Red Mountain Community Church in Mesa, Arizona.
For nearly 20 years, Mark Reinholz has been ensuring Red Mountain Community Church (Mesa, AZ) is getting the most out of its technology – from computers to projectors. And for the Church’s audiovisual technology, that means making sure it goes unnoticed.
“We want our audiovisual technology to be supportive, without people realizing it’s there,” Mr. Reinholz said. “We don’t want it to get in the way of the Gospel.”
He points to E1 Audiovisual Technologies as his partner in making that happen.
As an example, Mr. Reinholz mentioned the ‘gym.’ The space was completely gutted and transformed into a home for programs supporting students’, women’s and men’s groups. Setting off a beautiful stage and the entire room itself are four projection screens: one 220-inch screen, two 159-inch screens and one powered 159-inch screen that rolls down and retracts. All are hidden in plain sight.
“You see the screens. You know they are there,” Mr. Reinholz said. “But when a program begins, they just blend into the whole experience. The ambiance is just so familiar to everyone’s everyday life, there isn’t a second thought to the vivid imagery and words coming up on the screens.”
The room’s design, screen placement and lighting all play key roles in making the experience feel tech-free. Also helping – all of the other AV technology is out of view.
A rigging structure is tucked above the stage. It conceals four remotely controlled laser projectors – one 12,000 lumen projector and three 8,500 lumen projectors. Also, out of sight is an equipment rack with the technology that drives the whole experience. It includes transmitters for wireless microphones, various inputs and network connectivity, digital signal processor, switcher and Blu-ray player. And, one control processor.
That control processor is key to the room’s technology transparency. It lets users wirelessly control microphone levels, video source switching, projector power, projection screen positioning and Blu-ray controls – all from an iPad.
“Virtually anyone can pick up that iPad and be in control of the whole room,” Mr. Reinholz said. “No training or hand-holding needed. It makes all of this technology just that more invisible.”
One of Mr. Reinholz’s favorite AV projects with E1 was the remodeling of a classroom which is adjacent to the gym. Today, he calls it, “the best classroom ever.” At the time, he wasn’t so sure. The remodel was really a matter of two classrooms becoming one, resulting in room dimensions that made monitor placement a challenge.
“We were convinced a huge 80-inch monitor would do the trick,” Mr. Reinholz said. “To help us better visualize our plan, E1 brought us an 80-inch monitor so we could take a look. Wow! How could an 80-inch monitor look so small?”
Instead, E1 built out the room’s AV to include two projectors and two motorized projection screens.
“When the two projection screens roll down, they also cover the room’s two windows,” Mr. Reinholz said. “Better yet, we can revert back to a two-room set-up if we want and have great AV capabilities in both. Regardless of configuration, there isn’t a bad seat in house. It’s just a great classroom.”
“Our campus covers 15 acres with our first building being built in 1995,” Mr. Reinholz noted. “So, like many churches, our AV technology was originally all analog. With budgets being what they are, E1 is stepping us into the digital age where it counts.”
One of the first digital transitions took place in the Life Center, where Sunday services are held. E1 introduced digital switching by integrating it with the sanctuary’s existing analog AV equipment. This immediately enabled digital connectivity for viewing throughout the campus while extending the life of existing non-digital equipment, including five projectors.
“It has been two or three years now, and I’m really glad we were able to hold off on replacing those projectors,” Mr. Reinholz said. “In the interim, the cost on some great projector technology has come down to where it’s now a much better fit for our budget.”
Unforeseen at the time, the digital switching also enabled the Church to quickly introduce live streaming when the COVID-19 pandemic kept members away from the church. “Our sense of community is all about having people coming together, in person,” Mr. Reinholz commented. “Prior to COVID, live streaming wasn’t a part of our plans. But, with a call to E1, that’s exactly what we were doing on that very first Sunday.”
“That’s what I like about E1,” Mr. Reinholz said. “I can just call and talk to them about a problem or discuss something we’re thinking about and they are on it, even if it means hauling an 80-inch monitor up here…just so we can take a look.”
In assessing the Church’s audiovisual utilization, Mr. Reinholz said he has had feedback on how well the Church has kept its AV technology in the background. “Ironically.” Mr. Reinholz said, “the minute it’s not working, everyone WILL notice it. Which is one more reason we partner with E1.”