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What if the Next Big Thing isn’t the next BIGGER thing?

By Craig Janssen

North Coast Church started in a warehouse in Vista, California. When they outgrew their space, they decided to rent another warehouse and put a video feed in it. They didn’t want it to be a substandard experience to the main room, so they added tables and offered coffee creating a completely different atmosphere to the main space. It was so successful that not only do they now have four venues on that campus—each with a signature feel—they also have campuses in Fallbrook, Escondido and Carlsbad.

With the success of North Coast’s (and other innovator churches), multi-venue, multi-site approach, thousands of churches across the nation began to adopt the model. Rather than building a large mothership, the churches have invested in smaller satellite venues. The technology that makes this possible? A large video screen and the ability to capture and stream from one venue to another. Simple technology used in a new way to address the scalability issue while giving attendees the chance to customize their experience. This trend in the worship market still hasn’t peaked and is also present in performing arts facilities around the world.

The New Scalability

Are you familiar with Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail”? The name refers to a graph that starts out high, then drops off and continues on in a long tail. The “head” of the graph represents the big hits. Like Beyoncé or the Rolling Stones. The “long tail” of the graph represents the small sales like Paris café music or cello rock. Anderson asserts that there are more total sales in the sum of the long tail than there are in the head. The previous challenge was cost in distribution. In the digital world, that barrier has gone away.
Technology is giving us new ways to meet the challenge of scalability—unlike before when we only had one: build it bigger. (I live in Dallas, which is the ultimate ‘build it bigger’ when it comes to sports and worship venues.)

The trend in urban design to more human-scale streetscapes is reflective of a cultural shift toward scalability.

Scalability in Entertainment

With most of the entertainment venues in which we work, venues build to a maximum size and leverage technology to take it smaller. While working with HKS and HMMLM on the Irving Entertainment Complex design concepts, the technology strategies included moving seating modules, scalable ceiling elements, and audio systems to accommodate a variety of configurations. Why? Entertainment venues lose money when dark, and there is intense competition for drawing the big events. We have navigated similar design challenges with HKS to achieve scalability at the Galaxy Entertainment Complex in Macau.

Scalability in the Arts

When working with Gehry Partners at the New World Center in Miami, the client’s desire was to take a 700-seat concert hall global. The first step was to take the concerts outside of the walls. Idibri designed the projection system so that the concerts can be shown on the exterior wall of the building facing the park outside of the Center. We also designed the Internet2 capacity which the New World Symphony is famous for in connecting composers and master teachers around the globe with students in the hall.

Scalability in Sports

In large sports venues, most of the recent fan experience breakthroughs have less to do with new technology and more to do with leveraging existing technology in new ways to create an experience users can hold in their hand. Fans are now a part of the “big” experience by scaling it down with an app on their iPhone or Android, making open wi-fi coverage in the venue a must so fans can instantly share an Instagram photo to the large screen display or follow the audio mixer on Twitter to make song requests.

As you talk with your clients about scale, Idibri is available to help develop creative technology strategies to support the experience. We’ve shared about the shift from presentation to collaboration and the shift to convergence of control. We would love to dialog about the shifts you are seeing.

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