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What is Environmental Projection?

What is Environmental Projection?

By Camron Ware on February 24, 2014

How Environmental Projection Can Draw People Into A Worship Experience

If you're involved in media in the Church in any way, you have probably heard of Environmental Projection and how it's one of the most dynamic and cost-effective ways to enhance your worship space with imagery. I want to share some ways to better use EP but first I think it's important to understand why we are using Environmental Projection and where it comes from.

At first glance, Environmental Projection appears to be incredibly simple - shine a projector on a wall and show an image. However, it's so much more important and so much deeper than that. When you use Environmental Projection intentionally, it can actually draw people's minds and spirits into worship and in contrast when it's used poorly, it can be an entertaining distraction.

When I first started doing EP at my church, it was out of a desire to fill our blank white walls with subtle texture and color in order to surround the congregation with a focused, thematic purpose that originated from the worship element. The heart of Environmental Projection ties back to the ancient cathedrals and churches that used stained glass, mosaic, 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 that? Practically speaking, it all starts with the worship element. When designing Environmental Projection for a worship service, it's important to remember that it is only one piece of the visual puzzle. EP must match your lighting and main screens in order to create a focused and themed environment by matching the color, theme, texture, and tempo of the worship element. It's also important to have relationship and be in communication with your worship team and pastors so the person designing the visual aspects of the service knows what to expect and how to best plan for the worship service.

For example, when I was designing EP at my church and saw on the order of worship that we were going to be singing a favorite hymn of mine, All Creatures of Our God and King, I would think of creation, warmth, and being outside, so I would use a triple-wide nature scene across our sanctuary. With a simple click of a button, the congregation has been taken from the inside of a man-made building to outdoors in God's creation. I would change the lights so they were the same color as the imagery, and make sure to transition the lighting and EP at the same time in between worship elements. Imagine projecting subtle stars across your entire worship space while singing Silent Night during a Christmas Eve service - it's a powerful and breathtaking way to foster a mood of what it might have felt like that Christmas night, and frankly, I don't know of a better way (other than taking your service outdoors) to create that 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 our particular room, I could use the same image across all three of our projectors because of the way our room was laid out. Your sanctuary might be different,so it's important to realize that some content might work better than others, so it's critical that you test your imagery on your walls before a Sunday service.

When you understand that Environmental Projection isn't a screen to be watched, but instead more like 'digital wallpaper', you can start thinking outside the box (literally) and start painting onto your worship space's canvas.

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Camron Ware

Camron Ware (Guest Writer)

Camron is the founder of Visual Worshiper, a design group that specializes in lighting and projection design for churches and events with a passion for creating engaging environments.