Recognized as one of the grandest mosques in greater Toronto, the Jaffari Community Centre (JCC) is an Islamic, 161,000-square-foot multi-faceted facility that hosts cultural, religious, educational, athletic, recreational and communal activities for its membership, providing opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth. The JCC features a spacious main prayer hall with large windows and abundant natural light. Legacy projector systems previously served the expansive space, but over time their reliability and performance had declined, prompting mosque leadership to preemptively upgrade in order to avoid dealing with the problems resulting from a failure.
“We looked at replacing those systems with newer laser technology projectors but considering the use of the space and having to combat sunlight and fluorescent lighting, we decided to explore other options,” said Syed Mahdi Rizvi, JCC audio visual team lead.
Previously, as a strategy to manage the amount of light in the prayer hall, the mosque had some of the lights rewired and placed on a separate circuit so they could turn off specific lighting fixtures to help improve visibility of the projector screen images. “We would replace the bulbs on a regular basis but the time intervals between replacements was getting shorter and shorter,” said Rizvi.
“We would even replace them preemptively before a high traffic program where we knew we needed an optimal image. But it was becoming a high maintenance item and we didn't want to keep going down that road.”
The JCC audio visual team initiated their own research and consulted with different audio visual vendors on possible solutions. Ultimately, they retained Ontario-based Branch Audiovisual which in turn partnered with Planar on a solution that involved two nearly 16-foot-wide, 9-foot-high Planar® MGP Complete™ 217-inch LED video walls with a 2.5mm pixel pitch (MGP2.5). The video walls are mounted 11 and a half feet above the ground on either side of the main pulpit area in the prayer hall.
“As a non-profit with budgetary constraints, the client had to be mindful in terms of their spending on this project. That’s where Planar MPG Complete came in,” said Jorge Rodriguez, director of project management at Branch Audiovisual. “The solution met their budgetary needs and at the same time, gave them the biggest bang for their buck. Value, price, technology and the robustness of the product are what drove them to the Planar MGP video wall.”
Fostering a deeper audience connection The new Planar MGP Complete LED video walls have dramatically improved the visibility of displayed content throughout the prayer hall, according to Rizvi. “We achieved the brightness and the clarity we needed. Those were the two biggest issues that affected us and we were able to solve them with these video walls. As soon as you walk into the prayer hall from any side door or if you're standing in the very back—you can look at the screens and easily see text and content.”
Clarity of content is especially key, Rizvi points out, for the Imam to meaningfully relate to the audience during religious sermons. Within the prayer hall, mounted PTZ cameras are used to relay a live feed of the Iman on the Planar MGP Complete LED video walls when he is speaking, allowing the crowd to see his face clearly.
“There are many parts of the sermon that cater to the emotional wellbeing of the audience and the facial cues of the speaker are key in this regard,” Rizvi said. “Being able to see a person’s expressions as they describe a scenario or tell a story is important for building that connection.”
The mosque regularly uses the LED video walls with prayer ceremonies to display text for people to follow along as they recite the prayers. They also occasionally show videos from other religious centers or display live streams from around the world. And whenever they can, they will show a sign language interpreter on a lower corner of the screens for the hearing impaired.
“Everything even if it’s very text heavy shows up nice and clear,” Rizvi said. “Before, we would hear things like, ‘The screens are not bright enough,’ or, ‘It’s too blurry,’ and now we don’t hear any of those concerns.”