The Challenges of a Low Ceiling - Part 2: Video Screens
Posted on May 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM
Is your Church considering purchasing or renovating a space with low ceilings to use as a primary Worship Space? Here are some of the challenges involved with Video Screen Placement, as well as the approaches we take to mitigate these factors during the Design Process. We hope this provides the resources that you and your team need to be informed during future conversations.
When designing Video Screens to be installed in a service space, Budget is generally the biggest single factor that determines the size, quantity and type of display used. However, even with a robust budget, sometimes the limiting factor on how large an individual screen can be is the room itself - particularly when the ceiling is low.
The two biggest issues for video screens in a space with a low ceiling are Sightlines and Ambient Light/Bleed. The challenge becomes maximizing as much visibility throughout the room while maintaining as large of an image as possible.
For example, imagine a 250-seat auditorium in a renovated store-front building. Steel trusses and beams hang 12’ above the floor, and the roof is at 16’. The space between the beams and the ceiling is filled with HVAC ducts and sprinkler pipes, so the “ceiling” to hang video elements is at 12’. It would be simple enough to hang a 55” television on stage that’s visible from every seat in the room - give or take a few support beams. But that size screen would be far too small to read any text on screen even though the entire television is visible. However, if a 10’ tall projection screen is hung flush against the steel trusses in the ceiling, then anything hanging below the steel (speakers, lighting fixtures, HVAC vents, sprinkler heads, etc) may obstruct the view from different seats in the room. This would also mean that people standing on stage in front of the screen would block a huge portion of the image.
The second challenge - particularly for video screens on stage - is Light Reflection and Bleed. With a low ceiling height, the lighting fixtures aimed at the worship team and Pastor will very likely bleed onto the video screen as well. To combat this, The screen(s) should be placed in a location where the amount of reflected light can be controlled, or the system should include an active display source, like an LED wall, that provides substantially more brightness than a projection screen.
So with all of these challenges, what can you do?
The process begins with an analysis of the sightlines from each perspective in the room. Next, determine how close the first and last rows will be to any proposed video screen. Consideration should then be given to whether or not splitting screens to the left and right instead of a single screen in the center will offer a better experience for viewers. In some cases it may warrant considering smaller screens on or near the stage for people seated closest to the front, and adding a row of displays towards the middle of the room for people seated farther back.
The Design Process
Low ceilings present a substantial set of challenges that require a detailed Design Process. Each space is unique, so there is no “one size fits all” approach. After working in a myriad of spaces for decades, MediaMerge designers start with a general idea of what would work well in any given space. However, each project starts with an understanding of your church’s heart, vision and passion so that solutions are provided for your church’s technical and non-technical needs.
3D Modeling offers an excellent tool during the design process. Once a 3D model is built, you can explore the space from any seat in the house and understand exactly how your final system will look and feel. The MediaMerge Envision process provides your team with realistic 3D renderings that ensure the best experience possible for your church.