$6.95 inc gst
FIRE YOUR IMAGINATION FIRE YOUR IMAGINATION
The Rundle Lantern, Adelaide. Spec: 714 active panels with a pair of independently controlled, custom-built Bisquit LED luminaires – in all 1428 addressable ‘pixels’. Data distribution, control and programming system by Space Cannon.
Space Cannon Australia Pty Ltd 3/169 Beavers Road Northcote 3070 Victoria Australia
firstname.lastname@example.org tel. +61 (3) 9486 5366 fax. +61 (3) 9923 6249
Installations at: Melbourne Theatre Company - Sumner Theatre • Eastlink Hotel • Royal Mail House - Maxims Of Behaviour • Giuseppe Arnaldo - Crown Casino
You prepared for a stunning presentation. So have we. The sensational new Hitachi Professional Series LCD Projectors. Unmatched Hitachi reliability and awesome resolution makes the Professional Series 3LCD projector the ideal video solution for auditoriums and convention halls. From the UltraPortable Series to the powerful Professional Series for larger venues, Hitachi has the range to deliver renowned performance with unprecedented reliability and durability.
For more information on these products please visit www.hitachi.com.au or contact us at email@example.com
For more information visit www.hitachi.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultra Short Throw
The best in audiovisual technologies from around the world is coming to Sydney in July. PLUS: InfoComm is conducting a full day of AV education, dubbed Super Tuesday! Get onto the Integrate website for program details. If youâ€™re an AV professional then this is the must-see event of the year. Register now!
6th â€“ 8th July 2009 Hordern Pavilion & Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park, Sydney
Editorial Nano Nano Earthlings I’m reliably informed by people who’ve been producing magazines for much longer than the three issues I’ve been at it, that the only person who will ever read this editorial will be the sub editor (and possibly my sister who isn’t even in the AV industry), so here’z a couple of delibrant mstakes to see if Brad actually read it. [I’m not falling for that old trick – BW.] Knowing I’m safe from inquisitive and critical eyes, I can confess to how much fun I have being in the production/AV/IT industry. Throughout my entire working life I have had to track the progress of a wide range of rapidly-evolving technologies and the practices that go with them. So of course I’m very interested in the forthcoming rush of nano materials that will change our society in ways that will make the electronics evolution of the twentieth century look like a time of quiet stability. If, for example, new materials technology means that we get gels that take longer to burn out, then we can change the way we think about deploying colour. Whether it’s more saturated colours being used, or putting our gear in ever-increasingly inaccessible places, the technology will inevitably alter the way we work. What will happen when we start using Carbon Nanotube Film technology speakers that reproduce sound using the newly-rediscovered thermoacoustic effect? When almost any surface can potentially carry a loudspeaker, all the sound design rule books would need to be re-written. Throw ultrawideband wireless into that mix, and the work practices in our industry have the potential to change beyond all unrecognition. One technology that has attracted my attention recently is a prototype that I saw at the InfoComm show. It’s being touted as a ‘pico projector’, although it didn’t seem to be one thousandth the size of the ‘nano projectors’ I’ve come across. Unlike anything I’ve seen before, this projector modulates three primary coloured diode lasers (red, blue and infrared doubled to green) combines the beams into a single path, then points them at a single scanning micromirror to draw out the rastered image. Because there are no focussing optics, the laser scanned image is in focus at every distance from the mirror. This device will be coming out in a few months as the engine of a handheld projector the same size as an iPhone. Speaking of phones, that’s where you’ll find the next iteration of pico projector – although perhaps not in the $20 capped budget model. With an output in the 10 to 20 ANSI lumens range it won’t be stealing many concert gigs... yet. Stay with us at AV as we watch the world of nanotechnologies disappear from beneath our feet.
the PicoP projection engine
Contact AV’s Editor, Andy Ciddor on: email@example.com
Not just a magazine www.av.net.au AV Industry Jobs Board: the best place to hire & be hired
OUTSHINING, OUTPERFORMING… STILL NUMBER The perfect balance between power and performance. Ideal for education, hospitality and professional sectors. Now available from the world’s number one projector brand since 2003.
G Series Powerful Brightness Flexiable installation Wide-XGA Wireless Easy Maintenance Wide Connectivity Optional Lenses
Crew Dan is a veteran IT Infrastructure professional working for enterprise-class businesses, and also DJs and VJs. His career has revolved around multimedia production, IT operations, programming and network infrastructure. He prefers the idyllic surroundings of the forest, and enjoys AV, art and music production pursuits when not ‘working for the man’. He is the type of guy that can really appreciate ‘quality production & mastering’.
Advertising Office: (02) 9986 1188 PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086
Editorial Office: (03) 5331 4949 PO Box 295, Ballarat, VIC 3353
Editor: Andy Ciddor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since 1982 Gep has at various times been a musician, writer, composer, location sound recordist, student, resource manager, audio director, actor, film maker, improvisor, producer, traveller, and teller of bad jokes. His latest adventure is musical director/improvisor for This is Your Laugh, a 16-episode light entertainment series for Ch7 HD.
Advertisement Manager: Stewart Woodhill (email@example.com) Editorial Director: Christopher Holder (firstname.lastname@example.org) Publisher: Philip Spencer (email@example.com) Art Direction & Design: Dominic Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org) Additional Design: Heath McCurdy (email@example.com) Deputy Editor: Brad Watts (firstname.lastname@example.org) Circulation Manager: Mim Mulcahy (email@example.com)
Paul Collison is a freelance lighting designer based in Sydney. He has a purple suitcase that is more a home than his house and has an addiction to a decent espresso and a good Eggs Benedict on crispy bacon, not ham. Armed with these vices he takes on the world of lighting design and operation on special events, both domestically as well as overseas. Normally adept at writing six or seven lines in an email, Paul is making a laughable attempt at adapting that style to articles in AV magazine.
alchemedia publishing pty ltd (ABN: 34 074 431 628) PO Box 6216, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086 firstname.lastname@example.org All material in this magazine is copyright © 2009 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. 18/2/09
Rod Sommerich is the National Product Manager for Display Products at Amber Technology, where he regularly conducts manufacturer training courses. He has had sales and product management roles for AV and broadcast products distributors for almost 25 years. Previously he worked in editing and telecine operations with broadcasters and post production facilities in Australia and the UK. Rod holds InfoComm CTS certification.
A/V Connectivity Raceway System from Extron
The Elegant Alternative to Trenching and Floor Coring Extron AVTrac is an innovative, floor-mounted A/V and cable raceway system that’s designed for use in any environment where A/V devices cannot be placed near a wall or other areas where power, data, and A/V connections are traditionally located.
The Australian version is now shipping.
Architects and interior designers will appreciate the design flexibility of AVTrac’s patented, low-profile cable raceway, which is compliant with AS 1428.1 Disability requirements. It’s ideal for new, retrofit, and reconfigurable spaces, particularly in architecturally-sensitive environments where disruptions must be kept to an absolute minimum. 4.91" (12.47 cm)
Alternative to Trenching, Poke-Throughs, and Raised Floor Systems
3.62" (9.20 cm) 4.5° .67" (1.70 cm) 7.50" (19.05 cm)
3.70" (9.40 cm)
7.50" (19.05 cm)
The proliferation of technology in the workplace has increased the demand for power, data and A/V signal connectivity. Poke-through devices, floor trenching, and raised access flooring can be too conspicuous, too costly, or may be prohibited by building owners.
Australian Distributor of Extron Products
Free Call 1800.EXTRON
Distributed in Australia by: Production Audio Services Pty Ltd P. (03) 9264 8000, email@example.com www.productionaudio.com.au
Issue 3 32
REGULARS NEWS Includes InfoComm Asia report.
TERMINATION Thin-screen, chubby-screen, widescreen, flat-screen.
NANO SPEAKERS You’re not wearing that out tonight!
CRESTRON'S VISION Crestron’s Randy Klein talks us through AV & IT.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S ZAIA AV runs away to the circus.
NATIONAL SPORTS MUSEUM Our audiovisual shrine to sport.
TAKE IT TO THE BRIDGE We check out Fremantle’s shipping simulator.
A SIGN OF THE TIMES Digital signage perched above one of Melbourne’s prominent landmarks.
EQUINE AFFLUENZA Stirring up bull-dust in the country capital.
ADELAIDE LIGHTS UP AV basks in the light of the Rundle Lantern.
SIMULATING PATIENTS Sick Sims on the west coast.
MULTIMEDIA MICROSCOPY Learning under the microscope.
IMMERSIVE PROJECTION Projected theming that has you surrounded.
DLP PROJECTION Micromirror magic.
SOUND SOUNDPROOFING Constructive do’s and don’ts.
RISKY BUSINESS OH, yeS!
EIKI LC XIP2000 Interactive projector.
DENON DN-C640 Networkable playback unit.
ROSCO DICHROIC GEL Throw another gel on the barbie!
Andy Ciddor reports on the trends at InfoComm's first show in China.
It’s already becoming difficult to remember that in late November of 2008, we still believed Australia wouldn’t be affected by the global financial mess. In Hong Kong to attend InfoComm Asia, we saw China TV broadcasting news stories about how the disaster brought on by the unregulated western banks would have no impact on China’s continuing growth. On the tradeshow floor the mood was definitely upbeat. Perhaps it was the noise from the busy Hong Kong streets below that masked the sound of the economic train wreck that was heading straight for us. Buoyed by the world acclaim heaped on China for the recently completed Olympic and Paralympic Games spectaculars, and encouraged by having the InfoComm showcase in their country for the first time, droves of Chinese companies were exhibiting, many for the very first time at such an international show. Shenzhen Corp
With the technology powerhouse that is the city/region of Shenzhen in southern China being only a 35-minute suburban train ride away from Hong Kong island, there were many Shenzhen-based companies present. Technology innovators these folk may be, but they still need a bit of help with their image and marketing. No less than 13 of the exhibitors had company names beginning with the word Shenzhen. Let’s face it: Norwood Plumbing, Collingwood Smash Repairs and Turramurra Mowing may be names that help local businesses to build their trade, but the city of Shenzhen is hardly the first location that springs to mind when searching for a DVI splitter, a tubular screen motor, or a DLP display wall. As to be expected at an AV show, there were countless gigantic screens: from Sharp’s 108-inch LCD monster (that held the world LCD size record that week), to more LCD,
LED, and DLP display wall cubes than you could reasonably shake a stick at. Then there was the double-sided LCD signage panel and the unphotographable (due to moiré patterns) 2m-high LED signage column. Add to that a regiment of projection screens with bright projectors pointing at them and one could be forgiven for thinking that screens are all the AV industry is about. Seeing it in 3D
Development in 3D displays has begun to pick up pace. Expect to come across more 3D in projects fairly soon, as the technologies become more available and marketing people begin to find vaguely plausible reasons for adopting them. There were a slew of different 3D technologies on exhibit, some of them more prepared for real-world applications than others. Lenticular 3D displays, where the left and right images are displayed in alternating vertical stripes on the screen and are delivered to their target eye via an overlay of matching striped prisms on the screen, are getting bigger and brighter. While they may have the advantage of displaying 3D images without special goggles or glasses, lenticular displays only work well within a narrow range of viewing distances, so it will be interesting to see where this technology will go. Just for the hell of it, there was a lenticular display that showed three different 2D images, depending on your viewpoint. This may actually prove to be a more successful application for lenticular lenses over display panels. There was a valiant, but not entirely successful, attempt at widescreen 3D using a multi-projector rig of edge-blended pairs of polarised projectors onto a curved screen. It’s not clear whether the problem was the source material, the low brightness of the images, the edge blending processing or the ambient light on the screen, but it simply didn’t
present a convincing 3D effect. No amount of adaptation time, squinting or cleaning the polarising glasses made the images converge. Projected 3D, using alternating images from a single projector and LCD shutter glasses to route the images to the appropriate eye is one technology that seems to be getting cheaper, sharper and more comfortable by the week. The shutter glasses have been ready for a while, and now we’re seeing some good projectors that can pump out sufficiently highresolution images at sufficiently brisk frame rates to make the system workable. The demos were mostly of CAD and similar visualisation applications, but with several companies now releasing production versions of the double frame rate projectors, things will begin to progress, and complementary 3D image acquisition systems must be the next step. A recent US demonstration narrowcast to theatres of a gridiron game in 3D HD was considered a success. The audiences loved it and various producers are seeing it as an opportunity, although almost every piece of equipment used was a desperate kludge. 3D is definitely on its way. Digital Signage – Elephant in the Gloom
After working methodically through an area devoted to digital signage I was reminded of an ancient Indian story of a group of blind men who are taken to meet an elephant for the first time. Each approaches the elephant to feel it and decide upon the animal’s nature. One feels the leg and declares that an elephant is like a pillar. Another feels the trunk and claims an elephant is like a tree branch. The next man feels the tail and believes an elephant is like a rope, the next feels an ear and likens the elephant to a fan. Similarly, the present state of the digital signage business means every company has touched a part of digital signage and decided what they’ve discovered is the entire digital signage business.
Olympics opening ceremony LED modules from the Leyard Electronic Technology Company.
So, we have screen manufacturers who bolt something akin to an embedded PC into their screens and throw in a piece of basic desktop scheduling software to create a ‘digital signage system’. We have software companies that produce a desktop server that talks to clients that run on any .NET platform and drive a single dumb screen, thereby creating their ‘digital signage system’. Then there are companies who have wireless client and server transceivers to connect to dumb screens, forming yet another ‘digital signage system’. There’s the very compact box that sits next to a dumb display and contains a complete embedded xnix-based composition, storage and scheduling system that can be managed via a web server interface. Then there are software companies who have brilliant design and scheduling software with a library of hardware drivers sold as a ‘digital signage system’. There was even a stand covered in swanky digital signage and graphics about their digital signage system (which made it stand out in this area), where none of the staff, who all spoke fluent English, had any clue as to which part of the puzzle their company actually supplied. Finally, there is a company that sells tickets to ride on the elephant even though they’ve never touched one – the software developer who perceives digital signage as yet another medium for displaying paid advertising, no different from the side of a building or the rear end of a taxi. They are all correct about their part of the digital signage business, but nobody seems to have a clear overview. There certainly aren’t any standards to allow the interchange of any elements in these systems, other than power leads and Ethernet cables. When you stand back and struggle to get a sense of the whole elephant in the gathering gloom, it becomes apparent that the situation needs to change before digital signage can become an industry, rather than a collection of isolated clusters of innovation.
2/HITACHI’S PRO AV OFFERINGS
3/LAB.GRUPPEN PUMP IT UP
Seven Audio-Technica microphones have been released to bring quality audio capture to typical laptop, camcorder, and voice recorder applications. Improving upon standard built-in mics is now as easy as plugging in a 3.5mm minijack. AT9912, AT9910 and AT9913 are compact electret condensers with an integral minijack and a 90° knuckle. AT9912 is a mono unit, AT9910 is a stereo version and the AT9913 a mono mini shotgun. Models AT9903 and AT9904 are mono unidirectional electret condenser lapel mics featuring a 13mm diameter mic cylinder body and a battery power supply. Completing the line-up are two mini boundary mics, AT9921 mono with 360° coverage and the AT9920 stereo with 2 x 180° coverage. Prices range from $100 to $159. Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hitachi has recently launched its latest family of LCD projectors, signalling the company’s entry into the professional AV market. Joining the CP-X10000, is the CP-WX11000 and CP-SX12000. Together these three Hitachi models offer a solution for large venues that require high-end projection. The CP-X10000 offers projection up to 7500 lumens – the brightest ever offered from Hitachi. They are well suited to auditoriums, exhibition halls, large lecture theatres or stage productions, where audiences will appreciate high contrast imaging and contemporary colour reproduction in a range of resolutions. All three models feature a dust resistant cooling system that eliminates one of the main sources of reliability issues. The use of long-life components including inorganic LCD panels and polariser filters enhances reliability further. As the brightest of the three at 7500 lumens, the CPX10000 delivers 1024x768 XGA resolution, while the WXGA CP-WX11000 offers true 1280x800 (16:10) widescreen performance at 6500. The CP-SX12000 with 1400x1050 SXGA+ also reaches the 7000 lumens barrier. Pricing: CP-X10000: $13,320; CP-WX11000: $14,200; CP-SX12000: $16,750. Hitachi Australia: email@example.com or www.hitachi.com.au
Lab.gruppen has raised the bar for its C Series of network-controlled installation amplifiers with the introduction of a formidable new flagship model, the C88:4. Housed in a lightweight (12kg) 2U chassis, the four-channel C88:4 supplies 8800W of total output. Up to 2200W per discrete channel are available at 2Ω, 2100W per channel at 4Ω, while 4600W are available through two bridged output pairs at 4Ω. The C88:4 expands the C Series’ capability to the largest performance installations. The C88:4 is ideal for powering subwoofers, larger array systems and broader multi-power-level/impedance applications. The C88:4 includes the NomadLink network module as standard. NomadLink is a robust, easy-to-configure network that monitors key amplifier parameters and permits remote control of power on/off and channel mutes. NomadLink utilises the separate NLB 60E network bridge and the DeviceControl software application. Audio Telex: (02) 9647 1411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS / BRIEF
NVidia’s new graphic card: the Quadro NVS420 allows you to use up to four screens on your favorite computer. This card features two GPUs, allowing control of up to four 30-inch screens with a resolution of 2560x1600. In theory, you can plug-in four of the NVS420s, providing a sum total of up to 16 screens – enough for any Bond villain. Xenon Systems: 1300 888 030 or www.xenon.com.au
InfoComm International is pleased to announce that Rod Brown, CTS-D, most recently of Integrated Media Systems, has been hired as a Staff Instructor. Brown will teach a wide variety of InfoComm Academy classes around the world. Brown joins Jonathan Sellers, CTS, Regional Director, Australia, in providing valuable programs to AV professionals in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa. InfoComm: www.infocomm.org
DAS Audio has launched its LX-218 bass-reflex subwoofer system. The LX-218 double 18-inch system is designed to provide a peak SPL of 142dB. The powered version uses third-generation Class-D amps. They’re suitable for PA applications using systems for mid-to-large scale events in arenas, stadiums or theatres, apparently ensuring plenty of bass reinforcement. Magna Systems: (02) 9417 1111 or email@example.com
Epson will introduce the Colour Light Output measurement as a key performance indicator for all new 3LCD projectors. Colour light output, or colour brightness, is a new measurement of projector picture quality developed by Lumita to assist in assessing the ability of projectors to deliver consistently rich colours. Based on the existing industry-standard test method, colour light output, like brightness, is reported in lumens. The measurement specifies a projector’s performance in the delivery of
red, green, blue light. Colour Light Output measures the output brightness of the three colours red, green and blue. If a projector can produce red, green and blue brightness equal in lumens to the brightness of white, it can reproduce true colour the way it was intended. The first Epson projectors released to specify colour light output will be new high definition digital home theatre projectors. The 3LCD consortium has announced that Sony will also specify colour light output for its projectors.
4/BARCO GOES FULL BOAR Barco announces the Wholehog DMX Processor 8000 designed to manage up to 16 DMX universes while expanding the power and reliability of the Wholehog control system. By providing DMX and Art-Net output at a steady rate, the possibilities for lighting design are expanded. DMX Processor 8000 is 50 times more powerful than its predecessor – the DP2000. In addition, Version 3.0 software for all current lighting console products is now available. Version 3.0.0 represents major improvements to core components of the Wholehog software. It also adds support for the new DMX Processor 8000 and Art-Net output from the DMX Processor 8000 and Road Hog Full Boar console. Barco Systems: (03) 9646 5833 or www.barco.com
Version 2 of the Aviom 6416 output module for the Pro64 network simplifies connectivity with other manufacturers’ mixing consoles, amps, powered speakers etc. Every channel on the 2U 16-channel D/A converter has a four-position switch for level settings, as well as three-segment level metering. The 6416 v2 also has Virtual Data Cables for 14 channels of non-audio control data, as well as VDC connectors for MIDI I/O, RS232 and GPIO. Production Audio Services: (03) 9264 8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Yamaha expands its range of Mini-YGDAI cards with the HD-SDI Demultiplexer, the MY8SDI-D. HD-SDI (High Definition Serial Digital Interface) is a format used with HDTV, transmitting one channel of uncompressed HDTV video and 16 channels of PCM audio. The card features HD-SDI ‘Input’ and ‘Thru’ (non-reclocked) connections and replaces conventional converters to directly feed Yamaha digital mixing products. Yamaha Australia: 03) 9693 5102 or email@example.com
Madison Technologies’ Hall Research Technologies SwitchCat AV distribution system adds AV capabilities to any room. The VSA-31-SP integrates A/V switching, microphone input, projector control, and video transmission over UTP, and audio amplification in one package. The VSA-31-SP comprises a user interface, configured as a two-gang wallplate, a transmitter, configured as a four-gang wallplate, and a small receiver. Madison Technologies: 1800 66 99 99 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1/SHOWMASTER SHOW CONTROLLER
2/NO WIRES ATTACHED
3/BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM
Setting the standard with the increasing demand for Show Control, not only in theme park or casino installations but in showrooms, restaurants, museums or point of sale, Medialon introduces Showmaster, ‘the first IP-based Embedded Show Controller in a rugged and compact hardware design’. Showmaster brings the power of Medialon to smaller venues. It’s designed to be easytosetupandconfigure thanksto‘Medialon Manager’. “The era of Program, Compile, Download, try your show and start over has ended”, says Alex Carru, CEO of Medialon. Thanks to the real-time no-coding/ no-compile environment, programmers can now test their show and logical programming on the fly.” Showmaster is well-suited to control audio, lighting, and video, in museums, showrooms, attractions, rides, architectural lighting, restaurants, point of sales and casinos. Interactive Controls: (02) 9436 3022 or www.interactivecontrols.com.au
Revolabs recently announced the next generation of its microphone systems for the professional installation and AV market. The Executive HD could well represent quite a breakthrough in audio performance for speech-specific wireless microphones. The high definition audio clarity and 50Hz–22kHz frequency response comes courtesy of Revolabs’ DFS22TM proprietary processing. With an optimised speech codec, the Revolabs system handles live sound, voice reinforcement, recording, and wideband video and audio conferencing applications. Revolabs DFS22, ‘Designed For Speech’, technology improves the intelligibility and presence when reproducing the spoken word. Noteworthy improvements, include remote status, control, and software upgrades via a network connection, and imperviousness to GSM interference from mobile phones, and other wireless devices. The system will be available as either a four or eight microphone system. Production Audio Services: (03) 9264 8000 or email@example.com
Tannoy’s QFlex range of self-powered, digitally steerable loudspeaker arrays focuses the acoustical output where it is required. The QFlex speaker line up is designed to overcome intelligibility problems associated with highly reverberant surroundings. QFlex will satisfy a host of audio installation requirements such as airports and transportation hubs, shopping malls, conference facilities, museums, houses of worship and other locations with problematic acoustics. Now a part of the Vnet range of products, this architecturally aware system integrates DSP, network control and amplification to provide steering control (±70°) for intelligible speech and music reinforcement. An intuitive GUI provides the installer a straight forward and logical method of system design and optimisation. Syntec International: 1800 648 628 or firstname.lastname@example.org
4/ON THE PROEL
5/EXTRON AVTRAC LANDS
6/LINE ARRAY TO A ‘T’
The Proel DSO480 is a digital controller providing signal processing for touring and fixed applications. Replacing the DSO26, the DSO480 features a 96k sampling rate and a 4-In/8-Out configuration. Much more than a simple crossover filter, the DSO480 includes equalisation filters configurable as full-parametric, shelving, notch, band-pass, and all-pass, a dynamic speaker protection system and delay lines for the time alignment. The built-in AES/EBU digital inputs and high-performance converters ensure the high-quality signal reproduction through the audio chain. All functions are edited via a backlit control interface and a 2x24 character display panel. The onboard library can also be constantly kept updated via RS232. National Audio Systems: (03) 9761 5577 or email@example.com
RGB Integration is ecstatic to inform that Australian powered versions of the Extron AVTrac are now shipping. AVTrac is a low-profile, floor-mounted cable raceway system with a modular adapter plate enclosure. It is designed for use in any environment where A/V devices require connectivity but are not positioned near a wall or other area where power, data, and A/V connections are traditionally located. AVTrac is available in two models: The AVTrac 480C accommodates matching carpet in the aluminium raceway top cap, and the AVTrac 480R includes a black ‘Roppe’ rubber strip for installation in the top cap in place of a carpet inlay. The modular AAP enclosure supports all of the Extron AAPs creating a customisable connectivity solution. It includes two double-space and 2 triple-space AAP openings that accommodate common audio, video, phone, power, and data connectors, and ships with a factory installed AVTrac AC power module AAP with one female 240V AC outlet. RGB Integration: 1800 398 006 or firstname.lastname@example.org
d&b’s T-Series is designed to address a range of small- to medium-sized applications. The T10 cabinet is a passive two-way design that houses two 6.5-inch drivers, a 1.4-inch exit HF compression driver and can be used either as a compact component in a multiple cabinet line array, or, by rotating the horn, as a high directivity point source loudspeaker. The HF driver is fitted to a unique waveguide horn producing vertical line source directivity with a 90° horizontal pattern that is maintained down to around 600Hz. The neodymium LF drivers are positioned in a dipolar arrangement providing “exceptional” dispersion control even at lower frequencies. The addition of the T-Sub will extend the bandwidth of a T10 column down to 47 Hz. The T10 cabinets retail for $6999 and the T-Sub for $5399. National Audio Systems: (03) 9761 5577 or email@example.com
A Solution You Can Touch.
Samsung’s new touchscreen range has built-in processing power and on-board memory enabling “PC Free” content display and control. The new TSn Series: • A complete “out of the box” interactive solution offering easy set up and stand alone operation. No need for third party add-ons or messy wires. • Network connectivity for centralised delivery of content to single or multiple screens. • Infra-red touch technology with anti reflective protection glass for improved usability. • Multiple PC & Video Connections, including VGA, DVI, HDMI, network and USB, to suit an array of applications. For more information on the new range of Samsung touchscreens, please contact:
Available in 32, 40, 46, 70 and 82”
moving with technology WORLDS BEST TECHNOLOGY
Ph: 07 3866 5000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph: 03 9541-8841 email@example.com www.westan.com.au
Ph: 1300 666 099 firstname.lastname@example.org www.idt.com.au
Ph: 1300 362 363 www.wbtd.com.au email@example.com
1/CRESTRON ROOM INNOVATION
2/SPINETIX SIGNS WITH AMBER
The majority of AV room control systems are for smallto medium-sized spaces where budgets are tight but the requirements remain for high performance, ease of use and manageability. The Innovation package combines Crestron and Australian Monitor to provide you with a complete solution for these spaces. A preprogrammed Crestron MPCM25W, a DVD/VCR combo and the new AMAV IN400 are supplied as a kit giving you DVD/VCR playback, AV switching, stereo audio amplification, VGA switching, LAN connection, serial and IR control plus the easy to use MPCM25 keypad interface. This package ensures a well priced consistent solution for the majority of these types of spaces and the upgrade flexibility of the Crestron MPS and QM range. Other features include a Crestron MPCM25W keypad integrated control system with built-in ethernet and web server, two 80W amplifiers, serial control for display or projector, and Roomview system management and web-based remote control of the system. Crestron Control Solutions: (02) 9737 8203 or www.crestron.com.au
SpinetiX has taken on Amber Technology to distribute its suite of digital signage hardware and software solutions in Australia & New Zealand. SpinetiX is a Swiss company founded in 2006 by a team targeting the high growth ‘dynamic digital signage’ market. Integrating existing hardware and open software technologies, SpinetiX’s solution simplifies access, distribution, scheduling and manipulation of digital media into a signage system. Cost reduction and interoperability with open standards are SpinetiX’s focus. For example, the SpinetiX HMP100 is the first Hyper Media Player (HMP) available on the market. Based on the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) platform it offers the ability to mix streaming video, encoded video or images and audio file formats combined with other dynamic information such as RSS or XML into the presentation. The HMP100 comes with SpinetiX’s Hyper Media Director Software which allows simple content creation, management and scheduling. Amber Technology: 1800 251367 or www.ambertech.com.au
The Franciscan church of St. Mary Immaculate, in Sydney’s east, is keeping itself nice. To improve the sound of the existing audio system, the firm R&B Sound & Vision chose the DAS Audio Artec and Factor systems. Specifically, four white Artec 26 enclosures were placed vertically in the altar area. These systems, ideal for nearfield applications, offer clean cut and sleek styling fit perfectly in any type of architectural space. On either side of the hall, four white Factor 5 systems were used for paging and background music. These solidly-built two-way propylene monitors are versatile, compact, and offer precise directional sound symmetry. Peter Hotson of Magna Systems (DAS’s Australian distributor) affirms: “Acoustics is an important factor in any religious centre; well defined and uniform sound coverage in each area is essential, and in DAS we found the perfect sound systems for this type of installation.” Magna Systems: (02) 9417 1111 or www.magnasys.tv
Gefen’s 1:2 Splitter for HDMI 1.3 allows set top boxes, DVD players, DVRs and other HDTV devices with an HDMI 1.3 output to be connected to two HDTV displays. A greater number of displays can be connected by chaining multiple splitters together to create a larger distribution. Amber Technology: (02) 9452 8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
KV2 Audio has a speaker intended for installations and portable PA systems as well as studio monitoring – lofty claims. The bi-amped, two-way, 40cm high enclosure has a six-inch LF driver rated at 180W, and a one-inch neodymium high frequency driver running at 20W with a dispersion pattern of 100° x 100°. The system is quoted as being able to reproduce a frequency range of 62Hz – 28kHz with a peak SPL rating of 120dB. KV2 Audio: (02) 4329 0062 or email@example.com
Osmond Electronics has bought the first Midas Pro6 live audio system in Australia. The Adelaide company is a Midas junkie, also getting their hands on the XL3 and XL200 before anyone else during the ’90s, with those boards still in their inventory. Osmond spec’d the Pro6 with the DL431 input splitter and DL451 I/O box that’s usually supplied with the XL8. Bosch Communication Systems: (02) 9683 4752 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sony Australia introduces its lineup of UWP Series UHF wireless microphones. All components, including bodypack transmitter, handheld microphone, portable receiver and tuner unit, are housed in compact, lightweight and robust metal chassis, allowing them to withstand the operational environments encountered during field use. Sony: www.sony.com.au/ production
Sutherland Shire Council recently upgraded the AV equipment in its chambers, opting for a Bosch conferencing and PA solution. The Bosch DCN Next Generation system features a Chairman Concentus Unit for the mayor and 21 Delegate Units for councillors. The DCN is interfaced with a distributed Plena public address system for the public gallery and meeting rooms. The design of the complete system was based on requirements of local councils as prescribed by the Department of Local Government, especially
with regards to including capabilities for electronic voting and management of voting results. Recording of all meeting proceedings are now achieved with the Bosch CCS800 Ultro digital voice recorder in MP3 format. When required, recordings can be played back at any time through the built-in loudspeakers of any microphone unit. Bosch Communication Systems: (02) 9683 4752 or email@example.com
4/COMPACT DIGITAL MIXING Allen & Heath has a new compact digital mixing system evolved from its flagship iLive digital range. The iLive-T Series has “all the performance and power” of the original iLive in a new lightweight, and more affordable package. The T Series comprises the fixed I/O iDR-32 and iDR-48 MixRacks and iLive-T80 and iLive-T112 surface options with remote Cat5 connection. Each rack can be used with either control surface, and all models will be compatible with the existing iLive units. The system employs Allen & Heath’s ACE (Audio Control Ethernet) link, which allows long-distance point-topoint control and audio connection between the rack and surface using a single Cat5 cable. Using iLive’s 64x32 RackExtra DSP mix engine, both T Series racks provide processing for 64 channels, 32 mixes, plus eight stereo effects processors. The systems feature dual-core DSP technology, handling full dynamics, EQ and delay for all signals, which ensures, for example, that each of the 32 mixes has a dedicated third-octave graphic EQ as well as a parametric EQ available. Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ARX has added the ISOCombiner transformer-isolated combiner to their Audibox range. The ISO Combiner is a passive device making it suitable for use in applications where two sources need to be readily combined into one output. A pair of transformer balanced female XLR inputs combine to deliver a single transformer isolated male XLR output. The device is available in single channel or double header format. The Resource Corporation: (03) 9877 8233 or email@example.com
Turbosound TCS sound contracting series features dual 18-inch sub, to single 15-inch arrayable subs, through to 12and 15-inch active two-ways, all the way to an ultra-compact 6.5-inch model. Turbosound has also developed a high-powered three-way switchable bi-amp/ tri-amp loudspeaker with a range of intelligent solutions. The series is IP54 rated, can be ordered in custom colours, and has three rotatable horn dispersion patterns Audio Telex: (02) 9647 1411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Leaf LHD88 matrix switcher is designed to work with any control system that can output RS232 commands. Designed to use dual Cat5 as the only cabling to the breakout points (such as Leaf’s own LHDR Series), high-definition component video, digital audio, analogue audio and IR can be sent at distances greater than 200m. Eight sources are matrixed into eight zones with loop out for expansion to as many units as desired. Leaf Audio: (03) 9586 1720 or www.leafaudio.com
1/ALCORN MCBRIDE DIGITAL BINLOOP HD
2/COOLUX PANDORA’S BOX
3/CHRISTIE ENJOYS THE VISTA
Alcorn McBride is now shipping the Digital Binloop HD, a product that provides playback of up to eight HD video channels in only three rack units. Ideal for themed entertainment, museums, and other applications requiring high-resolution video playback, the Digital Binloop HD stores video on CompactFlash so it has no moving parts to wear out and handles video resolutions of 1080i, 720p, 480P/576P, or 480I/576I. The Digital Binloop HD outputs video via HDMI or HDSDI (SMPTE-292M) with embedded audio. Analog video formats include component (YPbPr) or RGB, with composite Standard Definition monitor output; the unit can offer simultaneous SD and HD monitor outputs. In addition to the unit’s HD video capabilities, the Digital Binloop HD also supports stereo audio along with Dolby or DTS bitstreams. It can also output networked audio via a CobraNet option. Any or all tracks can be synchronized with each other or with an external source. The unit can be controlled via SMPTE, RS-232, MIDI or Ethernet. EAV Technology: (03) 9417 1835 or email@example.com
Show Technology has been appointed the exclusive Australian distributor for the German manufacturer Coolux GmbH. The Coolux range of products includes the Pandora’s Box Digital Media Engine and a diverse collection of digital content. Not merely a media server but a creative tool, Coolux’s Pandora’s Box is a hardware and software system providing control of visual elements for presentations. Pandora’s Box allows the user to manipulate images and videos freely in three-dimensional space. Physically accurate keystone correction, for extreme projection angles and for round or curved surfaces, means that what you see on screen is what you see on stage. Vince Haddad, Show Technology’s technical director, has recently been trained in the art of Pandora’s Box, and is available to answer any queries on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 898 222. Show Technology: www.showtech.com.au
Christie’s Vista Systems is pleased to unveil the URS1608, a Universal Routing Switcher. Offering extreme flexibility with virtually limitless input and output formats, the Christie Vista URS-1608 eliminates the need for most front and back-end boxes providing one point of control with a single piece of equipment. Unlike a standard matrix switcher, the Christie Vista URS-1608 performs all processing to match the source to the output, including scaling, aspect-ratio, colourspace and frame-rate conversion. Taking signals in any format, the Christie Vista URS-1608 then routes, keys and layers the signal independently onto any output display. Built-in source monitoring enables users to keep an eye on all inputs simultaneously in real-time on a single output. Tops! VR Solutions: (07) 3844 9514 or email@example.com
National Audio Systems is pleased to announce the appointment of Dave Jacques to the position of ‘d&b audiotechnik Product Specialist and Pro Audio Sales’. Dave has a great deal of practical experience with d&b systems. Having toured the world using and specifying d&b systems for literally hundreds of shows, Dave can be contacted directly at National Audio Systems on (03) 9761 5577, via mobile 0412 542 162 or via good ol’ email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Amber Technology is now Australian distributor of Radial Engineering. Radial is recognised for producing DI boxes, splitters and audio interfacing devices for live, studio, and broadcast, along with an innovative range of stage switchers, as well as the Tonebone range of pedals and preamp products. Amber Technology: 1800 251367 or professional@ambertech. com.au
Staging Connections Group CEO Tony Chamberlain has announced the promotion of Haig Walker to the position of General Manager of Staging Connections Melbourne. Haig, who is currently General Manager of Staging Connections in New Zealand, takes up the new position in mid March. He also holds the position of Regional General Manager with overall responsibility for Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. Staging Connections: (03) 9321 6600
Epson has launched a projector lamp recycling program as an Australian component of its global Environmental Vision 2050. Now owners of any brand of projector can take old projector lamps to one of 15 Epson Authorised Service Centres. Chemicals are removed while other components are melted down. Approximately 97% of a lamp can be recycled, avoiding relegating the remnants to landfill. For details on collection centre locations, visit: www.epson. com.au
Staging Connections has moved into a permanent and fully customised ‘Centre of Event Staging Excellence’ in Port Melbourne. Covering 3000 square metres, the new premises at 344 Lorimer Street Port Melbourne, include a contemporary office, large display showroom, 100 seat theatrette, and warehousing facilities. The latest IT systems and technology together with modern supply chain and distribution facilities promise to streamline the delivery of audio visual equipment and services Staging Connections
Melbourne and Group companies, Exhibitions and Trade Fairs and PointOfView will share the facility. Following the devastation of an office fire in November 2007, Staging Connections Melbourne found themselves spread between two separate sites. Now with operations back under one roof, the company are well and truly back on track for 2009. Staging Connections: (03) 9321 6600. Point of View: (03) 9321 6777. Exhibitions & Trade Fairs: (03) 9321 6755
The revolutionary Samsung ID (Interlocking Display) free standing LCD Video Wall assembles in minutes with unparalleled ease. Utilising the new Samsung UX(n) series LCD screens and our patented modular interlock system (available in kit form separately), this video wall solution offers portability, flexibility and takes the â€œwallâ€? out of video wall installations.
UX(n) Series 11 mm bezel available in 40 and 46 inch sizes
For more information on the new Samsung ID, please contact:
moving with technology
WORLDS BEST TECHNOLOGY
Ph: 1300 362 363 www.wbtd.com.au email@example.com
Ph: 07 3866 5000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph: 03 9541-8841 email@example.com www.westan.com.au
Ph: 1300 666 099 firstname.lastname@example.org www.idt.com.au
Turn That Shirt Down Please The Carbon Nanotube Loudspeaker could be set to turn sound reproduction on its ear. Text: Andy Ciddor
Nano materials researchers have found that a film of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) emits sound when an electric current is passed through it. One of the exotic forms of carbon discovered late last century, CNTs are only a nanometre (one millionth of a millimetre) or so in diameter, but may be up to many thousands of nanometres in length. In addition to displaying strength rivalling any known material, CNTs are highly conductive of both heat and electricity. Working with a superaligned CNT film only tens of nanometres thick, a team from the Physics Departments of two Beijing institutions applied an audio frequency current from a standard amplifier to samples of the film and were rewarded with loudspeaker-like sound. In their paper published in the journal Nano Letters from the American Chemical Society, the team claims that its nanothickness CNT film loudspeaker can generate sound with a wide frequency range, high sound pressure levels and low total harmonic distortion. The film used in the demonstrations is flexible, stretchable and transparent, and can readily be formed into a wide range of shapes and sizes. It produces sound equally when suspended as a freestanding film or when attached to a variety of rigid or flexible insulating surfaces such as glass, plastics and fabrics. (A movie of a CNT loudspeaker incorporated into a waving flag can be found in the Downloads section of the AV website). No Movement Detected
Much to everyone’s surprise, tests found that the excited CNT film doesn’t actually vibrate to produce the sound. The research team’s theory is that the sound is produced by the ‘thermoacoustic effect’: a phenomenon that has been known for a well over a century. However, until now there have been no practical audio applications for the effect, because no
materials have been sufficiently thermally responsive (i.e. very low thermal inertia). Here’s their theory of how the sound is produced: The applied alternating current from the amplifier heats the CNT film, resulting in temperature oscillations at the same frequency as the applied signal. The rapid temperature oscillations in the thin film produce matching thermal oscillations in the surrounding air. The resulting expansion and contraction of the heated air produces an acoustic pressure front or sound wave. (See the animation located in the Downloads section of the AV web site). As the CNT film is a resistive load on an amplifier (think very thin carbon film resistor), it represents a constant impedance across the entire audio spectrum, something only dreamed of by generations of loudspeaker builders. One minor drawback to the CNT film is that it changes temperature whenever a current flows, so it heats and cools on both halves of every wave coming from the amplifier. This results in an unfortunate doubling of all frequencies reproduced (i.e. shifting everything up by an octave). The researchers discovered this early in their experiments and used a simple onetransistor biasing circuit to eliminate the ‘chipmunk’ effect. The CNT thermoacoustic loudspeaker has the potential to turn much of the sound reproduction business firmly on its unsuspecting ear. Just think about what can be done with a loudspeaker that is one thousandth the thickness of a human hair, can be made in any shape, is flexible, almost totally transparent, and can be incorporated into a wall or a ceiling, a rollup video or projection screen, the windows of your car, your computer monitor, the seatbacks in an auditorium, the page of a book, or the palm trees on a loud Hawaiian shirt. Stay listening to AV magazine for breaking news…
The CNT 'loudspeaker' used for the research - a piece of CNT film stretched between two copper electrodes.
The omnidirectional version of the lodspeaker, made from a series of strips of CNT film.
The flexible CNT loudspeaker attached to a flag . It reproduces sound whilst waving in the breeze. (See the video of this in the Downloads section of the AV website) Images courtesy of Nano Letters of the American Chemical Society
AV? No we’re IT. A senior Crestron executive talks about the company’s present and future directions. Text: /Tim Stackpool
While American Randy Klein is recognised as a driving force behind the success of Crestron’s AV control systems, his 35 years in the business also makes him a source of much knowledge when it comes to trends, success and failures in the industry. He’s a firm believer that changes in AV have led the industry towards being firmly attached to the IT world. We caught up with Randy on a recent trip to this part of the world. “I’m a big proponent of changing the name of our industry from ‘The AV Industry’ to ‘The IT Industry’. We are the IT industry,” says Klein. “Think about it: Audio is information, Video is information, Lighting is information, Environment is information, and, most importantly, Media is information and the AV industry is part of and owns that Information Technology today.” Being the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Randy is responsible for directing Crestron operations, strategies and initiatives worldwide. Based at company headquarters in Rockleigh, New Jersey, Klein manages the 57 Crestron offices and facilities throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia that serve over 90 countries. Klein has played a key role in developing Crestron from a $1m company 20 years ago to the $450m company it is today. During his 35 years in the AV industry, he has gained a wealth of experience from both a dealer and manufacturing perspective, developing a keen insight into the industry, its technology issues and solutions. Klein has seen the world of AV change extensively over the years and is positive about its future: “When I started, there were certainly no computers, there was no internet, there was not even any
video,” he said. “I say every day that we are part of by far the coolest industry on the planet. If you look around, the hotel business, the transportation business or the retail business, there isn’t one industry around that is really thriving; there isn’t one industry around where people go around and say, ‘Gee I love my job, I love this industry,’. But there is one exception, and that is the industry that we are in. It’s cool technology.” AV as an Enabling Technology
Klein believes that AV is an integral aspect of so many businesses. “It’s needed technology. People in everyday commerce need our industry to run their business. They have to have meetings, they have to collaborate, they have to communicate, they have to share information, and data, and, as such, our industry is needed,” he said. Crestron enjoys a broad market base, with around 50% of its business coming from commercial clients, and the other half coming from consumer installations. Here, Klein identifies a difference between the needs of the professional, versus the domestic market. “When it comes to the lifestyle and entertainment business, people don’t really need it. But when changing economies mean that people stop going out to lavish dinners and lavish vacations, they stay home and they entertain themselves. That has been a tremendous advantage in our industry over others.” Looking ahead, Randy Klein takes pride in being instrumental in the modern integration of separate AV components found in a typical installation. “The AV industry as we knew it yesterday was a matter of walking into a room, connecting a control system to different devices,
integrating it and calling it ‘a system’. That was great, but that system still operated as a single room. It wasn’t connected to the room next to it, and the two rooms weren’t connected to all the rooms in the building, and those rooms weren’t connected to another building across the street or across the world. The advent of the internet allowed us to interconnect these buildings and these rooms without digging ditches or pulling wires, however it was still just an AV component. What Creston has done and what has fuelled our growth is beyond merely building touch panels and control systems. It has been developing the technology for all of the AV systems in the entire building.” No Installation is an Island
Out of this, Crestron devised a number of new technologies to assist in making the interconnection possible, some of which have now become industry recognised. “A significant innovation has been our development of a transport medium called QuickMedia, which carries audio, video and control over a single Cat5 cable,” Klein explains. “Today QuickMedia is a standard. It’s not just a proprietary development made by Crestron, it is a standard and it is used worldwide by many, many people. So as we go about developing this technology, the next thing we have to do is connect all these buildings together, and connecting all these buildings together is accomplished by a wonderful product called RoomView. RoomView today is the premier software platform that connects all of the rooms in all of the buildings together, intra and inter world-wide.” The RoomView concept is to connect every device, in every room, in every building across the world, so that all
devices can interoperate. Irrespective of whether the device is a light bulb or a projector, all can be monitored, managed and scheduled from a single location. As Klein describes: “Today, companies like Microsoft, for example, have thousands of rooms across the world. We connect every one of those rooms using our technology, not only from an AV standpoint, but from lighting through to media.” This means, of course, that the typical installer today is not just running a wire up to a projector or an amplifier. The installer today must be network savvy. Further to this Klein believes the modern installer must be more than computer literate: “Much of our digital media product line will run on fibre. So our industry has to learn fibre practices, such as how to run it, how to terminate it and how to design fibre networks. These are all new skill sets and practices that our industry has to learn, acquire and master. There is no other industry out there today that has the background, the experience and the enthusiasm to push this initiative forward.”
“…our industry has to learn fibre … how to run it, how to terminate it and how to design fibre networks” AV in IT
The attention Crestron now receives from the major IT players dates back to their initial projects with Microsoft. “Back then, Microsoft was no different to anybody else.” said Klein. “They had a bunch of disparate AV equipment from many different manufacturers in many of their conference and meeting rooms across the world. They had a tremendous need to put them together so that they could manage and monitor these rooms. And most importantly they wanted to schedule the rooms. They first tried to use their own internal resources within their network to do it; obviously they’re the best at that. But they came to our industry for help, and we were lucky enough to secure the business. And as a result, Crestron has become a standard in many of the Microsoft platforms around the world. After which, we became a partner in developing worldwide standards with Cisco and Adobe, and so on.” Given the obvious diversity now enjoyed by the AV industry, Randy Klein is positive about the future. “I won’t predict, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do,” he says. “Anyone who can predict the future is either very lucky or feeding you a big line. But I know one thing: In five years time, and in 20 years time, Crestron will be in business. We have always been able to adapt, we’ve always been flexible and dynamic and we’ve always been committed. As a result of having the vision, the resources; having the guts and having some luck, we continue to grow our business year after year.” And he’s been around long enough to know.
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The many dimensions of Zaia: Stars from the fibre optic star cloth augmented with projected constellations. Circular trusses frame the stage. Scenery rises from below stage and cyclists enter from above and behind the audience. Image courtesy Cirque du Soleil
Zaia Macau The world’s best known ‘big fancy circus’ has entered a new sphere of operations. Text: / Andy Ciddor
Let’s face it: most one-night-only shows get by on enthusiasm, luck, a quick-witted show crew and a serious dose of blind terror. Cirque du Soleil, however, has a long tradition of producing spectacles at what ought to be an unsustainably-high standard of design, performance and production. The astounding thing about the company is, that not only is every production outstanding, but the quality of the performances remains consistent, engaging and exciting, even after years of performances and dozens of venues on the road. This is achievable only when productions are well planned, adequately resourced and thoroughly managed. Zaia at the Venetian Macau ResortHotel may be Cirque du Soleil’s first resident production in Asia, but it is also the company’s ninth resident production in a purpose-built venue. Unsurprisingly, it too is a superbly-crafted entertainment. According to Cirque du Soleil’s publicity machine: “Zaia is about the dream of a young girl who journeys into space. The title, Zaia, comes from a Greek name meaning ‘life’ and is also reminiscent of ‘Gaia’, the living, self aware, spirit of earth.” The reality is that like all of the company’s productions, the ‘plot’ is fairly thin and used only as device to provide a theme for the design, directorial and choreographic teams. The question arises as to why it’s even necessary to attempt to overlay a plot on a dance, circus, physical theatre and musical spectacle. Perhaps it helps to make the marketing people feel more comfortable.
on the Las Vegas Strip, also owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Quite why a replica of a Las Vegas casino, itself a romanticised fantasy version of an Italian city, should be appealing to visitors from the Chinese mainland, is a deep mystery. The vast and growing number of casinos in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Special Administrative Region of Macau exist solely to give the increasing numbers of financially-endowed mainland Chinese gambling fanatics an opportunity to blow their share of the developing Chinese economy. Many have been coming several times each month. The impact of the slowing of the Chinese economy has been quite painfully felt in Macau, particularly with the PRC government now restricting its citizens to two recreational visits per year. Over the past six months a number of building and reclamation projects on the Cotai Strip have been either mothballed or deferred. A decade in the planning, Zaia opened in its US$150m (A$225m… this week) purpose-built 1801-seat theatre on 28/08/08 (the number 8 is considered lucky in the Chinese culture). In common with many of Cirque du Soleil’s resident venues, this space only superficially resembles a conventional theatre. The 27m-high by 30m-wide, eye-shaped proscenium is only the first indication that things are on a scale outside of the normal theatrical experience. Height is one of the unifying themes of this production. Many of the acts take place in the air, while the scenery and the choreography go to great lengths to emphasise the vertical.
Venetian – Staying Afloat
The Venetian Macau is part of a huge development of casinos and hotels on an area of newly reclaimed land on Macau, known as the Cotai Strip. This Venetian is pretty much a replica of the Venetian
With an auditorium ceiling height of 24m, a flying grid some 30m above the stage floor, and three rotating circular stage lifts (1 x 8m and 2 x 4m) that drop 8m below the stage floor, the volume of the performing
space is simply vast. This is emphasised by the scale of the 3000-point, 30m x 37m fibre optic star cloth at the rear of the stage and the full-height black projection scrim that sits downstage of it. Zaia breaks down the barrier between the audience and the performance in a manner rarely seen before. Over the auditorium runs a 15m by 30m oval track that carries five radio-controlled dollies. Each dolly is capable of tracking at up to 1.8m/sec (5.6 km/hr), carrying a load of 300kg that can be continuously rotated in either direction, while being raised or lowered at up to 3m/ sec. The dollies are loaded with performers and scenery from a gallery located at the rear of the auditorium, on the roof of the control rooms. This enables the entire volume of the auditorium to be filled at various times with aerial acts, dancers, scenic elements, clowns on bicycles, fairies, and all other manner of mystical creatures. Performers can make their entrance from over the heads of the audience and land on the stage or simply orbit through the auditorium and the stage spaces. Wandering Orb
The last major trick built into the theatre is the 7.6m diameter translucent sphere. Mounted on a gantry, track and winch rigging system, it can be moved at 1.8m/ sec to virtually any point in the volume of the auditorium or the downstage half of the stage. Its home position is at the rear of the auditorium, immediately in front of the control room, thus blocking any view of the stage for nearly a quarter of the control room windows. When not in use, the sphere has to go somewhere out of audience sight lines and out of the path of the dollies on the oval track. This, of course, came as a surprise to no one after such detailed planning and design of the show and its home. Main projection ought to be fairly
Projection Equipment List 1. The 2.3-tonne sphere gets one of its first workouts during construction. 2. Crammed inside the sphere, in less than ideal positions, are six Christie DS+8K projectors fitted with superwide lenses to cover the entire surface with throws less than three metres. 3. A view of the auditorium during construction revealing the scale of the proscenium and stage. Visible are the oval track that traverses the auditorium; part of the lifting and tracking system for the sphere; the control room/musicians’ rooms high up on the proscenium arch; and the temporary decking covering the installation of the three stage lifts. (Images courtesy of Coolux)
8 x Christie Roadster S+20K projectors 6 x Christie DS+8K projectors 6 x Custom 180 degree lens for 8Ks 10 x Coolux – Pandora’s Box Servers 1 x Coolux – Pandora’s Box Media Manger Pro with Media Vision controller 1 x Evertz 20 x DVI input MVP multi-image display processor 2 x PureLink DS-1818M DVI Matrix Switchers 7 x ThinkLogical VIS-60 DVI-to-fibre adapters
straight forward on a production such as this, with a great big scrim screen at the rear of the stage. Except, of course, that the scrim is mostly holes, and it’s black so that it’s unobtrusive when not in use. The solution is to hit it pretty hard with something quite bright: in this case four of Christie’s Roadster S+20Ks, which, as the name implies, pump out about 20,000 ANSI lumens. However, with the auditorium full of flying bicycles, fairies, ice blocks and a big wandering sphere, there is no place to locate the projectors where they will have an uninterrupted shot at the screen. The solution is to have two sets of four Roadster S+20Ks, placed left and right in the auditorium so that between them, shadows are reduced and levels are maintained (or a projector dropped out completely when the shadow is too obvious). Fading of the projectors is achieved using good ol’ low-tech optical faders from Robert Juliat. To compensate for the distortion produced by the projector offsets, each of the eight units is fitted with a Christie Twist image processing board and, as a bonus, gets on-board edge blending. The Twist boards not only handle the processing on the fly, they also eliminate the need for a further two pairs of video servers.
WE KNOW HOW TO WORK A ROOM.
What’s In the Round
The 2.3-tonne sphere is constructed from 55 custom-built rear projection panels, fitted to an aluminium exoskeleton. At various points in the show, through the magic of projection, the sphere transforms from a ball into a hot air balloon, the earth, the moon, and other stellar objects. Inside, in between the rigging gear and the control equipment, reside six Christie DS+8K (8500 ANSI lumen) projectors fitted with rather strange-looking ultra-wide angle (180˚) lenses to cover the entire inside surface of the sphere. Images are stored and processed using the Pandoras Box system from Coolux. The Media Manager software, together with a Media Vision controller, is used to program, schedule and playback the video for all 14 projectors, while five of the system’s Media Servers process and play out the images. The server’s ability to map moving images onto complex surfaces in real time is what makes the projection on the sphere possible and believable. A 3D model of the sphere constructed in 3ds Max was all that was required for Pandoras Box to undertake the considerable feat of mapping the images evenly onto the inside surface. A duplicate set of five servers are used to provide full redundancy for video playback and processing during performances. All video for the system is in DVI format. Video sources are routed from the servers to the projectors using a pair of PureLink DS-1818M DVI matrix switchers and fed out to the projectors via optical fibre using ThinkLogical VIS-60 dual DVI-to-fibre adapters. The video sources are monitored using an Evertz 20 DVI input MVP multi-image display processor. In addition to this installation, Jon Mytyk, Zaia’s Head of Projection, has set up software monitoring and control to allow tracking of system status and to provide a rapid switchover on the routing matrix from the main to the backup servers at the first sign of trouble.
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Now, six months since opening night, Zaia is settling into what will almost certainly be a very long run, although the performance schedule may vary as the full impact of the economic slowdown in China becomes known. This is the point at which the professionalism of the Cirque du Soleil company really kicks in. While Jon Mytyk and the projection department may continue to refine their monitoring software and add even more datum points to the 3ds Max image of the sphere for even smoother correction, the show now inexorably moves into a stable configuration. With no new toys or changes to make, the process of rehearsal, training of deps and understudies and running a good preventive maintenance programme, becomes the daily grind and aiming for that one perfect show becomes the crew’s goal. Cirque du Soliel are good at this part, which is why they have 17 shows performing around the world this very night. If you do happen to be in Hong Kong, Macau or southern China, you could do a lot worse than spend a few hours being astounded by the quality, professionalism and beauty of this production.
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National Sports Museum International sporting pilgrims have a new sacred site to add to their itinerary. Text: / Christopher Holder Photos: / John Gollings
If Sport is our nation’s true religion, then the MCG is Sport’s grandest cathedral. That being the case, somewhere in the presbytery… or in the left lower nave of the main transept… lurks Sport’s hi-tech multimedia shrine — the National Sports Museum. The museum is a great way for sports nuts to while away a good couple of hours. The interactive displays package some fantastic footage and other freshly-authored productions. Big screens, small screens, projectors, touchpanels, stump cams, combined screens, moving lights, theatrettes, flat panel directional speakers… and even the occasional sighting of a Pepper’s Ghost [more later]; it’s all packed into this ‘content rich’ funhouse. Mental Media was the AV consultant on the job, headed up by the very able Bruce Brown. Mental Media are museum specialists [see last issue for more on their work at the Australian War Memorial] and have considerable experience in not only spec’ing the hardware but authoring the creative elements. Possibly even more crucial, Mental Media knows a thing or two about tip-toeing through the minefield of committees, trustees and ‘other stakeholders’. I met Bruce and the museum’s AV technician James Power in the air-conditioned whir of the facility’s machine room.
The G Whiz AV: Given the museum is effectively a vast collection of AV devices, is it too much to hope that you were called in early on in the piece? Bruce Brown: I’m pleased to say, we were. Getting the multimedia consultant involved in those early stages makes everything more achievable and allows you to be more ambitious. We started working when the museum was a bare concrete shell. There were allowances made in the initial budgets to boost up or move air-conditioning ducts that were impinging on the space, and we were able to lay in all of our cabling, our power and data distribution before the exhibitions went in. So we were way ahead of the game. AV: And were you given much creative freedom? BB: We were given the opportunity to to work with CMD, the exhibition designers, to conceptualise the productions – what they should look like, and how they should fulfil the objectives. That doesn’t often happen to a multimedia production company, and in most cases the technical design and multimedia production are separate. We have expertise in both spheres, so we’re fortunate that we could go in at that base level and say, “we think it should look like this; this is the creative concept and this is how you do it technically.” That’s a big leap from [the normal scenario
of] someone going in and doing the creative consultancy part of it first, followed by the technical consultant tearing his hair out and being forced to make technical compromises. This Sporting Life AV: Bruce, can you take me through an example
of how one of the museum’s productions works? Bruce Brown: As an example, take the production in the ellipse as you enter, Our Sporting Culture [pictured above]. The display was produced in Watchout. The show sits on four computers which are routed through a KVM for monitoring. They also go out to DVI baluns then over Cat6 to DVI baluns in the roof next to four Projectiondesign F30s in the atrium. The projectors are also networked for powering on and off via the Medialon control system. Multi-channel audio is also part of the production which go out to Bose FreeSpace speakers via Dynacord 1415 multi-channel amplifiers in the machine room. AV: And is the geometry of the image in the eliptical atrium done by the projector or in software? BB: In software. The beauty of the Watchout system is you can have an uneven surface and ajust the geometry any way you like. For example, there’s window in the atrium, so we impose a blank onto the image to ensure we’re
‘Our Sporting Culture’ greets visitors in the museum’s atrium. Four Projectiondesign F30s project onto the curved ‘Elipse’ wall. The content was produced in Watchout while a Bose Freespace 3 sound system delivers the audio.
Tribal Wars – Australia’s Game Bruce Brown: Tribal Wars uses three Projectiondesign F30s. In this case, because the design of the space was altered, we had to put in wide angle 1-to-1 lenses to hit our target and to keep the projectors out of reach of the punters. So these are fixed-length lenses, which James and I have very precisely lined up. We’re not using the geometry at all, this is traditional projection alignment, but again it’s a Watchout production: a moving image stuck onto a mask, stuck onto a background – layer upon layer. Each of the projectors is 1400 by 1024 so we’re talking about more than 3000 pixels in width. So it is a high quality image. There’s nothing special about the screen, it’s just MDF painted matte white. The Projectiondesign contrast levels are good. They’re a really great projector to work with from a technical point of view and a visual point of view – a really nice looking image. And, of course, it depends on the material. We produce it to the pixel level – the ‘brick wall’ is 3000 pixels wide, and it’s been produced to the actual pixel. We’re using Chief mounts on all the projectors, which are a quick release mount and offer very precise adjustments. In most cases, because of the air-conditioning and everything else on the ceiling, we’ve had to come down on hook or rod droppers and run in uni-strut and then attach the projector mounts to the uni-strut.
Club Song We have a 16 by 9 touchscreen running Adobe Air which goes back to the control room and talks to the Medialon control system. The Medialon control system then says, ‘play this track’, and up in the roof we have a Projectiondesign F30, which projects the lyrics onto the central ‘table’ below and plays the club song... in effect, it’s karaoke.
‘Backyard to Baggy Green’ is a treasure trove of cricket artefacts and archival footage. The ‘gladiator screen’ is an example of an MPDP multi-screen from Total Concept Projects. The footage is shot in HD – a State Twenty20 match – and provides people with an insight into the game.
not projecting through the window. AV: And why the banks of DVD players in the machine room? BB: We have a good number of displays with looping footage and audio. Take for example, Cathy Freeman’s display with her jumpsuit, etc. There’s a screen showing the race which is coming from a Pioneer DVD-V8000 player. The composite video comes out of the DVD players, and goes into a Quest RX8 eight-channel balun, and goes out via Cat6. The beauty of this system is we can monitor any one of these channels. The control system can chose any one of the channels from the RX8 and look at it as a composite signal to monitor the output. It means that James here can constantly monitor the system. AV: Why DVD players and not from hard disk? BB: Because DVD players are tried and tested. There are many places where they’re being used and have been used very successfully for a very long period of time. The beauty of a DVD player is if one breaks down it’s very simple to pull out the data ie. the disc; put it in a new DVD player, re-plug, turn it on and it’ll work immediately. If you have a spare one in the rack, you can change one in a couple of minutes. Places like the Australian War Memorial use
Pioneer 7300s that have been in service ever since they were first released. Admittedly, they’ve had some motors replaced, but nevertheless, they’ve still got 7300 DVDs in there. The V8000 is a new version of the same thing. Also you tend to pay more for a solid-state machine that gives you the same resolution. Some people might say the DVD player is old fashioned because it’s still got moving parts, and in five years time it may well be old fashioned, but at the moment I think it’s still the best value for money solution. AV: The machine room’s climate control seems pretty ‘agressive’ [he says, yelling over the dull roar of the air conditioner]. BB: Yes, the air conditioning is running full tilt – start overheating a room like this you’re asking for trouble. Recently, I was talking to an air conditioning engineer and was told: “whoa, that’s as much air conditioning as you’d use in a full-blown computer room!” Actually yes! In fact, we have more, because not only do we have computers we have amplifiers that are pumping out heat. Most of the people involved in general engineering have no idea what we do and it’s a constant battle to get them to understand. And that includes project managers, builders, and building managers.
Project Team Multimedia Consultants: Mental Media Producers: Mental Media; Lightwell; Kalideo; The Shirley Spectra Hardware supply and install: Total Concept Projects; Interactive Controls Medialon Control System: Interactive Controls Exhibition Designers: Cunningham Martyn Design
‘The People’s Ground’ takes visitors on a multimedia journey through the history of the MCG.
Spectre of Warnie Two Pepper’s Ghosts are featured at the Australian Sports Museum. One featuring Shane Warne and the other James Hird, both discussing their careers. The presentation is based on three Projectiondesign F30s that rear project onto a screen that sits above the audience’s head. Between the audience and the ‘set’ is an angled sheet of glass and the ‘ghost’ of Warnie is a reflection of the rear projection screen. The technology behind the effect isn’t hugely sophisticated, but there’s a lot of skill in getting the illusion of depth spot on. If Warnie starts floating above the set’s floor or disappearing behind props then the illusion is shot. Bruce states: “this technique is used badly in more locations than it is used well. This is a pretty good example.” The Shirley Spectra is responsible for the two at the Museum as well as a rather natty one at Sovereign Hill (amongst others). 49
Focussed Audio EN
REFLECTED IMAGE APPEARS HERE
Peppers Ghost: The image projected on the unseen screen reflects off the angled glass, and combines with what can be seen of the real objects behind the glass. This creates the illusion that what’s projected is actually behind the glass . Diagram: Mental Media
Bruce Brown: We have a number of Dakota Audio [FA 602 FH] directional audio panels. If you’re in a normal museum environment and you have three different exhibits with three different speakers all within four metres of each other, it’d be a complete mess – you need to concentrate the audio and these panels allow us to do that. So long as you have a bit of soft covering on the floor (to prevent unwanted reflections), it produces a defined hotspot of sound that no one else in the room hears. We also use a Hypersonic product. It’s different to the Dakota Audio flat panels in that it has a very limited dynamic range. As you can hear, it’s quite squeaky. It’s only really suitable for voice, but the directionality is quite amazing.
Fremantle Marine Simulation Centre AV’s maritime correspondent visits a ship-driving school. Text: / Graeme Hague.
Since it was only my first attempt at driving a tugboat, smashing into the wharf at a rather irresponsible five knots wasn’t a bad result. Further in my defence, nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged apart from a sizeable dent in my ego. And it was, of course, all done in the virtual world of the Fremantle Marine Simulation Centre (FMSC), and as my host Michael Brinch from Force Technology, based in Denmark, pointed out several times – under the circumstances it’s all good fun. That is, until it gets serious – and training harbour pilots and ship’s captains is certainly that. The ocean’s shipping lanes are busier than ever before, traditional ports are getting crowded and new destinations such as the proposed loading facilities in Western Australia’s northwest are appearing all over the globe. Crews rotate through different vessels, keeping the freighters churning across the sea non-stop, but robbing the seamen of important familiarity with the ships. The professional sea captain needs more than a wooden leg, an eye-patch and foul-mouthed parrot to stay ahead of the game. Aye Aye
Captain Rory Main, the Managing Director of the FMSC, was a captain in the Australian Merchant Navy with 14 years experience, completing his time as a Senior Officer on oil and LPG tankers. Then add to his notable CV, 20 years as a harbour pilot. He is also the president of the Australian Marine Pilots Association (AMPA) and since 2005 AMPA has been extremely active in establishing a pilot training program, even beginning with interested students at high school level, which is an innovative approach and a far cry from the traditional method of working your way up through the ranks. Main and his colleagues
Raymond Alfreds and Jon Brown, who collectively add another 40 years or so of piloting expertise in harbours around the globe, saw the need for a high quality maritime simulator to allow AMPA’s vision of a training program to become a reality. Their worldwide search for the best simulators available brought them together with Michael Brinch of Denmark’s Force Technology through Force’s long-time Australian agent, Cardno Lawson Treloar. We tend to associate ‘simulator’ with the aircraft variety, but a division of Force Technology has been in the business of recreating ships and harbours for over 25 years. While the facility at Fremantle is modest in comparison to some of the simulators they’ve built for other clients, it is nonetheless impressive, and provides a world-class training centre. From the outside, the converted wharf-side shed is unassuming, and the décor inside has so far taken a low priority, but I’m sure another lick of paint and a few pot plants aren’t far away. However, there’s no question about the quality of the computer technology and audiovisual equipment that run the simulator. Re: Port
Once the installation is complete there is a subtle shift in the relationship between FMSC and Force Technology as Captain Main can potentially commission from Force and Cardno Lawson Treloar additional scenarios or port models according to client demands. Aside from AMPA’s pilot training agenda there are basically two approaches to the requirement for a simulator. The manufacturer or owner of a particular vessel may decide on virtually mimicking their ship to train crews comprehensively on all its performance characteristics before anyone even gets a whiff of salt air. They can also request that the simulator’s database include projected destinations and weather conditions. With vessels
“It’s a source of constant amusement to see newcomers swaying about like drunken sailors in response to the boat’s movement when the floor isn’t moving at all.”
Bridge A has a 200° field of view projected onto an 8m cylindrical screen. Photo: David Aubourg.
David Taylor of Cardno Lawson Treloar, Perth and Pilot Rob Dawson of Port Headland Pilots on the 120° field of view Bridge B. Photo: David Aubourg
worth tens of millions of dollars it makes sense. Conversely, a port management authority may introduce a policy that no pilot or captain can navigate into their harbour without having passed a simulation test that acquaints them thoroughly with the hazards of the port. The smallest mishap can stop the docks operating and cause a massive loss of business. However, any training in a simulator is at risk of amounting to nothing, if the experience isn’t real enough. The crews have to be taken out of their comfort zone and forget they’re inside a shed. For all their expertise in ‘simulation and information technology’, plus the software encoding and audiovisual equipment (Force Technology’s headquarters employs nearly 1000 people with an annual turnover of $217m) the company’s primary product here is illusion – and very convincing illusions at that. Let the Games Begin
When we first arrived Captain Main was running a demonstration of one of the two simulators and there was a moment when I wasn’t sure it was polite to follow Brinch inside. Standing halfway in the door and seeing the simulation being played, I’ll confess I took a hasty step backwards and checked I wasn’t walking onto a moving platform – some kind of hydraulically operated deck that moved in conjunction with the simulator. But no, it was solid floor. The sensation of entering a ship’s bridge with the vessel dipping and rocking on the waves was purely created by a projected vision onto a large curved screen. Startling, really. FMSC commissioned two linked simulators which are run by a master station and Force Technology’s proprietary SimFlex Navigator software. Data from SimFlex is manipulated by a CompactUTM image processor from 3D Perception in Norway that handles image distortion and blending for the multiple projectors and curved projection surfaces. Each projector is then driven by a dedicated
computer networked with the CompactUTM. Force Technology’s engineers are on the cusp of developing a software graphics engine that will replace the external CompactUTM processing unit altogether, and, according to Brinch, recent improvements in CPU and GPU performance may allow several projectors to run from a single standard PC. The smaller of the simulators uses three Optima EP1690 DLP projectors focused onto individual flat screens to create 120˚ of vision. The more sophisticated second simulator uses five wide-angle 3D Perception CompactView SX+21-TY projectors on a 200˚ continuouslycurved screen. The warping and blending of the five images on to this screen is truly stunning. You’re presented with a three-dimensional panorama exactly as you’d see from the bridge of your ship. If you make a turn to port or starboard the vision swings perfectly through the arc, plus it incorporates any vertical movement the boat might perform. In our case, we were still on the tug boat, so there was a fair amount of list in the right direction and I unconsciously leaned the opposite way. Next Rory performed a ‘crash stop’, which had the bow wildly plunging downwards – and yes, both myself and the other guests desperately grabbed for the handrails. It’s a source of constant amusement for Brinch and Main to see newcomers swaying about like drunken sailors in response to the boat’s movement when, in fact, the floor isn’t moving at all. Bloody funny, apparently. SimFlex-ity Itself
The master SimFlex server allows the two simulators to operate independently or
competitively. For example the smaller simulator could have a tug boat loaded into the system, while the five-projector system will have the cruise liner that requires berthing by the tug – or maybe a second tug. Both screens are displaying the same environment and the simulators respond to each other’s actions, plus any additional parameters demanded by the master station such as weather, tide and visibility. The visual quality of that environment is dependent on the client’s needs as they specified early in the process. Reproducing local weather is very important – a given in fact – as is accurately portraying the topography of the location – the size and shape of the harbour and its approaches. Then it requires the correct berthing points including to-scale wharfs, jetties, pontoons and buffers, navigation markers and buoys, and anything else critical to a pilot’s recognition of where they are and where they want to go. Careful work goes into the recreation of this content, because it’s vital that a genuine perception of depth-of-field and distance is achieved. Beyond this things can get a little more bland. If a model of Sydney Harbour was needed you’re not going to see your mum’s house on the Manly foreshore, but the Opera House and Harbour Bridge will no doubt get a mention. If the client does require a specific landmark that perhaps wouldn’t be included, they merely need to ask. Building these models is a painstaking task, involving thousands of photographs, aerial surveillance pictures and up-to-date maps. This is where Force Technology’s relationship with Carndno Lawson Treloar, with their vast experience in hydrographical modelling of Australian waters and ports makes a big contribution to the data collection process. Every effort is made to ensure their models won’t be abruptly rendered obsolete by
A top of the line SimFlex Navigator bridge with a full set of handles and interfaces. Photo courtesy of Force Technology
circumstances beyond their control – nobody bulldozes the Opera House a week after they finish modelling – otherwise they attempt to update information that affects navigation as quickly as possible. Under Control
When it comes to simulating specific vessels, Force Technology have wind tunnels and flotation tanks in Denmark. They can create scale replicas of the craft and conduct realworld experiments that gather information that may not be picked up in computer modelling. If a client requires, they can replicate a ship’s bridge and controls. At FMSC the simulator consoles offer a more generic surface with a focus on tugboats and pilot craft, these being the kind of clientele they expect initially. A centre section of thruster, rudder and speed controls, with a digital display for each is flanked by a (I have to say, very cool-looking) working radar on one side and a monitor for external cameras on the other. For the fully-programmable weather the simulators display it as it should be. The waves are the correct size according to what’s causing them, and come from the right direction – complete with whitecaps, if the wind is strong enough. Swell and tidal surge can also be introduced. Visibility can be degraded by rain and mist. Shadows, glare and reflections are all reproduced. All these elements are factored in to affect the ship’s behaviour and the operator’s perception of what is happening. Which takes care of the visual side of things. That’s only a part of the necessary illusion. Rory Main draws a line at tossing buckets of sea water over his trainees and leaving a smelly dead fish somewhere, but audio is another thing altogether.
Force Technology use a vast library of digital samples to create environmental sounds and authentic engine noises that respond to the ship’s controls. If these aren’t enough Brinch isn’t beyond doing his best ‘Leonardo Di Caprio on the bow of the Titanic’ impersonation with his trusty Edirol recorder and collecting samples himself. It’s all in the interests of keeping things real. Sound in the simulators is delivered by a 5.1 surround system, and when you consider that each effect must come at the right time, at the right volume, and from the right direction, you realise it’s a rather unsung, clever component of the simulators. A subwoofer somewhere even vibrates the floor (sorry, ‘deck’) when the engines were suddenly dumped into reverse. After experiencing the simulators you’d expect to be shown a Cray-like supercomputer feeding it all from a hermetically sealed room. Instead, a rack of new – but quite unremarkable – Dell PC’s are running the show, and the air conditioner in the corner has seen better days. Even the graphics card for each, albeit a GeForce 8800 series is a commercial off-the-shelf product. The projectors aren’t anything special either. The size of the screens are determined by the client’s requirement and after that it’s quite a straightforward formula of figuring out how many projectors are needed. The secret ingredient for the simulators really lies in the SimFlex Navigator software, which operates comfortably under Windows XP. It allows the company to offer desktop simulators that can run on any computer, or like the upcoming monster on Brinch’s order book, with 360˚ vision and 4m-high screens. The network systems like FMSC’s are constructed and extensively tested in Denmark before being transported to their destination, but most of
the ancillary equipment such as projectors and screen material can be sourced locally. The usual attention is paid to optical cable runs and avoiding interference so the screens stay crystal clear. Backup of data is also a fairly run-of-themill procedure, while redundancy is almost non-existent. If there’s a power blackout, it’s off to Freo’s favourite, the Sail and Anchor pub, for a beer until it comes back. The emphasis for this kind of simulation training isn’t really about avoiding tragedy, although a recent incident involving a cruise ship in the Antarctic illustrates that serious accidents are still possible. Rather, it’s about preventing mishaps like mine when I smacked into the wharf, or when a ship strays out of a channel and runs aground. Nothing actually sinks and no one drowns, but heads will certainly roll. These nautical equivalents of minor fender-benders cost millions of dollars – ship panel beaters don’t come cheap. More companies are recognising that investing money into simulation training for crews are dollars well spent, because bigger ships, more destinations and crowded sea lanes are reducing the margin for error. The Real Thing
The Fremantle Maritime Simulation Centre is a lot of fun – Rory Main’s son is banned from entering unless he hands over his Warcraft installation DVD first. The simulators themselves are a great display of audiovisual magic and an interesting example of what ordinary hardware can do when it’s driven by clever software. It’s easy to forget there is a serious business behind it all.
Corner the Marketing Melbourne’s most prominent advertising signage goes digital. Text: / Tim Stackpool
Arguably the most commanding digital signage site in Australia today is situated on the top of the landmark Young & Jackson Hotel, opposite Melbourne’s Flinders Street station. This immense advertising display, with its screen stretching 37 metres in length and 3.5 metres high, is the brainchild of advertising media specialist APN Outdoor. After taking more than two years to obtain approval from Melbourne City Council and VicRoads to build the sign, APN Outdoor’s General Manager of Marketing, Paul McBeth says commercial reaction to the screen has been a roaring success. “We have been overwhelmed with the response and the site is heavily booked for the remainder of 2009,” he told AV. The concept itself is a combination of design, compositing and replay software controlled via Scala digital signage software and a total of 147 Barco SLite 10XP FX LED tiles. For APN Outdoor, their technology partners and suppliers had a significant number of criteria to meet. “The primary considerations included proven international experience, where the supplier could demonstrate they had undertaken similar projects of this scale,” McBeth said. “Demonstrated reliability and durability; software and hardware that could be developed into a national network; and maximum pitch was highly important. A viewing angle enabling users to enjoy optimum viewing clarity from as many vantage points as possible was also an important consideration.” Additionally, APN Outdoor required a screen life in the vicinity of 100,000 hours along with practical considerations, such as the ability to remove graffiti, replace tiles, together with a reliable local supply of spare parts. Special permits and conditions had to be met due to the Young & Jackson Hotel being heritage listed. The existing structures used by previous billboards were demolished and steel reinforcement was added to the new frame structure to handle the additional weight and wind loads. Getting it Up
The primary steel frames, which were to carry secondary frames populated with the Barco tiles, were manufactured off-site at Hanlon Industries in Geelong. The six primary frames, plus six sections of secondary steel frames pre-populated with tiles, were lifted by crane onto the
hotel roof. This process was performed during severely restricted work hours, due to traffic management and tram operation considerations. An additional platform to accept the environmentally-controlled systems rack was also manufactured off-site and craned into position. Craig Saunders, Barco’s Sales Engineer selected the SLite tile series with good reason. “The S10XP FX LED tile offers high resolution, virtual 10mm pitch and an IP65 rating. Being dustproof and waterproof, they’re perfect for Melbourne’s wet and hot environment,” he said. “The modularity of the tiles also allowed for creative shapes and curves.” The digital signage system uses Scala v5 software, supplied by Techmedia, for content design and control. The system comprises three modules: Designer, Content Manager and Player. Techmedia’s Managing Director, Norman Cantrell reports that training APN Outdoor personnel on the software was swift. “The Scala 5 suite is both intuitive and powerful,” he said. “Three days was enough to orientate the creative types at APN on the Designer and Content modules, then just two days of training in Scala Player software and hardware for the Melbourne team. Apart from that, after two weeks of setup and testing, the system was underway. Considering the Scala 5 Player sits on hardware attached to the screen, Barco were also given some limited training on this module.” Feeding the Content
Using this software, APN Outdoor’s advertisers are given a template to develop their creative imagery and once APN Outdoor receives this, the content can be loaded onto the site within 24 hours. Advertising is scheduled for 7.5 seconds per advertiser, with eight advertisers in each 60-second loop. From APN Outdoor’s perspective, both the technology and the social implications of the project were equally challenging. “Technically this was the first screen we had developed on this scale and as such we had to start from the ground up in understanding the technical capability, terminology and the relevance of this to the needs of our clients. Most of the key suppliers were pretty good at being able to describe in layman’s terms the technical data and its impact on our business and our end users,” McBeth said. “Bureaucratically, this was the first screen
â€œWhile the presence of large-scale digital signage is well established overseas, the opportunities in Australia are still in their infancyâ€?
A digital sign of the new times graces the roof of Young & Jacksons famous pub Image courtesy APN Outdoors
The sign being assembled and tested on the roof of Young & Jackson (images courtesy of Barco).
of this scale built to display third-party advertising in such a prominent location. The challenge was to dispel the myths within the local community, the City of Melbourne and the heritage authorities, as to what the screen would and would not do, and the type of content to be displayed. But once these authorities had an insight into the facts, the project began to move forward as most people began to view it as a positive development.” Keeping it Going
Managing and monitoring the site is comprehensive, with all parties including advertisers, needing to either remotely control or view the screen content as it’s displayed. This is achieved via a dedicated virtual private network connected to the IP65 climate-controlled rack on the roof of the Young & Jackson Hotel. There is a business-grade internet connection from Telstra Bigpond that allows Barco and Techmedia to receive alerts and warnings about their respective hardware. This same connection is also used by APN Outdoor to update the sign’s content. Also wired into the control rack is a powerful wireless access point, directed across the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets into Federation Square. There, an Axis Dome IP camera is installed looking back at the digital signage to monitor the display, and potentially adjust settings in real-time. In addition to allowing monitoring of performance and
uptime of the system and verification that the advertiser’s material is being shown, it also allows demonstrations to potential customers anywhere in the world. The Barco DX-700 Controller and the SLite 10XPFX tiles can also transmit error and warning messages in the event of a failure. These messages are collated into an email which is generated by the Director Toolset control software. The Barco service team receive these warnings on their Blackberry PDAs, allowing them to respond immediately should a service intervention be required. While the presence of large-scale digital signage is well established overseas, the opportunities in Australia are still in their infancy. APN Outdoor is in discussions with many stakeholders about a range of development opportunities which include digital signage. “We are witnessing a structural change in the media industry as digital technologies change the consumption patterns across traditional media,“ said McBeth. “Outof-home is well positioned to capitalise on these changes because the combination of broadcast reach and digital technology will increase impact and enhance message relevance for many of our clients.” Indeed, an ongoing acceptance of such large-scale digital signage represents an emerging market within cosmopolitan cities; for the advertiser, the AV installer and the supplier alike.
Barco installation inventory: Hardware: 147 x Barco SLite 10XP FX LED tiles 1 x Barco DX-700 Digitizer 1 x Barco Fibrelink 2 Base unit 2 x Barco Fibrelink 2 Tx units 2 x Barco Fibrelink 2 Rx units 1 x Rittal 42 RU Climate Controlled Rack 1 x APC 3000VA UPS 1 x 1RU rack server. 2 x DWL – 2700AP Wireless Access Points 1 x Axis IP Camera
Software: Barco Director Toolset Software (Barco LED Management) Axis IP Camera Control Software
Techmedia installation inventory: Software: SCALA 5 Designer software SCALA 5 Content Manager SCALA 5 Player software
Hardware: Custom engineered Windows XP embedded media player.
The Metamorphosis of Distributed Audio Conventional distributed audio with amplifiers and long lines of speakers has ruled ceiling cavities for many a long year – but that’s about to change.... You’re familiar with the www, well here’s the WWAW the ‘WorldWide Audio Web.’ Just like the www each component in the WWAW, ie. each speaker/group of speakers, can be individually addressed, individually zoned, moved between zones, be included in multiple
It’s Klotz Digitals’ Varizone. System size and complexity is virtually limitless making it ideal for venues like transport terminals, convention centres, stadiums, shopping malls and public facilities. It’s already controlling and distributing audio around the
Join us on the Klotz Digital WWAW! Klotz Digital Varizone – Distributed in Australia by TAG. More info? Ph. (02) 9519 0900 Email. email@example.com www.klotzdigital.com
zone overlays and all of the above can be done on or off line with a rather user friendly GUI. Each speaker/amp module is hooked up with CAT5 and matrixing/controlling/monitoring, right down to individual speaker EQs, delays, volumes, etc., is all done at the front end by a very capable processor. Speaker power also runs through the CAT5 with the whole network being flooded by one or more PSU’s.
world at, for example, Munich Airport, Bolshoi Theatre, Wembley Stadium, The European Parliament and Quin Huang Dao Olympic Stadium and in Australia at Star City Casino (Sydney), Parliament of Victoria and most recently Central Station (Sydney).
Equine Affluenza The Australian Equine & Livestock Events Centre’s audio visual setup looks like a whinnying combination. Text: / Brad Watts Photos: / Lou Farina
At a cost of $30m, the Australian Equine & Livestock Events Centre (AELEC) in Tamworth is a big, gleaming circus maximus for rodeos and high-stepping, primped and preened horse flesh. An entire decade in the making, the government project is built like a giant horseshoe with outer buildings ringing the stadium. Located on the southern approach to the country music capital, almost in the shadow of the fabled giant golden guitar, the stadium is designed on two levels and features an 40m x 80m indoor arena with tiered seating for 3360 people. The site occupies a total of 22 hectares that encompass a concourse area for exhibitions and trade shows, a mezzanine area, including VIP lounges, cafés, a kiosk, events office, a broadcast and judges’ box. There’s a further 20 hectares of parking and ultimately the indoor area will comfortably seat a total of 5000 (humans), with stables capable of housing 700 horses – beware the stampede if they all at once decide to pop out for some takeaway chaff. Foaled-ed Horn – The Spec
Audio Product Group was initially approached to supply and install a public address system, background music and emergency announcement (EWIS) systems. The very landscape of AELEC, with both large indoor and outdoor areas, required sound reinforcement with minimal audio spillage. Control was achieved using 36 x TOA HX-5 series compact array speakers to create even SPLs throughout the centre. In addition, 42 x TOA BS1030B twoway boxes, 46 x TOA CS154 15W outdoor music horns, three x 6W CS64 outdoor
music horns and 10 x TOA 15W two-way ceiling speakers cover the area. To further meet the requirements of even and sustained sound levels, two Biamp AudiaFlex digital sound processor systems with audio I/O and CobraNet cards were the perfect choice. The Biamp AudiaFlex DSP system meant that level matching, frequency response and sound pressure levels were easily controllable. Other supporting Biamp products include three NPS-1 Network Paging Stations together with I/O expander cards. A total of nine TOA digital amplifiers, providing 36 channels of 250W and 500W outputs were required. To avoid extended microphone cable runs, Biamp’s Cat5based NPS-1 Network Paging Stations were selected. The project also called for four AKG rackmount receivers (SR4000V) and matching HT4000V50 transmitters with an AKG-managed antenna system. Eight TOA Electret condenser handheld microphones, together with four matching TOA WT4820 16-channel dual tuner frames and six AKG CHM21 hanging microphones were also used. An AMX touch control system wrangled what was potentially a very complex system with its multitude of inputs, zones and options. Horses for Courses
After going out to tender the installation job was given to local AV outfit, Soundys, headed up by Scott Day. Scott divulged to AV some of the intricacies of the project – a commission beginning in February and completed in October of 2008.
We were commissioned to supply and install. Originally the job had already been specified and modelled. The system was more inclined toward public address duties and background music rather than sound reinforcement. The main concern was getting coverage over the entire site and getting the zoning right. SC: Everything is controlled via Biamp Audia systems, but because of the distances around the arena we’ve had to use 100V lines for everything – so that’s when we went for the TOA arrays. AV: So why go for the TOA equipment? SD: The system had to be a high impedance arrangement purely because of the distances involved – in some cases up to 600 metres at the extremes, but generally we were looking at distances of around 350 metres from the amplification to the main HX5As and BS1030Bs in the Main Arena. So a powered system simply wasn’t going to work in the building. Add to that the fact that the structure didn’t have a lot of infrastructure for cabling… and the TOA HX5A was the best option for dispersion anyway. Because the arrays disperse directly into the seating areas we had surprisingly few problems with reverberation and echo. Any minor issues with reverberation are obviously reduced as the Main Arena fills with patrons – especially given the fact that the arrays are faced directly toward them. So as far as delaying signals we really had an easy job of it. The main arena actually uses no delay lines whatsoever. The only delays we use are for speakers in other zones – areas that are away from the arena itself. AV: So what’s the backbone controlling
â€œWe had surprisingly few problems with reverberation and echoâ€?
Exterior and interior of the main arena of the Australian Equine & Livestock Events Centre
TOA HX-5 series compact line array speakers aimed directly at the seats eliminate reflections and maintain high intelligibility. Bottom: An AKG wireless antenna paddle lurks near the HX-5 array.
system, and where were the individual boxes placed? SD: There is an AMX system that runs everything from the main judging box. We also have the Biamp systems set up with the daVinci software that allows complete control of the system. There’s actually multiple locations where the systems are housed. There’s the indoor area which supplies the arena, and there’s also an outdoor system, where we have further Biamp systems hooked into the main system via optic fibre down to a stable that houses the amplification. That equipment then feeds to all the stables and the Camp Draft Arena and all the outdoor warm-up areas and the parking areas. The TOA HX5A units were primarily deployed in the main arena along with the Sales Arena annex. The Sales Arena has seating for 560 people and is used for demonstrations
and, as the name would suggest, auctions for livestock so you can imagine that area gets pretty noisy at times. The two-way BS1030B units were chosen for additional coverage in the Main Arena, both flown and beneath the seating. These were also used throughout the concourse area. The Main Arena required the use of four AKG CHM21 mics that were used for ambient noise level measurements. Another two CHM21s were used for ambient noise metering in the VIP area and another in the mezzanine. Smaller flushmount speakers like the CS154 15W units were deployed in the car parking areas, the warmup areas and throughout the amenities sections of the complex. Then within the rodeo shoots are further 6W CS64 flushmount speakers to let those guys know what’s going on before they’re released from the shoot. Not that I’d
reckon they’re listening to much at the time! Obviously there’d have to be issues with heat and dust in such an environment. Did this sway any of your supply decisions? SD: Definitely. Many of the speakers were chosen for their ability to stand up to the dust, and a lot of the outdoor speakers have to withstand weather and UV radiation. So a lot of the TOA equipment was chosen for those environmental factors. It’s brilliant gear when it comes to standing up to harsh conditions. The TOA amps such as the DA500 and DA250 digital amplifiers are great, in that they’ll fit into cramped conditions and put out a lot less heat. AV:
Rundle Lantern A very different big screen for Adelaide. Text: / Andy Ciddor
Let’s be honest, even if you are lucky enough to live there, Adelaide isn’t the first city that springs to mind when you think of innovative town planning and leading-edge public display systems. Perhaps because of this, the Adelaide City Council was looking for something bold and unusual when it ran a design competition for projects to enliven the nightscape at the eastern end of the Rundle Mall. Much to everyone’s surprise the winning concept came from local design consultancy Fusion, the only non-architectural entrant in the competition. The Rundle Lantern concept proposed by Fusion’s principal, Damien Mair, involved wrapping a low resolution video screen around a rather unattractive eight-storey council car park on the corner opposite the Rundle Mall. The intention was emphatically not to display anything as mundane as football, motor racing, advertising, news or music videos. According to Mair: “The vision for the Lantern was to create an experience that would capture the imagination of the city and add beauty to people’s lives.” Fusion’s proposal included the design, provision and programming of material for the screen that would include seasonal and event-related theming and incorporate creative input from the arts community.
interesting engineering and construction challenge, but with this building Fusion had stumbled into some unusual problems. Intended as a minimum-cost ‘temporary solution’ to CBD parking
are created on the screen by illuminating each panel from light sources hidden in the top of the panel below it. Realising that LEDs were probably the only type of light source that could provide the colour range, longevity and energy efficiency required for the screen, Fusion went looking around the world for a company that could not only provide the necessary high-output LEDs, but also the control technology to drive them as part of a large screen system.
“Wrapping any building with over a 1000sqm of screen presents an interesting engineering and construction challenge”
U Park U Turn
Wrapping any building with over a 1000sqm of screen presents an
needs in the 1960s, the U Park building was bolted together from oversized meccano set steel beams to straddle the existing single-story shops that fronted on to Rundle street. The vehicle exhaust ventilation system for the car park followed the common approach of natural ventilation by omitting most of the walls. Discussions with a range of interested parties and engineering consultants, resulted in the specification that any screen installed had to retain 50% of the natural airflow to avoid the budget-crippling need for mechanical ventilation. Clearly a screen that is 50% holes does not make particularly impressive viewing unless you can’t see the holes. The solution was based on the concept of the louvre windows that were so popular in Australian homes before we started using air conditioners. The final design consisted of 748 anodised aluminium panels, arranged in 22 rows and 34 columns. Each 1.4sqm panel is carefully angled to provide visual continuity from street level, yet retain 50% of the airflow from the original open-wall design. The images
Space Cannon Broadside
Mair was impressed by the work of Space Cannon of Italy, particularly what had been achieved with the headquarters of the Dexia Group in Brussels, Belgium, which at the time was one of the most sophisticated projects ever attempted. On contacting Space Cannon to enquire about engaging their expertise on the project, Mair was more than a little surprised to find that the control system and programming for the Dexia Group headquarters had actually been done by Melbourne-based Fabian Barzaghi and Dan Ditmann of Space Cannon Australia. The Space Cannon proposal (that was ultimately implemented on the project), was to light each of the 714 active panels with a pair of independently controlled, custom-built Bisquit LED luminaries, resulting in a display with 1428 addressable ‘pixels’. The Rundle Lantern version of the Bisquit are IP66rated exterior fixtures, containing 12
A sample of the moods and flexibility of the Rundle Lantern. Images and sequences are composed remotely at the Fusion studio and uploaded to the Green Hippo controller via a secured broadband link (images courtesy of Fusion).
Tiles mounted on the U Park building at angles to allow adequate ventilation of vehicle exhaust fumes. Images: Andy Ciddor.
high-efficiency LED sources (4 x red, 4 x green and 4 x blue), configured for full-spectrum RGB colour mixing via the DMX512A control protocol, and remotely addressable via the Remote Device Management (RDM) protocol. The Space Cannon package also included the design, commissioning and programming of a suitable data distribution, control and programming system. Although the Rundle Lantern is low resolution compared to even a standard definition TV, it still requires a rather substantial 4284 channels of lighting DMX512 control to operate it. Feeding DMX data and allocating DMX addresses to 1428 fixtures is not a trivial problem. The DMX network limit of 32 devices connected in any one daisychain necessitated an eight-way optically-isolated splitter for each of the nine DMX universes. Transport for the nine DMX streams was via Ethernet using ArtNet, the public domain DMX-over-Ethernet protocol developed by Artistc Licence in the UK. Rather than attempt the nightmare task of allocating a DMX address via DIP switches on each fixture at the point where they were either unpacked or fixed to the display panels, Barzaghi and Ditmann had specified that the luminaires should be capable of communicating via the recently ratified Remote Device Management extension to the DMX512 protocol. The RDM software deployed in the Bisquit luminaires was developed for Space Cannon by Australian RDM pioneers Enttec. Using a standard notebook computer fitted with an Enttec RDM interface and controller software, Barzaghi and Ditmann were able to identify and interrogate each fixture once it was in place and assign its allocated address without touching the luminaire, a process that saved many dozens of hours of fiddling, double handling and construction time.
Seeing the Light
Images for the Lantern are displayed using a Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 Stage media server that takes a video feed and translates it on-the-fly into the appropriate ArtNet control signals to drive the LEDs in each Space Cannon ‘pixel’. The Hippotizer is located (together with its outside communications links) in the bottom of the U Park building. Keeping the Hippotizer company in that rack is an Enttec E-Streamer replay system which, because it has both an astronomical clock and ArtNet output, has been allocated the menial task of powering the LED fixtures up and down for each night’s presentation. Several floors above the Hippotizer, perched in a corner of the carpark near the midpoint of the screen, is the control rack packed with Enttec DataGate, EtherGate, and ODE ArtNet-to-DMX converters, a pile of Tech Art DMX splitters, power distribution modules, a relay rack and a large collection TechArt DMX patch panels. Content creation and management for the Lantern is supplied as part of an ongoing contract by the design team at Fusion, using Green Hippo’s Pixel Mapper software and the Zoo Keeper remote management software, from their facility in central Adelaide. Although starting out as a project that would probably call on a range of outside consultants and overseas companies, the majority of this landmark development was put together by a team of world-class locals.
Space Cannon Bisquit fixtures with diffusion on near side for even illumination of the tiles.
Equipment list 1428 x Space Cannon Bisquit custom 12 LED RDM 9 x TecArt Splitter 8 way opto isolated 9 x TecArt 8 way patch panels 1 x TecArt 12 channel relay rack 1 x Enttec E-Streamer 1 x Enttec Datagate DE 1 x Enttec Ethergate 1 x Enttec ODE 1 x Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 Stage with Pixelmapper software and Zoo Keeper 1 x Netgear Gigabit switch
See some of the Rundle Lantern programming live on webcam (it updates every five seconds) at www.cityofadelaide.com.au/rundlelantern
Andy Ciddor attended the opening of the Rundle Lantern as a guest of Space Cannon Australia.
Sightlines were calculated for each tile to provide sufficient visual overlap and optimum ventilation. (Images courtesy of Fusion)
Sim City General A patient that groans, burps and talks… but doesn’t sue. Relief is at hand. Text: / Graeme Hague Photos: / David Jones
Back in the good old days, medical students wanting to do a bit of hands-on homework would slip Igor a fiver, he’d creep into the local cemetery after midnight and come back with a recent corpse for the students to practice hacking away at to their heart’s content. No one really seemed to mind, it was all for a good cause. But, hey, that was the eighteenth century and the years have flown by. Authorities tend to frown on this sort of thing now. The task of training the doctors and nurses of tomorrow has always presented an obvious problem. Eventually they need to try their hand at a real patient and if they bugger things up the consequences are… well, you can guess. For many years, trained actors have been employed to try and emulate patients and their symptoms, but they’re not keen on being operated upon just for practice. Selfish, really. However, 21st century help is at hand. At the Edith Cowan University (ECU), Joondalup Campus, in Perth they’ve dedicated a lot of funding and certainly foresight into the new Health and Wellness Building. This is the home of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine, which includes the Centre for Excellence in Health Simulation. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed, among all the long-winded nomenclature, the word ‘simulation’ and, of course, AV magazine is soon sniffing around. What we found this time is some pretty amazing stuff. There are three simulation suites in the facility, but before we look any closer at these I have to introduce you to the perfect patient. This patient talks, moans, burps, bleeds and quite regularly dies (only to be resuscitated again), but you’ll never see them calling for a second opinion or even a lawyer. And, they don’t have to eat hospital food. Meet the ‘human being simulator’ more commonly known as the ‘Sim Mannequin’.
These are life-sized mannequins that can emulate real people to an incredible degree or, to be more accurate, the symptoms of real, sick people. The mannequins at ECU, used in tandem with sophisticated software, provide a very realistic simulation of a human being suffering illness, disease or injuries. They’re not far short of a Hollywood cyborg with all the vital life signs like pulse, breathing and temperature that react to treatment (good and bad), authentic breathing tracts and heart sounds, and even veins for practicing intravenous feeds and injections. with the use of moulage they can mimic muscle spasms, stomach swelling and wounds that require bathing and dressing. Data connections can generate appropriate ECG readouts. In all, rather than just a computer that responds to set circumstances, these mannequins actually react to hands-on, tactile stimulus. Operated remotely, software is programmed to make the mannequin display all the required symptoms and tells the sim to automatically respond to treatment – or the operator can throw a few medical spanners in the works and manipulate the responses manually. Put a shotgun in their hand and they say “hasta la vista, baby” and shoot the security guard walking past the window. ECU has a SimMan, a pair of SimBabies, a Nursing Anne and ALS (Advanced Life Support) mannequins all manufactured by Laerdal of Norway. If Pain Persists…
There’s another distinct advantage to all of this medical simulation, apart from not having to toe-tag any of the students’ mistakes: The whole virtual environment is also good for digitally recording and documenting the students’ responses – an important element in teaching. It is also a tailor-made opportunity for broadcasting to a wider audience simultaneously and interactively, if needed.
So the job description for the integrators, Vizcom Technologies, wasn’t just to plug in SimMan and make sure his fingers waggle during the next lightning storm. The simulation suites also incorporate an impressive network of AV equipment to capture and transmit everything that happens and allow participation from students and teachers in adjacent classrooms or lecture theatres. All three of the suites have an adjacent debriefing room with video conference links and large LCD screens. The main rooms each have four PTZ (Pan, Tilt and Zoom controllable) cameras mounted on rails above the bed. There’s also provision for a hand-held camera. Camera output routing is handled by a 16 x 16 AutoPatch router. Next door is a control room equipped with a pair of 24-inch monitors. One displays a full-screen image of the selected camera, while the other is a quad-split showing the remaining three cameras plus a read-out from the SimMan software. An AMX touch panel and matching AMX matrix processor take care of the routing of the audio and video feeds. These deal with all the necessary signals to and from the simulations suite, the video and audio links between the different simulators and the five Shure wireless microphones that can be distributed among the staff and students. There is also a live or ‘wild’ microphone in the ceiling of the simulators to provide feedback to the Control Room and a reciprocal talkback mic at the operator’s position. Of course, monitor speakers are in both spaces. Last, and certainly not least, in the Control Room is the console for operating the sim mannequins, which includes the ability to ‘speak’ to the students through SimMan. Scaring the hell out of unsuspecting visitors is apparently a favourite pastime. The potential combination of teaching
â€œThey can create scenarios that involve team work, crisis or conflict management and develop leadership skills among medical teams.â€?
Mr Alec Sim, lying comatose in a hospital bed waiting patiently for his personality implant.
Above: Simulation Central – the control suite for a simulation room. Inset: Babies that not even a mother could love – infants Luke and Leia Sim lie abandoned and uncared for in the postnatal simulation suite.
conditions is impressive. Connected medical emergencies could be created in the two main suites and the strategy for dealing with them discussed by a controlling group of students in the surgery room. In turn, these three situations could each be streamed to a lecture theatre where a teacher can be either an omnipresent observer, debating each scenario with the class, or even request changes in the simulation, with or without the participating students’ knowledge. Not surprisingly, archiving every event is a must and for this ECU has tapped into its Starbak video streaming system. VizCom installed a higher resolution encoder than the standard Starbak node for lecture theatres, so that the increased level detail from the simulation system can be archived. At the
same time a real-time DVD burner is placed in the signal chain for anyone who wants to create a take-away disc. The sim mannequins were actually a separately supplied and commissioned product – and you have to agree they’re a pretty impressive product! The integration of the mannequins with all other elements of the audiovisual and data networks in the facility fell squarely on Vizcom’s shoulders. With all the elements they’ve designed and put in place at the Centre for Excellence in Health Simulation, the methods of teaching aren’t just about fixing broken bones. They can create scenarios that involve team work, crisis or conflict management and develop leadership skills among medical teams. The concept for this simulation facility
is the work of Edith Cowan University’s Professor Cobie Rudd and Associate Professor Christopher Churchouse, who shared a vision that these kinds of simulation suites are the way forward in health and medical education. There’s no doubt about it, in Joondalup at least, Igor’s out of a job.
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Multimedia Microscopy at Monash How the humble microscope sprouted an extra eyepiece. Text & Photos: / Andy Ciddor
Almost all of the really interesting things that happen in the biological sciences aren’t readily visible to the unaided human eye, making good microscope technique one of the fundamental skills to be acquired when undertaking studies in these fields. Teaching microscope skills effectively has been an elusive goal for educators, as the traditional process involves a high degree of individual student-trainer interaction at the microscope. The commonly encountered unwillingness of students to acknowledge their difficulties, and the near impossibility of the teacher monitoring individual progress in a traditional laboratory environment can leave the more reticent students deficient in a core area of their training. The added pressure of ever-shrinking teacher-student ratios increases the likelihood that these deficiencies may not be rectified. Microscopic Changes
When the time came for Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences (SBS) to look at replacing their aging sets of class microscopes, the head of school Assoc. Professor Gordon Sanson decided instead to address the entire teaching and learning process and improve it using all possible strategies and technologies. When he learned that relatively inexpensive video cameras could be fitted to student microscopes, he realised that this would be an ideal way to share information between students and the teacher. Through local distributor, Australian Instrument Systems, Sanson learned that Chinese microscope manufacturer Motic already had classroom installations in place using microscopes fitted with cameras. However, these labs used analogue cameras
fitted to the microscopes to allow the instructor to monitor the work of each student and to communicate with them via a headset. To Sanson, such an approach was far too isolating and lacking in interactivity, but the technology looked promising, so he made a visit to the Motic factory in China, to see if he could get what he needed. The microscopes offered by Motic were unique in having extra viewing optics for the camera, making the standard microscope into a binocular, and the normal binocular microscope into a trinocular. However on visiting Motic, Sanson found the optics were set up like an SLR camera, using a movable mirror to direct the image to either the human user or the camera, but not both. He went back to his hotel a disappointed man. However, by the time he returned to Motic the following morning the engineers had replaced the movable mirror with a fixed, half-silvered mirror that split the light equally between the human user and the camera. He also learned of the DigiLab software package that had been developed to allow the teacher to preview and switch the outputs of students’ microscope cameras. Armed with this information Sanson went back to the SBS to consider how microscopy could be taught in the future. Discussions between Sanson, Dr Murray Logan (Lecturer), Bruce Weir (Teaching Services Manager within the school) and Graeme Ivey (Chief Technical Officer of the Teaching Facilities Support Unit, ie. Senior AV systems designer) produced a design for a new lab and a new teaching strategy. The system they specified enabled microscope images, or information of any kind on local computer screens, to be captured by
the individual student, shared among and between individuals, groups or the entire class, with or without the involvement of the teacher. New Lab
The existing group of 1960s vintage laboratories, with their sink and gas tap per student, and their asbestos-lagged hot water pipes running along the ceiling, were stripped back to bare walls and opened up into a single, long, 60-seat teaching space, with movable divider walls. New student benches were fitted, with a computer workstation per student, each equipped with a Motic USB camera that can be either fitted directly to the additional viewing port on a Motic microscope, or with a macro lens, be used as a stand-alone specimen camera. At regular intervals along one side wall of the lab are projection screens for a series of ceiling-mounted projectors that allow all students and teachers to easily see shared images and view audiovisual material. The space can be divided into three smaller laboratories if required, so all PA, teacher radio mic and projection feeds can operate either as independent labs or in grouped systems, via the AMX room control. As the image routing and sharing needs of the lab’s design became clear, Sanson and Logan defined some additional requirements for the DigiLab II software that would be installed on each computer workstation. Their demands effectively redefined the specification for the software and led to the extensive use of the SBS lab as a beta test site for Motic’s developers. Sanson noticed that the Motic developers, in the process of creating image sharing and routing capabilities, had
Student workstation with trinocular microscope
Left: Student workstation using a camera fitted with macro lens. Right: Teacher's Sympodium interactive panel for selecting and annotating images displayed on projection screens.
unwittingly produced a lightweight software system that allows a teacher to monitor screen output and take control of any aspect of any of the dozens of student workstations in the DigiLab II network. He recognised that such a system would be of immense benefit in a wide range of teaching applications – with or without microscopes – and it has since been developed further along these lines. Phile Sharing
And the results of all this innovation? They’re profound. The learning model is now about the sharing of information, techniques and images between groups of students and the teacher or the whole of the class. The images and data created by a student can either be saved to portable memory media at their workstation, or if they have logged into the university network, it can be
saved to their institution-wide, ‘universal drive’ in the central storage cluster. Since the labs were commissioned and new teaching and learning processes explored, the labs systems have continued to evolve. Sympodium interactive boards have been added to allow teachers to annotate the images that are being pulled up from microscope cameras. A BYO approach to workstations has recently been implemented using wireless Fujitsu tablet computers supplied to the students. This approach is expected to evolve again, as every student comes out of high school with a computer supplied under the Commonwealth computersin-schools scheme. An interesting aspect of this installation is that Monash University employs audiovisual systems designers and technicians, but no AV installers or integrators. They prefer all such work to be taken
Transformed: The tired old 1960s labs are now an open and bright 60-seat interactive teaching space.
on by their contracted integration company B&H Australia, which pulled every wire, terminated every connector, tested every system, programmed the AMX integration system, then handed them an invoice. Macro View
There is no doubt that since this laboratory opened it has been a success, not only for the teaching of the biological sciences but for looking at more effective and innovative uses of technology in the teaching process. This installation has not only won awards for being new and clever, it has attracted the attention of the teaching community. After seeing these labs in action and talking to the team from Monash, Macquarie University opened a teaching lab based on the same principles just in time for the start of the 2009 academic year.
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We’ve Got You Surrounded G1 Productions is creating immersive environments with seamless 360° projection. Text: / Tim Stackpool Photos: / G1 Productions
Even the outside is impressive: Guests arrive for a Venetian masquerade-themed charity dinner.
With the demands on audio visual producers to stretch their imagination to more innovative ideas, Ian Andrew Walsh and his company G1 Productions have carved out a niche delivering a projected environment that surrounds and immerses an audience. Loosely dubbed 360° projection, the system, as the name suggests, uses multiple surfaces and multiple projectors with image-combining technology to complete the seamless picture. “When we talk about 360° projection, we’re referring to projecting on all sides so as to be surrounded by projection,” explains Ian Andrew Walsh. “In the past we have done this in a rectangle or octagon format. We are yet to do a true circular screen, as this would be quite expensive. Besides, we find that the octagonal format gives the illusion of a circle.” The images fed to each of the projectors are blended using the industry recognised Watchout system from Dataton. To date, G1 has completed
projects with as many as 10 projectors, but they are currently in the planning stages of a job using as many as 12 projectors. Walsh believes the successful use of the technology can be measured by how you integrate the theme into the presentation. He cites this example: “On a recent charity event, themed as a Venetian Masquerade, we created a storybook feel in which the guests appeared as characters on the pages. Each step through the night was both read aloud from a story book and graphically written onto the book which was 6m high and 12m wide. The pages graphically unfolded that chapter all around the guests and they became part of the story.” Resolution Really Matters
With all projection systems, the challenge of sufficient resolution comes into play, more so when the imagery is surrounding the audience. For this reason Walsh often insists on originating the content in-house.
“We generally end up creating content from scratch and have to come up with creative ways of using media. If you can imagine, when you’re creating content for a room that is 128 metres around and eight metres high, your ratios are pretty extreme. One of the hardest challenges is ensuring the attention to detail, especially when you build the content from scratch in 3D and then export to video. But we are very conscious of this.” This leads to the age-old question of having enough computer processing power to both manage and complete the job in a timely manner. “Other challenges include the rendering time required, and particularly ensuring you have not made your content too elaborate,” Walsh said. “A good render farm is essential. In addition, all the files need to be sliced up and then overlaid for each projector, so you’re constantly double and triple handling.” File size is also important. “We use
Welcome to Venice: A 180° slice of the octagonal screens creating this wrap-around immersive environment.
Watchout, and this is a fantastic system to work with. However, like any type of design work, you need to ensure your media is driven by gutsy machines, as such, excellent servers are required,” Walsh said. Due to the size of these productions (4,000 – 14,000 pixels wide) much of the image creation is undertaken in packages such as Photoshop, Maya and Cinema 4D. Following that, the content is composited with lower resolution footage (on this scale, even HD footage at 1920 x 1080 is considered low res), then the entire imagery is exported via After Effects. “It’s possible to scale moving content a little bit, maybe 130% but beyond that you start to see artefacts and loss of quality,” Walsh said. Real Time vs Rendered
Another consideration is determining a balance between the content rendered via After Effects, and other material that can merely be played-out using the real-time
capabilities of Watchout. Walsh notes: “Some producers use Watchout purely as a movie replay device, without considering how to utilise all of its features to save production and rendering. In our case, once the creative is complete, we often sit down with our Watchout programmer, Mal Padgett, to work out the best way to create the content. “Sometimes we use large-format ‘still’ or non-moving artwork as a backdrop, separate elements such as text, stills and standard resolution videos, then use the positioning, scaling, rotation and opacity tools in Watchout to create large-scale content. This can all be seamlessly blended with our large movies so the audience isn’t aware of whether they’re experiencing an After Effects movie or Watchout programming. Making components also allows for last minute changes when they’re required. If you render it all as movies then it can limit your creative options at the end,
and sometimes it is only once you see the show set up in its entirety that you can fully appreciate the overall effect. Watchout – Swedish Army Knife
In addition to being a projection blending tool, Watchout is also a compositor of still and moving media, so it stands apart from other replay devices such as Spyder, systems like Catalyst or software such as Keynote and Arkaos. “In many ways, Watchout cuts across all these products and can also be used as a kind of digital glue to make best use of all of them. If you look at it like a Venn diagram, Watchout would overlap with all of the previously mentioned hardware and software,” said Walsh. “It’s important to understand the differences and strengths and weaknesses of all systems, consider your budget, then plan your media and staging setup accordingly.” For Walsh, one key to spectacular largescreen productions is having pixel-mapped
“It’s a buzz when you see people standing up in the audience and taking snaps of the screens!” Diners immersed in a stylised distillery for a beverage promotion.
content. That is, for every pixel on the screen, content is produced to match it. “If we are going to the effort and expense of building a spectacular rig that has up to 14,000 pixels of resolution, it makes sense to make use of that potential. The extra effort in creating pixel-mapped content is definitely a big part of the ‘Wow’ factor with the audience. It’s a buzz when you see people standing up in the audience and taking snaps of the screens!” At the core of any great AV technology, generally lays the intelligence and power contained within the humble PC. “The greatest advances have come with inexpensive, fast computers,” Walsh admits. “The latest dual- or quad-core processors, faster motherboards, fast hard drives and graphic cards, cut through media like a hot knife through butter. Of course with Watchout, Mike Fahl, the creator and chief programmer of Watchout at Dataton in Sweden, is constantly improving it – I think it has something to do with the long winters up there. Version 4 has some neat tricks, such as using DMX in/out and MIDI as triggers, multiple timelines and some other improvements that make programming faster and easier. Version 1 of Watchout back in 2000 didn’t even have Undo, so it
has certainly come a long, long way!” One of the challenges with using so many different types of media, comes not from the hardware, but from the data streams themselves. “The only real annoyance is getting the DVI outputs talking to video and projector gear as easily as RGB connections do. If the consortiums behind the DVI standard could get together and work on a more plug and play compatibility between graphic cards, switchers and projectors it would be a big step forward,” Walsh commented. Teamwork Tells
As with all production, there remains an emphasis on teamwork, and in the quality of the technology employed. Walsh is particularly loyal when it comes to his support crew. “Being producers of both the event and content, we’re not wanting to just create a backdrop, but rather a motion backdrop. Our events wouldn’t be what they are if it weren’t for the high-quality projectors we use from the Technical Direction Company (TDC). Their technicians are highly skilled and down to earth people, and this makes a world of difference,” he praised. In general, Walsh chooses to use Barco SLM
R12 or FLM R20 series projectors. “Our multimedia is only part of the equation. We then need to have this content programmed into Watchout. This almost feels like starting again from scratch: storyboards need to be created, files labelled correctly to ensure that they’re cut up as required for each projector in each scene. Our in-house design team take care of that. Then Mal Padgett is called in to complete the programming. Mal’s knowledge and understanding of Watchout is exceptional and I would not work with anyone else. Together we push the boundaries.” This teamwork is paramount to G1’s success. A typical event, using imagery 14,000 pixels wide by 1050 pixels tall in itself can take as many as six designers more than two months to complete and finally render the imagery. Even still, the event may require the inclusion of material shot and acquired from the days immediately preceding the event, and sometimes from the day of presentation itself. Being surrounded by this support makes Walsh confident of maintaining the market’s demand for further developments in this immersive technology.
Design. Performance. Support.
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How DLP Works There’s a host of tiny pixies running around with tiny mirrors… or something. Text: / Rod Sommerich
What is a DLP Chip: In 1987 Dr. Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments developed one of the earliest nano-technology devices, the Digital Micro Mirror Device or DMD. When this chip is integrated into a light path it carries the proprietary name DLP or Digital Light Processor. The idea had applications in a number of areas but the main idea was a new way to project pictures. How Does it Work?: The DMD is a square chip, based on computer RAM (Random Access Memory). The chip has an array of microscopic mirrors, one on each memory location. The number of mirrors set the resolution, one mirror equals one pixel. DLP chips are available in a number of different resolutions and aspects ratios including 800x600, 1024x768, 1920x1200 and even higher resolutions. Each mirror is on a nano hinge and can be tilted either left or right – thousands of times a second. How Does it Make a Picture?: Each mirror is one pixel of the image to be displayed. The RAM on the chip is told to turn on or off or to show black or white on the screen. When the mirror reflects the light one way it puts light to the lens and on to the screen (white) or the other way it sends light to a trap (black). The RAM chip can be changed thousands of times per second allowing the mirror to ‘oscillate’ and create different light levels or greys. A typical DLP projector can display 256 levels of grey. Creating Colour Images with DLP
Single-Chip DLP Colour Technology: To add colour to the image of a single-chip DLP projector, a glass wheel with segments of different colours is rotated between the lamp and the DLP chip. The most common combination of colour segments is Red, Green, Blue and White (RGBW) but there are a number of different types of colour wheel for specific applications. When all the colours are shown in sequence, the image persistence in our brain combines them to make one full-colour image. Colour wheels spin anywhere from two to six times per frame (that’s 50 to 150 revs per second for PAL). Three Chip DLP Colour Technology: In three chip DLP projectors, the output from the light source is split into red, green and blue components which are then directed on the individual DLP chips. The light is then recombined via a prism system to produce a full
colour image. Three chip DLP chips are used in most commercial cinemas and for large venue applications where high brightness is required. Colour Wheels for Single-Chip Applications
The two predominant colour wheel technologies are RGB and Brilliant Colour. Brilliant Colour colour wheels usually have six or seven colour segments: usually Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow (RGBCMY) and white. This comprises both the three primary colours RGB and the three secondary colours CMY, which allows them to produce more colours than other projection technologies, including LCD, plasma and CRT which only use Red Green and Blue. The size of each colour segment is determined by the projector’s intended application. Data projectors have a larger white segment, while video projectors have very small, or even no white segment. Common Light Sources for DLP Projection
Xenon: Used in high-end projectors for high output. Xenon is a brilliant white full-spectrum light source. However, the cost of Xenon is much higher and the lamps only last about 1000 hours. Metal Halide: These lamps have been used for many years and there are a number of new developments which have made them more efficient and reliable. They are relatively inexpensive and offer stable colour temperature over the life of the lamp, which is between 1500 and 5000 hours, depending on the design of the projector. Unfortunately, these are not fullspectrum lamps so some colours are not as bright as others. A new technology design specifically for single-chip DLP projectors boosts the lamp’s output and colour temperature according to the colour wheel segment being displayed. This also improves the lamp output by about 10% ~ 25%. This technology is known under different names, some of these include VIDI from Philips or UniShape from Osram. Light Emitting Diode: LEDs are a new technology for projection. They generate less heat and use less energy, and new high intensity LED light sources are becoming available and are currently being developed into projectors. Switchable colour LED light sources are ideal for single-chip DLP projection as they can replace the colour wheel. Their high-switching speed
also produces very high image contrast. With a life span of between 10,000 and 20,000 hours, these projectors may hopefully be maintenancefree. Because of the current low output for LED light sources they are only available in ‘pico projector’ format from around 10 to 20 ANSI lumens. LED light source brightness output is expected to increase dramatically over the next two years. Lasers: Laser light sources have been investigated and reviewed for projector use. Several factors, including cost, safety concerns and market perception of laser technology have meant that lasers have not yet been widely adopted for projectors. DLP: What’s it Good For?
Size: DLP projectors are generally smaller and lighter than projectors of similar performance using other technology. Single-chip DLP projectors have a single imaging chip and no prisms or other optical components. Greyscale & Colour Reproduction: Accurate and consistent colour and greyscale reproduction are possible for the life of the DMD because the mirrors do not degrade or fade over time. Fill Ratio: Because of the electronics being in the substrate of the chip, the mirrors of a DLP chip can be put very close together. This is not possible in LCD which requires the electronics to run between the pixels. This results in a much smaller gap between the pixels, which eliminates the feeling of looking through a fly-screen door. Colour Registration: S i n g l e - c h i p DLP projectors use the same pixel for each colour of an image. This means they can’t have registration errors and can’t suffer from the alignment issues associated with using multiple elements for colour creation. Lifespan: As DLP projectors use mirrors, they have a short persistence and can’t suffer image burn-in from static image content such as logos or fixed graphics. DLP is the most desirable projection technology for heavy-use applications such as digital signage, control room projection displays, digital cinema projection and other applications where the projector will be left on for long periods. Because mirrors don’t degrade over time, colour accuracy and brightness are maintained over the life of the DLP. Unlike other technologies, ultraviolet and infrared light do
“Eventually DLP projectors may be embedded into mobile technology such as phones and laptops”
not damage or degrade the DLP. Smooth Motion Images: DLP mirrors can be switched at very high speeds, which translates to very fast frame rates and smooth motion. 3D Projection: DLP projectors are capable of the very high frame rates required for 3D imaging in both single and threechip DLP (120Hz or 60 frames per second per eye). 3D is increasingly being used for feature films, immersive reality environments and virtual reality imaging for training.
can be run on batteries making them ideal for sales reps and other mobile projection applications. Eventually DLP projectors may be embedded into mobile technology such as phones and laptops. Rod Sommerich (CTS) is National Product Manager of Display Products for Amber Technology. Like Rod, all readers are welcome to pitch article ideas. Send an email to the editor.
DLP: What Ain’t it Good For?
Because single-chip DLP projectors use a colour wheel, some people are susceptible to seeing bands of colour on edges of objects in high contrast images: something known as the Rainbow Effect. The Future of DLP Devices
New DLP chip applications include the new LED ‘pico’ projectors. These projectors fit in the palm of your hand and are about the size of a mobile phone. They output enough light to show a 20-inch image in a normal office or larger image in lower light levels. The LED light source is very efficient, so these units
Top: Electron microscope image of a DMD chip showing the micromirrors in comparison to the tip of a pin. Above: RGBCMY ‘Brilliant Colour’ colour wheel from a single chip projector.
A Tale of Three Pixels: Micromirrors 1 & 3 are reflecting their light out through the projection optics, making them ‘white’. Micromirror 2 is reflecting its light on to the absorber panel, making it ‘black’.
Sound Soundproofing Constructing your very own Cone of Silence. Text & Images: / Andrew Steel
Office soundproofing may at first sound like an oxymoron when you think of open plan offices, with workstations and partitions that only come up to waist or shoulder height. Whether they are call centres or administration centres, there is literally no soundproofing between workers and we are all familiar with the background chatter that is audible when you call such a workplace. These places often have meeting rooms and a boardroom which do need to be soundproof though, and very often they are not. It’s not until the MD or CEO is in a meeting in one of these rooms and can hear everyone else, which means they can probably hear him, that someone realises that such rooms need soundproofing. Of course the boss usually wants it fixed immediately but in a structure that was not built with soundproofing in mind, it is not always that easy. To get some idea of why, we need to understand the basic mechanics of soundproofing. Once the key elements of good soundproofing are understood, it becomes clear where most of these rooms fail.
Slab Above Ceiling Space Ceiling
Stacked Insulation Batts
The first and simplest element of sound proofing is mass. Quite simply, the more mass in the wall, the less sound goes through it. Mass doesn’t provide ‘flat’ isolation though, but slopes downwards providing less isolation at low frequency. Straight away we can see that the common office wall may be lacking in this regard. They are usually light timber or steel studs with a layer of 10mm plasterboard each side. This is just enough to make the lightest, cheapest wall and not heavy enough to stop much sound. Since it provides less isolation at low frequency it is why loud male voices are often heard through them very easily. Quite naturally the first pass at a fix is to add of mass in the form of more plasterboard. Adding a layer of plasterboard to each side will add about 6db more isolation. For reference, we need a 10 or 12dB reduction for most people to perceive the change as being half as loud. The next thing that needs to be considered is the cavity that is formed between the two sheets of plasterboard. This will resonate just like a drum when sound hits it and the frequency at which it resonates will pass through the wall very efficiently. The solution is to damp the cavity with some form of porous absorber such as glasswool, polyester or rockwool. The effect of doing this is to minimise the resonance of the cavity: just like putting a blanket in a bass drum. The absorber doesn’t really stop any sound passing through it but since sound travels at 340m/s, it bounces between the sheets of plasterboard so many times that the resonance is damped and the soundproofing is improved.
Hund Mass Loaded Vinyl
Without a barrier in the ceiling space sound is free to travel between rooms. By placing a barrier such as insulation batts or mass loaded vinyl in the space, higher levels of soundproofing can be achieved.
“Once the key elements of good soundproofing are understood, it becomes clear where most of these rooms fail.”
Fitted to Plasterboard before suspension
Plasterboard or MDF
Volume to suit Light Manufacturer Specification
Plasterboard and Green Glue
1. Overlap min. 200mm Both Layers
1. Non Hardening Mastic sealant to be used on both layers at all joins and penetrations Surface mounted lights (ceiling or wall) are a preferred option to downlights
Alternative with Mounting Block
GPO or other wall mounted connections can be altrnatively mounted on a mounting block (preferred)
GPO or Similar
Some of the measures that can be taken to reduce the transmission of sound between rooms.
Filling the Cavities
Office walls are commonly built without insulation in the cavity and it is not so easy to add afterwards, as a layer of plasterboard needs to be removed. Adding insulation in the cavity can add another 6dB of isolation though, so it is worthwhile. Holes or slots can be cut in the wall and insulation can be slid in, leaving only a small amount of patching to do. If another layer of plasterboard is to
be added, this is even less of an issue. Adding more plasterboard and insulation in the cavity may add 12dB of extra isolation, but none of it is worthwhile if the third requirement is not met – air tightness. Very small gaps, cracks and holes can reduce the isolation by 12dB or more so attention must be paid to sealing the room up. A well soundproofed room would not leak water if it were able to be filled up! This means not only making sure all joins in the
plasterboard are sealed up, but also making sure any penetrations are taken care of as well. Things like power points, telephone and data points, down lights, and air conditioning ducts are all penetrations that will allow air, and hence sound, to pass through a wall or ceiling. In the case of power points the sound travels into the wall cavity and out of another power point. For ceilings the sound will go up into a light fitting or duct, across
Office 2 Preferred method
Not preferred - virtual acoustic short circuit Each room should have an independent air conditioning feed to avoid sound travelling between rooms through the ducting
the ceiling and back down through another light fitting or duct in the next room. Power points and similar penetrations can be soundproofed by bringing them out on a mounting block and plastering the hole in behind them. Light fittings need to be surface mounted rather than recessed, unless a solid box is fitted above them. Air conditioning ducts will always be a problem, but the problem is less if each room has an individual duct run from the A/C unit, rather than daisychaining ducts room to room. Going Through the Roof
A very commonly encountered problem is acoustic tile ceilings. These have porous tiles that let sound go through them, up to the underside of the floor above, and then back down. This affords quite a lot of absorption in the room, but of course isn’t very airtight. It gets to be a big problem when the walls of the room don’t go all the way up to the floor above (which is usually done to save on construction cost). In this case the room is about as soundproof as a tent. The solution is to extend the walls up to the floor above, and there are a few ways to do that. You could actually build a continuation of the wall as constructed, but this is very difficult. More commonly, sheets of limp mass-loaded vinyl are hung from the floor above, down to the top of the wall. This is not a bad solution, although a bit labour intensive as the same airtight rules apply. There are also bundles of polyester batts that are layered up to be as high as the gap between the top of the wall and the floor above. They can be up to 600mm deep and are wedged into the gap for the entire perimeter if the room. Of course an alternative is to replace
the porous ceiling with hard sheet plaster, then add acoustic absorbers back into the room. Hermetical Seals
Finally, doors need to be airtight or the sound will go out and around into the next room. Door seals are available to do this job and most can be retrofitted quite easily. We are assuming that these rooms don’t have windows between them – some things are just common sense! So getting enough mass in the wall, damping the cavity and making the room airtight is basically what is required to tick the soundproofing boxes. Good information on what sort and how much, is available from most of the manufacturers like Lafarge Plasterboard, Bostik, Fletchers Insulation etc. Beyond this, there are constrained damping materials like Green Glue, that can be applied between two layers of plasterboard. These materials go a step further and actually damp the wall itself, absorbing sound energy before it gets a chance to go any further. It is an effective way to increase the soundproofing performance of a wall. The material is simply applied to the back of the second sheet before it is screwed in place, and hence is suitable for both new and retrofit situations. Retrofitting is quite common in offices where the need to improve soundproofing is recognised only after the premises have been occupied for some time. Many of the short cuts and cost saving measures common in the building industry are significant factors in poor soundproofing. It is of course more expensive to make these modifications after the fact, so the extra spent up-front will save significantly more time and money in the long run.
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Risky Business OH&S policies aren’t just the preserve of big departments. Text: / Gep Blake
Firstly, an important disclaimer: The material in this article is of a general nature and is intended to stimulate discussion and further research. It does not constitute specific advice and should not be relied upon to do so. The author, publisher and their agents are not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of any information included or omitted herein. Appropriately qualified professionals should be consulted.
We all want to get home in one piece at the end of the day and every individual who works in Australia has the right to a safe workplace. Conversely, every worker has an obligation to perform his or her tasks in a way that does not endanger himself, herself or anyone else. These days, most medium to larger organisations will have reasonably comprehensive Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) policies and procedures with Health & Safety Representatives (HSRs), committees (often even whole departments) to develop and oversee safe methods of work within their appropriate fields, but what about contractors and small business? The audio visual industry employs a great many people on an ad hoc basis according to the needs and budgets of different productions and events, so how can an individual or a very small production company begin to address Occupational Health & Safety? There are many guidelines, Australian Standards, Safe Work Method Statements
(SWMS), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Ergonomics procedures and so on that are available online – there are some suggested links below. Given the infinite variety of situations you can be confronted with, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to be completely prescriptive. However, there are some basic, underpinning principles that can be used to work out how to approach different activities from an OHS perspective. They can be broken down into three categories – Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Control. Hazard Identification
This means exactly what it says – identify the hazards! Evaluate the task or activity and try to see or imagine what could go wrong. Look at what is being done and by whom. Do the people who will be carrying out this activity (whether it’s you or someone else) have the appropriate skills and/or qualifications to operate the required machinery? Are they experienced and capable? Are there cables that can be tripped over? There may be fairly obvious hazards, for example, focussing lights on a high gantry could involve working with electricity in a confined space at a significant height. But even apparently simple activities
can have inherent and often unseen dangers. Working at a mixing console that has been set up at the wrong height even for short periods can cause neck strain, lower back problems, headaches and more. Risk Assessment
This one isn’t tricky either: assess the likelihood of an incident occurring versus the severity of the possible consequences. This is something you do almost constantly without even realising you’re doing it. Picture yourself standing on the kerb attempting to cross a busy street. You look left – no traffic. You look right and there’s a huge cement truck hurtling towards you about a hundred metres up the road. Now, you might do some subconscious triangulation and higher mathematics, and decide that you’re likely to make it across the road before impact – you have assessed the likelihood of an incident is low. If, however, your subconscious calculations are incorrect or you twist an ankle and you connect with the truck, it’s reasonably certain the consequences will be severe. You may decide on that basis it’s not worth the risk and wait for the truck to pass. An effective and common tool used to assess risk is a risk matrix. One axis
LIKELIHOOD Highly Unlikely
Requiring treatment or hospitalisation
Serious / ongoing / life threatening Injury
“even apparently simple activities can have inherent and often unseen dangers” indicates the likelihood of an incident occurring and the other axis indicates the degree of severity of the consequences. Using a matrix helps you to make a more objective assessment of a given risk, give it a rating and plan accordingly. For example, according to the accompanying chart you may consider it highly unlikely that an automated fader will shut unexpectedly, and if it did, you may consider it inconsequential. This hazard would therefore have a risk rating of 1. You may also be of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that a member of the public will interfere with a poorly insulated three phase power board hidden behind set dressing… but if they do, it would almost certainly result in a death giving that hazard risk a rating of 5. So, an arbitrary set of actions corresponding to the ratings for the matrix above could be: 1: No action required. 2: Should be addressed as time and budget permits or within three months (or an appropriate time span). 3: Requires immediate attention – Supervise the activity and control the immediate risk, any ongoing risk must be resolved within two weeks. 4: Requires immediate attention – Supervise the activity and control the immediate risk, any ongoing risk must be resolved within 24 hours. 5: Requires immediate attention – Do not proceed with this activity until risk is eliminated. Risk Minimisation: The Hierarchy of Controls
So then, how do we go about controlling or minimising the risks that have been identified? The methods used to minimise risks are generally ordered into a hierarchy of six controls.
Elimination: The best control from an OHS perspective is to eliminate the risk altogether. Simply do not carry out the task or operate the equipment in question. This must be weighed up against the importance of the overall project and what impact the elimination of one aspect will have. For example, a client may wish to have pyrotechnics at an event but as the producer you may decide that the hay bale dance at the 100-year-old shearing shed full of lanoline-soaked timber in the middle of summer is not really a safe environment to allow. Substitution: Substitute a safer piece of equipment or procedure for the one that’s deemed to pose an unacceptable risk. Perhaps an impressive show using cooler LED lights might do the trick rather than fire and explosions. Isolation: Isolate the risky equipment or procedure. Put up fences, barricades etc to prevent access by unauthorised or unqualified individuals. Engineering Controls: Use safety guards, shields or other mechanical aids to lessen the chance of an incident. Administrative Controls: Warning signs, regulations, Safe Work Method Statements are all examples of administrative controls. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It is often assumed that the use of PPE is the be all and end all of safety. In fact, it’s actually the ‘last line of defence’. Safety goggles, helmets, gloves, earmuffs and so on are the least effective risk controls. Where appropriate, PPE should certainly be used but never relied upon as the only risk control. The one general rule of thumb is: If you’re not absolutely confident that the task at hand has an acceptable level of risk, don’t do it.
Managing Occupational Health & Safety can feel overwhelming. Whether part of an established larger organisation or operating as a sole contractor, the AV professional is often faced with myriad difficult and potentially dangerous situations – anything from working at heights to pyrotechnics. Sometimes state and federal regulations and guidelines appear to differ and the penalties for breaching legislation can be severe. There are mighty big fines, or, in the case of wilful negligence, individuals can find themselves doing time with Patsy Cline. But when you’re thinking it’s too expensive to replace the old scissorlift; or you don’t have time to make sure your mains power cables are all tested and tagged; or it’s too inconvenient to wear the approved safety harness – don’t worry about the fines or the jail terms… just think about how you’d feel sitting in a courtroom trying to explain to a family that their wife/brother/father isn’t around anymore because you found things inconvenient. useful web links www.worksafe.nt.gov.au www.worksafe.wa.gov.au www.safework.sa.gov.au www.worksafe.vic.gov.au www.workcover.nsw.gov.au www.wst.tas.gov.au www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace www.workcover.act.gov.au www.comcare.gov.au www.srcc.gov.au www.standards.org.au
Survey Says… InfoComm has commissioned a comprehensive pro-AV survey of our region. Let’s look at a small sample of the results.
InfoComm has released its Asia Pacific AV Market Definition & Strategy Study… and it’s big — it’s very chunky, very detailed and very, very illuminating. Considering AV gets on so well with InfoComm we thought it a great opportunity to furnish our readers with a few juicy titbits. From there you’d be well advised to get your wallet out and buy the full, unexpurgated version of the survey — you won’t be sorry you did. What is it?
The survey was commissioned to understand the size, structure and future prospects of the Asia Pacific pro-AV market. To do this, Fusion Consulting (the Singapore-based firm assigned the task) sliced and diced the market up in a variety of ways. Zones — The survey breaks the region up into six zones: China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia etc), Australia/NZ and the Indian subcontinent. Market Segments — The survey considers the market in terms of 11 principal segments, including: Business/Corporate/IT, Residential/Home Theatre (but not consumer electronics, obviously), Retail/ Point of Sale, Education/Training Services, Meetings/Events, Sports/Theme Parks, Broadcast/ Video, Government/Military, Healthcare, Religious and (believe it or not!) Karaoke. Product Groups – Purveyors of Displays,
Control Systems, Cables, Connectors & Adapters, AV Acquisition/Delivery Equipment, Audio & Video Conferencing Equipment, Lighting Systems, Mounting Systems, Projectors; Screens & Shade, Signal Management & Processing, Sound Reinforcement, Streaming Media & Webcasting, Wireless Connections & Software, Electronic Whiteboards & Marker Boards, and Furniture, will all find themselves individually addressed in the survey. Service Groups – And it’s not all box shifting, with the survey providing detailed analysis of these service groups: Installation/integration, Design, Rental & Staging, Programming, Maintenance & Support. Methodology
A couple of points about the survey’s methodology: The survey combined in-depth interviews with 300-plus industry players across all pro-AV sectors and across the region, with an on-line survey. It’s also worth noting that the survey was conducted before the death of capitalism at the end of last year — ha ha, only joking. Saying that, the predictions and some of the surveyed responses need to be observed with the GFC caveat in mind. For example, the survey says that it expects the industry should grow 10% yoy (year on year) from US$13.4b in 2007 to US$17.9b in 2010. Clearly, 2009 is going to take some wind out of that prediction’s sales.
Here are a few facts from the InfoComm survey that you will doubtlessly find of interest. • China and India are the fastest growing markets. But did you realise that despite the subcontinent’s enormous middle class population its pro-AV spend is only expected to exceed Australia/NZ by 2010? • The Corporate/IT sector is (by some margin) the biggest pro-AV sector but the Health sector at 19% growth p/a is expected to be the fastest improver in coming years. • Closer to home, the SE Asian market is expected to shatter the US$2b barrier in large part thanks to a 16% rise in the demand for AV services. In fact, Asia’s traditional reluctance to pay for AV services largely accounts for the relatively modest market size as compared to the US or Europe. The survey figures the region is a few years behind its western counterparts in this regard — scope for opportunities there, one would think. • Similarly, Asia-Pacific pro-AV market has been very hardware oriented; customers want complete solutions and are beginning to appreciate that software/services are essential to such solutions. • Pricing in Asia is a particularly sensitive factor and needs careful consideration for anyone trying to crack one of the markets there. SE Asia
and India are particularly hot on pricing. • High Definition is driving a lot of sales in the projector, videoconferencing and video editing/ acquisition segments. In fact, HD was the factor cited most by respondents when asked what technologies or applications would drive sales. Knowledge is King
And finally, I thought I’d cite this paragraph from the report: Understanding the market: The Asia-Pacific market
is different from the West, and each country within the region is unique. Things are often done differently in Asia, or from one country to another within the region. It is important to take the time to understand the unique characteristics of the Asia-Pacific region and to be flexible in one’s approach to the region. Certainly, a big chunk of that understanding can be gleaned from the Asia Pacific AV Market Definition & Strategy Study, it’s a formidable resource and well worth a detailed appraisal.
Link: Download the executive summary of the Asia Pacific AV Market Definition & Strategy Study from our website. Go to www.av.net.au and follow the links.
Eiki LC-XIP2000 Data projector meets interactive whiteboard and everyone lives happily ever after. Text: / Daniel R. Hampton
I did not expect the Eiki LC-XIP2000 to wow me; superficially, it looks much like any other typical projector on the market. Still, my love for multimedia and all things audiovisual has taught me not to come to hasty judgements. So I dutifully plugged it in. I’m glad I did. I was almost blinded by the white; then dazzled by the crispness. An illumination uniformity of 85% at 2000 ANSI lumens is the standout technical here, and it’s immediately evident. I set a medium throw distance and focussed the lens, then loaded the on-screen settings menu to adjust some basic variables. The menu-text is sharp and easy to read. This is a good sign. Which leads me to some optical background info: The light travelling through the middle of a conventional lens (spherical) cannot be focused at the same level as the light travelling through the peripheral areas. What’s occurring is a spherical aberration that makes sharpness inconsistent. Hence, by using the aspheric lens element as the Eiki does, overall sharpness would appear to be substantially increased! I adjusted some basic settings, noticed the auto-keystone function and set the unit to widescreen projection – the picture’s top quality. The use of 3LCD technology definitely pays off, the end result is a luscious, sharp and ‘contrasty’ (400:1) image that is always pleasing to the eye. Using a separate LCD panel for Red, Green and Blue allows for more accurate colour reproduction and better resolution, and is comparable to the use of 3CCD light capture-chips in video cameras. Through an Aspheric Lens Brightly
The aspheric lens protruding from the front of the projector provides a maximum image size of 150 inches (3.8m), from a distance of approximately 6m. Alternatively, the projector may be placed as close as 0.8
metres from a wall to achieve a picture size of 50 inches (1.27m). This is a welcome convenience. The projector can of course be hung from the ceiling or alternatively from ground-level. Rear projection methods are also supported. The LC-XIP2000 operates effectively in either the conventional 4:3 screen-ratio manner (suitable for computer-screen projection) or the more cinematic 16:9 ratio (typically more appropriate for TV, DVDs and movies). Input-wise, the usual array of connectors are present – plug in just about everything but the (HDMI-enabled) kitchen sink. The complement includes: two VGA D-Sub15 connectors for dual-PC connectivity, VGA out, RCA composite video in, S-Video in, mini-jack stereo audio in. Component video connectivity is possible via an additional adaptor. In terms of video signal compatibility, the unit can interpret PAL, NTSC, NTSC 4.43, SECAM and PAL-M&N at resolutions of 480i/p, 575i/p, 720p, 1035i and 1080i. It should be mentioned that there’s no HDMI connector present on this device. As usual, I set aside some quality techtime to test the LC-XIP2000 with a range of quality AV equipment. DVD is as expected. I’m satisfied with the scene projected; a strong deep image with an acceptable balance between contrast and hue representation. It was smooth sailing to watch a movie on this device. Keystone warp is minimal and the auto-keystone helps. I must confess, I do like my gamingconsoles, and there must be a little ‘play’ to balance the endless work in life and it seemed only fair to test the device with my console systems. Once again, I found the projector ‘adds value’ to my gaming experience. I blaze through ‘Bully-Scholarship Edition’ and got sucked right in to the free-playing world. I’ll be disappointed to give this projector back.
Now let’s consider TV for a minute. I connected my S-Video-enabled digital TV tuner to the Eiki and switched to some quality free-to-air viewing. Although TV viewing may seem an unlikely occupation for this projector, it offered another opportunity to properly gauge the responsiveness of the projector with some rich content. Once again, the image is quite good, though the same cannot be said for the broadcast content. The unit represents the SD digital TV signal accurately and navigation menus/program guides etc, appear crisp and solid. PC connectivity is easy, and the native XGA image is of a high standard. It supports VGA, SVGA, XGA and SXGA; though this is not where the PC coupling ends. Interactivity
This projector comes with a unique accessory kit. Firstly, we have a retractable pointer wand, for some class-front teaching. The pointer is robust (fashioned out of stainless steel and silicon) and quite useful as a presentation aid. Connect the pointer to the PC via USB and it doubles as a mouse. This is handy. An infra-red remote control, sporting a laser-pointer for the navigation of setup menus, is also included. Secondly, we have an interactive whiteboard marker! This cool device means you can write (virtually) on the screen, directly over the projected image as if it were a whiteboard. Sounds gimmicky, though in reality, it’s a very useful! Annotations can even be saved for future reference. These tools are of a high build quality, well crafted and a pleasure to hold and use for long periods of time. Using the projector for PC display output proved quite successful, as the image was so sharp and clear, making on-screen text easy to view at a glance. I see a great market here for schools, training centres and universities, due in part
Repeater Pigi Light PIGI
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BOB TV Compound
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Power plug: 16 A; 230 V; 2,0 KW
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Heat and fan output. No HDMI input for digital signal. No DVI input – only VGA. Average internal speaker.
business for over half a century, it is not a brand I’m familiar with. But this projector is fairly priced, offers useful interactive tools to assist in teaching and presentation, and produces a high quality picture. Lamp life is a quoted 2000 hours, and replacement lamps are not overly expensive. The build quality is excellent and I would expect this projector to go the distance. Lastly, the use of 3LCD projection technology makes this projector an easy choice. Well done Eiki.
Great for PC display: so sharp. Effective widescreen projection. Small form factor. Extensive light-based interaction tools.
to its intuitive presentation and control tools that make presenting a dream. Alternatively, the home-theatre enthusiast may appreciate the small form factor and impressive sharpness the image provides. However, fan noise may be regarded as a little intrusive (only 41dBA) for small quiet spaces. In terms of portability, the projector is not huge, nor heavy – it’s not a chore to manhandle this projector from one room to another. I am largely quite impressed with this projector. Although I’m informed that Eiki has been in the audiovisual equipment
075 FEATURE REVIEW
B & H Australia firstname.lastname@example.org 1300 307 117 www.bhaustralia.com.au
Denon DN-C640 A pro CD player that doesn’t need a CD? Read on. Text: / Brad Watts
Denon has always turned out some impressive CD players for the professional broadcast and installation markets. Its relatively recent DN-C640, released early 2007, is still one of the more sophisticated disc players available. The single unit rackmount design employs a slot-loading mechanism that quickly snaffles the disc, and won’t let you push it back in after the disc is ejected and awaiting removal from the slot – idiotproof operation, in other words. Equally as thoughtful is the eject button’s locked status when a disc is in Play mode – again, avoiding embarrassing on-air blunders. Professional heavy-duty features are abundant, with pitch control, AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital output, variable and fixed attenuation RCA outputs and balanced XLR outputs, each XLR sporting its own level adjust mini-pots recessed into the rear panel. Network Control
External control options include RS232 and parallel remote connections for interfacing with pretty much every broadcast studio installation, or integration with more contemporary technology such as AMX or Crestron systems governed via good ol’ ethernet. That’s correct. Aside from reading CDs and DVDs of both WORM, writable, and re-writable persuasions – all of which can contain any assemblage of MP2, MP3, WMA files and PCM (supported sample rates include 32, 44.1 and 48k, with all bit rates dithered down to 16-bit apart from PCM files, which will output 24-bit data) – it can also read all these file types over a network via TCP/IP. This is what makes the C640 such a viable playback medium for integrators and installers – the unit can access mountains of audio material kept on a central storage server, possibly avoiding having an optical disc inserted into its slot
load drive, ever! The C640 is endowed with ‘Web Remote’ software for access to the unit from any terminal on the local network. The drill is reasonably simple: boot up a web browser application and log into the C640’s IP address. From there you’ll gain access to all of the unit’s features. Adjust volume, choose tracks and organise playlists utilising the m3u format. IP addressing is as comprehensive as the TCP/IP protocol allows, with the ability to hook into a DHCP system automatically, or to have specific addressing as to DNS server and gateway set at the unit. These address settings can also be set remotely, with the C640 requiring a brief reboot before the newer settings will come into effect. From the player’s end of a networked system, material can also be uploaded to a server, although naming tracks from the C640 is not supported – titling chores have to be executed from the server itself. Not Very PC
Now the obvious argument against using a dedicated unit like the C640 for network audio streaming is that a computer can do all of this and more, but does a computer come standard with an AES/EBU digital output? It certainly doesn’t without the further expense of a professional grade audio card and additional software. You’d also be hard pressed to find a computerbased system to offer four styles of remote control, let alone serial and parallel wired options. Plus the actual audio specs will also leave any DOS-box alternative floundering. Specifications such as 0.004% THD, a 104dB signal-to-noise ratio, and the ability to frame search down to 1/75 of a second could hardly be attained by the optical drive in most computers and as such the C640 is a very nice sounding playback device.
Denon’s CD players have a great reputation in the installed sound arena for rock-solid dependability and being able to withstand the attentions of itinerant DJs. There are a number of touches that reveal Denon’s experience in this department that are thoughtful and welcome. For example, adjusting the playback pitch requires two button presses before the unit will allow the pitch amount to be adjusted via the jog dial – and yes the pitched output is available via the digital outputs. Driving the DN-C640 is foolproof, and the unit feels (and is) staggeringly robust. Another example of thoughtful design: a Cue to Program button taking centre stage among the backlit transport controls. Of course, you can avail yourself of the infrared remote as an alternative to the front panel controls, with the remote accommodating far more buttons than the unit itself. In fact, there are a number of features that can be accessed more easily from the remote. Pitched playback, for example, can be instigated immediately from the remote rather than requiring the multiple button presses when using the front panel controls. I’d suspect in most scenarios the infrared remote may well find itself locked away from curious hands. However, the big news with the DNC640 is its network smarts. You could set this unit up to access terabytes of audio material without ever putting a disc in it, and will make sense in many installations and broadcast institutions. Price: $2195 Audio Products Group: 1300 134 400 or www.audioproducts.com.au
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Rosco DichroFilm Paul Collison, and some blokes who should know better, take a new colour filter to places it should never go. Text & Photos: / Paul Collison
Dichroic gel. It sounds like an oxymoron. However, it’s not. Dichroic gels are here. Before we go on, though, it’s important to understand dichroics and how they work. Dichroic colour filtering and standard gel filtering work in very different ways. Standard lighting gel allows the specific wavelengths of the colour you want to pass through and out the other side. The unwanted light is absorbed by the pigment in the filter and released as heat. Standard modern-day gels are usually made on a polyester substrate, while the high temperature versions are generally made from polycarbonate. Life expectancy can depend on the saturation of colour and how the actual film has been treated over its lifetime. On the other hand, dichroic filters use microscopically thin layers of metals to allow the desired colours of the spectrum to pass through, while reflecting the rest away from the filter. This method allows for a more pure light to be transmitted. In fact, dichroic filtering can allow up to around 90% light transmission as compared to 60% from standard gels. Ultimately this means we can get brighter colours, more saturation and an overall finer colour rendering from dichroic filtering. Dichroic filters can and do last many times longer than standard gel, so although there are higher costs involved for dichroics, they can pay dividends in the long run. Of course there is always a catch. Not Quite Perfect
Light needs to pass through a dichroic filter at as close to a right angle as possible. Stray too far and you’ll start filtering out the wrong wavelengths and discolouration starts to appear. So using a dichroic filter on the end of a narrow optical system like a profile spot is usually okay. Put one in front of a fresnel spot and you may start to get colour problems at the outer edges of the beam. The other catch is that until now, dichroic
filtering has only been achievable with the metal layers bonded on to a glass substrate. As we all know, glass is brittle at the best of times, so including sheets of dichroic glass in your touring lighting system has never really been a practical option. Until now. Yes, the innovative brains at Rosco have come up with DichroFilm: a dichroic filter on a high temperature plastic substrate. All the benefits of dichroics, with the ease of use, and most importantly forgiveness, of traditional gel. At the moment DichroFilm is only available in 10 colours but one could safely assume that as demand for these filters increases, so would the range. Currently the range is only a handful of highly saturated colours, plus colour correction blue and orange. One downside with dichroics is the confusing way they look. If you have a blue dichroic over a lamp, the blue wavelengths are the ones that pass through the filter. If you look at the film (as you would a piece of gel on the end of a par can), you actually see yellow – evidence of just how efficient these filters can be. So don’t go getting a rig full of dichroic filters for your 600-par can world tour. You might be a little surprised. While not being the cheapest solution to gel at around $48 for a 150mm x 150mm cut, these new filters are now a viable option for touring musicals, long-running stage shows and the all important architectural market. You can be sure that Cirque Du Soleil’s accountant would love not having to change the thousands of cuts of gel for O at the Bellagio each week (not to mention the poor shmuck who has to change them). As our (not so) scientific field test establishes, these new filters are hard to break. Boys on Film
It was a humid couple of days in Rockhampton when the thespians of Queensland got together for their annual NARPACA (Northern Australian Regional
Performing Arts Centres Association) conference. Your writer, along with some other more respected lighting professionals, got his hands on a cut of Rosco DichroFilm Hot Pink (Magenta 09476). Our small posse of inquisitive minds quickly decided to find the hottest, brightest fixture we could lay our hands on. Our gaze almost instantly found the Robert Juliat Victor follow spot. It’s bright; it’s hot inside; it was perfect. However, not content with dropping this lovely piece of new technology in its traditional safe place (far away down the end of the follow spot), we removed the iris control that was approximately 150mm away from the 1800W MSR lamp. This would be the perfect place for little Hot Pink. ‘Perfect’, as it would give us an idea of just how resistant to high temperatures the product is, and ‘perfect’, as we could focus the fixture on the actual material and see, without a microscope, just how the surface of the gel would react. By now our posse had turned into a mob – one enterprising thespian began taking bets on the time before the gel would erupt into flames. Sadly (of course I mean, ‘fortunately’), the gel survived the first few minutes – unbelievable considering the ambient temperature in this part of the optical chain is around 300˚C. We discovered that the inconsistencies in the colour we saw were mainly due to oily hands that had inquisitively fondled the gel before it was installed. After the first 20 minutes, the oil had simply evaporated. The beam from our spot had a distinctive discoloration around the edges of the beam. It was concluded that this was due to its proximity to the source and, after some manipulation of the filter, was significantly reduced. Of course, had we put the gel down the cooler end of the spot where the colour is designed to go, this discoloration would not have appeared. It was apparent the ability to curve the gel would make these filters much more viable
“After two hours, the mob had become thirsty for blood – they wanted to see something smoulder” Left: At the end of the follow spot beam we can see the effect of washing the DichroFilm in fog fluid then leaving it to dry in the heat from the 1800W lamp. Above: The DichroFilm sitting happily where no gel was ever meant to go – in the gate of a follow spot. Note the curve in the filter to reduce colour fringing at the edge of the beam.
in wide-angle luminaires like fresnels and cyclorama lights. After two hours, the mob had become thirsty for blood – they wanted to see something smolder. We decided to pull out the dichroic gel and inspect it for the first time. After two long hours just inches away from a blistering 1800W MSR the DichroFilm was in pristine condition. This just wouldn’t do. We grabbed some standard Lee 126 Mauve and 128 Bright Pink from the store in the Pillbeam Theatre – eager to placate those thirsty for smoke but also to see just how much this new filter differs from the old. First up was the 126. It’s hard to say just how long the filter lasted as the gel melted before it got all the way in the gate. This may have been due to the saturation of the 126 (according to an audio guy) so we tried the lighter 128. No go. Not even enough time to start the stopwatch before old 128 shrivelled quicker than a Bondi Iceberg. We were all well impressed, but not entirely satisfied.
Haven’t the Foggiest
We decided this test needed something to move things along. We had hit a plateau. Some fog fluid caught the eye of a certain un-named Australian representative of an un-named New Zealand-based luminaire manufacturer. We figured that it would not be out of the question for a technician to refill a fogger and then quickly change a gel before being able to wash his hands [yeah, right – Ed]. We washed the filter down with some fog juice and some more oily hands before dropping it back into the Victor follow spot. Instantly we could see the difference. The water in the fog fluid evaporated pretty quickly and we were left with a congealed mess on our beloved dichroic gel. Urgent action was required. We rushed the DichroFilm from the spot on to the nearest chair for some emergency first aid. We tried to wash it down with water and then inadvertently scratched away some of the metallic dichroic coating from the substrate. Surely now this would be the
catalyst for the filter to degrade quickly? Alas, no. In fact, it was a rather cool look – similar to a Solar250 with a broken rotator (for those old enough to know what one is). We could clearly see where the integrity of the filter had been breached (due to being able to focus too clearly on the actual film) and we all assured one another that this was where the filter would start to selfdestruct. It never did. Five hours we waited for the filter to shrivel up and die but it wouldn’t. Soaring temperatures in the gate of the follow spot all but annihilated the standard gels in less than a second but the DichroFilm survived over five hours. By this time we had noticed some discolouration and inconsistencies in the gel, however these more than likely could be attributed more to the fog fluid and water than anything else. Exhausted, the mob dispersed, defeated by a small piece of Hot Pink. Rosco Australia: (02) 9906 6262 or email@example.com
Associations Page News from the AV industry associations.
AETM – CONNECTING UNIVERSITIES
The Peer-to-Peer Network that advances AV in Tertiary Education: The tertiary education sector is one of the largest and most active sectors of the audiovisual industry in Australasia. More than a million students attend university in Australia and it is estimated that there are around 6200 lecture theatres, seminar rooms and specialist teaching spaces which have significant audiovisual systems installed. Though expenditure varies year by year, best estimates are that the sector accounts for up to $50 million in audiovisual hardware annually. To manage the massive base of installed equipment and assist the academics teaching in these spaces, universities employ teams of professional audiovisual staff. In addition to user support and frontline maintenance, many university AV departments also design, program and install their own systems. Lecture theatres provide quite a challenge for audiovisual integrators as these spaces require quite different approaches from domestic or commercial system design. The Association of Educational Technology Managers (AETM) was formed in 2001 to develop cross-university links between these teams to share expertise and provide opportunities for training and professional development. Members are all audiovisual specialists drawn from tertiary institutions across Australia and New Zealand. Up to three members are accredited from each university and include managers, technology specialists and team leaders with a wide cross section of experience. A management committee drawn from universities across the country meets regularly via videoconference. AETM members need to be widely skilled, for in addition to standard projection, PA and control systems, most universities also manage videoconference networks and more than half operate systems for automated lecture recording and delivery. The Association currently organises one major conference each year at which members present papers on major projects and new developments in their institutions. Major suppliers are also invited to participate and present technical sessions relevant to the university market. The Association also maintains an active mailing list and discussion forum which members use to share expertise and information. The association also functions as a focal point for links with other audiovisual organisations such as the ICIA (InfoComm). In 2008, AETM established a formal link with the equivalent UK professional body SCHOMS (Standing Conference for Heads of Media Services), and extended the relationships between university audiovisual specialists internationally. Members can now field advice from colleagues across the UK and will be providing reciprocal presentations at each others major conferences. More information on the AETM web site: www.aetm.org
Appointment of New Asia Pacific Council Chair – Peter Swanson of Lincolne Scott: After three years of service as chair of the Asia Pacific Council (formerly the Australasian Council), Andrew Yuen, CTS of Edcom based in Hong Kong, has completed his final term as council chair and a member of the InfoComm International Board, and we thank him for his service. Peter Swanson was nominated and seconded as his replacement, by Australian members, and the InfoComm International Leadership Development Committee confirmed Peter’s appointment as the new chair in February, 2009 for a term of one year. Peter has a strong desire to encourage membership growth, and industrywide adoption of InfoComm Certification Programs and AV Systems Standards throughout the Asia Pacific region as part of a drive to improve the performance and perception of the AV industry as a whole. Apart from his involvement on the Aust & NZ Sub-Council, Peter is also a contributor to the development of InfoComm Performance Standards under the auspices of the Performance Standards Committee. Appointment of Rod Brown, CTS-D as InfoComm International Staff Instructor: Rod had been a Volunteer Instructor for the InfoComm Academy since 2005, teaching throughout Australia, and Asia, in the USA, the Middle East and Africa. Please see the news item earlier this issue for more. AVSP Program Changes (Formerly CAVSP): There have been recent changes to Audio Visual Solutions Provider program. There has been a name change to the levels from Basic, Silver and Gold, to Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond, to avoid confusion with association membership levels. There has also been a change in recognition, in that the program now recognises those that have undertaken InfoComm Academy Education, as well as those that hold their CTS or a specialised CTS-D or CTS-I. Further details can be found at www.infocomm.org/membership and follow the link to AVSP Recognition. Mark Your Calendar InfoComm Academy Classes: INS 212 Installation Technician Essentials, 2 Days, 29 – 30 April at UTS Sydney. DES 212 AV Design Principles: Environment, 3 Days, 29 April – 1 May at UTS Sydney. DES 311 AV Design Principles: Infrastructure, 3 Days, 1 – 3 July at UTS Sydney. DES 312 Applied AV Design / CTS Study Group, 3 Days, 26 – 28 August at UTS Sydney. InfoComm Academy Seminars at Integrate – 09, Tuesday 7 July in ‘The Headroom’ Theatre, Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park, Sydney InfoComm Member Roundtable Meetings: Sydney: 29 April Brisbane: 6 May Melbourne: 13 May InfoComm IC09 Tradeshow – Orlando, Florida, USA: Conference Starts: Sunday 14th June Tradeshow Starts: Wednesday 17th June Registrations are now open at www.infocommshow.org For further information please contact Jonathan Seller, CTS – Regional Director, InfoComm International, Australia, NZ, Africa & the Middle East: +61 2 8206 0979 or firstname.lastname@example.org For additional information about InfoComm International visit www.infocomm.org
Streaming video files Stream video; keep the cogs of your network turning. To give you a taste of its training material, InfoComm have made some selected parts of the ‘AV / IT for Technical Professionals’ course available in AV magazine. In this issue we look at an extract from the section on Streaming video files. Many IT professionals live in fear; fear that an AV person will put a massive video file on their network and send it grinding to a halt. As AV pros, how can we lead our IT cousins by the hand through video compression, such that the file will stream effortlessly while retaining much of the image quality? These may be two of the least understood concepts in the AV/IT arena. Typical applications for streaming video on the network include videoconferencing, streaming live video feeds, storage of video segments, and downloading content from the web. In each of these examples we can calculate the raw data rate or, by viewing properties, we can see the data-rate of the file. But what will these numbers mean to the IT manager? We can, and should, view this from the perspective of the pipe (data space on the network) and the fill (the data that goes into the pipe). Let’s look at the limitations on the network side first. Most corporate networks have a speed of 100 Megabits per second (Mbit/s), although some are improving to one gigabit per second (Gbit/s). For the purpose of this article we will assume 100Mbit/s. In a perfect world we would be able to use the whole 100Mbit/s to carry data, but due to the nature of Ethernet, we cannot use the entire speed. The IT industry requires a derating of the network to about 70% of its stated capacity, or about 70Mbit/s per second. Some IT managers would say that 70% is too aggressive and that it should be a lower number such as 65%. Either way, it’s important to remember that a derating is necessary.
20% of the 70%. Doing the maths we arrive at 100 – 70% = 70, 70 – 20% = 21Mbit/s. To see if this will meet our video needs we will look at that next. Video is comprised of frames and pixels. The number of frames and pixels directly relates to the size of the video stream. HD video contains more pixels per frame than SD video, making HD streams much larger than SD streams. Let’s look at the maths. A video frame has pixel across the screen (H, horizontal) and down the screen (V, vertical) and each pixel has a depth of 8 bits (D). To calculate the size of a frame we multiply H x V x D. For SD PAL video the numbers would be 720x576x8 = 3,317,760 bit/s. That is for a single frame of colourless video. Multiply the number by three for RGB and by 50 for frames a seconds to get the uncompressed image size. 3,317,760 x
Simple video compression
Network Connection Full bandwidth RGB. Equal numbers of pixels for each component
Compressed RGB. Half of the R-Y and half of the B-Y pixels have been omitted.
Share & Share Alike
The IT manager will remind us that the AV manager still cannot take the entire 70Mbit/s for video. The network is an office system that will have email, web browsing, financial data, programs, databases and other office traffic, so video will have to share the space with the general office traffic. Video streams should take no more than 20% of the derated network speed, or
the greyscale and detail of the image, while the R-Y and B-Y components will maintain the colour information. Because we do not see detail in colours, we can reduce the pixel count in the colour areas without losing quality. The maths now looks like this: [(Y) 720x576x8 + (R-Y) 720x288x8 + (B-Y) 720x288x8] x 25 = 165,888,000 This reduced the file size by one third without losing quality. To reduce the file size even further we can implement a compression scheme. Using an MPEG compression scheme we can compress this file size down by a factor of 5-, 10-, or 20-times smaller to fit the stream onto the network.
3 x 25 = 248,832,000 bit/s. It is easy to see that 248Mbit/s will not fit in the network’s 21Mbit/s allocation. So what can we do? The first thing is to use component and not RGB signals. From a motion video standpoint there is little quality loss to our eyes and brain when making this switch but we save a lot in pixels. The Y (or luminance) portion of the signal will contain
A common bottleneck of any network is the speed of the connection that enters the building. While we might have a 100Mbit/s network in the office, the connection to the outside world may only be 3Mbit/s. Derate that by 70% and again by 20% and you only have 720,000 bit/s to stream your message. That might be okay for a standard definition video call, but inadequate for any high definition video call.
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
Termination Get the skinny on screens. Text: / Christopher Holder
How good is this?! 16:9 displays can be turned around to produce the oh-so-surprising 9:16 Skinny Screen. Yes, Skinny Screen is the new and improved, trendy alternative to bogstandard, seen-it-all-before 16:9 short screen. And I can’t get enough. When I first spotted Skinny Screen behind the newsreader on the 6 o’clock news I was blown sideways – it changed my life. What a fresh perspective! I was reappraising height in ways I’d never thought about. I mean, who cares about what’s happening to the left or right of an image, I just want more altitude. Tall Stories
In between throwing dead sheep and playing Tetris, I’ve established a new Facebook group called ‘I want my Skinny TV’ and I’d urge you all to join. The aim is to lobby the Office of the Federal Communications Ombudsman Bureau Department to mandate a dedicated digital Skinny Screen channel… Skinny Screen demands its own spectrum. Why? For years I’ve put up with 4:3 telly being distorted to squeeze onto 16:9 short screen, and I’m sick of it. All those squashed, house-of-mirror contortions are nothing short of an abomination. Meanwhile, Digital Skinny TV will offer a vertical slice of your favourite programming. Cricket telecasts will offer unparalleled ‘down the pitch’ coverage; then there’s the ping pong, 10-pin bowling… The Winter Olympics are crying out for Skinny TV – downhill slalom, ski-jumping, the luge and curling would all benefit from the additional vertical screen real estate. FTV would be crazy not to switch over to Skinny Screen for its round-the-clock, catwalk eye candy. Who wants to see the fossilised audience – with cadaverous bald blokes in black turtle necks and other Pradawearing devils – when you can cop a fulllength 9:16 eyeful of Victoria’s Secrets?
Songs of Praise would rock in Skinny Screen. Think of all that extra stained glass, not to mention all the additional ‘here endeth the lesson’ pulpit space. Basketball coverage is positively bellowing for the Skinny Screen. How else does one fully appreciate the scale of sevenfoot bean poles launching themselves in the vertical domain? Are you with me? Don’t get sucked in by the Short Screen status quo. It’s all a myth perpetuated by a bunch of Beverley Hills powerbrokers with too much to lose. After all, Pan-o-Vision is just some historical accident; a quirk… a burp in our visual past that’s still giving us heartburn. I mean, who has a 16:9 fridge? When’s the last time you opened a landscape newspaper? Exactly, never. Humans are genetically predisposed to Skinny Screen’s orientation. So, I’m not sure how long it’d take Hollywood to retool for Tilt-o-Vision but it’d be worth the effort. Get Involved
I realise these tectonic shifts take time and the reconfiguring of a million screens starts with a single swivel… so… to demonstrate how enamoured I am with the 9:16 possibilities of Skinny Screen I’ve turned all the computer monitors in AV Editorial on their sides. Word processing, magazine page layouts, Internet scrolling – it all makes much more sense in portrait mode. But what we need is the whole AV industry to get behind the Skinny Screen revolution. Let’s liberate Skinny Screens from the confines of train stations, shopping centres and the set of Funniest Home Videos. If the job requires a bunch of 42-inch panels, talk to the client about the advantages of Skinny Screen. Maybe even up-sell them to a Super-Skinny Screen (two 9:16 on top of each other to form a 9:32 tower). You know it makes sense. AV welcomes insights like this (or even genuine insights) for our Termination page. Contact the editor (email@example.com) if you have something to get off your chest.
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For more information contact: Bosch Communications Systems • Unit 2C, 6 Boundary Rd • NORTHMEAD NSW 2152 Ph: (02) 9683 4752 Fax: (02) 9890 5928 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.boschsecurity.com.au
© APEC image courtesy of SMH