Tim Ottley, Lighting Director for Asbury United Methodist Church, Tulsa, is a great advocate of ArKaos MediaMaster PRO which he uses on an ArKaos PRO Stadium Server to create his stunning environment projection mapping within the interior of the church. 

Following on from the success of the Easter presentation last year, Ottley is already planning more superb visuals to enhance the upcoming Easter celebrations.

“Environmental projection in church is such a leap forward from the more usual form of presentations on a screen or series of screens,” says Ottley. “Before we started using projection mapping, we used a centre screen and two white curtains either side to show our visuals, but this looked boxy and square, and gave the congregation a passive experience, rather like watching television. But church is not a passive environment. It is a gathering place which brings people together where the experience and the moods within a room are paramount. Environmental projection is advantageous as it envelops the congregation in a much more active, engaging way.”

The interior of Asbury United Methodist Church is vast and offers huge potential as a projection surface. It is over 300ft wide and between 30-60ft high, but it has a baptistry where the centre ‘screen’ would be, and organ pipes to the left and right which, being rounded and shiny, take away much of the detail of a projection. “I knew with MediaMaster I would be able to map around or moderate these obstacles in a way that works for the room, and wrap the imagery over all the nooks and crannies, obscuring or accentuating the architecture as I wish,” says Ottley. “So last Easter, I made it my goal to change the way we presented things and to use ArKaos MediaMaster to its full extent to really bring the church environment to life.”

Working with a graphic designer, Jason Yang, of Invisible Element, Ottley created an animated narrative of the Easter story as an introduction to the service that followed.

“Inspired by a really old film I had seen where the stained glass came to life, we decided to animate the Easter Story in stained glass,” explains Ottley, “from Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Jesus in the garden praying, the crown of thorns, Jesus carrying the cross, the crucifixion, the tomb and finally the resurrection. Each scene was created as an individual animation by Jason, and then I created an appropriate surface for each one, using the Arkaos mapping software to shape and place each one. This allowed us to have amazing control over each image and use the maximum resolution of the projectors to allow the colour to be as vivid as possible.

“The final images were enhanced by music provided by both our traditional and contemporary music departments. We also layered in the sound of glass – rather than wood – to complete the effect. The image of a stained glass Jesus carrying a cross over 100 feet of the sanctuary with the sound of scraping glass was very powerful.

“The beauty of MediaMaster is that it allows you to build up sophisticated visuals by layering. I can take a single image, shape it to the projection surface for which it is destined, and then do the same with other images, layering multiple surfaces onto a single projection space to build up complex pictures.

“MediaMaster is super-effective as it allows you to do this inside the software. Then there are lots of built-in effects control, for example, I can change the speed of playback to match the music, change the colour, remove all the black from an image. This adds up to a very effective, flexible system which speeds up the rate at which I can work.”

The video footage was projected through five 20,000 lumen Digital Projection projectors and Ottley was able to split some surfaces between the projectors. “It was easy to combine the surfaces and shape them to individual projection positions,” he says.

“Having built the surfaces for the room and established the masking, it is now very easy to change the presentation simply by introducing new images from the image library. For example, we had only a short period of time to prepare for last year’s Thanksgiving Service, so I was able to take images from the library we have built over the last few years, programme them into the surfaces I already had mapped for the room and programme these into the lighting desk to be cued like another lighting fixture. It’s a very quick and easy way of working.”

ArKaos is distributed in the US by Toronto-based A.C. Lighting, Inc. www.aclighting.com