Issue 220 / April 2019
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
Beam steering is bringing game-changing benefits
AVIXA's Dan Goldstein looks to broaden AV's reach
Theatre renovation creates diverse sound options
Conference venues innovate as expectations grow
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t’s with no small sense of relief that I can announce that entries for this year’s inaugural AV Technology Awards are officially closed. We now begin the process of whittling down all the projects, products, teams and individuals nominated to (what we’re sure will be) rigorous and wellrepresented shortlists. We can then, for a time, wash our hands of the responsibility and handover the shortlists to our independent panel of judges who will select the winners. We’ve recently conducted a number of interviews with winners from our previous awards shows, and it’s genuinely pleasing to hear what it means to win for a company or individual. The interviewees also pointed out that the sorts of Duncan Proctor, Brand Editor projects that win awards come around only two or three times firstname.lastname@example.org a year. The intricacies of the technologies and the various @install8ion stakeholders bring special results, but are not easy to manage – logistically or technically. I also wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the points that were raised at the ‘Diversity and Inclusivity in the Audio Visual industry’ event I attended at the Royal Society
‘Another, almost as damaging approach highlighted, was many companies are content with being squarely in the middle of the pack’
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of Medicine a few weeks ago. It was really interesting to hear from the different speakers – some from within the AV industry and others invited to speak about their experiences and the broader themes. One thing with issues such as diversity and inclusivity is they can be potentially thorny subjects to discuss – mostly because at some point they’ll be someone who feels like the finger is being pointed at them – generally because they’ve either done something wrong or have done nothing – for too long, which can be just as harmful. Charlotte Sweeney OBE was one of the speakers and she revealed that when discussing diversity with business leaders from different industries, there is often an attitude of ‘the next generation will sort it’. This is a lazy and not entirely surprising attitude, but another, almost as damaging approach she highlighted, was many companies are content with being squarely in the middle of the pack on these issues, and don’t want to be seen to be going out on a limb. The later approach explains why companies often celebrate minute gains in areas such as diversity and pay gaps, when really more radical action is required. It wouldn’t be realistic to suggest these problems can be ironed out overnight, but what we can all do is take the first step, which is to talk about these issues openly, and not shy away from a discussion for fear of making certain people uncomfortable.
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12 Special Report: Conference venues 14 Image is (nearly) everything
We look at how conference venues are increasing technology spend and leveraging displays of all types to meet the increasing expectations of the clientele and differentiate themselves from the competition
20 Talking headspace
Conference venue spaces are changing to provide the best possible audio; we highlight some of the pitfalls in designed audio systems for these environments
Contributors: Laurence Beckers, David Davies, Alex Lepges, Ian McMurray, Toni Moss, Phil Ward
20 Viewpoints 08 Opinion
26 La Scala Paris
Laurence Beckers on compelling stories and interactive technology Toni Moss reveals the goals of WAVE’s mentoring scheme
A newly-renovated Parisian theatre that now features 172 Amadeus speakers and a specially developed spatial sound processor
30 O’Learys, Skövde
Dan Goldstein details the continuing need for greater awareness around the AV market
42 Last Word
Alex Lepges of Audio-Technica discusses the new considerations impacting conference venues
The first interactive bowling lanes in Europe have been created using high-speed infrared cameras and short throw projectors
32 Solutions in Brief
Including a €75 million university auditorium project; a flexible audio install at the Science Museum in London; and a videomapping spectacular in Lyon
06 AV Technology Awards 2019
24 Steerable audio
35 New Products
Including Hiperwall, Shure and Lumens
The ability of beam steering to put sound where it’s required has brought game-changing benefits for countless install applications
Special thanks: Paul J de Benedictis, Anja D’Hondt, Penny Wilkinson Cover Image: Convention Centre Dublin
06 AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
Pictured: (L-R) last year’s Install Awards host Jimmy McGhie and Nick Jones, head of project management at Igloo Vision
A rewarding experience As the AV Technology Awards draws closer, we caught up with a previous winner from the Install Awards to find out what it’s like to gain recognition for a successful project
gloo Vision won the Hospitality Project of the Year award in 2018. Peter Halliday, the company’s communications consultant, shares his thoughts.
How pleased were you to get recognition for the Out of the Blue, Berkeley Hotel project? We were super-pleased to be recognised. It was great for the project team to get the credit, great for the relationship with the client, great for networking with our peers, and a great talking point for prospective clients. So, it had a positive impact on many different levels. What elements of the project do you think were most impressive? It was a demonstration of how you can take immersive content out of a VR headset and share it among a group of friends to create a memorable night out.
Entertainment venues can sometimes struggle with the concept of VR because it’s normally such a solitary experience. What we did here was to liberate the experience, make it shareable, and also meet The Berkeley brand values of quality and exclusivity. So it’s been a test case for us, and we’ve since worked on similar projects with several other venues, primarily in the US. How important was the collaboration with the other parts of the supply chain and the end user team? Collaboration was critical. We benefited from a visionary client (The Berkeley), a top-draw content creator (Armoury), the world-leader in sensory reality technology (Sensiks) and, of course, the Igloo expertise in immersive shared VR projection solutions. It was a classic case of the whole being more than the sum of the parts.
How often does a project of this kind come around? We’re lucky at Igloo because, if a client is wanting to do something new or innovative with immersive projection or shared VR, they will generally find their way to us. 100% of our work therefore shares certain characteristics with The Berkeley installation. But, it’s unusual for a client to push the boundaries this far, as most go with our standard, off-the-shelf products and solutions. It only happens a few times a year.
Sponsorship opportunities To find out more about sponsoring this event, please contact Richard Gibson email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029 www.avtechnologyawards.com
08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Laurence Beckers Story immersion
Compelling stories and interactive technology for powerful user experiences
f there is a sector where technology has been the driving force, it is interactive attractions. Actually, when it was launched, the interactive theatre was such a technology-driven innovation that it took a couple of years to figure out if there was a market for it; a typical example of how technology shapes the needs and not the other way around… Dark rides have existed for a long time, mostly with mechanical components, yet because of their very nature, only good use of technology could augment their appeal. The capability of projection technology and computers with powerful graphic engines opened a world of new opportunities. With media-based scenes, projection mapping, animated figures made interactive and all sorts of enhancements, the genre has experienced a rebirth and is becoming one of the landmark attractions in theme parks around the world. With a variety of technologies being hyped across the industry from head mounted displays (HMD), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to mixed reality (MR), the main focus remains the user experience. Physical attractions at theme parks or other venues need to offer their guests something they cannot experience at home.
The theming and storyline for an attraction will be defined by the park and area theming, cultural preferences and audience profiles, and then matched with an existing or purposely built IP and their characters. As dark ride attractions on average take about three to four minutes, the story should not be overly complicated, yet it should be compelling enough to trigger the attention and generate excitement and repeat visits.
Enhanced user experiences
devices to physical elements such as props and animatronics. A unique user experience can be created by taking into account three key design areas, which need to be perfectly aligned and integrated into the story: • Story design: focusing on the design of the story, world and elements such as characters, settings, events and the plot
At the heart of a successful interactive attraction is a powerful user experience, created by a compelling story, with techniques that engage the user emotionally and allow easy interaction with all media elements of the story. The individual is important as well as the social component, allowing users to enjoy the ride with friends or family.
‘At the heart of a successful interactive attraction is a powerful user experience, created by a compelling story, with techniques that engage the user emotionally’
It’s important to build up the story at the entrance, warming up the visitors, before taking them from one screen to another through the story, ending with a result they helped obtain – usually defeating the ‘bad guys’. All physical elements in the attraction will contribute to the story immersion, from vehicles and shooting
Audience engagement: focusing on the design of those aspects of the transmedia story involving the audience’s intellectual and emotional participation in the story • User interaction design: how users mentally and physically interact with the story’s interface when navigating through the narrative Interactive technology will maximise the physical environment and augment the overall experience. MR mixes physical spaces and elements with digital overlays, offering great opportunities for interactive attractions. Most often these are using high-definition screens, video and 3D projection mapping, optical illusions, haptic features and animatronic figures, as well as variable lighting to enhance the immersion of guests into the story. Alterface has been developing such interactive mixed-media attractions for many years, bringing new technology advancements each year. The latest development is a non-linear approach called Erratic Ride, whereby the scene sequence can be determined by the guest. The first one is being installed in Walibi Belgium with Popcorn Revenge. It’s more complicated from a technology and ride flow perspective, but it •
offers more fun and challenges to the guests, who get more control over their actions and thus become more engaged. Laurence Beckers is creative director at Alterface
10 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Making a difference The WAVE mentoring scheme is already having a positive impact on the industry, and there's much more to come
aving been involved in the creation and development of the WAVE mentoring scheme, it’s something that I believe is incredibly important and can make a real difference to the AV industry. There’s no denying that the sector has a problem when it comes to female representation at higher levels, which in turns causes problems with staff retention. This is something that can’t be ignored if the industry is going to continue to grow and innovate – a report from The Peterson Institute for International Economics last year found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins, while various reports have highlighted the positive effect of diversity at decision-making level.
‘The mentoring scheme is a huge step in the right direction’
The mentoring scheme is a huge step in the right direction towards achieving this and it’s great to see the relationships that are developing between the mentors and mentees and the benefits that are already coming from the scheme. My belief in the importance of supporting and developing talent has been a core part of the CDEC ethos for many years. Not only do we work with the local community to highlight the opportunities a career in AV can bring and offer work experience placements, we also encourage the team to pursue professional development qualifications and further their skills wherever
possible. We also have a strong female presence across all roles in the business; in fact, we even have two employees taking part in the mentoring scheme, so I am able to see its impact first-hand. Already, being able to communicate with and learn from women in leadership positions is helping to show the career paths that are possible while highlighting the fact that these positions are available and there’s no reason why women shouldn’t be filling more of them. I have no doubt that the mentoring scheme is going to go from strength to strength and we’re
already making plans for the second intake of mentees. I’m excited to see more of the results of this scheme and to continue to hear from those taking part about the impact it’s having on them. As we gain more feedback we’ll continue to adapt and develop the scheme and I’d encourage anyone who is looking to get ahead in the AV industry to take part in the scheme. Toni Moss is managing director at CDEC
INTERVIEW: DAN GOLDSTEIN, AVIXA
Following his recent promotion to chief marketing officer, we speak to AVIXA’s Dan Goldstein about his new role and the continuing need for raising awareness of the AV market With the new role, what extra responsibilities are you taking on? I came here, to what was InfoComm International before we rebranded, as head of marketing. After we rebranded I became deeply involved in our market research and content development effort for about six to eight months, and temporarily let go of marketing. What the executive team and I realised was that actually there are a lot of synergies between market research, new content development and the marketing side, so bringing everything together under one roof seemed to
make sense. Now we can bring content together with marketing and we can play a role as a more sophisticated marketing team, moving beyond just promoting the association’s products and services and actually being a source of value for our members, in our own right. And, because we have invested a lot of time, money and resources in market intelligence and gathering information about our industry and what our members are doing, we can, as a department, be the voice of the customer, the voice of our membership internally, which I think is important.
In terms of the market intelligence side of things – what’s the feedback been like to the content you’re producing? The feedback that we’ve had from our industry is really good and we’re continuing to invest. We’ve got three reports coming out this year; three all-new reports on the live events industry, again with a real focus on the end-user experience, so the person who’s actually buying the ticket to the concert or the festival, or the person who’s been invited to the corporate event as an attendee. Can it be tricky to understand what the numbers in these reports mean in real terms and how it affects people and individual businesses? I think there’s still a little bit of a gap there. We’ve certainly invested a lot in terms of data
visualisation, so we’re representing our data in such a way that it’s a lot easier for people to see what’s important and to see the trends that really matter to them. And I think it’s really important as well when we talk about market intelligence, we talk about it in terms of insight, not just in terms of data. You can have data but unless you present it in a way that’s easy to understand and easy for people to take away insights, it’s relatively meaningless. For the AV industry to continue to grow – do you think it needs to market itself better to continue that growth going forward? One of the other strategic initiatives that my team is responsible for is what we call industry awareness. What that really means is communicating the business value of AV to new groups, to decision makers, the people who write the cheques for AV products and services. It’s interesting actually, you go to where these people are – to retail conferences or education industry conferences – and meet people and you very quickly realise that the business case for AV is very, very nuanced and it’s specific to particular markets or particular geographies. Initially we were very focused on end users, but there are all kinds of intermediaries that end users are hiring to advise them on their technology deployments, and so these people are in some ways more influential than end users. We’re starting to bring a lot of these people into our fold and communicate with them. I think the AV industry certainly needs to be part of these conversations and I’d like to think that we’re leading the way in helping those conversations to start to happen. And from the data and the discussions you’ve had over the last few months and years – where do you see the biggest areas of opportunity for AV? It’s interesting. You look at the corporate market, for example, and other traditional markets like higher education, and there’s a lot of talk about commoditisation and the fact that nobody’s making any money on the screens or projectors and no one’s really making any money out of the traditional integration either, as there are so many one-box plug and play solutions out there. The traditional revenue streams that the integration firms have had are certainly challenged. On the other hand I think you’re now in a scenario where there are a lot of services that integrators can wrap around their deployments and AV is becoming much more pervasive. You’re going from a scenario where in the past you had AV in a small suite of wellequipped meeting rooms in an office building or in one building on an education campus, to now seeing hundreds of flexible meeting spaces or training spaces, which don’t necessarily have a huge amount of technology in them. But when
INTERVIEW: DAN GOLDSTEIN, AVIXA you connect all those things together, now they’re all sitting on a network, they become a source of data for that enterprise. I think being part of that data generation and aggregation process is where a lot of the potential for AV lies. I think it’s a really exciting time to be in the industry. The industry is definitely evolving very quickly, which can make life quite challenging for us, but I think challenging in a good way because there are so many opportunities out there. And in terms of the trade shows – you worked at ISE for a number of years. Has there been anything surprising about the trajectory of that show, since you left? I think we pioneered the idea of using new content as a way of growing attendance and making new kinds of people feel that there was something at the show for them. And it’s become very inclusive, very broad, which has challenges in itself because it can be a tricky event to navigate. It’s not just its sheer size but the diversity of the technology solutions that are on offer. But again, I think as an industry we need these broad-based hubs for different solutions because there is just so much going on here.
‘You can have data but unless you present it in a way that’s easy to understand, it’s relatively meaningless’
Personally and as an association what were some of your key takeaways from the show this year? I was really pleased with the contribution that we made to the show content. I think we’ve evolved quite a bit in the way that we approach the show. We used to be all about our technical training at the show and we just do that with the Flashtrack stand now, with little bite-sized, 20-minute sessions, and they go down very well. It’s interesting, the technical content is what works in that format, but the longer sessions are much more about end-user applications and outcomes. We contributed content to a lot of the other events that were going on this year, such as the Digital Signage Summit, Smart Building Conference and the different vertical market events. Because of the investments that we’re making in research and content development, we’re able to make a much more strategic contribution to the content of the show. And I think that’s really important. In fact the exhibitors were quite explicit with us as co-owners of the show when we met with them a year ago at the ISE advisory board meeting. They said: we don’t need more attendees, we need the people who
are coming to stay for longer, and the way that you get them to stay for longer is by providing content away from the show floor. So we’re happy with the contribution that we’re making and I’m really pleased with the way the show’s content is evolving. I’m also really proud of the fact that we are consistently seeing new people coming into the show; we had between 30% and 40% new attendees this year and that’s fantastic. Exhibitors certainly use the show to connect with their existing networks but they wouldn’t be booking stand space with us if that’s all we were offering because they would just be holding their own events for their existing clients. They come to ISE in large part because ISE brings them new people and helps them grow their business by bringing them new contacts, and making them aware of new projects and new applications for the technology that they’re displaying on the show floor. And finally, what can people expect from the InfoComm show this year? Well, we’ve got quite a lot going on. I think we’re going to have our biggest ever show in Orlando, certainly in terms of floor space and exhibitor numbers. We’ve got a big focus this year on two vertical markets that we haven’t traditionally focused a lot of education content on, and that is retail and hotels/hospitality. When you look at our seminar and workshop package at the show – which is typically around 120-130 sessions – in contrast to ISE, which pulls in its content from a lot of different partners, at InfoComm we do a lot of the education ourselves because we have a lot of that capability in-house. We designed a programme this year, without neglecting some of our core competencies like unified communications and collaboration, corporate AV, higher ed AV, lecture capture, streaming, those sorts of things. We’re still doing all that but we’re adding a lot more about retail and hospitality, which starts to take us more into areas like digital signage, content creation, background music, audio programming, interactivity, perhaps different kinds of interactivity than you would get in a corporate or education environment. So there’s a big emphasis there. We’ve also got our TIDE conference going on again in Orlando which is looking at designing experiences. There are a lot of AV companies who can see the potential in reinventing themselves as experience creators, again as a defence against the commoditisation that we talked about earlier, but they need a forum to talk about what’s possible and different ways of approaching it, and that’s what we do with our TIDE conference, which is the day before the show in Orlando.
14 SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES
Conference facilities come in all shapes and sizes - requiring different display solutions
Image is (nearly) everything
Key Points n Fierce competition, sophisticated users and the opportunities presented by new technologies are causing conference centres to re-evaluate their AV offering
If the last conference you went to was characterised by on-screen images you could hardly see, things are changing rapidly, as Ian McMurray finds out
s it an attractive, accessible location? What kind of meeting spaces does it offer? Is the catering of high quality? Those are three questions a conference organiser will likely be asking about a prospective venue. But, if the websites of the highest profile conference centres around Europe are anything to go by, that organiser will also be considering the quality of the AV facilities. “With a selection of 4K, UHD and HD screen options throughout the venue, we offer you huge flexibility and the very latest AV technology,” claims the Church House Conference Centre in Westminster. At the NH Collection Madrid European Building, you can avail yourself of “32 naturally-lit function rooms with world-class audiovisual technology”. The Berlin Marriott Hotel urges conference organisers to “select one of our meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audiovisual services”.
Competitive advantage “Investment in technology is seen as a method to create competitive advantage,” believes Andy Truswell, systems integration manager at integrator Pure Audio Visual. “The change is driven in part by the expectations of clientele, and in part
by the need to compete with other local venues. It offers the conference centre a sales tool to differentiate itself from the competition.” “Ageing technology and increasing competition are some of the reasons why there has been a big increase in conferencing centres receiving a technology makeover,” adds Christian Czimny, European R&D director at Absen. “From smaller meeting rooms to conferencing suites that can house international meetings, conference centres have to cater for a range of business needs, with AV technology providing the backbone to this offering,” says Lucy Meredith, regional marketing manager, Panasonic Visual Solutions. “Not only are conference centres delivering more, but their customers also expect more.” “Conference centres are being tasked to cope with multiple format types delivered on multiple media types,” notes Eliot Fulton-Langley, solutions architect at integrator CDEC. “As there is so much choice for content type and method of delivery, it is not necessarily good enough for a conference centre to be specific to their customers about the parameters of the content, which in turn makes their work harder to be able to handle it.”
n As always, there is no substitute for understanding the application and environment before specifying a display solution n While projection remains the default standard for conference venues, LED- based walls are becoming increasingly popular n Flexibility is a key goal in conference centre management – both in image delivery and image distribution n The best conference venues are leveraging displays of all types throughout the facility
Perfect storm It is, then, something of a perfect storm: an increasingly competitive market; a broad range of requirements that need to be catered for; a generational change in technology – and an increasingly sophisticated, savvy customer. The stakes are high when it comes to conference centres making the right decisions to ensure they too can offer “the very latest”, “world class” or “state-of-the-art” when it comes to putting images on screens in conference centres. “Projection remains the standard for delivering video and images in conference centres today, and that’s mainly due to the flexibility projection offers,” explains Carl Standertskjold, corporate segment
marketing manager at Sony. “Conference centres need to be chameleons, changing and adapting dependent on the audience and content requirements. Projection offers a straightforward and flexible solution that can be adapted rapidly to each client’s requirement.” “Projection is still very much the main cost-effective medium for getting content onto screens,” echoes Colin Etchells, who is group technical director at integrator Visavvi. “Performance is increasing with the advent of laser light engines and superior optics, coupled with enhanced resolutions such as 4K starting to become more prevalent as well as affordable.” “LED wall is currently only a tiny percentage of the market, mostly due to the still significant price difference,” he continues. “LED resolution has matured, with sub 1.0mm pitch now appearing; however, this high detail still comes at a price premium – making it unrealistic for many venues presently.”
Growth unabated “For conference centre AV, a front projection solution is still the lowest cost option to enable a large screen to feature in this environment,” agrees Steve Scorse, vice president, Unilumin
SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES Group. “However, the growth of LED videowalls over projectors in conference and event centres continues unabated. The continued reduction in LED display costs has opened the technology as a possibility for many customers.”
‘Videowalls are definitely becoming more popular, but the cost of LED is still a barrier to entry for many’ Christian Czimny, Absen
Unsurprisingly, he has an ally in Czimny. “In terms of delivering video/images, with the introduction of fine pixel pitch products – at 2mm and sub-2mm – there has been a distinct move to LED away from technologies such as projection and LCD/flat panel videowalls,” he says. “With the increase in LED manufacturing volumes and subsequent reduction in price, LED now offers a genuine alternative to these other technologies, bringing the added benefits
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of higher brightness, longer lifetime, easier maintenance, greater flexibility of configuration and a lower TCO.”
Size matters As much as budget is a factor, one of the elements most likely to determine how images are delivered is the size of the space – a point made by Holger Graeff, general manager at Vivitek EMEA. “When it comes to meeting the needs of a very large sized room, with a very large image – 500in for example – it is easier to achieve this using a projector rather than a videowall, and most costeffective. In terms of a big room’s dynamics, it is important to have a screen that’s big enough for the audience at the back of the room to still see the content being shown at the front.” “It’s fair to say that size matters in large conference rooms,” he smiles. The other factor, as Meredith points out, is ambient lighting. “Conferences are often held in well-lit spaces, so it’s important that any projection is high in brightness to cut through any ambient light and ensure visibility for attendees,” she points out. Scorse sees a similar issue – but proposes an alternative solution. “Lighting conditions for
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16 SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES
The Convention Centre Dublin has deployed a range of Panasonic projectors
‘Conference centres need to be chameleons, changing and adapting dependent on the audience and content requirements’ Carl Standertskjold, Sony
the best image quality using a projector will demand that ambient lighting in the auditorium is somewhat subdued, due to the screen contrast being adversely affected,” he explains. “Videowalls provide improved brightness and contrast, and allow higher ambient lighting conditions in the facility to be operated.”
Boxes ticked The fact is that many of the negatives for both projection and videowalls have been largely eliminated. Projection cost of ownership and ease of maintenance have been addressed by solid state illumination, although, as Fulton-Langley points out, that has brought its own problem.
“Yes, laser is becoming more popular and definitely ticks all the boxes in terms of quality and low maintenance,” he says, “but current pricing is prohibitive for some, especially for large-scale replacement of ageing projectors.” As solid state becomes the default, however, that situation will certainly improve – much as ultra-short throw (UST) lenses have eliminated the casting of shadows on the screen. Videowalls, meanwhile, with the growing capability of LED technology, are now bezel-less; have finer pixel pitches; are easier to calibrate; and are becoming increasingly affordable. Czimny is certainly aware that LED pricing has thus far proved dissuasive. “Videowalls are definitely becoming more popular, but the cost of LED is still a barrier to entry for many,” he acknowledges. “Absen is committed to making the technology more accessible for the mass market by standardising on the technology. For example, we have released an all-in-one videowall solution that has been specifically designed to meet the requirements of conferencing centres. Called the Absenicon, this LED videowall comes in five sizes ranging from 110in to 220in and includes its own control system, wireless connectivity and wall mounts.”
CCD deploys broad range of Panasonic projectors, displays The Convention Centre Dublin was developed to provide a world-class conference venue in the heart of Ireland’s capital city. The venue specialises in conferencing, hosting hundreds of national and international association and corporate events, public exhibitions, award ceremonies and gala dinners every year. Five medium-sized conference rooms are each equipped with 5,000 lumen Panasonic laser projectors. Two of the larger rooms are each equipped with 10,000 lumen laser projectors. Smaller event spaces are equipped with lamp-based 3,500 lumen WXGA projectors, while the largest spaces have a choice of two 20,000 lumen or two 13,000 lumen lamp projectors. A total of four meeting rooms are equipped with Panasonic 65in professional displays. The installation was completed by System Video.
18 SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES Choosing what will be used to deliver images should, of course, be first and foremost a function of understanding the application – in some detail – as Graeff explains.
Many factors “Choosing the right device is all about the environment it will be used in,” he says. “There are many factors to consider here. The key point is to map your rooms with the needs of the end user/audience in mind. To that end, the key questions to ask include: what is the size of the room? What is the purpose of the room? What will the audience do in this room? What will the speaker do? What type of meeting will be held here – is it presentation, briefing or is it for brainstorming? Will it be used for team building? By establishing its purpose, you’ll be better informed when it comes to deciding.” The decision about how best to deliver images may also depend on other factors – such as competitive advantage. “Projectors remain more affordable and flexible for different size spaces. Further, they are increasingly low maintenance,” confirms Sony’s Standertskjold. “Videowalls are more complex to set up and maintain, but have higher brightness and contrast. Further, videowalls will act as a differentiator for conference centres given their relative scarcity in the market and the big visual impact they deliver.” That point is reinforced by Visavvi’s Etchells. “We’re seeing a more pronounced interest at university level in LED lecture theatre screens,” he says. “They are seen as cutting edge and something different to projection. It is most likely that they will continue to be more popular as the price decreases further.” For many conference venues, it seems that – for now at least – projection remains the popular option. Choosing the right projector is, of course, key – but it can, as FultonLangley points out, be all too easy to overlook something important.
Heresy “The projection surface is extremely important, although it can often be seen as a minor consideration,” he explains. “For front projection, high gain screens offer a brighter image in increased ambient light, but the trade-off is hot spots in the middle of the screen, and a poorer viewing angle. Low gain screens, conversely, offer a larger field of view, but are more suited to areas where ambient light can be controlled, such as cinemas and auditoriums. Rear projection is a good option, and can provide an image with no shadowing, and in an environment where ambient light is easier to control. There must however be enough throw distance behind the screen.”
Nothing to disagree with there. His next point, however, would certainly be viewed as heretical by the screen manufacturers of the world. “Having said all this, if a wall is painted with a good quality projection paint, and has been plastered to a high standard, a plain wall can offer a surprisingly good surface at a minimal cost, and in some circumstances, is desirable where UST projectors are utilised, as these can highlight irregularities in a screen’s profile, and manifest in images with a high degree of curvature.” One of the key reasons for the popularity of projection appears to be the flexibility projectors offer – and flexibility is of paramount importance to those who operate the facility, a point made previously by Standertskjold.
‘Investment in technology is seen as a method to create competitive advantage’ Andy Truswell, Pure AV
High expectations “With expectations from business at an all-time high, it makes it a challenge for venues to ensure that their AV infrastructure is flexible,” says Panasonic’s Meredith. “For instance, a requirement for 4K projection is something that some, but not all, customers would have. Having the ability to swap out AV technology dependent on the requirements is increasingly more important.” It’s not, however, just about the choice of ‘end device’ – whether projector or videowall. Pure AV’s Truswell makes a distinction between small/ mid-sized centres and their larger counterparts. “Larger venues continue to focus on infrastructure and the creation of a flexible backbone for video, image and audio distribution that will integrate easily with hiredin equipment and offer maximum flexibility for the needs of third-party events companies,” he asserts. “The change with the larger venues is the increased adoption of AV over IP, a solution ideally suited to maximising the flexibility of video distribution between rooms, around and even out of the venue.” Etchells sees a similar situation – and solution. “AV over IP can help with the flexibility required by these multifunction venues,” he believes. “The ability to move projection and display systems around and then just connect back into the network to receive content is a must.” “Distribution of high-resolution content has often been a huge consideration,” he goes on,
“but with the advent of AV over IP and a near total requirement for modern AV systems to be network-centric, this is becoming less of a problem. The network focus can also add value with signal distribution and remote operation and monitoring being easy to achieve.”
Simple, flexible Truswell returns to develop the theme. “The challenge is getting the right level of simplicity and flexibility,” he says. “To exploit fully the commercial potential of the conference space, you want a solution that is as flexible as possible, but at the same time easy for venue staff and clients to manage and control. It’s no use having multiple configurations able to accommodate every eventuality if the team can’t use it and the ultimate client experience is poor. This is where we’ve been able to add significant value to our designs for this sector. A well-programmed control system with an intuitive user interface, perhaps delivered via an iPad, means that a simple training session for venue employees can open the full potential of their conference spaces.” Of course, there is far more to a conference venue than just the meeting room screens – and the quality of the overall AV infrastructure can be a significant asset. “We’re seeing conference centres explore new ways to communicate through digital signage,” notes Standertskjold. “Customisable signage can be used for wayfinding through hallways or providing adaptable event and room details.” He explains how Sony’s TEOS Manage solution can be used to control all the display devices over a network and play out customised signage to them. Visavvi’s Etchells points out how smaller videowalls – in 2x3 or 4x3 configurations – can also have a place throughout a facility. It seems likely that location, facilities and catering will continue to be among the top criteria for choosing a conference venue. However, increasingly discerning conference organisers are now looking hard at whether a facility’s audiovisual setup will impress delegates with the quality of the images they will see as much as they’ll be impressed by the other three criteria – and conference venues, with the help of the projection and display industry, are responding.
www.absen.com www.cdec.co.uk www.panasonic.com www.pureav.co.uk www.pro.sony.eu www.unilumin.com www.visavvi.com www.vivitek.eu
20 SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES
Talking headspace Phil Ward looks at how conference venue spaces are changing to provide the best audio possible
here has never been a better time to hold a conference. Brexit negotiators, Mexican wall builders, FIFA World Cup selection committees and their offshore bankers… all can shoot their mealy mouths off with the reassuring knowledge that not a single word will be missed, misunderstood or lost in translation. The battery of audio solutions on the market today designed to focus, isolate, amplify, clarify and scintillate modern discourse has never, as British PM Harold Macmillan once said, had it so good.
The art of noise “First and foremost our products are about the highest quality of audio,” says Richard Knott, market development manager at Shure UK, “but then also about being able to offer multiple form factors. We can fit into many different scenarios, whether the business wants to be completely clutter-free, with nothing on the table – or even no table at all! Stand-up conference rooms are gaining popularity, so having ceiling solutions is particularly useful – plus the kind of wireless products we’re very well known for. Flexibility is paramount. “I’d like to think we’re moving beyond the small ‘a’, big ‘V’ paradigm,” he adds, “and that people are starting to get the real value of audio. The IT and AV managers I talk to are very aware of it, even if their hands are tied sometimes. One of the most interesting uses of our MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone is for voice-lift: the mics can amplify that near-field spoken sound so everyone in the room can be clearly heard at each stage, whether in presentation mode or Q&A mode – or completely automated, so the system ‘follows’ the conversation. It also links into conferencing quite naturally. It’s set up for specific scenarios, but as the user you are completely in control of the eight ‘lobes’ available for chosen areas of the room – to get accurate coverage according to your needs.” This is a sea change. The main pitfall in the implementation of a conference centre audio system, in common with most audio applications,
The kit involved in Adlib’s recent projects, including the International Festival of Business at Liverpool Exhibition Centre, resembles that used for concerts
is signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The balance of intelligible programme to unwanted hiss, hum and other contextual blurring is the basis of all good sound systems, and the choice of tools for capturing the signal is critical. In fact, the current trend towards the kind of ceiling microphones that Knott describes, and away from desktop and other types, is the next step in the search to get that ratio under control. Traditionally the microphones favoured in presentations are handheld, lapel or headset. Their chief drawbacks lie in the way they isolate the user in a conversationally unnatural way, and a lot of noise can be generated in inexperienced hands. Two other microphone designs have dominated conferencing, each one ergonomically tailored to rest on furniture but with similar disadvantages. The boundary microphone rests on a tabletop somewhere, typified by Audio-Technica’s PRO 44, the MXL AC404 USB or the circular Philips 9172. The gooseneck mic populates a surface and assails the seated delegates – witness the
Weymic G109, the Shure CVG18 or the MXL AC-400. Another solution proposes a change in emphasis: commonly optimised for the use of VoIP, speakerphones also sit tabletop but are intrinsically linked to the building’s telecommunications. In their favour are the absence of physical contact; the sharing of one resource between users; and permanent installation. On the other hand the signal gain fluctuates as delegates move around, with the obvious effect on SNR. Furthermore, boundary mics are sensitive to general office clutter: stationery that covers the capsule; elbows that knock it; open laptops that mask the input; and noise from any other electromagnetic paraphernalia brought into the meeting. Goosenecks are less susceptible to these conditions, and if properly deployed offer superior SNR, but they have one exclusive hindrance: it is surprisingly common for users to consider them threatening and invasive, at which point effective use is handicapped and even sabotaged.
SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES Key Points n Traditionally handheld, lapel or headset microphones were favoured in this type of conference environment n Recently ceiling mics have become popular as they enable more natural conversations among users n There is a major trend towards Audio over IP and its internationally recognised encryption standards
or stay in a pre-defined ‘speaking zone’, no clutter on the tables, no fixed seating arrangements. “To achieve this, TeamConnect Ceiling 2 employs 28 Sennheiser capsules that form an intelligent, automatic microphone beam that makes everyone in a conference room clearly audible. This patented technology automatically focuses on the active speakers and follows them. Integrators will value the connectivity and the various mounting options that TeamConnect Ceiling 2 offers: the ceiling microphone can be integrated into both analogue and digital environments, and supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), the Sennheiser Control Cockpit, Dante Domain Manager and the Crestron control platform. It also offers an open media protocol (API) for integration into media and camera control systems.”
Living on the ceiling The ceiling microphone, including the ceiling array microphone configuration, evolved to address most of these issues. Standalone models include the 360° Polycom HDX, the ClearOne Ceiling and beyerdymanic’s Classic BM, while array solutions have recently added DSP in order to take full and more accurate advantage of the remote and discreet qualities of a system that interlocutors can effectively forget about. The advantages multiply: everyone can move around freely; no one feels intimidated or press-ganged into arbitrary groups; the ‘lobes’ described by Knott can be programmed to focus on predetermined areas of the space; they can form part of an elegant fixed installation; and unless the delegates literally start throwing their executive toys out of the pram they are safe from interference, masking and neglect. In particular the signal processing helps the SNR. As well as built-in noise reduction, the new models have introduced beam-forming
technology into the conference space, able to pick out individual voices or even dynamically follow them around the room. While Shure’s aforementioned MXA910 features ‘Steerable Coverage’ to create the eight lobes into which the space can be divided, Audio-Technica’s ES954 Hanging Microphone Array has a similar technique that is adjustable in 30° increments. Sennheiser’s new TeamConnect Ceiling 2 solution carries the concept a little further into the realms of AI. As well as “automatic adaptive beam-forming technology”, where ‘adaptive’ refers to the system’s ability to adjust gain intelligently according to the relative levels in the room. “TeamConnect Ceiling 2 and the Sennheiser Control Cockpit software will vastly improve the conference room experience for users, integrators and staff,” claims Jens Werner, portfolio manager business communication at Sennheiser. “Users will benefit from highly intelligible audio and a totally natural and free way of conducting a meeting. There’s no need to sit near a microphone
Meanwhile infrared conference systems protect sensitive content by confining the signals to within the walls of a conference space. One market leader in infrared systems is Taiden. The organisation claims to have introduced the world’s first infrared simultaneous interpretation system in 2001, featuring interference immunity to HF-driven lights, and has continued to innovate in this field: in 2008, the company developed the digital infrared audio transmitting and control technologies (dirATC) chipset, and invented the patented HCS-5300 Digital Infrared Wireless Conference System – followed by the the world’s first Digital Infrared Wireless Lecturing System in 2015. At ISE this year, Audio-Technica made its own contribution to security with the ATUC-IR infrared conference system, a wireless solution that lines up alongside the company’s ATUC-50 digital discussion system, also wireless. The other major trend is Audio over IP, which has internationally recognised encryption standards. The DICENTIS Interpreter desk by Bosch, introduced at ISE, is an addition to the DICENTIS Conference System with its 100 language capacity. The encryption guards against unwanted listeners, data theft and sabotage, while overall integrity is provided by the company’s OMNEO IP technology, which is also the gateway to thirdparty solutions and all available networks. Juhana Kari, project manager with the Audio Systems department of Finland-based integrator Caverion, recently collaborated with Finnish Parliament IT planner Jarmo Erling to use DICENTIS to add IP capability to the government’s committee rooms. “IP is getting more and more important in audio distribution,” Kari says. “I can say that almost 100% of the new projects we are working on are IP based.” As well as security, IP offers no-latency uncompressed digital audio and exploits OMNEO’s standard Ethernet connectivity and software
22 SPECIAL REPORT: CONFERENCE VENUES
SSE Hire was commissioned by the Red Lodge Agency to supply audio facilities for a conference held across various suites at the NEC Metropole Hotel
updates. “Perhaps most importantly, the use of existing IT infrastructure makes IP extremely cost effective – audio, video and meeting data can all be carried on an existing Ethernet cable, with very little technical training required to install the system,” Bosch states.
Brand designs Just as the market called ‘AV’ has been co-opted by major touring rental companies, so the ‘conference’ has burst out of the boardroom and hit the big stage. To do this, pro audio has become the key supplier of serious speech reinforcement solutions that would make a rock band proud. SSE Audio Group has not only supplied full line array with networking and prediction software for large corporate clients such as Vodafone, it also sells best-in-class touring PA to customers such as PSP AV Rental & Staging or FE Live that specialise in conferencing and special events. “These guys buy d&b audiotechnik and L-Acoustics packages from us,” says Kyle Durno, technical sales & installations at SSE Audio Group, “plus complex wireless mics and IEM from Shure or Sennheiser, of the kind that we’d put out on a rock and roll show. Instead, it’s for NatWest’s AGM in London or something similar. It’s also scalable right down to a small L-R system and a couple of handhelds, but all of our customers in this sector want the most respected brands from the key players. It’s a complete solution.” At Adlib, whose recent conference projects include the International Festival of Business at Liverpool Exhibition Centre and a roadshow conference for Renault in Manchester, London and Birmingham, the use of multi-purpose spaces
usually demands the finest attention to audio detail. Tom Edwards is actually video manager at Liverpool-based Adlib, but is fully aware of the potential of both audio and video in this direction. “The skills for these events are very transferable from our touring work,” he says, “right down to the careful delays and pattern dispersion using the DSP you get with the L-Acoustics and Coda Audio systems we typically use. The main
‘People are starting to get the real value of audio’ Richard Knott, Shure
stage at Liverpool Exhibition Centre was all about controlling the dispersion and keeping the audio away from other areas in the complex. You’ll have several headset mics as well – we try to avoid lavaliers because of the gain before feedback and SNR – plus handhelds to pass around the audience. It’s a lot of PA and processing for 350 people, but that’s what you need.”
Silence is golden There is another frontier for conference audio, and you don’t need to worry about pattern dispersion. Silent Conference does exactly what it says on the flightcase: everyone wears headphones in a tightly controlled wireless zone. “The journey started in 2009,” says Silent Conference and Silent Disco King founder Paul Gillies. “I was working as a radio presenter for
Capital FM and as a club DJ. Through one of my club residencies I was booked to DJ at a Silent Disco for a freshers event in October 2009. It was my first experience of a Silent Disco, as with everyone else there. We were astonished at its popularity – the customers literally didn’t leave. I came away exhausted but happy, and convinced more people would love Silent Disco if they got to experience it. Silent Disco King was born, and the mission to make wireless headphone events accessible to more people began.” Custom headphones were developed, initially with two frequencies or channels for DJ’ing but soon extra channels were added, as well as LED lights. “By 2015 we’d built up some credible corporate clients and events around the world,” continues Gillies, “and through these developed a deeper understanding of conferences and corporate events. We launched Silent Conference as a dedicated brand to serve this sector.” Silent Conference uses bespoke equipment for higher quality audio, increased channel count and licensed configurable frequencies. Clients include Google, Amazon, John Lewis, HSBC, Adobe, Xero and Salesforce, and of course the events can take place anywhere from Excel or Olympia to Paris Versailles – no challenge to noise regulations, no costly and complex installation. Let’s talk.
www.adlib.co.uk www.boschsecurity.com www.sennheiser.com www.shure.com www.silentconference.com www.sseaudiogroup.com
24 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: STEERABLE AUDIO
Developments in directivity
Mugello-KH2 line array loudspeakers from K-array were chosen for Oculus, the new transit hub at the site of the rebuilt World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan
The ability of beam steering to put sound where – and only where – it is required has brought game-changing benefits for countless install applications, with live/tour sound proving increasingly receptive too. David Davies examines the latest developments in a dynamic and competitive market segment
eflecting on a trend that is now approaching the completion of its second decade, it is not too difficult to see why beam steering has proven so popular in the install market. Although there are numerous variations on the theme – to the extent that ‘steerable audio’ is arguably a more useful moniker, and therefore the one we will use here – the basic premise of being able to direct sound very carefully to where it is required has resonated strongly with client types ranging from conference centres and transport hubs to houses of worship. The steerable audio phenomenon owes much of its momentum to the continued refinement and increased cost-effectiveness of DSP technology. Suitably harnessed, modern DSP makes it possible to shape the width and angle of acoustic beams emanating from loudspeakers, allowing installers to carefully direct audio to where it is required. As might be expected, the passage of time has seen the precision of these systems continue to improve, with a number of manufacturers enhancing the level of control offered over beam steering and splitting. From an initial customer base in small and medium-sized venues, steerable audio has increasingly been applied to larger facilities as well, thanks to the more recent introduction of systems that can deliver higher SPLs.
Surface details If the basic principles of steerable audio were easily understood at the time solutions started to become commercially available, many observers might then also have foreseen the current ubiquity of the hard, reverberant surfaces that make such systems so invaluable to installers and their customers. Succinctly, the penchant of contemporary designers for huge glass and metal surfaces – and the reluctance by some to engage with acoustic issues until later in the process – has meant the opening up of huge potential demand for steerable solutions. Ben Spurgeon is application support engineer at Audiologic, which represents loudspeaker brands including Tannoy and Fohhn. “In today’s design-centric world, acoustics can often be an after-thought in venue/space design and can lead to multiple acoustic challenges,” he says. Consequently, “manufacturers are investing heavily in beam steering technology due to its technological benefits over traditional point source and line source solutions.” With beam steering it is possible “to adapt the coverage of a given loudspeaker to alter the acoustic performance across a listening plane. In simple terms, this allows us to put sound where we need it, and avoid areas where it is not required. [Moreover] as computer processors become increasingly powerful, we are able to push the
boundaries of what is currently possible with loudspeaker technology.” The design challenges inherent in many houses of worship and transport hubs mean that these continue to be strongholds for manufacturers. But as price points have come down, and the ease of set-up and implementation of systems has improved, steerable audio has increasingly resonated with other areas of install as well as live concert/tour sound. Renkus-Heinz is one of the most established manufacturers in this space, with its ICONYX beam steerable loudspeaker range now approaching its 15th birthday. Noting the continued buoyancy of applications “where high directivity and high intelligibility are [key] requirements, like traditional churches and transportation infrastructure,” technical sales manager Jim Mobley remarks that “on the production side, as steerable products continue to get louder, the aesthetic and quick set-up advantages of beam steering are being recognised by more and more production companies. [As a result] we do see lots of growth potential in production and live sound markets.”
Desired characteristics Although the specifics of individual systems do vary considerably – particularly as competition and choice in the market have grown – the desired end results of deploying a steerable audio systems are
relatively uniform. And as simulation software has become more powerful and versatile, these end results have become more straightforward to achieve. “In an ideal world, we want to be able to create precise coverage areas with as little spill as possible outside of our configured lobes,” says Spurgeon. “As the technology has advanced we have gained further control over the shape of beams – to the point where single arrays can now form multiple separate beams. So in a theatre application, this means we can cover multiple balconies and seating areas while avoiding the hard reflective perimeter of the balcony, minimising interference reflections coming back towards the stage and loudspeakers.” Configuring a system that is capable of controlling the required frequency range is critical. “The array must be tall enough to have sufficient directivity to effectively steer down to a frequency low enough for the application; that means about 1.5 to 2 wavelengths tall at the frequency of interest,” says Mobley. “So a 2ft tall (60cm) array can effectively steer from 800-1kHz and up – about the directivity control one would get from a medium-sized horn. Every time the height doubles, an octave of effective steering is gained. All other characteristics would be the same for any other loudspeaker type – sufficient fidelity, output, response and so on.”
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: STEERABLE AUDIO 25 referencing an instance “where there was an installation on a train platform and it worked fine, until another installer placed a big sign in line of sight of the speaker without letting us know! Luckily, after realising the problem, we were able to adapt the speaker settings to the new environment. You do need co-operation between the different branches [working on a project].” In any case, the basic installation of a system is invariably only one stage of the process, with a period of fine-tuning required to fully optimise its performance – and that calls for engineers with a thorough knowledge of acoustics. Hinze remarks that “beam steering is not a solution that works out of the box. You need to fine-tune it on-site, and that means you need a professional engineer after installation for correct setting up of the system.” Spurgeon echoes these sentiments, observing that “the complexities and intricacies of beam steering loudspeakers” are such that projects require “system designers with a full understanding of the technology and its applications to be able to specify beam steering solutions. Due to the products not simply being ‘point and shoot’, a trained engineer with a full understanding of the software and venue is required to deploy these systems.”
‘The corporate, theatre and live sound markets are an incredible growth area for beam-steering’ Jim Mobley, Renkus-Heinz
Common mistakes Given this, it’s not surprising to find that the most common errors in deploying steerable audio involve the specification of systems that are insufficiently large to cover the desired range. “If you have only three boxes in an array then it may well be that you cannot control the mid-low frequencies,” says Daniele Mochi, project support specialist at K-array. The company’s first product featuring Electronic Beam Steering technology was the Firenze-KH8 launched in 2014, and Mochi highlights the fact that K-array’s cabinets are mechanically designed in order to optimise the steering results. Spurgeon highlights a specific instance where the laws of physics can sometimes be overlooked. “To allow for maximum gain before feedback, it is still best practice to place loudspeakers ahead of any microphone channels to maximise the off-axis rejection and minimise the chances of feedback,” he says. “Due to the directionality characteristics of the arrays, it can often be assumed that these can be placed above open microphones where traditional point source cabinets couldn’t. Although a true beam steering line source will behave better than a point source in this application, the laws of physics will still not allow for full off-axis rejection at low frequencies.” Johannes Hinze works in acoustics and project management at TOA. He indicates that mistakes can occur when there is not sufficient collaboration between different stakeholders in a project,
Emerging markets In general it appears that there are only a couple of obstacles to even wider adoption of steerable audio: the cost relative to traditional point source speakers (although prices are continuing to fall), and the self-powered nature of steerable arrays, meaning that AC mains has to be supplied to the loudspeakers – a requirement that can be problematic in some older venues. Overwhelmingly, though, the expectation is for beam steering to continue to grow in both its ‘core’ applications as well as some newer areas. Adam Brown is business development manager – integrated solutions at UK-based distributor POLAR, whose primary steerable brand is Renkus-Heinz. Brown highlights the role of a new generation of compact systems in increasing the appeal of steerable audio to “corporate clients. We are doing a lot of work in that space, including meeting rooms and larger spaces. We also seem to be doing more and more cinema-based rooms, where steerable systems can be extremely handy.” Spurgeon echoes the importance of the corporate market while also pinpointing the
growing importance of live and tour sound. In a market where quick and cost-effective turnarounds are critical – particularly as the length and density of tours, especially by major artists, continues to grow – it’s no wonder that steerable systems are looking increasingly attractive. “The corporate, theatre and live sound markets are an incredible growth area for beam steering,” he says. “With product introductions such as the Fohhn Focus Venue systems, beam steering technology is now lending itself to much larger applications such as stadium sound and rock concerts. These single vertical deployments make multi-venue setup much easier with a simple scalable solution which can simply be re-programmed in real-time for each individual venue, regardless of size. This additional layer of control, over traditional line arrays, gives the engineer another tool in their arsenal to better improve the consistency throughout the audience plane.” Mochi underlines the continued demand for K-array solutions across the concert audio market, including “arenas, large parks and other outdoor venues – all those kinds of places where you need to cover big spaces”. The company is also continuing to spread awareness and understanding of steerable audio through the K-academy, its educational programme of workshops, seminars and courses covering every aspect of the audio experience and geared towards sound engineers, system integrators, architects, DJs and students. Increasingly, deepening understanding of the technology is the name of the game since the fundamental benefits of steerable solutions are well-established and proven. Mochi draws a parallel with the emergence of digital audio, when “everyone was initially a bit scared about making the switch from analogue. But as more devices became available, more people felt comfortable with making the move to digital. Nowadays everyone is happy to work with digital audio, and I think the same kind of transition can be observed with beam steering.” Not surprisingly, this degree of acceptance means that levels of competition in the market have also increased significantly, particularly during the last five to 10 years. But Mochi is not alone in concluding that “this is actually good news as the more that people have the opportunity to engage with beam steering products and understand their capabilities, the better it is for the industry. And with more and more steerable devices being made available, and with DSPs becoming more powerful too, the future looks very exciting indeed.”
www.audiologic.uk www.k-array.com https://polar.uk.com www.renkus-heinz.com www.toa.co.uk
26 SOLUTIONS: LA SCALA PARIS
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
Tailor-made The newly-renovated La Scala Paris theatre features 172 Amadeus speakers and a rigorously developed spatial sound processor enables diverse sound possibilities for visiting productions. Tom Bradbury reports
he newly reopened La Scala Paris theatre has been fitted with a sound system that provides what is claimed to be an almost limitless number of configurations for all types of performers and theatrical presentations. The 172 Amadeus speakers were specified for the installation along with HOLOPHONIX immersive audio processing for the 560seat venue. Amadeus was deeply involved throughout the renovation process helping to design the sound reinforcement system that would allow the theatre’s productions an array of audio control and choices, all with the very highest sound quality. The electro-acoustic sound reinforcement system was designed specifically for La Scala Paris by Amadeus – in collaboration with composer Philippe Manoury and scenographers Patrice Buniazet and Richard Peduzzi. La Scala Paris is an art house theatre, presenting all types of creative trends with
the highest degree of invention. The theatre has undergone a comprehensive remodelling, which started in the spring of 2016 and lasted two years. During the renovation and design, the theatre had a constructive dialogue with many of today’s top artists in every discipline to help create a platform for their creative productions. Many of the artists came to visit the theatre’s location in Paris and helped model the performance space by expressing their wishes. Inspired by the extraordinary story of the theatre’s location and its ambitious artistic direction, many of the artists who visited created a La Scala programme, and became ‘La Scala Paris residents’; their creations will be shown throughout forthcoming seasons.
Fundamentally different “La Scala Paris has been thought of as a fundamentally different type of theatre, because of its programming, its artistic expression, its technical scenography and
Installed Audio n Amadeus PMX 5 loudspeakers n Amadeus DIVA M² loudspeakers n Amadeus PMX 4 loudspeakers n Amadeus PMX 8 loudspeakers n Amadeus PMX 12 loudspeakers n Amadeus C15 loudspeakers n Amadeus ML 15 loudspeakers n Amadeus ML 18 loudspeakers n Powersoft X8 DSP+Dante amplifiers n Powersoft Ottocanali 4K4 DSP+Dante amplifiers the associated technologies that bring productions to life,” says Gaetan Byk, marketing manager at Amadeus. “The sound was an essential piece of the renovation, on the purely acoustic, mechanical and electroacoustical diffusion levels.”
28 SOLUTIONS: LA SCALA PARIS The audio setup is built around a HOLOPHONIX spatial sound processor, designed by Amadeus in collaboration with STMS Lab (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son), located in Paris, and supported by CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Sorbonne University, French Ministry of Culture and IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique). The sound- and acoustics-related choices made for La Scala by the owners Mélanie and Frédéric Biessy were decided upon after they met with artists like Philippe Manoury, Philippe Hersant and Philippe Schoeller. “We wanted to build a system that would be able to adapt to any live show and any concert – even the most acoustically and sonically challenging,” states Mélanie Biessy. “Our meetings and exchanges with IRCAM were also a key factor in transforming La Scala into a facility with unique acoustical specifications. The hall’s acoustics and sound reinforcement system are at the core of our project, and it makes La Scala even more than a concert hall. “To bet on the success of a multidisciplinary performance space implies that, in every domain, the tools are the most demanding and the most adapted to the quality and the demands by the artists invited to perform there. All the artists who have performed at La Scala in the past four months have confirmed that their needs were met,” concludes Biessy.
Picture: Luc Castel
Audio setup Spread around in a hemisphere shape, enveloping the viewers and adapting to the geometrically shaped building – all while controlling the technical and aesthetic constraints in the Grande Salle, the new sound reinforcement system at La Scala Paris uses 172 speakers designed and built by Amadeus at its Paris headquarters. The audio setup has been largely inspired in its philosophy by the system installed within IRCAM’s variable acoustics hall (called ‘Espace de Projection’) for research on high-end sound field recreation systems, including Wave Field Synthesis 2D and Ambisonics 3D sound. This IRCAM space features nearly 339 speakers designed and manufactured by Amadeus from 2008 to 2012. Some speakers – especially those fixed on the two upper catwalks – were designed specifically by Amadeus for the La Scala Theatre. The speakers installed on the first catwalk are set 6.5m from ground, with the front panel slanted, while the coaxial transducer is aimed naturally at a 30° angle to get an optimal overlap in the listening area sweet-spot. On the second catwalk, the front panel of the speakers are tilted at 45°.
Three speaker ‘antenna’ systems are fixed under every balcony as delayed systems. Each antenna system is made of 12 Amadeus PMX 4 coaxial speakers, evenly distributed over the whole width, with an inter-source distance of 1.25m. A frontal high power line array system is also part of the global system. It is made of 18 Amadeus DIVA M² speakers, a new model in the Amadeus product range. Several speaker configurations are used at La Scala: the main L/R is made of 2x9 DIVA M², the L/C/R is a 3x6 DIVA M² setup, and a multi-diffusion setup consists of a 6x3 DIVA M². Depending on the project being presented at the theatre, speakers can be added: they are managed by an Angular 2D or k-Nearest Neighbor spatialiser, or directly routed to a physical source through the HOLOPHONIX processor system. Thierry Coduys, chief technology officer who was involved in the creation of the HOLOPHONIX processor, comments: “It was a fascinating and thrilling challenge to imagine a unique sound system, tailored to La Scala Paris – a true technological gem. The Scala Paris is the first theatre in France to combine a
variable acoustics system, built with modular two-sided panels (absorber/diffusor), and an extremely sophisticated immersive sound system utilising 172 loudspeakers.” The whole sound system is amplified and processed by Powersoft DSP amplifiers. They handle all fundamental system parameters: EQ, time alignment between different sections, limiters, fine-tuning and speaker thermal protection. Byk concludes: “Technologies linked to immersive and spatialised sound are now coming out of laboratories to enter entertainment venues. They embody a new audio revolution, as an integral component of avant-garde visions in many French institutions such as La Scala Paris, le Théâtre National de Chaillot, le Théâtre du VieuxColombier, Les Champs Libres and others. All these performance spaces were among the first to believe and invest in these immersive audio technologies.”
30 SOLUTIONS: O’LEARYS, SKÖVDE
Interactive bowling has proved popular with children’s parties and families Pictures: Nordic Amusement Group
Bowled over Bowling has been brought into the 21st century with the opening of the first interactive lanes in Europe, writes Olivia Brady
he game of bowling has remained unchanged for decades, with bowling alleys largely offering a technologyfree environment. Nordic Amusement Group, a leading supplier of simulators and entertainment equipment across Europe, and its sister company Swift Interactive saw an opportunity to refresh this format and create a product that would have a ‘revival effect’ on the game. Eddy Fransson, founder of Nordic Amusement Group, explains: “I have a background as a bowler and our main target customers are bowling alleys. We wanted to develop something that was good for the sport that I love while at the same time grow our company. Bowling has been the same for many years so there was room for improvement to say the least.” The company developed the idea of creating interactive bowling lanes with bright, colourful
graphics, but with the low ceiling and long lanes associated with bowling alleys this proved to be a challenge, requiring powerful projectors to beam large colourful imagery down from a relatively short distance above the actual lane. Optoma W460ST projectors were chosen to meet the brief with three projectors installed to completely cover two lanes with bright and vibrant graphics. The projectors were blended along the length of the two lanes using Nordic Amusement Group’s bespoke software creating seamless imagery. Fransson adds: “The Optoma short throw projectors were one of few that fitted this project both price-wise and spec-wise. The hardest part was to make the solution work for different ceiling heights. Now we have created the solution in terms of the short throw projectors blended, this can then be applied to most bowling alleys
Installed Video nOptoma W460ST projectors nIR lighting nIR high-speed cameras nRender PCs nManagement PCs
Control and accessories nTouchscreen for management central nSwitches nRouter nCables with no other particular challenges.” High-speed infrared cameras detect the movement of the bowling ball and work in conjunction with infrared lights, software and projectors to then show the imagery in each individual lane as the ball is bowled. An in-house team at Nordic Amusement Group produces the interactive content. As Fransson says: “The
SOLUTIONS: O’LEARYS, SKÖVDE
The low ceilings associated with bowling alleys proved a challenge for the projection
About the installer n Founded in 2012, Nordic Amusement Group provides amusement products to sports bars, hotels, bowling alleys, restaurants and other amusement facilities n Based in Örebro, Sweden, the company works across Europe n Clients include Sankt Jörgen Park Resort Gothenburg, Lerjedalen Golf Club, Jump Zone Ireland and Sagene Senter Oslo.
hardest part was to figure out the colours suitable for projecting on shiny wood materials and finding the right hardware.”
Simple installation Interactive bowling has now been installed across several bowling centres in Scandinavia. O’Learys in Skövde, Sweden recently installed the technology across all its 18 bowling lanes.
This used a total of 27 W460ST projectors to cover the lanes, with equipment being recessed into the ceiling space in order to be less visually obtrusive in the bowling centre. As Fransson explains, installation was a relatively simple process: “O’Learys prepared the centre electricity outlets and anchor platforms to our specifications as the ceiling height was a little too high, but it took just eight days to install the equipment across all 18 lanes. We have very skilled technicians so it was not that hard for them, but it is time consuming to blend and calibrate all the equipment to achieve the great interactive image.” The installation process was simplified due to the 18 months of development time on the project, but the work is not finished there as “the development process is still ongoing and we are constantly creating more content”, he adds. “We will also be the first company in the world to release training software for bowlers to use with the solution at bowling centres. We are working with the Swedish National bowling team to create this and we will bring
it to market at the Bowl Expo in Las Vegas in June. At that point, the product will be great not only for amusement but also for the sport of bowling.”
Perfect game Interactive bowling has already proved popular, according to Kent Kyrk from O’Learys: “Interactive bowling is a new and interesting concept. It has increased our bookings for children’s parties and made us the talk of the town.” Fransson is equally positive: “Making the lanes interactive has reinvigorated bowling. Bowling centres that have installed interactive bowling are attracting more families and children’s parties by making the game more fun. And bowling lanes tend to be a standard size all over the world – so this can be installed in any bowling centre, anywhere.”
www.optoma.co.uk www.nordicamusementgroup.com www.swifttechinteractive.com
32 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
University undergoes €75 million expansion An Alcons Audio system has been specified for the new Grand Auditorium at the Reims site of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. The Reims campus opened in 2010, with just 100 students, but a recently-completed €75 million expansion has meant it will be ready to accept 1,600 students in September 2019. A major part of the project is the new 650-seat, multi-function Grand Auditorium, which hosts conferences, lectures, presentations by guest speakers, live music and movies in 5.1 surround sound. A 5.1 Alcons system was supplied by Parisbased systems integrator Audiolead and installed by Videlio of Reims. It features a left-right system of three RR12 point source array modules per side, with a pair of QB363 modular low-frequency array columns beneath the stage and a centre
cluster comprising two CRA24 Cinemarray scalable, medium-format line source screen units. To complete the system there are eight CCS8
medium-format surround loudspeakers – controlled and powered by three Sentinel3 and a Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers.
Science Museum’s bespoke audio install
Illuminate is a progressive new venue at London’s Science Museum, designed to be futureproof to the needs of the events industry. White Light has been appointed as the venue’s production partner and chose a Yamaha QL1 digital mixing console for the space’s flexible audio system. Situated on Levels 4 and 5 of the Science Museum, Illuminate couples leading-edge technology with flexible spaces and stunning views of the city, offering a unique experience for all clients. The installation was overseen by White Light’s project manager Jason Larcombe. Larcombe selected a Yamaha QL1 digital console for portable control of Illuminate’s audio system, which is based on a Dante network.
Powersoft reconnects country’s largest Pentecostal Church When outdated amplifiers began to cause frequent errors at South Korea’s Yeouido Full Gospel Church, an upgrade was proposed by Dasan SR. The distributor specified Powersoft’s X Series amplifiers to manage the high channel count and the complexity of the church’s sound system. The church claims the country’s largest Pentecostal Christian congregation of over 800,000 members. Seven of Powersoft’s eight-channel X Series tour-grade amps were chosen to drive the powerful
PA comprised of EAW KF750 full system three-way cabinets and associated KF755 down fill array modules. The extensive PA is comprised of main front of house speakers including downfill, front fill and under balcony speakers, as well as the delay system, the choir and side speakers. Flexibility and stability were cited as contributing factors, but performance and price sealed the deal on Powersoft’s X Series, over two other leading amplifier manufacturers.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 33
Epic Studios invests in Allen & Heath Top-tier TV production company and music venue Epic Studios has completed a major audio upgrade of its Norwich premises, with Allen & Heath dLive and SQ mixing systems. As well as Epic’s TV productions, the facility is fully customisable and caters for a variety of productions and events; from television programmes and game shows to sporting events, corporate events, arena gigs and even private functions and intimate shows. The installation also features a large investment in Martin Audio’s flagship MLA PA system, which integrates seamlessly with dLive. With dLive being used as Epic Studios’ FOH desk, the team further invested in an SQ-7, used primarily as their main monitor desk.
Light festival maps flowers and colour pigments OCUBO delivered a videomapping showcase at the Fête des Lumières light festival, utilising Christie projection and AV Stumpfl PIXERA media servers. OCUBO came up with Pigments de Lumière projected on the façade of the Saint-Jean Cathedral in the heart of the old city. It was conceived as an abstract celebration of all the colours that make up light, represented through a succession of different effects. The story is told through flowers – which react to interaction with elements of nature such as wind, water and ice. OCUBO decided on an artisanal approach working in analogue, whereby all the images projected onto the façade were filmed, as opposed to generated digitally.
Picture: @OCUBO 2019
Uni specs spot luminaires for campus flexibility Liberty University has invested in a complement of Ayrton MISTRAL and GHIBLI LED spot luminaires for a variety of uses on the Lynchburg, Virginia campus, supplied by ACT Lighting. The fixtures are mounted in truss in a multiuse event space, which hosts a wide array of entertainment programmes and gatherings. When Amy Caun, lighting director/production technician with Event Production, and her team
demoed MISTRAL they also looked at Ayrton’s GHIBLI LED spot luminaire with factory-equipped framing shutters. They have just taken delivery of GHIBLIs for the auditorium in Liberty’s new School of Business, which is an installed venue still under construction but will function as both a lecture hall for classes and a venue for televised debates.
Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF Hiperwall THE MONTH HiperSource Browser
It’s… a tool for displaying multiple web pages, including ultra high-resolution content, which can be shown on a videowall by establishing a direct connection between the content and the videowall, bypassing screen capture.
What’s new? Hiperwall version 6.0 features HiperSource Browser technology, LED display support, enhanced videowall layout features, MPEG2 video streaming support and flexible licence selection. These new applications and enhancements are said to offer videowall administrators greater content control and display flexibility alongside cost-saving benefits. Details: Hiperwall Version 6.0 – the latest version of the company’s flexible IP-based videowall content management system – incorporates HiperSource Browser, which makes it simple to publish web-based content onto
large visual canvases such as videowalls and direct view LED (dvLED) screens. HiperSource Browser provides a direct connection between web content and the videowall, enabling administrators to bypass screen capture, bringing enhanced flexibility and greater control over content. The software is said to provide better management for a range of display applications from advanced collaborative analysis on trading floors to control rooms where
eye-catching artistic display and videowall layouts. The user can combine different size and resolution displays and rotate individual screens to any angle to create an attention-grabbing visual canvas. As well as enhanced functionality, Hiperwall now features a more flexible licensing programme that provides a more cost-effective upgrade path. A new application, HiperFailSafe software, and the repositioning of the controller software enables users to economically upgrade
operators will benefit from the ability to bring in content from multiple sources for an enhanced viewing experience. Meanwhile, Hiperwall’s new HiperView LED add-on controls every pixel within an LED videowall, making it possible to crop the native LED controller resolution to the actual size of the visual canvas. In addition, HiperLayout software enables
a single controller system to a fault tolerant system. New customers will have the option to buy Hiperwall licences à la carte and get the optimum configuration for their needs.
Available: Now www.hiperwall.com
36 TECHNOLOGY: PRODUCTS
Shure MXA910 The first in a new feature, integrators and end users offer insights on AV equipment they regularly specify. Here we have Jon Maguire, business manager at proAV, along with Colin Jacobs and Kevin Madeja from Snelling Business Systems, design manager and group technical officer respectively What environments do you typically install the Shure MXA910 ceiling microphone? CJ: The product is best suited to
different settings can be saved for a variety of room applications.
CJ: Multiple configurable lobes, this allows us to accommodate spaces, which would have previously required multiple microphones. I also commend the browser-based control software, which provides an intuitive user interface for microphone attributes including automatic mix settings and preset templates.
corporate workspaces, however we have tested and installed the product at universities and education environments with success. They are ideal for midsized spaces with multiple users distributed across the plane. In our experience, demand is highest for boardrooms, meeting spaces and conference spaces where the desire is for a clean and uncluttered space, but can be configured for use in multi-purpose, divisible and reconfigurable spaces.
What elements of the feature set make your job easier? JM: The user interface and Designer system is simple and intuitive, and the design configuration software means you can arrange the lobes for multiple MXA910s through a room diagram, save, and then import to the microphones on site.
KM: It’s best suited to meeting rooms with videoconferencing or lecture theatres with lecture capture facilities, but we have ample success stories in non-corporate installations.
CJ: The Shure Designer (software) without a doubt! It allows us to accurately assess and calculate the microphone coverage area.
Why do you specify this product over competitor offerings? JM: The MXA910’s design and features offer an elegant and effective ceiling microphone solution.
KM: I prefer Shure’s product based on its sound quality and flexibility in configuration of the mic array. Also the user interface for configuration is excellent.
CJ: In my opinion, the product is a clear winner in many cases largely due to the form factor coupled with the multiple configurable lobes, seamless integration with Dante and third-party preset controllers including Crestron and AMX. What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? KM: To me it is sound quality. Also eight steerable lobes help where acoustics, layout,
‘I prefer Shure’s product based on its sound quality and flexibility in configuration of the mic array’ Kevin Madeja, Snelling
If an updated version was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? KM: I would like to see smaller form factors if possible for use in smaller spaces or in the soundbar position on a display screen.
HVAC etc, make them tricky deployments.
CJ: I would like to see additional DSP functionality, for example full AEC (acoustic echo cancellation) and perhaps the facility to aggregate multiple units would be very welcome.
JM: The technology Shure has created, known
JM: Possibly on-board echo cancellation, Dante
as Steerable Coverage uses up to eight lobes to pick up audio from overhead. This can then be managed automatically or manually via a web application to ensure the best pick up and
pass though or maybe a four-mic version.
38 TECHNOLOGY: PRODUCTS
Lumens VC-A50P Next we hear about Lumen’s IP PTZ cameras – principally the VC-A50P. Dan Saville, system designer at Pure AV and Gary Swift, The University of Liverpool’s AV and VC manager, highlight various aspects of the range
What environments do you typically install Lumens VC-A50P cameras? DS: We regularly specify the Lumens
better first-line support. We were going to install a separate IP camera, but this product enables us to put a single camera into the room, which we can use for lecture capture and remote support. The fact it also offers live broadcasting is a bonus as we start to look at the introduction of web/social streaming into our lecture spaces.
VC-A50P as part of installed solutions for lecture halls and in large teaching spaces within colleges and universities. The dual HDMI and IP output make them a great option to support lecture capture and room monitoring.
What elements of the feature set make your job easier? GS: I need solutions that I can rely on,
GS: We have installed Lumens cameras across The University of Liverpool estate, most recently throughout all our new large rooms in Building 502. The Lumens camera has become our standard for all seminar and lecture spaces with around 40 of them due for installation this year.
and the Lumens have proven to be just that, they rarely fail. We can put them in and forget about them knowing they will perform every time we need them.
DS: The ability to take PoE means we don’t need power installed in the camera location, simplifying the installation process and increasing the range of potential environments where the camera can be mounted. This is particularly helpful when not working in new build spaces. The use of Ethernet control also means we can simplify the central control processor as fewer RS232 ports are required, helping to reduce cost within the system.
Why do you specify it over competitor offerings? GS: We have used Lumens for some years and have always found them to be reliable with excellent image quality. The DC motor servo control has always been ultra-quiet and precise. The cameras are robust and are used frequently and seem to take everything we throw at them.
DS: We have found the cameras to be reliable. Over the time that we have been using them, we have rarely had any fail on us, our teams are confident that we can install them, and they just work. We also see regular demand for lecture capture and remote room monitoring within the lecture theatres and large teaching rooms that we install. The dual outputs, HDMI for lecture capture and IP for room monitoring simplify the delivery of that requirement. What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? DS: The cameras are DC motor, servo control driven not a belt motor. This allows a wide
‘Our teams are confident that we can install them, and they just work’ Dan Saville, Pure AV
shooting area (pan angle: from -170° to +170°; tilt angle from -30° to +90°), as well as quiet, fast and precise positioning movements. The audio input support AAC encoding with 44.1/48 K sampling frequency is also a great feature enabling audio to be embedded directly onto a webcast stream/ HDMI straight out of the camera.
GS: We have recently been looking into the option of remote monitoring of our rooms so we can offer
If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? DS: It would be great to see an auto tracking feature added to enable the camera to dynamically zoom in and out as the speaker moves within the camera’s field of view. This feature would create a steady viewable depth, allowing audiences to comfortably identify and engage with the speaker displayed on the screen.
GS: It would be good to see USB connectivity in any future versions of the product. This would enable us to connect directly into the PC for lecture capture applications.
40 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Videoconferencing equipment The latest and greatest videoconferencing solutions deliver a range of impressive functionality aimed at improving the overall meeting experience
Lifesizeâ€™s world first Launched at the end of 2018, the Icon 700 is said to be the worldâ€™s first 4K videoconferencing solution. Aside from the 4K full-motion content sharing, the Icon 700 is also equipped with packet loss concealment and advanced echo cancellation to ensure the audio matches the picture-perfect quality. The touchscreen control also reduces table-top clutter and manages the audio, web and video calls from
the customisable Lifesize Phone HD. Adding to the user experience, the dual display support allows users to share presentations and integration with the Lifesize cloud-based service, completing the comprehensive solution for videoconferencing. Its networking features have congestion control algorithms built in with a NAT/Firewall traversal and auto bandwidth detection. It also supports IPv4. From a security perspective, the
Icon 700 has the ability to disable HTTP/SHH services and has a Kensington Security Slot. In addition to the 4K technology and cloudfirst design, the Icon 700 has leading value with a lifecycle designed for the long-term, coupled with the reliability and security businesses demand.
Oblong promotes engaging workspaces The Mezzanine Series is a scalable range of immersive visual collaboration solutions suitable for every size of workspace. Mezzanine software connects teams into a shared workspace to engage in truly collaborative work and presentations, facilitating; simultaneous multi-user, multi-screen, multi-device, multi-location immersive visual collaboration. Mezzanine is operated in-room via a gestural interface, allowing participants to manipulate shared content across the screens using a wand. Remote participants can also move, save, edit or annotate content, within the shared workspace, from their connected device. Mezzanine now supports seamless
integration with workstream products including Cisco Webex Teams, allowing co-workers to easily trigger Mezzanine meetings and synchronise assets from either workspace immediately. Teams can easily escalate desktop discussions into fully-fledged meetings to support critical decision-making. In 2017, The Mezzanine Series was launched to meet the needs of any physical meeting space, from small huddle rooms to large executive conference spaces. The Mezzanine Series currently includes four
solutions, starting with the two-screen Mezzanine 200 for teaming spaces, up to the Mezzanine 650 for bespoke spaces and total immersion.
Polycom elevates the meeting experience Polycom Studio is a plug-and-play video bar designed for small meeting rooms and huddle room spaces. It’s compatible with videoconferencing services including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and Cisco Webex. NoiseBlock and Acoustic Fence technologies reduce or eliminate distracting noise from
office environments so that workers can stay focused regardless of where they are working from. In addition, automatic speaker tracking focuses on whoever is speaking within an ultra-wide, 120° field of view. To further improve the meeting experience, Studio includes 5x electronic zoom and 4K resolution.
With a simple USB connection, any PC or Mac can leverage the power of Polycom Studio to elevate the audio and video meeting experience. Unlike most USB devices that give IT little or no visibility into what is being used or any means for management and updating, Polycom Studio wirelessly connects to a corporate network to allow IT professionals a ‘no touch’ way to manage Polycom Studio units – whether that’s across a few huddle rooms, a large campus, or offices around the world.
One-touch connectivity from StarLeaf Announced this February, StarLeaf Pronto is designed to transform the enterprise meeting room experience allowing users to meet and share in an instant. Users can connect Pronto to their laptop computer and their screen is then shared with the room so that they are ready to present immediately. StarLeaf Pronto enables enterprise users to synchronise with the StarLeaf meeting room system allowing them to join with one touch. There is no need for additional software and the solution simplifies the whole meeting room experience. StarLeaf Pronto includes a smart dual connector with support for both USB-A and USB-C connectivity. It also connects to any Windows and macOS laptop with no need for adapters. With StarLeaf Pronto there is no need for WiFi or complicated adapters and through dedicated wired connectivity the solution even encrypts all the data shared among users. Automatic software updates ensure all systems are always up to date, delivered through a centrally managed platform providing monitoring and reporting diagnostics. Ultimately, StarLeaf Pronto is simple and easy to use and transforms the enterprise meeting room experience to allow users to securely meet and share in an instant.
42 LAST WORD: ALEX LEPGES, AUDIO-TECHNICA
In conference Alex Lepges, EMEA marketing director at Audio-Technica, reveals what new considerations are impacting the conference venue space
ow are manufacturers getting to grips with the security threat in conference venue environments? We’re very aware of the security issues around sensitive conference content and the considerations that integrators and end users need to weigh when specifying a conferencing system. Audio-Technica has long offered infrared wireless conference system products for situations where signal security is of paramount importance. Because the infrared signal is confined within the walls of the conference venue it’s being operated in, there’s no chance of discussions being listened in to from outside. In situations like courtrooms, police stations, council venues and more this is crucial, of course. Audio-Technica’s newest conference system, launched in January, is a hybrid infrared system – the ATUC-IR follows in the footsteps of our previous ATCS60 infrared solution and we’re predicting that it will be used for applications where the flexibility of a wireless set-up is required (for transportability etc) alongside the peace of mind that only delegates will be privy to the discussions in the venue. What area of conference venue technology provision is most often overlooked on upgrade or new build projects? Perhaps predictably, I’d have to suggest it’s often the audio component. I think a great deal of attention is first paid to what are perceived as the ‘flashier’ elements of
an AV installation – screen technology, projectors and the like. This may be because they’re more obviously impressive, or easier for customers to understand, so priority often goes to decisions in this area first. But audio quality is clearly of absolutely critical importance in a conferencing environment. It’s almost impossible for delegates to concentrate on discussions where audio is poor, where they’re
‘New build projects could often be improved if audio solutions were at the heart of initial planning’
struggling to hear contributions, or the sound is unpleasant to listen to. It’s fundamentally important for systems integrators and installers to address these issues when specifying conference solutions. Where an upgrade project is concerned, audio will sometimes naturally assume more importance if a venue has previously struggled with unsatisfactory sound, but new build projects could often be improved if audio solutions were at the heart of initial planning. What emerging technology area do you expect to have a growing impact on conference venues in the next few years? We’re seeing an increasing interest in networked audio and, pleasingly, a greater understanding of the technology, how to implement it and the benefits it can bring to the conference space. It has taken time for networking to gain traction in some areas, but that’s beginning to change, I think. The ease of installation compared to traditional cable-heavy analogue solutions and the control that networked audio allows can bring significant benefits for end-users and AV staff responsible for conference venues alike. Audio-Technica was an ‘early introducer’ of networked fixed installation microphones – our ATND971a was the first Danteenabled wired microphone and we now have a range of options in our networked range, including desk stands to allow existing inventories of gooseneck microphones to be added to a network. The new ATUC-IR conference system itself is offered in a Dante-compatible configuration, which places it at the very heart of a network. I think we’re likely to see more of the industry adopting networking products in conference venues in the coming years as the supply side continues to educate customers as to the value that they bring in terms of functionality and flexibility. Alex Lepges is EMEA marketing director at Audio-Technica
Installation April 2019