Feature: Upwardly mobile
Feature: Upwardly mobile
Practice makes perfect at RHC in Singapore, where the production team has got their service set up down to a fine art. Richard Lawn pays a visit
Referring to the mount where Christ was crucified, the name Redemption Hill Church (RHC) has since been adopted by many churches around the world. Redemption Hill Church in Singapore is located on the fifth level of the Furama City Centre Hotel, although during weekdays you’re more likely to encounter a corporate event or private function as the 580m2 ballroom is a hired venue. With a scarcity of land available to build a permanent home in the Lion State, lead pastor Simon Murphy and the other church elders decided to take up residence within the hotel for the next season.
Founded in 2008, the church is becoming resigned to the fact that finding a permanent home in Singapore may take many years. ‘The church approached me in 2014 to help them with their A/V as they were looking for their own premises back then,’ commented noted HOW A/V consultant, Robert Soo. ‘Over the four ensuing years, they found nothing in terms of cost and sustainability. When they announced that they would hold their services in a hotel ballroom for the immediate future, I was surprised as it leads to complications in terms of who pays for what and compromises with the owner.’
Despite the word of caution issued by Mr Soo, the hotel and the church are working in unison together. Built in 1982, the pillarless ballroom was equipped with a dating speaker system built into its low 3.8m ceiling. ‘I proposed that the church should try and co-own an audio system for their musical services as this would also benefit the hotel as it would appeal to clientele wanting to host live music. The Furama City Centre Hotel was open to this suggestion and, as such, we approached a number of loudspeaker vendors to demonstrate their systems in this challenging space.’
Ultimately, an L-Acoustics Arcs loudspeaker system proved to be the best for the venue as well as their style of music. ‘Systems integrator PAVE fully understood the nature of the room and their Arcs Wide and Arcs Focus configuration provided best in terms of even coverage, intelligibility, musical quality and power handling,’ furthers Mr Soo. Given the layout of the 500-capacity ballroom, aesthetics and operational requirements were considerations that had to be factored in. ‘Owing to the low ceiling and wide layout of the room, the close proximity of the congregation to the stage, plus the need to divide the ballroom into two operationally independent spaces (operable wall in the middle), the loudspeaker configuration consists of four very carefully positioned and angled loudspeaker clusters that provide a very even sound coverage and high gain before feedback.’
The successful design consists of one Focus and one Wide cabinet suspended horizontally together with a single 18-inch SB18 subwoofer behind it on the same WiFoLift rigging element for low-frequency extension down to 32Hz. Operating within a 55Hz to 20kHz frequency range, the identical physical footprints of the Focus and Wide cabinets allow them to be arrayed together. They differ in the fact that the Wide cabinet offers 30° x 90° (HxV) coverage, while the Focus makes it more suitable on top with the 15° x 90° (HxV) dispersion characteristics, ensuring the acoustic energies are not directed towards the ceiling.
Just three 4x1,000W LA4X amplified controllers provide sufficient headroom for all eight 450W RMS Arcs cabinets and four 700W RMS SB18 subwoofers. In addition, the three controllers come equipped with remote control and monitoring capabilities courtesy of the Cat-5 connection to the LA Network Manager 2.5.2 software including the latest 2.8.4 firmware and 5.8 preset library.
Setup for Redemption Hill Church’s operations starts three hours in advance of the first 9.15am Sunday church service. Located on level three of the hotel, the church headquarters are home to 17 full- and part-time staff who perform a multitude of administrative, technical and theological tasks. The offices also include a purpose-built rehearsal space equipped with ceiling-suspended QSC K10.2 speakers and a Yamaha LS9 console, together with a storage facility for all the audio, lighting and video equipment used each Sunday.
The mobile setup mirrors a touring production facility rather than a house of worship. It distinguishes Redemption Hill as a rather unique and somewhat committed enterprise that can easily adapt its style of service should it require to do so. Titus Tiong’s (RHC's service operations manager) initial task each Sunday at 6.00am is to transfer the flight-cased Yamaha CL5 console up the service elevator and connect the Cat-5 cabling to the Rio3224-D audio input-output box on stage. The 32 microphone inputs are more than sufficient for the worship leaders, singers and musicians. With the addition of a Cisco SF302-08MP switch and the MY8-AE and MY16-AT cards inserted respectively into the rear of the console and I/O box, a Dante network is established with the L-Acoustics speaker system via the LA4X amplifier controllers. Audio signals can also be routed to the Cry Room and the level-three facilities.
‘As we are simply one user operating in a multipurpose venue, it’s important that we minimise the amount of equipment needed each Sunday and that it can be easily set up,’ comments Mr Tiong. ‘Since we started employing this setup in late 2017, we have sped up a lot and further simplified it over time.’ While Redemption Hill’s system operates over the Dante digital network, the hotel ballroom is served by an analogue setup. However, with the addition of a Yamaha MRX7-D processor, digital control has been enabled, providing four user presets via a rear wall controller.
All the equipment is flight-cased including the portable Roland electric drum kit and the keyboard setup. Equipped with wheels, these mobile stages were custom-designed and built to affix to the front of the stage left and right locations. Crucially, their dimensions had to fit within the service elevator allowing for transfer. A brake-lock mechanism ensures they stay in position once set up. A Radial Pro D8 direct box connects the mic inputs from the drum kit to the Rio3224-D, while two Radial J48 DI boxes connect the keyboards.
Two mobile lighting bars remain in the ballroom at all times and are populated by eight EK Lighting 18QX RGBW LEDs and four Silverstar Frenzo ZE2 Fresnel LEDs taken out from storage each Sunday. Simplified lighting management is provided by a Chamsys MagicQ controller setup next to the Yamaha CL5 console at the rear of the ballroom. ‘Setting up the lighting bar initially took us some time to master, but now we simply raise it into position and fix the lights,’ furthers Mr Tiong.
For its visual requirements, the church prefers an SDI signal path, while the hotel continues to operate over a VGA network. The divisible ballroom is equipped with two electrified L-R screens should a partition be required for separate events. This is ideal for Redemption Hill’s needs as they simply patch into the installed video infrastructure in order to display lyrics and images during the three, 90-minute services. Therefore, the main addition required for full video production is a Datavideo SE-2200 switcher. This accepts up to six PC and camera inputs prior to output on the overhead projectors, while a Kramer VP-200K serves as a distribution amplifier for the computer graphics and Datavideo DAC-60. In addition, DAC-8P units provide HD/SD-SDI to VGA and SD-SDI to HDMI video signal conversion.
Ensuring a clean appearance on stage, monitoring is exclusively an in-ear setup. While the worship leaders and singers prefer a Shure PSM 1000 diversity wireless system combining P10R and P10T bodypack receivers and transmitters, the musicians benefit from myMix personal monitors connected to an IEX16L-A 16-channel input expander. Five channels of Shure QLXD4 wireless are available for which the singers and worship leaders use Beta58 handhelds, while Pastor Simon conducts his sermons via a clip-on WL185 lavalier condenser. Eight iOS tablets are used by the musicians and singers on stage, negating the need for physical printed scores. These are downloaded with the OnSong App, which not only synchronises chords and streamlines performances, but it also allows the worship leader to update a song during the service.
‘We were initially worried that the weekly transformation setup prior to Sunday services would be too much for our volunteers,’ Mr Tiong confesses. ‘However, our continued dialogue with Robert and then PAVE really put our minds at ease. Stephen Teo and the PAVE team fully understood our requirements and created a system we are more than happy to operate. When you’re having to set up and dismantle a full A/V and lighting system, it’s paramount that you minimise the equipment required and that it all serves a purpose.’
Now fully experienced and rehearsed in their Sunday operations, the time now needed to prepare has reduced sufficiently to allow a window of opportunity for breakfast ahead of the first service.