AV Technology Europe
July / August 2019
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS: ALL THE WINNERS HOW TO STAGE THE ULTIMATE LIVE EVENT WHAT'S NEW IN MOUNT TECHNOLOGY? DISCOVER THE LOUVRE'S FIRST VR EXPERIENCE MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR: PROAV
LIVE AND KICKING As outdoor events become ever more elaborate in terms of staging, can audio technology keep pace to deliver the experience fans expect?
July / August 2019
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July / August 2019
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TURN IT UP The heatwave of 2018 may be a distant memory, but with summer in some form now firmly upon us, festival season is in full swing. Unfortunately for the A in AV, that increasingly means complaints about poor sound at outdoor gigs. I experienced this myself at Hyde Park recently, with one section of the crowd spending more time chanting ‘turn it up’ than enjoying the music, as songs were barely recognisable and between-music chatter largely indecipherable. Looking around it seemed to me that this particular section of the audience was in an area of poor coverage with little or no audio directed to the far right of the stage. This got me thinking about what can be done to provide a better experience for an entire audience. With festivals such as British Summer Time battling noise complaints from neighbours it’s perhaps obvious why sound would be focused on a central area, but if you’re spending £100 on a ticket is it fair that some sections of the crowd get a far inferior experience? As with so many things AV, the solution could perhaps lie in the form of consistent standards and education. In our feature on live outdoor events this issue, Meyer Sound’s Bob McCarthy cites the example
of Metallica whose current European tour is faced with different noise regulations on each night. When time is tight and productions ever-more elaborate this adds an unwelcome complication that simply shouldn’t need to happen. Consistent standards, combined with educating festival goers or offering the audio equivalent of a restricted view seat in the theatre, could at least ensure expectations are more closely matched with reality. Either way something will have to improve if we’re going to continue to expect people to spend big on these events. In his feature, David Davies talks to the industry about their thoughts on this and how technology has a role to play in helping to solve the problem. Turn to page 20 to read more. And, speaking of major summer events, the AV Technology Awards took place at the end of last month, with a sell out crowd joining myself and the Installation team at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London. Turn to page 12 to find out who the lucky winners were and don’t forget to stop by www.avtechnologyawards.com to see if you can spot yourself in the highlights video.
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Cover Photo Courtesy of Meyer Sound. Picture: Ralph Larmann
FEATURE: LIVE EVENTS It wouldn’t be summer without noise complaints about festivals, whether it’s neighbours complaining of disruption or fans experiencing sound issues, it can be a tough season for audio pros. We look at the causes behind these issues and the tech available to help overcome them
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019 Congrats to all the winners!
WAR OF THE WORLDS Picture: Jay Blakesberg
THE BIG INTERVIEW Fresh from his success at the AV Technology Awards, we catch up Elliott Moores, head of systems integration at Visavvi, to talk career plans and how to engage the next generation of AV professionals
TOP TIPS White Light offers a few pointers to help you create original, eyecatching events that the audience will truly remember
Regulars July / August 2019
Reimagined once again
IN FOCUS: MOUNTS These tools may be oft-overlooked but without them many installations simply couldn’t happen. We take a look at what’s new in the hidden world of mounts
BEST PRACTICE Peerless-AV share their key tips and buying advice to ensure you always select the best mounting solution for your needs, whatever your requirements
06 Industry Insights 42 Tech Guide
CASE STUDY Expectations are high as the Louvre unveils its first virtual reality experience to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo Da Vinci
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR: PROAV The global integrator shares its perspective on live events, managed services and the need for better understanding between AV and IT as convergence continues
50 Battle of the Brands 54 Getting to Know You 5
The future of workplace collaboration For collaboration technology to drive global productivity and economic growth, it must deliver a genuinely immersive meeting experience, says TIG’s Robin van Meeuwen
he pace of change in the workplace over the past two decades has been remarkable. In the not too distant past, the most eye-catching and impressive piece of office technology was the fax machine. This wonderful piece of equipment somehow managed to send whole paper documents from the other side of the world across the telephone network. Now, nobody uses fax machines and they are as obsolete as a rotary dial telephone. Instead, corporate workplace technology is now collaborative, enabling instant communication and decision-making, and is populated by team members who can share information instantly across the globe from their desktops or via their mobile devices. As such, instant connectivity, mobile interaction and seamless, collaborative technology are becoming a standard requirement in the working environment. The challenge for AV managers is to ensure that AV/IT systems not only enable this collaborative approach to working, but also that the systems are sufficiently future-proofed so that as technology develops and ways of working continue to evolve, the AV and IT systems are not
Photo Credit: Chris Taylor Photography
“Workplace collaboration technology needs to be immersive, fast, visually beautiful, innovative, adaptive and future-proof”
restricting this development, but are instead enhancing it. The AV manager must ensure that connectivity – whether between individuals, campus buildings or global offices – is given top priority. Furthermore, as flexible working becomes more commonplace and staff are ever more distributed, communication also needs to be seamless for these individuals, so they feel as much a part of the team as office-based staff. This type of instant connectivity means that today’s workforces are breaking through the confines of traditional office environments and technology will need to be connecting to systems, colleagues and information from anywhere in the workplace to anywhere in the world. COLLABORATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE NEW ‘DISTRIBUTED’ WORKFORCE We’ve all had experience of what might be called a ‘traditional’ meeting. This type of meeting consists of all attendees gathering in one room, in front of (perhaps) a large screen to see a presentation delivered by one individual. The shortcomings of this meeting format are becoming apparent, especially as staff are now armed with
laptops, tablets and smartphones, and often use them to take meeting notes, or make reference to work in progress, in real-time. Consequently, with the right technology, people can instantly share content from their mobile devices onto a display that everyone can see. Video-teleconferencing and document sharing technologies are already offering room-to-room and peer-to-peer connections across geographically separate locations, but the most sophisticated and productive solutions will provide participants with simultaneous access and control to a ‘united workspace’, regardless of their location – thereby creating a much more engaging, enlightening and immersive experience. These advanced collaboration technologies will undoubtedly begin to form the centrepiece of the ‘office of the future’. It is the responsibility of AV managers, consultants and integrators, as the experts, to embrace the latest technological developments and educate their clients about the possibilities that this technology can bring. By offering a more advanced collaboration solution that can really generate significant business benefits, these stakeholders can position their advice, their business and their reputation in exactly the right place to deal with their customers’ needs. Secondly, AV managers need to implement workplace collaboration systems that are device agnostic, enabling data streams from a range of connected devices regardless of operating system, location, or type. Whiteboard, internet, laptops, databank – all these need to come together simultaneously and side-by-side to remove barriers to productivity and engagement. For meetings to really engage the new generation employee, workplace infrastructure must empower meeting participants to share their work and ideas instantly to accelerate decision-making by bringing all factors into a common view. Finally, but arguably most importantly, the experience needs to be exhilarating. Workplace collaboration technology needs to be immersive, fast, visually beautiful, innovative, adaptive and future-proof. With the huge advances in visual collaboration
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and the emergence of Infopresence (the flexible flow of content and data from multiple sources across multiple screens and connected locations on demand), meetings with colleagues can be an exciting, dynamic experience. Through the deployment of visual collaboration technology such as Oblong’s Mezzanine, integrators can create genuinely engaging workplace environments that appeal to today’s increasingly switchedon workforce. The reign of the ‘bored room’ will soon be at an end. INFOPRESENCE MAXIMISES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Infopresence is the experience of being immersed with your work group’s vital content and data, for those present in the room and those in distributed locations. It can transform the workplace from a rigid and structured environment to an immersive, three-dimensional workplace that complements the intelligence, aspirations and collaborative tendencies of today’s workforce. Oblong’s Mezzanine is delivering Infopresence in a variety of organisations across the globe. The Mezzanine system helps maximise Generation Z’s interest and retention, keeping them connected and engaged. Infopresence provides a richer, deeper connection to information; immersing groups in a radically new relationship with their data facilitates the visualisation and absorption of data,
engaging teams more easily, quickly and effectively. BENEFITS OF INFOPRESENCE INCLUDE: • Bridges geographical space and concentrates dispersed stakeholders in a single locale to promote maximum collective engagement with essential collaborators. • Parallel, real-time working processes enable group members to discover immediate feedback and revision potential, promoting faster insight recognition. • Generation Z excel at getting the most out of technology; Infopresence maximises the human cognitive capacities that promote group engagement, creativity and problem-solving. • Infopresence is democratic by nature – giving everyone participating in the work session a voice at the table. Having a voice or say in business outcomes is key to the retention of Millennial staff and thus a strategic imperative for today’s businesses. Integrators that can provide experiences such as Infopresence in the workplace can give their clients a significant competitive advantage by stimulating feelings of engagement and purpose that will attract and retain the talent rapidly defining the 21st century workplace.
Robin van Meeuwen is CEO of Technological Innovations Group (TIG)
5G: How will it impact the live events industry? Opportunities for live streaming and immersive technology will grow as 5G looks set to transform the market for live events, according to John Steele
G technology – the latest in super-fast mobile internet – is something our industry is watching with great interest as it builds momentum. In late May, EE was the first mobile network provider in the UK to switch on 5G and we are already seeing the live events world grab it by both hands. EE cleverly launched the next generation network with artist Stormzy performing the first live-stream gig over 5G. For our industry, there’s a real possibility 5G will transform the world of live events, and event organisers and producers are certainly keeping it at the forefront of their technical planning when looking at opportunities – higher speeds and better bandwidth are, of course, an organiser’s dream! From my perspective, as technical director at an AV and event production company such as Blitz, one of the most exciting advancements will be the options open to us in terms of live streaming and immersive technology – limitations with this technology have of course been down to connectivity and speed since its introduction, but 5G is going to enhance how we work at events to showcase brands or products. On the other side, for audiences the capabilities could be endless; from their handsets they could see different views from around a venue – it was trialled, again by EE, at Wembley Stadium to give fans an even greater experience all from their handset – whether at the venue or from the
“If managed correctly, 5G technology will transform the event space” comfort of their sofa. Augmented reality and virtual reality will reach a whole new level in my view – mixed reality environments rely so heavily on having strong networks, so it goes hand in hand with faster, better internet access. I am excited to see the new and exciting innovations in this area, for sure. Onto WiFi – wonderful when it works, an absolute disaster for an event when it
doesn’t. The introduction of 5G means there will not be such a reliance on WiFi – which should eradicate those fears of slow connections. In fact, the speeds over the 5G cellular network will match, and in some cases exceed, that of WiFi. It also means that two-way speeds will dramatically increase – live Q&As, interaction and responses will become immediate, and this is a trend we are seeing more and more right now. As more carriers role out 5G (Vodafone is set to do so this summer) data going to handsets could increase tenfold – it will be interesting to see how much it has increased in the next few years. There is talk that 5G will eat into data allowances, but again it is something we will all have to watch as time goes on. As with any new development, there are some concerns, in this case regarding the wattage of the transmitters and the power needed to move all this data. In addition, as with everything, security issues will always be at the forefront. I do believe, though, that if managed correctly, 5G technology will transform the events space – I think we will see remote content delivery as a given and we will be able to include all sorts of extra information. It’s going to be an interesting time ahead but we really are going to see some amazing experiences that we haven’t seen with 3G/4G technology – so watch this space!
John Steele is technical director at Blitz, a GES Company
From supermarket worker to career in STEM Despite AV still being male-dominated, women shouldn’t shy away from technical roles, says Sue Carroll
he AV industry is typically dominated by male candidates; in fact, only around 1% are female. However, the UK is striving to place 1 million women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by 2020. Today, women are being championed to explore careers in STEM industries through initiatives such as the Athena SWAN Charter, and encouraged by others who have already carved a career in these sectors. I have been an AV technical service engineer with Saville Group for over 20 years, however, my pathway into the industry was not straight-forward. One of the biggest issues facing women in this industry is the lack of representation within the workforce. This is rooted in the fact that there aren’t enough school-aged children being encouraged to take up subjects in Maths, Science and Engineering. The government is taking steps to address this skills gap, but in the short term, it has impacted on the number of women taking up careers in STEM. Schools need to show how these subjects can lead to so many exciting and varied career paths. I did not follow the usual path to get to where I am today. I left school during an economic recession and was faced with few career options. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs, from supermarket worker, to car valet and cleaner before deciding that I needed to get an education and try my hand at something a bit more challenging. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that things are put together and this led me to
“One of the biggest issues facing women in this industry is lack of representation within the workplace” enrol on an electronics workshop course. From there I secured a place at Leeds College of Technology to study Engineering. When I graduated I was lucky to land a job at Visavvi, part of the Saville Group, and have worked as an AV service engineer ever since. This year I celebrated 20 years at the company. Alongside the technical requirements of the job, AV service engineering is often
perceived as a masculine career. I have experienced this myself. There have been a few occasions when I turned up to work on a site and I was met with surprise that I am a female engineer. However, I’ve always received fantastic client feedback once I’ve completed a job. Ultimately, ideologies need to be challenged and changed. However, it’s impossible to shy away from the physical demands of the job. To be a successful AV engineer you need to have physical strength. For example, some of the kit we install weighs 75kg and we need to know how to build scaffold towers and platforms. However, women in this industry have proven that we can do it. There isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ solution to tackle these misconceptions. One of the main ways to challenge negative stereotypes is to start with education and encourage more role models to speak up and inspire women and girls to explore a career in AV. There are lots of challenges facing the AV industry and gender parity is a major concern. Personally, I want women to believe in themselves a little more. There are so many exciting opportunities for women now compared to when I started in this industry. We have achieved some incredible breakthroughs, particularly in Science and Engineering, and I think the key for anyone considering a career in STEM is to just give it a go and see if you enjoy it.
Sue Carroll is AV technical service engineer at Visavvi, part of the Saville Group
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
Having a ball The AV Technology Awards debuted at the Millennium Gloucester in London last month, with a packed ballroom celebrating the great and the good from across the industry THE first AV Technology Awards ceremony took place in London on 27 June, with host Tom Ward helping to ensure it was a night to remember for winners and attendees. The Chortle award winner entertained the audience, testing their knowledge of technology and music, while giving the most popular acceptance speech on behalf of manufacturer HoverCam. And the winners are:
Project Excellence Awards Corporate Project Of The Year: Panasonic Business/McKeon Group, Allied Irish Bank Education Project Of The Year: Snelling Business Systems, Quadram Institute Retail/DOOH Project Of The Year: Pioneer Group/Play Retail, OPI VR Pods Venue Project Of The Year: Plus4Audio/APG, Royal Geographical Society Theatre Visitor Attraction of the Year: White Light, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi Technology Excellence Awards Audio Product Of The Year: Shure Microflex Complete Wireless Display Product Of the Year: Peerless-AV, Xtreme High Bright Outdoor Display Collaboration Product Of The Year: Mersive, Gen3 Pod Projection Product Of The Year: disguise, OmniCal Signal Management Product Of The Year: Luxul AMS-1816P AV Accessory Of The Year: HoverCam Pilot 3 Individual and Team Excellence Awards Company of the Year: Sahara AV End User Team of the Year: University of Hertfordshire Newcomer of the Year: Elliott Moores, Visavvi
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
The disguise team had a good feeling about the event, and they were right – winning Projection Product of the Year for OmniCal
The first award of the night went to Shure, with Microflex Complete Wireless being named Audio Product of the Year. Chris Merrick, pictured right, said: “It’s great to win the award. We’ve put many years of development into our Microflex Complete Wireless solution, so it’s great to get the recognition from the industry.”
Midwich’s Scott Pollard picked up the award for Signal Management Product of the Year on behalf of Luxul
And the award for best acceptance speech goes to... Tom Ward on behalf of HoverCam, Peace out... Peerless-AV with their Display Product of the Year award
Month 2019 July / August 2019
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
Corporate Project of the Year winner was Panasonic Business/McKeon Group for Allied Irish Bank. “It’s a credit to everyone involved in the AIB project,” said McKeon Group MD, Tomás G Mac
Team Mersive took home the Collaboration Product of the Year award. “It’s a great feeling”, according to regional sales manager Chris Charran (centre)
White Light’s work on Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi was named Visitor Attraction of the Year
Snelling Business Systems won Education Project of the Year for the Quadram Institute APG were thrilled to receive their first international award for their work at the Royal Geographical Society Theatre
Reatail/DOOH Project of the Year went to Pioneer Group/Play Retail
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
Terry Friesenborg proved a very popular winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award. “As you go through your career, you hope that you’re making a difference, and having this as an affirmation of that is extremely humbling and I appreciate it very much.”
The prestigious Company of the Year award went to Sahara. “Winning this award is special because it’s about a lot of people within the Sahara AV group, all the brands that we support and all the vendors that support us.”
Graeme Massey presents Elliott Moores with his Newcomer of the Year Award
Thanks again to all our sponsors and partners and look out for our save the date announcement for next year’s event soon. The University of Hertfordshire was named End User Team of the Year. “Just to be shortlisted is an honour in itself, so to come along and actually win the award is the icing on the cake.”
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IN WITH THE NEW Jo Ruddock catches up with Visavviâ€™s Elliott Moores, winner of the Newcomer of the Year accolade at the recent AV Technology Awards
INTERVIEW Firstly, congratulations on the award. What does it mean to you? It’s a little bit surreal for me. When I was made aware that I’d been put forward, is was a little bit odd because I’m just coming to work every day and doing my job. I’m very humbled. There are lots of people that I work with on a day-to-day basis without who I categorically wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have – internally and externally. It’s not just me, I’m just one part of a team of great people. Why do you think you were put forward for the award? I was probably nominated because I was the one most vocal about us not settling for being who we were! When I joined the business five years ago we were very successful; we’d been in the industry for nearly 50 years, we were a household name within the industry and we had no real need to change. But, I also joined the business at a time when we were just about to go through a management buyout, and we knew that there were significant trends changing in the industry, which meant that we needed to reinvent ourselves in some areas, and we needed to be more than we’d been before. I joined the business as a project manager and the way we delivered projects, the methodology that we used, I felt could be so much better. We could definitely increase our control over projects and ultimately the end result would be better for the customer. Through delivering a number of the company’s large scale projects during my time in that role I think we did that – we proved that this new way of working was effective. When I progressed into the management role we continued to expand this across every way of working. We had three major production offices and we were inconsistent in our ways of working – everybody was great and we were doing great work, it was just inconsistent. My opinion was very much that if, as a client, I was to order a solution from Visavvi and I’m in London, I should be able to feel that same experience as I would do if it was installed in Manchester or in Germany. That’s what I wanted to work on. That most have been quite daunting to come in to the business at a young age and implement these ideas? It’s bold when I’m 23 at the time and the business has been around and been successful for many years. I had worked with people before who went in two completely different ways of trying to achieve things; those who talked a lot and actually did very little; and those who just said “right, my way of proving what’s right for the business is that I’m going to show you” – leading by example. I genuinely felt that that was the best way to go about it. So, I built a hybrid method of delivering projects which merged different ways of working and that I thought suited our business and our industry best. I put it to the directors and it was seen as very much a drastic shift. So I said “OK, I’m going to run my projects this way and at the end of every project we’ll do an analysis of how satisfied the customer is, how on budget we were, how on time we were, and how efficient we felt we were in our ways of working”. We did that every time. Fortunately for me, or it would have been very
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embarrassing, it worked, which was great. I continued to apply that same mentality to everything that we wanted to achieve. We’re a team of 250 plus, so to try to totally redirect a ship that’s carrying that many passengers is a huge challenge. We had to try to bring all of the right people on board into the team, with the right approaches and ensure everyone is passionate about we do, because it really is cool and we do some amazing things. I wanted people to remember that we were coming to work for something more than just a pay cheque, we really wanted to create something quite special and transform this company, and that meant changing a lot of opinions. Did you meet much resistance when you first started doing this? In some areas I did because I was only 23 years old and I was blindly committed to what I wanted to achieve for the business. The business didn’t even know they wanted to achieve it by this point, it was just me deciding that this is what I wanted for us because I thought that was right. You’re bound to meet resistance to change in any walk of life, in any role, in any business, in any industry, but you are going to get more resistance when you’re telling people twice your age, who’ve been doing it for years that we need to fundamentally change our way of working. The only way around that was to realise that actually, they’re not going to listen to me if I tell them, we had to work really hard to show why and get the guys who were resistant involved. Get them involved in the projects, get them involved in the conversations about why we wanted to completely rip up the way we’d built racks historically, and change that to incorporate a more serviceable and sustainable approach. We also needed to alter our buying methods to make sure that we were scalable. If we delivered a project in the UK then that same system had to be scalable for the customer into Europe, the US and Asia. We needed to completely change our way of thinking. Most people quickly got their heads around that and started to get involved in the conversations. One thing you can’t argue with is that over those many years we had a team with a phenomenal amount of experience that I needed to try to bring out of them to make sure that we were making the right decisions. Once they understood that this was very much a collaborative approach to solving a problem for the business and they felt they were part of that decision making process, that reluctance soon dropped.
‘It would destroy me to think I was coming to work every day to live in a world where we were never getting better’
INTERVIEW You’ve progressed quickly during your time in the AV industry. Why do you think that is? I don’t think there’s anything that I have physically done that’s meant that I’ve progressed into different roles. It would destroy me to think I was coming to work every day to live in a world where we were never getting better. I could not do that; I could not get out of bed and be passionate about what I do every day if we’re not constantly moving forward and constantly making things better. That’s all I ever wanted to do, and I think the business has put me in roles where they think I’m most effective to make that happen. What are you most proud of during your time at Visavvi? When I joined we were historically split into three offices in Manchester, York and Farnborough, and we were almost three separate businesses. I was given the responsibility to be regional technical manager in the North and my sole role was to bring two groups of people in two offices who’d never really met one another and who’d historically competed financially and target-wise, together to make one department. It didn’t happen overnight because you’ve got all the personal politics and everything else to get over. You’ve got four people doing the same job in two different buildings and in a completely different way, so you have to work really hard to get over the personal elements as much as anything else before you can make ways of working consistent and truly make us one department. I remember we used to have vans crossing one another on the motorway, one going in one direction and one going the other, which was ridiculous. Now I look and we’ve built a culture where everyone really wants to work hard. We’ve got a refusal to accept mediocrity and that is all I ever wanted – to create a team and a group of people who knew that actually we would not accept mediocrity in anything that we do to deliver a project. If you ask any of our engineers they’ll say that the most important thing for them is to stand back from a system when they’ve installed it and for the customer to go “Wow, that is amazing”. You can’t buy that! It’s the same with project managers, it’s the same with rack builders, and the designers, it’s that sense of achievement you just can’t buy, no matter how much money you pay, and that’s what we wanted to give to staff and to customers. When we talk about the recruitment problems we have in AV we tend to focus on the technical side of the roles but a lot of what you’re talking about looks at the people skills and the personal elements. Do you think we should perhaps change our focus as we look to attract new talent? When I started in this industry I was 16 and I didn’t know a single thing. I was just fortunate that I’ve learnt from having both really positive and negative experiences in roles and in business, in different countries and different cultures. I learnt my technical skills from working in teams of great technical people, I learnt my people skills from working in great technical teams and I learnt how not to manage people by working in really bad technical teams. I don’t think there’s a lack of technical skillsets, I think the difficulty is, the skillset has changed. I remember when we were
What do you think can be done to encourage more people to consider AV as a career? I think the difficulty is that probably 95% of people that I know in the AV industry didn’t set out to be in the AV industry, they fell into it in one way or another. When I think all the way back to when I entered the industry it was because I had an interest in audio and I wanted an outlet for that. I think the work that needs to be done is to broaden the education piece at secondary level, making people aware that there are alternative routes and having a support platform in place that allows us as an industry to handle them into the industry. We’ve tried, we’ve got three apprentices in the business now. One was working at an IT reseller sitting at a small desk answering calls by day and playing with amplifiers at the weekends. Today he’s building and testing our racks and programming systems, and he’s absolutely in his element. That’s the perfect example of somebody who’s studying something that they love, but he will openly tell you that he didn’t feel there was a clear outlet other than music production which wasn’t what he wanted. I think we’ve got a responsibility as an industry to grow on the back of what Middlesbrough College are doing and really try to make more channels available for students and the younger generation to come into businesses on the back of studies in IT or music production or whatever that may be. I think there’s a lot that could be done. We’ve had a lot of discussions over the last 12-18 months about how we’re going to start introducing ourselves at university job fairs, really to go out there and to put our hand up. It’s about educating that generation about actually what the industry is. The things that we’re developing internally now with the teams at Visavvi will totally transform the way that our clients’
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businesses work, the way they manage their facilities, the way they measure energy consumption. The amount of work and investment and effort we’ve put into our work in IT is phenomenal and I don’t think students at a job fair will have an understanding that that’s the sort of things that we’re working on. We’re solving real business critical issues through the use of AV, whereas they just sort of see it as projectors or speakers – it’s not true, it’s not real what I think that generation are being told the industry is today. And that’s why we struggle to make it appealing. What are your plans for the future? We’re working a lot at the minute on developing a hosted IT service management platform that will allow greater interaction and access for our customers globally. We’re so engrained with our customers now; we don’t want to rest, we don’t want to just say thank you very much for your purchase order, we want to be coming to you and saying “look, this is what we’re thinking of doing and this is how it can help you”. We’ve built this ITSM platform so that we can completely transform the client service experience; we want them to be able to walk in a room and with the click of a button be on a video service call with our engineers back in the UK or Germany or Holland, to be able to resolve any issues. We’re also putting a phenomenal amount of time into IoT because we want to really transform – it’s not about the screen and the videoconferencing codec or whether you’re using Zoom or Teams, it’s about solving business-critical issues through technology. We understand those problems that we and our clients share, we know that we can resolve these with our ITSM platform and our IoT facilities. It’s truly fantastic to be involved in that.
Listen up: the challenges of audio for outdoor events Noise regulations and increasingly elaborate staging have generated a fresh wave of challenges for audio crews working on outdoor events. But, as David Davies discovers, a great result can often be achieved by careful planning and the use of directive audio systems
FEATURE: LIVE OUTDOOR EVENTS
rofessional audio has been more prominent than usual in the mainstream media over the last few months, and not always for the most positive reasons. A spate of stories have highlighted sound issues – or, in some cases, ‘lack of sound’ issues – at major outdoor shows held as spring turned into summer. Specific examples included the first UK show by The Strokes for four years at the All Points East festival in London. It was widely reported that the crowd depleted as the set progressed due to insufficient sound levels. According to the BBC News website there were reports of audience members chanting “turn it up”, while one attendee memorably tweeted that “if you want to replicate the experience of going to @allpointseastuk put your laptop volume on 50% and stand two rooms away”. But perhaps the most high-profile recent instance surrounded the Spice Girls’ much-publicised comeback tour. Muffled vocals and partially audible between-song chatter were cited by those who took to social media to air their frustrations after the first show in Dublin – and there were similar remarks made after some subsequent shows. Although the precise cause of the difficulties in both of these cases remains a matter of debate, there are undoubtedly several key factors that can undermine the sound quality of large-scale outdoor shows. In this article we will examine some of these issues, as well as look at the ways in which the latest generation of directive audio systems and related software packages are helping to improve the quality of outdoor event sound.
period when people are often found to be staring obsessively into their devices, and have access to more home-based distractions than ever before, it’s understandable that a sizeable school of thought says that spectacular productions represent the best chance of separating gig-goers from their hardearned pay. And this applies as equally to pop performers as it does to rock-oriented acts, with Muse and Rammstein among those making headlines at the time of writing for their latest son et lumière extravaganzas. But aside from the challenges elaborate staging can create for loudspeaker placement, there are some who feel that an over-emphasis on the visual can lead to the audio budget suffering. As Bob McCarthy, director of system optimisation at Meyer Sound, remarks: “Spending 90% of the production budget on video is as likely to degrade sound quality as noise regulations.” Systems integrator and founder of RH Consulting, Roland Hemming, agrees that insufficient budget is a recurring contributor to poor-quality outdoor shows. “Engineers can find themselves pushed into a situation where they do not have all the equipment they need for a high-quality arena or stadium concert,” he says. “This tends to be driven by a desire to save money on the overall costs, but it means the production standards will suffer.” Noises Off The impact of overarching production design and budgets will inevitably vary from project to project,
The current Metallica tour in Europe is facing a new standard every show Picture: Jay Blakesberg
Bob McCarthy, Meyer Sound
Production Pitfalls Having written about professional audio for nearly two decades, I have lost track of the number of times an engineer or touring company has drawn attention to the money and attention lavished on video and lighting – to the detriment, it may be felt, of the audio. But in this current era of hugely elaborate arena and stadium productions, it appears that this argument may have acquired new weight. At the most basic level, the preponderance of elaborate stage features, including walkways and auxiliary stage areas, means that it may be impossible to position loudspeakers where they would be ideally located for the best results. As veteran sound engineer Robb Allan told BBC News recently, “even though we design speaker systems by computer, if we can’t put our speakers in the right place because of video screens, or because of walkways or the stage, it makes it harder”. The issue of staging is a complex one. During a
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FEATURE: LIVE OUTDOOR EVENTS
A d&b GSL system was chosen for Pacha-owned Destino on Ibiza Picture: Jonatan Ferrer Pacha
but there is a general consensus that the greatest challenge to outdoor audio quality comes in the form of noise regulations. For most outdoor events, the granting of licences by local authorities will include an agreement of noise levels and curfew times. The extent to which the local community welcomes regular, or even irregular, live events will inevitably have an impact on the application of these regulations. It also follows that in areas where the community is especially vocal or powerful – the environs of Hyde Park springs to mind – the staging of outdoor events is more likely to be contentious. Hemming believes that noise issues now constitute “an international problem”, caused at least in part
‘Spending 90% of the production budget on video is as likely to degrade sound quality as noise regulations’ Bob McCarthy, Meyer Sound 22
by the fact that “environmental noise restrictions are often handled by people who do not really understand sound. But there are other issues to bear in mind, such as the fact that there are always dynamic changes throughout an event – such as what’s happening on stage or the behaviour of the crowd – that can impact upon sound levels. Then, if a concert is being broadcast, decisions may need to be made about whether the live event itself or the broadcast is the priority. One will necessarily take precedence over the other in terms of the impact on people’s enjoyment.” Established in 1990, SFL is an audio visual production supplier operating both in the UK and internationally. According to head of audio Harvey Appleton, the noise regulation issue is “becoming more important for event organisers and promoters, and it’s something that we as a sound system supplier are having to address head-on and work with our clients to tackle. Noise regulations at outdoor events – and even events with temporary structures such as big tops and marquees – are subject to more and more noise ‘policing’ from councils. It becomes even more important for
FEATURE: LIVE OUTDOOR EVENTS organisers when noise regulations and measurements are part of their event licence, so having acousticians on hand with calibrated monitoring systems [with logging capabilities] is very helpful.” The day-to-day impact of noise regulations on outdoor venues is the subject of variation. Some outdoor stadiums may have annual licences that permit a certain number of events to take place and on certain specific terms, allowing them to plan well in advance. For one-off events like festivals that will inevitably prompt an abrupt spike in visitor levels to a certain area – and all the potential impact that may have on the community – individual licences will need to be granted, and depending on the politics of the local area these may be perceived as being to the conservative end of the spectrum. But there is another take on noise regulations, as outlined by McCarthy. “Noise level restrictions can cut both ways,” he says. On the one hand, “they can cause so much level reduction that it creates an unsatisfactory result for the concertgoers and the artist’s engineers. Conversely, a totally unregulated environment can result in terrible sound due to too much level being asked of the loudspeaker systems. [In these scenarios systems can] run into gross overload/compression, resulting in poor transmission quality that is potentially damaging to the listeners.” McCarthy isn’t alone in voicing sentiments to the effect of, as he puts it, “the blame game for bad sound [being] standard operating procedure any time that bad reviews come out. Blaming noise level regulations is very convenient, but may or may not be accurate in a particular case. [So, for instance] poor system design or a touring system’s lack of adaptability to an unusual venue shape can quickly lead to sound going to the wrong places.” Nonetheless, he does believe the situation is more problematic in some regions than others. “As it stands now the noise level standards throughout the UK and Europe are decidedly non-standard,” he asserts. “The current Metallica tour in Europe is facing a new standard every show. So far it has been able to maintain a high-quality experience within the limits, but the diversity of interpretation definitely leads to daily stress (as if we needed more of that!).” Whatever the ins and outs of individual cases, it’s evident that recent developments in directive audio systems – as well as the software calculation systems that tend to underpin them – are often helping rental companies to achieve good results even in the more challenging of circumstances. As Appleton remarks: “While noise emission is becoming more of a problem, at the same time technology is getting better and giving us new tools to help tackle the problem.”
A design for live Once sound suppliers have become fully acquainted with the regulations and expectations affecting a specific event, the onus invariably shifts to system design. Thanks to recent advances in prediction software, it is now – in theory at least – easier than ever to develop a loudspeaker design that delivers audio to where it needs to be, and therefore minimises off-site noise pollution. Appleton remarks: “We do a lot of work before the event in terms of system design. We can now accurately predict not only sound dispersion in a venue, but also far-field transmission from the site as noise pollution using tools such as d&b’s NoizCalc, which uses sound propagation calculations according to international standards (ISO 9613-2 and Nord2000). We can even model what transmission would be like under various weather scenarios such as wind speed, direction and temperature.” Maintaining an extensive inventory of loudspeaker systems is obviously one method of responding appropriately to any given project. To this end SFL often specifies L-Acoustics or d&b audiotechnik systems for outdoor events, “as we find their tonality, control, rigging and infrastructure work well for us”. A recent investment in d&b’s SL-Series KSL PA system [see box, page 26] has been particularly notable, confirms Appleton. “The groundbreaking element of the product is broadband directivity, down to 30Hz,” he explains.
Sound increasingly has to adapt to ever more elaborate stage productions Picture: Ralph Larmann
FEATURE: LIVE OUTDOOR EVENTS “This massively helps us to position the PA in a way that all the rejection at the rear-side is towards any problem sites / where most complaints may arise from, yet the audience in front still enjoys the full-range system. We’ve deployed it on several outdoor and indoor events where noise has been an issue, and there have been lots of compliments about how the system has improved historical noise issues.” Meticulous sound design and successful co-operation between the different departments working on outdoor shows can make a crucial difference, indicates McCarthy. “Spending the money for a sufficient number of properly placed delay towers can help to create satisfactory levels inside the listening area while keeping the leakage into the neighbourhood under control. But these steps cost money, require planning to co-ordinate with other departments, and take time and skill to implement.” The technology is undoubtedly there for those with the time and resources to spare, though. In particular, says McCarthy, “there have been great advancements in the control of low and mid frequencies with modern directional array techniques. This increased control, as well as advancements in signal processing and analysis, have opened up possibilities for advanced system designs that would have been impossible or impractical before – for example, system designs with higher quantities of delay towers, cardioid delayed subwoofer arrays and even some attempts at active noise cancellation on the perimeter of festivals.” Audience Expectations As well as practical and technological factors, there is also a commercial context to be borne in mind. Ticket prices for arena and stadium shows have risen significantly in recent years – not exactly helped by the seemingly intractable influence of secondary ticketing operations and automated scalper bots. Add in the fact that “generations of concertgoers are now acclimated to hearing their favourite bands on loudspeakers located a few millimetres away from their eardrums”, and it’s no surprise that, as McCarthy remarks, “audience expectations are higher than ever”. Despite multiple predictions a few years ago that the long-term growth of the live music market was not sustainable, and that a notable slowdown would inevitably occur, 2019 looks like being another landmark year for the live industry. But as Brexitrelated uncertainty continues, and average weekly real-term earnings continue to fall in multiple
European countries, concertgoers are bound to think more carefully about which events they truly consider essential – and which can be consigned to the ‘second division’. In this regard, sound quality – along with general comfort factors and access to basic facilities – is likely to be a crucial determining factor. Another cluster of negative headlines would do no one any favours, so it’s surely in the interests of everyone concerned that all stakeholders work together effectively to deliver events that are as pleasing to the ear as they are to the eye.
‘Environmental noise restrictions are often handled by people who do not really understand sound’ Roland Hemming, RH Consulting
ENHANCING DIRECTIVITY CONTROL The desire to help sound suppliers deliver audio where it is required – and only where it is required – has informed a huge amount of R&D in recent years. d&b audiotechnik has been one such vendor in this respect with such developments as NoizCalc software, which makes it possible to achieve complex summation of sound waves using phase information to enable the correct calculation of modern sound reinforcement systems, including line arrays and subwoofer arrays, at any distance. One of the latest d&b loudspeaker series, the SL-Series, delivers extended LF response, advanced rigging options and – crucially – full-range broadband directivity. This directivity control can help to minimise off-site noise pollution and is shown to full effect when modelled in NoizCalc. “With broadband directivity control it is possible to reduce noise behind a stage,” says Daniel Belcher from d&b audiotechnik’s R&D department. “Due to this feature the SL-Series provides a greater difference between on- and off-site levels, depending on stage orientation, so that shows can be done with more typical and audible levels – even at problematic sites.” When any d&b system is deployed in tandem with NoizCalc, engineers and event managers can undertake noise emission modelling to achieve system configurations for outdoor events of any size or scale. Belcher observes: “We’ve had great feedback and have supported events where the audio performance was improved, while shows in some urban areas that were previously judged to be too noisy have been made possible again.” Noise management will continue to underpin d&b R&D as the demand for outdoor events remains buoyant. “More and more festivals are taking place each year, and more and more of them are held in cities as it’s easier to move people in and out transport-wise. As a result the appetite for highly directive audio solutions is destined to carry on increasing,” says Belcher.
Picture: Holly Clark Photography
How to deliver the ultimate live event When it comes to putting on a live event, there are a number of elements to consider in order to achieve a memorable, well organised and fitting showcase. Here technical solution specialists White Light share their top tips on achieving this
ith audiences expecting ever more impressive and engaging experiences, it can be a challenge to create events that offer something new while delivering on quality. Following these guidelines should set you on the right course: Fully Utilise your Environment Your chosen venue will no doubt yield countless opportunities to enhance your events, making use of the architecture, exhibits and surrounding environment to introduce styling and production elements. Carefully designed lighting â€“ be it
uplighting, automated effects, full colour or pattern washes â€“ will serve to complement the interior of any venue, bringing a new life to event spaces and creating engaging moods and atmosphere. Within museums and galleries, lighting will also highlight the iconic collections displayed and reinforce the very special experience of being a guest in these venues outside of general public hours. Other inherent features of the architecture, from the building faĂ§ade to interior windows, beams, walls and recesses, provide canvases onto which you can project creative video content. This creates opportunities for enhanced branding or enables you
TOP TIPS to bring a venue to life in a more immersive way and tell a story. We have utilised projection mapping in many venues, including the Tower of London, Guildhall, National Gallery and Banqueting House, and this has been extremely effective for both small and large-scale events. Blank-canvas spaces also offer largely unrestricted scope to introduce creative production through numerous AV techniques. Build up to a Wow Moment For a heightened experience and to maximise opportunities for guests to make social media noise about your company, the production can slowly build as the event progresses, towards a pivotal moment. Subtle lighting and choice of colours can intensify gradually, especially during the day-tonight transition. Projected content, from simple pattern effects to captured scenes or talking heads, can be used as an ambient or captive audience feature as required. This proved extremely effective at the UNICEF 2018 Halloween Ball, where the core objective was to elevate the importance of the charity’s work to the 300 guests in attendance. After dinner, projection mapping was used to play a campaign video on every internal window of the venue. A powerful full blackout moment signifying a loss of power and then slow building audio and video content brought the room back to life with a heart rate monitor. This had a huge impact and served to reinforce the key message. Immersive Content To make your event truly immersive, the lighting, audio and video production should be executed in a synchronised story or journey. With all of these elements working effectively together, you will achieve maximum impact on the guests’ experience. A themed street-party we delivered at Banqueting House depicted six decades in one night (see image). For this, soundscapes combined with lighting and video footage relevant to each era, set the scene for a different live performance each hour to welcome the new decade changeover. Importance of Pre-production and / or Technical Rehearsal Live events are very much like a show comprising numerous different scenes, carefully choreographed together. As many venues are only able to accommodate limited set-up times, a preproduction build and / or full technical rehearsal
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can be crucial to achieving flawless delivery on the day or night. By engaging key members of the production team and troubleshooting any pre-build issues, or inviting your stakeholders to a full rehearsal, you remove potential challenges arising at a late stage. At White Light HQ, we have built Studio 15 – a dedicated technical rehearsal facility. This offers clients a real-time show sign-off solution and added peace of mind for the live event. Sustainable Set For event planners, creating sustainable events is a high priority, which means eliminating the need for single-use pieces of stage set and printed artwork. Digital content, including logos, itineraries, menus, directional signage and table plans can be far more cost and environmentally effective than building a physical set. Communicating with your guests in this way makes more impact and helps tick those allimportant green credentials through minimised waste. It also maximises the brand and story opportunities by being able to change the images during the course of your event. www.whitelight.ltd.uk
BASIC VIDEO CONTENT CONSIDERATIONS Many events, especially conferences and meetings, call for a level of video production that is more straightforward. However, it is crucial that the following considerations are made in advance to ensure seamless execution on the day. • Have a technical running order, showing the names of your different guest speakers, which presentation(s) they will be using and any additional information to assist the delivery team. • Make sure you are aware of the format the presentations are in (i.e. PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, sli.do). • If a presentation contains video links, ensure that these have been embedded and that the audio is working. Wherever possible, always bring external copies of the videos, especially if you have a switcher on the job. • If your event does include multiple speaker presentations, a switcher not only provides peace of mind by facilitating hot backup, but also allows you to have a holding slide when switching between user laptops as well as cue videos ahead of time on a dedicated player. • Consider the size of the venue, location and size of the screen surfaces and explore a range of technologies. Projection has been the traditional presentation method, but evolving LED screen technologies now offer new potential.
FEATURE: AV MOUNTS
More than hanging in there With millions of square feet of video wall being installed annually, and a worldwide screens market estimated to be worth in excess of $100 billion, Ian McMurray finds that it’s easy to overlook what makes it all possible Mounts have a crucial role to play in ensuring the perfect alignment of screens Picture: Chief
VIXA, the international trade association representing the audiovisual industry, has long been clear that its members are in the business of creating exceptional experiences that deliver outcomes for their customers – and their customers’ customers. Those outcomes are often spectacular; sound like you’ve never heard before; ways of working that, only a few years ago, were unthinkable; and stunning, compelling images – on displays, on screens, on video walls. Spare a thought, then, for the part of the industry whose contribution to these spectacles is almost entirely unseen and unacknowledged – yet without which few, if any, of these experiences would be possible. We’re talking about those who design, manufacture and install the mounting hardware on
which almost everything – literally – depends. “No matter the technology, the biggest pain point is about how to create amazing experiences with content,” believes Kathryn Gaskell, director of product management at Chief. “We want to support that by allowing customers to apply displays in a variety of applications and locations – so being creative with customers on where they might attach a display is the fun part of our business.” Challenges Not everything about being a mount manufacturer is fun, however. There are, inevitably, challenges too. “One of our biggest challenges is low-priced competition and educating people on the differences between commercial and consumer-grade products,”
FEATURE: AV MOUNTS explains Keith Dutch, managing director, EMEA of Peerless-AV. “There are cases where purchasing decisions are based on price only, which is frustrating for us as we know the pitfalls of such choices. There have been examples recently where mounts have failed or fallen off the wall, damaging expensive screens and causing concern for public safety.” Unsurprisingly, given their safety implications, there are standards with which mount manufacturers must comply. “As a global brand operating in all markets around the world, products must be designed and tested to various standards and safety regulations, such as TUV, UL, ADA to name just a few,” notes Mark Walker, director of operations (UK) for B-Tech AV Mounts. “These can vary from country to country and from one industry to another, so it’s important to have rigorous testing procedures in place and good knowledge of local markets to make sure products meet all standards worldwide.” For Stuart Lockhart, director at Vision Audio Visual, one challenge is to educate customers about how the mounts market is changing. “There are many who still prefer big black chunky mounts which holds us back somewhat, as that look is typical of first generation AV equipment,” he says, “whereas the consumer world is significantly further ahead in aesthetic design.”
It’s not just about weight when it comes to interactive displays. “Interactive displays need to be accessible to all – so height adjustable solutions are important,” believes Gaskell. “Larger video walls are exciting to install,” she goes on, “but we need to take the wall out of the equation for our customers. Walls are never perfect, so making sure the mount is easy to align and save time on installation is important to our customers.” Innovation Whittle too has seen the rise to prominence of video walls. “There has been a lot of innovation in the displays sector in recent years and that has driven
Even a simple conference room install, such as this one using Loxit mounts, requires careful consideration
FLEXIBILITY IS THE KEY At Agua Caliente, a luxury casino, resort and spa in California, a 112sqm curved LED wall has been installed in its new sports bar to stream larger-than-life sports games and horse racing to viewers. With its many curves, strange angles and shapes, this was a challenging installation. The mounting solutions specified for the project were, according to Peerless-AV, flexible with X, Y, and Z axis adjustment, providing a relatively straightforward install for integrator Advanced LED Displays.
Visual appeal Many in the industry note that modern screens are far lighter per diagonal inch than were their predecessors – and that can enable greater attention to the visual appeal of a mount. “Compared to five years ago, screens are much lighter, so mounts don’t need to support as much weight,” confirms Bill Ennis, general manager at OmniMount. “As an example: five or six years ago, a 65in screen may have needed a mount capable of supporting 120 pounds. Today, you could put that same size screen on a mount that supports 80 pounds.” That said, John Whittle, director at Loxit, points out that larger screens and touchscreens are significantly heavier than standard displays. “Our mounts accommodate screens up to 98in and up to 170kg,” he says. “The advent of heavy touchscreens and large-format displays with the accompanying additional weight has created a niche product range of wall-to-floor mounts. These hybrid mounts transfer the weight of the screen to the floor rather than the wall. The wall brackets incorporate multiple fixing points and can span a wide area if required to prevent point loading of the wall, ensuring a safe installation.”
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FEATURE: AV MOUNTS
Pioneer provided specialist mounts for Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, where displays are installed back to back to ensure perfect viewing angles for footfall in both directions
development in the mounts sector too,” he points out. “Over recent years, video walls have really taken off in a wide variety of spaces and in increasingly elaborate configurations. As people expect large-scale, high-resolution displays that make the maximum impact, bezel-less panels with tight joint spaces are very popular.” A recurring theme among mount manufacturers, however, is the challenges created not only by the proliferation of screens, but also the increasingly creative ways in which they’re being deployed – meaning that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is becoming less sustainable. “Technology rarely stands still for very long, and our product portfolio covers solutions that simply did not exist several years ago,” explains Walker. “Ultra-stretch displays, curved solutions and, of course, LED have all made a large impact on the market and we, as mount manufacturers, need to address those requirements. The need for traditional 2x2 or 3x3 configurations is very much still there, but we are seeing displays mounted in more and more creative ways, and our product portfolio reflects that.” “Our customers are being more inventive in their project designs,” notes Whittle, “meaning we engage in more and more custom designed solutions on a project basis.”
“Users obviously want a safe and reliable mount, but they’re also looking for flexibility,” believes Ennis. “Screens are being mounted anywhere and everywhere, and this challenges manufacturers to come up with products to meet a variety of needs. It’s easy to hang a screen on a flat wall – but to mount it in a corner or from a ceiling can require special products.” David Jopling, managing director of Unicol, says: “There are probably more requests for a custom mounting solution than ever before, and the challenge for us remains the same,” he says, “which is to deliver both standard products alongside high-end custom-made items within short lead times.” Diversity “In the past five years, we’ve seen far greater diversity in the range of mounts available as the AV market grows,” says Mark Childerhouse, who is sales director at Pioneer Group. “Mount manufacturers are working a lot more closely with integrators than ever before, creating a huge range of creative bespoke solutions. For example, we worked on a project at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, for which displays are mounted back to back with a specialist mount, ensuring perfect viewing angles for footfall in both directions.” The mounts industry is almost certainly a more complex one than many realise – and it has certainly changed over the years. As such, what was once true
FEATURE: AV MOUNTS
Bill Ennis, OmniMount (top) and Kathryn Gaskell, Chief
may no longer be true. So what advice would manufacturers give to a prospective buyer today? “Always check that the structure you are mounting to can take five times the combined weight of the display and mount,” declares Jopling, “or, in the UK, ensure the mount and installer adhere to BS8590, which covers the safe installation of AV equipment.” “When purchasing a mount for LCD or LED video walls,” says Dutch, “the advice we would offer varies depending on the use case and understanding the final application. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the environment and the desired viewing locations, and making sure the ceiling or wall structure is strong enough to support the intended load. We would recommend confirming the compatibility of the mount with the display, as well as the many intricacies that buyers should pay attention to such as adjustability to support a wide range of flat panel brands and models. We also recommend the use of mounts that have been tested and qualified to UL safety standards. It is also crucial to consider the overall installation in terms of where power and cables are coming from.” “For direct view LED screens,” he adds, “the mount needs to be seamless and offer adjustment on the X, Y, and Z axis to overcome wall imperfections, align pixels and smooth any installation irregularities.” Not all equal “Our customers mostly request ease of handling and speed of assembly as key elements to specifying mounts,” says Vision Audio Visual’s Lockhart. “Mounts that need specialist freight or two people to lift are far more expensive for integrators to deploy which means we are looking for ways to make them more modular, lighter and more intuitive.” “Not all AV mounts are created equal, and I would advise thorough research, especially for large displays,” adds B-Tech’s Walker. “Pop-out mechanisms, for example, can vary enormously in lateral movement from manufacturer to manufacturer. A lot of lateral movement risks damage to an expensive screen. Ultimately, it comes down to precision mounting and a tidy, secure install.” And, last but not least. “Especially on complex installations,” says Childerhouse, “choose an experienced integrator who will work closely with the manufacturer – and you’ll get a superb result.” There are other considerations too. Growing numbers of customers are asking potential suppliers about their environmental policies. “Unicol has always taken sustainability seriously,”
notes Jopling, “and, because our raw manufacturing materials are steel and aluminium, and packaging is paper bags and boxes, we’re proud to say 98% of materials are recyclable.” Make or break The role and importance of a mount can, it seems, be too easily undervalued. Childerhouse points out that his company has worked extensively with LED and video walls over the last decade – and in these large-scale projects, mounts are crucial. “When dealing with modular installations,” he says, “the mount can make or break a project as it affects how visible the seams are across the display for a uniform viewing experience.” There is, then, plenty of experience, expertise and advice out there for prospective buyers to leverage – and the market has never been more competitive. And yet… “To see and hear about installations where end users have bought consumer TVs mounted with cheap mounts and expect high performance and safety saddens the heart in such a professional industry,” sighs Unicol’s Jopling. Talking to the industry, it becomes clear that what can too easily be an afterthought – ‘Oh, I guess we’ll need some mounts’ – should, in fact, be an integral part of the project planning and specification process. Just as there are innumerable types of screen and places to deploy them, so the mounting requirement will vary. Safety and security – at least among reputable manufacturers – is a given: in mounts, as in most things in life, you get what you pay for. The devil is often in the detail – in areas like ease of installation, ease of access, servicing and so on – making it imperative to undertake an in-depth analysis of the options available. It’s also apparent that many manufacturers offer custom designs for specific applications, and often on relatively short lead times – so the apparent unavailability of an appropriate mounting solution may not be a barrier. Chief’s Gaskell has the final word. “It’s the nature of our job to be hidden behind a display, above a projector, or in the wall,” she smiles. “Lots of cool innovations go into a mount that never get seen except by people like us who like to peek behind the display. It’s awesome to be a part of a great installation – even if it’s not noticed.” It’s the companies that develop the screens who attract all the attention and praise – and perhaps deservedly so. However, on the basis that those companies’ efforts would otherwise come to nought, it’s the mount manufacturers who may just be the unsung heroes of the audiovisual industry.
How to choose the right mount for your needs Mounts form the backbone of many AV installations so choosing the right one is crucial. Here Peerless-AV share their advice on how to ensure you always make the best decision
mount can make or break the viewing experience. A successful LFD or video wall installation is safe, easy to view and appealing to the eye â€“ and to meet those requirements, it is vital to select the right mount. To properly support and protect the display while maximising the overall investment, consider the following mount buying tips: Plan Ahead Choosing the correct flat panel mounting solution is key to a successful installation. Universal mounts are ideal because they are adjustable to support a wide range of flat panel brands and models. It is crucial to use the correct fasteners for the specific wall/ceiling
structure (eg, wood studs, breezeblock, plasterboard, concrete and metal studs). Be sure to have all the hardware required for your specific application before you begin the installation. Use Only Qualified Mounts Be sure you are using mounts that have been tested and qualified. Select mounts that are tested to UL safety standards to ensure that the mount can handle the weight and stresses placed on its hardware and fasteners. Mounts that are VESA compliant conform with all the mechanical requirements of flat panels, further ensuring reliability. ISO 9001 certified facilities produce mounts with the highest level of quality assurance.
TOP TIPS Consider the Overall Installation Where are the power and AV cables coming from and how will they be addressed? Know in advance what make and model of display you will be installing so you can locate the power and signal connections in the wall or ceiling accordingly. And how will you handle cable management? Some mount manufacturers offer integrated cable management systems to hide wires and cables, which keeps the installation looking clean and neat. Understand the Final Application You should have a thorough understanding of the room environment and all the desired viewing locations to select a mount with the right features, such as tilting, pivoting or articulating. You also must have the end user’s approval on your selection, which is especially important when the mount is highly visible, such as in a digital signage installation. Spend time educating your customers about their options at the outset of the project so they thoroughly understand why a specific display and mount were selected. Time is Money A well-designed mount should be as user-friendly and as intuitive to install as possible. Custom wall plate spacers provide perfect spacing for dedicated display models, eliminating the need to calculate and measure the position of each mount in a video wall array.
Adjustability Having the ability to make micro-adjustments once a display is installed is a vital consideration in selecting any video wall mounting solution to ensure that the display can be quickly and perfectly aligned to its surroundings, or to the screens alongside it – even in situations where a wall surface might not be flat or level. Viewing Position When considering VC and interactive presentation solutions for corporate applications, hospitality events and education settings, it is important to consider how they will be mounted, operated and manoeuvred. Specifically designed trolleys are available to support large-format screens and interactive displays that provide a stable foundation when displays are in use, achieve ideal viewing positions, match the décor of any professional setting and can be easily transported from room to room. Orientation For applications that allow more creativity in screen placement, consider rotational wall mounts that allow rotation of a display from landscape to portrait orientation, eliminating the hassle of having to remove the screen from the mount.
Going Large or Super-slim Increasing demand for the biggest or slimmest LED and LCD display models means more consideration is required for the choice of mounting solution to be able to safely support the weight capacity of a big heavy screen or to complement the sleek design of a thin display with a slim to wall profile. Mounts for large displays up to 98in that are tested to four times the product’s weight capacity will ensure safe, reliable usage in the real world.
Serviceability An additional challenge with such large screens is the inconvenience and manpower required for servicing and the risk of damage when removing and replacing the display from the wall. Choosing a mount with quick-release functionality overcomes this issue, as a single installer can articulate the screen away from the wall by gently pressing on the front of the display. The carriage extension force can be adjusted to compensate for the weight of the display and enables quick and simple access to the rear of the screen without needing to unmount from the wall.
Mobility Video wall trolleys are an increasingly popular multipurpose solution for delivering an impactful message across a range of settings, thereby effectively enhancing the ROI of this investment. Able to be used as a static video wall display, the versatility of this solution is that it can also be deployed as a backdrop for events, to deliver a message at a trade show or for large-scale presentations. UL safety tested trolleys also give peace of mind with regards to handling and structural reliability during use, transportation and storage.
Versatility Managing large-scale AV installations can be a time-consuming business and no two projects are alike. Ordering different mounts for every project can be confusing, leading to possible mistakes. Twin pole mounting solutions offer an intuitive, step-by-step method of selecting the required component parts making it easier to create bespoke modular arrangements, from a single ceiling mounted display to an unlimited floor-toceiling video wall array. www.peerless-av.com
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OUT OF THIS WORLD More than 100 years on from its original publication, technology has taken War of the Worlds into a whole new realm. Jo Ruddock finds out what to expect from this latest outing
ollowing the incredible success of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds, which first began touring in 2006, an immersive version of the show has landed, promising to offer an even more engaging experience for participants. The challenge, however, was how to develop something new from a story that has been transformed into a radio drama, a TV series, a film and even a game as well as a stage show. The aim, therefore, was to come up with something new that would truly engage participants, taking them back to the late 19th century as aliens invade Earth. Carl Guyenette, creative director of the show, explains: “We locked ourselves into a room and listened to the album and worked out how best to translate each song in to an exciting tech and theatre experience. It’s important to innovate and try new things in every area so people wouldn’t know what to expect and to keep the element of surprise.” The experience itself takes place in a 22,000sqft warehouse divided into 10 experience rooms, each of which employs different forms of multi-sensory technology to heighten the experience. Participants are taken to classic locations from the War of the Worlds, including Horsell Common, George’s House and Victorian London, where they are met with live
actors who interact with audience members and guide them on their journey. Alongside this, AR, VR, volumetric holograms and an array of state-of-the-art technology takes audience members from being passive viewers of the action to active participants. This combination also means that each show will be unique as the actors are guided by the audience and their reactions. Guyenette adds: “The album artwork is what lives within people’s visual memories of the music so we used it as a storyboard and an art pallet. The album itself has been a horror and scared people with different revolutionary synth sounds in the ’70s so we’ve kept with that tradition and made the show an exciting fright-fest. “We use ambisonics experimentally for immersive 3D audio and haptics throughout so the audience can really feel the sound and the iconic music.” One of the most impressive elements of the show is a 20sqft room fitted with 52 high-speed motioncapture cameras. Participants don VR headsets and the social VR platform allows them to see other audience members, represented as characters from the 19th century. This was a particular highlight for Guyenette: “The most impressive element [of the tech setup] is the free-roam motion capture environment we have for 12 people to walk around in virtual reality socially. “I’ve also had great fun playing with the programming of the motion simulators we have, as they are connected to a procedural sea simulation creating a genuinely realistic feel of being on a boat in VR.” In this scene, the audience is seated in a wooden boat that moves and pivots based on the movement of a water simulation. Much of the work was carried out internally by Guyenette and his creative team, however they also worked with Immersive for the holograms and domes, and Projection Artworks for the bar projections; VR, AR, full domes, motion simulators, depth sensors, volumetric capture, photogrammetry, haptics, projection mapping and ambisonics to name a few. Guyenette concludes: “We’re living in the experience economy and people are always going to want something that’s new. Going to this event is similar to going to the cinema in the late 1800s, it was a true spectacle of engineering, which is what we’ve aimed for.”
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A VR first To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the Louvre is preparing a seminal retrospective of his artistic career, opening to the public in October. As part of this landmark exhibition, it will present the museumâ€™s first virtual reality experience. Jo Ruddock finds out more
ften described as the best-known and most visited artwork in the world, the Mona Lisa has been housed in the Louvre, Paris since 1797. With this year marking the 500th anniversary of artist Leonardo da Vinci’s death, the museum wanted to come up with a new way for art lovers to experience this timeless masterpiece, and HTC Vive was invited to share some ideas. A spokesperson for HTC Vive explains: “We asked the curators of the exhibition to imagine being freed from the limitations of physical reality to create their dream experience for visitors. The idea to showcase the Mona Lisa painting began organically through our discussions with the curatorial team in October last year as they were preparing for this landmark show and from that everything started coming together.”
One Step Beyond The result of these discussions is a new VR experience, Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass, which will provide an opportunity for visitors to interact with the painting in virtual space. Viewers will have the rare chance to be immersed into the iconic painting, stepping behind the glass to access the intriguing portrait up close in an entirely new, transformative way. With Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass, state-of-theart 3D modelling tools and engines enable visitors to discover details hidden to the naked eye in one of the most popular works of art using HTC Vive hardware. Incorporating new scientific research, which has revealed the techniques the artist used to create the masterpiece as well as further information on the identity of the sitter, participants will be presented with an intimate look at a painting which has been the subject of fascination and intrigue for generations. “Expectations are very high for this first VR experience at the Louvre and we want to ensure both art connoisseurs and the general public will enjoy this unique face-to-face experience with the Mona Lisa. The amount of research that our team did on the painting was phenomenal and the stories around the world’s most famous painting are countless so creating an experience of a few minutes was a complex challenge.” Produced in close collaboration with the Louvre’s own curatorial team for this unprecedented retrospective of the artist, this creative virtual reality experience will allow audiences around the world to gain new insight into the Mona Lisa. The VR experience will also be available as a home version on HTC’s digital subscription service, VIVEPORT, alongside other online VR platforms, allowing
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‘There is a huge opportunity for wider audiences to be exposed to VR experiences and truly incredible VR content through working with some of the most important museums in the world’
audiences around the world to access Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass. The home version will be launched simultaneously and will be available with extended content, which makes it accessible to wider audiences globally. The experience is also designed to reflect Leonardo da Vinci’s own revolutionary practice as a true Renaissance polymath, working in science, engineering, architecture and art. Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass will pay tribute to an artist who constantly embraced innovation throughout the course of his wide-ranging influential career and will celebrate da Vinci’s enduring legacy as one of the greatest painters in history. Dominique de Font-Réaulx, director of the interpretation and cultural programming department at the Louvre, said: “The public will be able to discover an immersive experience with an extraordinary masterpiece. This collaboration will allow visitors to meet and learn more about the Mona Lisa herself, beyond the myths and legends that have surrounded her for over 500 years.” “VR has this incredible capacity of making people experience things you simply can’t do in real life, and it is crucial for us to make people feel connected to the experience on an emotional level. Bringing to life the vision of the exhibition team using VR is a wonderful creative opportunity, as it presents a new medium for curators to tell stories,” adds HTC Vive. “It has proven to be incredibly popular in entertainment venues and cultural institutions. Through collaborations such as these, we can provide amazing, unique experiences in premium VR with HTC Vive. There is a huge opportunity for wider audiences to be exposed to VR experiences and truly incredible VR content through working with some of the most important museums in the world.”
THE TECH GUIDE
A selection of some of the latest AV products and solutions now available to the market
Visix Satellite Modular Laser System
Digital Projection Product type: Remote light source projector Target market: Visitor attractions, simulators, corporate and more What does it do? Satellite MLS offers a small number of simple building blocks that will allow users to address a wide range of applications, from single projector installs to complex, multi-channel domes, caves and simulators. What’s new? The keystone of this new system is the separation of the light source, with its associated power and thermal management, to a remote location, which enables a small, compact projection ‘Head’ that only contains the minimal optical and video processing. The projector ‘Head’ is compact, quiet, light-weight and consumes very little power. This offers benefits at every stage of a system design, including serviceability and lifespan. By separating the projection Head from the light source and linking the two by fibre-optic cables up to 100m long, it creates more options, particularly where space and access are restricted.
Product type: Voice activated wayfinding Target market: Education, healthcare, retail, leisure facilities What does it do? Visix is using a voice-user interface (VUI) to improve the user experience by offering multi-modal interactions with screens showing any type of content. User-led interactions can eliminate steps in the search for information, making the process more convenient and efficient. A VUI uses speech recognition to understand spoken commands and questions, and visibly return maps and directories upon request; it can also be combined with traditional touchscreen wayfinding options. What’s new? The new offering gives users a handsfree way to interact with screens, potentially leading to more interest and engagement. Perfect for? VUI can help meet ADA/DDA guidelines by providing interaction options for the visually impaired, and addresses the transmission of germs, which resonates with healthcare clients Available: Now More info at: www.visix.com
Perfect for? Areas where space and access are tight Available: TBC More info at: www.digitalprojection.com
Lotus 0.83mm display Product type: LED display Target market: Design centres, lobbies, home theatres, visualisation applications, control rooms, corporate Point Source Audio
GO-8 Series Product type: Moldable microphone Target market: Professional theatre What does it do? This new series of microphones features the GO-8WD-SK, a moldable microphone that shapes into a variety of mic styles, allowing the sound team to create a custom actor microphone style as they need it. Designed specifically for professional theatre, the moldable GO-8WD-SK starts out flat but can be shaped by an A2 or mic expert into a collar mic, halo mic, or a headset mic for the left or right side. In addition, each GO-8 microphone is quality controlled to a tolerance of only ±2dB – exceeding the industry standard – and they’re IP57 waterproof rated. What’s new? The defining feature of the entire GO-8 Series of microphones, which also includes the single lavalier (GO-8WL-SK) and dual element lavalier (GO2-8WL-SK), is the company’s new patent-pending Lemo-style connector, said to withstand accelerated life testing to 12,000 bends. Point Source has achieved a proprietary design that strengthens the connector to stave off damage from the tugging and pulling that mics and connectors are subject to every time they’re used.
What does it do? As the highest resolution and brightest display from SiliconCore, the Lotus 0.83mm offers HDR performance with a visible 16-bit grayscale using SiliconCore’s Z.A.C.H. driver chip. What’s new: At 2000 nits, the Lotus 0.83mm display is said to surpass the market with the brightest and most efficient sub-1mm pitch LED display in the world, consuming up to 50% less power compared to similar displays of its kind. It features SiliconCore’s latest innovation, LISA – a proprietary encapsulation process that guards the high-density LEDs and ensures colour uniformity and a long lifetime. Its cool surface is dust- and water-resistant which makes it durable and suitable for touch and custom install applications, with a very close viewing distance. A 4K resolution display can now be achieved at 144in with a smooth, touchable surface. Perfect for? Spaces that require high-resolution, high brightness displays Available: Q3 2019 More info at: www.silicon-core.com
Perfect for? Demanding theatre environments Available: Now More info at: www.point-sourceaudio.com
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AC-44 Product type: USB conferencing microphone Target market: Telemedicine, OEM and specialty pro-AV applications Contacta
IL-EL42 PB / PF Product type: Door entry hearing loops Target market: Help and information points, self-service kiosks, ticket machines and emergency refuge points What does it do? The IL-EL42 PB and PF offer clarity of sound for wearers of hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. The units come in a surface-mounted or flush option and accept input signals from a wide range of sound sources, including line out signals, low voltage loudspeaker outputs, VOIP (voice over internet protocol), intercoms and PA systems. What’s new? With an all-new design and powerful antenna, the IL-EL42 PB and PF offer stronger coverage and a sleeker appearance than their predecessor. The units have been fitted with a built-in driver in the cabinet, hosted in a newly designed weather-resistant plastic casing with flexible installation directions. Both units are currently being tested to comply with the IP55 standard.
What does it do? The AC-44 uses MXL’s signature three-capsule boundary design to create a small microphone with a wide pickup arc. For telemedicine, the AC-44 attaches easily to medical carts, allowing patients to communicate clearly with doctors. As voice-activated commands become more prevalent in electronics, the AC-44 provides a solution for capturing clear speech in a confined space. It is powered by USB-C connection, making it compatible with any computer without having to download any drivers. What’s new? The AC-44 is designed with a rugged, all-metal frame and durable metal grill so it can withstand the rigours of daily use in busy industrial environments. It is available in three colours: white, black and cobalt blue, with the ability to offer custom colours and capsule configurations. Perfect for? Measuring 2.5 x 3in and 1in tall, the AC-44 is suitable for any limited space application. It can be affixed to medical carts for telemedicine, placed in robotics for receiving voice commands, used in huddle rooms for web conferencing and incorporated into OEM applications. Available: Now More info at: www.mxlmics.com
Perfect for? Locations that require clear communication at secure entrances for those with hearing loss Available: Now More info at: www.contacta.co.uk
VIQ SOLUTIONS CAPTUREPRO Duncan Conway, AV projects manager at buk Solutions, details why the company regularly specifies this digital AV recording software from VIQ Solutions
What environments do you typically install CapturePRO? Hearing rooms, interview rooms and courtrooms. In courtrooms, specifically, it’s a legal requirement to have secure, verbatim evidential recordings, which is why we have specified and installed it in over 600 UK courtrooms already.
Specific details can be redacted from recordings where needed, for legal or security reasons, but it is important to mention the original recording always remains intact, as is essential for legal material. There’s also a full audit trail, so you can see exactly who has done what to a recording.
Why do you specify this product over competitor offerings? We like the advanced features available via one platform. It’s modular, so you can add extra features when you need them, making it very adaptable. It uses an advanced, fully searchable database. You can search by time and date, but also by any of the metadata associated with the recording. This really sets it apart from what competitors can offer.
What elements of the feature set make your job easier? Backups and redundancy. At the client’s request we can configure the system to send recordings to mid-tier, cloud or central servers, so if one particular
What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? So many… automatic annotation is one. The software will annotate the recording to tell you exactly who was speaking. You can also add other types of notes to the recording, if someone has left the room, or if evidence is being shown, for example. Sometimes clients need a transcription quickly and the transcription workflow module (NetScribe) can speed up this process. An encrypted recording can be divided up and worked on by more than one person at a time and then pieced back together by the software once the transcription is complete. ‘Speech to text’ can be applied to a recording, giving a first-draft text file in a matter of seconds, allowing transcribers to quickly review and edit.
machine is stolen or destroyed the data and recordings are still available in other locations. If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? Further AI developments such as facial and voice recognition for identification, and the analysis of voice patterns, which could be used to detect lies in police interviews.
THE USER’S OPINION RACHEL BIDMEAD, operations manager of the International Arbitration Centre in central London, where buk Solutions has installed the technology, said: “The VIQ CapturePRO software has provided us with a unique offering for our clients. We’re one of the only centres globally to offer an audio or audio and visual of the proceedings each day and this has been very well received in the marketplace.”
BARCO CLICKSHARE Steve Gore-Browne, display and presentation manager at Visavvi, on why the company has come to rely on ClickShare for a variety of project installations
What environments do you typically install ClickShare? ClickShare is such a powerful, flexible and user-focused solution, it has become our go-to product for content sharing in almost every environment. The range is simple to understand yet has extensive capabilities to cope with the varied installation scenarios and use cases in which it can be deployed. The CS-100 solution is perfect for smaller huddle spaces where users can quickly present their content with the click of a button. The CSE200 range provides multiple users with the ability to show content, quickly select whose content is being displayed and multiple devices can be displayed concurrently. The CSE200+ is fast becoming a keen choice as 4K content is becoming more and more popular and, of course, it futureproofs the environment. The CSE-800 is perfect for larger enterprise meeting spaces or boardrooms, where multiple screens are installed, allowing the content of up to eight presenters to be displayed simultaneously across multiple screens. In addition to the USB buttons provided, the flexibility to use Android and IOS devices allows users to easily present content from their smartphones and tablets. As more and more users move towards agile working environments, the ability to use content from personal smart devices is an almost constant request from clients.
collaboration features which allow presenters to annotate on content via connected touchscreens. One of the questions we continually get asked about with content sharing systems is “how secure is it?” Configurable security and multiple network connectivity allow IT managers to really lock the system down to meet their security standards, while at the same time retaining the flexibility and ease of use for a wide range of presenters. For larger organisations, the ability to manage, configure and maintain a whole enterprise fleet of ClickShare devices via a single remote management portal is a massive benefit. If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? On the whole I think ClickShare is a comprehensively designed solution, however I would love to see the ability for the system to provide bridgingconnectivity to other USB devices. For
instance there is a large shift towards the use of laptops as the platform for software communication tools such as Skype for Business, Zoom, Convene etc. When used in meeting rooms, these devices typically connect to a combined USB camera/microphone solution, such as those from Poly, Huddly and Logitech to mention a few. This requires the presenter to connect a USB to their device in addition to the ClickShare button. A huge benefit here would be the ability to use the USB base station as a bridge and pass through to other connected USB devices. So by connecting one of these devices to the ClickShare base station, users could have the ability to gain access to them from their laptop via the ClickShare button. This would make the whole technical element so simple to use for anybody – one connection, one device, one click and you have access to a very powerful collaboration environment.
What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? If I had to choose from the range it would be the CSE200+ and CSE800 and their unique capability to provide true ‘inbox’
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: LINE ARRAYS
An array of talent Suitable for numerous venues from theatres and sports venues to concert halls and outdoor festivals, line arrays have become a widely recognised element of the pro-audio landscape
A common site at large tours and festivals for many years, line arrays are becoming more popular in smaller venues, especially with more compact units now available. A key advantage of line arrays is their even sound distribution throughout a venue or festival site, ensuring consistent sound levels for the entire audience. When it comes to choosing the most
suitable array for your needs, audio quality, power, efficiency, size and weight are key considerations alongside variables such as the size of the space, how even the coverage needs to be, the desired volume, budget and any specific challenges posed by the venue layout. Read on to discover more about some of the latest offerings in this area.
Company: Crest Audio Solution: Versarray Mk III Target market: Small to medium-sized venues Sell it to us: Versarray Mk III is a fully articulating line array system from Crest Audio that is designed to provide flexible, modular coverage of small to medium-sized venues in a robust, high performance, easy-to-rig package. The full system comprises the two-way Versarray 112 Mk III passive line array element with ribbon drivers and its companion subwoofer, the dual 18in Versarray 218 Mk III. In detail: The Versarray 112 Mk III is capable of over 500W of continuous power handling; the 12in Black Widow Neo Series woofer is a true powerhouse while Crest’s latestgeneration ribbon tweeters ensure crystalline high frequency reproduction. For low-end reinforcement, the Versarray 218 Mk III is a direct radiating, vented subwoofer loaded with a pair of Crest Audio’s Lo Max 18in woofers in a cabinet design that delivers superior power handling, impressive SPL output and extremely low distortion. Rigging is said to be quick, easy and safe thanks to Crest’s FlyQWICK fully articulated rigging system. An optional groundstack bracket enables up to three Versarray 112 Mk III elements to be mounted on top of the Versarray 218 Mk III subwoofer and angled upwards for use on stage in a stadium or raked seating environment.
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: LINE ARRAYS Company: Community Professional Solution: L Series LVH-900 Target market: Large venues and stadiums Sell it to us: The new L Series LVH-900 Beamforming Venue Horn, combined with Community’s proprietary room prediction software and Amplified Loudspeaker Controllers, is said to tailor the directivity of each loudspeaker, or array of loudspeakers, to meet the sound requirements in any application. In detail: Designed to perform in large venues, each LVH-900 consists of four 12in LF drivers, three Community M200 midrange compression drivers and four 1.5in HF compression drivers. Using patent-pending techniques, all drivers integrate into a single tri-axial waveguide that fills the entire 36 x 31in face of the enclosure, providing pattern control to below 200Hz. The LVH-906 and LVH-909 offer 60 or 90 degrees of fixed horizontal dispersion, respectively, with each allowing vertical dispersion beamforming ranging from 60 to 20 degrees, in symmetric or asymmetric configurations. Company: APG Solution: Uniline Compact Target market: Indoor and outdoor applications, including vocal PA, sports, corporate, theatre and live music events Sell it to us: The Uniline Compact range consists of three speakers: the line source UC206W (for Wide) and UC206N (for Narrow), and the UC115B bass speaker. It aims to offer unlimited possibilities of scalability to cover, with a single system, the whole field of applications of small and mid-size line array systems: from small to high power, and from short to long throw, indoors and outdoors, in fixed installation or rental applications. In detail: According to APG, the Uniline Compact is so versatile that it can replace two to three sizes of conventional line array. Its design boasts reduced dimensions and the speakers are colour customisable, offering discreet integration. The speakers’ low weight facilitates both handling in a staging environment and during installation, while the power-to-size ratio makes it flexible for tours requiring a small and limited quantity of speakers. Company: RCF Solution: HDL series Target market: Venues of all sizes Sell it to us: Central to the HDL series – which includes the HDL 26-A, HDL 28-A, HDL 30-A and the supercharged HDL 50-A ‘4K’ – is its flexibility. The series was designed to meet today’s requirements for reduced weight, speed of rigging/derigging and ease of transportation, as well as speed of optimisation thanks to the inherent management software. In detail: According to RCF, each component in the HDL range has been purpose-developed and integrated to deliver maximum performance and reliability. This is further boosted by the presence of the company’s proprietary RDNet Networked Control robust management system. This enables a range of options including Array and Zonal Grouping with multiple-type EQ, Bass Shaper and proprietary FiRPHASE EQ; Auto Scan and complete monitoring; Shape Designer Array Calculator with Subwoofer configuration helper; and Real-Time Monitoring.
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MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR:
Jo Ruddock catches up with proAV’s Amy Amesbury to talk global expansion and the growing demand for managed services
ith more than 40 years of experience in the industry, proAV has seen and done it all. Its extensive global reach draws on the skills of a network of strategically-located technical engineers, project managers and more than 2,500 qualified support personnel, enabling the integrator to complete work on six continents and in multiple verticals. What’s your geographic reach? Since 1998 we have been delivering services internationally for clients across all market sectors, both projects and support. In 2006 we created proAV Global Operations, which comprised dedicated teams of personnel managing global standards for a large portfolio of international clients, from corporate to retail, and leisure to residential. To date we have completed projects in 82 countries, across six continents and all our global installations can be supported 24 hours a day via our global VNOC.
You work across multiple verticals, can you highlight any areas that you’re particularly active in and any trends you’re seeing here? Our focus is on providing technically innovative systems for communication, display, entertainment and presentation. Our clients around the world include corporate, education, government, public sector, hotel & leisure, retail and residential. Specifically, in the workplace we are seeing the biggest change in meeting rooms with the growth of huddle rooms and more flexible workplaces where interactive tools and Windows Collaboration Displays are facilitating better interactivity. In addition, to complement the rise of remote employees, these spaces are being supplied with improved UC and AV technology solutions. You also have a specialist live events team – what technologies are particularly hot in this sector at the minute? Live streaming has really taken centre stage in our
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR event work over the last 18 months. The ability to live stream broadcast-quality event production, over client and public networks, has been a key offering. And what’s your favourite and why? While LED is a lot more prevalent than projection in our events, I personally love projection mapping. A skilled content creator and some high-powered projection can turn a building into a living, breathing work of art. What projects are you especially proud of? We have had a number of award-winning projects over the years including our work with UBS and Aviva. More recent projects that stand out include our work for Aviva at Hoxton Square, M&G Investments and Hyperion Insurance Group. What are the biggest challenges facing the AV integration industry? As an industry there are a few issues that are challenging integrators. Finding highly qualified technicians, programmers and project managers can be difficult at times and we need to be looking at how we can encourage a fresh pool of talent into the industry in order to maintain the momentum. As an integrator we pride ourselves on the Service department we have nurtured and developed over the last 20 years. Managed services are key to maintaining a steady growth and this will become more prevalent as the move from hardware to software increases. Has the role of an integrator changed in recent years? The expansion of networked AV technologies means that IT and AV are moving closer together and need to share a common infrastructure. This convergence has meant that both AV and IT professionals need to understand each other better, be aware of technological advances in each industry and work together to ensure efficient and productive IP-based AV networks. Working more closely with other departments in the client environment is an essential change in recent years which AV integrators need to adapt to. At proAV we have a team of AV/IT experts trained in networking to address this development and help to bridge the gap, ultimately for the benefit of our clients. Are you seeing more demand for maintenance and managed services? Even though AV systems are now predominantly networked based, with the remote support benefits that this brings, we are still seeing an increased
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demand for maintenance and managed services. AV systems are a key component of business communications and as such need to work consistently and reliably. The impact of a failed meeting or event is considerable and, with the emphasis now on remote working and with more staff collaborating over networked-based systems, meeting failures are not an option. The support structures therefore need to be in place to both constantly monitor and pre-test systems in order to react quickly if systems are down. Maintenance services now have an increased emphasis on not just hardware support but also software and firmware. This again becomes more proactive to ensure centralised networked solutions do not have a service impact on multiple sub systems if they fail. Undoubtedly there is an increased shift towards vendor consolidation and more emphasis on AV support sitting within the IT Service Management structure. Why should end users employ an integrator rather than attempt to go it alone? It is far better to bring in experts to make sure a job is done right. By engaging with an experienced integrator, you can be certain that each system and subsystem operates efficiently and provides the intended solution. Integrators can work with different manufacturers to find the best solution for a clients’ space and needs. Without the professional integrator involved there is a risk that both time and money is wasted. Complex installations can be frustrating and time-consuming if not put together by experienced professionals; understanding the AV setup and networking, the technology employed and how that technology works together, is key to a successful installation. An integrator should also provide you with the support you need if problems arise. What are some of the biggest mistakes made by end users when it comes to AV? It is always important to consider engaging with the IT services team early on in a project to ensure that network provisioning is accurate and extensive enough for the requirements of the job. Training is always key and ensuring your staff have enough time and opportunity to learn about the AV solutions installed is essential for employee engagement and user satisfaction. We also encourage procurement based on best value rather than lowest price. Finally, what are proAV’s plans for the future? To meet our global client needs, proAV will continue to expand operations with further office locations in Europe, Asia and the US.
PROAV Global reach: projects completed in 82 countries; offices in the UK, Germany and China Head office: Surrey, UK Target markets: Corporate, education, government, public sector, hotel & leisure, retail and residential www.proav.com
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Getting to Know: Graeme Harrison, vice president & general manager, Bluesound Professional
Tell me about your background in the industry. I originally trained as a research chemist and worked for Shell, BP and Sericol, but I was a musician (or more accurately, a drummer!) so I ended up getting sucked into the audio industry. After jobs at Hill Audio and Renkus Heinz, I joined Biamp in 1991 as a regional sales manager and stayed there for 27 years, becoming executive VP marketing. It was a lot of fun, but after Biamp’s purchase I wanted to move on and I got this really interesting offer to start a new company in a really exciting area of the industry with a great group of people. Bluesound has a strong heritage in the residential sector. What was behind the decision to move into the commercial space? Bluesound is one of three residential audio brands in the Lenbrook Group portfolio (the others being NAD and psb speakers) and Gord Simmonds, president and CEO, has long wanted to get into the commercial space. For my part, we looked at incorporating streaming into DSPs almost 15 years ago at Biamp, but the company that we were talking to, Slim Devices, was acquired by Logitech and those negotiations stopped. When I talked to Gord, I realised that no one had done streaming in the commercial space in the intervening 15 years and that this was a huge untapped opportunity. It is so much fun to be the first player in a space – something that I’ve not really done before. Bluesound Professional made its official debut at InfoComm. What products were introduced at the show and what do they offer to users? We showed a first release range of two streaming players, a streaming amplifier, a multi-channel amp, a small all-in-one streaming speaker, a wall-mount controller and some mounting accessories. This provides a really good base of products centred
around streaming. You can add a streaming player to add network media file replay as well as full access to a wide range of streaming services to your existing system. This is a really easy first step. You can also use our streaming amplifier as a ‘system in a box’ for use with your favourite speakers. Why is it important for venues to invest in professional streaming solutions? Currently people either buy consumer-grade devices or plug their phones into their sound systems. Taking the phone option first, this is not the best solution if someone calls you and it comes out of the speakers, or if your phone battery dies half way through the evening. Moving on to the use of consumer-grade products in commercial sound systems, there are a number of technical problems like operating level, unbalanced connections, lack of proper rackmounting options and many more. Another issue that is not thought about is the lack of security. If you use consumer solutions and your customer has wireless access and the app loaded on their phones, they can take over the system and play their own music. If the products in question also have Apple Airplay, customers don’t even need the app loaded onto their phone to take over. There are another two really important reasons to have a dedicated commercial brand. The first of these is a product roadmap dictated only by the needs of the commercial market. The second is that these products are only available to commercial system integrators so they won’t have to compete with the local hi-fi store or Amazon for product supply. Finally, tell us something about yourself that might surprise people… Even having lived in USA for the last 20+ years, I’ve never been into or eaten a McDonald’s! That might not surprise my foodie friends...
Live and Kicking As outdoor events become ever more elaborate in terms of staging, can audio technology keep pace to deliver the experience...
Published on Jul 29, 2019
Live and Kicking As outdoor events become ever more elaborate in terms of staging, can audio technology keep pace to deliver the experience...