July/August 2019 Issue 223
As the remits of sports venues expand â€“ can tech integration keep up?
AV integration in a networked world
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Sustainable change Both a blessing and a curse of a joint issue such as this, is that a lot has happened in the interim, so excuse the brain dump that follows. Something fresh in my mind, is a recent visit I made to the Tateside experience centre in London for Amina’s latest product launch and demo. Aside from the general quality of the product, which is undeniably high, it is refreshing when a product actually does what the PR blurb suggests it will. Amina’s stock-in-trade is invisible speakers, and the refreshing part is that they are actually speakers you can’t see. Not discreet speakers or ones that blend in nicely with the decor of a room, speakers that are installed in the wall within the plasterboard or wall covering material and are impossible to detect. This contrasts with a lot of what is circulated from PRs and marketing departments that stretch to breaking point the definitions of words and even technical descriptions. A topic covered in-depth in this issue is green AV – or more broadly – sustainability. While at InfoComm earlier in the year, I asked a number of vendors about whether this was a concern, and the answers depended firstly on where that company was based and also what customer they were dealing with. Companies and customers in Western and Northern Europe were more likely to be concerned about energy and sustainability issues, whereas those based in the US were generally not – no doubt due to their customers not raising it as a major consideration. There was a general recognition that even if it’s not a top priority yet, it will form a larger part of purchasing decisions going forward. However, it’s hard to shake the impression that it may be too late for incremental changes to production processes – not just in AV, but across all forms of technology. The debate over climate change is the gift that keeps on giving as every time you think we’ve reached the nadir, a few months go by and you realise how much worse things could get. The burden is not one that can be solely shouldered by manufacturers, there needs to be more support for goods made sustainably. It's through this kind of groundswell that solutions to seemingly insurmountable issues gain momentum.
HDMI 2.0 Audio Inserter & Extractor HD-AUD-IO S u p p o r ts 4 K 6 0 4:4 :4 a n d is H D C P 2 .2 c o m p a ti b le . E x tr a c ts a n d e m b e d s b o t h L R a n a l o g o r S P D IF d ig ita l a u d io P r o v id e s E D ID m a n a g e me n t fo r b o th a u d io a n d v id e o C o n tr o lla b le v ia 3 r d p a r ty d e v ic e
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22 Contributors: Mike Clark David Davies Keith Dutch Jonathan Gibson Ian McMurray Andrew Starks Tom Van de Sande Phil Ward
Special thanks: Alexis Lipoff Anita Lo Keziah Newlove
Cover Image: Marco Borsato at De Kuip courtesy of d&b audiotechnik Credit: Bart Heemskerk
Special Report: Sports venues 22 A whole new ball game Stadiums are increasingly having to integrate both PA-VA and sound production, we find out how successful this has been and highlight the pitfalls 28 Hybrid approach We look at how sports venues are using displays to enhance the match day experience and how this impact is being measured
06 AV Technology Awards 2019 A look back at all the winners from our new look awards event
12 Opinion Andrew Starks asks if the collective fear around SMPTE ST-2110 is justified Keith Dutch reveals the key considerations for successful LED display mounting How to win big in the world of sports content, as told by Jonathan Gibson
40 The University of Padua This historic centre of learning has upgraded three of its foremost spaces, with an emphasis placed on usability for the in-house team
44 The GEOMAR A marine research institute has continued its expansion with the installation of a new projection dome
48 St. Eugene’s Cathedral This historic church sought a sound reinforcement upgrade that would help tame inconsistent acoustics and improve overall intelligibility
50 Solutions in Brief Including Northern Europe’s largest and longestrunning music festival, a new stadium museum celebrating 120 years of Athletic Bilbao, and a specially designed sound system at France’s biggest five-star hotel resort
52 Products Featuring Amina’s new invisible speakers, Barco ClickShare and VIQ Solutions CapturePRO
Barco’s Gerwin Damberg on how the company’s different technology areas benefit each other
A selection of the best mounting solutions
34 Feature: Next steps
AUDAC’s father and son team on running a successful family business in the AV industry
We find out to what extent customers are 4
demanding greener AV solutions and how manufacturers are responding
58 Last word
AV Technology Awards
he AV Technology Awards 2019 ceremony proved a huge success with the room filled with guests from every part of the AV supply chain. The new format was well
received with the best bits of the Install Awards and the AV Technology Europe Awards combined to create something different for the industry and a memorable night for all.
AND THE WINNERS ARE PROJECT EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Corporate Project of the Year: Panasonic Business/McKeon Group, Allied Irish Bank Education Project of the Year: Snelling Business Systems, Quadram Institute Retail/DOOH Project of the Year: Pioneer Group/Play Retail, OPI VR Pods Venue Project of the Year: Plus4Audio/APG, Royal Geographical Society Theatre Visitor Attraction Project of the Year: White Light, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi
TECHNOLOGY EXCELLENCE AWARDS Audio Product of the Year: Shure Microflex Complete Wireless Display Product of the Year: Peerless-AV, Xtreme High Bright Outdoor Display Collaboration Product of the Year: Mersive, Gen3 Pod
Projection Product of the Year: disguise, OmniCal Signal Management Product of the Year: Luxul AMS-1816P AV Accessory of the Year: HoverCam Pilot 3
INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Company of the Year: Sahara AV End User Team of the Year: University of Hertfordshire Newcomer of the Year: Elliott Moores, Visavvi Outstanding Contribution Award: Terry Friesenborg Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters for their help in making this event happen and to our independent panel of judges who had the difficult task of choosing the winners.
AV Technology Awards
< Corporate Project of the Year Winner Panasonic Business/ McKeon Group, Allied Irish Bank
> Snelling Business Systems won Education Project of the Year for the Quadram Institute
< Retail/DOOH Project of the year went to Pioneer Group/Play Retail
> APG were thrilled to receive their first international award for their work at the Royal Geographical Society Theatre
< White Lightâ€™s work on Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi was named Visitor Attraction of the Year
AV Technology Awards
Shure got the first product gong of the night for Audio Product of the Year
Peerless-AV with their Display Product of the Year award
Team Mersive took home the Collaboration Product of the Year award
The disguise team were thrilled to win Projection Product of the Year
Midwich picked up the award for Signal Management Product of the Year on behalf of Luxul
And the award for best acceptance speech goes to... host Tom Ward on behalf of HoverCam, peace out...
AV Technology Awards
> The prestigious Company of the Year award went to Sahara
< The University of Hertfordshire was named End User Team of the Year
> Graeme Massey presented Elliott Moores with his Newcomer of the Year Award
< Panasonic and Visavvi toast their success
> Guests from every part of the AV supply chain were in attendance
AV Technology Awards
Terry Friesenborg proved a very popular winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award
Thanks again to all our sponsors and partners and look out for our save the date announcement for next yearâ€™s event soon. www.avtechnologyawards.com
Winners received a warm reception throughout the ceremony and many guests celebrated until the early hours
Change afoot What’s so scary about SMPTE ST-2110, asks Andrew Starks? When the overseas shipping industry forced ISO 668 Intermodal Containers on the trucking and rail industries, there were riots and congressional hearings in the United States. Then, according to economist Daniel M Bernhofen, the US saw containerisation’s effect; a global trade increase of 700% over the 10-year period studied. In pro AV and broadcast production, we’ve seen enough examples to get scared and also to prepare. The battle over which AV over IP technology will dominate our industry determines whether or not our own revolution is ready to start. If we settle on two or three competing standards, we’ll see a similar market reconfiguration to what happened when DLP projectors came on the scene; some names went away, new names surfaced, and we all made money in similar ways. If instead we choose a single, open, interoperable method of AVoIP media transport, our industry will be profoundly transformed, following the past pattern of the trucking, rail and other industries. Today, there are at least five significant AVoIP solutions and none are compatible with each other. The only vetted, professional, open standard in the mix is SMPTE ST-2110. In addition to pulling off some significant, early technical achievements
It has predictably been the most provocative, with a number of posts written about how unsuited it is to pro AV workflows"
at sporting events and broadcast operation centres worldwide, it has been the most provocative, with a number of posts written (including one from the SDVoE Alliance) about how unsuited it is to pro AV workflows. You hear the same complaints over and over: the old guard came together and made an AV over IP solution that costs more than the broadcast equipment they were trying to replace. The ST-2110 set of standards define how bits are packed (RTP), how streams are described (SDP) and how source synchronous timing is achieved (PTP). These layers build upon one another to make a composable way to send and receive low-latency, uncompressed video, audio and ancillary data across an IP network. At this layer of broadcast television production, anything that’s over-complicated will fail at events such as the Olympics or the Grammy Awards. That scale and simplicity is expensive and time-consuming to develop, but the results are speaking for themselves, as major components of the standard come on-line.
Benefits for pro AV The AV industry can benefit from this progress. Since future expansion is baked into ST-2110’s design, we can consider broader use cases under the same API and framework, if we develop profiles with interoperability in mind. In that spirit, there is a strong push to develop the additional standards and mechanisms needed to meet popular requirements in pro AV, such as compression, HDCP, Hot Plug Detect, CEC and others that are outside of HDMI. If there was a better standard for moving stories across an IP network in every possible market, we’d build on that one. Since there isn’t, our best choice was and is to work with SMPTE, Video Services Forum, AMWA/AIMS, and others that are focused on achieving these goals through open standards. It makes sense to rain down on open standards if your business model includes promoting a closed networking standard in the year 2019. However, if that is not your situation, then consider this question: will the open standard eventually win out? If history is anything to go by, it makes more sense to help lead the change by getting involved in the standards process. By helping to build the future infrastructure that will become the foundation for how we communicate within the IP domain, your company will be better prepared with products and a strategy for the transition that is all but certain to come, sooner than later. Andrew Starks is director of product management at Macnica www.macnica.com
Shedding light There are a number of considerations that are key to ensuring successful LED display mounting, writes Keith Dutch The display mounting market has advanced considerably over the past five years. This continuous development is obviously driven by the evolution of displays, and there is no better example than the emergence of Direct View LED (DvLED). Three years ago, DvLED was still in its infancy as a new technology and now we are seeing LED walls in all manner of creative size and configuration possibilities from fixed to wall and pop-out, ceiling suspended, recessed, moveable, and even concave and convex. As the industry swells with excitement over the latest and greatest LED projects around the globe, it’s important to shed some light on the key considerations for ensuring a safe, secure and successful install. A significant consideration for many installers is understanding the different cabinet configurations of the different LED brands and the fixing positions they use for locking the cabinets together. When purchasing a mount for LED videowalls, advice varies depending on the use case and understanding the final application. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the environment and the
What makes the real difference is the level of design consultancy and site support delivered"
desired viewing locations and make sure the ceiling or wall structure is strong enough to support the intended load. Confirm the compatibility of the mount with the LED model you are using, and for an efficient installation pay attention to features such as spacer templates to assist with quick and accurate positioning of mounting adaptors. Adjustability is essential to be able to fine tune the cabinet position to easily overcome issues such as imperfect walls and work in harmony with complex spaces to deliver a truly seamless appearance. For peace of mind it is recommended to use mounts that have been tested and qualified to UL safety standards. It’s also crucial to consider the overall installation in terms of where power and data cables are coming from. For DvLED mounts, refer to mount manufacturer online LED videowall configurators, which allow installers to explore universal, dedicated and custom DvLED mounting solutions. Via these configurators they can easily design their required configuration factoring in critical information such as mount weight, power consumption and display resolution, and request a quote within minutes, to speed up development time and delivery.
Trust issues But perhaps the most important element to an LED install is knowing who to trust for bespoke design consultancy, project handling and installation to avoid any potential install failures and public safety risks. Agua Caliente, a luxury casino, resort, and spa in California, recently installed a 112sqm curved LED wall in its new sports bar to stream sports games and horse racing live to punters. A difficult structural design with recessed displays, mixed curves, angles and shapes, this was a challenging installation. Since the wall curvature was not true to the drawing, a custom top and bottom shelf was designed and integrated within the mounting solution to provide a level surface and hold the true shape of the wall. Flexible adjustment on the mount’s X, Y, and Z axis helped to overcome any further wall defects, align pixels and smooth out any irregularities. Custom DvLED projects like this are on the increase as end customers aim to push boundaries and create unique experiences. For such complex projects, what makes the real difference is the level of design consultancy and site support delivered part and parcel with the mounting solution. In a developing and rapidly growing market with so many players and no standard solution, this is the only way to ensure effective and successful support for your LED investment. Keith Dutch is managing director – EMEA at Peerless-AV www.peerless-av.com
Simple solution How to win big in the world of sports content, according to Jonathan Gibson Fan engagement is the key to winning in today’s competitive global world of sport. Club loyalty lasts a lifetime and is handed down between generations. Sport has also become a truly global phenomenon, with fans of a team based around the world. Over the Top (OTT) and direct-to-consumer videos hold potential for new revenue streams and fan loyalty, opening new markets for all kinds of leagues and clubs. This could include everything from post-match interviews and half-time highlights to exclusive content. The days of traditional broadcast deals as the main source of revenue for rights holders are long gone. However, launching, managing, maintaining and monetising today’s successful sports video strategy can be a daunting task, especially when fans want to be able to watch content on any device, any platform and in their local language. To remain a player in sports video, it’s time for the industry to streamline operations. Hundreds of hours of video content, from multiple sources, in different formats and with varying degrees of metadata need to be delivered quickly and efficiently to multiple consumer platforms. Paying for expensive rights won’t yield much profit unless you get the relevant content to the right audiences, at the right time, on the right device. Fans are no longer all in the same ground or tuned into the
The days of traditional broadcast deals as the main source of revenue for rights holders are long gone” 16
match live on TV. They could be catching up on the weekend’s highlights after work, or streaming live on a train journey. The combinations of where, when, and on what, make for a huge number of outcomes you need to be able to deliver. Behind the scenes, content producers are having to streamline their operations to do this. They can’t rely on manually ingested metadata from a disparate group of systems. The entire workflow operation that gets sports content from the camera to the screen has had to adapt and flex to keep up. Everything needs to come together, and producers need a single source of truth to keep track of so many moving parts.
Huge opportunity Teams and clubs need to keep providing their fans with access to match content, but aside from video content being a requirement it is also a huge opportunity. There is the chance to encourage fans to engage with other offerings and services or pay for premium content. To help meet these needs, and given the global nature of sports, content owners are increasingly looking to AI to solve the key challenges created. For example, a broadcaster could have partnerships with teams around the world. They need to be able to quickly repurpose clips into different formats, add logos and graphics, all while keeping an eye on the game. Fans want to experience matches in new ways too. For example, overlay content which provides player stats during the game or virtual reality to get fans even closer to the action. Whatever the future of sports content holds, it will be increasingly important the video teams in the industry have access to platforms, which can meet these innovations and allow them to quickly take advantage of them. We’re already seeing sports organisations around the world take advantage of this new technology to boost the fan experience. Ligue de Football Professionnel, for example, powers its new direct-to-consumer OTT service using a configurable content supply chain optimisation platform, which allows the French football body to manage metadata and video assets. A flexible and functional workflow means they can get their content on every device and platform, in every language to reach their growing legion of fans worldwide. The challenge may be complex, but the solution should be simple. The sports industry needs a solution that can handle the variety of needs today, but also grow into the future as fan needs and demands develop. In a technology-heavy industry, a seamless integration into existing technology and systems is vital. Jonathan Gibson is director of global sports sales at Ooyala www.ooyala.com
Gerwin Damberg, Barco
A vision of the future An ever-present hub of innovation, Barco is in a better position than most to respond to the dynamic changes across the industry. Duncan Proctor talks to CTO Gerwin Damberg about emerging trends and markets, the shifting nature of AV sales and the advantages of being a company that focuses on multiple technology areas
Now that the two major AV trade shows are behind us, what would you say are the biggest strengths of the ISE and InfoComm shows? Looking back at ISE in February and InfoComm in June, for Barco both were again important events to demonstrate our current product lines and provide a preview of upcoming innovation to our partners, customers and technology enthusiasts. The intensity of both shows is unique in the AV space and 18
as such year after year they present a highlight for our teams to network and reconnect with the broader AV community, gather feedback on current products and upcoming offerings and to refresh our views on trends in the overall field. For new employees at Barco, ISE and InfoComm are welcome opportunities to get up to speed quickly and obtain a snapshot of the entire AV ecosystem in just a few days.
Gerwin Damberg, Barco While Barco at its heart is a technology company, ultimately what matters is that we provide cohesive product offerings and end-to-end solutions to our customers, together with our integration partners and that we do so at the right time. The underlying deep foundational technology expertise is merely the toolset to innovate towards those products. Within our technology tool chest, we have access to a broad range of building blocks covering almost all advanced display and projection technologies as well as connectivity, collaboration and networking technologies. In addition, we have given ourselves the mandate to lead in some of the younger fields such as computational optics and photonics as well as rendering, parallel computing and machine intelligence for upcoming products. While staying up to date so broadly and deeply in the technology domain and at the same time moving fast and focused on product development requires some degree of discipline, our product managers have the advantage of being able to tap into this pool of expert engineers to create innovative solutions tailored to our customer needs.
Sometimes new technology originates in product engineering within a business unit and is later adopted elsewhere in the company One interesting aspect for Barco is that ISE is co-hosted by CEDIA. This additional emphasis on home theatre is welcome as Barco is exploring the positioning of our products or adaptations thereof to a broader customer base beyond the professional user, for example via the high-end residential line of projectors. What advantages are there being a company that doesnâ€™t just focus on one area of technology?
How do the different technology areas Barco operates in inform one another? Barco leverages platform technology as much as possible across products and markets, but always allows for enough freedom to differentiate in each product line. The only way to effectively achieve this is when both product management and R&D work closely together at the corporate level and across business units not only to inform each other but to collaborate actively. Sometimes new technology originates in product engineering within a business unit and is later adopted elsewhere in the company and sometimes new technology is pioneered at the corporate level and showcased internally as a proof of concept in collaboration with a product group. What current tech trends is Barco well placed to take advantage of? Barcoâ€™s current offerings are going well beyond display and projection applications that used to make up a large part of our business. As a visualisation company active in entertainment, enterprise and medical markets, connectivity, workflows and content insights are becoming more and more important in almost all of Barcoâ€™s product offerings. Also, while not necessarily a new technology, there is today an expectation from customers that technology is easy to setup and use. Putting the right degree of care into designing clean and simple user interfaces that are cohesive across products takes effort in development but pays off in the long run. In the professional space this simplicity must be mated with enough room for customisation for the application.
Gerwin Damberg, Barco
Due to the expansion of AV in recent years, are you seeing strong growth in surprising market verticals? Barco has retained a strong position in its core markets but has also had the courage to divest businesses that did not continue to fit that focus to make room for new opportunities. Our collaboration products are one example where Barco was able to grow in a new market vertical and where the rate of growth of the new business was encouraging. Having seen some of the new innovations in the labs I am confident it is the right decision to allow this relatively new business to expand and innovate fast in the space. How do you see the balance between the IT department and the AV integrator? Will there be growing levels of competition in the future or greater collaboration? Both and it probably depends quite a bit on the customer organisation. On collaboration and meeting room tools, for example, the purchasing decision can involve management whose primary focus might be less on technology and more on the overall meeting efficiency gains that can be achieved by installing new collaboration solutions. Since meeting room hardware such as displays, projectors, microphones, speakers, cameras and whiteboards are all connected today via the company networks and affects the bandwidth and resources IT will always be involved. To identify the best solution will usually require guidance from the AV integrator. At Barco we strive to make this integration across devices as easy and flexible as possible. How important has the company’s new HQ building been to its continued development? Barco at its core is an international company with offices in more than 90 countries. This is also true for R&D where we have development sites across the globe. While some of the sites have certain core competencies, many if not all products are developed in teams distributed over multiple sites and time zones. The new headquarters building in Belgium brought under one roof many employees from different sites in the region, which has been positive. As production, R&D and other functions share one new space it feels as if the interaction between the groups has also increased. Aside from that, Barco’s headquarters is a very functional building in which it is easy to get together and get things done and, in my opinion, aesthetically quite pleasing architecture. When I visit from Vancouver, Canada, about every 4-6 weeks or so, it always feels a little bit like a Silicon Valley headquarters. Just that it’s in Flanders, Belgium. 20
Connectivity, workflows and content insights are becoming more and more important in almost all of Barco’s product offerings Like many companies, does Barco see the future of AV sales in complete solutions rather than standalone products? Integrators have always and will continue to play an important role in the pro AV and consumer ecosystem. Having said that, Barco strives to provide more and more complete solutions from source to display. Our products will continue to meet and exceed the high demands of the professional markets we serve. In many applications some degree of customisation is dictated by the specific customer needs. Barco strives to provide this flexibility within our individual products and to make it easy for our different products to connect. Where we don’t have the complete solution in-house, we try to design for universal connectivity according to the most common industry standards. This benefits both our customers and our partners such as AV integrators. How different are all the geographical markets Barco has a presence in? And does any one in particular pose more challenges? As for other industries the different regions that Barco sells and manufactures in are quite different. This relates to almost all aspects of the product lifecycle including R&D, patenting, sourcing and suppliers, local standards and regulations, marketing, sales and even operating conditions such as humidity that can affect the performance of our products. The speed at which some of the emerging markets such as China and India move can be both a challenge and an opportunity and it is good to have people ‘on the ground’ and working locally to understand how to best approach the business in each geography. Over the next few years how do you see Barco developing as a company? Our goal is for Barco to continue to lead by innovation for impactful products in the markets we are already strong in, and to look beyond that to leverage the technology expertise we have access to. In this process we will continue to involve our customers and partners closely. www.barco.com
A whole new ball game Phil Ward investigates whether sports venues are smashing audio integration out of the park
ABOVE: Amsterdam ArenA includes loudspeaker clusters that physically rotate into concert mode
ollowing the debut of Major League Baseball at The London Stadium, European sport is about to face changes that will replace pies and pints with hot dogs and cheerleaders. Fittingly, the arrival of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees took place at the stadium in East London that hosted the Olympics in 2012, an event that did more to push back the frontiers of sports presentation AV than anything before or since.
LED before wicket The legislation requirements for VA remain the same 22
in all sporting venues worldwide, although interpretations can be different. One thing’s for sure: it’s all about intelligibility. “In cricket, attendance can range from the huge crowds at Melbourne and Sydney, for example, to county cricket with its frequently low revenues – making it hard to justify a wholesale, premium-quality music sound system,” says Stephen ‘Oggi’ Hogg, a director at d&b audiotechnik GB. “They also have fewer hanging points, being very open, resulting in compromised solutions for many stands. But, like a lot of US sports, the games allow natural breaks that can be filled with some form of interaction between the sound system and the
“The stakeholders at Tottenham understand the importance of audio to the atmosphere" Ryan Penny, Harman
audience – musical stings, sponsor messages and so on. Those requirements are broadly the same, and there is premiumisation going on. “After Hillsborough and others, the need to get a message across was recognised but quality wasn’t initially on the agenda. Today, there are considerations of timbre and authority – ensuring a voice that people will respect. In cricket you’ll get this through overlays just on the audience side of the boundary: small groundstacks that can be wheeled out. The ICC Cricket World Cup gets large crowds regularly, so the overlay costs can be justified. On a more regular basis
sound, typically, get less priority than floodlights, video screens and signage.” But if venues do respond to the commercial pressures to generate more revenue, surely they have to consider audio as a key ingredient? “I think we’re in a period of transition,” says Hogg. “There is a holistic requirement for AV, especially in sports arenas, and the ambition is there to achieve it – at least from a new generation of stadium and arena managers who have grown up in a different world from the classic silver-service, three-course meal view of hospitality. Football used to host the ‘community cathedral’, were everybody smoked, had a pie and pint and went home again. “But it has all moved forward, and the desire to embrace available modern technologies is appearing more and more. Sound may take a bit of a back seat right now, but ultimately it will take its natural place in the new world. For instance, d&b’s R1 as monitoring software is not only able to comply with a legislative component; utilising OCA [Open Control Architecture] enables direct control of the sound system and integration across multiple control platforms and networks. AV integration needs to be thought about early on to make sure you’ve got the right infrastructure and interoperability. The need may be limited in open-bowl stadiums, but the enclosed mega-arenas we’re now seeing developed should undoubtedly be able to embrace that holistic approach to audio, video and projection mapping – and let’s not ignore control of rigging mechanisms, seating and more.”
Powerful draw Efficiency of power consumption is one of the most important considerations in any stadium, and amplifiers play a central role in this. “Class-D amplifier technology allows for a very dense power pack of amplifiers, which in turn saves a lot of rack space. The key to power efficiency in an amplifier is a
© Picture Jorrit Lousberg
very low current draw and thermal dissipation,” explains Francesco Fanicchi, brand & communication director at Powersoft. Powersoft recently upgraded Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park Stadium in Germany, resulting in a reported power requirement of just 40% of the previous draw, along with full remote control and remote monitoring. Another example is Lord’s cricket ground in London, where the audio network requires 200-300 amplifier channels. By upgrading to Powersoft, Lord’s not only expanded its audio network dramatically but also reduced its audio power consumption by 90%, according to Fanicchi. “Safety and crowd management are crucial,” he adds, “while a large and passionate crowd is the objective for every venue. While PA ensures entertainment, the VA will address the crowd in emergencies – at an SPL above the noise generated by supporters. In a combined ‘PAVA’ setup, audio quality is combined with extensive monitoring and 24
control. Entertainment, yes: but most importantly lives are at stake.” Fanicchi sees a stadium’s existing Ethernet structure as crucial for future products: they will have to work on this backbone. “The key,” he says, “is making sure the amplifier offers a powerful DSP platform while guaranteeing the best audio quality. Digital audio networks like Dante also allow for full integration of the audio system into the venue’s IT system. Another forthcoming trend is decentralised DSP, wherein the DSP is essentially split across the amplifiers so they are better equipped to protect the loudspeakers and monitor the system. By using decentralised DSP we’re also limiting the amount of network traffic and reducing the channel count on the network.”
What we really, really want Concert sound is now an established part of the biggest venues’ remits, but mistakes are being made.
"The desire to embrace available modern technologies is appearing more and more" Stephen Hogg, d&b audiotechnik “We need to pay more attention to the audio as part of the infrastructure,” asserts Gareth Collyer, Nexo’s sales manager for UK and Ireland. “The recent debacle with The Spice Girls at Croke Park could have been overcome very easily by tapping into the installed system – which happens to be Nexo, with the primary function of acting as a delay ring to prevent complaints. However, the particular system used on that show cannot be deployed with anyone else’s speaker technology, so things didn’t match up. “For as long as it lasts, the new business for the rock and roll community is the stadium sound market. Hence you see Nexo, d&b, Harman, L-Acoustics all going after that fixed install market, because it’s the next area of growth for entertainment loudspeakers – as opposed to rental, including festivals. Outside the UK, our distributors report that the majority of festivals are purely EDM.” At Manchester City, Nexo is the name on the main bowl system while Yamaha is used extensively backof-house – installed by TG Baker. “It’s 100% a VA-capable entertainment system,” states Collyer, “using Q-SYS as the networking platform and carrying Dante audio. It’s Q-SYS that gives you that whole VA backbone, totally reliable, with fault reporting, and then it’s the features within the Yamaha and Nexo products that deliver SPL and sound quality while being super-safe. It means you go to Man City and really feel the atmosphere: there’s something big going on, and it’s not just squawking boxes in the roof.” QSC’s Q-SYS media transport and control platform is now a serious challenger in the market earlier defined by BSS Soundweb and Bosch’s Praesidio digital public address and emergency sound system. These are the ringleaders, if you will, as pro audio enters the circus. “Gone are the days when one manufacturer is able to supply all the solutions,” adds Collyer, “and this is filtering down to all the small to mid-size stadiums. We did Molineux Stadium for Wolverhampton Wanderers last year – not a line
array but point source – and that’s a huge change in pre- and post-match entertainment. At Wimbledon, we’ve added Nexo line array to No.1 Court but it’s still a Soundweb backbone, installed by RG Jones.” If you ever visit the Concours Hippique International Officiel in Aachen, Germany, you’ll notice a distributed campus just like Wimbledon but, in this instance, basking in the kind of prestige recognised by horselovers. It hosts The World Equestrian Festival, 10 days of jumping, dressage, eventing, driving and vaulting for prizes including the Rolex Grand Prix, the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup and the Deutsche Bank Prize – €2.67 million worth, in total. Since 2013 Bosch’s OMNEO media networking architecture has been the backbone of the event’s labyrinthine audio, using standard Ethernet hardware. Up to 10,000 devices can sit on the network, sharing synchronised, multi-channel audio using Audinate’s Dante protocol and control systems managed by OCA. OMNEO integrates voice evacuation and information with pro audio elements used for music and entertainment. “There is a pro sound programme to all the main arenas,” explains Manuel Brico, EMEA product manager for Telex-RTS, “but in the case of an emergency the same system will patch VA into individual paging areas, wherever it’s needed.” Not only that; the networking architecture also carries the Telex-RTS intercom traffic generated by an ADAM-M digital matrix communication system. Audio, control, VA, intercoms… all down one cable.
Safe hands Gareth Collyer is also VP of the Institute of Sound & Communications Engineers (ISCE). “At the ISCE, our main focus is how we maintain those safety standards with this influx of entertainment systems,” he says. “Safety is the primary requirement, not entertainment. At the same time, we’ve got our eye on the intelligibility of the DJs and so on, and would like to establish some proper training for the sports institutions and clubs.” Manufacturing in this sector is taking note. Neil Voce is head of business development at voice alarm specialist ASL, and this is a company that has seen the writing on the AV wall, and has strategically added Dante to its systems as a direct consequence. “We offer EN54-qualified solutions, that’s the basic principle,” Voce points out. “Our latest amplification is much more dynamically variable and not just speech-orientated: full bandwidth, good SNR. The Dante compatibility gives the integrator the flexibility to use pro audio front-ends, interchangeable with most products. We’re now typically seeing high-value mixing desks managing the routing and presets, not wall panels, and that Dante network is part of our world – fully monitored and backed up. That’s exactly what we did in the U Arena.”
Opened in 2017 and now called the Paris La Défense Arena, this venue is a state-of-the-art multipurpose domed stadium in Nanterre to the West of Paris, home of rugby union club Racing 92. In a dense suburban setting, the stadium is obliged to combine sporting spectacle and entertainment in the modern way, on match days and between. “The voice alarm is secure and interference-free, but on top of that is a layer of versatile, multipurpose production sound – all managed through AV interfaces that people are familiar with,” confirms Voce. Getting this kind of integration over the line is not easy and, according to Eddie Thomas, VP, Integrated Solutions for SSE Audio Group, pro audio specialists have a crucial role to play. “Consultants vary,” he says. “Some are focused on production sound, like Vanguardia, as well as VA; others are expert in construction and the fabric of the building. It’s all about the fan experience these days, and at SSE we’ve been developing an integration platform over the last few years that we’ve rolled out at the O2 Arena and at Tottenham Hotspur. It allows for quite simple integration of AV and PA/VA systems across the network, via Dante or via core-to-core streaming using our Q-SYS solutions. “We’ve looked at many different platforms, and Q-SYS is the only one that lends itself to the level of integration that we’re achieving at the moment. It includes lighting control, AV, audio streaming and control… many different elements across the network on a single platform. That really helps with keeping down the commercial costs of the big new stadiums. It also helps with AV integration because, in effect, the AV suppliers are providing screens on the wall, input plates, all going back to their network switches and control systems, and basically we take those audio streams and distribute them via PA/VA loudspeaker zones. “When you come to design a stadium sound system you’ve got to think about the PA/VA element – the standards, the performance criteria and so on – but also about the method by which the AV
Key Points • Monitoring and control are also important elements of any PA-VA setup • The fixed install market is seen by many as the next area of growth for entertainment loudspeakers • In Europe, sports integration isn’t generally on the same level as in North America
systems are going to use the loudspeaker zones. You may have a big PA/VA zone, like a hospitality area, but that may be made up of six different AV zones – all of which may have different content. You have to consider that integration. At Tottenham we have 256 AV zones and, in effect, 23 evacuation zones, and it’s all about how the client wants to use the facilities. They have conferences; they have private boxes with individual AV systems; they have lots of autonomous zones that are part of a bigger PA/VA zone.”
White hot lane Tottenham Hotspur is a good model for reasons additional to technical ones, according to Ryan Penny, senior manager for entertainment, large
ABOVE: Croke Park, Dublin includes a Nexo sound system
“In Europe we don’t generally get the same level of integration as North America” Roland Hemming, RH Consulting
venues at Harman in the UK. It is something of a cliché that audio is elbowed out of key decisions in large-scale production, and that therefore stadium and arena projects should guard against excesses of the spectacle that are achieved at the expense of sound. Thanks in part to its NFL commitments – a sport familiar to JBL – alongside the Premier League, Tottenham has imported a sensitivity to production sound that raises the bar. “The stakeholders at Tottenham understand the importance of audio to the atmosphere,” says Penny, who has been a senior consultant at Vanguardia as well as heading the audio team at the Rio Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. “It’s integral to the match experience, and everyone from chairman
Daniel Levy down was directly responsible for so many of these elements coming together. They’re in touch with the stadium’s aspirations. “It varies from club to club, but in general the marketing professionals driving content do value sound. FIFA’s specifications reflect brand standards, too, so there is a shared goal. We just need to demonstrate what good audio is, and align expectations with what people enjoy at home.” “In Europe we don’t generally get the same level of integration as North America,” agrees RH Consulting’s Roland Hemming. “Sports presentation isn’t as sophisticated, and that impacts upon budgets for high-quality systems, by definition. There are notable exceptions, and where people have invested you see the results: greater fan engagement; longer dwell time; more repeat visitors and so on.” If a stadium expects concerts, adds Hemming, there are three choices beyond the rental system that rolls in with the act: “Don’t sell the seats where the PA doesn’t reach – costly; put in a delay system for the gig – expensive; or add fixed stadium speakers as delays – rare, as to be powerful enough that’s a big commitment for a few nights a year. Typical VA tops out at 600W, which doesn’t cut it. One beautiful exception is Amsterdam ArenA, where the loudspeaker clusters physically rotate into concert mode. The UEFA consultant calls it ‘the reference’ for audio.” Hats off to Amsterdam and Tottenham: who knew that the UEFA Champions League semi-final between Ajax and Spurs was the battle of the integrators? With benchmarks like these we might soon be seeing growth in everyone’s ballpark figures. www.asl-control.co.uk www.dbaudio.com www.isce.org.uk www.nexo-sa.com www.powersoft-audio.com www.rhconsulting.eu www.rtsintercoms.com www.sseaudiogroup.com
ABOVE: The Aviva Stadium in Dublin
technology to drive further growth, as Ian McMurray
European football is worth £22bn in annual revenues. Sport is big business, as are the venues that are its home – and like many businesses, sports stadiums are using AV
f you’re a student of the English language, new words will either delight or appal you. Traditionalists may bemoan what they see as the progressive erosion of how we speak and write – but language must evolve to keep abreast of the new ways in which we live. Take ‘phygital’ for example: the growing crossover between the physical and digital worlds. So-called ‘portmanteau’ words have always been popular to describe our new ways of doing things. Take ‘motel’, ‘docudrama’ and ‘televangelist’. Or even 'Brangelina'. And now, we have the entirely self-explanatory ‘fantertainment’. Google throws up no fewer than 17,000 links to it. It’s a new way of looking at sport – and the AV industry is at the heart of it. It’s not just about entertainment for the sake of it, though.
According to Deloitte,
“In top-tier sport, the main motivators behind the growing use of technology – especially screens – are really about enhancing the fan experience by finding more creative ways of engaging with fans through content,” says Daniel Gray, marketing officer, ADI. “Examples might include the delivery of statistics, interactive trivia, or exclusive team content.”
ABOVE: ADI installed a 188sqm screen at the home of Wasps rugby union club and additional screens and videowalls
Case study: Wasps fly high with ADI The Ricoh Arena in Coventry is home to Wasps, one of England’s top rugby union clubs (and, until the end of last season, to League One club Coventry City). ADI installed a 188sqm LED screen at the stadium as part of a wider installation that includes scoreboard, external screens and internal foyer displays. ADI also manages all the content. Because the screen is a superwide format, Wasps can use the canvas much more creatively – combining content to engage and inform fans on a match day. The display can be split into zones, delivering live clock and score, alongside club partner branding – all without detracting from the main video window relaying the match action. Social media is a big part of the match day experience, with fan tweets occupying a section of the screen. According to ADI, Wasps has seen a significant increase in fan engagement since the installation.
“At the lower tier, the drivers are varied, but usage is perhaps skewed towards commercial revenue,” he continues. “Digital displays are very much used as a commercial asset – an advertising or sponsorship platform that directly drives revenue. Usually we work with clubs to help them create commercial models, which are activated through the use of digital platforms in the stadium.” 30
There’s more to it, however, than enhancing fan engagement to drive revenues: perception of the status of the club is also at play, believes Ben Kershaw, managing director of Pro Display. “There’s a lot of pressure on venue owners to ensure that their facilities measure up to customers’ and players’ expectations,” he believes. “The impression given of a team, if their stadium is under-equipped, may have a big bearing on the mindset of players and fans.” Anecdotally, it seems to be the case that football clubs in particular find it easier to sign top flight players if they can offer the lure of playing regularly in a spectacular stadium. Image is everything.
‘Wow!’ factor “Stadiums are investing in AV technology in order not only to deliver an enhanced visitor experience, but also to deliver a ‘wow’ factor that will lift visitors’ perceptions of the venue in some way so it must be exciting, inspiring and relevant,” says Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager at NEC Display Solutions Europe. She also goes on to note how, just as QSRs are embracing digital signage technology to drive revenues, so too are food and beverage outlets in stadiums – and how screens can be used to publicise events that might otherwise slip under the radar of their prospective audience.” Displays have long been a feature of world-class stadiums – but, historically, those were enormous, LED-based screens (Sony’s JumboTron was the earliest example) that delivered basic in-game information. What’s new isn’t the use of displays – it’s the proliferation, and how they’re used.
Sports venues “Screens are a tool to keep fans engaged and entertained wherever they are in the stadium,” believes Andy Truswell, systems integration manager, Pure AV. “If they need to leave the match area, live streamed footage means nothing is missed. Pre- and post-match they inform, promote and entertain. They have the potential to assist with visitor flow and evacuation management. In some venues, they support in-house advertising and are used to promote the additional facilities available to fans and visitors to the stadium.”
Connected stadium “Displays today are being used in more of a variety of different ways than ever before,” says Mark Childerhouse, director, Pioneer Group, “from wayfinding and live match updates, to bespoke content, digital menu boards, to essential messaging and advertising. The idea of a connected stadium is just emerging as a reality, with rapid deployment of content across displays on concourse, on the pitch, in hospitality areas and in the bars and restaurants.” “There is a growing demand for displays outside of the main bowl,” echoes Ewan Prentice, business development manager at Daktronics. “To create an experience that cannot be replicated by the home experience, fans need to be engaged from the moment they arrive at the facility. Uniquely shaped marquee displays, transparent displays, highresolution indoor displays in clubs, atriums or concourses are all growing in popularity to keep fans engaged and immersed in the excitement of the event before, during and after the match. “What started as a need to show live video, replays and advertising has evolved into needing better image quality, larger sizes for better visibility and an increased amount of signage to accommodate multiple needs,” he goes on. “The control systems have required advancement as the display technology has evolved to better accommodate the amount of pixels on a display as well as the number of displays they are controlling. A truly integrated system to create a fully-immersive fan experience is becoming the expectation.” Widespread deployment of screens can also generate other revenue streams.
Multi-purpose venues “From a technology point of view, LED displays are transforming stadiums into world class multipurpose venues, which enables them to look beyond sport into venue hire for private events, music gigs, corporate events and even large-scale esports events – a growing area of opportunity,” believes Childerhouse. And: he thinks things could get personal – perhaps the ultimate form of engagement.
Stadiums are investing in AV technology in order not only to deliver an enhanced visitor experience, but also to deliver a ‘wow’ factor" Jasmin Stemmler, NEC Display Solutions Europe “There is substantial investment in the upgrade of WiFi networks and WiFi integration into displays for rapid deployment of content and live social feeds,” he adds. “A fully connected stadium means that the attendee can have multiple tailored touch points as soon as their ticket is scanned.” As is increasingly the case with almost any audiovisual deployment, the installation isn’t looked on as an expense – but an investment. However, as Gray points out, just hanging a number of screens and waiting for the money to come rolling in is a poor strategy. “We consult with many clubs and sports venues to help them maximise ROI from their display technology,” he says. “The best results are achieved when clubs think about display technology as a holistic platform, rather than each in isolation. By considering display technology as a stadium-wide brand activation platform, clubs are able to define partner programmes that deliver a much greater yield than simply thinking about each platform as separate advertising channels.” “For example,” he continues, “we’ve seen clubs outside of top tier football increase revenue by 1,700% by rethinking the way they commercialise digital platforms. Those clubs who think differently achieve a far greater return than some of those clubs in higher divisions who still apply the old media models that have been around for 20 years.”
Significant contribution There is also sponsorship. In the UK, clubs like Manchester City (Etihad), Arsenal (Emirates), Leicester City (King Power) and Brighton (AmEx) have all renamed their grounds as part of sponsorship deals. Shirt sponsorship in the Premier League is worth in excess of £300 million each season (Chevrolet, for example, pay Manchester
The best results are achieved when clubs think about display technology as a holistic platform, rather than each in isolation"
United almost £50 million) – and there’s almost £50 million on top of that for sleeve sponsorship… Those sponsors need to be kept happy, and in-venue brand exposure on-screen can make a significant contribution. What makes them particularly happy, though, is not just for the brand to be exposed to 50,000 fans in the stadium: exposure on TV is, in effect, the holy grail with its audience measured in tens of millions. Here too, there are interesting developments. “With perimeter LED technology, there is increasing demand for virtual hybrid functionality,” says Gray. “This technology makes it possible to virtually change the perimeter content seen by fans watching a game in different countries, meaning brands can pick and choose the markets they target, or change their message for different territories. For clubs and brands, it’s game changing – allowing them to unlock new revenues from a media platform that had previously reached its peak in tier one sports.” Kershaw helps calibrate the impact of that. “We’ve been told by a client that a minute of Premier League pitch-side advertising can cost companies in the region of £30,000,” he says. Advertising does, of course, have a key role to play in revenue generation – but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
ROI calculation “Some clubs may not have the attendance to drive major advertising revenue,” states Prentice. “For those teams, the ROI calculation may be driven by season ticket sales or an increase in event attendance. For most facilities, the ROI calculation will likely be a combination of the two factors.” Lack of funding to make the investment, however, need not be a barrier. There is, potentially, another approach as Truswell points out. 32
Picture credit: Helmut Seidl
Daniel Gray, ADI
Key Points • The primary purposes of deploying AV technology in stadiums are enhancing the match day experience and driving fan engagement – and thus revenues • Valuable sponsorship deals are reflected in on-screen advertising, reinforcing their value • The additional value of TV exposure is being reflected in new technologies for perimeter advertising • Clubs are moving towards an all-embracing fan engagement strategy that includes apps/mobile devices
ABOVE: Berlin Olympiastadion
and statistics is driving an increase in demand for solutions that enable interaction between mobile devices and the AV on site.” “App integration is a crucial element of the activity, especially for mid-tier LED displays,” adds Childerhouse. “Fan engagement is encouraged by fans that can’t make the game with the integration of social media and the highlighting of content from players to increase their profile within the stadium environment.”
“One way that sports stadiums are overcoming this barrier is through arrangements with media companies,” he explains. “In this scenario, the media company covers the cost of the hardware and installation, recovering their investment through ongoing advertising revenues, which are also shared with the stadium.” While screens are the most visible element of technology deployment in stadiums, there are other opportunities. “Technology also has a part to play during the live event,” says Truswell. “‘Dual screening’ is now a part of modern life, and the desire and capacity of fans to consume content alongside the live action shouldn’t be underestimated. The need for stadiums to respond and to provide opportunities for fans to engage with good quality content replays
“App development is a major part of our work,” he continues, “to boost engagement and create a more integrated fan experience. Technologies such as VR/AR are very exciting and we’re certainly exploring possible avenues. VR in particular, opens up the possibility for fans to have a stadium experience from home, even from the other side of the world.” “Given the need for stadiums to continually seek new ways to increase fan engagement,” Truswell adds, “perhaps the most exciting developments in screens and displays will be around how we connect and share content between them and other devices, particularly mobiles and wearables.” “App development and VR/AR isn’t something we see much of in relation to sports stadiums just yet,” says Kershaw. “However, these are aspects that we expect to take off in coming years. We find our products – such as our projection simulation screens and our interactive mirror screens – complement or facilitate VR and AR. As time goes on, we do expect to see more stadiums taking on these ventures but we find as yet – ‘next gen’ stadiums aside – the wider focus is still very much on passive displays in this industry rather than interactive.” Inevitably, much of the discussion of the deployment of leading edge technology in stadiums will revolve around the sports with the most money – and that, of course, means football. The same principles apply, however, whatever the sport: whether it’s boxing, athletics, rugby, cricket or hockey – anywhere a crowd is likely to gather to watch a match or game – the same principles apply. As with any other AV industry segment: for those prepared to invest in understanding the business, sport represents an excellent prospect as its use of technology to drive revenue increases. For manufacturers and integrators alike, it is truly a marketunity. www.adi.tv www.daktronics.com www.nec-display-solutions.com www.pioneergroup.co.uk www.prodisplay.com www.pureav.co.uk
ABOVE: Under its new sustainability programme, Meyer Sound has cut manufacturing waste by nearly 75%
Demand by AV customers for more eco-friendly solutions and less carbonintensive production processes has increased significantly over the past few years. David Davies finds out whether manufacturers are now rising to the challenge
t would have been difficult not to register the way in which the use of environmental terminology has begun to shift over the past year or two. Increasingly, ‘climate change’ has started to give way to ‘climate crisis’ or ‘climate catastrophe’ as evidence mounts to the effect that we are swiftly approaching the point of no return. Not before time, this is leading to more widespread action at a government level, as well as in business and industrial circles. For example, the UK recently became the first major economy to commit to ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, and detailed plans on how this might be achieved are in the process of being developed. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is one of the most prominent organisations to have expressed support for the plan and is now shaping an action plan to implement more sustainable standards and practices. In this context, the feeling that manufacturers need to review their processes and minimise the environmental impact of the entire lifecycle of their products has never been stronger. In pro AV this has already led to some notable individual commitments by manufacturers. This article will look at the impact of some of these developments, along with the potential for pro AV’s global footprint to be substantially reduced. But we start with one of the most fundamental questions: how
ABOVE: More videoconferencing results in less business travel for meetings
much do green issues now inform customer decisions, and to what extent is this awareness informing current R&D work in the industry?
Energy efficiency The consensus view among the manufacturers who spoke to Installation is that interest in green AV solutions is now growing sharply. But with the potential of many such solutions to reduce energy expenditure, it is not necessarily possible to determine whether the motive of customers is environmental, financial or both. Colin Farquhar, CEO of Exterity, remarks: “We are seeing prospective customers in various regions increasingly placing a premium on energy efficiency when looking for an AV solution, but whether green considerations or cost-effectiveness is the primary impetus is often not obvious. What is clear now is that we are regularly seeing new customers enquire about the Energy Star label or equivalent in the early stages of a project across markets in EMEA.” In terms of geography, “the situation in Asia-Pacific is similar to Europe – we have some customers that are keen to understand how green Exterity’s products are, and if [they] can help them achieve their business goals. Interestingly, we are also seeing that in some areas where businesses target their consumption and electricity is at a premium, such as South Africa, they don’t often ask about our green AV credentials.” Casio’s national account manager, Alan Garratt, echoes these sentiments about enhanced interest in the potential of green AV. “End users are becoming increasingly aware of both power consumption and wastage associated with electrical products as well as recycling and disposal issues surrounding them,” he says. “We’ve made it part of our strategy to encourage end users to look at total cost of ownership, as well as power consumption, to understand that variable specifications have an effect on the product’s lifespan.” To date it would be fair to say that the lion’s share of promotional activity around green AV products has
centred around the lowering of energy consumption. But increasingly, there is an awareness that many other factors do come into play. For example, there is the whole issue of the production process; if components for a product are being sourced from multiple nations and assembly is then taking place in another country, the carbon footprint of its production process will potentially be significant. And at the other end of the product narrative, so to speak, there is the issue of disposal and recycling – rarely straightforward with electronics products. Reflecting on the professional projector business, Garratt confirms that “the key for the end user is the power consumption and the consumables involved in the operation of the product. The laser and LED light source never need replacing as it produces the same level of brightness across the lifespan of the projector itself. This is a massive saving on manufacturing as previously lamps and filters might need changing every few months if used regularly.” He adds that “recycling is key, and electronics are notoriously tricky to recycle, which is why we offer a recycling service. Unfortunately, across the board our electronics are made in Japan, Korea and China, among other Asian countries, which means shipping is a real issue which everyone is looking at ways to address. Projectors are becoming smaller and lighter, which goes some way to start addressing the freight issues but there is a long way to go.” As well as the power consumption issue, Farquhar says that “there are a number of elements organisations must consider in order to be able to offer ‘greener’ solutions, and at Exterity we make every effort to protect and improve the environment in all areas of our operations. [For instance] we work continuously to decrease our use of energy and materials, and to decrease the amount of waste we generate, recycle waste that is generated, and properly dispose of waste that cannot be recycled. This continuous process results in small but significant changes in all areas annually. “We also ensure that we work in partnership with contractors, suppliers and other third parties to encourage continuous improvement in environmental performance and practices.”
The unique case of videoconferencing Lifesize CTO Bobby Beckmann highlights packaging as a further aspect of the green AV mix, with the company “forgoing ‘retail packaging’ that isn’t readily recyclable in favour of muted brown cardboard boxes packed with brown craft paper and inscribed with standard black ink, all of which is very easily recyclable. And when styrofoam must be used for packing, we clearly delineate how it can be recycled.” The company also “makes it a point to proactively follow” the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, ensuring that it sets up and manages contacts to arrange for proper disposal and recycling of
“We are seeing prospective customers in various regions increasingly placing a premium on energy efficiency when looking for an AV solution” Colin Farquhar, Exterity any hardware decommissioned by its customers. Beyond that there is the inherent environmentallyfriendly potential of the video communications sector. In the VC world, confirms Beckmann, “we’re in a unique position in that the more than 1.5 billion minutes of meetings that occur on Lifesize’s cloud videoconferencing service and meeting room systems actually aid customers in being more environmentally-
friendly themselves. Less business travel for meetings and more telecommuting leads to less gas consumption, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller corporate carbon footprint, and also presents the attractive side effect of lowering travel costs. So yes, while Lifesize also implements features in our devices that make them greener and [result in a] lower TCO, there’s a much bigger story to tell around our advantage in making companies – and entire industries – greener.” The contribution that (in Beckmann’s words) “extending the lifespan of the technology” can have on the overall impact of pro AV was echoed by other contributors to this article. For Casio, this translates to an emphasis on developing projectors that are futureproofed with support for standards that are both popular now and expected to be so in the future. As Garratt remarks: “With technology moving so rapidly, it’s crucial that we take into account new standards and future-proof our products when designing a new range. One way in which we’re doing this is ensuring our latest projectors support both XGA and WXGA resolution. Although XGA is standard in most schools and businesses using projection today, in a few years’ time we can expect WXGA to overtake and become the new standard. We think end users should be equipped for this without having to buy a new product in a year’s time.”
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Germany: +49 69170776611
Specific initiatives Of course, the extent to which customers adopt green AV solutions en masse will be determined in part by basic awareness of their availability. In this regard, initiatives such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energybacked Energy Star programme – which provides standardised qualification for energy-efficient products – has been a positive influence on purchasing decisions since it was established in the 1990s. Numerous pro AV manufacturers have since brought Energy Star-related products to market. Increasingly, though, we can expect to see individual companies implement large-scale environmental strategies that cover multiple aspects of production. The efforts announced in April 2019 by Meyer Sound are a case in point. With director of facilities and campus expansion Gary Robinson spearheading the initiative, the company revealed details of a renewed commitment to further reduce energy consumption, cut manufacturing waste to zero, and provide more incentives for employees to reduce their personal carbon footprints. As Robinson reveals, the company is currently half-way through a five-year plan devised in conjunction with green business practices consultancy REV Sustainability. The refinement of Meyer Sound’s production processes has been a major element of the plan, with achievements to date including: a substantial reduction in lightingrelated energy consumption by moving across to LED-based systems; conversion of wood waste from loudspeaker cabinets into pellets for biomass electricity generation or recycling into veneers or gardening mulch; and a total reduction in manufacturing waste of nearly 75%. Consequently, says Robinson, “no old or rejected electronic components go to landfill. We take an amplifier down to the PC board, stripping and recycling the copper, aluminium and plastic, even Key Points the steel screws. And for lunchroom waste, we now • Energy consumption has, have composting bins.” to date, been the primary Meanwhile, in the kind of driver, but there is a growing collaborative initiative that awareness of other factors could usefully be adopted • The production process more generally by the AV is still an area where industry, Meyer Sound has manufacturers can make also exchanged ideas with significant efficiencies other types of business in its • It is predicted that as home area of San Francisco consumer awareness Bay. “Our group included increases, improvements in Pixar Animation Studios and all areas of energy efficiency Bayer Pharmaceuticals, will accelerate which are very different businesses from us. But that 38
"Less business travel for meetings and more telecommuting leads a smaller corporate carbon footprint" Bobby Beckmann, Lifesize actually helps us learn because we benefit from their different perspectives,” says Robinson. Moving forward it is probable that more and more pro AV vendors will seek to surpass the basic legal or regulatory requirements, making environmental impact a cornerstone of their production, support/ after-care and marketing activities. As Farquhar explains of Exterity, “our objectives are to meet, and where appropriate, exceed all relevant UK, European and international legislative and regulatory requirements and agreements. We consider environmental impacts to be an essential consideration when evaluating new projects, products and operations.” And, increasingly, the impression is that these developments will resonate with the shifting priorities of AV consumers. As Garratt remarks, green AV is a “rapidly growing area of interest while concern for carbon emissions and climate change grows, and sustainability is put at the core of business decisions in all kinds of organisations”. It is arguable that in terms of mainstream public perceptions, the urgency of our global climate predicament is still yet to fully hit home. But as the number of extreme weather incidents increases and the potential impact on homes and businesses becomes more clear, it is inevitable that consumers – domestic and professional – will wish to invest in products that are energy-efficient and are made and distributed in as environmentally friendly a method as possible. Viewed in this context – and with the caveat that there is a still a very long way to go – the pro AV industry is now surely moving in the right direction. www.casio.com www.exterity.com www.lifesize.com www.meyersound.com
The University of Padua
Project of the month
Study rooms This historic centre of learning has upgraded three of its foremost spaces, with an emphasis placed on usability for the in-house team, reports Mike Clark
n 1678 Elena Cornaro became the world’s first woman to be awarded a university degree, after being allowed to study Philosophy at the University of Padua. The university has also produced great literary figures, engineers, mathematicians and doctors, such as Vincenzo Gallucci, who carried out the first heart transplant in Italy. Professors, scientists, jurists and literati made it a centre of culture throughout Europe, with alumni including Marcantonio dalla Torre, William Harvey, discoverer of blood circulation, and Alexander Stewart (illegitimate son of King James IV of Scotland), who studied under Erasmus in Padua and later became Lord Chancellor of Scotland. The university recently carried out a high-profile upgrade to three extremely important rooms: the Main Hall, the Ippolito Neivo Hall and the Ancient Archive. Consultants for the project were De.re.com and installation/system integration was by MosaicoGroup.
Tender spec De.re.com account manager Stefano DeTroia explains: “Due to the nature of the rooms, the university asked me to draw up the project, prepare tender specifications and ensure everything was installed and configured in compliance with the
The University of Padua
project. The brief was to upgrade the existing equipment and ensure that appropriately trained in-house operators were able to handle at least 80% of the events held, previously contracted out to external services, at a considerable cost.” Since the rooms are used for ceremonial events, the hardware had to meet stringent quality requisites, ensure flexibility and any future expansion or upgrade. Backward compatibility with VGA signals was also kept. The video control system is full HD but already compatible with low-latency 4K60 signals; to reduce interconnection systems between audio and video, AV encoders were chosen with AES67 audio protocol to ensure native interaction with Dante, used for all the audio signal flows. Video coverage was entrusted to top-end Sony dome cameras. DeTroia had already worked on projects using almost all the products, but decided to include the AMX 2400 series for the first time, as they ensured the required quality, latency and compatibility (audio on AES67). This was the first project in Italy on which the series was used. “A key challenge on this project was to achieve top grade results without carrying out any structural work on the building, as the rooms are under the protection of the department of fine arts,” adds DeTroia. “It was forbidden to carry out
any work on walls or decorations, and new units installed had to have free-standing supports. The RCF column speakers have a custom colour finish to minimise visual impact and the Main Hall’s control desk and equipment rack a wood finish matching the antique furnishings. “The aspects that distinguish this project from others I’ve worked on in the past are definitely having replaced outdated hardware, completely changing the systems’ philosophy, switching from a cabled analogue set-up to digital and over-IP without carrying out any work on the unique building.”
ABOVE: The Ancient Archive was one of the rooms that underwent a full AV upgrade
Project workflow Following the administrative work and the purchase of the products foreseen by the call for tenders, MosaicoGroup proceeded with the supply and installation, beginning with the cable and fibre runs for signal transport; then the special supports for the cameras and the projection screens and lastly all the recording equipment, signal processors, video projection equipment, decoders, encoders, etc. Roberto Tramarin, senior sales director with MosaicoGroup, states: “The installation was carried out mainly by our Padua team, under my supervision. Project manager Massimo Cafaro and another six technicians were involved: two completed the infrastructure and signal transport part; one was responsible for cabling the equipment racks; a system technician took care of the configuration of the encoder/decoder/switch on the dedicated fibre network; a programmer worked on the software of the integrated control system and automation via touchscreen in each room; a specialist configured the video recording and display units.” Overall, the project went smoothly and without critical issues. The need for new connections between the Main Hall and the Ancient Archive, via
The University of Padua
shafts and tortuous passages seemed rather worrying on paper, but was accomplished, thanks also the realisation of a new independent stretch in fibre optics, alongside the university’s data network. “IT-AV convergence was one of the main issues distinguishing this project from other work we’ve done in the past," says Tramarin. "Also worthy of note is the fact that the project involved the integration of equipment normally used in a broadcast context, such as the Blackmagic video mixer and the seven Sony PTZ cameras with relative remote controller. “Our operators helmed the setup at the inauguration of the academic year, with the President of the Italian Senate as guest of honour, and other high-profile events. “We’re honoured to have been chosen as suppliers to one of Italy’s most prestigious universities, and the fact that it’s the university of my hometown makes me personally even more proud.”
After completion After the new systems had been up and running for several months, Dario Da Re, director of the university’s Digital Learning and Multimedia Office, comments: “All the objectives we set have been achieved. All the equipment installed fits perfectly into the various architectural contexts and even the impact in aesthetic terms of the most visible hardware, such as projectors, cameras and loudspeaker enclosures, is minimum. “The adoption of Dante technology and PoE devices has reduced the number of cables running through the building, enabling enormous versatility, and now, wherever there is a network socket, it is possible to connect input devices such as cameras, or output units, such as monitors and projectors.
About the installer •
MosaicoGroup is a systems integrator in the communication technology market, addressing the broadcast and professional video markets
• Founded in 1999, it has branches and connected companies in Venice, Padua, Brescia, Brindisi, Milan, Nice and Paris • The group’s team of over 40 specialists works in commercial buildings, arts and cultural venues as well as residential, education and government environments
This also enables us to create configurations for covering events different from the standard ones and, for particular events such as shows, it is now possible to increase the number of shooting angles and distribute the signals throughout the building. Set-up time for covering a conference or other events has effectively been reduced to a few minutes – the time it takes to switch on the systems and run a rapid test. This has enabled us, in the few months since installation was completed, to exceed the number of events recorded and streamed that we would normally carry out in an entire year and, above all, with half the staff used previously. We have also achieved the other aim of cutting the need to call in external services exclusively for events that require a large amount of AV and lighting equipment, such as theatre or music shows.” www.amx.com www.blackmagicdesign.com www.derecom.it www.mosaicogroup.com https://pro.sony
ABOVE: RCF speakers and Sony PTZ cameras were used in the Nievo Hall
Scientific method The world-leading marine research institute has continued its expansion with the installation of a new projection dome, known as ARENA2, at its east shore campus, writes Olivia Brady 44
ince its opening in 1987, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has established itself as a world leader in the investigation of the chemical, physical, biological and geological processes of the seafloor, oceans and ocean margins. The institute, which is a foundation under public law that is jointly funded by the German federal (90%) and Schleswig-Holstein state (10%) governments, has approximately 1,000 employees spread among two
visualisation lab itself. The ARENA2 lab is the successor of the ARENA (Artificial Research Environment for Networked Analysis) simulator and improves scientific workflow by facilitating visual data exploration.
campuses within the city of Kiel. In the digital age, a large research facility like GEOMAR relies on powerful visualisation tools not just for scientific data exploration, but also for communication of findings. A key asset of GEOMAR’s visualisation infrastructure is the recently installed projection dome, known as ARENA2, delivered by German dome and calibration software experts VIOSO. The company provided the media server, projection system and dome, as well as the 7m x 7m x 6m indoor structure that contains the
A key aspect of the brief for this project was to deliver an easy to use system, with a minimum to zero learning curve, and a measurable impact on the desired scientific outcome. The initial brief was: “To deliver a 6m suspended dome with 60fps stereo, 4.5k resolution, head tracking, and full resolution, 60fps live ingest, including the ability to arbitrarily projection map to any surface in case the projection system would be used outside the main dome application," explains Dr Tom Kwasnitschka, staff researcher at GEOMAR. “One of the most interesting features of the dome is that it is suspended from a truss system, which allows researchers to adjust the tilt and height above ground for various applications. Furthermore, a combination of a real-time tracking and visualisation system – realised in collaboration with VIOSO and More3D – allows users to import almost any OpenGL based scientific visualisation software to the dome. Thanks to VIOSO Autocalibration, Wings VIOSO RX media server and Wings AVIO (for hardware control), using the lab is as easy as walking to the printer!” When asked about challenges, Kwasnitschka replies: “To comply with all the safety regulations within budget and to figure out what kind of graphics hardware would allow us to get both real-time and playback performance.” The fibreglass-reinforced projection dome within GEOMAR’s Lithotek is equipped with five Barco F50 projectors, while two VIOSO Domemaster servers support 3D content playback, with up to 4,400 x 4,400 pixels resolution. Completing the set up are a 24/7 show controller hosting Wings AVIO, as well as a master server for rendering applications from research and visualisation. “Due to the flexibility of the dome in its hanging positions, the projectors need to be frequently re-calibrated,” says Emanuel Züger, COO and founder of VIOSO. “The customer identified VIOSO nyblend and Wings VIOSO as being the easiest solution to do this smoothly, while at the same time complying to the highest visual standards. Züger continues: “The further requirement to drive in-house VR applications on the very same system led to the decision to use VIOSO Domemaster servers, since VIOSO Anyblend displays every thirdparty application instantly in the dome (and not just pre-rendered video content, for example). In addition, we provided an OptiTrack optical tracking system
coupled with active shutter 3D glasses. The requirement to control all aspects of this installation from a single user interface led to Wings AVIO show control, which seamlessly integrates VIOSO Anyblend and Wings VIOSO RX.”
Project constraints A tricky balance of the brief was between usability and functionality. Kwasnitschka comments: “Key to this is the high degree of hardware and software automation that the Wings AVIO system offers. For sure, we will need to hire a dedicated person setting up and maintaining all those setups to make the user experience seamless.” In addition to the requirements, VIOSO also had to work with a number of constraints – including space, budget and time limitations. The key to working under these conditions, according to Züger, was “efficient sourcing, strict planning and fast execution. “The overall complexity of the requested technology was quite challenging, and we also had to cater for a few last-minute changes during tendering stage. As a vendor of both hardware and software solutions, we were able to handle the entire task in-house using the experience and expertise of our own highly qualified staff.” On the time restrictions in particular, Züger adds: "Time restrictions are very common in our industry and this is why we are used to it. With our experience and competence in project planning and execution, we are able to handle tight schedules and therefore we knew how to handle this challenge." Kwasnitschka says: “VIOSO definitely went the extra 46
mile to optimise the outcome of this project. In choosing our vendor, it was important to know that they sought pride in the end result in the same way we do. To this date, our relationship remains responsive, sincere, and casual.” Züger concludes: “This project combined the requirements of a typical AV installation with the requirements of data science and visualisation – a balance that is not easy to strike. VIOSO were dedicated to this project because it touched the very core of our product portfolio. We are extremely proud of the end result; this is typically the type of project that helps us increase our capabilities to provide better consulting and planning services for our customers.” www.barco.com www.vioso.com
St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry
Sound T sanctuary This historic house of worship sought a sound reinforcement upgrade that would help tame inconsistent acoustics and improve overall intelligibility, writes Tom Bradbury
he mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry, St. Eugene’s Cathedral opened in 1873 – and in the years since, generations of congregations have struggled with the acoustics inside the soaring stone interior. Now, however, following an extensive architectural refurbishment and technical systems upgrade, congregations can hear the services with a greater degree of clarity and consistency. In looking for a better solution, the church’s management turned to acoustical consultant Michael Kielty of Belfast-based MK Audio. Kielty recommended a distributed system, and contacted Absolute Technologies for advice on a specific solution to meet the church’s requirements.
Understanding the challenges Absolute Technologies, with its experience of similar reverberant spaces, from Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin to numerous smaller churches, had an immediate understanding of the challenges. What’s more, they were familiar with the exceptional pattern control and cardioid performance offered by the xC-Series column loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik. Ian McKeown of Absolute Technologies says: “Our
St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry initial experience of these cabinets was in the demo room at d&b GB. We then used them successfully on a small church installation. This gave us the confidence to specify them.” McKeown, supported by Oran Burns from d&b’s Application Support team, made an initial design using d&b ArrayCalc software to predict coverage and decide suitable loudspeaker positions. Following this, an in-situ system demonstration was arranged, which confirmed the ArrayCalc predictions and delivered the significant improvement the client was looking for. The design uses an inner pair of d&b 24C-E cabinets at the front and an outer pair of 24C serving the aisles; further down the room are two more pairs of 24Cs as delays, again arranged as inner and outer pairs. The system is powered by two d&b D10 amplifiers. Absolute Technologies’ installation manager, Colin McKendry explains: “In a big, highly reverberant room like this, one of the challenges is to stop reflection off the high ceiling, which can be heard as an annoying echo from above. The standard d&b 24C cabinet has six 4in LF drivers and an HF line array, giving us pattern control down below 400Hz. The ‘E’ is an extension to the LF drivers, which sits at the top of the 24C, giving another octave of pattern control, which helps to combat that problem.” The other significant feature of the xC-Series columns is the fact that they’re cardioid in the horizontal. McKendry adds: “While a lot of column loudspeakers lose pattern control at around 2.5kHz, forcing the engineer to EQ out much of the lower frequency information to achieve intelligibility, the cardioid characteristic of the xC-Series extends that horizontal pattern control all the way down to the low frequencies.” The overall effect, of course, is to minimise reflections from the walls and prevent spill to the rear reaching microphones, reducing the risk of feedback and greatly increasing overall intelligibility throughout the space. “The system’s main use is for speech, but also occasionally acoustic music,” says McKeown. “The d&b system handles it all perfectly: the tonal quality is excellent and the dispersion is very well controlled.” For control, simplicity was key, with as little user interaction required as possible. An Allen & Heath Qu-Pac mixer is provided, with presets for the various regular services. “Most of the time it’s an automix of the main fixed microphone positions,” states McKeown, “And there is always the capability for full mix control (using the R1 remote control) on an iPad.” Aside from intelligibility, St. Eugene’s presented another major challenge: building restrictions, which meant it wasn’t possible to fix hardware to walls and pillars. The only option was the creation of custom floor-mount brackets. “Again, the appearance was very important,” McKeown emphasises. “The mounting had to look right in its environment and with
the speakers. The brackets couldn’t enclose the rear of the speaker so as not to interfere with the cardioid pattern control, and as there could be no adjustment once it was mounted, the angle of pan for each speaker had to be built into the design of the bracket. Again, ArrayCalc was very useful in achieving this.” Designed in conjunction with the architect and a specialist engineering company, each bracket is unique, to account for floor height and pan angle, and incorporates a plate for mounting beneath the floorboards and a rear cover to hide mounting bolts and cables. The back plate is finished in the same RAL colour as the loudspeaker, and the base plate in stainless steel to reflect its surroundings. “The mounts look like they are part of the speaker – it is a very elegant solution,” says McKeown.
ABOVE: The cardioid characteristic of the xCSeries extends horizontal pattern control all the way down to the low frequencies
Successful collaboration Acknowledging the successful collaboration between client, architect, audio consultant, his own engineers, the specialist metalwork supplier and d&b audiotechnik, McKeown comments: “We all worked together to identify clear parameters and goals for the system and to tailor the design before installation commenced. “Having d&b’s support gives us access to skills we may not have in-house, plus a high level of knowledge and experience from all types of projects. We’ve worked with Oran [Burns] on a number of projects, and his knowledge of electroacoustics is invaluable.” And with the installation complete and the intelligibility and aesthetics boxes ticked, that confidence has been validated. “The clients have been delighted with the system,” McKeown confirms. “Right from the very first use, parishioners commented on how clearly they could hear, even at the back of the church, which was always an issue before.” www.allen-heath.com www.dbaudio.com
Solutions in Brief
This June, Meyer Sound returned to Denmark as the exclusive sound provider for the Roskilde Festival, Northern Europe’s largest and longest-running music festival, with daily crowds topping 130,000. The partnership with Meyer Sound is a year-round collaboration focusing on education initiatives, R&D and large-scale festival management. Nearly 1,000 Meyer Sound loudspeakers, supplied by European AVL integrator Bright Group, were deployed across all festival stages and performance spaces. The Roskilde stages were powered by the entire LEO family, including LINA, LEOPARD, LEO and LYON arrays and 750-LFC, 900-LFC, and 1100-LFC lowfrequency control elements, with VLFC very lowfrequency control elements adding bone-shaking lowend impact. Numerous point source loudspeakers including UPA-1P and the brand-new ULTRA-X40 – which was also used as main field monitors at FOH – provided delay and frontfill support, while MJF-210s
© Picture: Ralph Larmann
Innovating the festival experience
served as stage monitors. Network processing was handled by Galileo GALAXY processors. www.meyersound.com
Telling the story of Athletic Bilbao
More than 120 years of footballing history is told at the San Mamés stadium museum in Bilbao, Spain, and Christie technology plays its part in telling the story. Founded in 1898, Athletic Bilbao (also known as Athletic Club), together with Real Madrid and Barcelona, is one of only three clubs never relegated from Spain’s top football division. More than 500 pieces of memorabilia and nearly 600 videos have been enshrined in a museum that gives space to colour, music and images. And it’s here where Christie UST projection plays a critical role: the museum is outfitted with 30 Christie Captiva DHD410S 1DLP laser technology projectors, as well as three Christie GS Series projectors, that bring to life the museum’s different AV attractions. Located in the stadium’s basement, the museum is divided into three distinct areas, differentiated by the team’s green, red and black colours. Visitors first come across a hall lined in metal where they can view visual projection explaining Athletic Club’s founding, showing Bilbao more than a century ago. Measuring 8 x 2 metres, the projection using six Christie Captiva projectors and the three GS Series projectors blending on the wall and floor to create an immersive environment. Another part of the attraction uses the Captiva projector with the touch option – which enables users to 50
interact with the content – and a tactile infrared frame developed by Virtualware and Erabi to make the interactivity even more lifelike. The wall is coated in highcontrast paint to give the images even greater brightness and contrast. www.christiedigital.com
Solutions in Brief
The Domaine des Étangs is located in Massignac and spans 1,000 acres of unspoiled natural land, making it the biggest five-star hotel resort in France. Designed in a circular layout to get the best envelopment for visitors, the sound system comprises 44 speakers made by Amadeus and the HOLOPHONIX spatial sound processor. The audio system is built around the spatial sound processor HOLOPHONIX. The integrated hardware and software product was designed by Amadeus in collaboration with the STMS (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son), a laboratory founded in 1995 and hosted in the IRCAM premises, in association with CNRS, the Sorbonne Université, the Ministère de la Culture, and the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique. The basic audio configuration uses three virtual sources, and synthesises the signal on all loudspeakers, according to the WFS (Wave Field Synthesis) principles. The first source is stereophonic,
© Picture: Arthur Pequin
Amadeus designs fivestar sound system
it processes the output signal of the Lumin U1 player/ streamer, used to play high-resolution music tracks. www.amadeuslab.com
The Royal Liver Building has undergone a physical and virtual transformation to immerse visitors in the city’s vibrant history. The Royal Liver Building 360 experience opened in April this year. For the first time in the building’s 111year history the spectacular Viewing Platform and the Clock Tower, where twin faces adorn the walls, both larger in size than Big Ben, are available to the public, along with a free Visitor Centre on the Lower Ground Floor. The Clock Tower has been brought to life with an immersive projection mapped show, delivered as a turnkey production by Holovis. This tells the story of Liverpool; from the industrial boom of the late 1800s to the tragic effects of war and a celebration of the city’s vibrant culture, all viewed from the iconic building and waterfront perspective. Unlike traditional projection mapped experiences that take place externally, Holovis decided to use the internal walls of the Clock Tower, surrounding guests with 270° visuals to really immerse them into the story. The multisensory immersion is completed with surround audio, comprising of an original score and sound effects that are delivered through a 5:1 solution. The latest addition to the experience is the newly
© Picture: Jason Roberts
Liverpool 360 experience enters new dimension
launched free app, also designed and created by Holovis. The app acts as a guide to what guests are seeing. On the rooftop, guests can hold their phone over the city-scape and reveal information and facts about the landmarks, in relation to their view. www.holovis.com
Product of the Month
KIT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
Product of the month
Amina Mobius i series It’s… a new line up of invisible speakers. What’s new? The line builds on the Mobius series launched three years ago, but the i series also represents a further leap in acoustic efficiency and improved overall acoustic performance. Details: The company’s press event introducing the new range was hosted at the new Tateside experience centre in East London in late July, with presentations and demos illustrating the 52
advancements of the i series. Continued research into driver technology, with significant advances made possible by simulation in the virtual domain, have allowed Neodymium (an increasing rare and expensive element) to be saved by creating novel geometries, yet improving the performance of the finished loudspeaker. That research has resulted in the company’s second generation Excelsior class high frequency driver, which the new Mobius i Series is based around.
The upshot is a massive 6dB boost in mid-range sensitivity, an extended lower frequency boost and increased smoothness and extension in the high frequencies. Both the mid-price Mobius5i and the flagship Mobius7i boost high frequency reproduction above 30KHz. Everything combined, the overall result is an even more open sound with increased presence. The company also stressed that invisible sound no longer implies a compromise on quality. Designers and architects can now have both excellent high clarity room filling sound with zero visual impact. Available: Now
Product of the Month
The history of
uring the press event, founder Richard Newlove detailed the origins of the company, which started back in 1997. Newlove was leading one of the original teams within the NXT group to develop and productionise the very first commercial products to utilise the then brand new Distributed Mode Loudspeaker technology. The basic principle of DML being the use of a sound board mechanism from the musical instrument, driven by an electro-magnetic device to set up its vibrations, rather than the strings for a violin for example. Newlove recalls: “Those early products were incredibly crude. There were very few available composite materials that were suitable and cost effective enough for the price points required within the group brands. The first drivers had very limited power handling capabilities and generally the technology was unproven. “Internally though, with all the research and practical applications we got involved with, we knew the technology really did work, and we knew that acoustically, a distributed, diffuse sound source (today we tend to call this spread source) had really positive benefits over the conventional point source, especially in large reverberant spaces. This was born out in practice time and again as we toured the country explaining the technology to the trade and making demonstrations in a variety of buildings from churches to an enormous multistorey glass atrium, and even Parliament. We also knew that these benefits extended to great handling of close proximity microphones, in applications such as roving radio mics and video conference systems, where feedback is reduced and gain can be lifted.” At that time Newlove saw an opportunity to create great acoustically
performing products practically disguised as something else, principally for the commercial marketplace. Meeting spaces, boardrooms, hospitality and worship areas etc. A big part of the key was to design audio technology products that suited the design environment, rather than being aesthetically dominant as was usually the case in the past. With the help of a trade partner in the UK, Newlove took a licence from NXT and established Amina, designing and manufacturing in the UK for the local and European commercially oriented customer base. The company commenced trading in May 1999. Even though the licence was not exclusive and, at the time, NXT were signing up hundreds of similarly nonexclusive licences, Newlove believed he had a chance to make a difference, as he would make custom parts, aesthetically different for every environment. Something that volume producers would not be interested in. “Whilst the NXT Company folded many years ago now, I am incredibly proud of the dedicated team of people who have persisted in the determined development of this great technology and allowed Amina to cultivate that original dream into a company that has successfully carved a niche within the consumer electronics and
AV industries,” comments Newlove. “That goal of creating great sounding audio products that have beneficial application in normally difficult spaces, and which integrate into the design aesthetic has been upheld and guides all we do.” The invention of the original ‘invisible’ or plastered over loudspeaker came in early 2001. A German architect working on new bank headquarters for Bohn and Berlin wanted to use the company’s products. However his minimalist style demanded that absolutely nothing was to be seen. Even though he could set the 35mm deep module in the wall and paint it the same colour as the wall, he did not want to see the shadow gap. Newlove explains: “We came to an agreement to go away, design a product that actually could be skimmed over entirely. If it worked, he would pay us. If not, we would walk away empty handed.” The product delighted the customer, and a new line of inherently invisible products was born. As the product developed so did the custom integration market and in 2005 the company began to develop residential market channels in addition to its original commercial oriented channels. Today the company invests more than ever in research and development to keep refining the performance of its invisible loudspeakers while broadening the speaker’s appeal in wider markets. It is also trying to make more efficient use of materials such as those rare earth elements used to create the high power driver magnets, the same materials that will be used in enormous quantities as the electric vehicle market develops. https://uk.aminasound.com
Barco ClickShare Steve Gore-Browne, display and presentation manager at Visavvi, on why the company has come to rely on ClickShare for a variety of project installations What environments do you typically install ClickShare? ClickShare is such a powerful, flexible and user-focused solution, it has become our go-to product for content sharing in almost every environment. The range is simple to understand yet has extensive capabilities to cope with the varied installation scenarios and use cases in which it can be deployed. The CS-100 solution is perfect for smaller huddle spaces where users can quickly present their content with the click of a button. The CSE-200 range provides multiple users with the ability to show content, quickly select whose content is being displayed and multiple devices can be displayed concurrently. The CSE-200+ product is becoming a keen choice as 4K content grows in popularity. The CSE-800 is perfect for larger enterprise meeting spaces or boardrooms, where multiple screens are installed, allowing the content of up to eight presenters to be displayed simultaneously 54
across multiple screens. In addition to the USB buttons provided, the flexibility to use Android and IOS devices allows users to easily present content from their smartphones and tablets. As more and more users move towards agile working environments, the ability to use content from personal smart devices is an almost constant request from clients. What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? It would be the CSE-200+ and CSE-800 and their unique capability to provide true ‘inbox’ collaboration features which allow presenters to annotate on content via connected touchscreens. One of the questions we continually get asked about with content sharing systems is “how secure is it?” Configurable security and multiple network connectivity allow IT managers to really lock the system down to meet their security standards, while at the
same time retaining the flexibility and ease of use for a wide range of presenters. For the larger organisations, the ability to manage, configure and maintain a whole enterprise fleet of ClickShare devices via a single remote management portal is a massive benefit. If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? I would love to see the ability for the system to provide bridging-connectivity to other USB devices. For instance there is a large shift towards the use of laptops as the platform for software communication tools such as Skype for Business, Zoom, Convene, etc. When used in meeting rooms, these devices typically connect to a combined USB camera/microphone solution, such as those from Poly, Huddly and Logitech to mention a few. This requires the presenter to connect a USB to their device in addition to the ClickShare button. A huge benefit here would be the ability to use the USB base station as a bridge and pass through to other connected USB devices. So by connecting one of these devices to the ClickShare base station, users could have the ability to gain access to them from their laptop via the ClickShare button. This would make the whole technical element so simple to use for anybody – one connection, one device, one click and you have access to a very powerful collaboration environment. www.barco.com www.visavvi.com
VIQ Solutions CapturePRO Duncan Conway, AV projects manager at buk Solutions, details why the company regularly specifies this digital AV recording software from VIQ Solutions What environments do you typically install CapturePRO? Hearing rooms, interview rooms and courtrooms. In courtrooms, specifically, it’s a legal requirement to have secure, verbatim evidential recordings, which is why we have specified and installed it in over 600 UK courtrooms already. Why do you specify this product over competitor offerings? We like the advanced features available via one platform. It’s modular, so you can add extra features when you need them, making it very adaptable. It uses an advanced, fully-searchable database. You can search by time and date, but also by any of the metadata associated with the recording. This really sets it apart from what competitors can offer.
What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? Automatic annotation is one – the software will annotate the recording to tell you exactly who was speaking. You can also add other types of notes to the recording, if someone has left the room, or if evidence is being shown for example. Sometimes clients need a transcription quickly and the transcription workflow module can speed up this process. An encrypted recording can be divided up and worked on by more than one person at a time and then pieced back together by the software once complete. ‘Speech to text’ can be applied to a recording, giving a first-draft text file in a matter of seconds, allowing transcribers to quickly review and edit. Specific details can be redacted from recordings where needed, for legal or
security reasons, but it is important to mention the original recording always remains intact, as is essential for legal material. There’s also a full audit trail, so you can see exactly who has done what to a recording. What elements of the feature set make your job easier? Backups and redundancy. At the client’s request we can configure the system to send recordings to mid-tier, cloud or central servers, so if one particular machine is stolen or destroyed the data and recordings are still available in other locations. If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? Further AI developments such as facial and voice recognition for identification, and the analysis of voice patterns, which could be used to detect lies in police interviews. Rachel Bidmead, operations manager of the International Arbitration Centre in central London, added: “The VIQ CapturePRO software has provided us with a unique offering for our clients. We’re one of the only centres globally to offer an audio or audio and visual of the proceedings each day and this has been very well received in the marketplace.” www.buk.solutions www.viqsolutions.com
Mounts and furniture Manufacturers are combining high build quality with a mixture of stability and alignment accuracy in the latest fleet of mounting solutions
Perfect projector alignment from B-Tech B-Tech’s BT893 Heavy Duty Projector Mount is specifically designed for heavy duty projection hardware and for use in live events, staging and projection mapping applications. The company’s latest mount, the BT893, can cater for projectors up to 70kg and can be mounted to ceilings directly or with B-Tech’s 50mm pole system for suspended installations. The BT893 boasts easy adjustment to tilt, yaw and roll -
allowing for perfect projector alignment. Also featured is tried and trusted microadjustment technology borrowed from their installer favoured BT8310 videowall mount, for precision alignment of projected images. Micro-adjustment is altered using handwheels for better grip and a more controlled adjustment. Research and experimentation was undertaken to identify and develop mechanisms that satisfied the key requirements of heavy duty projector mounting. The
result of this development is a solution which is both robust and secure yet agile and precise, giving integrators and end users the confidence in its precision and the peace of mind that is paramount when hanging heavy pieces of equipment above areas likely to receive foot traffic. The solution caters for every projector weighing 70kg or less that is currently available on the market, covering all possible projector ‘footprints’ in this weight category. www.btechavmounts.com
Loxit ensures maximum strength The Mono multi-position fixed height mount from Loxit is a single column, sturdy wall to floor screen mount. Its all-steel construction and welded screen mount brackets ensure maximum strength, making it ideal for large format and heavy touchscreens up to 95in and 130kg, taking the weight of these screens to the floor instead of loading the wall. This stylish mount is at home in any environment from the boardroom to the classroom. All cables are hidden within the column and integrated hidden power distribution ensures it has a very small footprint, easily blending into its surroundings. The minimum height to the centre of the screen is
890mm from the floor and the maximum height is 1,290mm, assuming the VESA mounts on the screen are positioned centrally. The 400mm range of mounting positions allows the installer excellent flexibility when positioning the screen. This makes it especially useful for touchscreen and videoconferencing applications. An optional floor plate may be attached to provide increased stability depending on load bearing quality of walls. www.loxit.com
Peerless provides retail and commercial flexibility Launched in March this year, PeerlessAV’s dedicated mount for Samsung’s In-Window Smart Signage Displays is ideal for high-impact in-window retail and commercial applications. The DS-OM46ND/-OM55ND-FLOOR and DS-OM46ND/-OM55ND-CEIL doublesided mount allows retailers and businesses flexibility in terms of space, design and positioning for maximum footfall on both window-facing and indoor-
facing sides of the display. It can be used for 46in and 55in Samsung OMN-D dual-displays from the ceiling or floor mounted. Easy to install and maintain, it also offers integrated cable management. The dedicated mount complements the slim design of the dual-display so footprint is kept to a minimum, allowing for placement right up to the window. Optional custom colour trims can be
added to match branding or application settings. It can be mounted to wood joists or concrete with included hardware and has a concealed floor/ceiling attachment. www.peerless-av.com
Tempest delivers noise attenuation Shown for the first time at ISE 2019, the Tempest Zen indoor HUSH enclosure is now shipping. Zen is the latest family of Tempest’s noise-attenuating Hush Boxes for projectors from 10,000-30,000 ANSI lumens. It has been designed for projector protection and noise attenuation in noise-sensitive environments such as live theatre, concert halls, museums, conference centres, meeting rooms and education. Zen is fully self-contained, with no external air ducts, making it much easier to install, especially in historic buildings
such as theatres and concert halls, where new ductwork and structural modifications may not be possible. It
offers excellent projector noise attenuation around 25dBA for most projector types. Through many years of development, Tempest has constructed thousands of enclosures which have been employed in all climates across the globe. The company has harnessed this extensive experience and knowhow in this latest design. Tempest also listened to its customers’ needs for a pleasing aesthetic design that would complement any venue. www.tempest.biz
Unicol minimises downtime The Vertislide Serviceable Cassette Mount was also launched at ISE 2019. It is a wallfixed screen mount for displays from 40 to 110in with a vertically sliding and detachable slotted rack for mounting AV equipment. Ideal for applications where information ‘downtime’ needs to be kept to the absolute minimum. It is a completely new mounting system and was requested by a global investment bank in the City. The rack, which is hidden behind the screen, can be populated with equipment and in the event of failure be
unlocked and pulled down for maintenance or complete swap out. To make the system as adaptable as possible there are two versions with a universal fitting pattern, VTSU1 for screens 65 – 110in and VTSU2 for screens 40 – 65in. Since its launch the range has been increased to include an under desk version that hinges down and a new version that slides horizontally to one side. Accessories include a camera mount under the screen. www.unicol.com
come at the cost of the user experience that our customers now perceive, and that is precisely one of the fundamental elements on which we focus at. The human relationship between us and our customer will always be preserved. What are the dominant audio trends we are currently in the midst of? In a design perspective we notice a clear transition from the old-fashioned lowered ceilings to the more modern open ceiling structures. That is one of the reasons why we pay great attention to the aesthetic aspect of all our speakers.
Father and son AUDAC’s Tom and Patrick Van de Sande on the strong business culture that has helped this family-owned business be successful 35 years and counting Over the 35 years the company has been operating, what are some of the big changes in audio you’ve seen? An enormous emphasis has been placed on user experience in the broadest sense of the word. Where the installation and use of professional audio installations used to be a bit of a hassle, these processes have now all been streamlined. At AUDAC we’ve always strongly believed in providing the best possible user experience. That is why, for example, over three years ago we decided to throw out all our different product apps and start from scratch with one single app, AUDAC Touch. Over that period, has it become easier or harder for family-owned businesses in this industry? Our tremendous growth in recent years has certainly brought with it a number of challenges that we have had to overcome to continue to function as a family business. But I am proud to say that this strong growth has never changed our business culture. If we were to grow into a multinational, this could 58
Tell me about a recent project that highlights the founding principles of AUDAC. A very intriguing project we did recently was Lava Centre in Iceland. Lava Centre is the largest volcano and earthquake exhibition centre in Europe. Together with our Icelandic partner Feris we’ve carried out the complete audio installation for the museum. The whole experience is designed to be interactive so visitors can feel exactly what a volcanic eruption is like. Naturally, the audio system had to be the perfect addition to immerse the visitor completely. Going forward, what areas of innovation are you looking to prioritise? There are two main pillars on which we will continue to focus: simplicity and controllability. By offering complete solutions in which each component is perfectly tailored to the other components, choosing the right installation is really child’s play. To demonstrate this, we have launched the Audio configurator on our website. Here you can easily enter the wishes and characteristics of the room and then the configurator will determine which set of solutions are the perfect fit for your project. In what ways are you taking action on issues with energy efficiency/environmental concerns? Already in the design process of our hardware we put a strong focus on sustainability. For example our amplifiers have such a long life cycle and are often never switched off. That is why all AUDAC amplifiers use Class D technology and switching mode power supply’s with smart standby modes to reduce power wastage. As a result a substantial amount of our products are Energy Star labelled. We have already taken enormous steps forward over the past year to ensure that the amount of plastic in our packaging is minimised. Tom Van de Sande is CEO of PVS; Patrick Van de Sande is founder and former CEO of PVS www.audac.eu
Branching out - As the remits of sports venues expand - can tech integration keep up?