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AV vs IT THE FINAL SHOWDOWN? INFOCOMM 08 —TRENDS & ANALYSIS

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06

REVIEW

Editorial AV VERSUS IT: THE WAR IS OVER networks. Interestingly enough, this is the same fate suffered just a few years ago in the IT world, when dozens of their data and network protocols began being swallowed up by TCP/IP. And that guy in the little tent over there on the footpath is about to see his data turn into an IP data stream any day now too. In AV, as in IT and telecommunications, the medium has never really been the message. No matter how much our clients may be confused by the fact that everyone who turns up brings a roll of Cat5e blue string and a crimping tool, it falls on us to make the differences clear. AV people are in the business of audio and visual communication; IT people are in the business of data processing; and management and telecoms people are in the data trucking business. Even if we all turn up in similar white vans, toting similar looking tool bags and carrying boxes of rack mounting gear, we service distinctly different parts of the human communications process. Be alert, but not alarmed citizens, the IP Borg is coming to save us all. Vive la différence! Contact AV’s Editor, Andy Ciddor on: andy@av.net.au

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The truth is: there never really was a battle. Sure, there are terrible turf wars still raging in the management structures of organisations ranging from small AV hire companies to transnationals with operating budgets sufficient to buy a couple of European nations, but these are mostly about the titles on letterheads, office doors and business cards, and the numbers of reporting staff. The real battle was won in the early 1980s when R&D projects funded by the US military developed the TCP/IP suite of data protocols. It’s been a downhill run since then as the Internet Protocol monster has devoured everything in the information universe: AV, communications, telephony, IT and, very soon, television, radio and eventually even cinema. Mastering AV has previously meant learning an entire suite of data formats and protocols, ranging from a dozen different flavours of video to a selection of serial digital formats spanning RS-232 to MIDI to projector control. Today, all of those functions have begun morphing into neat little datagrams in an IP stream and suddenly people are saying that AV looks like IT because we use the same types of transmission media and

Not just a magazine www.av.net.au Discussion Forums / Employment News / Pimped Up Lecterns


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Advertising Office: (02) 9975 3337 PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086

Editorial Office: (03) 5331 4949 PO Box 295, Ballarat, VIC 3353

Editor Andy Ciddor (andy@av.net.au) Advertisement Manager: Stewart Woodhill (stewart@av.net.au) Editorial Director: Christopher Holder (chris@av.net.au)

Tim Stackpool is a broadcast technical director, most recently completing the design and construction of a three-studio TV facility for IP Studios in Sydney. After spending 10 years at Channel Nine, Tim founded and remains coowner of production company Sonic Sight. Tim also supplements the [lavish – Ed] income he receives from AV Magazine by assuming the role of Australian correspondent for Global Radio News in London and the Canadian Economic Press.

Publisher: Philip Spencer (philip@av.net.au) Art Direction & Design: Dominic Carey (dominic@alchemedia.com.au) Additional Design: Heath McCurdy (heath@alchemedia.com.au) Deputy Editor Brad Watts (brad@av.net.au) Editorial Assistant: Mark Davie (mark@av.net.au) Circulation Manager: Jenny Temm (jenny@av.net.au)

Live production, pioneering the events market, national touring, and the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs… Systems design and contracting of integrated audio, AV and lighting for education, corporate and worship… Now his parents, who had no idea they had started an entertainment lighting dynasty, can relax with the legitimacy of writing for AV Magazine.

alchemedia publishing pty ltd (ABN: 34 074 431 628) PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086 info@alchemedia.com.au All material in this magazine is copyright © 2008 Alchemedia Publishing Pty Ltd. The title AV is a registered Trademark. Apart from any fair dealing permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. The publishers believe all information supplied in this magazine to be correct at the time of publication. They are not in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. After investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, prices, addresses and phone numbers were up to date at the time of publication. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements appearing in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility is on the person, company or advertising agency submitting or directing the advertisement for publication. The publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions, although every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy.

Graeme Hague worked for the last 20 years in regional theatre venues as an audio, lighting and AV technician. Graeme is a regular contributor to AudioTechnology magazine and was the principal writer for the new Guerrilla Guide to Recording and Production (www.guerrillaguide.com.au). He owns a Maglite, a Leatherman and a wardrobe of only black clothing which proves he is overwhelmingly qualified to write on any technical subject.


Issue 1 64

REGULARS COMMS Readers’ Letters

10

NEWS Includes Infocomm 08 report.

12

TERMINATION Can ‘cheap’ be ‘cheerful’?

82

FEATURES

36

48

34

ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL The sound of a neoclassical edifice is transformed.

24

CLASS ACT UTS’s audiovisual department get the most out of Crestron’s RoomView.

30

HILLSONG REACHES HIGHER Hillsong’s annual DVD/CD recording session shows its audiovisual wares.

34

IN A REALM OF ITS OWN GPT’s Glen Thurecht describes how they integrated the audiovisuals in Canberra’s newest 5-star hotel

40

SCEC GOES HD SCEC provides its own state-of-the-art video editing suites.

44

BANG THE GONGS The MTV Music Awards: make it look good live and it’ll look good on telly.

48

ALL IN FAVOUR SAY 'AYE' Vizcom gives Perth councils clever voting and conferencing systems.

52

SEEING THE BIG PICTURE WA’s Concert & Corporate Products spend up big on Barco screen acreage.

56

BARISTAS & SOLICITORS VideoPro devises a way to get an AMX system to make the coffee.

60

TUTORIALS

68

BOARDROOM ACOUSTICS Andrew Steel demystifies boardroom sound.

64

KEEPING THE UTP CAT IN THE BAG Cat6A is the present future of UTP.

68

WHAT COLOUR IS THAT TEMPERATURE? No need to bluff your way through colour temperature any longer.

70

DIGITAL TV EXPLAINED This Infocomm tutorial lays down the DTV laws.

73

REVIEWS

74

ARX AUDIBOX RANGE ARX’s bundle of nifty nicknacks goes under the microscope.

74

SONY VEGAS 8 The latest iteration of Sony’s nonlinear editor.

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LETTERS

REVIEW

Comms Thanks to all those people who contacted us to show interest in AV magazine prior to publication. We’ve had emails and phone calls from the length and breadth of this nation wanting to ensure they’d be on the mailing list, or volunteering their expertise, or recommending projects. We’d like our letters page to be a vibrant forum, so consider yourself encouraged to engage and contribute so as to enhance the collective intellectual capital of the AV industry going forward. So how do you have a letters page in your inaugural issue? Well, fortunately, as mentioned earlier, we telegraphed the arrival of AV in our sister publications and here’s a taste of the feedback from our would-be readership. REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

We felt this letter, which came into our mailbox from a Nigerian reader — a ‘top official’, no less — would be worth sharing. Can anyone assist this gentleman? First, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and ‘top secret’. We are top official of the federal government contract review panel who are interested in imporation of goods into our country with funds which are presently trapped in Nigeria. In order to commence this business we solicit your assistance to enable us transfer into your account

the said trapped funds. The source of this fund is as follows; during the last military regime here in Nigeria, the government officials set up companies and awarded themselves contracts which were grossly over-invoiced in various ministries. The present civilian government set up a contract review panel and we have identified a lot of inflated contract funds which are presently floating in the central bank of Nigeria ready for payment.  However, by virtue of our position as civil servants and members of this panel, we cannot acquire this money in our names. I have therefore, been delegated as a matter of trust by my colleagues of the panel to look for an overseas partner into whose account we would transfer the sum of US$21,320,000.00. Hence we are writing you this letter. We have agreed to share the money thus; 1. 20% for the account owner 2. 70% for us (the officials) 3. 10% to be used in settling taxation and all local and foreign expenses. It is from the 70% that we wish to commence the importation business.  We are looking forward to doing this business with you and solicit your confidentiality in this transation. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter using the above tel/fax numbers. I will send you detailed information of this pending project when I have heard from you.  Yours faithfully,  Dr Clement Okon 

GREAT SCOTT

Here a reader from Russia has got in touch, more than once, with some financial concerns. We’re happy to pass on some happy snaps that also arrived if any readers believe they can assist. NB: We’re not too sure who SCOTT is… My love SCOTT!!! I so am happy to you to write to the letter. I to receive my visa. I very sad without you SCOTT!!! My dear I went to the airport, but to me there informed information, which shaken me. It to me informed at the airport. According to the law of Russia, Each citizen leaving the country should have in itself the sum from cash 3000 $ USA. I tried to explain to them, that all this will be good, but they have told, That the law — the law, and they have no any right on a break it. I cannot wait, when I shall lay with you on a bed, And you grasp and will kiss me. Mine SCOTT, you can send me tomorrow 3000 $ USA. This money will be in me, and on arrival in you I should to show them. I hope , you understand me my SCOTT! I need in you in SCOTT!!! I love you SCOTT!!! Yours for ever Svetlana Want to contribute? Think you've got something more interesting to say than Clement or Svetlana? Wing your missives to the desk of the editor: andy@av.net.au

PIMP MY LECTERN For many of us, lecterns are a rich and important part of our daily lives. Whether it’s trying to find a luminaire that will actually reach the lectern in its current position or patiently explaining to the presenter the subtle functional difference between a Littlite and a gooseneck microphone, lecterns seem to be a regular feature of our waking nightmares. It would be pretty hard to have missed the feature creep in specifications for lecterns over the last few years. Of course, even if your lectern stock is prehistoric, by now you will have decommissioned the SAV slide-changer remote, installed a VGA feed and a LAN connection and, if budget permits, an adjustable task light. The request for new features knows no bounds. In recognition of the important role that lecterns (no, a ‘podium’ is something you stand on) play in the AV industry, AV

magazine is holding a contest to find the most superbly equipped lectern in the Australia. How do I enter?: Simply email us a digital image (minimum two megapixel, high quality JPEG) together with your contact details to lecterns@av.net.au. Conditions of entry: You must own the copyright to the image you submit and grant us permission to reproduce it here in AV magazine and on our website www. av.net.au. All entries will be displayed on the AV website, as they are received. To prove that your image is genuine, get a copy of AV magazine somewhere in the picture. Judging: In acknowledgement of the AV industry’s collective talent for image capture (and skilled use of Photoshop/ GIMP), our panel of expert industry judges will award prizes in three divisions: • Most superbly equipped lectern (un-

retouched). • Most superb temporarily upgraded lectern. • Most superbly equipped lectern (resulting from image manipulation). Magnificent prizes: On offer is one of Gefen’s very useful EXT-USB-2-VGA adapter (RRP: $179) courtesy of Amber Technology. Winner(s) to be announced in an upcoming issue.

Above: This Gefen USB to VGA adapter could be yours . Left: A genuine, unretouched photo of the AV office lectern. As a national publication we naturally opted for the all-terrain touring version.


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REVIEW

INFOCOMM 08 Time to gaze into the crystal ball as AV takes in the enormity of InfoComm 08. Text / Christopher Holder AV/IT CONVERGENCE

Samsung demonstrated its commitment to the digital signage market with this show-stopping 40-panel display.

This year, InfoComm was staged in Las Vegas. And if ever there was a Mecca for the audiovisual industry it’d have to be Sin City. It’s a proverbial Petri dish of AV technologies run amok. The lo-tech, hi-tech and bleeding edge stand side by side, all strobing, blaring, bleeping, burping, fading, flashing, projecting, shining… it’s all going on in Vegas and it’s all turned up to 11. Similarly, the exhibition itself was anything but shy and retiring. Spread over some 50,000sqft of hall space, InfoComm is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to showcasing the industry. InfoComm also acts as a generally infallible long-range forecast for our local industry conditions. Smart operators will make the trip, consult the Uncle Sam oracle and head back to Australia to ready themselves for changes in the market and inevitable movements in customer demands. Didn’t make it to InfoComm? Don’t fret, AV attended on your behalf. And, after three

days of press conferences, meetings, forums and discussions, a handful of trends look to be shaping our immediate future. Some have been brewing for years, others have quickly gathered momentum — sneaking up on us, as it were. Prior to the first public day of the show, AV attended a Manufacturers’ Forum, which was a chance to hear what industry leaders were thinking about trends, challenges and the future. The panel was ably chaired by industry pundit Gary Kayye and included Gerry Remers (President and COO, Christie Digital Systems), George Feldstein (President, Crestron), Michael MacDonald (Executive Vice President, Harman Pro Group), Joe Sigrist (Sr. Vice President & General Manager, Video Solutions Division, Polycom), Jeff Porter (Executive Vice President, Scala). So, as I run through my observations of InfoComm 08 I’ll drop-in the odd quote from these gents. They make for some interesting reading, I’m sure you’ll agree.

AV/IT convergence definitely hasn’t snuck up on us. Pundits have been seeing convergence in their tea leaves for a decade or more. But, dare I say it, the theory of convergence is now a reality. As far as InfoComm was concerned, it was telling to see that NXTcomm 08 had set up camp in an adjacent hall — NXTcomm being jammed packed full of IT and telecommunication products. Convergence was also evident in the fact that the NSCA show is now subsumed into InfoComm, so you could safely say that audiovisual, IT, and entertainment technologies were all under the one roof. As far as the gear goes, the most obvious manifestation of AV/IT convergence is the ubiquitous ethernet port, and manufacturers are seeing a much higher sales rate on network gear as opposed to non-network gear. What’s being piped down these millions of kilometres of Cat5/e and Cat6? Everything! Especially now that analogue video is routinely converted into digital video and transmitted via Cat5/e. It was interesting to hear what Crestron boss George Feldstein had to say on this subject. You want to see AV/IT convergence in action? Then cop a load of Crestron’s hush-hush dealings with Microsoft! “Part of what we’re working on with Microsoft is streamlining the technology behind the transmission of audio and video over IP networks. So we’re working on getting digital video and audio into a projector, or for digital signage… It’s based on our knowledge of AV and Microsoft’s knowledge of IT. So if you buy one of our Reference models for use with digital signage or a projector then you’ll also have access to control and RoomView infrastructure. We’re fulfilling my ultimate vision for convergence.” But what about the vexed question of traditional AV turf being invaded by the IT industry? George Feldstein again: “Last year [at this forum] I pleaded with the AV guys to get IT-savvy and hire IT guys, so the IT industry wouldn’t take over the AV industry — because I’m a member of the AV industry not the IT industry. Now I think the pendulum has swung in favour of AV. For one, there’s the total integration of digital audio and


“with digital signage growing at such at rate, it’s an opportunity to ask: ‘how can I expand my business into more than just hanging screens?’.” /Jeff Porter, Scala digital video in the AV world. I mean, most of our installations transmit video digitally over Cat5. Many of our new products and processes will, right from the get go, convert analogue video to hi-def digital video. So now it brings that transmission of that video/audio info back into the AV realm. “You think about it, what’s the difference between an AV guy and a IT guy? Well the IT guy knows how to program those magic routers and switchers and the IT guy runs Cat5 wire and Cat6. Now the AV guys are running more Cat5 and Cat6 than the IT guys! And many are learning the routers. In future you’ll see more and more transmission via ethernet and the network backbone. And, again, this is not speculation, we have new products on the floor that do this and are developing a ton of new products along those lines. Again, the AV professionals will need to be smart about what the IT people know. IP addresses, routers, switchers, static IPs...” And what about audio? Will its relationship with ethernet be a little less ‘complicated’ in future? Harman’s Michael MacDonald had this to say: “Audio is two or three years behind video in networking products — it’s happening, but three things need to happen before it becomes commonplace. First up, it’s gotta be standards-based ethernet. It can’t be home brew.... or, as one of one of our engineers keeps telling me all the time, it can’t be ‘FredNet’. Secondly, the network port has to be a standard feature on every piece of gear we make. When you go to the level of it being optional then the economics falls apart — the cost goes up and then very few people use it. Lastly, we need a common transport protocol. Until we get that, it’s going to be difficult. There’s a lot of rumbling and I think we’re close.” DIGITAL SIGNAGE

Speaking of ‘Fred’, you’d have to be Blind Freddy to not see that digital signage is going absolutely gangbusters. InfoComm featured all the big players in the flat screen market. And whether it was Samsung, Sony, Pioneer, NEC, Panasonic, Pioneer, Toshiba, Hitachi, LG et al, each were demonstrating how their products would work in retail, exhibition halls, airports and the like. Many, like Panasonic, Samsung or Sony, were also selling the merits of their own digital signage software. It’ll be interesting to see how the chips fall in this regard. It’s hard to see how third-party providers can be knocked off their perch – after all, what integrator wants

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NEWS

REVIEW

You want an unusual aspect ratio? Try this 110-foot by 2100-foot ‘screen’ employed for the Quebec City 400th Anniversary celebrations. It uses 30 x 20,000 lumens Christie projectors.

to be locked into a relationship with just one screen manufacturer? Certainly that’s the way the Scala’s Jeff Porter sees things: “The digital signage market is booming – we have 75,000 systems now in 60 countries. Market reports rate the digital signage sector as growing at a compounded annual growth of 35% — we’ve seen that higher at Scala." “So with digital signage growing at such at rate, it’s an opportunity for AV professionals to take a look and ask: ‘how can I expand my business into more than just hanging screens and running wires?’. It could be the chance to have an application presence that allows you to move up the food chain and provide additional value-add services." “Screens are popping up everywhere and there are opportunities for everyone to take advantage in these different venues; from education, to outdoor, to car dealers, real estate, travel agents, shopping malls, gaming, corporate lobbies, museums, schools, universities, florists and airports. We see it everyday, but that’s where the opportunities are in digital signage.” So what about the IT/AV convergence as it pertains to digital signage? Who stands to make the most out of the digital signage boom? Jeff Porter again: “The likes of the Ciscos of the world haven’t really done the math. After the screens are put up I don’t think the IT guys know what it takes to feed the digital signage ‘monster’. Let’s say you want to provide unique content for all these different screen locations and you want the right message hitting at the right time and to the right people. If you actually do the math on how many mpeg videos you’d need to produce and find out how much bandwidth you need to achieve that — not to mention how much it costs to produce all that content — it doesn’t add up! So you’ve got to have a smart AV system

that actually renders content on-the-fly at the point of playback. As a result, you’re seeing a lot of screens being integrated such that each one is IP addressable. So you put the smarts in the screen and all of sudden you can send different content to different places very easily and without having to have millions of megabytes flying through the network. Pre-rendered content that you couldn’t cost-effectively produce at the end of it. So think about what it takes to feed the monster... " ASPECT RATIOS

As you can imagine, all of the big (and not so big) projection players had all their gear wound up to 11, chucking out some extremely impressive images. Sanyo’s ultra-short throw projector (for placing in compact/hard to reach places) was impressive, but the theme of the show was more about unconventional aspect ratios. It seems that the decision to go from 4:3 to 16:9 is about as mundane as moving from Corn Flakes to Wheaties. Instead why not consider a 20:1 aspect ratio?! Christie’s Gerry Remers has: “Using blending, we’re seeing a move away from 4:3 and 16:9 — there’s now the freedom to move away from established screen sizes and screen types. For example, for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City the government there is putting on a large display. They’ll have 30 x 20,000 lumen projectors running at a 20:1 aspect ratio — 110 feet high and 2100 feet wide. So this talk of 16:9 vs 4:3 is kinda irrelevant when you’re talking about these other aspect ratios. Another example is for a museum in Washington. They have a 90:10 display using five edgeblended DLP projectors. I think this move away from conventional aspect ratios represents a huge opportunity for AV dealers to capitalise on new technology, a technology that’s coming down in cost and complexity.

VIDEO CONFERENCING GOES MAINSTREAM

And, yes, if we didn’t already know it, video conferencing is now a standard means of doing business. Polycom’s Joe Sigrist had this to say: “If you look at the interest created by video communications, it’s certainly expanded beyond the Facilities Department or the IT Department, it's made its way into the ‘C Suite’. So the question is why? It’s a great way to communicate between geographically remote locations, especially in these times to save costs, and it’s green. Microsoft with the way its OCS (Office Communication Server) initiative is going, video is a big part of their plans. So we’re seeing a mainstreaming of video, and changes to the way we all do business.” That’s it for now, but I look forward to seeing more familiar faces at next year’s Infocomm. 

Video conferencing is clearly no longer the niche luxury it once was. And now thanks to sky-rocketing fuel prices it makes sound financial sense for business to invest in VC technology.


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NEWS

REVIEW

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1/ CRESTRON TPS-6X TOUCHPANEL The TPS-6X is a six-inch (150mm) touchpanel that combines the features and functionality previously found in nine other Crestron models — making it wellsuited to a wider range of applications. It is a wireless, tiltcase and permanent panel. As a wired touchpanel, the TPS-6X communicates over Cresnet or ethernet. As a wireless touchpanel, it communicates via RF and IR. The TPS-6X is shipped with both a pre-engraved backlit button bezel and a blank bezel, in a black glossy finish. TPS-6X ships with default settings to go to sleep when it’s not in use to preserve the battery, but the timing can be adjusted. The TPS-6X wakes up and works immediately just by touching the screen or a button. Illuminated pushbuttons on the TPS-6X provide quick access to volume adjustment, channel selection, and on-screen menu navigation. Button text is easily viewable in variable lighting conditions thanks to backlit laser engraving. The TPS-6X is also available without buttons. Price: $4000 inc docking station. Crestron: (02) 9737 8203 or www.crestron.com.au

NEWS / BRIEF

Barco Acquires High End Systems: On 10 June, Barco announced the acquisition of lighting/visuals company High End Systems, Inc (HES) to round out their range of stage visual technologies. Barco’s wellestablished presence in Australia means that after a gap of several years, local support, spare parts and service for HES products is once again available. HES products will be available from your nearest Barco branch from 1 September. The next question is: will HES products continue to

2/ BIAMP AUDIOFUSION

3/ SKUNKWORKS HAS TAIL UP

Biamp Systems’ AudiaFusion networked, amplified processor provides a powerful combination of digital signal processing and multi-channel amplification all in a 3U chassis. It takes the features and functionality of the company’s Audia digital signal processor (DSP), combined with a modular amplifier configurable to 2400W that can be controlled and monitored. AudiaFusion also provides for mixing, room combining and resource sharing, all controllable on a distributed network. Besides offering extensive processing capabilities, AudiaFusion also provides the advantages of decentralised system configuration that takes processing to the end points. In other words, the idea is that integrators can place components close to speakers — saving costs and improving sound quality. Because the system operates over ethernet, analogue wiring is drastically reduced. Additionally, in systems with multiple AudiaFusion or AudiaFlex units, processing can be allocated between the DSPs across the network — allowing the integrator to ‘do more with less’ — and components can be controlled and monitored remotely, taking more of the hassle out of system management and maintenance. Audio Products Group: 1300 134400 or www.audioproducts.com.au

Skunkworks isn’t a term many would associate with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, despite the fact the makers of the Stealth Bomber were the first to coin the term — initially for its cloak and dagger, coldwar think-tanks. These days ‘Skunkworks’ appears in the dictionary as “an experimental laboratory or department of a company or institution”. So it’s little wonder that WA company, Skunkworks, was a mite concerned to find litigation threats from the aeronautics behemoth in the letterbox. Skunkworks manufactures mounts for flat-screens and projection systems. But for the last three years the company has been spending considerable time battling Lockheed Martin over the rights to use the title. Lockheed Martin’s argument? That there would be ‘confusion’ over the use of the Skunkworks moniker, suggesting that customers purchasing from Skunkworks would connect its mounting products with Lockheed Martin’s ‘shock and awe’ machines of mass destruction. Huh?! WMDs lurking behind 42-inch plasma screens? More likely a megalomaniacal war machine throwing its litigation-happy weight about. So on the 22nd of May, IP Australia, pronounced ‘Opposition Dismissed’ to Lockheed Martin’s contention, and awarded the trademark to Skunkworks. Not a bad turn up for the books when you consider Skunkworks represented itself! Hats off to Skunkworks.

be developed around LCD-based Christie projector systems, when Barco have their own line of DLP based projectors? Barco: www.barco.com HES: www.highend.com

AMX has acquired Atrium Group Developments, a UK-based software company providing video content management systems. As part of this acquisition, AMX also launched Atrium’s seventhgeneration IPTV solution. Re-branded Vision2, the solution is a modular, fully-integrated video capture, management and broadcast system for delivering live, on-demand and/ or scheduled video. AMX Australia: (07) 5531 3103 or www.amxaust.com.au

Barco is boosting the contrast of ILite 6 with the introduction of ILite 6 BK — a brand new 6mm LED in the I6 family with an optimized black LED. ILite 6 BK sports a 3000:1 contrast ratio, a calibrated brightness of 2000 NIT, 14-bit processing, and the identical form factor of all other ILite tiles on the market. Barco Systems: (03) 9646 5833 or www.barco.com

Smart Technologies has three new product platforms targeted at corporate users — Smart Meeting Pro, Smart Hub SE and Smart Hub PE. The three products combine with single or multiple Smart Boards to create connected meeting rooms where dispersed staff can set up a data conference, write in digital ink over any application and save their work, share desktops and notes, and participate as if they were in the same room. Electroboard: www.electroboard.com.au


FEATURE

NEWS

017

5

6

4/ EV FM IN–WALL SPEAKER

6/ AMX OCTAIRE SWITCHERS

5/ HES INVENTS PIXELATION LUMINAIRE

Electrovoice’s new EVID FM series of flushmount inwall speakers kicks off with the FM6.2 ($699 a pair) with a six-inch (150mm) woofer, six-inch tuned passive radiator and one-inch (25mm) tweeter; and the FM4.2 ($499 a pair) offering a four-inch (100mm) woofer, fourinch tuned passive radiator and one-inch tweeter. All the components are housed in a shallow, fully-sealed enclosure for sound isolation from adjacent rooms. The ribbed back can eliminate flexing, with the transformer mounted on the back, to enhance rigidity. Minimal enclosure depth and four-point mounting tabs make the FM series easy to install. The FM6.2 is aimed for use in larger rooms while the FM4.2 provides similarly performance for small and mid-sized rooms. Either 70V/100V or 8Ω operation is standard on both models, alleviating the need to buy or stock particular versions. Secure phoenix style pass-through connectors aid wiring and installation. Bosch Communications Systems: (02) 9683 4752 or stsales@au.bosch.com

AMX has expanded its popular AutoPatch Matrix Switcher family with the launch of Octaire — a new line of 72 fixed-matrix switchers. With configurations ranging from 32 to 64 inputs and outputs, Octaire is engineered to meet the needs of organisations wanting to distribute high-performance, analogue video throughout large facilities. The Octaire switching platform is built with BNC connectivity for composite, S-Video (Y/c), component, and RGBHV signal styles in 4RU enclosure combinations. The Octaire product line delivers a high level of video performance — averaging 600MHz, while maintaining a 500MHz ±3dB ‘ultra-flat’ response. And the hook is: it reduces rack space by as much as one-third, yet provides twice the space between connectors for easy connectivity. The Octaire range provides dual power feeds and redundant power supplies, which guarantee a high level of dependability in mission-critical applications. It is available in the following configurations: 32x48, 32x64, 48x32, 48x48, 48x64, 64x32, 64x48 and 64x64. AMX Australia (07) 5531 3103 or www.amxaust.com.au

High End Systems introduces Showpix, a combination LED wash light and graphic image-displaying fixture that represents the first in HES’ new product line of Pixelation Luminaires. Showpix is another lighting product concept by HES Chief Technology Officer Richard Belliveau and his R&D team. “With the Showpix we have merged a high power LED wash light with a programmable high intensity graphic display,” states Belliveau. “Showpix is simultaneously capable of operating as a high power conservative illuminator and producing mind blowing graphic images.” Showpix is more than just an LED wash light on a moving yoke. Its 18-inch (450mm) diameter head features a circular array of 127 homogenous 3W LEDs with an output of 24,000 RGB lumens. These pixels offer unlimited visual possibilities by projecting not just washes of colour, but also displaying images and other eye-catching effects that transform the fixture head itself into a display device. Showpix is controlled from a standard DMX lighting console. A user-selectable pixel mapping protocol also allows the user to have individual control of each of the 127 LEDs for some creative programming effects. High End Systems: www.highend.com

MediaMatrix has released a new version of its NWare software. Nion NWare 1.4.2 is compatible with Windows Vista and includes support for network time protocols that allow Nion to sync with network time servers or internet-based atomic clocks. The Nion nX, n6 and n3 nodes now include flash memory upgrades up to 2GB. Audio Telex: (02) 9647 1411 or www.audiotelex.com.au

Kramer Electronics has introduced the VP-435 Component/UXGA HDMI Scaler. The unit, which incorporates HDMI technology, scales incoming video signals for HDMI output while embedding audio. The VP-435 is ideal for projection systems in conference rooms, boardrooms, hotels and churches, as well as for home theatre up-scaling. Kramer Electronics: (07) 3715 6200 or sales@krameraustralia.com.au

Gepco introduces its V-CON Connector System for multichannel video connectors. Designed for outdoor broadcast, mobile production and staging applications, the V-CON system provides the bandwidth and electrical performance for multi-channel HD interconnects in a durable, all-weather design. The V-CON connectors are available in three- to six-channel versions, as well as 10-, 12-, or 16-channel versions. Carraro Broadcast Solutions: www.broadcastsolutions.com.au

NEC has announced two new sets of projectors for business and education applications. The NP905 and NP901W include wireless capability for network use, as well as Silicon Optix HQV motion video quality. The NP905 sports 3000 lumens with XGA resolution while the NP901W casts 2000 lumens with WXGA. With footprints smaller than a Filofax, the portable projectors feature automatic startup, focus and keystone correction. NEC Australia: (02) 9313 0000 or contactus@nec.com.au

Canon’s top-of-the-line Realis WUX10 projector is apparently the world’s first WUXGAresolution (1920 x 1200) widescreen Multimedia Projector using LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology. It’s designed to deliver precise colour reproduction and exceptional image quality. The WUX10 is well suited to professional users displaying and/or creating widescreen visual content. Canon: www.canon.com.au

Riedel Communications’ IntercomoverIP provides intercom interfacing to IP-based networks and allows matrix-tomatrix connections, matrix-tocontrol panel connections and the distribution of audio lines over IP. The VOIP108 G2 card converts eight Artist matrix ports into a compressed IP stream and vice versa. The Connect IPx8 is a 1RU chassis which converts eight intercom ports. Riedel Communications: (02) 9550 4537 or www.riedel.net


018

NEWS

REVIEW

3

1

2

4

5 6

1/ BARCO MAKES SWITCH

2/ DA-LITE 3D VIRTUAL BLACK

3/ EPSON EXPAND PROJECTOR RANGE

The DCS-200 is a switcher that expands the capabilities of Barco’s DCS-100 by adding an independent preview output. Designed for small and mid-size venues, the DCS-200 provides ‘true seamless’ transitions between all nine multi-format inputs. The preview output can run at the same resolution as the main output, or at a different resolution. Customers can route various sources to the output, such as preview, program, key, or the internal still store. The system also has an HTML-based GUI built in — which allows customer to operate with a mouse, instead of the panel. Barco Systems: (03) 9646 5833 or www.barco.com

Da-Lite’s 3D Virtual Black projection screen material is designed for 3D rear screen applications. It features ‘polarisation preserving properties’ engineered by DaLite’s resident lab brains. 3D Virtual Black effectively eliminates stereoscopic crosstalk or ‘ghosting’ by maintaining ‘99 percent’ polarisation purity. The 3D Virtual Black screen is seamless and easily folds for transportation, making it well suited to travelling or rental applications. Markets for the 3D Virtual Black screen fabric include the movie and entertainment industry, oil and gas surveying applications, medical and pharmaceutical applications, robotic surgery, museums, industrial and architectural design and the electronic gaming industry. Wilson & Gilkes: (02) 9914 0900 or sales@gilkon.com.au

Epson has released its G Series installation multimedia projectors forthe education, hospitality and professional sectors. There are three models in the range: the Epson EB-G5100, EB-G5200W (widescreen) and EB-G5350 (wireless). The series can integrate with with existing network assets, including sophisticated control and audio systems and content devices (i.e., HD boxes, DVD players and video conferencing equipment). The G Series has a wide range of vertical lens shift (±50%), and a ±10% horizontal shift range, and there's plenty of connectivity, including two computer RGB inputs, three component connections and an HDMI digital port with HDCP. Prices: EB-G5100: $5999; EB-G5200W: $6499; EB-G5350: $6999. Epson Australia: (02) 8899 3666 or www.epson.com.au

4/ PROJECTIONDESIGN WUXGA

5/ MOCOMTECH HIGH GAIN SCREENS

6/ IIZEL’S FREEZE FRAME

Norway’s projectiondesign is flying the WUXGA flag. WUXGA (Widescreen Ultra eXtended Graphics Array) and has a display resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels (2,304,000 pixels) with a 16:10 screen aspect ratio. WUXGA resolution is being packaged in the F10 and F30 series projectors, and is set to be the ‘highest resolution display available in the market at this level’. WUXGA resolution fits the native resolution of many graphics cards, including high-end laptops and portable computers. WUXGA resolution gives more than 56 percent higher resolution compared to SXGA+. Importantly, the 1920 x 1200 WUXGA resolution is also backwards compatible with standard UXGA at 1600 x 1200 resolution, making it suitable for upgrading older projection systems to wide screen. Amber Technology: 1800 251 367 or display@ambertech.com.au

Korea company, Mocomtech, is a manufacturer of high gain screens. As a winner of CES Innovation Awards it looks like a company that knows its onions. Mocomtech’s power screens boast the following features: they’re ‘20 times brighter’ than conventional screen, offering clear and high-contract image without light interception, with a high resolution image over HD-level. The screens offer excellent reflection and directional power by diffused fine lens along the scanning directions on aluminium surface of the screen. There's excellent brightness and resolution uniformity across the entire screen surface by optical lens technology (a concaved-type screen); and natural colour and contrast by the special treated coating of screen surface. Ausome Technology: 0414 695 581 or www.ausometechnology.com

iizel weatherproof LCD TVs are a Korean brand of monitors that carry an IP65 rating for use in all outdoor weather conditions. There are two ranges, Standard and Thermo — both available in 32 and 42-inch with 1366 x 768 resolution, as well as 42, 47, 52, 57, and 70–inch versions at full HD 1080p resolution. The Standard range is designed to work in temperatures from +45°C to 0°C, while the Thermo range extends the lower temperature down to the snow bunny range of –20°. All iizel weatherproof products include an analogue and standard definition digital TV tuner and inputs including HDMI, component, VGA, SCART and composite, as well as RS232C and an antenna connection. Complementing the outdoor products is an indoor range of high (1500 nits) brightness displays for shop front and digital signage. Herma Technologies: 1300 730 025 or info@herma.com.au


World’s Brightest Screen (20 Gain)

Conventional Screen 200˝ (Blurred image) – 1.5 Gain

Mocom Screen 200˝ (Clean image) - 20 Gain

Deluxe Mocom Screens • Amazing! 20 times brighter, AL concave screen • Top-of-the-range features a black acrylic frame • The latest designed PDP-type screen • Contrast levels are 20 times better than a normal screen (20 gain) • Sizes 62˝, 72˝, 82˝, 92˝, 103˝, 112˝, 130˝, 147˝... 260˝ or custom made

Wall Screen

Stand Screen

Deluxe Power Screen

Motorized Roll-up Screen

Ausome Technology www.ausometechnology.com Contact: Ko – 0414 695 581 or Tim – 0418 422 832


020

NEWS

REVIEW

2

1 3

4

6 5

1/ AM MX883 STEREO MIXER

2/ CROWN MIXER-AMPS

3/ DBX PX DRIVERACK

The MX883 is Australian Monitor's most extensively featured MX rack mixer to date. The 2RU mixer includes eight XLR mic or line inputs, and stereo RCA inputs with LED status indication. Phantom power is selectable per mic input. Internal settings include the ability to select pre or post fader for the channel direct outputs. Additionally, channels 1 and 2 feature a 120Hz, 24dB/octave high-pass filter. Input 1 can also be set as a de facto priority input so that audio from channel 1 is not affected by the master volume level. Optional modules include VCA modules for remote master level control, muting modules and a tone generator module. For applications requiring more than eight channels, the MX883 features a link bus. Price: $1205. Australian Monitor: (02) 9647 1411 or www.australianmonitor.com.au

Capable of providing both 8Ω and constant-voltage outputs, the 135MA and 160MA are configurable for a variety of uses, including paging, background music, music-on-hold, security, and safety announcements. Each unit is housed in a half rack-space chassis. The 135MA is equipped with three inputs and a 35W amplifier output, while the 160MA provides four inputs and a 60W amplifier output. Both models provide priority muting and are compatible with microphones requiring phantom power. Both are convection cooled, and feature various protection mechanisms. The units are also protected against power cycle ‘thumps’. The front panel of each model includes a rotary input volume knob and green signal/clip LED for every channel. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or info@jands.com.au

New from dbx is the DriveRack PX Powered Speaker Optimizer. The PX is designed to optimise the performance of powered speakers — promising ‘louder, cleaner, better’ sound — in a package that requires no special skills to operate. An included dbx M2 measurement mic uses Auto-EQ to correct audible deficiencies in the room environment. dbx’s Advanced Feedback Suppression does its thing, allowing operation at higher sound levels, and their Subharmonic Synthesizer extends bass response. There’s out-of-box support for a bunch of JBL and other popular powered speaker brands and models and support for either stereo or mono subwoofer models. Price: $799. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or info@jands.com.au

4/ GEFFEN’S HDMI CONVERSION

5/ EXTRON FOR THE LONG HAUL

6/ ZONING IN

Geffen has a number of new nick-nacks designed to interface older video systems into HDMI and vice versa. First up is the HDMI over RGB extender, which takes an HDMI signal and extends it over legacy four or five-connector coaxial cabling — delivering both audio and 1080p HDMI at distances up to 100m. Further distances are plausible with their fibre-based extension. Using a single fibreoptic cable, HDMI v1.3 video can be transmitted up to 500m with support for deep colors and all attributes of the expanded HDMI format. The system uses Omron’s fibreoptic modules to enable long-distance delivery of HDMI over one fiberoptic cable. Geffen also has some new scalers that are worth investigating. Amber Technology: (02) 9452 8600 or geffen@ambertech.com.au

Extron expands the scope of DVI and HDMI signal distribution solutions with four new DVI distribution amplifiers with up to eight outputs, and the SMX DVI Pro Series and SMX HDMI Series matrix switcher boards. The boards are available in 4x4, 4x8, 8x4, and 8x8 sizes, and are HDCP compliant. The DVI DL101, which attaches to the end of a long DVI cable run, automatically provides the necessary active equalisation to ensure optimal image quality. The DVI DL201 is a transmitter and receiver set for sending dual link DVI signals over three Cat5-type cables. Both products extend DVI signals significantly beyond the 5m limitation for DVI cables. Check the RGB web site for the rest of the range, including the fibreoptic transmitter/receivers. RGB Integration: (08) 8351 2188 or extron@rgbintegration.com.au

The Zoner 16 is a 16-zone paging system that differs from other Australian Monitor zone products as it uses output switching, as opposed to matrix switching. This means the system only requires a single amp to cover up to 16 zones, instead of an amp per zone. 16 x 100V line speakers can be connected to the rear of the Zoner 16, and any combination of zones. All zones can be paged via the remote mic connected with a Cat5 cable. The Zoner 16 can handle background music program with the addition of a secondary amp. The Zoner 16 also features an Emergency Mic input so a security mic can be routed to all zones, facility to add a tone generator module, and a 25-pin logic connector to connect relay bypass attenuators is also provided. Audio Telex: (02) 9647 1411 or nsw@audiotelex.com.au


Design. Performance. Support.

Creating atmosphere with a competitive edge Engineered to suit your venue, designed to blend in with your dĂŠcor, a BoseÂŽ sound solution will elevate your space to a new level. Bose Professional Systems Division has a team of specialist designers and audio industry professionals to provide a tailored sound solution specific to your business requirements. For a premium sound solution for your next project, please call Bose on 1800 659 433 | www.bose.com.au

ControlSpace ESP-88 TM


022

NEWS

REVIEW

1/ NEW A&H ZED MODELS

2/ SP CONTROLS PIXIEPLUS

3/ JBL — MORE CONTROL

Allen & Heath has two new additions to the ZED range of small-format USB mixers. The ZED-12FX (six mono and three dual stereo channels) and ZED-22FX (16 mono plus three dual stereo channels) retain the same features as other models in the range with the addition of in-house designed effects. ZED’s effects are divided into four types: tap tempo delays, short reverbs, long reverbs and modulation. They are controlled by three buttons for navigation and editing, allowing the parameters of each effect to be quickly dialled in. The new ZED FX mixers have a three-band sweptmid EQ on the mono channels, with a two-band EQ on the stereo channels, 100mm long-throw faders, four aux sends (two pre, two post), a USB send and return (for PC or Mac recording or playback), a dual stereo input capability, and monitoring facilities. The ZED FX designs also feature the company’s DuoPre padless preamps. ZED’s USB output can be configured to allow different signals to be sent to USB, from the LR master or the aux buses — with the USB return signal available as a stereo return. Cakewalk’s Sonar LE music production software is included. Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or info@tag.com.au

The PixiePlus Device Control Module provides a simple, standardised control interface for projectors, monitors, display devices, or other AV devices in a compact, single-gang form factor. A customisable interface allows for a variety of configurations from two to eight total buttons. The design gives you the ability to tailor the control interface to the exact requirements of the devices being controlled. This design not only provides a prolooking control system, but allows you to eliminate any buttons that may confuse the end user. Seven buttons are included with each PixiePlus. You choose the three button insert modules that match your remote control design. Amber Technology: 1800 251 367 or www.ambertech.com.au

The Contractor 40 Series encompasses five models, with the Control 47C/T, 47LP and 47HC incorporating JBL’s Conical Radiation Boundary Integrator, adapted from JBL’s Vertec series line array loudspeakers. The Control 47LP low-profile model provides the same sound character and coverage, but in a package that is only 134mm deep. The Control 40CS/T subwoofer, which uses a 200mm driver, adds low-frequency reinforcement to any in-ceiling sound system. The passive crossover network is optimised for use with two or four Control 42C satellite speakers. Meanwhile, the 8100 Series in-ceiling speakers includes two models: the 8124, a four-inch loudspeaker for wide coverage; and the 8128, an eight-inch loudspeaker that offers extended bass response and higher SPL output. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or info@jands.com.au

NEWS / BRIEF

Revolabs’ Fusion, is a wireless microphone system designed for small conference rooms. There are no rackmount units to piece together, Fusion comes in a compact, attractive enclosure that is pre-programmed with the software necessary to function immediately. Just plug Fusion into a power outlet, plug a cable into a phone line or a video-conferencing system and fire away. Production Audio Services: (03) 9264 8000 or info@productionaudio.com.au

Roland’s V-Mixing system has undergone a v1.5 update, which has seen increased compressor/gate assignment flexibility, eight matrices, direct output assignment, tap tempo delay setting, and additional shortcuts and user interface enhancements. There’s now a fibre option as well, for extended audio distribution. The V-Mixer retails for $12,995 RSS by Roland: www.roladsystemsgroup.net

Powersoft’s new K3 amplifier is a 1RU chassis, producing 2800W per channel at 2Ω and features ‘Power Factor Compression’ for lower power consumption. The front panel LCD display provides access to information such as load impedance and voltage measurements for each channel. The built-in remote allows diagnostic, operational setting and system monitoring. Production Audio Services: (03) 9264 8000 or info@productionaudio.com.au

Denon Professional’s DNA300M integrated amplifier is a 3U, 2 x 100W (8Ω) integrated amplifier/background music paging system, perfect for a wide range of applications. Audio Product Group: 1300 134400 or www.audioproducts.com.au

BSS Audio has four new additions to its Soundweb London family of digital signal processors. The new BLU-800, BLU-320, BLU-160 and BLU-120 join the BLU-80, BLU-32 and BLU-16 devices in the series. HiQnet London Architect, v2.00, provides support for the four new devices and several significant feature additions. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or info@jands.com.au


4/ JBL AE COMPACT Expanding on its Application Engineered (AE) Series loudspeakers, JBL has introduced eight new compact AE Series loudspeaker models — more options for system designers and integrators. The AE Compact loudspeaker family consists of eight high-output, two–way loudspeaker models incorporating either single or dual low frequency drivers. The high-frequency sections include a oneinch dome tweeter for two models (AC15 and AC25), while the remaining six models each incorporate oneinch exit compression drivers. Adding to the flexibility of the AE Compact models are the multiple attachment points for mounting either with an optional U–bracket, or with an OmniMount style bracket. Additionally, the AC16, AC26, AC18 and AC28 models include attachment points on the base of each enclosure for stand mounting. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or www.jands.com.au

Hats off to CobraNet, but it is generally too expensive to use for transporting small numbers of audio channels. Rane’s new Mongoose and Rad Remotes solve these problems (along with a few others) by converting audio to or from Rane's digital format at the wall plate and transporting it over Cat5 cables. It allows the user to route these remotes to or from CobraNet and aggregate audio channels for full bundle utilisation. Jands: (02) 9582 0909 or info@jands.com.au

Ethersound developer Digigram has defined a variation of the technology, one that can interoperate with ES-100 or ES-Giga networks. ES-100/ spkr enables manufacturers to implement Ethersound in new devices for quite a bit less dosh. Barix is the launch partner for the technology, implementing the ES-100/spkr technology in its Exstreamer IP audio decoder devices and OEM modules. Powercorp (Barix): (02) 9476 3466 or www.powercorp.com.au

The menu-driven Symetrix ARC-2i Integrator Series adaptive remote control wall panel is a more cost-effective version of the ARC-2, featuring a white plastic faceplate. It includes an eight-character backlit display; three buttons to help users navigate menus; 24 menus can be used to address basic functions such as gain, preset triggering, source selection or room combining. Production Audio Services: (03) 9264 8000 or info@productionaudio.com.au


024

FEATURE

Heritage-listed, cavernous and continuously in use, St Paul’s presented its challenges.


FEATURE

025

St Paul’s Cathedral A new distributed, beam-steered speaker system has proven to be an absolute godsend. Text / Christopher Holder

Cathedrals: great for a spot of Gregorian chanting, an organ recital or a bell-ringers’ convention, but a Synod? Okay, I’ll back up a little bit. For those not baptised into the Anglican church or conversant in five Celtic dialects, a ‘synod’ is a quaint, olde worlde name for a church committee or board meeting. It’s the time for the Anglican high council to get together and talk shop. It’s also a process much more suited to a modern conference centre rather than a drafty old neo-gothic edifice with a reverb time of about two minutes. But the decision had been made. And, more than that, Rutledge Engineering had not much more than a month to get in, rip out the old and install the new… in short, they promised a quick-smart, functioning 21st-century audiovisual system before the Archbishop’s opening address. Here was the brief (in brief): a PA for amplifying the spoken word, that would adapt to microphones (wired and wireless) in three main positions around the church. Selecting these positions (as well as some other basic control) would be done by church staff and needed to be foolproof (read ‘Overview of the Job’ for more). Anyway… it was a tall order. But Rutledge Project Manager, Harry Michalopoulos, and his team evidently had God on their side. The new distributed PA, wireless control network and analogue I/O were all functional — not fine-tuned or finessed, mind, but functional. This was thanks in no small part to the fastidious system design of the acoustic consultants, Acoustic Directions. Acoustic Directions went onto fully commission the system, and the results are stunning — the new setup is an unqualified success! Lives have been changed. AV — more often known for its holier than thou attitude — started off by genuflecting before the high priest of acoustics himself, Acoustic Directions’ Glenn Leembruggen.

THE DESIGN AV:

Talk us through what was in St Paul’s prior to the refit. Was it up to scratch? Glenn Leembruggen: It was terrible. It was installed in 1992, yet even then it was already out of date. Why? It was the wrong design. We were asked if the system could be rescued. We said that we could make some improvements to the intelligibility but it would never serve as a solid sound system for the next 15 years. On that advice they wisely decided to start again. AV: Right. So what were your thought processes when you wandered around St Paul’s for the first time. GL: I was thinking, I would aim to design a sound system that did justice to the architecture, and possessed excellent bandwidth, coverage and clarity. AV: Very good. But how? GL: The first decision that needed to be made was whether to use a centralised sound system or a distributed one. Richard Falkinger, the architect engaged by St Paul’s, was aware of the, let’s call them, hyper-directional speaker arrays, from the likes of EAW, Renkus Heinz, and originally pioneered by Duran Audio [recently taken on by Audio Products Group]. These are long horizontal arrays that neatly integrate into the front of the church’s architecture. Their acoustic output skims along the surface of the listening plane and they have the advantage of being architecturally simple to integrate — it slips in easily, aesthetically. That was their thinking. But from a high fidelity perspective

“Rarely has the transforming power of an audiovisual design been more evident than in St Paul’s”

— and in my book, fidelity is one of the principal ingredients of speech intelligibility — the frequency response is more variable with distance from the loudspeaker [see ‘Speech Intelligibility — The Leembruggen Amendment’ box item]. So I wasn’t convinced of the centralised speaker option. There was another major stumbling block: the church conducts certain parts of the service and various activities in other parts of the church — for example, there’s the gospel reading in the service that’s conducted halfway up the nave (where most of the congregation is seated). So that means the central array would have been too distant from the person talking — there would be too much of a delay and it would be too difficult to speak. The other problem was the considerable shadowing from all the pillars. Our coverage zones in the church are not just the nave [or main, central portion of the church] but the other side of the pillars in the aisles as well. So the combination of those factors sounded the death knell for the centralised speaker system, in this case. It meant that we had to look at an architectural, distributed system to achieve, (a) a more consistent frequency response all over the church; (b) to ensure the level of the delay, relative to the person talking, would be much lower; and (c) to make sure the people behind the pillars in the aisles were being addressed by the sound system. AV: Can you describe the key principles of a distributed sound system in a big space such as this? GL: It’s all about getting the listeners as close as you can to the loudspeakers and stop sound going into the ceiling space. St Paul’s has a high ceiling, so the last thing you want to do is put sound up there. If you do, then you’ve got the problem of late-arriving reflections. So the idea is to keep the sound directed down at the only acoustically soft ‘material’ in the cathedral, the people.


026

FEATURE

It’s another thing that is often forgotten about indirect distributed systems: the direct-toreverberant ratio, that is one of the key factors determining intelligibility, depends on the square of the distance between listener and loudspeaker. The closer you get to the loudspeaker, the greater the direct-to-reverberant ratio, which means significant intelligibility improvements; and that was our design philosophy. WHICH LOUDSPEAKER? AV:

Right: so you’ve decided on a distributed loudspeaker system… what next? GL: The next question was: which loudspeaker? We needed a speaker that embodied three key elements: Firstly, it needed to sit neatly and vertically on the columns, which are at 7m intervals. Secondly, it had to minimise sound being radiated towards the ceiling. Thirdly, it had to steer sound downwards towards the listeners while providing a constant frequency response over its whole coverage area. These are quite difficult to achieve in a single speaker! AV: Yes, I think I’m detecting a recurring theme here! GL: The industry is very accustomed to looking at coverage — it’s the one plot we most commonly fall back on. But we’re not nearly as focused on clicking on the button that

tells us what the frequency response is at any one listening position. So, my focus is not so much on coverage, it’s on consistent frequency response. If we can get consistent coverage — in other words: equal level — well, fantastic, but I’d much rather sacrifice a certain amount of coverage consistency (say, a 3dB variation) for an ultra-consistent frequency response across the entire listening area. The other big consideration was the budget. The Anglican church does not enjoy the same level of funding of some of the other Christian churches, and therefore our design had to be extremely cost effective. AV: So, clearly, it’s the loudspeakers that have the most influence on the outcome? GL: That’s right, when it comes to these kinds of situations, the loudspeaker is king — it has the capacity to make or break the system. A loudspeaker’s radiation pattern and frequency response are the things that really determine what the listener hears. And that’s not just who built the speaker and how they built it, it’s the adjustments you make; how you set them up. AV: Which is where Acoustic Technologies comes in? GL: We’ve worked with Acoustic Technologies in the past, and we decided to talk to them again. We’d used their ALA07C arrays in the

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Some 44 Acoustic Technologies ALA07C arrays were carefully positioned on columns throughout the cathedral.

SPEECH INTELLIGIBILITY THE LEEMBRUGGEN AMENDMENT Glenn Leembruggen:

We’re conditioned to think

that speech intelligibility is all about scoring a high speech transmission index (STI) figure. Effectively, the STI measures the corruption in speech clarity from background noise, temporal smearing and the ratio of early to late arrivals — in effect, the better your early-tolate ratio the better the speech transmission index. But the STI is almost completely blind to the effects of the tonal balance of speech. I can say that with authority because I’m part of the international standards committee that is concerned with rewriting the specifications for the management of the STI. As yet, there is no real way to assess the effect that frequency response has on intelligibility, but I know from experience that it’s incredibly important — especially when it comes to listening comfort. Given you have to listen to speakers for prolonged periods in a parliament or a court, listening comfort is really important — it affects your ability to concentrate — so comfort becomes an intelligibility issue. I believe that providing an accurate, or hi-fi, frequency response, where speech is concerned, is just as important as getting good temporal behaviour or a high signal-to-noise ratio. These hyper-directional, horizontal arrays will get through to the listeners, and you can get an adequate temporal behaviour, but you won’t

necessarily get the desired frequency response. AV: Why?

GL: The single array is covering the full length of the church, and there’s a difficulty in being able to create consistent frequency response from near to far — from 5m to 40m. You can EQ it flat at 20m, but at 40m it would lack bottom end. Up close it would lack top end. It is one of the fundamental difficulties with a continuous line source. If you have different profiled boxes, say a J profile for low frequency, and a different kind of J profile for the high frequencies, you can start to get a more consistent response. But even with a two-profile array, it is very difficult to get an even frequency response over a distance range of 3m to 50m.

AV: What frequency range are we talking about here?

GL: For high fidelity speech I’m looking at a frequency response from 100Hz to 10kHz. But I’m always trying to reach higher, to 12kHz. There’s a little bit of sparkle around 10 to 12k which adds a ‘relaxedness’ to the sound. People are conditioned into thinking about music being from 20-20k, but not conditioned to think about speech in hi-fi terms, and that extra sparkle does make for a more relaxed listening experience.

Glenn Leembruggen is a stickler for an even frequency response across the full spread of the speakers' dispersion, The plots show the response he achieved from the ALA07Cs in St Paul's.


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Adelaide law courts and found them to be an effective, inexpensive steered system — regular steered loudspeaker systems are normally thousands and thousands of dollars apiece. The trade-off is that the EAW or Renkus systems are active units and the ALA07C isn’t — the amplifiers are in a rack and we have to run cable, as opposed to an active loudspeaker where the amplifier is in the back of the loudspeaker. But, in the ‘pro’ side of the ledger, the enclosure is slimline and sits snugly into the fluting of the columns. AV: What do these arrays look like? GL: They’re eight-channel speakers: seven low/mid frequency drivers, and a highfrequency array of three tweeters. Each array of tweeters has its own passive tapering or shading network to give a constant beam width. The goal of the array is to maintain a constant radiation pattern across all frequencies, which will mean that wherever the listener is, they’ll get a constant frequency response. But as well as that, we tailored the radiation pattern to compensate for the distance loss — the change in frequency response from 1m at its closest, out to the maximum beam distance of 7m [after 7m the next array would take over]. AV: Which is achieved via the DSP processing, presumably? GL: Yes, the radiation pattern and frequency responses of the low/mid drivers are controlled by our active signal processing algorithms, while those of the high frequencies are controlled by the passive network that is associated with the tweeter array, which is physically tilted. Remember: it’s almost impossible to electronically steer high frequencies, you simply can’t space the tweeters close enough, so it was a case of manually pointing the tweeters in the right direction. AV: Can you tell us more about the processors? GL: The processing was also from Acoustic Technologies. Through the course of our work on the Adelaide law courts and St Paul’s, they developed an active processor and steering box of electronics. Previously, we used off-the-shelf DSP from Biamp — the Nexia — to do all the signal processing and steer the loudspeaker. But in this particular instance we decided to use the Acoustic Technologies product. It's called the FLA8 and apart from multi-channel amplification, it holds the beam-forming parameters and crossovers that we developed. INTIMATE SOUND AV:

You could probably describe the St Paul’s system as ‘intimate’ — like someone

whispering in your ear or tapping you on the shoulder. Agreed? GL: Right, I agree. And that’s a function of a good early-to-late ratio, and a demonstration of the fact the design was set up with care and accuracy. We put in two weeks of commissioning, checking and confirming every setting — with 44 arrays and 25 amplifier/processors that’s a serious number of connections that need checking, but we made sure every one was correct right from input to acoustic output. And then there’s the setting up the equalisation, level adjustments, delay… AV: So, the system is time-aligned as you sit further from the pulpit? GL: Yes, the loudspeaker at the front [behind the pulpit] is Time Zero, and then progressively delayed. Or, in the case of the gospel reading, half way down the church, that position becomes Time Zero. The delayed nature of the system contributes to that sense of intimacy — it pulls you right in. At one point I recall being in church when the Archbishop was speaking right at the front of the church at the high altar. He was using one of the Countryman mics — a very nice headset — and I was stunned. He was right ‘there’. It was then that I thought: we’ve done a very nice job. AV: Can you tell me about the system presets? GL: Each setting on the AMX touchpad activates the microphones and speakers relevant to that preset. There are a couple of presets where all speakers aren’t on, but the average service has almost all microphones on and almost all speakers on. We rely on the auto mixer to only turn on those mics that are being spoken into. It’s almost a set and forget system. [More on the presets and the control system later.] AV: What’s taking care of the auto mixing? GL: Again, that’s the Biamp Audias. We think they’re a good deal more intelligent than the other auto mixers on the market. That’s the reason why Biamp has been our primary choice of DSP for speech reinforcement applications for such a long time now. What’s so special about its auto mixing? Apart from sensing arrival times, it has an interesting algorithm that looks at the wave shape to determine whether

a mic is active or not. It’s one of our key ingredients to achieving high gain before feedback and contributes to that intimacy we were talking about. NOT JUST ANOTHER CATHEDRAL

Rutledge Engineering is no stranger to this type of job — having taken care of St Mary’s in Sydney, it knows its apse from its elbow, and it slipped into this delicate role with all the discretion of a troupe of ‘on best behaviour’ altar boys. Harry Michalopoulos — Greek Orthodox, would be my guess — was the Project Manager. AV: How does St Paul’s compare to previous cathedral jobs?

“I’d much rather sacrifice a certain amount of coverage consistency for an ultra-consistent frequency response across the entire listening area”

Harry

Michalopolous:

This job has more locations than any other we’ve done previously — more speakers, patch points etc. But giving a cathedral crystal clear and intelligible sound requires a special solution. AV: Sounds like there were some complicating factors. HM: Yes, but fortunately we didn’t have to rough-in the cable. That was Rick Clark and his team from Rely On, who have been the cathedral electricians for many years. When we arrived, it was a case of: thank goodness someone else is roughing this cable in! They have an intimate knowledge of the cathedral, and that coupled with the torturous heights involved — the access issues — we counted ourselves lucky. The heritage nature of the cathedral also meant we had to be especially careful — there was a heightened sense of sensitivity to the surroundings. For example, the pews could be moved, but around certain columns there were other furnishings that we just had to deal with. So certain locations required — I wouldn’t say ‘extraordinary’ efforts — but some special solutions. AV: How did you fit the speakers to the columns exactly? HM: Glenn had done precise measurements. Not just on the array heights and angles, but of the geometry of each column — the fluting of the column. The speaker had to be mounted precisely in a particular flute. We had to put a threaded rod in to these intersections, but make sure that it would stick out at the correct angle so we could actually bolt the array’s brackets there. We took the problem to our Chief Audio Engineer, Bill Tauscke, who’s been working


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ACOUSTIC DIRECTIONS TEAM

Acoustic design & commissioning: Glenn Leembruggen & David Gilfillan Project Management for St Paul's & Acoustic Directions: Mark Hanson

A shot of the Acoustic Technologies arrays in position. The sound is electronically steered down to the ear-level of the congregation.

The AMX system control provides easy access to a selection of presets, as well as the ability to turn on/off microphones, speakers, playback and additional auxiliary inputs.

at Rutledge for I don’t know how many years. Bill designed this fantastic jig (that will never ever be used again, because it is only relevant to this installation). We had two of these jigs, mirror images of each other, which matched the profile of the pillar. We ratchet-strapped on the jig, drilled straight in, put the threaded rod in, and mounted the speakers. Bill’s jig was a big success. CH: Can you elaborate on this ‘crystal clear sound’ you mentioned earlier? HM: It’s a speech reinforcement system. It’s meant to provide an unplugged sound — acoustic invisibility, if you like. When an untrained person says that the speaker nearest him wasn’t on — despite the fact he was hearing everything clearly — that is the ultimate compliment. CH: A big part of Rutledge’s brief was to make the system all-but invisible to the church, which included designing a fool-proof interface. HM: Absolutely. Obviously all the crucial system settings were safe, with the users locked out, but aspects like certain mic gains, system level, turning certain speakers off/on depending on how many people are in the church — all needed to be easy to control. CH: Based on AMX touch panels, I believe? HM: That’s right. The cathedral decided on two wireless touch panels — the AMX 8400 8.4-inch model. Then, rather than opting for the standard wireless access points (WAPs), we opted for the Cisco Aironet range of WAPs. We’ve got a WAP at either end of the cathedral, and we’ve added a third WAP in the administrative corridor, which is otherwise a real dead zone — don’t expect to get mobile reception there.

AV:

Can you talk me through how the interface works? HM: It’s based on three main presets, which are activated depending on what type of sermon, message or reading is being delivered. Each preset applies some equalisation that takes into account the architecture surrounding the microphone. For example, a headset microphone might be roving, in a particular area. So there is equalisation, level controls, muting or ducking of certain speakers… multiple factors that come together to deliver the best sound for that location. SAINTS PRESERVE US

My first meeting for this story was on site in the cathedral’s Canons’ vestry. Seeing Harry Michalopoulos chatting amiably with St Paul’s Colin Reilly and Rachel McDougall, it occurred to me what an accomplishment this was. Every job requires an empathy — an understanding of the business or activity being pursued — and a cathedral requires a little more effort to understand than most. Because, let’s not forget that there’s a spiritual dimension at work here. Or, if you have trouble with the word spiritual, then ‘emotional’. Suddenly Rachel MacDougall is able to more easily ‘lose’ herself in the singing of evensong, and the ‘PA’ becomes transparent to the congregation. Overnight, the Archbishop is able to ‘speak’ individually to parishioners from some 50m away at the high altar. Rarely has the transforming power of an audiovisual design been more evident than in St Paul’s. 


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OVERVIEW OF THE JOB • The main aspect of the brief was to provide a crystal-clear speech reinforcement system. Then there was the multitude of analogue I/O to all the microphones and touchpanel points around the cathedral, and the wireless LAN. • The system was based on 44 modified ALA07C column speakers from Acoustic Technologies. Each box comprises seven low/mid drivers and a tweeter array on the baffle. • The bulk of the church — the nave and aisles — were covered by two ALA07Cs per column, all mounted at the same height. Electronically beam steering the column speakers allows the sound to be angled down to a reference axis — the ears of the majority of the seated congregation. • Adjacent speakers on a column are acoustically decoupled using all-pass filters. to mitigate the effects of phase interference. • The ALA07Cs are a passive speaker. The amplifiers are in racks. Acoustic Technologies has also developed the DSP processing required to take care of the beam steering. The DSP has been integrated into the eight-channel amplifier chassis. The resulting device is called the FLA8. • 25 FLA8s are employed. The church is symmetrical, and thus pairs of ALA07Cs often share the one FLA8 amp/processor. The remaining (non symmetrical) speakers get their own. Each amplifier/processor was precisely married to a particular speaker(s). • The tweeter array is driven by the eighth channel of the FLA8, and has a passive network to shape its response. But you can’t electronically beam steer the HF section, so it needs to be mechanically pointed down. • The other DSP processing — signal limiting and cancellation, EQ, system delay and auto mixing — is managed by Biamp Audiaflex processors. • Crucial to the success of the system was ease of control. The control is based on two AMX 8400 roving touchpanels (combined with the Cisco Aironet WAP). • Rounding off the audiovisual refit is the analogue I/O connectivity: the patch points and multi-core links to ensure the cathedral works well as a performance space. “It looks like a fairly sophisticated, bespoke installation but is, in fact, a cost-effective, almost entirely off-the-shelf solution. If we had to use commercial, self-steered product we would have paid double the price.” — Glenn Leembruggen.


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Class Act UTS’s Audio Visual Services Department finds new ways of squeezing the most out of Crestron’s RoomView and QuickMedia. Text / Jonathan Ciddor

Prior to 2007’s changing of the federal guard, the words “by 2010 no class will be presented without PowerPoint” were uttered by somebody's party spokesman. Or at least that’s what I thought I heard… Perhaps it was about as likely as Hawky’s “no child shall live in poverty” promise; or maybe it would be like an Honest John ‘non core’ promise… it all seemed a little far-fetched. But no, it really appears as though someone actually said it and meant it, and it has gone on to become public policy, with educational and training institutions gearing up to deliver. Each institution has its own approach, and each has its own set of solutions. The University of Technology, Sydney, is currently celebrating 20 years as a university, and a recent visit gave a rare insight into the use of audiovisual technology as the major communication platform, after speech, in one of Australia’s major universities. Reg Collins (Manager, Audio Visual Services, IT Division) has really seen the significance of audiovisual systems grow exponentially in his 25 years at UTS and its predecessor, the NSW Institute of Technology. By the end of 2008, UTS AV will be managing installations in 250 rooms across their three campuses — Broadway, Kuring-gai (16km away), and Haymarket, which houses the Faculty of Business and the Faculty of Law — as well as the University Library. MAINTAIN — ALL THE RAGE

Having the time for proper maintenance and upgrades is critical with such a large number of rooms. Reg Collins provides some insight into the busy UTS schedule: The university has traditionally delivered its courses through two semesters of 13 weeks, but increasingly the Summer courses are filling what used to be the maintenance and upgrade period during the Christmas break. During term time the rooms operate 8.30am to 9.30pm Monday to Thursday with the occasional stragglers finishing by 7.00pm on Fridays. But, again, that’s all changing, thanks to community courses filling the rooms up over the weekend. All this leaves little time for a proper maintenance regime. The outsourcing of audiovisual system design, documentation, installation, programming and commissioning is becoming standard practice across Australian education institutions. Saying that, UTS has always maintained its own AV department so as to maintain a handle on the entire process. Mostly UTS has limited its outsourcing to the installation and commissioning of projectors, speakers and cabling systems. So it was an eye-opener to sit in AV System Designer Tony Ebonia’s office at Broadway and take in a snapshot of the status of all the rooms. This is achieved using a software tool from Crestron called RoomView.


FEATURE

ROOM WITH A VIEW

RoomView Server Edition (v7.1.0164 at the time of writing) has been around for a number of years, but it takes an installation like the UTS to truly demonstrate the system’s possibilities. Reg Collins, Tony Ebonia and the AV team utilise RoomView to manage the various rooms on a day-today and minute-to-minute basis, but also to extract significant data and insight for future planning of upgrades and new installations. They monitor parameters such as system power, lamp/display power on for two devices, lamp life, the type of input source, air filter status as well as equipment and room security alarms (tamper switches).

Given the three campuses can be in different postcodes and in use for long stints, the increased security monitoring from RoomView is a real benefit. A strobe and screamer are fitted adjacent to each room as a clear indicator and deterrent. Tony reports that to date it has been very successful in preventing any theft and system damage, and is ‘tested’ regularly by their service staff as they go about their daily routines. Clearly RoomView makes lamp monitoring and batch lamp replacement so much easier. But here’s something to think about: by monitoring each display’s selected input it’s simple to build up a profile of how the equipment in the room is used. Do you

Photo: Courtesy UTS

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Above: RoomView at work monitoring the status of AV equipment. Below: A typical dual-screen UTS lecture theatre with standard lectern featuring document camera and touch screen.


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PERSONNEL

AV Manager: Reg Collins System Programmer: Tony Ebonia Project Manager: Chris Watson

Photo: Courtesy UTS

recall the planning meeting where the VHS VCR ‘simply had to be included’ in the specification? Now RoomView can provide the hard data of actual usage. SPECIAL SOURCE

UTS has a service delivery objective in their new science laboratories: for the audiovisual system to facilitate any source to any room on the same floor. This is achieved by the installation of standard horizontal cable networks, on Cat6, allowing routing and distribution across each floor, with Crestron QuickMedia (QM) as its control and distribution platform. The distribution centre on each floor is fitted with a QM MD8x8 matrix controller, and with the release of the new QM MD16x16 matrix controller, this is now being extended to any source to any room in the same building. When this goal was adopted, QM transmission was only guaranteed over 100 metres of cable. (The cabled distance is calculated from the most distant input source to the most distant display.) As is the Australian way, the UTS AV Services Department undertook in-house engineering tests to determine just how far QM could be pushed before signal degradation became significant. They were glad they did. The team safely managed 210 metres, making their floor-wide distribution philosophy a realistic proposition. Reg praised the flexibility of QM platform to integrate with a shared communications cable architecture: “We’ve been using Crestron since 1992, and now thanks to Cat6 and some assistance from Crestron Australia, QuickMedia is an economically viable classroom technology, particularly with remote monitoring.” Just by way of some background, QuickMedia, released by Crestron in 2003,

A variation on the standard UTS lectern, adapted for use in a biological sciences teaching lab.

incorporates a low-cost IP management tool designed to help facilities easily control and monitor audiovisual devices. It’s a powerful, compact control system enabling serial, IR, and ethernet devices (such as projectors, switchers, TVs, and other audiovisual equipment) to be controlled over IP networks. It is a full-scale control system with complete support of all Crestron e-Control 2 and power applications. QM provides transmission and control of multiinputs of video, data and audio across a set of three Cat5 (or higher) cables. UTS has also taken advantage of the QM range of in-wall, in-floor and in-furniture input boxes and connection plates to meet their AV input/output requirements while avoiding the cost of customised input plates. At its most basic, QM is connected from input plate direct to a decode box at the display device. At its most advanced level, a 16x16 matrix allows for flexible routing and distribution of sources to outputs.

from stainless steel, rather than MDF, and is full of subtle angles to drain ‘fluids’ away from equipment, cables and connections.

ANATOMY OF A GOOD LECTERN

TOUCH OF CLASS

Another key principle in the management and delivery of AV at UTS is that a socalled ‘standard user interface’ be provided in each room. Given the heavy schedule, where lectures are presented back to back, academic staff are given little time to set up their presentation — the pressure is on to get the show on the road. To simplify the turnaround, UTS uses a ‘standard lectern’ design throughout all rooms with a common basic visual interface on the ‘house’ PC built into each lectern. The lecterns are also fitted with a standard DVD/VCR, an LCD display, a document camera and inputs for a notebook. The UTS ‘standard’ lectern, now a registered design, often has variants. Take the one in the new anatomy lab, which is built

Over the last few years the increasing use of the AV presentation platform for training has removed some of the flexibility for the presenters, where it has not been possible to make ‘on the spot’ annotations and emphasis onto the projected material. New installations at UTS in University Hall and the Anatomy Lab have delivered a new level of flexibility to presentations. The lecterns each have two displays with the vertical display also fitted with a touchscreen surface. All of the presentation sources are then fed through a new Crestron QM product, the DVP HD Pro, and a finger-touch annotation tool is made available straight onto the screens. These new installations will be examined in forthcoming issues. 

DUAL IN THE CROWN

Also, there’s an increasing demand for using dual projectors in training rooms. On the face of it, dual projectors, even in one of the most basic training room, may seem extravagant. UTS has chosen to use dual displays to deliver a high level of redundancy across their presentation venues. With the cost of projectors coming down all the time, coupled with the now total dependence on presentation media for course delivery, Reg Collins says it was an easy decision to justify. It also minimises the downtime of the room. Adding to this, many lectures now utilise comparative presentations on the two displays. For example, in engineering lectures it is common to see a CAD drawing on one display, with the real object sitting under the document camera on the second display.


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Hillsong Reaches Higher Bigger than your average parish council women’s auxiliarly luncheon. Text / Tim Stackpool

Every weekend, Hillsong Church undertakes significant staging and concert productions as a regular part of its Sunday worship. Supported by music, projection and lighting, these events are now world famous, recognised both in the ministry and production industries alike. But even grander is the annual Hillsong Women’s Conference, held at the cavernous Acer Arena (formerly the SuperDome) within Sydney’s Olympic Park. This weekend event, coupled with Hillsong’s recording of a new album and DVD, is typical of the church’s ‘big event’ vision. Long-time Technical Director Ian Anderson from Mitech Design is regularly contracted by Hillsong to assist with staging its events and is a firm believer that good-looking events make for good-looking TV. “It’s all about getting the balance of the lighting, the visuals and the staging right, to get the best mix to the eye. If it looks good to the eye it will look good on camera,” he says. “Any event that has a lot of audience participation, like a praise and worship event, requires good lighting and feel, not just on the stage but in the room, whether there are cameras involved or not. Any pastor or preacher deserves to be lit well so that people are able to concentrate on his or her message. This means getting the angles right if cameras are involved or not.” Anderson also dispels a major myth when it comes to TV lighting of such events. “There does seem to be a huge misconception that as soon as the cameras roll, you need to rig another 20 5ks and lose the entire atmosphere in a production. This is not the case anymore with High Definition (HD), or even Standard Definition, cameras. A close working relationship between the

Technical Producer, Lighting Director and Creative Designers is imperative to delivering the final look and feel of the events.” Ian Anderson works alongside Production Manager Kevin Watts. Whereas Anderson concentrates on lighting, video broadcast, rigging and talkback, Watts oversees the audio and PA components, along with the overall production management. They have both been involved with Hillsong events for many years. As with all major productions, many months are spent in preparation, planning and rehearsals. On Hillsong events, the lead time is generally four months from conception through to performance. According to Anderson, in the last month final decisions are made, and equipment requirements are locked down. “The Hillsong events work just like any other, with a creative team that brainstorms various concepts and then a technical team that delivers the crazy ideas! Every event has a particular theme or message that is being communicated. This particular event is really two events in one. The first being Hillsong’s annual Women’s Conference and, secondly, the church album recording. Technically, we try and merge the different requirements into the one set of systems,” Anderson said. JUST A LITTLE LIGHTING

And well might they try. As you would expect, the equipment inventory is extensive. With supplies from Chameleon Lighting and Lots Of Watts, the rig included 50 Varilite VL3000 spots, 10 VL3500 washes, six VL1000 profiles, 14 High End Showguns, 20 Martin TW1 washes, 20 Mac700 profiles and a host of conventional

fixtures. Control was achieved via the popular grandMA console. Special attention was also paid to the venue where 30 5kW fresnels along with 30 2kW fresnels were hung to give Acer arena good dimmable house lighting. A host of small LED fixtures were also used, including SGM Palcos, LED Honeycombs and Chromabanks. All of the fixtures were chosen for the type of effects they could deliver. “Lighting a room like the Acer Arena requires a lot of punch and that’s what all of those products have,” said Anderson. “This was the first time we used the VL3500 washes and they are the brightest, most useful moving light I have seen. Ten of them pointing at you make you shut your eyes and turn away, and that’s while sitting in the back row!” With respect to the rigging, 18 riggers clocked-up 12 hours using 126 chain hoists to hang a total of 42,986kg from the roof. This required detailed planning of all the hanging points due to flying elements, load restrictions, projection and audio angles. All of the preparation work was done using AutoCAD and subsequently marked out with chalk on the floor before any cases were rolled into the room. Along with Anderson, Paul Collison lent his lighting and system design experience to the gig, particularly noting the challenge presented by the client’s emphasis on massive video presentation. “The centre of all things video for Hillsong is a huge 24m x 4.5m LED screen,” he reports. “This can look amazing but is very tricky to work around. The majority of the content for this screen is IMAG (Image MAGnification) along with specialised packages produced locally in the church. Although it is a seamless


Photo: Paul Collison

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screen, the LED wall is essentially broken down to three individual screens. At times the three screens are blended into one. A Dataton Watchout system controls these screens.” Collison is particularly proud of the effects achieved during the show. “Personally, I was given a little more rein to push the barriers of what is deemed acceptable for this type of show,” he said. “We also really tried hard to create depth in the design — big looks that varied greatly from each other. Chameleon went out of their way to make sure we had a suitable quantity of LC panels which really helped with this goal. The LC panels are a great tool. When switched off, they can hardly be seen in the rig and other times they were the only source of light. They are phenomenal.” He is also a great fan of the advancements being made in LED technology, saying, “I love this new wave of low-res LED that really lets you redefine spaces and can give great depth. The flexibility of these new products is really exciting and I’m looking forward to making use of them further in future designs.” AND A FEW SCREENS

Regarding the visual display systems, Ian Anderson also comments that the visual technology can be quite intense at times. “Big Picture supplied the majority of the video components. In terms of projection though, the rig was comparatively simple with four Christie 20k ANSI lumens projectors used on two front screens and two other Barco 10k ANSI lumens units used on side screens. By comparison, last year’s event involved 16 projectors all across the set!” In detail, the main LED screen used 144 Lighthouse R16 (16mm pitch) panels in three 16:9 ratio screens butted together. Ultimately, the screen rig weighed-in at around 10 tonnes. Above that were low resolution LED displays, being 36 Martin LC panels, 360 Chroma-Q ColorWeb panels and 126 ElementLABS VersaTUBEs. That array was driven by three Martin Maxedia servers controlled from the grandMA console. Significant amounts of DVI and fibre cable was used to get signals from the lighting and the outside broadcast (OB) trucks to the stage as well as through the rig itself. The most upstage piece of scenery was a 360sqm ChromaQ ColorWeb curtain. This provided great depth to the staging when fired-up, but virtually disappeared when extinguished. An ArKaos media server pixel

FEATURE

mapped to this over the network. Also, the 36 Martin LC panels provided an expansion of video and movement to the big LED screen. They were broken up and used more as individual light sources rather than a larger screen. The high resolution screen and projectors were fed from an HD OB truck supplied by Global Television. Within the truck sat the hub for switching several camera outputs including a panoramic feed that allowed any camera to be fed across the entire LED screen. Video replay was achieved by various methods, ranging from the humble DVD player through to a five-head Watchout system and EVS hard disk units. All of the inputs and outputs were switched via a Sony mixer in the truck. THE ODD CAMERA OR TWO

On the image capture side, the Global Television inventory included 14 Sony HDC 1500 cameras with lenses ranging from a 4.5mm wide angle through to a 75x zoom lens. Anderson is enthusiastic about the image quality. “They are all fibre-based HD cameras and provide fantastic pictures, not only to the recording but also to the screens,” he said. “We stayed in the HD world all the way from the camera head through to the projectors and LED processors. Hillsong also used other camcorder-style HD cameras during the album record, on a Steadicam and in and around the crowd. It was a challenge to turn what is normally a truck that covers sport into a full on-screen presentation system. Sixteen Folsom Image ProHD scan converters were used to get computer signals in and out of the facility. There are lots of outboard feeds for audio operators and producers. Evertz multiviewer systems were used for most monitoring positions externally and internally in the truck. Three channels of house MATV were also generated for the backstage and public foyer of the building.” All of the camera outputs were fed into EVS hard disk units. The units then converted the recordings into QuickTime files and saved into a SANman storage system for editing. This kept the entire production and post-production processes completely tapeless. Also on-site, six Final Cut Pro edit suites were located in demountable buildings to edit content for the event. This content included daily ‘news’ programs aired on various satellite, cable and free-to-air channels around the globe.

VIDEO EQUIPMENT BIG PICTURE AUSTRALIA 4 x Christie 20k projectors 2 x Barco SLM G10 Projectors 144 x Lighthouse R16 LED panels 12 x Various 42" LCD 16 x Barco/Folsom ImagePro HD 1 x Evertz 32i/p Multiviewer 1 x Evertz SPG 8 x Various Timecode readers 2 x DVI to fibre interfaces 4 x TX/RX HD fibre sets 6 x Final Cut Pro Edit Suites 1 x 32 x 32 Talia Router SD/Stereo 6 x DVD recorders 4 x DVD players 1 x Sony remote PTX camera 1 x Panasonic MX12 1 x PowerPoint computer 1 x Songwords computer 1 x 6 Computer Dataton Watchout system GLOBAL TELEVISION Outside Broadcast Facility: HDV1 14 x Sony HDC 1500 cameras 3 x Vinten Pedestals 4 x Vinten HD tripods 3 x Vinten Standard Tripods 5 x Canon 75x lenses 3 x Canon 4.5mm wide angle lenses 4 x Canon 22x ENG lenses 1 x Sony MVS 8000 4ME vision mixer 1 x Sony 1.5ME Satellite panel 3 x EVS XT2 inc remotes 2 x EVS X-File 6 x Digi Betacam VTR’s 4 x DVCPro VTR’s 1 x SD/HD 128x128 router 8 x HD/SD up/down converters 1 x Evertz 72 input multiviewer

1.\ The view from the main camera platform. 2.\ Lighting designer Paul Collison with his grandMA and a selection of preview monitors. 3.\ Video source central. 4.\ A few of the 126 chain hoists suspending screens, LED panels, PA cabinets and the odd piece or two of truss. 5.\ LC LED panels and moving lights flown overhead on truss. Photo credits: Images 1 through 4, Ian Anderson; Image 5 by Paul Collison.


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FEATURE

Paul Collison

Photo: Paul Collison

A BASIC COMMS SYSTEM

Such productions require reliable and seamless methods to communicate to individuals and groups of crew in an instant. While some aspects of the event are rehearsed and driven precisely by timecode, the majority is playedout as the preachers and worship leaders see fit. From a technical perspective, this required a complex but ultimately simple-to-operate communications system. “I have worked with the Clear-Com system on many international events and it has always provided a good backbone for clear event communications,” says Anderson. “The Clear-Com system is perfect for large-scale events. In basic terms, we are able to connect anyone to anyone on the system if required.” The Clear-Com Eclipse 208 was the hub of all production and event communications. This digital matrix system allows users, whether they be using key panels, radios or beltpacks, to communicate during the event. Over 20 Clear-Com panels, 25 duplex radio bases and more than 500 radios combined to deliver communications for all aspects of the event — from cleaners to event managers and production staff. Interfacing with the television OB system was also vital and transparent to the user. The hardwired talkback within the OB truck, which was an RTS matrix, handled all of the TV operators such as directors, cameras and tape areas. Four-wire circuits linked the two systems.

Of course, the ultimate goal of any such production is spiritual. Michael Cuthbertson, Hillsong’s own Production Manager sums it up. ”We use media to be as creative as we can in presenting the Gospel,” he said. “But truly, we do very little to even come close to expressing how great our God really is. We will continue to grow in all that we do through the media with one goal, so that those who attend our conferences may catch a glimpse of God’s greatness.” TECHNOLOGY IN THE SERVICE OF WORSHIP

On the technical side of this, Ian Anderson pays tribute to the Hillsong production personnel, saying: “The Hillsong team is one of the most professional technical teams out there. The majority of the crew are volunteers and their dedication to the cause is second to none. We have young men and women whose day job may be a teacher or mechanic, but at the event they operate cameras, control units and tape areas.” While Hillsong staff make up some of the positions, professional crew take on the more technically specific roles, such as systems engineers and broadcast engineers. According to Anderson, most professionals that work at a Hillsong or any other large church event are amazed at the level of the crew’s competency. For Ian Anderson, this emerging market is indicative of the various ways many single types of technology can be deployed. “Worship Technology I believe is just a fancy name for

a very large and clever group of people who have been catching up, and now overtaking in some areas, the rest of the audiovisual and broadcast industries,” he said. “Churches are using the same technology as everyone else, but they just happen to be using it in different and clever ways to portray messages that the world needs to see and hear.” Irrespective of the technology available, Anderson is in no doubt as to the driving force behind the success of ‘worship technology’. “Hillsong has been one for always moving forward and using new technology, but this is only because the vision and ideas of the leadership encourage this to happen,” he said, adding, ”Every organisation wants to portray their message in the strongest way possible. There is no doubt that Hillsong influences the local and overseas church market. You have no idea of how many calls we received after we used the giant LED screen for the first time. Everyone wanted one! This is great and shows that we inspire people to think about what they can do in their own church environments.” There is no doubt the realm of worship technology will continue to evolve, and beyond that, technology modelled specifically for use in worship is now firmly established. And while it may be considered that the United States is the broadest market for such applications, it is certainly Australian producers who are recognised as the leaders and innovators in making this technology raise the roof to the heavens. 


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FEATURE

In a Realm of its own GPT Audio Visual boss, Glen Thurecht, offers this personal account of the rarest of jobs: a five-star hotel in Canberra. Text / Glen Thurecht

Photos: courtesy Realm Hotel

The words ‘Canberra’ and ‘modern, worldclass accommodation’ aren’t normally heard in the same breath. That was until earlier this year when the Hotel Realm opened its doors. Located near the heart of Canberra’s parliamentary triangle, the Hotel Realm offers five-star facilities that include a large capacity, variable layout function room, ancillary function rooms and six boardrooms. They required a fully-integrated high-end audiovisual system to complement the modern facilities: five-star audiovisuals for a five-star venue. GPT Audio Visual is a Canberra-based engineering and installations company. We were awarded the contract to provide a complete audiovisual turnkey project design, supply, installation and commissioning. As we incorporate both engineering-based consultancy and installation services this allows us to provide tight integration of the audiovisual system with other services such as architectural, electrical, data, MATV, mechanical and structural engineers. Our engineering consultancy includes both acoustic and audiovisual engineering services, which enabled the Realm systems to be designed in compliance with local environmental noise laws.

THE BRIEF

The brief from the engineering team at Doma Constructions, developers of the Hotel Realm project, was simple: provide audiovisual facilities to allow 80 percent of all bookings for the function rooms to be serviced without the need for external hire equipment, and provide quality sound and vision outputs suitable for a five-star hotel facility. Budget was not initially a design constraint factor. The financial justification for this audiovisual 80/20 rule is based on the savings gained from hiring less equipment and fewer operators. Audiovisual facilities are costed separately when a function room is booked, providing direct income attributed to the system. THE DESIGN

The audiovisual design philosophy was based on flexibility. The function room space includes four rooms, all in a row, which may be combined to form larger spaces. These can be used in almost any combination and can be configured for presentations to come from any direction within the room. Facilities incorporated into the room include:

• Extensive function room floor input patch panel system for audio, video, and computer VGA. • Full matrix of all audio and video, allowing any input to be routed to any output. • Four radio microphones. • 16 room speakers. • Music subwoofers. • Two fixed projector positions. • Two projectors, 90-degree swivel mount. • Six 3.8m (150-inch) motorised screens. • Four function room touch panel controllers. • Separate equipment room with full system control. • Four-channel audio monitoring system in the equipment room. • Four DVD recorders. • Audio/video outputs to foyer display screens. • Audio/video outputs to ancillary Function Rooms 1 and 2. • Pay TV audio/video input. • Pay TV audio/video output to TV modulator. • Four induction loop systems for the hearing impaired. • Audio DSP control network. • Two integrated 24 x 8 multicore panel connections, for Function Rooms 2 and 3.


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“The lesson to be learnt is that an audio visual system is like a living object … a changing entity that must work closely with people”

SPEAKERS

The audio design was based on placing one speaker in each corner of each function room, allowing perceived sound direction to match the presenter position. The speaker dispersion and coverage were modelled within the function room spaces to ensure we had the speakers optimally tilted to ensure we were spraying as little sound around as possible. The DAS RF-12 series were selected for sound quality and technical performance. They incorporate a constant directivity horn, a 12-inch (300mm) woofer and birch ply cabinet construction. These have been supplemented in the two centre function rooms by DAS SUB18 active 18-inch (450mm) subwoofers to provide low frequency music content for larger music events. These DAS Reference series speakers also incorporate mounting hardware points. When the function rooms are opened into larger configurations, the speaker systems may be combined to provide greater coverage. AUDIO SIGNAL PROCESSING

The DSP brains behind the DAS speaker system was the Biamp Nexia, which was selected on the basis of sound quality and boot/shutdown

characteristics. It will provide the signal routing and audio delays required for the multiple room speaker configurations. Individual room combinations are stored in memory. Individual speaker tuning, via 31-band EQ or parametric EQ, can be applied to each speaker and altered for different room combinations. All DSPs and end controllers are connected via a dedicated TCP/IP network. A laptop computer can be connected to this network from any point within the function rooms, allowing multiple floor operator positions. VISION

We provided six large-screen projector systems for the four function rooms. These are based on 3.8m (150-inch) 4:3 motorised projection screens mounted in trapdoor screen enclosures, and ceiling-mounted Mitsubishi XD2000 (3500 ANSI lumens) projectors. The system design required both composite video and computer VGA signals to be displayed. When the function rooms are combined, multiple video images may be required in each room. This meant we needed to introduce a full video matrix system, which allows any input to be assigned to any projector.

INPUT PANELS

A total of 10 input panels have been provided for additional wired microphones, line level audio, computer video and audio, composite video and the DSP network control connection. The audio DSPs allow a balanced XLR input to be used at either line or microphone levels and phantom power to be applied to any input channel when required. CONTROL SYSTEMS

The control system is based on touch panels, with a six-inch (150mm) colour touch panel in each of the four function rooms. Operator control has been simplified on these control panels, allowing only selection of audio/video sources and control of audio volumes. The panels change to reflect the function room configuration and provide the appropriate controls for the selected arrangement. An additional control panel has been provided in the equipment room to enable full control of all room functions. An active Biamp Nexia DSP control interface is also provided to allow control of all system audio processing and routing functions.


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PROJECT TEAM

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Project Manager: Duncan Amos Design Engineer: Glen Thurecht Site Manager: Ben McGregor

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AUDIO INDUCTION LOOP

Induction loops for the hearing impaired have been provided in each of the four function rooms, as required by the Building Code of Australia (AS1428). Each room has an under-carpet flat cable loop driven by a GPT300R-II induction loop power amplifier in the equipment room. INPUTS & OUTPUTS

Linked via their NexLink ports, four Nexia CS 10-input/six-output DSP processors were configured as a 40-input/24-output audio DSP matrix. Composite video is routed via a Creator AV1616 (16x16) matrix. The VGA (RGBHV) signals from computers are routed through a Creator RGB1608 (16-in x 8-out) matrix with a channel bandwidth of 350MHz. Both composite and VGA feeds are supplied to each projector, with signal selection undertaken at the projector head. INSTALLATION & COMMISSIONING

All microphone and balanced line-level cable runs are ‘star quad’ shielded, twisted-pair cable to minimise levels of EMI-injected hum and buzz (50Hz and 100Hz). All video signals are distributed via quad-shielded RG6 cables to minimise injected EMI. The DSP’s dedicated IP network enabled speaker tuning to be undertaken in each of the function rooms via a laptop controller. SYSTEM LIFECYCLE & HUMAN INTERFACE

The system has been in operation for some time now and while the equipment is operating well and offers full functionality, a study of function

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room bookings indicated that many more bookings were accessing external audiovisual hire equipment than predicted by the 80/20 rule. It turns out that many of the function bookings included external equipment hire which could easily be handled by the ‘in-house’ system. Here we found an issue that confronts many large systems, where both marketing and support operators require knowledge of what the system is capable of. Audiovisual hire companies also need to be ‘integrated’ into systems operations. However, outside technicians may not know the facilities available within the space or how to operate it. Often their solution is to provide more hire equipment (which they’re familiar with), and interface it to the in-house system in the simplest, lowest-level way. This conflict of interest may be addressed by the provision of audiovisual systems knowledge to the facilities management through in-house staff training or provision of technical personnel. GPT Audio Visual now supplies a support technical service that addresses this issue. We have also conducted further in-house training to ensure management are aware of the system’s capabilities. They’re now confident they can meet the 80/20 target. The lesson to be learnt from this is that an audiovisual system is like a living object. As pretty as it is, it will die a sad death if not treated as a living, changing, entity that must work closely with people. Conversely, if you give your system the flexibility to grow and take the time to really get to know it, you can have a match made in heaven. 

Function room video system diagram

EQUIPMENT SCHEDULE 16 x DAS REF-12 two-way, 12-inch speakers 8 x IS600 Australian Monitor stereo power amplifier, 300W RMS/Channel, 8Ω 2 x DAS Subwoofer, 18-inch (450mm) active (500W) 18 x DAS REF Series speaker mount 4 x Biamp Nexia CS DSP processor, 10-input/6output 1 x High Definition television receiver 4 x Pioneer combination DVD/CD Player 6 x Vogel’s projector ceiling patch mount 10 x Active audio patch panel plates 4 x GPT300R 300VA induction loop power amplifier 20 x Video patch panel plate — ceiling & wall/floor 1 x 16 x 8 VGA matrix creator 1 x 16 x 16 composite matrix creator 8 x Screen Technics 150-inch (3.8m) motorised screen 2 x Equipment Rack, 42RU 2 x Power distribution with line filtering 4 x ComBox six-inch (150mm) Joey colour touch screen controller 1 x ComBox 10.4-inch (264mm) DaVinci colour touch panel controller 1 x Theatre Commander 10 x IR coupler 10 x Smart relay 4 x Joey wall enclosure 4 x AKG WMS 450 radio microphone receiver, with handheld microphone 2 x AKG WMS 450 lapel radio transmitter, with microphone


043

FEATURE

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044

FEATURE

Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre Goes HD SCEC bucks the trend and establishes state-of-the art in-house video production facilities. Text / Tim Stackpool

In a bold upgrading of facilities, the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour has recently completed a year-long project to beef-up its video production capabilities. The centre piece of this nearly half million dollar project is a 20 terabyte (20,000GB) storage area network (SAN) supporting newly-updated, highdefinition-capable video edit suites. Each of the three edit suites is built around an eightcore Mac Pro system loaded with 12GB of RAM, running Final Cut Pro. Adding to these new broadcast standard suites is a networked Hamlet VidScope monitoring system, to ensure that all media files and completed works meet recognised broadcast standards. Known as Centre Video Production (CVP) this facility provides video support services to many of the centre’s clients. The facility’s newly-appointed Business Development Executive Benjamin Smith, believes the upgrade makes CVP a world class production shop. “As all areas of the market start to move toward high-definition delivery, we really needed to jump out of the gate early to be sure our systems were solid and reliable, not to mention that CVP is by far the most advanced production facility attached to a convention and exhibition centre in Australia,” said Mr Smith. SERIOUS HD TOOLS

Along with the 20TB 16-bay SANman RAID array and associated MetaSAN LAN gateway, the facility also includes a Grass Valley Concerto router (32x32 HD + 32x32 SD). The Concerto brings with it the capability of bidirectional conversions between analogue video and SDI, standards conversion between NTSC and PAL formats

as well as aspect ratio conversion. A Panasonic AG-HVX202EN P2/DV camera for location recording is complemented with Sony HDV/DV HVR M25-P and M25-V decks together with the existing legacy format equipment that includes digital Betacam and SP recorders. The workflow is based on Apple Final Cut Studio 2 and components of Adobe’s Production Suite. A telling addition to the facility is the inclusion of a Tangent CP200 colour grading system with a CP200-BK colour grading surface and a CP200-TS transport/selection panel. With that capability, CVP is certainly targeting higher-end corporate advertising work and industrial video production. “Just one example would be the fantastic corporate video for Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority where we sent up a chopper with an HD camera. We would not have been able to cut or deal with any of the footage before the upgrade. But we only just completely finished the install and upgraded all suites to Mac OSX Leopard and have the SAN talking to all the suites. There are no other suites with this kind of equipment that are available for walk-in dry hire,” Smith said. A CHOICE OF WET OR DRY

And it’s the dry hire opportunity that sets the CVP facility apart, as there are very few comprehensive HD suites in Australia available in this way. While the centre has plenty of expertise to call upon, the new suites are available for hire 24 hours a day to external operators. The facility also represents one of only a few extensive HD suites remaining within the city fringe. Since the departure of Foxtel from the vicinity, many other supportive industries have also moved away, leaving CVP in position to

fill the new void both for corporate and broadcast clients. In terms of integration, the router installation and HD monitoring system was completed by respected broadcast engineer Kevin Mooy from Kevram and Associates. Andy Worth from Digistor oversaw the SAN and edit suite completion. CVP’s Production Manager Daniel Daley assisted with the entire specification and subsequently now makes the entire place fly. Daley considered both analogue and digital challenges when building the new suites. He said, “The Grass Valley Concerto Router, for instance, was chosen due to the fact that all the networks had proven them to be solid and reliable. When the SAN was first installed we still had one Liquid Silver Suite in operation, so we needed a solution that could work across both Mac and PC platforms. At that point the MetaSAN was the only option. In terms of the actual editing software to be used, Final Cut was the best choice for us. Its value for money, along with its features and benefits, made our decision easy.” Given its location within the centre, the facility can now provide clients with a range of HD services, including higher quality video conferencing, event recording, event highlight videos, live satellite broadcasting, editing for webcasts and podcasts, TV programming and commercials. In combination with other CVP services, it can also offer full production of promotional videos, including scripting, directing and post-production. The obvious advantage of the suite’s dual-fibre connectivity is the speed in which it handles large HD files. Notably, with all suites on the one SAN, it’s possible for one suite to be ingesting material, another undertaking the editing, while a third might be finishing high-resolution graphics.


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Def Touch: One of the three newly refurbished and upgraded edit suites.

Photo: courtesy SCEC


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FEATURE

Rack Attack: Legacy formats continue to be supported in CVP’s HD world. Here the new Hamlet VidScope system sits nestled in amongst the existing tape replay and monitoring gear in the equipment room

Notwithstanding the improvements made to the editing facilities, the Convention & Exhibition Centre now needs to continue with a further stage of development within their HD realm. Currently, presenting HD material inside any of the many on-site venues requires the outsourcing of live HD production facilities. CVP’s live multi-camera fly-away production kit remains standard definition, but plans are in place for a similar HD upgrade. Given the rising demand for high-definition projection and displays of live events and IMAG, that upgrade may be implemented sooner rather than later. STAYING OUT FRONT

So, with the acceptance of significant outsourcing within the live presentation industry, why did the centre choose to make such a significant capital investment? ”To make sure that we stay ahead of the competition,” explains Benjamin Smith. “The work that CVP has done with internal bid videos to secure international events has already been well-worth the upgrade. Not to mention the fact that having a one-stopshop with the best gear in town is sure to make our clients think twice about bringing in external companies. The centre is one of the best venues in the world, and it makes sense that our production facilities are just as world-class.” Producers and clients of the entire centre for exhibition and conference purposes will no doubt enjoy the benefits of this newly upgraded facility. Along with the obvious technological improvements, there is an injection of in-house enthusiasm that naturally comes with such an undertaking. As demonstrated at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 (when it hosted a variety of sporting events), the site proved itself more versatile than merely being a venue for business discussions and events. CVP’s horizons now extend beyond the obvious conference users. Given HD support and connectivity now available from CVP, television producers locally and internationally can now consider the exhibition halls as sporting venues and the conference venues as giant studios. In all, the suites look good and are ergonomically laid out, with both parking and catering aplenty. These aspects, along with the sensible installation of industry recognised equipment, should make the facility a practical and convenient tool for both the audiovisual and broadcast industries.  Photo: courtesy SCEC


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048

FEATURE

Bang the Gongs The 2008 MTV Australia Awards presentation Text / Tim Stackpool

Time was when a music awards presentation consisted of a couple of double four-way stacks, 200 par cans, six smoke machines, a dozen off-air monitors, an assortment of dazed and ‘emotional’ musicians, and a few confetti bombs. Not so today. The 2008 MTV Australia Awards presentation demonstrates just how far the humble awards ceremony has come. The reincarnated Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop (at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney) played host to a score of music stars and their screaming fans, as well as a symphony of world-class lighting, sound and visual technologies. A few camels were thrown into the opening number for good measure. Bytecraft Entertainment and Cairellie Showcraft joined with Media Server Programmer and Operator Alex Saad and the audio team from Norwest to deliver a production that makes for compelling youth television as well as popular fodder for fans on the web. PERFECT VISION

While the nature and array of the luminaires, display devices and concert audio systems used on the gig is frighteningly extensive, they needed to be. “The vision control alone existed on various levels, with the Martin LC LED walls controlled completely by the HES Catalyst media server and were treated as individual sections of 1024 x 768 video per panel,” explains Stephen Knight from Cairellie. “We addressed them in an XY coordinate system from top left. Very easy. Initially we used 24 LC2140 panels, but the producers added another four mid-way through rehearsals, making a total of 28 panels.” For video distribution to the LC panels Cairellie ran a DVI feed from the primary media server to a distribution amplifier (DA) then fed via fibre to other DAs in the roof on either side of the stage, for distribution to the panels. Although the LCs are equipped with a DVI loop-thru port, to minimise signal degradation, no more than four panels were looped on any run. Included in the vision rig were two Thomas PixelArt screens located either side

of the main stage. These were also fed with a split of the DVI from the Catalyst server. A VideoMapper interface was programmed to allocate the DVI video image to the 24 PixelArt battens, each being six pixels high by 72 wide. This was fed from the VideoMapper to the battens using regular Cat5 cable. The Catalyst server that generated the DVI signal was controlled by a Hog 3 console and dual DP2000 DMX processors. “There was a second Catalyst server that was feeding 180 pixel-mapped Pro Shop LED tubes under the stage,” adds Knight. “The second Catalyst was outputting its DMX via Art-Net, initially feeding an ELC ethernet switch at front of house where two streams (main and redundant) of ArtNet were fed to the stage. There they were distributed via another ELC switch to feed three eight-way nodes converting the ArtNet to DMX.” This Catalyst was also controlled by the Hog 3. Overhead, installed in the roof, another 180 Pro Shop LED tubes were controlled via a grandMA console with three Network Signal Processors and an Art-Net node. There were also 18 Thomas PixelLine1044s incorporated into the stage set which were controlled by Bytecraft’s Hog II. In all, there were 39 universes of DMX512 used to control the video components of the production. General venue projection was provided by three Barco 6000 ANSI lumen RLM R6+ Performer HD projectors. The video signal was SDI, but because the plasma screens wouldn’t accept SDI it was converted to component video by a Folsom Image Pro scaler. Additionally, Bytecraft supplied an LED screen above the awards area. A Cairellie fibre fed DVI to that screen from yet another Folsom Image Pro with content originating from a Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 media server (along with a back-up), both driven from a grandMA Lite via Art-Net. Beyond the actual operation of the array of technology in use, Knight was pleased with the rigging and customisation required for the event: “I was happy with the presentation of the end product. All the rigging was neat


FEATURE

Photo courtesy MTV Networks Australia

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FEATURE

Photo courtesy Cairellie Showcraft Above: The main stage, looking from the lighting control position. Right: The main stage, showing some of the 180 LED 'happy tubes' embedded under the floor.

and tidy,” he said. “We had to make some funky brackets out of Design Quintessence product to suspend the L-shaped LC panels, but nothing stopped working.” ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES

Cairellie’s Stephen Knight sees future opportunities for Cairellie working with Bytecraft’s hardware knowledge and complementary control systems. “On this event Bytecraft were the lighting company but as a vision supplier Cairellie used lighting control equipment to run the vision (apart from the LED display controlled on DMX). However, the pixel-mapped LED, the LC content and event graphics over the awards area were all controlled via lighting consoles. So I guess the gap between the two is being narrowed with each production. I’d say we worked in well with Bytecraft on integrating the technology and general operation.” For Alex Saad, his praise for the success of the show goes to those responsible for the interconnect, saying: “All the initial design was done by Production Designer Julio Himede, James Klein, MTV’s Technical Production Manager, and with Stephen Knight, they did all the planning and the implementations. They made it work, I just operated it!” Knight shares the love, saying: “Alex is a great guy. We had not used Catalyst in the past as we predominantly use Hippotizer and ArKaos. He was great to work with and he made our gear look great.” Saad believes the greatest challenge for the event was in the initial planning, with Knight firstly having to source all the vision gear required to meet the performance specification, and then to determine a system to make it click. After that Saad was occupied with both the live event and its posterity. “I always bear in mind that the event is for TV,

and that the product will be viewed on both TV and the internet for a long time to come,” he said, adding, “With one comes the other. If you make it look great live, it will be more dramatic on TV.” ROUND SOUND

The nature of the TV production also delivered challenges for the audio folks at Norwest Productions. The old rail sheds are heritage listed and acoustically hostile, with large slabs of concrete making up the structure. Norwest’s Ian Shapcott and Ewan McDonald were principally concerned with a PA design that also took into account the staging of the show in the round. Within Norwest’s design, four clusters of six Adamson Y10 line array cabinets were flown and configured as left/right arrays across the longest throw (north to south). Along the western side (a substantially shorter throw), two other clusters were suspended, consisting of four Adamson Y10s, this time underhung with two Adamson Spektrix. The staging on the eastern side had a ramp heading to the presentation area, where the team rigged two arrays of EAW KF650s to complete the fill. For subsonics, a total of 12 Adamson T21s were ground-stacked two high around the stage, rounding out the sound. For the broadcast audio, Norwest deployed a completely separate speech system from east to west within the rig. The four main arrays for this purpose each consisted of four of their newly-acquired EAW NTL720 powered baby line array modules. Delays and infills for the system were managed via RCF ART 322i boxes. Ten of these were also used in the foyer area, along with a pair of EAW SB1000z subs. Similarly, for the red carpet, a third system also used RCF ART 322i units providing PA to the public stands.

Norwest’s inventory of L & K multipinned stage boxes and multicore cables were also extensively utilised with eight bands performing on separate ‘roll-in’ stages during the broadcast. The mobile staging comprised some 21 Megadeck rolling risers provided by Edwin Shirley Staging. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

From lighting supplier Bytecraft’s perspective, the job rates as one of the best in the country. According to Production Manager Paul Rigby: “it’s ultimately rewarding, as the results are always fantastic, plus [LD] Tom Kenny is a real pleasure to work with.” Bytecraft’s inventory for the gig included 200 moving lights, comprising a mix of Martin MAC2000s and Atomic strobes, VariLite VL3000s, VL3500s and VL2500s and High End StudioBeam and Showgun fixtures. Color Kinetics LED (ColorBlaze 48s and 72s and ColorBlast 12s) were also supplied, along with a respectable catalogue of Pars, Source 4s, Molefays and other conventional fixtures plus eight followspots. A grandMA console controlled the moving lights, while a Hog II handled the VIP area, all LED and conventional fixtures. The Bytecraft hire register was rounded off with 30 panels of Lighthouse R6 LED screen to make the 9.6m x 0.96m rolling text ticker in the presentation area. The 2008 Awards were reworked from the previous year, being a shorter but more intense show. It remains one of Australia’s most respected made-for-TV live music events. But as with all spectacular annual presentations, the challenge that remains after the de-rig is not the packing, storing and testing of the gear upon return, but more so the vision, ideas and creative inspiration required for next year’s broadcast. Rock on. 


Photo: Michael Anderson, Paramount photography

EQUIPMENT LIST BYTECRAFT VariLite 42 x VL3000 Profile 18 x VL3500 Wash 12 x VL2500 Profile Martin 32 x Mac 2000 Profile 56 x Mac 2000 Wash 46 x Atomic Strobe High End Systems 12 x Studio Beam 10 x Showgun ETC 24 x Source 4 Profile 80 x Source 4 par 168 x Par 64 cans 72 x Par 56 cans 2 x Robert Juliat Aramis followspots 6 x Lycian Starklite followspots 53 x 1 tonne chain motors 80 x 2.4m (8ft) box truss 1 x 9m circular truss 1 x 3.5m circular truss

NORWEST PRODUCTIONS FOH System Speaker Cabinets 32 x Adamson Y10 8 x Adamson T21 subs 8 x Adamson SpekTrix 2 x Adamson SpekTrix W 4 x EAW JF260e 20 x RCF 322A 4 x EAW KF850 2 x EAW SB850 sub bass

Mixing Consoles Yamaha O1V96 Digico D5 Midas Venice Yamaha PM1D Mackie CFX20 Monitor System 24 x Nexo PS15 In-Ear Monitor Systems 5 x Sennheiser G2 receiver/transmitters Signal Distribution 8 x XTA DS-800 active mic split 5 x Optocore X-6 16-channel input frame 4 x Optocore Tactical Fibre Reel 6 x Optocore DD-32 64-channel AES/EBU interface 1 x Optocore DD-32E Digital I/O Unit

CAIRELLIE 6 x Barco RLM R6+ projector 2 x Sony FX51 projector 28 x Martin LC2140 panel 361 x Pro Shop LED Tubes 10 x Thomas PixelLine 1044 24 x Thomas Pixel Art 10 x 42-inch Sony LCD 4 x Sony 50-inch plasma 2 x Folsom Image Pro 7 x ELC Art-Net Node 8 3 x ELC switch 8 4 x grandMA NSP nodes 2 x grandMA consoles 2 x Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 2 x HES Catalyst V4 4 x Jands DD6-2 DMX splitter 22 x ½ tonne chain motors Lots x Gefen DVI Fibre DAs


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FEATURE

ALL IN FAVOUR SAY AYE ‘Accountability’ and ‘transparency’ are council watchwords. Best get the AV specialists in to make it happen. Text\ Graeme Hague

For many of us, Town Councils are about building permits, dog catchers and parking inspectors. And sure, local councils might need to take care of the seemingly trivial, but each is a multi-million dollar enterprise. With big money comes big responsibility, and city councils are being forced to be more efficient and transparent in their decision making. Four Corners and Leader newspapers love nothing more than an exposé of a council caught with its hand in the biscuit barrel, so elected members need all the hi-tech help they can muster to keep accurate records of meetings and voting — it’s no use knocking back big bribes from property developers unless the public know how virtuous you’ve been! Recently, three councils in Perth — the cities of Subiaco, South Perth and Wanneroo — have worked with Vizcom Technologies to install cutting-edge conferencing systems in their chambers. The gear allows each council to display extensive multimedia presentations of the issues being considered. Also, in each case, Vizcom has installed a combination of individual microphone stations for each councillor and controlling software that tracks and displays the voting on the screens. PUT TO THE VOTE

Electronic voting has been around a long time and projecting the results is nothing new either, but where Vizcom offers something different is the way its conferencing equipment can be integrated with the client’s existing computer network and the way all formats of documents can be sourced instantly and shown on the screens. The extra smarts can be traced back to Vizcom’s special herbs and spices, combining Microsoft Windows, Crestron controls and – as Vizcom’s system designer David Jones puts it – a “good dose of our own software”. It sounds like there’s scope for things to get complicated, but it’s quite the opposite. The

councillors each have their own microphone station that includes a microphone (obviously) and a speaker for relaying audio from other stations. In larger rooms the latter is plainly important, but the speaker can be muted if, such as at the Subiaco Council where they upgraded everything including the furniture, the members prefer a close, round table environment. The microphones can still be used to record proceedings — more on that later. The standard stations have three buttons for lodging a Yes, No or Abstain vote and a chairperson’s station also has the ability to shut out or mute the others should someone get a bit overwrought… a rarity in local government, of course. Overall management of the conferencing system is usually given to a secretary at their own station with a touchscreen controller for adjusting the voting modes or altering what’s displayed on the individual screens, plus importing multimedia into the conference. However, this configuration doesn’t have to be used. For example the chairperson could have the touchscreen or everyone can have one with individual menus available on each. The restrictions on how each conference system can be designed to work is basically a function of practicality — obviously you don’t want everybody trying to manipulate the screen content at the same time, for example. Every system requires a central control point, but the scale and location varies significantly between implementations. Some clients keep it small and discreet, and some (like Wanneroo council) opt for a traditional bio-box setup (aka a control room). Different voting modes can be selected for each meeting – and, again, these can be built into the software to suit individual clients. A common example would be ‘anonymous’ voting where the results are shown for all to see, but how each person at the meeting voted is kept hidden. Another possibility is

to give one specific person a casting vote that decides an outcome. Switching modes is the kind of task a secretary at the control point would initiate at the chairperson’s request. CUSTOMERISATION

Exactly how the conferencing system displays multimedia such as Word documents or PDF files is dependent on the client’s preferences during the system design. The secretary would simply bring the required software on screen before navigating to the appropriate file. There’s no reason why an internet browser can’t be incorporated and a meeting could collectively ‘Google’ information relevant to their discussion (I’m imagining eBay would need to be banned). It’s this integration of a client’s office server network and all the resources that it provides that makes the Vizcom conferencing system far more than just a pretty vote-counting machine with flashing lights. The types of displays used have varied between councils . Some clients have installed individual screens at each seat, and although the monitors are all showing the same thing, at times it’s not clear whether everyone is focused on the right area. Larger, communal screens are a better option in these situations and so most clients install a combination of both, using plasma or LCD televisions and, if they need something bigger, LCD projectors on to dedicated wall screens. If the issue being debated or the information displayed is in some way sensitive, any of the networked screens can have their output blanked for confidentiality. An obvious extension of all this technology is the ability to digitally record the audio of meetings. Vizcom offer the software and any extra hardware to do this, but they’re aware it isn’t something to be taken lightly. As we all know, digital audio of any decent quality can require files of considerable size, and contentious meetings might run for several hours. To include a


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1\ South Perth council chamber. Note the councillors' images on the voting results screen. 2\ Wanneroo council chamber with public viewing gallery 3\ The central control point in the Subiaco council chamber.

system that will reliably record long sessions is a large undertaking unless you work with a tape-based medium such as DAT (which is going the way of the dodo anyway). Vizcom will incorporate digital recording into the conference system for a client when asked, but it’s not just an optional extra they’ll chuck in with free mudflaps and a dashboard mat. Careful consideration needs to be given, not only of the operating procedures, but also the software skills required to process and distribute the recorded audio. On the subject of skills, Vizcom claims that training staff is quick and painless. Two sessions are all that’s usually required and the Vizcom folks also sit in on the first ‘real’ meeting, more as a comforting presence than a necessity. What happens if it all goes pear-shaped? Because the system is computer-based it doesn’t require anything special. Protecting its operation is best done with the usual array of UPSs and regular data backup. The touchscreens can be mirrored on any other part of the network and used ‘manually’, if a touchscreen fails. There’s no inherent limit to the size and

scope of the system, and Vizcom believes this platform can be adapted to suit any situation that encompasses meetings, minutes and voting. VOTE FOR THE FUTURE

Everything for these projects has been developed in house at Vizcom using Crestron’s proprietary development software. SIMPL+ was used to handle the complex RS-232 serial data communications with the TOA conferencing system and the audio processing. Another SIMPL+ module stores the last 50 voting results to the Crestron’s non-volatile RAM in case the votes aren’t logged on the secretary’s PC due to momentary network or operational problems. SIMPL Windows was then used to integrate with the rest of the project, including video processing and a mix of relays, infra-red, and low voltage I/O, for controlling ancillary devices. Crestron touch panels are used to control the room and its environment, while a PC-based version of the touch panel is used to display information to the councillors’ local LCD monitors and the general public. As broadband connections ramp up and —

to think of it! — stabilise, there’s no barrier to a future system extending outside of a building and even beyond the shores. Shareholders scattered all over the world could have their vote registered on-screen simultaneously with people sitting in the room. You might think we’ve been seeing this for years, but the difference is that participants would be actually making their vote at the same time and seeing its impact on the debate in real time — not phoning a vote in and watching some televised vision. The cost of such a system is almost impossible to project. The enormous number of variables that go into each system — ranging from the head-count of microphone stations to the monitor screen size in the boss’s office toilet — makes it difficult to even suggest some kind of ballpark figure. The humble vote is often taken for granted, but it’s a powerful act in the hands of many people who need the best information and resources to make the right decisions. Without doubt, conference systems like these will shape our future. 


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www.videopro.com.au Showroom - Level 1 Citygate, 1062 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley Queensland 4006 Australia Fortitude Valley Phone: (07) 3250 0000 projectsales@videopro.com.au


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1.\The foyer of Minter Ellison Brisbane’s conferencing floor. 2.\Flip-out screen in major function room. 3.\ One of Minter Ellison’s fleet of conference and function rooms.


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Baristas & Solicitors Videopro’s expresso machinations at Minter Ellison, Brisbane. Text / Brad Watts

If I’m not very much mistaken, big legal practices are built on the foundation of two unshakeable principles. No, I’m not referring to ‘truth’ and ‘justice’… I’m talking about ‘billable hours’ and ‘good coffee’. Never in the history of litigation was there a successful law firm that didn’t supply the world’s most popular stimulant on tap, 24/7 to partners and clients alike. The walnut boardroom tables are mere runways for the expedient dispatch of Triple Tall Dry Cappuccinos and Quad Vente Caramel Macchiatos. Recently Videopro completed a makeover of the conferencing floor of the Brisbane offices of Minter Ellison. Initially Videopro was commissioned under the guise of audiovisual installers, but after careful scrutiny, we believe there may have been surreptitious reasoning behind the overhaul — namely getting those beans ground and into the expresso machine pronto! The law firm Minter Ellison is undeniably a large concern, with thousands of employees strewn across the globe. The conglomerate spreads over six countries in fact, with offices in each of Australia’s mainland capitals, along with Asian centres, London and New Zealand. But like any lawyers’ offices, private conferencing rooms are a must. And these days no conferencing centre should be without the modern amenity of video conferencing, widescreen monitors or facilities for computeraided presentations and data transfer. With around 300 employees in the Brisbane office alone, including 26 partners and more than

120 lawyers, you can imagine the logistics involved when booking a conference room or video conferencing facilities. AT LAST — AMX DOES COFFEE

Videopro arrived at a neat, AMX-based booking solution, that not only takes the hassle out of scheduling meetings but also the unpredictability out of ‘boardroom fuel’ requirements … yes, it’s a system that’ll make you a coffee! AV: Matt, you’re responsible for the automation programming for the Minter Ellison install, can you elaborate on some of the requirements of the system? Matt Brown: We’d installed an AMX automation system at Minter Ellison to control the existing audiovisual hardware we’d installed. There are a number of meeting rooms on their client floor that are set up with all the basic facilities like plasma screens, television, video and DVD playback systems. There’s also a larger room dedicated entirely to video conferencing. Four larger meeting rooms can all join together to create one large banquet room for functions — those rooms will link together in any combination for a variety of options. Initially the AMX automation was to control the audiovisual systems in those meeting rooms, but after discussions with the client, architect and the electrical consultants, we went on to provide complete control over everything — from the lighting to the supplemental air conditioning

systems. Eventually even a waiter service and coffee ordering system went in, allowing the lawyers and their clients to order drinks whenever they were in a meeting. AV: A little like the hostess call button on aircraft? MB: We went a little further than that. The specification grew to become a fullyautomated ordering system that would go back to the kitchen or the butler’s pantry, collate the orders and get it to the correct room on time. So now the system collates orders, tracks everything between rooms, how long each room is in use, and if the rooms need to be cleaned. It can also track the times that orders were placed, and how long it took for the order to be delivered — that’s primarily for staff and performance tracking purposes. CAFFEINE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS AV:

So I’d assume that for such a large firm, keeping track of staff performance was a priority… like: hang on, this isn’t the doubleshot macchiato I ordered. MB: Very much so. It’s used to check on staffing levels — like whether there’s enough staff on particularly busy days, and to highlight any hold ups or bottlenecks that they need to address. It provides efficiencies, and therefore reduces operating costs. AV: I’d imagine the turnover through the rooms would be quite high then? MB: Oh yeah. This client floor is heavily in use. All the rooms on the client floor are


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2.\ 1.\ Lectern system. 2.\Reception desk control panel. 3.\ The famous, and soon to be much-copied, coffee ordering screen.

pretty much booked out all day, every day. There’s a number of kitchen staff servicing the rooms, and backing them up is a fullyfunctioning kitchen for lunches and general catering — whatever is required for their larger functions. AV: So was this a large job for Videopro to be tackling? MB: It was certainly a healthy-sized job for us in regard to the actual hardware we installed. The coffee call and monitoring system was a large programming project for us. By the time we’d nutted out all the bugs, there were approximately 200 hours of programming involved, and that’s just the waiter service and the room tracking. Although AMX produce a product for this called RMS Suite, which lets you track and book room usage, there already was a system in place. Minter Ellison had already pursued that with another install company a couple of years ago, commissioning bespoke software that allowed them to log on from anywhere within, or, in fact, outside the building and book rooms when required. It would have been ludicrous to entirely ditch that investment. So what we did was create an AMX system that would do the tracking as to whether a room was in use or not, handle the room usage on an hour-to-hour basis, but remain interfaced with the custom software for

long-term bookings. Then we made sure that at the end of the week or month, whichever period suited, the file containing all that information could be extracted and the results imported into the main software as a .csv (comma separated values) data file. AV: I notice there’s also heavy-duty AMX panels used in the kitchen areas. Are they a standard item or built specifically for Minter Ellison? MB: They’re a standard AMX wall panel that we’ve modified. They generally don’t stand off the wall like the ones you’re seeing there. There’s another we devised ourselves that has an AMX panel connected to a retractable arm so that it can be accessed from around the kitchen. Those customised devices are resistant to moisture. Having said that, the standard panels are quite resilient and will stand up to typical water and dust attack. IT DOES AV BETWEEN COFFEES? AV:

You’ve obviously had to supply a lot of equipment for the typical audiovisual systems as well. Apart from the AMX-based automation, what facilities were built into the conference rooms? MB: The smaller rooms each have a plasma display, then a couple of computer inputs for laptops alongside the standard desktop machine in each room. Then there’s a DVD

and VCR playback unit. The multifunction rooms that join together have widescreen projectors and radio microphones throughout. They also have cable television, VCR, DVD, and there’s the moveable lecterns. The lecterns include confidence monitors along with preview monitors. There’s also an audio system for background music, which is especially useful when the rooms are joined together for banquets or other such functions. When the rooms are joined there’s an additional plasma screen that flips out from the side wall for easier viewing from the rear of the room — everything you’d expect to find in any high-end conference setting. The video and telephone conferencing system is actually a portable trolley rig that can easily be moved to the smaller rooms. Matt tells us that additions can be integrated into the ordering system due to the modular nature of the AMX programming. Changes can be made remotely and include the updating of graphics and buttons available via the AMX touch screens. Zealous lawyers can incorporate a soy latté or, dare I venture, any variety of decaffeinated options into the menu at any point. The wheels of justice must continue to turn — and the requisite lubrication is seamlessly dovetailed into the machinations at Minter Ellison. 


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FEATURE

Seeing the Big Picture WA’s Concert & Corporate Productions has stepped up a weight division with a shipment of Barco SLite 10XP LED modules and Sony digital cameras. Text / Graeme Hague

It’s a conundrum that most production companies will have to face: At what point should you bite the bullet and actually buy particular items of equipment you find yourself cross-hiring all the time — putting the revenue in your pocket, not someone else’s? The risk can be daunting, since the last thing any hire company wants is a pile of shiny new toys sitting idle in the warehouse. They need to be out there, getting amongst it, and earning their keep. Perth’s Concert & Corporate Productions decided that between the growth in demand it was seeing and the work from its existing clientele, it was worth taking the plunge — although the water was pretty deep. CCP went out and wrote a cheque for $1.5m-worth of Barco SLite 10XP LED display modules, DX-700 LED processors, Sony digital cameras and Canon lenses, vision mixers and hard disk recorders, plus the odd cable and connectors (or two). Fortunately, CCP’s large inventory of lighting and stage gear already included plenty of trusses, lift motors and rigging gear — which otherwise might have added considerably to the bill. POINTY END

This is the pointy-end of audiovisual technology — large-screen presentations of the like you’ll see at major concerts, both indoor and outside. As if to rubber-stamp CCP’s purchase as money well spent, the 2007/08 Summer really hotted up. From the day CCP took delivery in February the rig was snapped up for tours by Matchbox 20 and Rod Stewart. Local big-ticket events like the Leeuwin Estate Concert, West Coast Blues & Roots Festival and a Bon Scott Tribute show also seized the opportunity to use the new gear.

AV dropped by to see CCP putting the rig together when it recently provided a large rear-stage screen (but not the cameras) for the WA leg of Celine Dion’s Taking Chances national tour at the Members Equity Stadium. The stadium plays host to the Perth Glory soccer club (yes, yes, I know… it’s ‘football’ to the diehard fans) where the playing field is regularly converted into an arena-style concert venue for a 25,000-strong audience. The production, the numbers and the venue warrant the use of big screens — especially for those in the $100 ‘cheap’ seats. THE TYRANNY OF DISTANCE

Freighting gear — or an entire production — to Perth from the east coast requires a big truck(s) and/or a whole lot of cash — it’s a long way and no one is particularly enthusiastic about the costs involved. Alternatively, sourcing equipment locally has traditionally been somewhat hit and miss. CCP isn’t the first in WA to offer this kind of audiovisual solution, but the complete package of screens and cameras they’ve put together, along with a ‘one stop shop’ approach to total event management, certainly makes the decision easier. Now all the answers are here, negating many of the expensive freight costs from the eastern states. VERSATILE

Note the word ‘Corporate’ in CCP’s moniker? That’s right, it’s not all about squeezing Celine’s legs or Rod Stewart’s mug onto a 7m-high screen for rock and pop concert productions. CCP already provides audiovisual displays to a wide section of the business and entertainment industry from product launches to Fashion

Week and official ceremonies. This is where the versatility of the SLite modules and their DX-700 processors really comes into play. Different screen configurations can be built and controlled simultaneously to display the same image. For instance, a standard widescreen could be erected on a stage, while a single strip of units could also be run along the front edge. Each DX-700 can manage three separate screens so in this example only a single DX-700 would be needed with one output to spare. CCP bought 72 SLite 10XP modules and two of the DX-700s. Do the maths for yourself and you can see it allows an almost unlimited choice in screen size and shapes at up to six different locations. However, at 40kg apiece the 10XPs need a responsible approach to rigging or placement (they have standard rigging points). CAMERA & CAPTURE

Available at the other end of the system, CCP has three Sony DXC-D55 WSP cameras equipped with a selection of short or long Canon lenses. The ‘WSP’ means the cameras are switchable between 4:3 or 16:9 widescreen modes. Even though just about everything is produced and displayed in widescreen these days that old 4:3 format won’t quite lay down and die, so it’s a smart decision by CCP to go for the WSP model. All the cameras can be fed into a Grass Valley Indigo Vision mixer, which is a serious box of tricks indeed, including broadcast-quality wipes, effects, keying and a full complement of inputs for other ancillary feeds such as computer graphics and, naturally, all your audio. In the right hands the Indigo can create a professional mix worthy of any DVD release. For CCP’s


FEATURE

SLITE BASICS The Barco SLite 10XP module is a ‘tile’ of LEDs measuring 896mm wide by 672mm high — roughly the size of a large telly. The resolution from the LEDs is a whisker over 10mm, so you’re never going to mount one of these things on your lounge room wall, but for the kind of tasks they’re usually asked to perform it means a very detailed picture that’s highly visible even in broad daylight. Each module can work independently, but the real purpose is for them to be connected to others in any configuration required. It’s a building-block sort of approach; creating screens of infinite size and shape, depending how many units are available. The signal processors can then be commanded to make the vision fit. For the record, the SLite 10XP puts out 4.4 trillion colours (14 bits per colour), has a contrast ratio of 2000:1, and a lifespan of 100,000 hours ‘typical use’ (50,000 hrs to 50% brightness). That’s a lot of concerts. The screen for the Celine Dion concert going together with a strip of nine modules added to the bottom as the whole structure is winched upwards. (Photos: Graeme Hague)

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Photo: courtesy CCP

CCP’s NEW TOYS LED Screen 72 x Modules of Barco SLite 10XP 2 x DX700 LED Processors 2 x Barco rental power boxes Cabling & flying hardware for all possible applications & configurations. IMAG System 3 x Sony DXC-D55 WSP cameras (switchable 4:3 or 16:9) with Triax cores and remote CCU interfaces. 1 x Sony five-inch monochrome viewfinder 1 x Canon J 22ex 7.6B IRSD (7.6-168mm) lens 2 x Canon YJ 20x8.5B IRS (8.5-170mm) lenses 3 x Vinten V8 AP2 professional tripods Monitor rack containing: 2 x four-way Datavideo LCD monitor panels 1 x two-way Datavideo LCD monitor panel Shock-mounted 22U video rack containing: 3 x Sony CCU TX50P camera control units Grass Valley Indigo vision switcher Integrated talkback and tally system Sony DVDR hard drive recorder Grass Valley Turbo IDDR hard drive recorder/playback Extron composite video distribution amplifier Extron ISS 506 vision switcher (for data)

CCP Production Manager Sean McKernan at the IMAG controls.

purposes, its ability to control multiple inputs and outputs simultaneously is obviously the main benefit. Still, if you need to archive the vision for posterity or commercial use they have a Grass Valley IDDR hard drive recorder to capture every digital frame. IN-HOUSE ADJUSTMENTS

CCP always planned to offer its hirers a full and integrated audiovisual production rig, but they have split the equipment into two divisions: the Barco screens and the camera/mixer side of things. Each can be hired as a separate system. Of course, being a production company, CCP will do anything for their clients, within reason… but you get the idea. As for making it all work and operate, CCP has been pleasantly surprised to find its existing staff have made an excellent transition across to the job of providing and co-ordinating concert vision to the

screens. Its people with experience in lighting and stage management seem to have a better appreciation of the bigger picture (excuse the pun… no, hang on… it’s clever [bask in the pun — Ed.]) happening during a concert, rather than perhaps a person with any television or film studio background. Don’t worry, they’ll still carry a Maglite, a Leatherman and a shifting spanner. For Concert & Corporate Productions the only way things can go is ‘up’ and it’s no doubt made a wise investment in the new gear. The more the equipment is employed and seen around the state, the more other potential clients will be tempted to make use of the technology. There’s nothing like a bit of one-upmanship between promoters or competing companies to encourage making their next show or product launch bigger and brighter — and more visible, thanks to a truckload of 10XP units. 


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FEATURE

Boardroom Acoustics Boardrooms are all about effective communication, which makes the acoustics top priority. Text / Andrew Steel

Apart from Friday afternoon beers and the odd celebration, boardrooms are generally used for important meetings where people need to communicate with a minimum of distraction. For this to work — whether it’s a meeting within the room, a teleconference or a video conference — speech needs to be clear and easily understood. It may seem painfully obvious that the object of talking to someone is for them to hear you, and hopefully understand you, but this simple and critical relationship is often defeated by the bad acoustics of the room. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a boardroom, meeting room, conference room or an office being used for a meeting, bad acoustics can make or break the entire meeting. In addition to proper communication, there’s also the issue of privacy. If you can hear the people outside it’s not only distracting, but means there’s a fair chance they can hear you too. The interesting thing about this topic is that a very small number of boardrooms actually have good acoustics. The obvious question that arises is, if they are all so bad, why doesn’t anyone try to fix them? The short answer is: most people don’t know how. There’s a widespread misunderstanding of acoustics that leads to no solutions, poor solutions or more commonly the wrong solutions. Take for example the desktop microphone used for audio or video conferencing. It has evolved to be quite a sophisticated piece of equipment with all sorts of equalisation and echo cancellation capabilities. Despite this, I have seen them replaced multiple times, moved around the boardroom table and sat on foam to try and get decent quality audio to the participants in other locations. Rarely is the microphone at fault. There are two common problems: a room with lots of reverberation and a very long boardroom table. The solutions are of course, to reduce the reverberation and use a number of microphones along the table. This is just one example though, and we will look at each issue in more detail. BAD VIBES — TOO MUCH REVERB

Too much reverberation is probably the biggest cause of bad boardroom acoustics, so it’s a good place to start. Simply fixing this will make a huge and very noticeable difference. The reason for the high reverberation is the prevalence of glass, painted plasterboard walls and high-gloss glass or stone table tops. All of these surfaces reflect sound very well so it just bounces around the room causing all sorts of interference — termed ‘reduced speech intelligibility’. A carpeted floor is usually the only surface that absorbs sound but it can cause problems of its own. Unless it’s ankle-high shagpile, carpet absorbs high frequency sound only. This leaves the middle and lower frequencies bouncing around and is responsible for that heavy or chesty sound in people’s speech which is very hard to deal with. It is


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The broad expanses of flat acoustically reflective materials in a boardroom like this (Toyota's Australian HQ in Melbourne) are typical of the challenges presented by boardrooms.


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"a very small number of boardrooms actually have good acoustics" the most common description when people say they are having trouble being heard. The fix is to get some absorption in the room that does for middle and lower frequencies what carpet does for high frequencies. A simple choice is heavy drapes that can be drawn when needed. If the view is more important than that, very fine translucent mesh blinds can be used. In either case they must be hung at least 100mm from the glass to have an effect. Acoustic ceiling tiles can also be used, but only if the walls of the room extend to the slab above (ie. such that there isn’t a shared ceiling cavity). Acoustic ceiling tiles do their work as sound passes through them, but the sound that passes through can compromise privacy (discussed later in this article). The most effective countermeasure against excessive reverberation is purpose-made acoustic panels. They have high acoustic absorption and can be made in colours to suit the décor. They can even have pictures like the corporate logo or dogs playing poker printed on them. One panel won’t fix a room though, so you need to anticipate covering up to 40% of the flat wall surfaces that are above the level of the table top. MULTIPLE MICROPHONES

Once the room is acoustically treated, many problems will evaporate for both local speech and speech using microphones. Saying that, don't expect a microphone that functions well in a small meeting table to thrive on a long boardroom table. Long tables will have some people closer to the microphone than others, so the level of each person’s speech when it reaches the microphone can vary quite a lot. Some have automatic gain control but they will still struggle with large differences in level. The way to overcome this problem is to use a number of microphones along the table. They can be microphones mounted flush into the table, fixed on goosenecks or on retractable goosenecks. One interesting tip (may seem trivial, but can make a big difference), is to let people know the microphones are coupled to the desk, so tapping their pen or scraping bangles is not a good idea.

PRESENTING A PROBLEM

If your microphones are positioned and distributed properly in a room with good acoustics, meetings should be relatively free from acoustical problems. The last hiccup, though, can come when presentations are made. Whether it’s someone addressing the room with amplified sound, or conducting a presentation over a video link, there are a few things that can, and often do, cause headaches. Lapel microphones are our first problem. They fail often enough to warrant some advice: pack a second system. Actually, while you’re at it, it’s a good idea is to use two lapel microphones — one for the video link and one for the local sound (if there is local amplified sound). In a worst case scenario, if one failed, the other one could be used (with a quick mixer reassignment) for both. Two microphones also provide better control, because the level of sound sent to remote sites is independent of the local sound. This can be useful in preventing feedback issues… FEEDBACK

Feedback. or echo is the last problem on the list. In an acoustically-treated room we have just described loaded with appropriate microphones, feedback is unlikely, but it can still happen. It happens when the incoming audio from a remote site is routed back to the send by a wrong mixer assignment. As with so many similar things, a simple plan, routing diagram and checklist to cover the details described so far will go a very long way towards a successful meeting. After all, the effort spent in good setup and dry run checking is a small price to pay compared to the disasters that can occur when plugging and unplugging in a panic during a conference — they don’t even bear thinking about. THE WALLS HAVE EARS

All we have to do now, to ensure boardroom bliss, is to ensure meetings are kept private. Boardrooms are known for being the flash, fancy or even luxurious rooms, but the big

spending seems to stop at the décor. More often than not, the walls in office buildings only go as high as the ceiling and they are quite thin and uninsulated. This may save huge amounts of money in a whole building, but it makes it very hard to keep rooms acoustically isolated from each other. With penetrations in the ceiling for lights, air conditioning etc, sound just travels into the ceiling cavity and straight back down to the next rooms, and visa-versa. As well as this, the air conditioning ducts usually feed multiple rooms and act as an acoustical connection between them. Building the walls back up to meet the slab above, and re-ducting the air conditioning are rarely options within the budget. The usual approach is to fill the gap between the walls and the slab above by hanging mass-loaded vinyl or stacking insulation, about 600mm wide, into the gap. This works reasonably well and considering the expense and effort needed to rebuild walls and air conditioning ducts, is a good compromise. If the walls themselves are not soundproof enough, adding a layer of plasterboard and product like Green Glue is the best option. Opening the wall to put insulation inside is of course more difficult than most would want to tackle. The remaining breaches of acoustic privacy are the electrical outlets, switches etc. Power points and the like get installed “back to back” on a wall and cable ducts often split across rooms. These penetrations and ones like them are more than enough for sound to travel through. Fortunately, it’s just a matter of blocking the free spaces with expanding foam or sealing them with a mastic sealant. Good door seals on any doors will maintain the overall level of soundproofing and make for a room with adequate privacy. So, as I said at the start, having a boardroom with good acoustics isn’t all that difficult. It requires a little attention to detail and some forethought. There are methods to achieve the necessary acoustic conditions, set up microphones and ensure privacy, none of which are too difficult, and all of which make great improvements. The only oddity is why these things get neglected so often. 


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Photo: Hamilton Lund


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REVIEW

Keeping the UTP Cat in the Bag Text / Andy Ciddor

The unsung hero of the digital information age is the Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable. Hundreds of thousands of kilometres of blue string link every part of our lives and homes and installations and offices and venues and gigs; carrying the data that has transformed our industry and the world. A bandwidth of 100MHz makes Category 5e UTP a comfortable fit for a vast range of applications, including of course the 10Base-T (10Mbps over Twisted pair) and 100Base-T (100Mbps over Twisted pair) ethernet whose proliferation has made it the cheap commodity data cable that you can pick up in any electrical wholesaler, hardware store, technology store or computer shop across the country. Used in combination with the right flavour of balun or a couple of boxes of simple electronics, we can shoehorn pretty much any signal we fancy down a Cat5e line. Analogue audio, AES/EBU digital audio, composite video, S-video, RGB, VGA, CATV, CCTV + PTZ, DVI, MIDI, DMX512, KVM, EIA (RS)-232/422/485, ISDN, PSTN, all make it through UTP unscathed. What makes a bundle of four unshielded twisted pairs of pretty ordinary cable capable of safely carrying signals at such high frequencies is the power of the twist? By twisting the wires in a pair very tightly together, any external signal that intrudes into the data on the pair is usually picked up equally by both wires and self cancels

due to the balanced line signal in the pair (common mode rejection). WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGHER….

Using different rates of twist in each of the four pairs reduces the coupling between pairs and thus the level of crosstalk between them. This has the side effect of making the pairs of cables slightly different lengths and introduces data skew between the pairs due to signals arriving at the far end at slightly different times. Whilst most high-speed ethernet interfaces automatically compensate for the skew, it can present as a problem when component video is carried over long runs of UTP. The more sophisticated component video (RGB, VGA, S-video, etc) to UTP interfaces include some form of skew compensation. At high signal frequencies, where crosstalk between the pairs becomes a serious concern, a plastic filler is inserted in the centre of the cable to keep the pairs further apart and thereby reduce the strength of the crosstalk signals. Smart network interface electronics can also remove the elements of the signal that are recognised as having crossed over from another pair. Separating the pairs puts them closer to the jacket of the cable and thus makes them more prone to picking up crosstalk from adjacent cables in a UTP bundle. This has led to the use of a range of treatments to the outer sheathing of the cable to reduce this so-called alien crosstalk. Some

approaches introduce internal ribbing and similar structural features into the sheath to keep the twisted pairs away from the walls, while others involve using materials of higher dielectric strength to reduce the permeability of the outer sheath. As the network interface electronics know nothing about the content of alien crosstalk, filtering electronics are of little use in solving this problem. THE CAT’S TALE

Right now, Cat5 and its higher speed replacement Cat5e UTP are perfectly adequate for the majority of our data needs, serving us well for both analogue signals and our LAN requirements for 10Mbps and 100Mbps data. The different twist rates in Category 5e even make it suitable for the more demanding requirements of the 1000Base-T specification for Gigabit Ethernet — a standard that is becoming more common in video production and processing environments, and for connections to data servers and archiving systems. If you’re engaged in audiovisual production in any of its guises, there is little doubt the most cost effective and capable UTP cable in use today is Cat5e. However, the story is very different if you’re involved in the selection and specification of data cable for installed systems. Our clients expect us to give them the best possible advice on what is most suitable for their current needs, while also rendering them future proof.


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“We have been shown the future brothers and sisters”

Above and Left: The elliptical structure developed by ADC Krone for its Cat6A offering: CopperTen.

Category 5e UTP is not the answer and neither is the more capable Category 6 UTP with its plastic separator and its 250MHz bandwidth. LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN

We have been shown the future brothers and sisters, and while it’s not certain whether the rocket cars we will all be driving will be manufactured by Boeing or Nintendo, it is abundantly clear that vast amounts of high resolution video data will be moving around in real-time between storage arrays, workstations and display systems. The next step down the shining path to that glorious future will be Local Area Networks (LANs) moving data around at 10 Gigabits per second. Initially, there were serious concerns that it wouldn’t be possible to reliably move 10Gbps data over commodity UTP cable due to the problem of alien crosstalk. This pointed to relying on the more expensive alternative of optical fibre or complex cable types such as Category 7 (each pair screened and the entire cable shielded). After considerable discussion and experimentation a 10GBase-T standard was defined in mid 2006, and, within a year, network interfaces were available at that speed, albeit at thousands of dollars per port. The only UTP cable that could meet the requirements of the standard was Category 6, but it was only suitable for runs up to 55m; not the 100m that is the norm for LANs. Work commenced on a standard for a cable that could carry 10Gbps over

a full 100m, and several examples of such cables were put forward by manufacturers to demonstrate the techniques that could be employed to reduce alien crosstalk. Out of this arose the augmented Category 6 or Category 6A standard that was approved and ratified just a few months ago. CAT 6A NITTY GRITTY

Category 6A cable has a bandwidth of 500MHz and relies on what can best be described as a complex smoke and mirrors act of signal processing and error correction to pump the raw 18Gbps of data throughput necessary for a reliable 10Gbps data rate. The complex signal processing demands of the 10GBase-T standard mean that it will be some time before affordable 10Gbps network interfaces will feature on most

equipment; a pattern seen previously with both 100Mbps and later 1Gbps interfaces. Cable manufacturers have been waiting in the wings throughout the Category 6A standards process, ready to trot out the cables they have developed that will meet or exceed the new standard. The first couple of months of 2008 saw them lining up to announce cables with 600MHz and even 660MHz bandwidths that meet the standard with megabits to spare. With 10Gbps networks firmly visible in the future and suitable UTP cable now available from a plethora of sources, the time has now come for us to consider specifying a cable that will cover our clients and our own requirements for at least another generation of network applications. 

The ribbed structure developed by Hitachi Cable Manchester for its version of Cat6A.


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TUTORIAL

What Colour is that Temperature? While most of us eventually absorb enough folk wisdom to deal with colour temperature, there are some aspects of it that simply aren’t intuitive. Text / Andy Ciddor

Why does the colour of light get cooler as the colour temperature increases? If Lee 201 Full CT Blue converts 3200K tungsten light to 5700K daylight, why do two layers of 201 (or one layer of Lee 200 Double CT Blue) convert the same 3200K light to 26,000K? Is it actually possible to predict the outcome of combining correction filters? Colour Temperature describes the colour (but not the brightness) of a light source by comparing it with the colours of light emitted by a standard object at a known temperature. We are all familiar with what happens as you heat up a piece of metal. Initially the metal gets too hot to touch, but not hot enough to glow. Heat (infrared radiation) is being emitted, but as yet no visible light. Next, the metal starts to glow a deep red colour as it is now emitting visible light at the low energy end of the spectrum. As the temperature of the metal increases further, the energy of the emitted light also increases; progressively adding the higher energy wavelengths of the spectrum and changing the colour of the metal from orange, through yellow, to increasingly whiter light. However, in the world of real objects, as things get hotter, sooner or later they melt, oxidize, vaporize or catch fire. This makes it really hard to plot any simple curve relating a wide range of actual physical temperatures to light colours. To solve this problem, a theoretical object named the Black Body Radiator was devised. It is a combination of the light emitting properties of a wide range of materials that can be heated until they glow. This object is black, so that it has no reflective properties. Physicists have plotted the colours of light that would be emitted from this object at temperatures ranging from the

theoretical Absolute Zero point (where all molecular activity ceases) to infinity. The temperature scale used for these measurements is Kelvin, which has absolute zero (-273.15ºC) as its starting point, and like the familiar Celsius scale, uses centigrade degrees as its steps. On the Kelvin scale, water freezes at 273.15 degrees (0ºC) and boils at 373.15 degrees (100ºC). The unit for measuring colour temperature is not the degree however, it’s simply the kelvin (K). For example, the colour temperature of the DXX lamp in a Readhead is 3200 kelvin. This doesn’t mean the tungsten wire in the lamp is at a physical temperature of 3200ºK. What it actually means, is that the colour of the light coming from the Readhead’s lamp matches what would be emitted by the Black Body Radiator heated to a temperature of 3200ºK. BUT IS IT ART?

Colour temperature terminology has nothing whatsoever do with the way that colour is described in the world of art. Whether or not you have any recollection of art lessons, you were almost certainly introduced to the notion of Newton’s colour wheel and complimentary colours at some point in your education. Frequently included with this view of colour comes the eighteenth century artists’ concept of warm and cool colours. In this framework, the low energy colours — reds, yellows and oranges — are considered Warm and Visually Active, while the higher energy blues and greens are classified as Cool and Visually Passive. Unfortunately, this view of colour is the total opposite of the relationship between colour and physical temperature in light sources. As the temperature of an object rises during heating there are more high energy wavelengths (blues, greens, mauves

and violets) in the light it emits, so the light looks whiter or ‘cooler’ in artistic terminology. In short: physically hotter equals artistically cooler. What could possibly be more straightforward? THE KELVINATOR

Colour temperature corrections and conversions form an important part of the process of image production and image capture, in a wide range of AV applications. Here at AV magazine we consider this issue to be so important that we will be covering it in depth in a future issue. Once you venture outside the realm of matching the light from a tungsten halogen lamp at 3200K, and nominal daylight at 5500K/5700K, colour temperature correction starts getting a bit weird. As you can see from the accompanying plot of the colour of light emitted by the Black Body Radiator during heating, the proportions of the colours emitted don’t follow a simple straight line. Consequently, a filter that removes specific colours for colour temperature matching, will have very different outcomes depending on the colour temperature of the originating light source. This is why the same CTB (Colour Temperature Blue) filter that converts 3200K light to 5700K, will convert a 5700K source all the way up to 26,000K, or a standard household lamp at 2000K up to only 2750K. MIRED IN HISTORY

The worlds of photography and cinematography long ago hit on a useful, if not entirely straight forward, technique for handling colour temperature corrections by working with mireds (see box: ‘The Making of a Mired’). Using this method, every colour temperature is converted to its mired value and the


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1.\ CIE Chromaticity Chart showing a plot of the colours of light emitted by the Black Body Radiator as it is heated to infinity ºK. This path is known as the Black Body or Planckian locus. 2.\ A more detailed view of the Black Body locus showing some familiar colour temperatures and some standard illuminants. (Image source: Wikipedia)

correction factor of each filter is expressed as a mired shift with a positive or negative sign to indicate the direction of the shift. The mired shift is listed in the manufacturers’ swatch books and on their websites. A negative shift value indicates that the filter increases colour temperature (it’s a blue filter), while a positive mired shift indicates that the filter lowers colour temperature (it’s an orange filter). It’s important to be aware that mired shifts differ between brands of what may appear to be equivalent correction filters. Rosco Cinegel CTB (#3202) has a mired shift of –131, while Lee 201 CTB has a shift of –137. Cinegel Roscosun CTO (#3407) has a mired shift of +167, while Cinegel Roscosun 85 (#3401 — often also referred to as CTO) has a mired

shift of +131. And just to be completely different, the CTO in the Lee range (204) has a mired shift of +159. Equipped with a simple calculating device and a filter swatch book, we can now take a starting colour temperature and a desired destination colour temperature, and with a little basic arithmetic, we can calculate which filters will give us the desired correction. Let’s consider an everyday application of this process. TEMPERATURE PRACTICALITIES

If we need to capture the image of a presenter at a lectern pointing to details on a nearby plasma or LCD display screen, we not only need to match light levels between the presenter and the screen, we also need to

THE MAKING OF A MIRED The relationship between the temperature of the Black Body Radiator and the proportions of the colours of light it emits, turns out to be a reciprocal function. Thus, by working with the reciprocals of colour temperatures, we get a reasonably simple method for calculating the effects of colour correction filters on light sources. As revision for those who were traumatised for life by fractions at primary school: the reciprocal of any number is one divided by that number or ¹/n. The reciprocal of 2 is ½ or 0.5, and the reciprocal of 500 is ¹/500 or 0.002. As the reciprocals of large numbers are small numbers, using the reciprocals of colour temperatures produces fiddly results with several zeroes after the decimal point. For

example, the reciprocal of the 3200K from our tungsten halogen lamps is 0.0003125, hardly a number that lends itself to memorisation or a quick calculation on your mobile phone. Hence the choice to use mireds or micro-reciprocal degrees (one million divided by the colour temperature) for photographic applications. After rounding, tungsten light’s 3200K is a manageable 313 mireds. Some physicists with nothing better to do than annoy a lot of already confused people, have suggested that we drop the name mireds in favour of the SI standards-compliant term ‘reciprocal megakelvins’ (MK-1). Thus far the suggestion has been ignored by the industry.

match colour temperatures. This will avoid the common problem of the screen looking blue or the presenter looking orange. Then we can correctly expose and white balance the camera capturing the image. If there are a couple of profile spots (or theatrical fresnels) covering the lectern, they will need to be converted from their native 3000K up to the (approximately) 6500K of the plasma/LCD screen. The plasma/LCD screen will generally be colour adjustable somewhere in the range of about 6500K (the SMPTE standard for television displays) to 9500K. The higher colour temperature settings are there because viewers seem to prefer cooler, bluer whites, even if they attain them at the expense of accurate colour representation.


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TUTORIAL

To achieve our colour match we have a starting point of 3000K or 333 mired and a desired destination of 6500K or 154 mired. To make this conversion we need to apply a correction of approximately –179 mired (333 minus 154) in the blue or minus direction. No single filter will do the job, but a combination of Lee 201 CTB (–137 mired) and Lee 203 ¼ CTB (–35 mired) will be sufficiently close (–172 mired), with a resulting colour temperature of approximately 6200K. The camera will need to be configured for use in daylight, then white balanced on a reference card or alignment chart illuminated by the corrected 6200K light sources.

LARGE LCD/PLASMA SCREEN

6500K

3000K

3000K VIDEO CAMERA

DIY — THE EASY WAY

It also calculates the colour temperature resulting from placing correction filters over a given light source. There is a similar calculator on the Lee website, www.leefilters.com that goes as far as suggesting which filters from the Lee range will give the required correction. Be warned that some of the results it returns include the use of fluorescent correction filters, which are totally unsuited to our application. Colour correction for light sources that don’t match the curve of the Black Body Radiator, such as fluorescents, arcs, and metal halide discharge (including HMI, MSR, CID), is a can of worms that will be opened in a forthcoming issue of AV. However, for the moment it remains a world of pain and confusion that we will avoid. 

To simplify the mired calculation process there is a spreadsheet available for download from the AV website that should work on pretty much any computer or PDA. (Go to the AV site, www.av.net.au and follow the links). It calculates colour temperatures and colour temperature differences in mireds.

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TUTORIAL

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FEATURE

Digital TV Explained To give you a taste of the training material available, InfoComm has made some selected parts of the ‘Essentials of the AV Industry for Technical & Sales Professionals’ course available here in AV magazine. This course provides a brief overview of the sales, rental, design, and installation functions, with more in-depth explanations of the science and technology for basic audio, visual and audiovisual systems integration. In this issue we look at the section on digital television. NTSC, PAL, and SECAM are the standards for traditional, analogue video encoding and transmission. Today, however, digital video signal transmission is emerging with Digital Television (DTV). Different standards apply for digital signal transmission, and like their analogue predecessors, digital video standards vary by region. In this tutorial we’ll explore: What is DTV? What are the DTV standards? What is the difference between SDTV and HDTV? Digital Television (DTV) is a television signal transmitted digitally. When DTV is discussed, the term MPEG is used as well. MPEG is a collection of video compression tools. It is also named for the international group that established it — the Motion Pictures Expert Group — formed to standardise compressed video and audio. The version used most for television is MPEG-2. It provides a set of tools designed to cover a wide range of video and audio quality requirements. DTV is commonly transmitted via RF. Broadcast DTV is known as digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTTB) or terrestrial DTV. Like traditional television, there are groups of standards that dictate how this is done in a given region. Just as NTSC, PAL, and SECAM are analogue video transmission standards, DTV, has standards as well. The primary standards are ISDB, DVB, and ATSC. ISDB (Integrated Services Digital

Broadcasting) is the standard used in Japan. DVB, or Digital Video Broadcasting, is the preferred standard for video broadcasting in Europe, Australia and Asia. ATSC is named for the organisation that established it (Advanced Television Systems Committee) and is used in North America. Each of these standards broadcasts multiple versions of DTV. DTV includes a variety of formats, some that offer higher resolution than the traditional NTSC, PAL, and SECAM broadcast standards. Formats include Standard Definition Television (SDTV) and High Definition Television (HDTV). SDTV programs are typically digital versions of the programming on traditional television. Usually, SDTV programs are in a 4:3 aspect ratio, like traditional television. The second, and more popular, type of DTV is High Definition Television. HDTV has a higher resolution, and therefore greater detail and clarity. It will capture even the smallest wrinkle on a person’s face. This is achieved by increasing the number of scan lines transmitted. HDTV video may have either 1280x720 progressive scan lines or 1920x1080 interlaced scan lines. Another difference between HDTV and other broadcast standards is aspect ratio. Traditional television and some SDTV programs have an aspect ratio of 4:3; so, proportionally, a standard television is four units wide and three units high. HDTV’s aspect ratio is 16:9, or one third wider, and is closer to movie theatre aspect ratios. The wider horizontal field more accurately matches our field of view and creates a better frame to compose in. Because there is more detail, you can sit closer to an HDTV image. HDTV is far superior to traditional TV in picture detail and realism, and it can be transmitted in the same size channel (6MHz) as analogue broadcasts. This is accomplished by compressing the digital video and audio before broadcast. In fact, thanks to compression, broadcasters can

transmit several SDTV programs at the same time on one DTV channel. SDTV and HDTV are available in two resolution formats each — one for interlaced scanning (like traditional television systems) and one for progressive scanning (like computer images). SDTV 4:3 ASPECT RATIO

480p: 480 progressive scan lines 480i: 480 interlaced scan lines

HDTV 16:9 ASPECT RATIO

720p: 720 progressive scan lines: 1280 x 720 1080i: 1080 interlaced scan lines 1920 x 1080

DTV can use multiple digital audio formats, based on the Dolby AC-3 standard. Those formats include two-channel stereo and 5.1 channel surround sound, in addition to multiple language tracks. Most televisions in use today are not able to receive DTV signals. In order to receive SDTV or HDTV, a set-top DTV receiver is necessary. New television sets are being introduced with built-in digital TV receivers, and many of them will receive both terrestrial and digital cable signals that are not encrypted. 

About Infocomm: InfoComm International is the international trade association of the professional audiovisual and information communications industries. Established in 1939, InfoComm has 5000 members from more than 70 countries. Its training and education programs, along with its separately administered Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) and corporately administered Certified Audiovisual Solutions Provider (CAVSP) company credentials, set a standard of excellence for AV professionals. Its basic general knowledge course ‘Quick Start to the AV Industry’ is available free of charge from its web site at www.infocomm.org

Do not confuse DTV with Digital Cable TV DTV

DIGITAL CABLE

Freely available in transmission regions

Paid service from cable provider

Higher resolution image than analogue signal

No resolution increase from analogue signal

Display signal received by antenna

Display signal received by cable

Incorporates digital video cameras, digital video Conversion of analogue video signal into digital signals processing & editing, & digital video transmission before transmission


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REVIEW

ARX Audibox range ARX has devised a range of ‘get out of jail free’ devices. Text / Graeme Hague

Every AV technician has a collection of ‘special’ cables and plugs. They’re hoarded over the years for their ability to solve all manner of connection problems. There always seems to be something that needs a little ingenuity to get the show on the road. For a while now ARX has been offering a range of Audiboxes that will get you out of trouble every time. They’re not just glorified adapters. These boxes all feature isolation transformers that clean up any signal noise or earth loop you might be risking when you start getting desperate in your cabling. It’s well worth a look at the entire line, but before we examine the individual units more closely there are some things worth mentioning that are common to all. Every Audibox model comes in a standard metal case that’s 135mm deep, 98mm wide and 45mm high (ie. 1RU high including the feet). They’re all uniformly powder-coated an attractive blue with labelling in an epoxy screen-print that won’t scratch off in a hurry. The old salts will recognise this steel casing as the same that just about every DI box and talkback headset used during the entire decade of the ’80s. It’s built to withstand serious mishandling. I was very pleased to see that all the connections and pots are mounted to the metal chassis, too — they’re not PC board-mounted components poking through holes in the casing. The units that require power don’t come with a PSU of any kind — unless you buy the multipleout Audibox PSU. That’s probably to keep the product line as uniform as possible. The Audiboxes mostly have flat non-slip rubber feet to keep them inside the 1RU profile, however, a few models have the chocolate-block-style feet that sit higher. The significance is that a rackmount kit is available that lets you install four Audiboxes in each single rack space and in some racks cases each millimeter counts, so bear that in mind. Finally, some of the

Audioboxes are available in a single or double-header format. I’ll explain what that means later. My studio now looks like the aftermath of Christmas morning — empty cardboard boxes and packaging everywhere. There’s a dog under there somewhere. Here’s what I found out. 1.\

EARDRIVER

The EarDriver is a headphone amplifier that provides some interesting options. Firstly, it provides four channels of stereo headphones from either a pair of balanced ¼-inch inputs (left and right) or a minijack stereo input such as you’d get from a computer audio card. Then it gets tricky by having identical connections on the rear that convert the four outputs to two pairs of stereo channels now driven by either of two stereo inputs. In other words, you can have all four headphones fed by one stereo input or Channels 1 and 2 driven by Stereo Input 1 and Channel 3 and 4 by Stereo Input 2 (feel free to read that a few times). Plugging in the extra input automatically switches the signal routing. The individual volume controls follow the patching, too. The headphone amp would be ideal for sitting in the middle of a messy studio setup and supplying extra monitor headphone lines without fear of it being trodden on or kicked. It’ll take the punishment. The outputs are rated at ‘1W @ 8Ω maximum’, which isn’t the standard professional 600Ω or domestic 32Ω type of figure. I can tell you that with my studio AKG K240 cans the signal level was plenty loud, but it was also easy to overload the inputs and there was no indication of when these began to clip. The only method was to turn the outputs to maximum then adjust the input until things got ugly — and back it off a little. A clip light would have been nice. Similarly there isn’t a power indicator. A small thing, but if your wall-wart died,

I guarantee you’re going to waste time checking out everything else, before you figure the EarDriver isn’t getting any juice. And I must point out that the actual sound of the EarDriver is quite bright. That’s a good thing for cutting through any ambient noise outside of your headphones, but hearing fatigue might soon become a problem. You’ll want to apply some prudent EQ on your signal source. These minor niggles aside the EarDriver has a strong, clear signal and a very handy versatility with that dual input/output choice. Applications: Squeezing extra headphones channels from existing lines or creating individual headphone splits. RRP: $325. 2..\

ISO OPTIMIZER

The ISO Optimizer is a straightforward, but very useful, bit of gear. It provides a link between either a pair of balanced ¼-inch jacks or RCA connectors on one side to identical connections on the other with an input attenuation between. Input is from +12dB to ‘Off’ (good!) and the transformer gives you complete galvanic isolation to avoid even the worst of pesky hums and buzzes while always keeping the signal clean. The idea is to allow you connect almost any piece of equipment you need to another and precisely adjust the signal level. Audio dubbing from one media type to another comes instantly to mind and, of course, patching into a mixing desk. I say ‘almost’, because turntables don’t get a guernsey unless they have a line output. The ISO Optimizer is passive — it doesn’t need any power. When you’re scratching your head and trying to patch disparate signal levels this Audibox will be the answer. Applications: Dubbing from one line source to another (CD to CD-R) or matching a line input on a mixer that has no gain control. RRP: $249.


REVIEW

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FEATURE

“no one needs to madly solder up a ‘magic’ cable at the last minute to get rid an earth loop or connect an odd piece of equipment”

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ISO BALANCER

RCA connections were never meant to be soldered onto two-core shielded cable and XLR plugs just look silly on the end of thin single-core shield wire. So do it properly and use this ISO Balancer that has a left/ right pair of RCA inputs converting to two balanced XLR outputs. This lets you connect any unbalanced source such as a DVD or CD deck into a professional mixing desk and keep things clean with the transformer. Now, we can put a man on the moon (or did we?), but this signal chain apparently can’t be simply reversed — there are no XLR inputs in case you want to go the other way. For that you need the ISO DeBalancer (see below). By the way, the instructions point out that signal earth can be lifted internally with a jumper pin if you’re keen to break out a screwdriver and remove the cover. Tear that page up — ARX improved the design and forgot to update the manual. Applications: DVD player to balanced mixer or pro soundcard XLR. RRP: $225. 4.\

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ISO DEBALANCER

This does the reverse of the ISO Balancer — no surprises there. However, because you’re converting a balanced signal with a hot, neutral and earth connection into an unbalanced connection this provides the means to have two outputs for each channel (sourced from the hot and neutral). ‘Waste not, want not,’ as they say. A pair of XLR inputs are converted into two pairs of RCA outputs incidentally giving you a signal split, if you need it. Applications: Dubbing an audio mix from balanced XLR outputs to any line input such as CD-R, MiniDisc, etc for archiving or transcribing later. RRP: $225.

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076

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ISO LATER

An electrician responsible for wiring a major theatre installation once said to me, “It’s all Mother Earth, lad. Ground is ground”. This is probably why we spent the next 10 years trying to avoid earth loops in the audio rig. Having a cupboard filled with these ISO Later Audiboxes certainly would have helped. This is one of the boxes that come in a single channel or ‘double header’ unit meaning the second channel is at the opposite end of the box rather than the inputs and outputs being side-by-side. It also means you get completely separate channels with a transformer each inside, lifting the signal earth. It doesn’t get any better, cleaner or easier than that. Applications: Some venues (the town hall, the local library) can’t supply dedicated power. Problem solved. RRP: Single $225 or Duo $315. 6.\

ISO SPLITTER

The ISO Splitter takes the ISO Later a step further by splitting the signal to a second XLR output. Otherwise they do the same thing and it probably makes the best sense to invest in these and give yourself the option of that channel split, if you need it. Again the unit can be a single channel or double-header. For the cynics out there — I checked — the split channel B isn’t just piggy-backed off the A channel, it’s driven from the transformer. Applications: A clean split to the OB van, conference break-out areas or pro recording media like CD-R with XLR input. RRP: Single $235 or Duo $328. 7.\

AV DI

The designers at ARX have come to terms with the inevitable. The mini-jack stereo input is ‘a must’ thanks to the prevalence of laptops and iPods used as audio sources these days. The AV DI box has a mini-jack stereo input as well as a pair of RCA connectors and there’s a 20dB pad switch to tame any loud signals. Outputs are balanced XLR that will accept phantom power (there is an LED indicator) from a mixing desk on one or both lines. Otherwise a power supply is needed. Remember, this is a Direct Injection box too, not just a converter so it’s suitable for sending signals down lengthy multicores. These kinds of DI boxes with RCAs have been around a while, but that mini-jack input is a nice touch. Applications: Any domestic-type CD or DVD audio output (RCA) to balanced XLRs for simple conversion or driving down a multicore. RRP: $299. 8.\

USB DI

ARX are going to sell these things by the truckload. Simply explained — the USB DI

REVIEW

is an audio output from your computer’s USB port that doesn’t require any specific drivers or software to operate. Even better, although with the digital-to-analogue converters the internal circuitry is a different kettle of fish to the other Audiboxes, the balanced XLR outputs are still transformer isolated. Anyone who’s jiggled and bashed a mini-jack in a computer soundcard output — especially a laptop — will know just what a stroke of genius this USB DI box is. I’d like to rave on for pages, but the simplicity of its design and purpose put a stop to that. The USB DI doesn’t need power, because it gets that from the PC’s USB bus. Talking of ‘PC’, while the instructions make no mention whatsoever of any Mac OS, my G4 loaded with Tiger happily saw the USB DI and worked a treat. Even Windows 98SE is supported! I do have one gripe though. I would like to have even just parallel-wired ¼-inch jack outputs beside the XLRs. That’s because so many mixers don’t provide XLR connections on their stereo return channels. Applications: Either live or during dubbing from your computer of choice to balanced XLR. RRP: $275. 9.\

PRO DI

The Pro DI box is everything you’d expect from ARX after looking at the rest of the range and that includes one of those sneaky extras the Audiboxes seem to specialise in. In this case it’s a –40dB connection for a ‘Speaker Level’ input, normally a signal too hot for a standard DI. An example would be the external speaker output on a guitar amplifier or a bass head. In many cases it would give you quite an edgy, raw sound without it being affected by the impedance of any driver, but it’s still a thoughtful addition that will no doubt save the day on many occasions. A –20dB pad switch for the normal input also attenuates the Speaker Level jack further. If the combined –60dB isn’t enough, just punch the guitar player on the nose. A ground lift and phantom power indicator are there beside the balanced XLR output and there’s a DC input for a wall-wart power supply. The Pro DI doesn’t have a facility for any internal battery — that’s quite a common omission now that phantom power is standard on the smallest of mixing desks, but it’s worth noting. The Pro DI is available as a double-header model, too. Applications: Standard band instrument to mixing desk via a multicore. RRP: Single $225 or Duo $315. 10.\

DI PRE

How many times have you set up a small mixing desk simply to make a single microphone work? The DI Pre is a preamplifier that makes these situations a thing of the past. It’s also a great way to control a microphone input into a computer audio card, which are notorious for

being fickle. The DI Pre has an XLR input with a clip indicator, a 20dB pad and phantom power switch that needs a wall-wart supply. If you’re still ultimately going into some kind of console or an interface that has its own phantom power note it will not pass through the DI Pre. The output tricked me for a moment, because it’s a balanced ¼-inch RTS jack and not a line output. Presumably space was too tight for an XLR out connection. It’s possible some new owners will take the DI Pre home only to be slightly flummoxed by the RTS jack. The sound of the DI Pre is very clean and a little bright without adding sibilance — useful for making dynamic mics cut through the mix a little better. The review unit was a double header, and on both channels the 20dB pad switch caused a nasty crackle when you pressed it if phantom power was enabled, but that’s always one of the perils of using phantom power. The DI Pre is one of those gadgets you’ll end up using so often, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it. Applications: Powering single lectern microphones without a mixer, boosting any balanced microphone signal (e.g. video camera) or simply providing phantom power. RRP: $315 single or Duo $445. AUDIBOX PSU

Lastly there is an Audibox PSU box. This provides up to six lines of 15V DC power for your rackmounted collection of Audiboxes. RRP: $295. RACK MOUNTING

Rackmount kit for four Audiboxes RRP: $55 and individual brackets to suit same $13. OUT OF THE BOX

I’m sure ARX would love to see every AV technician with a roadcase of Audiboxes in the van to cover any eventuality, and that’s where the PSU comes in. But more likely a production house is going to keep their Audiboxes separate and in a cupboard for anyone to grab when the need arises — especially the more specialised problem-solvers like the ISO Later. The beauty of these Audiboxes is they work. That might sound silly, but their transformerbased design means they’ll do the job every time and no one needs to madly solder up a ‘magic’ cable at the last minute to get rid an earth loop or connect an odd piece of equipment. And they’ll last a long time. In 10 years time you’ll still be grabbing a battered ISO Splitter to save the day. Any of the Audibox range isn’t just a smart buy — it’s a good investment. Hell, spoil yourself and buy ’em all.  The Resource Corp: (03) 9874 5988 or sales@trc.com.au


REVIEW

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078

REVIEW

Sony Vegas 8 video editor Sony has upped the visual ante. Text / Graeme Hague

Sony’s Vegas Pro 8 is a video editing application that is affordable, surprisingly easy to use and provides a way to spice up AV presentations by taking you beyond the stale, seen-it-all-before look of Microsoft Powerpoint. With Vegas you can combine images, audio and video to create impressive video files for playback on any removable media (DVD, video CD, etc) or since flash drives are available in gigabyte flavours of storage, there’s no reason why you can’t put your file on one and use any provided media player in a venue. To be clear here, Vegas Pro 8 is primarily designed as an NLE software program (Non-Linear Editor). It’s meant to compete with the likes of Adobe’s Premier and Apple’s Final Cut and it has a lot of serious video editing features that might be a bit daunting — features you may better exploit in the future, but perhaps not in the first few hours. We’ll look at Vegas as an application that has much to offer novices and can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things later. For the time being, the trickier things we’ll leave to the experts — let’s not plan on putting Dreamworks out of business just yet. The foundation of any Vegas project is built on the Browser window where a choice of tabs will display all your content, a selection of effects and media generators (background colours, textures or text titles), and an Explorer function to go searching through your computer. Double-clicking files inside the browser automatically places them into either a new track on the timeline or an existing one. In the case of still images,

they’re inserted for a default length of time which can be altered in your preferences. FIRST STEPS

Here’s a few quick basics for beginners. Vegas is the same as any NLE in that the approach to creating video footage is centred around a timeline — insert your media where you want it. All the content is displayed as ‘clips’ with beginning and end points you can move, crop or stretch. If you use more than one video track the visibility of each channel depends on several settings and, again, these are parameters that are quickly learned and you’ll soon be turning some neat effects by layering separate images. Multiple audio tracks can be mixed similar to any digital audio workstation software. There’s some ‘chicken or the egg’type thinking required at the outset. For instance, what is your main reference for the entire presentation? It might be a 30-second voice-over, so you’d insert that into your timeline first (or record it straight into Vegas) then bring in images for durations that match the script. It doesn’t have to be still pictures. Video files can be drag ’n’ dropped just as easily for you to add narration or music. Like any complex software, it’s easy to be initially overwhelmed by the possibilities if you try to do too much too soon, and you will have to read the Help file, but building your basic footage is quite straightforward. Vegas is very forgiving in the way it accepts various formats and automatically adapts them to comply with the project. It’s after

you’ve put everything roughly together that you can start to get really clever and add video and audio effects, cross-fades and moving text. After a bit of dabbling with these, your audience won’t be able to rip their eyes from the screen. SPOILT FOR CHOICE

The choice of video effects is huge, ranging from cross-fades (which are a kind of effect, but get their own Transitions tab because they’re so commonly applied) through to sometimes subtle or specialised processes like colour correction and masking. Vegas avoids a lot of confusion by providing small, animated thumbnails in the Browser window to illustrate exactly what each one does. Some of them will have you asking, “What’s the point?” but like I said, it gets a little funky. Be assured everything has a perfectly valid use. Effects can be dragged onto the video track from the Browser window or each channel has shortcut icons that can be opened. They can be used on the entire track or the individual clips. Either way, a dialog box appears with a range of parameters you can tweak or — come on, admit the fact we all do it — there’s a selection of presets. The result? You can change an otherwise bland slideshow or video clip into something striking that catches the viewer’s eye. All effects, both video and audio, are applied in a ‘chain’ which means you can achieve different results by altering the order of the chain. The possibilities are endless and you’re spoilt for choice. An interesting point to note with Vegas


REVIEW

079

FEATURE

Main Window (Left): All panels can be resized, dragged or docked. This view displays the Project Media — all the files being used. Pro Titler Window: Previously you might have to combine a text plug-in and a video effect to get the desired result. Vegas puts it all in one place.

is that it can apply these effects in real time. You don’t have to render the vision before previewing it, unless you’re asking your system to really stretch its resources. Of course, your computer needs a bit of RAM and CPU grunt, and a reasonable video card is a must. If you do get too demanding, Vegas has a Pre-Render function that uses temporary files for relieving the CPU stress. TITLED GENTRY

All NLEs have a titler plug-in of some kind. These let you include things like your standard fast-scrolling list of credits or those annoying twirling, flashing words such as ‘SALE!’ or ‘HALF PRICE RUGS!’ giving you a migraine. Usually the NLE’s titler will be fairly basic to inspire you to buy something better like Adobe’s After Effects. Actually, to be fair, programming these text effects can be time-consuming and sometimes needs a combination of a Titler and video plug-ins. These optional-extra plug-ins with complex macros aren’t a bad thing. But Vegas makes it easy, thanks to the new Protype Titler plug-in. All the automation and key-framing parameters are there and you don’t have to apply any extra effects. NOT QUITE A DAW

Audio effects are similarly applied by inserting them over the individual audio tracks, directly to a clip, or you can create a new output bus with a global effect and route multiple audio channels to it. The effects can be previewed in real time as you make adjustments and the quality of Sony’s plug-ins are impressive. Even so, Vegas supports third-party VST

Mixer Window with Preview Pane: In line with film scoring’s 'stem' approach to audio workflow,the mixer can only contain output buses.

plug-ins and you can apply specialised tools like Autotune, if needs be. Only output buses can be shown in the mixer window, not each separate track, which for DAW users will feel a little limited when it comes to a complete mix. It should be remembered that as an NLE dealing with film, this makes sense. Film scores are usually mixed in ‘stems’ of grouped tracks (Dialog, FX, Atmos etc). Still, it won’t be surprising if future versions do give you all the tracks in the mixer. A wide variety of audio files and formats can be imported into Vegas. If you want to create voice-overs or music directly to your vision it provides all the tools for recording within the program. Although, don’t forget that a decent audio interface will be needed or at the very least a generic ASIO driver applied to your sound card. Otherwise latency during any recording will drive you nuts. SURE BET?

I noted at the outset that Vegas is a userfriendly application that can get you started on your NLE career — and it is. Still, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t point out that learning a program like Vegas is a formidable prospect for the novice. You need to understand some of the basic theories behind the workflows, such as key-framing and picture resolution. Get your head around these and lots of other concepts will fall into place. In particular, the choice of different video file formats into which Vegas can ultimately export your finished project is confusing — which one do you need? Why the hell didn’t someone standardise these? Ah… apparently, they did. A ‘Burn Disc’ menu in the Tools dialogs

provides for burning audio CDs, VCDs and Sony’s own BluRay discs. If you need a complete DVD disc, the Sony Vegas Pro 8 package includes DVD Architect Pro 4.5 for authoring DVDs. DVD Architect is serious stuff with a wealth of authoring features you’ll never use for that down ‘n‘ dirty DVD burn. (Just chicken out and use the Burn DVD wizard. Later on you can get more involved with layered, looped or linked menus on your DVDs — it’s kind of fun.) By the way, since June 2008 anyone who purchases Vegas has the opportunity of a free upgrade to DVD Architect 5 which also has a BluRay capability. So when you’re thinking of creating an AV presentation that offers that extra animation and dynamic content, consider Vegas. It’s available as a fully-working downloadable demo for 30 days, so you can play with it to your heart’s content. It won’t be long before you’ll see all the advantages that NLE editors offer. Even if you primarily need a straightforward stop/start, ‘next slide’ Powerpoint style of playback, Vegas can do that and a whole lot more. It’s about creating AV that is more striking, has greater impact and therefore keeps the audience’s attention. That’s not always easy, but Vegas will give you a bunch more tricks up your sleeve. 

RRP: $849 Format: PC only Intelliware: (02) 9981 8088 or sales@intelliware.com.au


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REVIEW

081

FEATURE

Rock Solid Ethernet Text / Andy Ciddor

ISBN: 1904031293 Title: Rock Solid Ethernet Author: Wayne Howell Publication date: Sept 2, 2004 Publisher: Entertainment Technology Press http://www.etbooks.co.uk/ GBP23.70 (approximately AU$49.50) from Amazon UK

Even if we don’t specialise in IT, every day more of our signal paths migrate from their traditional technologyspecific data formats and cabling schemes to commodity IT protocols and networks. Building, configuring and troubleshooting ethernet networks is now part of what we do. The availability of a book that offers some practical insights into building ethernet networks is very welcome. Rock Solid Ethernet from Wayne Howell is aimed squarely at those of us who have to design, build and maintain productiongrade ethernet networks. Howell, as the founder of Artistic Licence and the brains behind Art-Net (the DMX over ethernet protocol that has been adopted by approximately 90 lighting and audiovisual companies), is keenly aware of the demands of production. Rock Solid Ethernet is not aimed at lighting exclusively, but is equally applicable to networks handling audio, automation, pyrotechnics, video, projection control, digital signage, communications, fountains, show control, system integration, SCADA, building management, MIDI, atmospheric effects or whatever else may eventually be pumped across an ethernet network. This book takes the very adventurous approach of trying to be all things to all people. At one end of the spectrum, there are introductory sections, targeted at readers who have no experience with networks of any kind. At the other end of that spectrum lie sections specifically intended for product manufacturers and developers who already have a comprehensive background in electronics and computer technology. Howell

attempts to provide the would-be ethernet expert with all of the resources they could possibly need on their path to enlightenment. Content ranges from selecting the right cables, plugs, wiring schemes and network interfaces to finding the most appropriate wide area network protocol, network hardware and packet sniffing software. Along the way there are historical notes, some dashes of humour, a crash course in network topologies and networking protocols, network design, an excessively thorough networking glossary, instructions on making ethernet cables, a list of the major standards documents for ethernet and the TCP/IP protocol suite, an overview of some other data protocols, troubleshooting a network, and a survey of some ethernet software and equipment (with a big emphasis on products from Howell’s own company, Artistic Licence). As happens with every book that attempts to track the bleeding edge of a technology, some of the content was becoming out-of-date by the time it was published. The four years since its publication have seen rapid developments in such areas as high-speed networks and wireless networking, and although speeds have increased, the fundamentals covered in the book remain relevant and useful. One technology that was barely on the technical horizon at the time of publication, and hence is not covered in the book, is the now-familiar LED array that we use for everything from pattern displays to live video. No doubt these areas will be covered in detail when Howell prepares the next edition. Without doubt, Rock Solid Ethernet

contains a vast amount of knowledge. However, it occasionally falls short on providing sufficient explanations of how to integrate and use that knowledge. Despite having over two decades of experience with computers and networks at many levels, I found much of interest in this book. However, I also found some of the information to be delivered in a sequence, and a style, that may possibly baffle some less knowledgeable readers. Wayne Howell clearly has a formidable passion for, and knowledge of, ethernet and how to use it in the unforgiving environment that is production. It is unfortunate that in the production of this book, Howell’s material has not been treated with as much care as he has shown with its content. The quality of the typesetting and proofreading is disappointing. Whilst it is understandable that a proof-reader who is unfamiliar with the material could let the term “simple pier to pier network” slip past them (perhaps in the erroneous belief that it referred to a maritime network), there is no conceivable excuse for the substantial number of missing full-stops and spaces that ought to have been picked up by even the most rudimentary text editing system. I also have the impression that Howell did not have the opportunity to work closely with an editor, to develop this extensive body of information into a flow more comprehensible to the networking novice. Despite some minor flaws, Rock Solid Ethernet deserves a place in your technical library, if not in your tool box, drawers case or notebook bag. 


Termination Is a $39.95 DVD player perfect for dancing Cossacks or are you simply playing Russian roulette? Text/ Graeme Hague

You get what you pay for, as they say. But is there ever an occasion when going for a bottom shelf product is a good idea? We certainly live in a world of disposable technology, and many respectable manufacturers opt for a new-for-old replacement policy rather than provide a service department and a spare parts inventory. It doesn’t mean they’re ‘cheap and nasty’. And who hasn’t thrown a computer in the bin lately? It breaks your heart, but that stateof-the-art Pentium 3 desktop with a massive 512MB of RAM that got you so excited four years ago is only taking up desk space now. You haven’t turned it on for months and the piddling 17-inch CRT monitor is a boat anchor. In my venue, we were purchasing DVD players. It’s a theatre and next to each auditorium entry was a flat-screen LCD for show relay, plus we installed a series of 42-inch plasma screens in the main foyer for the same purpose. However, for a large part of any day there was nothing to show, so the idea was to make slideshows of upcoming events and display these on the screens from early morning through to late at night. Because some of the promotional material came in the form of AVI files, the best way to do this was to produce a simple, no-menu DVD that played in repeat mode. A few promoters like to hog everything. They want every resource, every phone, every box office staff member to be selling their tickets and nothing else. Usually it involves smelly Eastern Europeans bouncing around in knee-high leather boots flogging each other with swords and bad breath. Typically, they’ll also have a five-minute TV advert — the kind you see late at night — that has to be shown in the foyer on a constant loop. Rather than lose our own screens, the solution was buying another stand-alone 42-inch plasma with its own DVD player. But wait, there’s more. The theatre also has a 35mm cinema projector and runs foreign movies once a month on a Sunday. Preceding these is the standard pre-film style of advertising using slides and a voice-over produced by yours truly. These are done

with an LCD projector and — you can guess —another DVD player. The projector sees a lot of use with PowerPoint presentations for conferences too, so it’s partly a case of using equipment already in place. Purchasing cheap DVD players wasn’t about the fact we needed three. At first, we went the pro option and bought something decent — but we struck problems. The fact was, this player with all the latest bells and whistles, plus the ability to be extensively programmed… didn’t last three months operating 24/7. It’s our fault… a bit, since we were only turning off the screens at night, but not the player — which was in the control room/bio box (being at the rear of the auditorium, the 400 steps were an impractical journey). Still, it was a puzzle to be told that a professional DVD player wasn’t capable of running continuously, and that we’d stuffed our warranty using it that way. Next, we heard the urban myth about cheap players: that they’re, to all intents and purposes, just repackaged PC drives; that they’re almost bullet proof, will run forever, and very forgiving of odd formats and badlyburned discs. So we went to the local white goods outlet, and over the following week bought three players of various brands on special at the time. And they worked: for quite some time, at least, until one of these players bit the dust and that ‘cheap’ factor came back to bite us after all. First to go was the DVD player inside the cinema. It was being used to show pre-film adverts and, of course, decided to keel over with a movie due to start in 20 minutes. The S-Video output to the LCD projector died. No problem, you’d think, since I had a choice of several players to swap and the others didn’t need S-Video. Some kind of combination would have to work. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that one of the alternative players didn’t have S-Video output. Damn it, 15 minutes left. This was the foyer slide player. Now I had to rush down to the stand-alone player and pilfer that. This did have S-Video… great. However, after I exchanged the players, I discovered the dodgy cinema player didn’t have a repeat function.

The video out worked, and I had a picture, but I couldn’t loop the advertisement. Can you see the vicious cycle vortex I was getting sucked into? Getting desperate as punters stocked up on popcorn and queued at the door, I left the Russians to fend for themselves, and took that player. I got it hooked up just in time and started the movie session. Too late, I discovered something new at the end of the advertisements. The other cheap DVD players, when they came to the end of a no-menu DVD simply stopped and showed a black screen. But this player splashed a huge company logo all over the opening credits when the DVD stopped. As if DVD replay wasn’t enough of a problem, the projector itself decided to muscle in on the act. Standard procedure was to run the adverts, start the film, then turn off the LCD projector — a seamless professional act you’d think. Unfortunately, whenever we turn off the projector, it displays the bleedingly obvious message that it’s being powered down. The unit itself was mounted on a lighting bar, so dropping something in front of the lens wasn’t possible. The audience were always treated to this message writ large across the screen. So much for the ‘magic’ of theatre. That’s the real problem with audiovisual gear. When something goes wrong — either from a gear point of view or the operator stuffs something up — the unhappy result is often displayed for everyone to see on an enormous screen in dazzling technicolour. One way to avoid this is not to blithely buy cheap equipment, just because its intended function is fairly straightforward. Every purchase needs to be carefully investigated for hidden pitfalls. But, okay, sometimes you might get lucky and a piece of throwaway technology will do the job. The rule applies to that pesky LCD projector which was by no means cheap, but has a trait that’s nothing less than infuriating. If I had the choice, the suppliers could have the stupid thing back.  AV welcomes insightful and less-than-serious contributions to the Termination page. Contact the editor andy@av.net. au if you would like to add your voice to the rich tapestry of audiovisual industry culture.


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AV is Australia and New Zealand's magazine for Audiovisual professionals.

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