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General Projection Systems Projectors, screens, scalers, switchers, scan converters and other display equipment.

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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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Video Projection Projector/System Question

Hello, all.

I'm the one tasked with getting a video projection system installed for our church; and, after a year of 'well we could do this' and 'but wait, no, we could do that', we've decided that, due to a very unusual sanctuary shape, we're done trying to do it ourselves and we are going to have professionals take care of the solution for us.

However, what I'm trying to figure out is which contractor(s) to go with. I'm a firm believer in 'getting what you pay for', so I know that the lowest price isn't always the way the way to go.

Anyway, here's the problem I'm trying to solve at this point:

About Us
We're a smaller church with average morning attendence at about 50-60 with spikes of 75. Our sanctuary can hold 120 at maximum. We offer a blended worship experience with the traditional hymns and as much of the newer music that we can learn! Our average age is about 30-40 and our target ministry demographic is 'families with children'.

About the Need
We currently have no video projection system at all. Our budget for the project is $10-20k, flexible. We need it done by the end of March, 2012. We're looking to implement a projection system for the following purposes:
1) Song lyrics on screen
2) Preaching aid for the Pastor or other speakers
3) Watch videos/video clips during services or special events
4) We also are looking toward a 16:9 ratio instead of 4:3

Contractor Says...
By consensus, contractors are looking at a one-screen solution for our sanctuary. We wouldn't need a special lense for throw distances.
But here's the fun part. Contractor A is extremeley knowledgable, is very attentive to detail, and suggests that a Christie projector is what should be installed and that a $5,000 (brand/model not given) video switching device is necessary. I haven't gotten a quote back from Contractor A, but I'm sure it's going to be rather expensive. Contractor B isn't as attentive to details and doesn't have as much experience but is still competent and feels that the entire job can be done for $7k-10k (though this figure does not include electrical work or the purchase of a PC and presentation software), but with an Eiki projector and obviously without things like a $5k video switching device.

The Problem
I know that installing a Christie will wow everyone for years, but I just can't shake the idea that it's overkill for who we are and how big we are (I'm under the assumption Christies start at $6k and go waaaay up from there). My assistant (knows enough about consumer-grade video equipment but is not experienced in anything commercial-grade) in this project is very adamant that a Christie (he had never heard of the brand before I explained it was what they often used in commercial movie theatres) would be overkill and that we would be fine with a $1,500 BenQ or similiar projector. Me, I'm not so sure what to do.

A Solution?
Based on this information, is anyone able to offer me anything to help me understand if 1) a Christie projector and expensive switching device really is worth it for a congregation of our size, 2) if we should stay in the commercial-grade range but not spend the money for a Christie, 3) if we really are fine with going with something like a BenQ, or 4) ...I'll happily take any other suggestions you might have to offer! : )

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by jmarch; Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 at 10:52 AM. Reason: added info!
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 12:22 PM
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The one aspect is actually easy to address, at least in theory. Admittedly, I've seen situations where I don't think that any answer other than what the people involved wanted to hear would have sufficed but in general any professional should be able and willing to a) explain why they recommended what they recommended, b) explain how what they recommend will function and c) explain how what the recommend serves your needs. If they cannot do this in a manner that allows you to be comfortable with what is proposed then you probably want to look elsewhere.

Also, don't be afraid to ask about options. Realistically, the margins on such a project are often such that they can't invest a great deal of time exploring all the options and 'what ifs', but if the quotes you have are 'best guesses' based on limited input then it may be perfectly appropriate to go back and say that you were hoping to spend less on the projector or that you'd like to address multiple sources, that may turn out to be useful information to them or an opportunity for them to explain why they proposed what they did.

Before getting into the gear it is worth a reminder that it is not all about the equipment. While if something is not satisfactory people may blame 'the projector', you are actually purchasing an installed system and the quality of the installation, the immediate and future support, compliance with code, any added costs during installation, the system setup/adjustments/testing and so on can also affect the actual value received.

On the equipment, there may be a few critical issues. For example, you mention wanting to display song lyrics and also videos or video clips. Would this all be handled by a single source or might there be more than one media source, either now or in the future? If there is more than one source for the projector, how do the two vendors propose to handle the switching between sources? How would you switch between sources and what would people see on the screen if you switch between sources?

Look closely at the projectors being proposed, in some cases you may actually find them to be surprisingly similar as it is fairly common for OEM versions of a projector mode, either the same product or with some not readily apparent differences, to be sold under multiple brand names. Also compare warranties and not just the duration but also how service is accomplished, the application to commercial/non-residential use and so forth. And make sure you are looking at all the costs such as cabling, hardware, mounts and installation, one Contractor including getting power to the projector and another identifying that to be provided by others may not be readily apparent in their quotes but could definitely impact the total cost you incur.

A bit off topic, but in regards to displaying lyrics and videos/video clips, don't forget to address the associated copyright issues and licenses, including for the non-service related video presentations.
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 12:37 PM
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Appreciate the reply, Brad!

The two of us are fairly savvy in purchasing processes and certainly will most certainly look at things like total cost of ownership, warranties, included services, etc. as well make our decisions.

To your point, I should have specified that while we will have three sources of input (PC running presentation software, a console Blu-Ray player, and a VGA input at the front podium), 95% of our use will be Sunday mornings to display words/graphics from the presentation pc. And, as we understand it, we could use the presenation software to prepare video ahead of time and facilitate its playing. As such, we'd not really need the console optical drive during services so it's not a big deal to us if we'd have a pause or a flash on the projector while we swtiched sources since it really wouldn't happen as part of the actual service.

Going back to the hardware and contractors, my gut feel for Contractor A is that, because he is a designer and not a builder (he would PM the project but wouldn't be doing any of the install work), I believe he's wanting to put in the 'top-shelf' equipment because he's concerned about his brand equity. He will want to put his "Built by Contractor A" sticker on what he installs so he can leverage it for marketing purposes. I believe that's why he doesn't want to put anything less than a Christie into place. But, I agree with you that we'd want to persue some explanation on why he feels a Christie best serves our needs (and not just his own). I really like his style and ownership... I am just struggling with why our requirements necessitate a Christie.

Thanks!
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 12:42 PM
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First of all - welcome to CMN.

My gut feeling from what you have said is that the Cristie projector and video switcher (whilst nice to have) sounds like overkill for your stated use.

One question I have is "what is the illumination like on the intended screen location (either from the sun or from lighting"? I am just thinking that if there is some light wash - then a much more powerful projector would be required (hence the specification of a potentially high-cost Cristie unit).

I would, however, also beware of 'budget' end projectors. One thing to check is what the guarantee covers. Some projector manufacturers (in the UK at least) class Church use as not being 'consumer' and would void the warranty if you had a claim. I would, therefore, go for branded name projectors (but check the warranty before purchase - or ask the question - just to be certain).

Dave
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daver2 View Post
First of all - welcome to CMN.

My gut feeling from what you have said is that the Cristie projector and video switcher (whilst nice to have) sounds like overkill for your stated use.

One question I have is "what is the illumination like on the intended screen location (either from the sun or from lighting"? I am just thinking that if there is some light wash - then a much more powerful projector would be required (hence the specification of a potentially high-cost Cristie unit).

I would, however, also beware of 'budget' end projectors. One thing to check is what the guarantee covers. Some projector manufacturers (in the UK at least) class Church use as not being 'consumer' and would void the warranty if you had a claim. I would, therefore, go for branded name projectors (but check the warranty before purchase - or ask the question - just to be certain).

Dave
Thanks for the reply, Dave.

To address your question, our sanctuary has a fair amount of light but we've done some proof-of-concept testing and a 4000 lumen projector filled a screen just fine from a brightness perspective. Of course, I realize that lumens is just one specification on a projector and, yes, I would not want to go too low-end. Agreed that we would have to make sure any projector purchased was classed for our use so as to not void the warranty.

Thanks again!
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmarch View Post
To your point, I should have specified that while we will have three sources of input (PC running presentation software, a console Blu-Ray player, and a VGA input at the front podium), 95% of our use will be Sunday mornings to display words/graphics from the presentation pc. And, as we understand it, we could use the presenation software to prepare video ahead of time and facilitate its playing. As such, we'd not really need the console optical drive during services so it's not a big deal to us if we'd have a pause or a flash on the projector while we swtiched sources since it really wouldn't happen as part of the actual service.

Going back to the hardware and contractors, my gut feel for Contractor A is that, because he is a designer and not a builder (he would PM the project but wouldn't be doing any of the install work), I believe he's wanting to put in the 'top-shelf' equipment because he's concerned about his brand equity. He will want to put his "Built by Contractor A" sticker on what he installs so he can leverage it for marketing purposes. I believe that's why he doesn't want to put anything less than a Christie into place. But, I agree with you that we'd want to persue some explanation on why he feels a Christie best serves our needs (and not just his own). I really like his style and ownership... I am just struggling with why our requirements necessitate a Christie.
I could be way off base on this but I think your first response may address the real issue. If there are multiple sources involved then there are multiple possible approaches to that aspect, each with pros and cons depending on the specifics of the application. Did you tell both firms proposing that you could transfer most files to the computer in advance and that a delay and/or 'glitch' during switching was acceptable? If so then the one party does seem to likely be proposing more than required. However, if this information was not mentioned then what may have happened was simply for one party to assume this since that allowed them to tender a lower quote while the other party may have decided it was safer or more appropriate to not make such assumptions. The two different responses could be a matter of one party not being responsive to what was said or of one party doing a much better job of interpreting the information that was offered. However, it could also simply be different interpretations of and responses to the information that was provided, one of which may be much closer to what you had in mind but that may not have been conveyed. At least in my experience, it may be surprising to some just how many bids are based on limited information and then awarded to the vendor that was simply better, or luckier, at guessing what was wanted.

The Blu-Ray player and 16:9 format references suggest that HDMI/DVI and the associated EDID and HDCP aspects may also be potential factors that could differ between the proposals. One more area to maybe ask what is actually being provided and how it would work, or even better yet, to define what is expected and let them address how the proposed solutions support that.

Don't get too hung up on the brand names. In fact, initially ignore the brand names and look at how the products fill the needs defined. Are the two projectors proposed, or any others being considered, really 'apples to apples' other than the brand name on them? If not, do those differences matter? Might there be factor such as lamp life and replacement cost, filters, optional lens costs, reliability concerns, noise levels, capabilities such as motorized zoom lenses or lens shift and so forth involved? The product fitting the application or not should be the first assessment, a projector that is more than required or one that is less than required are both poor values regardless of the names on them.

Beyond that, there may be intangibles. I have had Contractors prefer to provide Christie in lieu of other approved projector brands, in some cases the original manufacturer of the model also sold by Christie, because they felt they received better support from Christie that offset any cost difference. There may also be factors regarding product lines the vendors can offer or ones for which the church could be considered the original purchaser for support and warranty, someone may be able to sell you a Brand X projector if that is what you want but they rather than the church might be considered the original owner and the party to which any warranty applies.

On the 4,000 lumens working in your tests, was that with a 16:9 native format projector and a 16:9 format image? Just remember that the projector brightness only applies to the full image area and projectors of the same rated brightness but different native formats can produce a different image brightness based on the actual projected image format.
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Old Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 02:02 PM
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Wow, Brad. Lots of great info here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Weber View Post
I could be way off base on this but I think your first response may address the real issue. If there are multiple sources involved then there are multiple possible approaches to that aspect, each with pros and cons depending on the specifics of the application. Did you tell both firms proposing that you could transfer most files to the computer in advance and that a delay and/or 'glitch' during switching was acceptable? If so then the one party does seem to likely be proposing more than required. However, if this information was not mentioned then what may have happened was simply for one party to assume this since that allowed them to tender a lower quote while the other party may have decided it was safer or more appropriate to not make such assumptions. The two different responses could be a matter of one party not being responsive to what was said or of one party doing a much better job of interpreting the information that was offered. However, it could also simply be different interpretations of and responses to the information that was provided, one of which may be much closer to what you had in mind but that may not have been conveyed. At least in my experience, it may be surprising to some just how many bids are based on limited information and then awarded to the vendor that was simply better, or luckier, at guessing what was wanted.
This information was mentioned but it could have been missed. I know the first contractor IS including a video switch and the second is NOT... so very true that this will drastically affect the price. You're right in that maybe if the first contractor truly understands that the switch is a non-issue for us, the two quotes will be a lot closer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Weber View Post
The Blu-Ray player and 16:9 format references suggest that HDMI/DVI and the associated EDID and HDCP aspects may also be potential factors that could differ between the proposals. One more area to maybe ask what is actually being provided and how it would work, or even better yet, to define what is expected and let them address how the proposed solutions support that.
Yes, we've mentioned to both parties that we're looking for an HDCP-compliant solution. But this is very informative to me to realize that, small as we are, it might be time to be thinking about doing these kinds of things via RFP so that everyone has access to the same detailed requirements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Weber View Post
Don't get too hung up on the brand names. In fact, initially ignore the brand names and look at how the products fill the needs defined. Are the two projectors proposed, or any others being considered, really 'apples to apples' other than the brand name on them? If not, do those differences matter? Might there be factor such as lamp life and replacement cost, filters, optional lens costs, reliability concerns, noise levels, capabilities such as motorized zoom lenses or lens shift and so forth involved? The product fitting the application or not should be the first assessment, a projector that is more than required or one that is less than required are both poor values regardless of the names on them.
Agreed. I just think that I was left thinking "But that projector costs $7,000 and I thought the $2,000 one I could get off Amazon would meet our needs. So what gives?" Sounds like I just have to ask the contractors how their recommended hardware solution meets our needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Weber View Post
Beyond that, there may be intangibles. I have had Contractors prefer to provide Christie in lieu of other approved projector brands, in some cases the original manufacturer of the model also sold by Christie, because they felt they received better support from Christie that offset any cost difference. There may also be factors regarding product lines the vendors can offer or ones for which the church could be considered the original purchaser for support and warranty, someone may be able to sell you a Brand X projector if that is what you want but they rather than the church might be considered the original owner and the party to which any warranty applies.
Yes, I need to find out from the vendors exactly what service warranty they provide so I know how to evaluate that with respect to their quotes, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Weber View Post
On the 4,000 lumens working in your tests, was that with a 16:9 native format projector and a 16:9 format image? Just remember that the projector brightness only applies to the full image area and projectors of the same rated brightness but different native formats can produce a different image brightness based on the actual projected image format.
To be honest, I have no idea. I think the projector we borrowed was actually a 4:3 hooked up to a 16:9 laptop. This is where our own knowledge is 'enough to be dangerous' and, in making us question everything that we have been told by vendors, might be causing more harm than good.

Thanks again, Brad. Very helpful!
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Old Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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Paul Alan Clifford
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I just skimmed so forgive me if I missed it, but the size of your screen really matters here. My gut is that a Christie is overkill, but if your room requires a large screen, it might be necessary. 2000 lumens on a small screen is going to be brighter than 4000 on a huge screen.

I'm a big fan of Panasonic. The one we have at our Frankfort campus gives a beautiful image on a screen that's probably literally 16'x9' (rear projection).

You mention the room being odd-shaped. Have any pictures?

Paul
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Old Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sempei13 View Post
I just skimmed so forgive me if I missed it, but the size of your screen really matters here. My gut is that a Christie is overkill, but if your room requires a large screen, it might be necessary. 2000 lumens on a small screen is going to be brighter than 4000 on a huge screen.

I'm a big fan of Panasonic. The one we have at our Frankfort campus gives a beautiful image on a screen that's probably literally 16'x9' (rear projection).

You mention the room being odd-shaped. Have any pictures?

Paul
I should have included screen size for certain! We're still firming up exact size, but it looks like it'll be about six-eight feet across.

Regarding the room, I have no pictures available, but... picture a baseball diamond with the platform at home base, and a row of pews between home and first, home and second, and home and third. The distance between two opposing corners would be about... 50-60 feet. The screen would have to go about 1/3 of the way between home base and second base.

Hope that helps and thanks!
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