It seems that every so often a new buzzword or acronym hits the consumer electronics scene and gets everybody talking. With its first U.S. broadcasts in 1998, high-definition video(HD) has kept the tech-world on edge with its promises of breathtaking visuals due to its enhanced resolution.
While relatively few people on the street can explain what HD is all about, it is quickly becoming the standard for home entertainment and commercial presentation. Whether you understand the technical differences or not, most people would agree that you can definitely see the difference.
Four Reasons The Time is Right for HD
Recently HD has been picking up steam in the house of worship market. More and more churches are finding the advantages of HD hard to deny, and many are making the leap from the old standard to the new.
REASON 1: Wide Screen Wins in Worship
Most true HD projectors for church presentation have a 16:9 aspect ratio (the ratio of screen width to height) , which is commonly referred to as “wide screen”. Prior to the HD boom, most projectors found in churches had a 4:3 aspect ratio.
There are three primary advantages of the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio generally associated with HD video projection in the church:
Most of the emerging video content is widescreen. The 16:9 widescreen format has become the standard for consumer-based content, like movies, as well as a lot of content created for worship applications like MediaShout or EasyWorship. As time passes, 4:3 content will become increasingly rare. (Your stock in that library of 4:3 motion backgrounds and script files will plummet as widescreen gains ground!).
Most flat-panel displays are already widescreen. The majority of flat panel LCDs and plasmas on the market are designed for 16:9 presentation. If the main video projection system is native 4:3 and the distributed video system in the lobby, cry room or down the hall consists of standard consumer plasma or LCD displays, there is a problem: either separate video content will have to be created for both 4:3 and 16:9 displays or video content programmed for 4:3 will show up on the 16:9 displays improperly. Whether it’s the extra time needed to create duplicate content for the different formats or the poor visual impression of content that doesn’t fit right on the screen, it is easy to see that each of these scenarios is undesirable.
Widescreen presentation requires less ceiling height. Many worship spaces have low ceilings or incorporate sloped ceiling architecture that limits the vertical space available to accommodate large projection screens. In many applications 16:9 screens can deliver a larger useable display area than a 4:3 display of comparable height.
REASON 2: HD Looks Better-Than-Real-Life.
We’ve all heard about the technical advantages HD enjoys over SD video. Long-story-short, when it comes to resolution of detail and overall video quality, HD wins hands-down. Since most video projectors are inherently in the HD resolution realm, HD material naturally suits projected images well.
Also, as the technology has progressed, it has become less expensive, and there are now low-cost HD cameras on the market that can deliver significant improvements to image quality, specifically when used to magnify the live video of the pastor or worship leader on the main projection screens (commonly referred to as Image Magnification or IMAG). HD IMAG provides a stunning life-like representation of gestures and facial expressions that far exceeds the capabilities of a comparable SD video system.
REASON 3: HD Won’t Be Obsolete in 5 Years?
Research Shows… It’s worth mentioning that since most consumer displays have moved in the direction of 16:9 widescreen presentation, it has become a more familiar format for the average person. It’s also worth mentioning that Barna Research reported in 2005 that thirty-three percent of American households claimed to have a home theater system. It won’t be long before the average person on the street expects HD in their church.
It has taken 30 years for HD to arrive and begin to unseat SD as the standard of choice among consumers, and HD represents a significant improvement to the original standard. Taking this history into account, It is very reasonable to assume that HD will enjoy a long and healthy life before we see a new standard creep onto the scene.
REASON 4: The HD/SD Price Gap is Shrinking
When HD first hit the scene, it was very expensive and very complicated to implement. Every day the price gap between HD and SD has gotten smaller, and it won’t be too long before every major television network broadcast is presented in HD. As the demand has continued to grow, manufacturers have made new advances that have brought HD video into the realm of possibility for many churches.
So to recap, HD is becoming the standard in churches because it offers a number of significant advantages over the old standard:
- benefits of widescreen
- superior image quality
- long life-expectancy
- improved cost/value
Any church looking to purchase a new system or upgrade an existing system should definitely consider the move to HD as part of their media systems master plan.