Ladywell Convent is the home of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM), who are an International Religious Congregation of Catholic women who travel across the world helping others through their love and compassion.
Ladywell is one of their largest properties, based near Guildford in Surrey and is surrounded by a beautiful area of gardens and green space, which attracts visitors for retreats and conferences. At the heart of the building is a large chapel, with an incredible hand-built mosaic on the front wall which has been beautifully cleaned and restored in the last decade.
Ladywell's size has increased over the years, but the chapel has always been at the heart of the building, acting as the focal point for prayer and reflection.
APi Sound and Visual were contacted to provide a quotation for a new audio-visual system, with sound and live streaming on top of the agenda. With a domed ceiling and hard surfaces all around, the chapel is a very reverberant space, meaning the new sound system needed to be designed very carefully to be capable of providing clear and intelligible speech throughout.
Any live streaming system had to be simple to operate but be of high quality, for it to be viewed by other Sisters across the globe. “An important factor of the design process is always finding out from the client how much they want to interact with the system on a day-to-day basis”, says APi’s managing director Andy Pidsley. “For this project, it was clear that minimal interaction was desired, but it would still be useful to have physical controls when required for things like microphone level adjustment.”
One unique factor which had to be considered when designing the live streaming system was that the client wanted the camera to always be streaming to their website, so it could be viewed at any time across the world. This meant APi had to be sure that the streaming equipment they installed would be reliable enough to cope with this demand.
APi decided on Audac ultra-slim loudspeakers, distributed throughout the chapel and positioned close to the seating positions around the outside of the space. This ensured that sound did not have to travel far to reach the listeners, which in turn reduced the amount of reverberation the sound system would create.
The sound system could be controlled either by the wall-mounted control panel (pictured below) or through the iPad app which was customised by APi’s engineers to make user interaction as simple as possible. This gave the users a choice of how they felt most comfortable operating the system.
The constant stream demand of the camera meant APi had to test and implement a unique setup for the camera, which reboots it at midnight every night to ensure there are no issues during the day. This PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) camera gives a variety of shots which can be used during services and a high-quality feed from the sound system is sent to the stream, so those watching online can hear clearly.
APi's custom control interface for moving the camera position was installed in the vestry area, which gives the ability to change the camera view when required during a service.
Ladywell Convent’s main worship area is now a space where services can be heard and understood not only by those present in the room but also by the members who join in from all corners of the world.
The camera feed is constantly streamed live to the centre's website, allowing anyone from across the world to watch and take in the peaceful setting of the chapel.
“It is a breathtaking space and I am very pleased we were able to deliver an audio-visual system that both produces the required performance, but also ticks all the boxes for being unobtrusive and not taking away from the architecture of the room”, says Andy.
This was actually the last of a number of projects completed at the convent, with activity and conference rooms also having smaller audio-visual systems installed by the team at APi.
APi Communications Ltd, Unit 9, Sandpiper Court, Harrington Lane, Exeter, Devon, EX4 8NS