Chapel’s Makeover Elevates Environment;
Equipment Prepares Students for Real World
Southeastern University is a private Christian institution with more than 3,400 students, situated amid palm trees in Lakeland, Florida. One of the university’s busiest spaces is its multipurpose Bush Chapel, which is used for a diverse array of events, including chapel services, classes, rehearsals, concerts and performances. It is the largest performance space on campus and has a capacity of 750 - hosting 2,000 to 3,000 student experiences per week between its various activities.
However, the technical capabilities of the chapel were limiting the creativity of the students and staff, and the faculty wanted to do more with the space. Upgrades to the structure during Christmas break 2013 further highlighted the lackluster technological setup of the space. Previously, the space was equipped with two 6' x 8' side screens with 4,000-lumen rear projection and one 14.5' x 8' center screen with 6,500-lumen front projection. Because there is very little space, large images have to be projected from an extremely short distance. Southeastern wanted to dazzle audiences, but knew it was restricted by the constraints of its space and budget.
Unfortunately, the layout of the building did not permit the first choice of rear projection for the center blended image so Steve Griner, Director of Media Services, had to think outside the box to ensure that the solution fit the distinct nature of the stage and how the space is used. Specifically, Steve wanted to avoid having to fly bulky equipment in the middle of the venue to support front projection, potentially causing changes to existing lighting systems and impacting ambient noise levels.
Steve was delighted when he discovered the ET-DLE030 ultra-short throw lens, which he installed on four of the six high-powered PT-DZ870U projectors to create bright, clear 100-inch images from only 2.7 feet away. The award-winning PT-DZ870U projector also features a Multi-screen Support System (with edge-blending and color-matching), enabling the projectors to create one seamless image across the long, horizontal 40' x 7' screen. Additionally, Multi-unit Brightness Control automatically corrects any fluctuations in brightness that occur over time in individual projectors, ensuring that the dynamic projection from the multiple projectors is uniform until the next lamp replacement cycle. Steve’s team also utilized the Advanced Geometric Correction options of Geometry Manager Pro on the four blended projectors. Flanking the center screen are two 14.5' x 8' rear-projection side screens that each leverage ET-DLE030 short-throw lenses.
Steve and his team worked alongside integrator Mabe Production and Installation (MPI), which helped them design and implement the project. “Their diligence, creativity and expertise were an invaluable part of this process,” added Steve. Another benefit to choosing Panasonic was that it fostered a consistency of products as the school purchased four HD AK-HC3800 cameras last summer for the television studio. As a result, users do not need to be retrained because they don’t have to learn a new manufacturer, and interoperability was enhanced. “The equipment speaks for itself, so it is very easy to justify. We purchased those cameras for the broadcasting program, which is really student-centered. Using professional-grade equipment like the cameras and the projectors gives our students an edge because they will leave here with experience using the same professional-grade equipment that they’ll find in the real world. We don’t have to worry about them needing additional training on the job because they’ve been using inferior products,” said Steve.
As an educational institution, the university is always mindful of budget, and there is never enough funding for student productions. The projector and lens system is less expensive than other projectors with its same capabilities. Furthermore, its long lamp life and filterless and dust-resistant design reduce maintenance costs and labor, resulting in a low total cost of ownership. The new installation allows students to achieve much more with a lot less by reducing the need for graphics, printed materials and rentals — also saving the school money.
This spring, the school hosted its annual event, The Forum, which has boasted keynote speakers such as former President George Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. In the past, it has required the design and purchase of time-intensive and costly sets. This year, the projector installation served as 90% of the set.“The stage is something we can be proud of and truly adds a ‘wow factor’ to the room and overall experience,” said Steve.