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Tips for Installing Projectors in Churches

Attend services to understand church needs, respect the architecture, use projectors with optional zoom and short throw lenses.

Mark Coxon

Installing projectors in houses of worship can, for many reasons, be challenging. Success with these jobs has a lot to do with taking a unique approach.

Think like a parishioner. Whether you are an avid churchgoer or not, keep in mind that in this environment, your gear is not the star of the show. People are coming for worship, not for the HD.

There are some “Go Big or Go Home” TV churches, as well as some small community churches with a strong evangelical worship style, and everything in between.

If you land a job with a house of worship, I recommend the first thing you do is attend a service to find out how the pastor and congregation interact and how the service is structured. When you do this, you will have enough information to design the proper projector system.

Here are some tips for installing projectors in houses of worship.

Respect the Architecture
A lot goes into the look and feel of a church, and the last thing they want is for electronics to detract. There are a couple things you can do on the install side to make this happen. One is to look at rear projection options. Sometimes there is opportunity to use space behind the altar to mount projectors from the rear and project in that direction.

Other times, there may be mechanical space above offices or classrooms adjacent to the sanctuary, where electronics can be placed behind rear projection screens cut into the walls. In either scenario, you limit the chances that a pole mounted projector blocks the view of a Ner Tamid or cross or crucifix that may be hanging nearby.

Leverage the Architecture to Your Advantage
If you do have to rely on front projection, approach it from a different angle, literally. Many professional projectors have a lens shift option that allows you to place projectors a few degrees off center with the screen to provide additional placement options and minimize their impact on the space. If you need steeper angles, use a projector that has off axis projection capabilities, and can be placed even farther left or right of the screen.

Related: A Guide to House of Worship Lighting Design

Some models have horizontal keystoning that can restore the aspect ratios to keep projectors hidden in corners or next to beams or other structures to minimize their presence. Screens can be hung in ways to mirror other features like lights or banners in the space. I have a job where the screen cases will be powder coated to match other rods in the space and banners will hang from the rear, as they do from the other rods. The screen material comes down in front of the banners when in use, and disappears, leaving the space as it was before the screens existed.

Adjust Your Focus
Consider placing the projectors closer or farther away, and use projectors with optional zoom, telezoom, and short throw lenses. These can allow you to place projectors in any area from half the screen width to 8 times the screen width away, opening the floodgates for unique placement opportunities.

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