By Joanne Taylor

The New Direction Grace Church moved into a converted warehouse in December 2014 and of course, as a House of Worship (HoW) congregation grows, so do its requirements for technology. Unless you’re an unabashedly austere organisation that relies purely on voice and air to broadcast the message, you’re going to need all manner of AV and public address equipment.

“The primary challenge with this particular installation was that the church only acquired the new building towards the end of November 2014 and wanted to have its first service on 14 December 2014. So this meant that we had to work among other contractors on site that were revamping the warehouse into a church venue – including electricians, tilers, painters, carpenters and air conditioner guys. We also only had about two weeks to source stock and only started installing equipment on the 8th December 2014,’ explains Nathan Ihlenfeldt, technical manager at Stage Audio Works.

The installation

Apart from manufacturing all of the trussing in its Johannesburg factory, Stage Audio Works supplied and setup 42 x stage decks, while most equipment on stage was supplied by SAW – including Sennheiser microphones, Livemix personal monitoring system, Radial DI boxes, K&M stands and all of the cabling.

The Livemix personal monitoring systems by Digital Audio Labs are designed to be simple enough for volunteer and non-professional users to quickly understand and start using. “Dante onboard makes integration easy,’ explains Ihlenfeldt.
Three Christie HD14K-M projectors were installed. Due to the nature of the desired projection surface and the dimensions of the stage, a 17-metre wide x 3-metre long projection curved screen was installed.

“We chose the Christie M series projectors because we needed the colour and brightness uniformity which 3 chip DLP technology offers, in addition to the Twist funictionality required for the geometry correction on the curved surface,’ says Ihlenfeldt. The signal is fed to the projectors via HDBaseT extenders from DVI Gear and the media playback is done on a Pro Video Player 2 with Apple Mac Pro.
The sound is mixed on a Yamaha QL5 with Rio 3224 stagebox, which was selected for its ease of use, cost effectiveness and Dante networking.”The built-in Dante audio networking provides broad connectivity with exceptionally low latency and jitter,’ adds Ihlenfeldt.

The PA system is a d&b audiotechnik Y series system, d&b’s newest line array offering which comprises of three D80 amplifiers, four Y8s and two Y12s a side, with eight Y Subs beneath the stage and four 8S as delays. “This PA system offers a smooth and natural sound and is capable of ridiculous volume, which will be perfect for when the church has local and international Christian artists performing in the venue. The excellent broadband directivity of the Y-Series line array and distributed sub-bass array meant that we were able to achieve excellent STI and sound quality in what is essentially an untreated warehouse,’ he explains.

Regarding lighting, Stage Audio Works installed a host of moving lights and generic fixtures from their own product portfolio. Acme XP16R Spot and CM200Z moving lights were installed, along with a selection of LED blinders, LDR generic fixtures and a Smoke Factory Hazer. Control is from a High End Systems HedgeHog 4 controller. The signal is distributed via Artnet. “Acme is actually one of the largest stage lighting manufacterers in the world, with a massive staff compliment and factory space in China. Many well known lighting manufacterers have OEM agreements with Acme, who have been established as a leading company in the local Chinese market for many years. Only recently has the Acme brand been established in the export market. There are many exciting products in their portfolio, and with over 100 staff in their R&D team, I’m sure that Acme will be established as a global leader soon.’

The wrap

Given that the projector, screen, media server, lights, PA system, trussing, stage and cabling installation at the New Direction Grace Church went off without a hitch and was delivered on time, shows that it is possible to deliver under immense pressure and insane timelines as well as producing sound and lighting of a high standard. Artists such as Heinz Winckler, Ernie Smith, Zoe Zana and the angelic Charlyn Davids have already graced the stage, with South African star Lira set to perform at the venue in March. Stage Audio Works, along with the products under their umbrella, certainly seem to bring a fantastically streamlined, turnkey solution to the table under tight deadlines. “We pride ourselves on being the only supplier in Africa who can deliver this level of technical equipment from our own product portfolio, with fantastic support,’ concludes Ihlenfeldt.