Breaking the Bread
Building a future-proof A/V system in a new church site in Hong Kong was the challenge at Bread of Life 611. Richard Lawn reports
The three-storey exterior in Tsuen Wan’s Tsuen Kwai Street may depict a McDonald’s logo and little else, but those with inside knowledge know that the Word of God is being well and truly amplified within. Perhaps reverend Joshua and his wife Delphine Cheung possibly did not understand what they were creating when they established a church in North Point in the name of The Taiwanese Bread of Life Christian Church in 2001. But they caught a wave and their timing was inspirational. As a result the 611 Bread of Life Christian Church rapidly expanded and a new church was soon required on Hong Kong’s mainland. ‘The purchase of a derelict cinema in 2008 set in motion a slow and arduous transformation from that of a movie palace to a house of worship,’ says Kairos KY Li.
Located in a densely populated high rise neighbourhood, government building regulations and planning approvals proved to be the most time consuming element during the six year development. Once granted the church then had to ensure that noise and dirt pollution were minimised. With a clear vision of how the final third floor auditorium should look, the architect was instructed to remove all the horizontal pillars in addition to the corrugated metal roof. The result is that little evidence can now be detected today of the building’s history.
Reverend Joshua Cheung believes that church membership blossomed at North Point as a result of the style of back to basics worship. To emphasise the worship experience, however, the church wanted to draw upon a very powerful A/V inventory to deliver the message. The church realised that its contemporary services in Tsuen Wan may irritate rather than entice locals unless the room acoustics in the 45m width x 40m depth sanctuary were correctly treated with the right acoustic materials. As such, an acoustic consultant recommended that the 1,200 seat room be furnished with wooden materials, absorbers and baffles, whilst the walls should be injected with acoustic foam so as to act as diffusers to get the RT60 to achieve 0.9.
At the same time, church leaders attended other local HOWs in an attempt to better understand their new roots and in doing so unwittingly discovered their desired A/V preferences at Yan Fook Church. Following the service, the 611 leaders immediately realised that their worshippers would be inspired by a similar system in their converted cinema space and therefore made contact with Mr Wan (project director) and Cyril Lam (technical director) at Live Group Limited. Holding impressive CV’s in terms of A/V knowledge and experience, they were employed for over 15 years at the main HK broadcaster - Television Broadcasts Ltd. Having developed a flair for broadcast studio, theatre system design and HD video systems, the duo also possess the technical skills for live events and, as such, they were enlisted by the 611 church leaders to develop their own A/V footprint.
Enlisted to design and install an A/V system encompassing FOH audio and broadcast video production rooms, a motorised truss lighting system, an LED wall and IT network, Live Group clearly relished its appointment. ‘When we were commissioned to design for 611, we were presented with a very different, yet exciting challenge. The most difficult problem for Hong Kong churches historically is the lack of space. Thus, the 611 church project is definitely one of the largest Hong Kong Christian church buildings! We are honoured and excited to have the opportunity to participate, and the church absolutely required the A/V standard to meet the performance and broadcast level,’ says Mr Lam.
‘The clean floor layout for us was like being presented with a blank canvas in terms of what A/V technology could be installed in that space,’ he continues. ‘We continually monitor the selection of what A/V equipment is available on the market in order to satisfy the dynamic needs of our church. With 611 we could not only design the perfect A/V system for their needs, but we could also future proof it for years ahead with the addition of network connections for live video streaming.’
L-Acoustics distributor Rightway Audio is tasked with selling and marketing the French loudspeaker brand throughout China and fully comprehends that listening is the key to a sale. Following site measurement and Soundvision 3D simulations, an L-R FOH system each comprising dual Arc Focus and single Arc Wide elements were selected for the pillar-less sanctuary. The FOH system has been augmented with four SB28 subwoofers, which have been tastefully enclosed in building stone to the front of the stage. Finally, front and side fills are catered for by just four 8XTI coaxial cabinets, whilst power and processing is handled by just one LA4 and two LA8 amplifier controllers. Flexibility has been provided and the performance area can be extended by fully utilising two customised stage boxes installed close to the left and right hand edges.
Performances are mixed at FOH on a DiGiCo SD8 console, whilst an SD9 is utilised at the monitor position, with 48-channel Madi racks running in parallel at both positions. Communications between the console positions and BOH areas are enabled courtesy of a Radial OX8 8-channel microphone splitter and Altair ES-200 intercom belt-packs respectively.
The DiGiCo SD8 and SD9 consoles come with a wealth of onboard effects, but several outboard devices have been rack mounted in the rear control room including a TC Electronics Finalizer, Apex Intelli-Series controller and Drawmer DA-8 distribution amplifiers. Playback is provided via TASCAM sources including an SS-R 200 player.
Although four stage monitors can be used, the ensemble of musicians located at stage left prefer to perform using a myMix personal monitor system comprising of seven on stage mixers that feed with an IEX-16L unit for additional monitoring. myMix equipped with 24-bit/48kHz sound quality to create a stereo mix, input from four to 32 and up to over 500 audio channels, the built-in multi-track recording and playback function allows musicians or singers to improve efficiency for rehearsal and their performance . myMix control can access from any device with a web browser and save changes in files and loading entire projects for all device, it is useful for musicians to remotely editing or copying mixes .
‘The acoustics work well in this space with the wooden materials diffusing and the absorption foam in the walls preventing noise spillage,’ explains Mr Lam. ‘However, the energy emitting from the SB28s meant that bass traps had to be created above.’
The audio system is enabled via Furman CN-3600SE sequencers, which can also be remotely controlled via a tablet. This customised 611 A/V control GUI integrates the audio, video and lighting elements via an HRS Control allowing the technicians to easily and quickly manage each facet of the production. Kissbox power relay I/O can control the A/V system turn on or off in sequence. While the Global Cache RS-232 control interface is used for all Sony TV displays. A rack mounted UDC Pro ECS-Raptor incorporates a UDC Pro Embedded Control Server for networking control of all the A/V device inputs.
Twelve channels of Sennheiser ew-500 wireless microphones are available for the singers and musicians, whilst Pastor Adino is equipped with two channels of Shure UR4D+ with both a head worn lavalier model together with a UR1M hand held transmitter equipped with a DPA Microphones d:fine capsule.
The three main Sunday services are conducted in Cantonese, English and Mandarin, for which two languages can be presented during any one. In addition, a separate 800-seat capacity second hall allows an extra language congregation, such as Japanese, to worship separately during the main service. Three interpretation booths have been built adjacent to the video control room, each of which has been outfitted with Shure Beta58 microphones and Sonifex RB-MTV1 voiceover monitors and two video sources for monitoring. Broadcast matrix routing is pending to enable courtesy of a myMix unit located in the baby room, which also allows the technician to select the language.
Utilising the full extent of the 25m stage, Live Group designed the largest possible LED wall for displaying video content to the congregation. ‘Many aspects had to be considered including the LED wall material, configuration, maintenance and of course the HD resolution display and aspect,’ continues Mr Lam. A central LED wall measuring 2.93m in height x 9.76m in width is composed of 120 individual 488mm x 488mm framed cabinets. Located at a slight angle 1m in front of this central wall are two 2.93m(H) x 4.88m(W) walls, giving the worshipper the appearance that they are looking at a split 20m wall. With a pixel pitch of 3.8mm, the screen resolutions for the left and right walls is 1280(h) x 768(v), whilst the central wall is 2560(h) x 768(v), totaling a 5120 x 768 picture.
‘The high contrast LED display wall can be adjusted so as to refresh rate for HD cameras,’ explains Mr Lam. ‘The brightness isn’t greater than 1,300 nits, but can dim to below 30 per cent without flashing.
‘Maintenance was a vital design aspect for which there are three purpose built staircases built behind each LED walls,’ he continues. ‘There are a total of 240 individual die-cast aluminium cabinets, for which each one has been assembled to be attached into position horizontally using bolts and by a mid-axis lock vertically. Another important aspect to consider was the video path latency from the video camera to LED wall. Noise control of the LED wall was also a concern. Finally, the management of the LED wall had to be user friendly to easily integrate with the audio system, macro key and power sequencing.’ 4K processing for the LED wall is provided courtesy of an Analog Way Smart MatriX Ultra SMX 12x4 seamless switcher, which easily re-sizes any of the input sources.
Sources include three remote Sony BRC H900 cameras and controlled from RMIP10 IP remote units. In addition to a Hitachi SK-HD 1000 HDTV studio camera, the services from the main floor can be broadcast via two Hitachi CU-HD500 multi-format HDTV production cameras. Vinten Pro-Ped pedestal and Vision 10AS pan tilt head can support over 20kg loading.
Located in the video production suite at the rear of the sanctuary, the content for the video transmissions is selected from two Ross Video Carbonite switchers, for which the control panels come with a touch-screen depicting a complete menu. The resultant video signal is transmitted from the Ross Video mainframe to broadcast via two Ross OpenGear 3.0 frames, which aggregate the communication from all of the video cards in the frame to the IP network and KiPro HD video recorder. Monitoring in the production suite is entrusted to Focal CMS65 speakers and Fostex RM2 stereo rack broadcast monitors, whilst the technical team can converse via the ES-200 intercom system.
The tailor made truss suspended by 16 motors above the stage is capable of loading up to 250kg of lighting fixtures. These include 40 sets of ADB profile and fresnel, 40 sets of Thomas PAR, three Varilite VL3000, four VL440 and VL770 spot luminaire moving heads together with four Studio Color 575 wash moving heads all controlled from an Avolites Pearl 2010 console. A combination of Theatrelight NZ and Zero 88 dimmers are located at BOH. ‘The LED walls made it a challenge for us creating a lighting truss that would fit above the stage,’ furthers Mr Wan. ‘We had to install this within a week after the LED screens had been erected and install discrete, protective curtains around them.’
Given their broadcast credentials, Live Group has designed the entire A/V system with redundancy firmly in mind, including the independent electrical path, UPS and parallel back-up system. The third floor sanctuary is interlinked to the second floor and many other adjacent rooms via Cat-5 and fibre-optic networks. This not only allows the flexible streaming of audio and video where required, but it will also ensure that future upgrades and expansions can be performed with a minimum of disruption. ‘The delays that occurred during the construction ultimately benefitted us. As technology developed during this five year period, we could also envelop this into the design.’
Whether it’s Bread for Life or McDonalds, the A/V and lighting technology running through 611 provides much food for thought, global vision.