We have had many questions relating to the technology we have in our kids ministry room, so I've enlisted my husband (Sean) to help write this post. He's been a Worship Pastor, audio/video director, and IT guy, and he handles any of the big AVL (audio/video/lighting) changes and equipment in our environment, so I figured he'd be a better source of information. He'll take it from here.
- Yamaha LS9-32 channel mixing console
- 3x Sennheiser EW100 G3 wireless handheld microphones with E835 capsules (these are GREAT for kids ministry- they can take a beating and still work perfectly!)
- 1x Sennheiser EW300 G2 wireless lav pack with a Countryman E6i headset (we went with the EW300 on this one because the sound guy can see at a glance if the pack is muted by the presenter)
- 4x powered Tannoy speakers (2 front, 2 rear)
- 2x ART 705AS subwoofers
- Leprechaun LP-X24 lighting console
- 4x Chauvet Intimidator Scan LED 100
- 4x Chauvet Legend 150 (old, I know, but they still work great after 7 years)
- 6x Chauvet COLORado 1
- 4x Chauvet COLORado 1 VW
- 2x Elation Opti RGB
- Chauvet Hurricane Haze 2D
- Super LED Dome Plus (found this at Spencer's- $40 and has DMX control. It looks great when using the hazer)
- Various Leviton DDS 5600s and Elation Unibars (these allow you to connect any old edison plug into the lighting system)
- Various off-brand can lights (non-DMX) with gels
- Mac Pro (Early 2009) (used to drive our center screen, side TVs, and confidence monitor)
- StarTech USB to HDMI video card (confidence monitor)
- PowerMac G5 (used to drive our environmental projection)
- Matrox TripleHead2Go Digital (used for environmental projection)
- Various HDMI splitters
- 3x HDMI Ethernet Extenders (found at Monoprice)
- InFocus IN121ST projector (center screen)
- 2x Sanyo PLC-XU48 projectors (environmental side screens)
- 2x Panasonic VIERA 42" 1080p Plasma HDTVs
Our center screen was purchased from Amazon (made by Carl of ET) and is 9ft x 21ft (2.35:1 aspect ratio) for just under $300. We made sure to order extra 6" Black Ball Bungees to stretch the screen to the frame. We already had a piece of trussing anchored to the ceiling studs that was previously used for an LED curtain and other lights. Three large threaded chain links to attach the screen to the trussing. The original plan was to use two of the InFocus IN121ST projectors and edge-blend them to get the image spread across both projectors, but the edge-blending module for ProPresenter didn't make it into the original budget, so we ended up just making do with one projector. It's not really as bright as we'd wanted it to be originally, but it still does the trick. The signal for the projector comes out of the Mac Pro graphics card and goes into an HDMI Ethernet Extender (don't go cheap here... the cheaper extenders without power supplies don't deliver a strong enough signal for the projector to keep the image up consistently. We had a lot of trouble with flickering with a cheap extender). Then, we take the signal from the HDMI extender to an HDMI splitter so the side TV's and the center screen have the same image. Sometime in the future, we'd love to get another TripleHead2Go and be able to split the center and side screens, but this would definitely require a more powerful video card on the Mac Pro as well. We use ProPresenter 5 on the Mac Pro to drive the center screen and side televisions. The televisions are a standard 16:9 (1.77:1) aspect ratio, but the center screen is a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, so we actually overshoot the center screen on the InFocus projector, just making sure that the image is wide enough to fill the entire center screen. We adjust the image in ProPresenter to have a resolution of 1280x545 so there's no image bleeding over from overshooting the center screen. It's a little cropped on the TVs, but not enough to worry about and looks fine for most graphics.
The side screens are driven by an old PowerMac G5 running ProPresenter 4 and a TripleHead2Go Digital (only using 2 of the 3 outputs). We used masking in ProPresenter in order to remove the spaces in between the banners and make the image fit. Believe it or not, this old PowerMac G5 has enough power to put images and video on the side screens. It's a great use for an old machine. We ran 50 ft HDMI cables from each side projector to the back of our room (where the PowerMac G5 sits) and used DVI to HDMI adapters to convert the signal. The two Sanyo projectors were just ones we had laying around the church and aren't really powerful, but this is a great use for them. We just bought a couple generic mounts from eBay for these projectors and hung them from the ceiling. The photos below are from the Gen Kids in TV Land set, where we put a "studio audience" on the banners on either side of the room.
The lighting system is pretty standard, as far as lighting systems themselves go. Most of our lights are DMX controlled from the lighting board in the booth. The exception here are the lights we have in our entryway to the kids room (pictured below). The entryway has three Chauvet Abyss LED fixtures, a couple small par cans with gels connected to a timed chaser box, and a gobo projector light. These are connected directly to outlets near the ceiling and are controlled via a light switch.
There are a couple infrastructure/audio/lighting things that I'd like to note here, as they make some of our events work a lot smoother, so if you're planning a new facility, you might want to keep these in mind.
- First off, we have an audio feed from our Worship Center into the GenKids Room. It's tied into an aux on the board in the worship center, and we can feed any mix to the kids room we want. I've used this to pipe in an extra wireless mic, run the same music in the worship center and the kids room, and also keep an eye on the sermon during services so we can hear how close the service is to getting out.
- We keep several extra long mic cables and a portable Mackie speaker and speaker stand in the kids room and can connect it to an aux out of the sound board in the kids room. We can put this speaker outside or in the hallway outside the kids room for announcements during events and for playing music. If we are using both the worship center, kids room, and the lawn outside for a particular event (like the Glow Egg Hunt), we can actually pipe the same music and mics throughout the entire facility with this setup.
- Headsets - I'd recommend getting the 2mm cables for the Countryman E6's, since the 1mm cables that come standard with them are super fragile and break easily. In hindsight, I probably wouldn't have even bought Countryman's at all. I've used the Galaxy Audio headsets, and they sound pretty good and are much more durable than the Countryman's. Best thing is they only cost $200 to replace if kids break them.
- Ethernet jacks - you can never seem to have enough of them around the room. In the back of our room (sound board area) and the front of our room (behind the screen), we have 8 grouped together and we use every one of them. They terminate in a wiring closet and can be crossconnected anywhere needed. You can convert virtually any signal (audio, video, lighting) into ethernet, and this makes a cheap way to get signal to other areas of the room or to other areas of the building.
- Apple TV's - we put an Apple TV and Panasonic television in each preschool room. We run an old Mac Mini server that houses all our preschool media (audio, video, and graphics). This makes it easy to access all our media from any kids ministry room in the building without dealing with DVDs, flash drives, etc.
- Televisions - we have a large TV at the entrance of the GenKids room and at the entrance of the GenKids Jr. (preschool) area. This makes it easy to show announcements, videos, logos, etc. We also have a booth setup right outside of the kids room with a TV that allows us to promo kids events and gives us a central location for signups, etc.
Do you have any neat ideas or examples of your children's ministry audio/video/lighting setup? I'd love to hear your ideas! If you have any questions about how we do things, feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly.