The eleven-year old projector at the Com Church Dunstable had become dim and dull and could only be used with house lights down low. The church was constantly replacing the lamps and wanted to replace this with a super bright laser projector with low maintenance.
The church owns and meets in the beautifully restored 1000-seat, former 1930s Union Cinema on High Street North. After the cinema closed, it was used as a bingo hall, nightclub and is now Dunstable Conference Centre. It is not just the church that meets here and uses the equipment. Its Compassion Projects make its facilities freely available for any charitable organisation in the area.
Senior pastor, Julian Richards, explained: “Compassion Projects was established to make our venue available for free to charity initiatives from around our local community. The Autism Cinema and Dementia Cinema have been running once a month for more than two years now and last summer we held a six-day Soft Play Cinema event for the local community to come and enjoy, completely free.
“We applied for a grant to The National Lottery to help us to upgrade our equipment so that we could continue to extend these facilities to even more groups. And we would like to thank The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Awards for All), for making available £10,000 as a grant for projection equipment, to reinstate the large screen look of the cinema for local groups and community outreach projects.”
The Autism Cinema enables young adults to watch a film in a large open space without the constraints of a regular cinema. The Dementia Cinema attracts visitors from local care homes, and gives older people the chance to watch an old style movie in a setting with a real sense of nostalgia.
They selected the powerful ZU1050 laser projector from Optoma. This needed a long throw lens as it would be installed 23m back from the 8m x 4m screen which is built into the stage.
This 10,000 lumens MultiColor DuraCore Laser WUXGA projector offers seven interchangeable lens options, has a built-in edge-blending and warping processor and offers portrait and 360-degree orientation for maximum installation flexibility. It also has HDBaseT to simplify cabling requirements.
Optoma’s DuraCore laser range champions an industry-leading laser light source delivering a minimum of 20,000 hours in full brightness and features an airtight optical engine that has been independently certified as IP6X for dust resistance.
Julian said: “Our old projector was once 5,000 lumens but it is nowhere near that now, meaning we couldn’t screen anything with house lighting – and it was massive! Our new projector is literally a quarter of the size.
“As with any old building, it is quite a dusty environment. We didn’t want a projector that needed regular changes to filters or lamps – not just due to the expense of this but also because it is installed in front of the balcony on a truss, so fairly inaccessible – which is another reason we went for laser.”
Julian said: “This projector is like night and day to our old one! Sharp and bright, it is an absolute joy to have. I really cannot fault it. We can now give people that big cinema experience again.
“Visitors from the Autism Cinema sit right at back of the large auditorium and the imagery is crystal clear and vibrant, even in the furthest seat from the screen. And the older people that attend the Dementia Cinema love coming back here. Sitting in this beautiful old cinema, with its original art deco features, triggers memories of visiting here when they were young.
“Through this grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, which enabled us to upgrade our equipment, together with income from hiring the venue and the Friends of Compassion, a network of organisations and local people that organise and finance local community groups, we expect to more than double free cinema days for our local community to enjoy.
“If you would like to join the Friends of Compassion or want to know more about this amazing community initiative, including the Autism and Dementia Cinemas, please do contact us.”