H.O.W. Installations: Cascade Hills Church

by Thomas S. Friedman
in Features
Altman fixtures proved ideal for lighting the house.
Altman fixtures proved ideal for lighting the house.

A Visual Transformation: Morris Elevates the Video and Lighting Looks at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus, GA

Located in Columbus, GA, southwest of Atlanta and near the Alabama border, Cascade Hills Church is a congregation filled with parishioners from all walks of life who come together for a spirit-filled worship experience.

Like many other churches worldwide, the technical elements behind that worship experience are becoming an important component to the overall sanctuary design.

Seeking an alternative to the aging video and house lighting system it had been using, Cascade Hills Church recently worked with the integration division of Morris and opted to undergo a complete renovation to enhance both the live and broadcast aspects of their worship services.

“We’ve worked with Cascade Hills Church on several design/build installation projects including taking their video from an SD system to an HD system, replacing the current cameras, switcher and projectors, while also retrofitting the house lighting system,” says Andy Bosquet, director of engineering and purchasing at Nashville, TN-based Morris.

“We worked on the overall design for about a year and half, converting the space so that they could better focus on the broadcast and streaming aspects of their worship services,” Bosquet adds. “While working on the project, we also noticed that the sanctuary was very dark, so we started having discussions on updating the house lights as well to really help the space take on a new life.”

Morris looked after the installation of video and lighting gear.

‡‡         The Video Upgrade

First turning their attention to the renovated video design, the team at Morris fully understood the church’s desire for the system to better handle the demands of live and web streaming broadcasts.

“I know a lot of churches are interested in dipping their toes into video, whether it’s a single camera shot for web streaming, or a multi-camera broadcast like Cascade Hills Church,” says Bosquet. “Obviously, the first challenge always comes down to budget and the existing infrastructure of the technical design. Initially, everything was in SD, and they were using an analog switching and routing platform. But with the new digital Ross Video equipment, they now have a lot more flexibility, capability and expandability. The Ross platform gives them the ability to switch and route everything they need and provides plenty of room for future growth.”

Morris used a Ross Carbonite Black Plus 2ME Switcher and the Chameleon Series 17-button control panel for a camera shading station. They also upgraded the camera system with three new Hitachi Z-HD5000 cameras to further complement the new video design.

“Cascade Hills Church has been doing a standard broadcast for a few years now with the local cable access channel, but moving into the web stream required a deeper focus on thinking about what the people at home would see, plus the I-Mag video for the live congregation,” says Dustin Burggraaf, Morris project manager.

“To create the looks we needed, we are now using three HD cameras, with two center cameras for a tight shot and a wide shot, and one camera on a jib that gives them a lot of flexibility to show movement throughout the service,” Burggraaf adds. “We were also able to connect their additional cameras, leading to a total of seven possible camera positions.”

With the production elements coming together, the church then needed an updated video control center to fully take control of the live and broadcast feeds. Needing a bit more space for the new HD workflow, Morris revitalized the old production space using custom made furniture to maximize space and usability.

“To build out the control room for the project, we knocked out a couple of walls and renovated the space that had previously been used for rear projection,” says Burggraaf. “This allowed us to simply go through the floor for a level one access, and then through the walls for the control room access. The space transformed from an old-school style broadcast control room to a much more modern setup that really gave them the freedom to create the video design they wanted.”

The view from FOH.

‡‡         Improving the Lighting

As the Morris team completed the video design, the need for another renovation became apparent. Understanding how the worship environment would be seen through the lens of an HD video system, the design team turned their focus to the house lighting and theatrical lighting to further enhance the worship experience.

“The center atrium of the sanctuary is about 35 feet wide with a trim height at the apex of about 60 feet,” Burggraaf notes. “With the previous house lights, many of the areas were measuring levels of brightness as low as one foot candle. Additionally, due to the high trim height, the church was spending about $8,000 a week anytime they needed to rent an atrium lift to change bulbs. In the redesign, we needed to get everything down to an even trim height of about 30 feet for an even coverage, but then flanking the center atrium on each side, there was also a lower drop ceiling, plus we had an under-balcony location too. We actually needed three fixtures (a mixture of pendants and recessed cans,) but they had to have a similar color temperature, look, control type and dimming curve.”

As the renovation team began their search for the specific products that could solve their design challenges, the form factor of the Altman Lighting 100-watt recessed house light caught their attention and led them to the complete Chalice family.

“Once we started looking at LED fixtures on the market, our research continued to point us to the Chalice family of LED house lights,” Bosquet says. “For the under-balcony fixture, we wanted a 100-watt recessed fixture, but we only had about 10 inches of clearance. Since the Altman Lighting 100W Chalice recessed can offers an 8-inch clearance, this got us looking at the entire family which also included the 150W recessed and 150W pendant fixtures as well.”

With the product solution now identified, Morris installed a total of 86 Altman Lighting Chalice LED house lights into the Cascade Hills Church sanctuary, all controllable by either the lighting console or a wall-mounted architectural control station.

‡‡         Before and After

“Looking at the before-and-after of Cascade Hills house lighting system, the transformation is stunning,” says Danny Rosenbalm, president of Morris Integration. “Our goal at Morris is to begin with the end in mind. Every church we work with is unique, and we can’t do an effective job for our clients if we don’t listen and understand what the desired outcome is. In order to help our clients achieve the impactful worship environment desired, we design and pre-viz for virtually every project. This allows us to know with a high degree of confidence that our proposed systems are not just technically and visually accurate, but also provide the best level of accountability from a stewardship standpoint. Following this approach with our clients has proven, time after time, to provide the most bang for the buck and realize the largest return on investment. Like my dad always said, ‘measure twice, cut once, and make it count!’”

“Morris has been a joy to work with. We knew we were ready to upgrade, but were unsure how to get there, so having Morris’ guidance has been great,” says Clint Hudson, worship pastor at Cascade Hills Church. “We worked through design and budget for quite some time, and the team was very gracious as we worked through that process. It has literally been a night-and-day transformation of our audio, video and house lighting needs and it has taken our worship services to the next level.”

Now complete, the worship services for Cascade Hills Church are now streaming online with live broadcasts on Saturdays at 4:30 and 6 p.m., as well Sundays at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

For more information about Morris, go to www.experiencemorris.com.