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The method behind the magic

By Camron Ware

Environmental projection (EP) is an breathtaking, exciting — and cost-effective way — to “paint a picture” this Christmas season.

In church media circles, environmental projection, or EP, has proven to be one of the most dynamic, cost-effective ways to enhance a worship space. It uses projection technology to “paint” imagery onto the existing walls of a church.

The Christmas season presents a beautiful opportunity to show the congregation what environmental projection can mean during worship. Imagine: You walk into your sanctuary on Christmas Eve night, with soft instruments playing via the sound system. As you find your seat and pause, you notice that, slowly, from the top of the room, white flutters of snow start gently falling around you. As the projected snow grows heavier and heavier, the sound of the choir builds from the stage platform, and you hear people all around you gasp with delight as it’s “snowing” inside your church building.
Painting a picture, indeed!

Know your tools (and your team)

firstbaptistchurchWhen I first started doing EP at my church, it was out of a desire to fill our blank, white walls with texture, color and emotion. I wanted to surround the congregation with a focused, thematic purpose that originated from the worship element.

The heart of EP ties back to the ancient cathedrals and churches that used stained glass, mosaics, tapestries — and even the architecture itself — to convey the truth, love and beauty of God and His creation.

So, how do we best use EP to do all that, today? Practically speaking, it all starts with the worship element.

When designing EP for a worship service, it’s important to remember that it’s only one piece of the visual “puzzle.” EP must match your lighting and main screens to create a focused and themed environment. Start by matching the color, theme, texture and tempo of the worship element.

It’s also important to have relationships and communicate with your worship team and pastors. That way, the person designing the visual aspects of the service knows what to expect and how to best plan for the worship service.

Imagine the possibilities! You could project subtle stars across your entire worship space while the congregation sings “Silent Night” during a Christmas Eve service. It’s a powerful and breathtaking way to foster a mood similar to the one on that momentous Christmas night so long ago. And frankly, I don’t know of a better way (other than taking your service outdoors) to create that kind of environment.

I’ve found that using imagery with texture and high color-depth show up best and create the most engaging feel across a room, without being a distraction. In my own church’s sanctuary, I could use the same image across all three of our projectors because of the way our room is laid out. Your sanctuary might be different, so it’s important to realize that some content might work better than others. It’s critical that you test your imagery on your walls before using EP during a worship service.

When you understand that EP isn’t a screen to be watched — that it’s more like digital wallpaper — you can start thinking outside the four-walls “box” and start painting onto your worship space’s canvas.

Camron Ware is the founder of Visual Worshiper, a design group specializing in lighting and projection design for churches and events, with a passion for creating engaging environments. Ware travels as often as four times a week to guide churches through the Environmental Projection (EP) process. 

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