Laser puts a brighter shine on London events

Church House Westminster upgrades flagship Assembly Hall to 4K.

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Located just minutes from the Houses of Parliament, and within view of Westminster Abbey in a quiet courtyard, the Grade II-listed building offers 19 air-conditioned spaces and accommodates over 800 events a year - a diverse range from London Fashion Week shows to corporate meetings, conferences, wedding receptions and Church of England events. 

The period interior features plenty of wood panelling and ornate chandeliers, but the period décor should not leave anyone fooled. The building has the very latest AV equipment throughout, offering video conferencing capability, fibre Internet access and streaming technology to ensure it remains one of London’s top event venues.

The building’s centrepiece is the Assembly Hall, a cavernous 600-capacity space with a 30-foot glass dome and polished oak panelling. The room’s previous Panasonic setup had been in place since 2007, and featured a single lamp-based projector with a small 3.65m pull-down screen. Combined with the 4:3 aspect ratio the setup was beginning to look tired and, for visitors, behind the times.

The venue’s management felt that as the room was also being treated to a full audio upgrade that switching to laser would provide the power and brightness the room deserved, and would help successfully bridge the extremely long 20.5m throw across the space. With the old projection system lamps coming to the end of their life, it was the ideal time to update and future proof the AV capability within the room.

“We needed to future proof to remain competitive, and offer what people are coming to expect from a venue,” said AV Manager Ian Locke. “We’re constantly moving and adjusting things to accommodate the needs of different events, and that flexibility is I think something special that we offer, so we needed a projection solution that would fit in with this type of working.”

Church House worked with their integrator AV Communications to examine and compare the latest technology that was on offer. “We did some side-by-side testing with various other manufacturers’ products, but Panasonic sealed the deal because of the brightness. We’d also already had some good experience using Panasonic with the old system.” 

The venue chose two PT-RQ13 4K laser projectors, which use edge blending to project onto a slightly curved screen, maximising the amount of space available on stage for events as well as offering a wider angle for viewing. 

AV Communications also installed three Panasonic AW-HE130 PTZ cameras, a bespoke Draper 6m x 3.375m screen and Kramer fibre cabling as part of the project, along with an Analog Way Ascender 48 and Veritage - in all, creating a powerful system that doesn’t feel out of place in the high capacity space.

The new setup gives clients the choice between a curved wide screen, an extra wide screen, and a centre or dual screen stage set. Depending on the event the two 10,000 lumen projectors can also be stacked to give extra brightness, using Panasonic’s geometric adjustment software to make sure the combined images are lined up accurately and effectively.

“I love the software, it makes our work a lot easier. It turns what could be several hours' work into a ten minute job, with one click. It’s invaluable because we are always taking the screens down, adjusting things and moving them around so nothing ever ends up in exactly the same place. The software is crucial for us to help speed the setup along,” continues Ian Locke.

"We did some side-by-side testing with various manufacturers, but Panasonic sealed the deal"

The new system was installed in August 2016 with the first event taking place in early September. Thanks to the extremely long 20,000-hour laser light source Church House isn’t expecting to have to perform maintenance any time soon, as there are no lamp or filter changes deal with.

Meanwhile the quad pixel drive technology in the projectors use a specially engineered high-speed DMD chip to shift each pixel vertically and horizontally, effectively quadrupling the pixel count to produce an extremely clear image and liquid-smooth video, and achieving beyond-4K resolution.

The PT-RQ13 features a DICOM Simulation mode, making it suitable for medical presentations and training. “For a room this size the brightness and power of laser was obviously really important, but we also like the level of colour reproduction they achieve. We have a lot of medical conferences and events, and they really need accurate colours in their projection otherwise the utility and impact of what they’re displaying is lost.”

“We’re pleased to be ready for the peak event season with the latest laser projection technology; early feedback from clients has been extremely positive and we look forward to hosting many successful events with the new system. As our main flagship room, we put a lot of work into choosing the right AV setup as it’s the largest space we have here, and I think it’s paid off.”

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