Sutherland's AV Design Engineer Brian Leighton chose the ElektraLite fixtures based on their range of features and positive experiences working with them previously on other HOW installs.
"As a design/build firm, we have the freedom to recommend what equipment goes into a project," he states, "so we strive to give our customers the best balance of performance versus value. We demoed the ElektraLite fixtures a year before and used them on another church install and liked the evenness and the color temperature of the warm white light fixtures and thought they'd be a good match for the video applications in this facility. And the client is very pleased with the outcome."
Mountain View's new A/V system debuted with the grand opening of the church on July 21st, and not surprisingly, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
"Some of the congregation marched in with a banner saying, ‘Unshaken: Crossed Over,'" Bell remembers, "meaning they had crossed over from the old mobile chapels into the new sanctuary. Most of the comments that I heard that day were that they couldn't sing for crying. Our sanctuary seats 350 people comfortably; 400 if we put some extra chairs. If we take the overflow room into account, we can probably seat 600 onsite. Our average attendance was 225 prior to the tornado, which dropped up some because we were in the doublewide mobile chapel unit for almost two years. This past Sunday we had every seat filled.
"And the lighting was incredible! We knew it was a little deficient in the old building, but we compared the first service that we filmed in the new building with the last service in the old and it was like night and day…. It looked like something out of the ‘70s compared to what we're doing now. Having the ability to change the color tones and temperature to match your camera, I found the light balance with the Elektralite fixtures was so much better. We thought we were good in the old building, but now everything is 10 times better! And we still hope to get even better as we get more established in our new sanctuary."
Photo Credits: Steve Bell