February 2020 Issue 228
Tipping point Has the time for extended reality in AV finally arrived?
AV integration in a networked world
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Turn the page And so here it is – the last Amsterdam ISE, and it’s certainly been quite a journey. From 3,500 attendees in Geneva to the world’s biggest and most important AV event. In 15 years Mike Blackman and his team have crafted ISE into the foremost occasion for an entire industry and the scary/exciting thing is we’re only at the end of this particularly chapter in the show’s history. In a new city, with all that extra floor space, what heights could the show reach over its next chapter? Despite the clogged halls and slightly vexing layout, the RAI and ISE have always felt like a good match and it will certainly be strange having it anywhere else. But a sense of nostalgia is no reason to make do with the limitations ISE has been working with over the last couple of editions. Outgrowing your venue in many ways is a nice problem for an exhibition to have, but it’s still a problem, and although for many ISE will always be synonymous with the RAI, the logical step was for a fresh start somewhere else. And it doesn’t seem like there was a better choice available than Barcelona. Whether this will still be popular opinion after the first edition at the Gran Via, remains to be seen, but the signs are good. From next year space limitations will no longer be an issue and exhibitors can really flex their technological and creative might. It will certainly be interesting to see what exhibitors are able to do with all the newfound space. And whether it leads to an arms race of bigger and better or whether manufacturers will still be inventive with their use of space, something that has surely been honed over the last couple years at the RAI. My own memories of the RAI start back in 2015, when I’d been in the job just a couple of months and was sent off to Amsterdam with little industry know-how and completely out of my depth. I muddled through and each ISE since has gotten a little easier, if no less hectic. Speaking of which, this year I will be taking on the role of ISE Daily hall reporter for the first time, so I expect the week to be even more of blur than usual!
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26 Contributors: Maarten Bais David Davies Birgit Jackson Rob Lane Ian McMurray Peter Sutton Albert Van der Hout
Special Report: XR 18 Time for business There’s a shift taking place in the world of XR technologies – a shift that promises to underpin accelerated growth in the market 26 Converging realities XR is becoming more widely adopted within HE and corporate, and is set to transform the way students and employees go about daily tasks
Stacy Lan Louise Strickland
Cover Image: Getty Images Credit: tolgart
Birgit Jackson details how technology can be used to help focus meetings Albert Van der Hout on why voice evacuation systems should be known as voice safety systems Maarten Bais explains why retailers need to focus on elevating the shopping experience
38 Holy Ghost Chapel Full AV show control together with finely tuned environmental conditions help bring this Belgian art concept to a wider audience
42 Royal Institute of British Architects The flexible audio solution covers the RIBA’s Jarvis Hall and breakout room and simplifies multiple room configuration changes
44 Vienna State Opera The Vienna State Opera House has extended its Optocore network with a BroaMan system to provide multi-channel video transport between different buildings
46 Solutions in Brief Including Archlight Cinema’s dramatic lighting scheme, the next phase in the Royal Albert Hall’s upgrade project, and a 360° Gustav Klimt exhibition in Spain
12 Show preview
We bring you 10 things not to miss out on at ISE 2020 as well as an interview with managing director Mike Blackman
Featuring tvONE’s ISE-bound flagship multi-window videowall processor
32 Feature: Game on
A host of new PA speakers for all your sound reproduction needs
The ongoing boom in eSports is set to bring considerable rewards for pro AV, but the complexity of these events means that profound understanding of the market and its requirements is vital for success
Picture: Painting with Light
© Getty Images
52 Last word Peter Sutton discussed how the role of the integrator will change in the years to come
Sharing meeting information
Concentration constraints How technology can be used to help focus meetings, according to Birgit Jackson
When Sharp asked people what the main culprits were behind a bad meeting, a third said it was because little or no information had been shared about the session beforehand. How do people know if they should be in the meeting if they don’t know what it’s about? It’s simple. By sharing the agenda ahead of a meeting, people can prepare and make sure they are needed, otherwise they find themselves in a meeting for an hour thinking ‘why am I here? I don’t need to be here.’ That’s when they disengage. Although every company is different, Sharp understands that everyone can work more effectively if they have quick and easy access to the equipment that best fulfils their printing, scanning, copying and document management needs, and when the user experience is a positive one. Sharp’s Managed Print Services help to adopt new workflows, or replaces aged equipment, by showing you how and helping you do it. It’s a continually evolving relationship that you can trust to deliver the best performance for minimal cost and effort.
Limit the invitations Meetings are a central communication tool in every workplace and – when organised well – assist in establishing clear actions and outcomes. At Sharp, we wanted to explore the current state of play and impact meetings have on businesses across Europe. We found that 83% of UK office employees admit they can’t focus for an average length of a work meeting lasting 49 minutes, and workers were found to spend approximately 17 hours each month in meetings, yet most employees reported finding them ineffective. While important, it’s clear that there’s work to be done to ensure meetings are effective. Sharp’s office solutions are built with productivity in mind, and allow for effortless collaboration, communication, and sharing. By implementing the right technology in meetings, and taking some straightforward precautions beforehand can contribute towards efficiency. Using the below simple adjustments will help you remove distractions and increase your meeting productivity.
The right AV equipment can make collaborative working easier and remove any disconnect caused by digitisation, creating a new element of social interaction" 6
Many meetings become unproductive because there are too many people invited, or the right people aren’t invited. This becomes even more problematic when it’s a virtual meeting and it’s harder to follow who has joined and who is speaking. Limit the attendees to those who are essential to move a project forward. Sometimes people are invited to meetings out of courtesy, not necessity. If you are tempted to invite someone purely because of their seniority, instead ask if they would prefer to see the minutes following the meeting. Be a responsible meeting attendee as well as a responsible organiser – if you’re not sure you need to be there, request to see the agenda.
Be time smart Consider whether you need to start on the hour, and if people will have used the room before you. In organisations that have back-to-back meetings in the same room, the first 10 minutes of each session is too often wasted because they are spent in a changeover and setting up for the next. Avoid this as an organiser by arriving 10 minutes beforehand. Often, if you are using AV or IT equipment, there can be an unnecessary delay in setup. If you know that you might have delays with IT, make the first 10 minutes of the meeting networking time for the participants while you get organised. Alternatively, if people will be joining remotely, solutions such as our Windows collaboration display instantly connect and collaborate – with no need for set up – reducing the amount of time spent setting up meeting equipment.
Less is more In our research Sharp also found that a fifth of Millennial and Gen Z workers (18-34 year olds) admitted to having checked social media during a meeting. Younger workers were also guilty of sending messages to a friend or loved one (18%). Avoid the distractions, if you need to have a longer meeting, organise a variety of activities and breaks for people to digest what has been said. No one wants to be in one of those two-hour meetings where by the end you forget what was said at the start. Sharp’s interactive display solutions allow for effortless collaboration, communication, and sharing. The easy-to-use and highly responsive touch performance ensure that users are confident and can focus on their primary task. Sharp’s PN-50TC1 is the latest addition to the industry-leading interactive BIG PAD models, which serve the demand for huddle meeting spaces of 2-6 people. Having a responsive PCAP touch, easy-to-use approach, and fast setup time is central to the PN-50TC1 Huddle concept meaning that all users are engaged.
Use different meeting points In Sharp’s survey, over three quarters (78%) of UK workers said that all workplace meetings follow the same structure regardless of the topic, and 57% said they cannot accommodate different types of meeting because they do not have access to a variety of spaces.
Interactive displays such as Sharp’s BIG PAD are extremely popular as teams become ever-more virtual. The right AV equipment can make collaborative working easier and remove any disconnect caused by digitisation, creating a new element of social interaction. That’s why having network-enabled touchscreens like BIG PADs in a meeting or conference room means that people can work together – on one screen that can be used by everyone. Think about the subconscious messages that people receive from a space. For a creative meeting, do you really want people to sit down at a table and chairs? If you want a short meeting, a standing area makes it clear to everyone that this is a quick active meeting. People in an informal space are more likely to make a quick decision and move on. The business benefits of an optimised indoor environment are clear to see. It is now up to facilities managers to embrace new office technologies to create a more productive workplace. Companies may be able to salvage their productivity by implementing these steps for more successful meetings in your office. Birgit Jackson is commercial director for Sharp Visual Solutions www.sharp.co.uk
Removing barriers Voice evacuation system, better described as voice safety systems, says Albert Van der Hout I’ve always thought that some of the best technology comes from the simplest ideas. That’s certainly the case with voice alarm/voice evacuation (VA/VE). What could be more effective in an emergency situation than clear, straightforward instructions given in a calm, human voice to direct people out of a building and to safety? Compare that to traditional fire alarms. Granted, bells alert people to the fact that something is wrong but there is no way to give information about what is happening, what to do or where to go. VA/VE equipment has developed and evolved considerably over the 30-plus years I have been involved in the VA/VE industry. During that time I have worked for several well-known VA and public address (PA) companies. I later set out to pioneer new technologies that would not only be fully featured but also affordable for smaller installations. A major advance in this has been the application of digital technology, which has played a key part in the product development at 4EVAC.
One of the greatest strengths of VACIE is that it is designed for the emergency services to use in a live and fastchanging situation"
Expanded features From what would now be regarded as relatively simple message storage and play-
out systems, solutions have expanded to include features for selecting and monitoring where announcements are made and the precise operation/ performance of the system itself. Such advances are neatly summed up by the acronym VACIE (voice alarm control and indicating equipment). This accurately describes what a modern VA/VE system has to deliver for safe and efficient management of an emergency situation. Today, any building or enclosed area where people work or visit should have some form of alarm and evacuation system. This applies to offices, business premises and public buildings and spaces. There is also a renewed awareness of the need for similar emergency capability in residential apartment blocks following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent public inquiry. If we have learned anything from emergencies of the last five years, including the Bolton student accommodation blaze in November 2019, it is that fires are unpredictable. One of the greatest strengths of VACIE is that it is designed for the emergency services to use in a live and fast-changing situation. Like many others involved in VA/VE, I have tried, sometimes in vain, to convince builders and building owners to install voice-based evacuation systems as standard. That task might become easier now there is more research into this area. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in 2018 looked at how 176 young patients from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio aged between five and 12 years reacted to being woken up by a traditional sounder and a voice message. The results showed that voice alarms appeared more effective than high-pitched beeps. More than 90% of the children woke up on hearing the voice alarm message compared to just over 53% for the traditional alarm. Other research, quoted by the VA/VE consultancy BL Acoustics, found that only 13% of people responded to fire alarm bells in a timely manner. This figure increased to 73% when a voice alarm was used.
Ultimate aim VACIE systems are no longer the preserve of largescale, high-end installations. They can – and should – be available for buildings and businesses of any size, which is why 4EVAC has developed the Compact 500 and its more recent big brother, the IMPACT. Both are based on the ‘plug-and-play’ principle and are certified to multiple, stringent EN (European Standard) regulations. My ultimate aim is to demystify the whole subject of VA. This should not be as difficult as it has been because the basic concept is very simple. It is a matter of using loudspeakers and pre-recorded or live
announcements to tell people how to get to safety. But the predominance of installations based around rack rooms full of amplifiers and processors has clouded the issue. It has been further complicated by the thought that this hardware relies on complex software and operating systems to configure all the different aspects and parameters. This should not be a barrier any longer. We live in a time when just about everyone carries a powerful computing and communications device in their pocket or bag. But very few think about the processing or connectivity involved in our smartphones. We think about what they can do and how they make our lives easier. If I can get people thinking about VACIE systems – or voice safety systems, as they should be known – in the same way it would be a significant achievement. Albert Van der Hout is division manager at 4EVAC www.4evac.com
ISE SHOW 2020
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seeing a 21% average increase in basket size, leading to higher margins with high-profit add-on items and order modifiers. Retailers can reallocate store associates to be more hands-on with customers, leading to optimised costs and increased operational efficiency.
Driving change Elevating the shopping experience with technology is the key for retailers, explains Maarten Bais To survive the ‘retail apocalypse’, store owners must utilise engaging technology to take the physical shopping experience to the next level. Adapting to customers’ ever-evolving expectations can be tough, however, given the plethora of technology solutions retailers must sift through. The future of retail may be bright, but only for retailers that find ways to innovate and engage with shoppers. Here’s four key technology trends driving real change in the industry.
Self-service kiosks Self-service is changing the way consumers shop and purchase. A recent SOTI survey found that 77% of consumers would feel comfortable in a retail setting where the only option for making a purchase was through self-checkout technology. This shows that customers are eager to take control of their shopping experience, skip the line and save time in stores. Harvard Business Review found that customers see a seven-second shorter wait time with self-service kiosks versus traditional checkouts; these seconds matter, too, as this has been linked to an increase in market share of up to 3%. With self-service kiosks, businesses are
Consumers who shop across channels expect consistent, convenient experiences wherever they go” 10
Consumers who shop across channels expect consistent, convenient experiences wherever they go. Self-service kiosks are the best way to provide this in the store. With support for Windows 7 ending in January, retailers must find a solution. Android-based mobile architecture is an increasingly popular replacement for POS devices and kiosks that is already making a huge impact and will continue to do so moving forward. A move to Android provides a unified experience across web, mobile and on-premise. This means shoppers can comfortably and intuitively navigate in-store touchpoints, because they are similar to the mobile website or smartphone app.
Facial recognition Retailers using facial-recognition software can create personalised experiences both digitally and in-store. Facial recognition can capture consumers’ information and preferences when they enter the door, allowing retailers to better understand shopper behaviour and blend the online and offline experience.
Touchscreen technology Interactive touchscreens are becoming the new normal in human interaction – we are inclined to tap on any screen we see, from smartphones to car radios, making their use instinctual and habitual. Seizing on this trend, the retailers are implementing customer-facing touchscreens to create an immersive experience. These touchscreens – whether monitors, digital signage or computers – allow shoppers to browse for items on a tablet or complete their purchases on a large screen. For example, The Fitting Room in Gothenburg, Sweden implemented interactive touchscreens for customers to place orders, freeing up the store associates to assist customers and create an enhanced experience blending the physical and digital worlds. The retail sector is ready for innovation, and it’s up to retailers to implement key technology that will drive transformation and create a strong customer experience. These technologies are increasingly popular innovations that retailers should explore as they strive to provide greater convenience and a more meaningful relationship with their customers. Maarten Bais is EMEA GM and VP at Elo www.elotouch.co.uk
notable, but they have a few important features that every end user is looking for: they are serviceable, scalable and user-friendly. And isn’t that what matters more in the end? Not only with cars, but also with meeting rooms.
Simplicity creates scale
80/20 Standard is no longer a dirty word in AV technology, writes Stijn Ooms, technology director at Crestron Have you ever heard of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule? It states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This has been proven for a variety of situations. For instance, in business 80% of sales come from 20% of clients. In computing, fixing the 20% most-reported bugs, would eliminate 80% of errors and crashes in a system. And in AV, the best experience is reached by installing 80% standardised solutions, and 20% custom solutions. Why, you ask? A standardised solution reduces variance. That means that users know exactly what experience they can expect when they enter the room. And, just as important, it means that the support team knows what to expect, and how to
solve issues. At Crestron, we love making the analogy with a car. Generally, every car is made from the same components. It has a motor, seats, doors, wheels, a roof, battery, brakes, radiator, transmission etc. Now, if you take the customised road, you’ll get a completely different result than when taking the standardised road.
User experience The customised road will result in a few cars that are extraordinary. But while they might look cool, their solution isn’t scalable and very often gives a different user experience depending on which car you are in. While the user is still trying to figure out how the door opens, the standardised car is already turning the corner. Sure, those cars might look less
Which brings me seamlessly to my next points. Simplicity creates scale, which has a lot of financial advantages. If equipment can be purchased in large quantities, you often receive a substantial discount. At the same time you have to stock less spare equipment, which means you can save on real estate. And speaking of saving, since less models need to be supported, the overall support burden reduces. Of course, while standardised solutions such as the Crestron Flex series, AirMedia and DM Lite are a growing trend, there are situations where a customised solution is necessary. But in approximately 80% of the cases, both integrators and end users have a lot to gain by choosing the standardised road. But simplicity doesn’t end at standardisation. Now that almost every AV device is on the network, it’s time to manage deployment simply too. Let’s compare it to the way you deploy a phone for a new employee. You don’t send an expensive programmer out to each office to program the phone. You sit down at the phone server, enter in the MAC address and serial number of the phone, configure all the parameters for their network and set languages, time zones, etc. Then you simply hand it to a junior tech to plug into the network and the phone takes on all the provisioned settings. Crestron XiO Cloud, hosted on Microsoft Azures IoT hub, provides exactly that capability for devices like AirMedia, Mercury, and scheduling panels just to name a few devices. And once they are deployed, firmware updates for enhanced feature sets, security updates, and more can be easily scheduled across the entire enterprise through the cloud. Simple, right?
Ten things not to miss As everyone prepares for the final Amsterdam ISE, we bring you 10 unmissable events and features from the world’s biggest AV show
Elicium Projection Mapping
Taking place the day before ISE opens its doors, the 2020 Opening Address will see former Disney executive Duncan Wardle discussing how innovation can become part of the day-to-day working culture in businesses. Wardle works with leading brands to help them tap into the innate creative potential of their workforces. He will also discuss AI and why it should be embraced rather than feared. The Opening Address takes place at 6pm in the RAI Forum and is followed by the Opening Reception at 7pm in the RAI Forum Lounge.
Also debuting on the Monday before ISE kicks off is a spectacular series of projection mapping displays on the façade of the RAI’s Elicium Complex. It was developed in conjunction with LANG AG, which provided the projectors, white laser mapping from HB Laserkomponenten, and illumination from an Ares XS LED Wash from CLF lighting on the upper storeys. A compelling audio track will be included via amplifiers and speakers from Biamp. The content itself will be created by Tenfeet, while Indyvideo will provide containers for the projectors and operators, as well as technical production support. It will start at 5pm on Monday to Thursday February (4pm on Friday February), and run until 10pm.
Control Rooms Summit
VR at ISE
New for ISE 2020, the Control Rooms Summit is a half-day event taking place on 11th February at the Hotel Okura. Looking at all elements of the technology that goes into a control room, the summit will address the latest trends in technology, design, ergonomics and best practice in this dynamic marketplace, one which AVIXA’s IOTA research suggests will see a CAGR of nearly 5% over the next four years. The event will be chaired by Peter Prater, a founding member and chairman of the International Critical Control Rooms Alliance (ICCRA).
Another new feature for 2020, VR at ISE will show how virtual reality can be used in immersive, collaborative spaces. Two Digital Projection Multiview VR systems will be demonstrated. These allow up to three people wearing fast-switching glasses to view and interact with a stereoscopic 3D virtual model. Crucially, each person sees the object from their own viewpoint – unlike conventional multi-user VR systems where everyone sees exactly the same perspective. VR at ISE will also include an immersive VR theme park ride. Designed and run by Lightspeed Design, this DepthQ VR attraction will take attendees on an interactive fantasy ride through aquatic environments where they encounter touchable jellyfish, a dolphin, and even the mythological world of the god Poseidon.
AVIXA Diversity Council Event
Organised and introduced by AVIXA council member Kevin McLoughlin, this event follows the success of three previous Diversity Council events held in the UK and US. TV broadcaster, panelist, author, diversity advocate and the BBC's first director of creative diversity, June Sarpong OBE will deliver a keynote speech at this free-to-attend event. The AVIXA Diversity Council supports inclusion in the AV industry, regularly organising events where anyone is invited to network, share motivational stories and talk about issues they may be facing.
AVIXA Higher Education AV
Taking place on Wednesday 12th February in Room E102, the Enterprise AV Conference will once again see AVIXA join forces with SCHOMS and EUNIS for this halfday conference. Gill Ferris, leader of EUNIS Learning & Teaching Special Interest Group, reprises her role as content chair. Under the theme ‘Perspectives in education: supporting technology, teaching and learning', the conference will highlight a range of perspectives on how to best enhance the learning and teaching experience through effective use of AV technologies. Delegates will hear examples of good practice cases and take away tips from freely available tools and guidance that may help them in their own businesses.
AVIXA Enterprise AV Conference
Digital Cinema Summit
Also taking place in Room E102, the Enterprise AV Conference will highlight the growing availability of data and the opportunity that data analytics provides to enable better business strategies and workspace/ system design. The conference, which was organised in collaboration with the AV User Group, is 1-5pm on 12th February and will be chaired by Owen Ellis, chairman of the AV User Group. A panel of experts will discuss how careful analysis of business interactions across collaboration tools can be used to inform workspace and system design. From best-case corporate examples to practical advice on how to bring data analytics into the process of making informed decisions, there are many areas in this conference that are sure to capture your interest.
Also on the Wednesday is the Digital Cinema Summit, which takes place 2-6pm at the Hotel Okura. It will offer expert insights into how cinemas can keep pace with the rapidly changing world of visual entertainment, with its theme of ‘The Changing Cineplex’. Digital cinema practitioners and technology experts from around the world and from all parts of the motion picture distribution chain will discuss the new cinema landscape. Delegates can expect to understand more about whether movies still have centre stage at the cineplex, and about the impact of streaming. 14
Hola! Barcelona Event
To mark the final edition of ISE in Amsterdam, a special event on the last day will reflect on the show’s development over the years while also looking forward to the next chapter of its story in Barcelona. The event will feature appearances from major Catalan and Spanish dignitaries and they will talk about the opportunities that ISE’s move to Barcelona will bring for attendees, exhibitors, the City of Barcelona and the AV industry as a whole. Presented by Integrated Systems Europe MD Mike Blackman, the event will also provide an opportunity for ISE, and its owners AVIXA and CEDIA, to say ‘goodbye and thank you’ to the City of Amsterdam and the RAI, and acknowledge their important contributions to the show’s growth.
ISE’s move to Barcelona has also inspired CEDIA’s latest charity event, with a virtual cycle ride set to follow a route from Amsterdam to Barcelona without leaving the RAI. CEDIA volunteers Kris Hogg and Peter Aylett will host the 970-mile virtual ride across the four days of the show, via stationary bikes set up in front of Hall 2. Display screens will also show the riders’ progress along the route. The ride will be in aid of JDRF, which funds research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes on a global scale.
To round out this show preview we caught up with Mike Blackman to find out his thoughts on the upcoming show and what 2021 in Barcelona will hold in store What are your expectations for the final ISE in Amsterdam? It’s going to be bigger and better than ever. I know I say that every year, but somehow we always manage it. We’ve got what promises to be a fascinating Opening Address from Duncan Wardle, formerly of Disney, about untapping the innate creativity within your business. We have our biggest-ever professional development programme, supported by our co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA, with no fewer than 13 conferences. We’re organising a projection mapping extravaganza on the façade of the RAI’s Elicium building, and we’ve got a great ‘VR at ISE’ feature in Hall 14. We’re also holding a special event on the last day, called ‘¡Hola Barcelona!’ which will look ahead to ISE 2021 but will also give us the opportunity to say ‘goodbye and thank you’ to Amsterdam and the RAI. Why do you think end-user attendance has grown so much in recent years? I think there are two factors, each feeding off the other. End users have become much more knowledgeable about audiovisual technology and have greater involvement in choosing the solutions they are going to be working with. At the same time, manufacturers have become more interested in talking directly to end users, either to promote their technology generally or to make end users aware of solutions that their integrator might not be putting forward to them. Both indicate a maturing of the AV systems integration marketplace. How are you catering for this growing demand at the 2020 edition? The growing end-user attendance is the main reason why we are continually expanding our conference programme. I mentioned that we have 13 conferences at ISE 2020 – that compares with 10 last year. Among the new ones are the Control Rooms Summit on the Tuesday – which has the title ‘How better integrated AV will save and protect lives’; and the CEDIA Cybersecurity Workshop on the Monday. Although CEDIA is the association for residential AV integrators, this particular event is just as valid for those in commercial AV. On the show floor, we’ve managed to make some 16
additional space available by making the extension to Hall 5 larger and permanent. But the lack of growing room at the RAI is the main reason why we are moving to the Fira – Gran Via in Barcelona in 2021. Do you expect vendors to go all out on the final edition of the show in Amsterdam or to hold something back for 2021 in Barcelona? It depends on what you mean. I don’t think it makes sense for exhibitors to somehow reduce the impact of their presence at ISE 2020 just to make a bigger splash a year later. But it is the case that, because of the space restrictions at the RAI, we didn’t allow anyone to take a larger stand this year than they took in 2019. We’ve already started booking stands with our top exhibitors for ISE 2021, where obviously we are redrawing the floor plan from scratch – and there’s already a significant average increase in stand size, even among these very high spenders. Also, there’s more scope in the Fira for exhibitors to appear within their chosen Technology Zone; at the RAI, some might have faced a trade-off between stand size and location. All the restrictions will disappear when we move to Barcelona. Do you think the geographic breakdown of AV professionals attending will change considerably with the relocation? It will, to some extent. There are some attendees from the Benelux region and from parts of Germany who drive to Amsterdam for the day to attend ISE – I would be surprised if we managed to persuade all of them to get on a plane to Barcelona. But on the flipside of that, I’d expect a greater proportion of attendees from Spain and Portugal.
© Picture Credit
Time for business There’s a shift taking place in the world of XR technologies – a shift that promises to underpin accelerated growth in the market. Ian McMurray looks at what’s going on 18
hen Sony introduced its Walkman portable music player back in 1979, it was hard not to ask “Why?” It didn’t seem there was a growing groundswell of consumers whose most burning desire was to be able to take their copy of Tusk, Rust Never Sleeps or Regatta de Blanc with them wherever they went. If Sony ever undertook any market research that identified that a product like the Walkman would be a success, it wasn’t widely publicised. To all intents and purposes, the Walkman was a solution looking for a problem. And that, for many, is the predominant response to XR (extended reality) technologies – the coverall term for the technologies (VR, AR, ER, MR) that blend, in different ways, the digital world with reality – when it comes to business applications. Sure, VR is a lot of fun (if you haven’t tried to lean
on a virtual table and almost fallen over in the process, you haven’t lived) – and AR, in the form of Pokémon Go, was a huge hit. AR has also transformed sports broadcast. But: for the corporate world? And yet… Visual Capitalist says the XR market for business applications will be worth $209 billion by 2022 – up from $27 billion in 2018. Somewhat more conservative is IDC’s latest Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide, which forecasts that global spending on augmented reality and virtual reality will reach $18.8 billion in 2020 – up 78.5%, compared to the $10.5 billion the company expects to have been spent in 2019. Significantly: according to IDC, close to two thirds of the spend will be by businesses.
Virtual reality is making it possible to bring the ultimate level of engagement and immersion to a guest – without the need for complex audiovisual setups”
Peter Cliff, Holovis
Meanwhile, VR Intelligence – a network of senior level decision makers in virtual and augmented reality – finds what it says is compelling evidence that key players in the VR industry (think Oculus, HTC, NVIDIA) are shifting their attention away from the consumer market and towards the enterprise market. James Manning Smith, a market analyst at Futuresource, thinks he knows at least one of the reasons why that may be happening. “Finding the sweet spot between price and quality of immersion, allowing consumers to affordably try out VR whilst offering the quality of experience that draws consumers into frequent usage, is still a barrier to mass take-up of XR technologies,” he believes. “With price a smaller barrier for B2B uptake, XR has found success in corporate training, design, aviation, medicine and education.” Experiential design company Holovis has been actively using the whole suite of XR and emerging technologies in its solutions for entertainment. In the attractions market, for example, its XR solutions are being used to extend and enhance guest experiences by bringing an extra dimension, or by making immersive and interactive adventures possible where previously there wouldn’t have been space. “Virtual reality is making it possible to bring the ultimate level of engagement and immersion to a guest – without the need for complex audiovisual setups,” explains the company’s creative director, Peter Cliff. “We can still combine immersive visuals, dynamically synced motion, surround audio, SFX including fans and air blasts and multi format interactivity to create multi-sensory, adrenalinefuelled VR adventures.”
Recurring question While visitor attractions is an important AV market – and, perhaps, an obvious one for the immersive and entertainment potential of XR – it’s a market served
by relatively few specialist integrators. The recurring question is: does XR fit across a broader crosssection of AV applications? For Holovis, it does. “For enterprise, we are using emerging technologies to bring data to life for review, allowing engineers to see, explore and test their creations without waiting for timely and expensive real models being built, and for manufacturers to check the accuracy of products coming off the line in realtime,” explains Cliff. “For manufacturing, we have developed innovative applications of automated augmented reality combined with native CAD to check that real applications of sealant, anti-flutter and rivets are in the correct place. This results in an increased right first time ratio, reducing rework costs and creates a digital data trail. The data gathered from this can also be analysed using machine learning algorithms to aid future predictive maintenance.” Engineering and manufacturing don’t readily represent themselves as markets served by the typical integrator, however – the exception being, perhaps, those focusing on visualisation and simulation. On the other hand: many organisations using meeting room systems, unified communications system, digital signage for employee communication and so on are indeed designing and building products. Is there an opportunity for integrators to broaden their solution set and capture a greater revenue stream from the customer?
Potentially confusing A challenge noted by many commentators is that to use the term ‘XR’ is potentially confusing. For example, use cases for VR and AR are very different – and the technologies required to make them a
commercial reality are at varying levels of development. IDC, for example, believes that VR continues to be primarily a consumer technology – while AR is finding greater traction in business, and is overtaking VR in terms of market share. “AR in enterprise enables workers to be more productive and to work more efficiently and safely,” notes IDC research analyst Giulia Carosella. “DHL, for example, has implemented an AR solution to provide workers with picking instructions, and Volkswagen is using AR for indoor navigation at some of its factories.” “Retailers are looking into AR apps for smartphones to improve customer experience and keep clients engaged,” she adds, pointing out that VR and AR technology adoption in Europe has doubled year on year. For most, the single biggest barrier to widespread adoption of VR has been the requirement for a 20
headset. While these have developed rapidly to become less cumbersome and intrusive, they don’t lend themselves easily to the kind of collaborative, shared experiences that have long been at the heart of the AV business: they’re often described as ‘isolating’.
Alone in virtual worlds “Communication is not an easy task, because headsets can sometimes be seen as a bit ridiculous with their users imprisoned and alone in virtual worlds,” smiles Cliff. Certainly, if you’ve ever watched someone in a VR headset and wondered what on earth they’re doing, his sentiment has resonance. Things are changing, however: the state of the art continues to move forward. Historically, there were, in essence, two types of VR headset. In the consumer world, these are perhaps best illustrated by the Oculus Go, on the one hand, and the HTC Vive
Pro on the other. The Go provides complete freedom to move around – but is capable of less immersive experiences. The HTC Vive Pro must be ‘tethered’ to a powerful PC (either via cable or wirelessly) but because of the greater compute performance available, it is capable of delivering a more compelling experience. However: in 2019, Oculus launched the Quest – more powerful than the Go, but with the compelling advantage of PC-less use. It’s indicative of the direction in which VR headsets are heading: greater onboard compute power enabling more ergonomic headsets. The company also announced Oculus Link, a bridge between its PC-less and connected offerings. Futuresource’s Manning Smith notes how new technologies such as SLAM (Simulation Localisation and Mapping) – constructing or updating a map of an unknown environment while simultaneously keeping track of an agent’s location within it – and Inside-out tracking – in which sensors and cameras are located on the device to be tracked rather than on a stationary external location – are delivering new levels of capability. Oliver Ellmers, interactive developer at specialists in light and pixel technologies Pixel Artworks, sees hardware technology lagging software.
XR has promised to be the next frontier in personal computing for the last decade” James Manning Smith, Futuresource “Generally, software technology is a few years ahead of hardware technology,” he says. “It will take more serious industrial investment before hardware technology can meet the requirements of our software prophecies. However: we are seeing hardware evolution becoming faster and faster, and I think there is a necessity for software to be slightly ahead to drive innovation in solving the hardware problems we face with technology.” “Whilst hardware continues to develop, and will no
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doubt greatly improve in the coming years, it has become less of a significant factor in VR uptake in 2018 and 2019,” adds Manning Smith. “Headset design and comfort has improved rapidly in recent years, thanks to innovation in the industry.”
Foolish According to Fabien Barati, CEO of French VR and AR company Emissive, whose clients include Adidas, BNP, IKEA, Orange and Thales, we’d be foolish to dismiss VR, however. “I often meet people who don’t want to try VR content because ‘they already did VR’,” he says, pointing out that content quality makes a huge difference to the experience, “but it’s as if they said ‘I don’t want to watch this movie because I’ve already been to a cinema’. It makes no sense.” It’s inevitable that any discussion of XR will tend to focus on VR because of its ability to create new realities, rather than extend, enhance or augment the real world. For training, for example, it allows trainees to experience situations that would otherwise be too dangerous, too complex or too costly. US retailer Walmart, for instance, uses VR for training its staff on what to do in case of severe weather – and to allow ‘hands on’ employee training without disrupting store operations. The reality is that, in the near term at least, AR/ ER/MR are likely to represent more of an opportunity for the audiovisual industry because of their ability to enhance interaction – whether that’s 22
Look – no headset Despite the popular perception, VR doesn’t necessarily require a headset. Headset-less VR is possible in the form of the CAVE (Cave automatic virtual environment). One of the better-known examples is the CAVE 2 installation at the University of Illinois, Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Lab. An 8m-diameter circular room, in which the walls comprise columns of 3D LCD monitors, each column driven by a computer, it includes sensors and cameras and users wear glasses very little different to ordinary spectacles. CAVE 2 allows multiple users to interact simultaneously with the same virtual world – but its primary applications are in scientific and engineering applications. CAVEs are far from being – yet – the Holodeck of Star Trek fame, but they’re as close as we’ve got. And: they don’t come cheap…
interaction in a huddle room or between a retailer and a consumer, for example. In conferencing applications, for instance, there is much interest in overlaying information about each speaker in a multi-way video call – especially valuable when participants are not necessarily known to each other. In retail, multiple brands have embraced the
opportunity to show customers what a product will look like in their own environment; in trying on clothes; or to see the multiple variations of a product that cannot sensibly be held in stock. There’s also research taking place among retailers in leveraging a consumer’s phone to become an AR platform.
Undoubted potential All of which begs the question: will this year be the year that XR technologies break out, go mainstream and turn their undoubted potential into widespread use cases that deliver worthwhile business benefits? Emissive’s Barati is hopeful. “In 2020, we will certainly see more complete and profitable business models based on those technologies for different use cases such as entertainment, brand experiences, education, training, visualisation and retail,” he believes. “One of the biggest limitations to using XR technologies in the commercial space has been the hardware,” acknowledges Holovis’s Cliff. “Products haven’t been robust enough to cope in the entertainment space, or high enough resolution for the detail needed in enterprise. I think we will see this change in 2020 as products like the HoloLens 2 and the HTC Vive Cosmos get released to the wider market with new features including better gesture control, wider fields of view and inside-out tracking making them much more suited to the needs of the market.” Manning Smith is somewhat more circumspect. “XR has promised to be the next frontier in personal computing for the last decade,” he notes, “and we’re still waiting for the industry to deliver on its potential.” IDC’s Carosella is, however, positive about the medium-term.
Focus shifting “AR/VR commercial uptake will continue to expand as cost of entry declines and benefits from full deployment become more tangible,” she says. “Focus is shifting from talking about technology benefits to showing real and measurable business outcomes, including productivity and efficiency gains, knowledge transfer, employee’s safety, and more engaging customer experiences.” It’s worth noting, of course, that neither Barati, Cliff, Manning Smith nor Carosella is speaking specifically about XR technologies in the AV space: they’re talking about the XR market in general. Peter Cliff provides a possible explanation. “The use cases are completely different for large scale AV compared to VR, AR or MR,” he says, “although the two can work together to complement each other. Regardless of which platform you’re working with, XR technologies are not currently
Focus is shifting from talking about technology benefits to showing real and measurable business outcomes” Giulia Carosella, IDC geared up for large scale communications – so traditional AV systems, and especially secondary screens, will continue to be the primary focus for a long time yet.” “AR is really different from XR,” echoes Barati, “with different use cases and a different skillset. XR should be done mainly by people coming from the video game industry. Those are the technologies that underpin XR.” “I don’t think there is necessarily any problem for the AV industry in accessing markets or opportunities in XR,” counters Pixel Artworks’ Ellmers. “I think there is more a need to take a step back and assess how these new technologies may be adapted to the AV industry, and how they can aid in traditional AV storytelling processes.” Legend has it that the Walkman came about as a result of a senior Sony executive wanting to be able to listen to opera on a more convenient device than Sony’s then-current TC-D5 cassette player. The Walkman, Sony’s seeming solution looking for a problem, sold some 400 million units and was still in production 30 years after its introduction. It could be said that the Walkman was the progenitor of portable CD players, the iPod and huge numbers of alternative MP3 players. Today, anyone with a mobile phone also has, by definition, a portable music player. That another solution widely believed to be looking for a problem – XR – represents a similarly enormous opportunity to achieve comparable levels of success seems probable.
Enormous opportunity? The question remains, however: is it an enormous opportunity for the audiovisual industry – or even any kind of opportunity? The answer is probably a qualified “yes”. XR is already well established in markets in which the AV industry has traditionally succeeded – notably retail, education, unified communications, entertainment, training, simulation
Key Points • Rapid growth is forecast for the XR market, with a shift in emphasis from consumer applications to business applications ABOVE: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi breaks Guinness World Record for the largest AR screen for this display in Piccadilly Circus
and control rooms, for example. XR technologies can unquestionably extend the scope and utility of existing solutions. That’s all reinforced by the reappearance of the XR Summit at this year’s ISE: there are certainly knowledgeable people who see the fit. Those traditional AV markets are, however, already served to a greater or lesser extent by specialist XR companies who have a headstart in skills, knowledge and experience. For integrators unable or unwilling to undertake the necessary investment, partnerships with those companies look to be the most promising way forward.
• Continuing advances in VR headsets are making them a more acceptable solution – but they do not readily facilitate shared experiences
www.emissive.fr www.futuresource-consulting.com www.holovis.com www.pixelartworks.com
• XR is an opportunity for the AV industry – but it may be better addressed via partnerships with existing XR players
• AR continues to show more promise in terms of its ability to enhance existing AV solutions in areas such as retail and unified communications • 2020 will see continued evolution and maturity in the XR market – but an explosion Qin deployments looks very unlikely
© Getty Images
Converging realities Extended reality (XR) is becoming more widely adopted within HE and corporate institutions, and is set to transform the way students and employees go about their daily tasks. Rob Lane reports
xtended Reality – also called Cross Reality by some commentators – is by no means a fully defined term, with differing opinions as to what it encompasses. Some see it as an umbrella description for VR and AR. Others include standards such as immersive and 360° video and projection mapping. And there is also confusion as to whether Mixed or Merged Reality (MR) is an alternative moniker or merely one of XR’s components. Jim Malcolm, general manager of visual innovation specialists HumanEyes Technologies was very clear on how he categorises XR when he told Wired magazine: “XR does not refer to any specific technology. It’s a bucket for all of the realities.” For Jim, these include AR, VR and MR. Certainly, XR is not a new term, having been used as far back as the 60s, when photographic innovator Charles Wyckoff filed a patent for an XR film to allow people to view things beyond regular human vision, as a result of developing techniques to photograph
XR atomic experiments in the Pacific Ocean. Not then the same interactive, reality-warping definition we think of over half a century on, but still an ‘extension’ of reality through the use of expansive technology.
Big part “XR is a broad term, without clear definition in my opinion, that collects MR, VR and AR into one group,” explains Emma Bigg, director at consultants Octavius RE. “I think what XR really means is that we will have a convergence of technology where different layers can be accessed, depending on the equipment and software you have. I think XR has a big part to play in the world of AV installations, in terms of creating better experiences and connecting people.” VR, AR and MR are certainly making inroads into the various AV-heavy sectors – particularly as a result of new and more widely accessible hardware, such as the latest VR headsets. “New VR headsets address concerns such as robustness and durability,” says Linda Duggan, portfolio manager, Holovis. “They are wireless to eliminate cables, feature inside/out tracking to remove external hardware, and are of a higher quality resolution – making them more suitable for markets such as advanced engineering and virtual manufacturing, where precision is everything.” Duggan believes that the future lies in MR, rather than the broader XR, but that hardware still has a way to go to enable proper collaboration in a noninvasive way, with effective real-time tracking of the operator’s environment. “At the moment, MR is mixed at device level, but true Mixed Reality with AR and an analysis of the real world within the same view, coupled with simple and unconstructive form-factor hardware, will hopefully start to deliver
XR technologies are equipping us with the tools to create larger, more immersive digital canvases, which span across multiple display media and devices” Andy Hook, White Light
the capabilities industry are looking for and drive wider adoption.” Whatever terminology you choose to use, it’s clear that XR and its component technologies have huge potential in the working environment, with benefits to corporate meetings, building projects and even oil rig work. The scope is huge.
Developing tools “The tools are developing quickly and could soon be deployable at scale, opines Christian Bozeat, Director, MACOM GMBH (UK). “We are, however, in the early adopter part of the life cycle, with only a few taking on the challenges of working through the use cases and creating business cases for the deployments.” The difficulty, says Bozeat, is that most companies still don’t have a strategy for designing, deploying and supporting ‘standard’ AV systems properly yet – let alone XR ones – and many don’t even take seriously the internal research and development required for these systems to work. “There is an opportunity for XR to leapfrog standard AV in some areas as it could present substantial savings in construction and installation, as well as support for some applications,” he says. “But there is a cultural and working process challenge that also needs to be addressed.” These concerns aside, XR has certainly seen strong growth and growing support from the major corporations, perhaps suggesting that it is a technology grouping that is here to stay, and embed into the broader AV tech sandbox. Simon Benson, founder of Realised Realities, believes that the significant areas to watch in AV are immersive video, positional audio and production tooling. “All of these elements and more are moving forward at an incredible pace and creating new and exciting opportunities in their wake,” he says. “So it is clear that there is a bright future ahead for XR in the AV field.” Of course, it’s the office and within higher education – in terms of meetings and collaboration – that many see as the great hope for a broader, less specialist, acceptance of XR. “We are 110% convinced that interactive immersive environments will progressively complement and supplement the use of VR and XR headsets, smart glasses, mobiles and flat screens – both in enterprise and education,” says Jake Rowland, head of business development, Igloo Vision. Unsurprisingly, Rowland believes that the best way of achieving this immersive working evolution is with the use of immersive environments such as Igloo Vision’s own 360° domes – rather than regular boardroom and lecture theatre environments. Indeed, tech research and advisory expert Gartner has started mentioning such immersive workspaces
in its reports as a technology CIOs should be actively investigating in 2020. And global service provider NTT mentions immersive, responsive ‘phygital’ spaces – where the physical world blends with the digital – in its Future Disrupted technology predictions for 2020.
Hugely exciting “Both the appetite we are currently seeing for exploration with mixed reality technologies, and the potential this yields for transforming AV solutions are hugely exciting,” says Andy Hook, technical solutions director, White Light. “As a company, we are currently investing significant R&D resources into experimentation with XR applications in projects for the education, corporate and broadcast sectors. XR technologies are equipping us with the tools to create larger, more immersive digital canvases, which span across multiple display media and devices. This enables the creation of more interactive, more usable and more immersive AV experiences.” Although Dan Watson, senior consultant at PTS Consulting believes that the true benefits of XR within education and corporate sectors have “yet to be realised” and that the adoption of XR outside of the gaming world is “still in its infancy”, it’s clear that the potential is huge. “XR allows for the delivery of content in such a way that suits all of the Memletic learning styles,” says Watson. “If you look at XR in corporate currently, then it is mainly being used for training… mainly for support staff. But PTS is in the process of developing several XR support platforms for various clients, which comprises VR, AR and MR, allowing users – at high level – to walk around the environment, see operation stats of equipment, and pull up information and manuals instantly.” Watson cautions that there is currently a lack of understanding of how XR could enhance and improve workflows, and that, indeed, the workflow majority across core sectors do not really have a use for XR as of yet – but that this is set to change with the influx of the next wave of a younger, XR-familiar, workforce, many drawn from higher education campuses that may have already deployed such technologies. “The interesting thing about the education market is that there are so many XR use cases,” explains Rowland. “At the most basic level, immersive environments are being used to take students on virtual field trips. But they are also being used in the creation of XR content, like games, 360° films and other immersive experiences. “Another thing to remember is that, with enterprise XR solutions taking root, and immersive workspaces taking off, employers are looking for job applicants with practical experience in immersive technology.” 30
Step change XR is certainly beneficial to learning. According to Benson, initial studies have shown that retention tends to be much higher when immersive experiences are accessed, compared to conventional education. “Some studies state 80% retention after one year, compared to only 20% with conventional learning. This indicates the opportunity of a huge step change in the potential of education across the board.” As XR is based upon access to virtual content, there are really no limits to scope and location – it’s possible to deliver practically infinite space, tools and objects, from anywhere. Consequently, a lecture could be organised where all participants are sat at home at their desks but are simultaneously entering a virtual space of learning and collaboration. “This snapshot of the potential of the technology can be applied to many different applications, from creative reviews to shared training where the best teacher in the world can reach thousands of students across the globe for a natural, interactive experience,” explains Benson. Of course, there are costs and challenges, particularly within education, but Bozeat reasons that speed of change and implementation challenges could be more of an issue. “Defining how to utilise XR, changing teaching methods and then proving the benefit that is gained by utilising the new technology could be the biggest challenge to the speed of implementation in some departments,” he says. “Working process change is often the biggest challenge to adoption.” Within corporations, training is often cited as the main beneficiary of XR, and certainly the engineering and manufacturing industries are
XR embracing it. However, visualisation is also important, with architects and construction professionals using it to experience ‘virtual tours’ of build environments. And the expectation is that it will be more broadly adopted in marketing suites. “We are seeing the growth of immersive workspaces, which are used for a whole range of applications – like virtual meeting and conferencing spaces, data visualisation suites, and ideation and brainstorming spaces,” says Rowland. “Igloo has installed such immersive workspaces for clients such as Accenture, Microsoft, BP and Dell.” “I think there is a case for XR in corporate too,” adds Bigg. “Not only for meetings, but for accessing and evaluating data. We see data walls and Twitter walls in installs all the time now, so there is a big argument for bringing the analysis and evaluation of data into the visual domain. “Telepresence is a common word in the world of virtual meetings, and there is a trend to creating more immersive virtual meetings; there is good reason to think this will evolve further as XR does. I also think there could also be an interesting use for internal communications, especially in large, diverse organisations.”
Virtualising environments XR is a valuable asset when it comes to sustainability, reducing the need for travel and improving remote working experiences. Mixed reality environments should also enable staff to have more effective, more collaborative and more engaging meetings and presentations. “Reducing business travel by virtualising environments and allowing people to have more engaging remote meetings will become an everincreasing priority within the corporate culture,” explains Hook. “Our Innovations team are currently working on further evolution of the SmartStage technology, for a range of applications for corporate presentations and video conference solutions over the coming year.” Some companies are more predisposed to embrace technologies such as XR, with others perhaps seeing it as gimmicky or overcomplicated. It depends upon the corporate culture, and the speed of adoption will vary accordingly. “A more traditional environment such as a banking institution would be very different to that of a global technology company,” says Bigg, “with the latter more likely to adopt XR as part of its business culture. And of course, companies with a more dispersed workforce may find XR more appealing and useful than companies that follow a more traditional model of workers travelling to a central hub each day.” As adoption becomes more widespread and accepted, as costs fall and as businesses discover
There is a big argument for bringing the analysis and evaluation of data into the visual domain” Emma Bigg, Octavius RE how the various technologies – perhaps AR in particular – can best benefit their own individual cultures and working environments, XR will inevitably embed into the broader adoption of AV tech, perhaps ultimately losing its categorised (and in any case not fully defined) moniker. “VR is tough to execute in a traditional corporate environment, such as in a boardroom, because of the reluctance to wear headsets,” explains Duggan. “People often feel self-conscious, they don’t want to put something on their head that is going to mess up their hair or make up and they worry about the hygiene implications. “However, the advancement of AR applications now means that this market can still get a level of immersion without needing to wear full headsets. Data can be brought to life, overlaid and analysed on devices such as mobiles or tables.” “We are starting to see a shift, as the corporate world is grasping the practical capabilities of the technology and becoming increasingly aware of the transformative potential this offers,” adds Hook. “I strongly believe that one day most of the display devices we interact with will be augmented into our own digital worlds, facilitated by augmented reality devices. This means that we will no longer rely on televisions, laptops or desktop monitors, and instead create virtual screens whenever and wherever we need them and share those displays with others by invitation. “With expected AR device releases, explosions in the world of ‘cloud AR’ and advances in graphics hardware and software technology, 2020 is likely to see significant advances in this area and take us a step closer to that vision.” www.holovis.com www.macom.de/en www.octaviusre.com www.ptsconsulting.com www.realisedrealities.com www.whitelight.ltd.uk
Game on The ongoing boom in eSports is set to bring considerable rewards for pro AV, but the complexity of these events means that a profound understanding of the market and its requirements is vital for success, writes David Davies
here can be no doubt – eSports is now very big business, and on a truly global level. By the late 2000s it was already on its way to becoming a global phenomenon, but one fuelled in large part by amateur initiatives and relatively low-key tournaments. Since then, video game developers and streaming companies – increasingly aware of the tremendous commercial potential of eSports tournaments, both at the host venues and online – have effected to turn it into a lucrative global business whose total annual revenues are thought to have passed the $1 billion mark in 2019. As well as the obvious impact of a dramatic influx of cash, the other chief enabler of eSports has been the continued improvement in bandwidth availability in both venues and homes. But this is certain to remain a moving target as 4K, HDR and deepening interactivity and social media integration add further to network expectations in the coming years. As Joe Cumello, CMO of telecoms network supplier Ciena, recently remarked on the company’s website: “The result is a newfound fixation on your network connection, where an instant of ‘lagging’ can be the difference between your glorious victory or brutal defeat.” Improving network speed and reliability will have to remain at the top of the priority list for eSports stakeholders if recent predictions prove to be
accurate. For instance, Business Insider Intelligence recently estimated that total eSports viewership is on course to rise at 9% compound annual growth between 2019 and 2023 – soaring from an audience of 454 million to 646 million in a mere four years. Simultaneously, the number and variety of eSports events continues to grow, with stalwart franchises that have global appeal – including League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Overwatch – being joined by more events with a national or regional emphasis. In historical terms, it could be that we are still only in the early chapters of what could prove to be a very long book. Vern Freedlander heads strategic partnerships at Bannister Lake, whose Chameleon data aggregation and management product has found favour in the data-intensive world of eSports. “I think the market still has a lot of potential,” he says. “Based on the demographics and the [increasing] acceptance of eSports I am sure that it will continue to grow. We are also seeing more conventional broadcasters embracing eSports as something they want to put on air, as well as more sponsors getting involved. Those factors will help fuel the growth of the industry.” These sentiments are echoed by Liam Hayter, senior solutions architect at NewTek, whose NDI media-over-IP technology has resonated strongly with the eSports market. “ESports is one of the
For any company in media technology, the growth of eSports should be considered an exciting opportunity" Jon Finegold, Signiant
fastest, continually growing markets in the world right now,” he observes. “In Europe, this is no exception. Given the scale of audience reach and range of content being created at all levels, we don’t see this changing anytime soon.”
‘Inside the venue’ The diversity in size, scale and style of eSports events can make generalisations problematic, but we’re on fairly safe ground if we separate activities into two main categories: ‘inside the venue’ and ‘beyond the venue’. Inside the venue – frequently now an arena or stadium as the appeal of eSports, particularly around tournament finals, has grown – the specification is frequently comparable to a major concert, with a high-spec audio system (typically involving a line array and the latest digital mixers) required alongside impactful lighting and colossal video screens. Needless to say, these screens need to be accurately synchronised and subject to a network latency that is as close to zero as possible. Contentwise they should ideally reflect the full scope of action being experienced by the gamers on their own (much smaller) screens. Chris Goff is education and pro AV business manager at BenQ, which initiated a dedicated range of professional monitors and accessories for
eSports, ZOWIE, in 2015. “With eSports events becoming a massive attraction, live events are being held in huge stadiums and live streamed to the masses, similarly to football matches or any other live sports event,” he says. “The difference, however, is how to ensure the tournaments played on [participants’] 28in monitors are seen. This is where pro AV really makes a difference. Events rely on massive repeater screens showing all the action, delivered via videowall or large venue projection, such as BenQ’s Bluecore laser projectors, for massive sharp images of all the action.” Modern large venues can have permanent highend AV systems as part of their inventories – something that is sure to become more common as music touring, in particular, seeks to cut overheads and reduce its carbon footprint by travelling more lightly. But the tendency, at least for now, is for “nearly all [the AV needed] for an eSports tournament to be brought in specifically for each event”, as the production will have been designed in a similar way to a big production music spectacular “where you have the purpose-built stage, and then the screens attached to that stage,” says Peter Kirkup, global technical solutions manager at disguise, which released the latest, r17 version of its software for creating live visual experiences at the end of January.
All this means that the opportunities available to AV vendors and integrators are of a similar scale to those encountered in any other type of large-scale entertainment event. While a number of existing venues have become closely associated with eSports – The Copper Box, located in London’s Olympic Park – being one prominent example – the prospect of more dedicated eSports venues is sure to add to the pool of potential work. A 2019 Forbes article, entitled ‘eSports stadiums are popping up everywhere’, highlighted the range of new developments in the US alone – running the gamut from an 80-seat hall at Ohio State University, supporting its programme of eSports degrees, to the 65,000sqft Fusion Arena in Philadelphia that will host games for Overwatch League team Philadelphia Fusion from its projected opening in 2021. As eSports becomes an increasingly serious business, it’s hardly surprising that other types of auxiliary facilities are starting to emerge. Training is an obvious area of activity, as reinforced by the recent opening by US eSports organisation Complexity Gaming in Frisco, Texas of a GameStop Performance Center. A venue where players can “gain insight and strategy from top eSports professionals, and learn to compete at higher levels,” the centre is also home to Complexity Gaming’s teams. It was the subject of an elaborate AV fit-out by integrator Audience Inc, involving a variety of 4K videowall configurations and display sizes, with RGB Spectrum’s Galileo videowall processors central to the specification. To put it mildly, then, it’s a market to which AV manufacturers and installers should be paying very close attention from now on. 34
‘Beyond the venue’ If we turn our attentions to activities ‘beyond the venue’ then we are increasingly talking about the live-streaming of events to platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Sometimes the streaming will be masterminded by games companies’ own production operations; sometimes it will involve major production companies with a background in more traditional broadcasting. Broadcast services giant NEP is among the latter, with NEP UK client business manager John Bullen observing that the last few years have seen “eSports become a real focus for growth for us, typically centring upon [events marking] the culmination of online tournaments where there have already been numerous battles involving competing teams.” As well as being a major growth market, there is also general agreement that eSports is helping to fuel current R&D activities, especially in terms of graphics and data management and interpretation. Sophisticated video production in the venue – which will need to be fully responsive to dramatic occurrences in the gameplay – has to be translated to a streaming experience that captures all of the drama, but without becoming overwhelming. The evolving expectations of game developers – with the method, and extent, to which they require data to be integrated into the visual presentation often varying significantly – mean that broadcast software providers will have to work hard to remain one step ahead. Jon Finegold, chief marketing officer of file movement software company Signiant, says that “for any company in media technology, the growth of eSports should be considered an exciting
opportunity. ESports is driving growth in remote production operations, new graphics and special effects capabilities, and of course more integration with social media.” In terms of Signiant’s area of expertise, “that means more content moving back and forth from the venue to post-production facilities, and edited content then being sent back to the venue and out to social media and other publishers.” Cloud-based production is set to play a growing role as eSports businesses tackle the question of how to “remain agile and easily plug and play new technologies whether ‘at home’, at the venue or in the cloud,” says Finegold. Feeding both venue and broadcast feeds with data means that this is currently a major pivot of cloudrelated activity. Deployments of Bannister Lake’s Chameleon typically use the company’s own cloud solution to manage and aggregate real-time and static data. But in terms of deciding which data elements reach viewers, an editorial overview remains key; otherwise, says Freedlander, “the amount of data [being conveyed to viewers] could be overwhelming, so there has to be an editorial decision in terms of what fans want, and what will add value to the game and their experience of it. This has to happen [at the start of each project] so the story of the event can be told in a sophisticated way.” As in all aspects of data management, it’s probable that the use of AI and machine learning in understanding viewer and participant behaviour – and optimising the experience accordingly – will increase markedly as the 2020s continue.
Words of advice Such is the rate of development in this sector that ensuring events don’t become overly complex is bound to be an ongoing challenge. Hayter notes that the software-driven nature of eSports is informing the development of the viewer experience, with examples including “higher-thanstandard frame rates, HDR colour spaces and nonbroadcast resolutions needing to be acquired into production, along with non-standard delivery requirements for online-first, multi-platform delivery. They’re really affecting each other [and] the spaces where they meet is very exciting.” More eSports-oriented integrators seem to be a given – but what should they, and other companies eager to explore the opportunities, bear in mind when approaching eSports? Near the top of the list is that, as a relatively new addition to the AV landscape, eSports is still evolving rapidly, and as such the requirements – and budgetary conditions – can cover a substantial range. “The very nature of the space is fast-paced and highly iterative, so it’s a great space of innovative and disruptive technologies and workflows,”
Case Study: Bannister Lake delivers live data to Gran Turismo e-sports championships Summer 2019 saw Bannister Lake continue its relationship with Montreal’s Boombox Group to supply live data management and populate graphics for the latest FIA-certified Gran Turismo Championships. The schedule included an event at the Nürburgring Track in Germany, home of one of the world’s most celebrated 24hour motorsports races. Bannister Lake software and live data management expertise were used throughout the event to read Google Sheets, ingest and moderate real-time social media feeds, and consolidate data for the competition’s various races. The solution’s data was used to drive graphics both in-venue and on the broadcast streams, contributing to the creation of engaging content including player and team profiles, standings, schedules and sponsorship information. Al Savoie, Bannister Lake’s technical and creative director, commented: “It’s great to bring Chameleon on location at the Nürburgring. The track has an illustrious history in racing, and we’re thrilled to be part of the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships.” Throughout the series of events Bannister Lake focused on identifying “new and exciting ways to integrate data into the production and leverage live data content to allow producers to tell more compelling Gran Turismo stories.” The Nürburgring event featured 55 of the world’s best Gran Turismo drivers from 20 countries competing in the Manufacturer Series, the Nations Cup, and the GR Supra GT Cup. Winners then moved on to participate in racing events held in New York, Salzburg and Tokyo. Chameleon was used throughout the series to enhance editorial content and fuel new revenue opportunities for event organisers.
confirms Hayter. “It is also one with great disparity between extremely high budgets and no budget at all – however, all are engaged in the same space!” Keeping a close eye on the delivery platforms popular with eSports users is also strongly advised. Hayter notes: “The delivery mechanism and audience platform end of eSports production is evolving all the time,” with YouTube and Twitch being joined by “competitor platforms emerging
As the focus moves towards software and networks, it’s important for integrators to get skilled up for signal management for live events and offering streaming platforms” Chris Goff, BenQ that offer different engagement experiences”. Also be prepared that – certainly for the foreseeable future – there aren’t too many standard practices covering the sector as a whole. Part of the excitement felt in eSports at the moment is “the fact that no two events are the same,” says Bullen. “Each new tournament has to be approached on an individual basis. Having said that, I do think that certain elements of the production will [become more standardised] over time.” For BenQ’s Goff, installers would be wise to maintain their skill levels with regard to software implementation and network management. “As the focus moves towards software and networks, it’s important for integrators to get skilled up for signal management for live events and offering streaming platforms, as well as the professional integration of hardware,” he says. Mike Allan, CTO of IPTV and digital signage technology expert Exterity, says the company is observing developments in eSports “with interest” and expects NDI – the NewTek-developed Network Device Interface live video over IP production technology, with which various Exterity products can now integrate – to have an increasing influence on the space. One of the great strengths of NDI is the “ability it gives you to extend a network into overspill areas around a venue, which you might wish to supply with eSports content [as interest in eSports continues to grow],” he says. Final piece of advice – but surely one of the most vital – comes from disguise’s Kirkup, who says that it’s important to take the time to “obtain a real understanding of how each game functions, and what it requires. To pick one example, some games have many players and will require numerous 36
camera angles; others are more simplistic and it may be that more aerial views will suffice. So gaining a knowledge of the different events – including talking to actual players of the game – will really benefit those approaching eSports for the first time.” www.bannisterlake.com www.benq.com www.ciena.com www.disguise.one www.exterity.com www.newtek.com www.signiant.com
Key Points • ESports expected to grow at 9% annually between 2019 and 2023 • Increasing number of events taking place in arenas and stadiums, involving high-end AV production and OTT broadcast streaming • Graphics and data management and interpretation are among the most exciting areas of development for companies in this space • Understanding the contrasting dynamics and technical requirements of different events is integral to success in eSports
All pictures courtesy of Painting with Light
Holy Ghost Chapel, Mechelen
Project of the month
The Art Hour
Full AV show control together with finely tuned environmental conditions help bring this Belgian art concept to a wider audience. Olivia Brady reports
et Kunstuur (the Art Hour) is a new â€˜interactiveâ€™ gallery concept developed by art collectors and entrepreneurs Hans and Joost Bourlon, presented in the former Holy Ghost Chapel in the historical heart of Mechelen, Belgium. In total, 32 priceless Belgian paintings from the 19th century are displayed in three gallery spaces, where the stories of the artworks are told by a 38
series of well-known Belgian personalities. Creative lighting design and media specialist Painting with Light was asked to manage and design the technical systems and control for lighting, video, audio and humidity control for this project. Visitors wear headsets and listen to an audio track as they move around the spaces, prompted to stop/ move on cue to designated areas by the audio track, where they watch and listen as the AV effects play
Holy Ghost Chapel, Mechelen out. The walk-through lasts exactly an hour, which inspired the name. This presentation concept is intended to appeal to both established art lovers and also attract new audiences and young people who are interested in learning, but who might not visit a conventional gallery setup. In the first two rooms, each painting is introduced, and its story told by the designated personality, who appears as a life-size projected video on the gallery wall right beside the painting. Rooms 1 and 2 are divided by an electric curtain which tracks aside at the appropriate moment. The third room, situated in the old chapel itself, is a darker, more intimate clublike space, where visitors hear but don’t see the narrator while experiencing an immersive light show produced to compliment the art. This altered setting allows a complete change of perspective. Painting with Light was asked onboard by concept designer Wouter Verhulst of King Concept who created the original idea and storyline with the Bourlon Brothers and designed the gallery layout. Wouter specifically wanted to work with a company known for technical and creative ingenuity, lateral thinking and with the resources, skills and flair to make an art gallery come alive in a stimulating theatrical way. Painting with Light’s team drew from its knowledge of creating entertaining ‘visual experiences’ across multiple disciplines. All of these influenced the delivery of a dynamic technical solution for Het Kunstuur in Mechelen.
Creative process The first phase of the design process saw the whole museum virtually created in WYSIWYG and presented as a VR experience to the project’s initiators. The Painting with Light team, under the creative direction of Luc Peumans, was led on site by Céline Cuypers who project managed delivery of the full technical design including the projection system, creative lighting, audio track and control, plus specification, procurement and commissioning of all equipment and its implementation. The lighting layout was produced in collaboration with Painting with Light’s lighting experts Peter Van Den Bosch and Ashwin Coelho. All equipment was installed by Sam van Maele and his team from EVM Electrical Solutions. The first and second rooms contain 18 paintings, and each has a personal story told by its associated personality. The Bourlons themselves produced the video content, which is stored on BrightSign players and triggered remotely during the show. The projections are fed by four Panasonic Space Player 2000 Lumen devices attached to the cable management ducting. These were picked for their small size, light
weight and discreet appearance, plus the intensity – a combination of illumination and image projection – as well as their networking capabilities. The content was keystone corrected and adjusted using a disguise d3 media server and Adobe After Effect tools by Painting with Light video specialists Katleen Selleslagh and Sina Sohn. The paintings are mounted on black walls and lit from behind with RGB LED strips, which change colours to generate an ambient light adjusted to each work’s specific colour palette. The profile lights in this area are 19 Showtec Performer Profile Minis, a very small 30W COB LED luminaire, installed with 25 – 50° zoom lenses and the shutter module option for fine-tuned focussing on the paintings. Painting with Light’s Martijn Smolders was responsible for focussing the lights and ensuring that the framing and highlighting were adjusted precisely to visitor’s viewing angles and that reflections were minimised.
Room configurations The decor in the first two rooms includes custom black textile wall cladding provided by Showtex. To improve the overall atmosphere and give viewers a sense of orientation, linear lighting was implemented at the bottom of these walls. Electric curtains between the rooms guide visitors to the right location at the right time, their movements controlled via Brainboxes IP relays triggered by the master Christie Pandora’s Box Widget designer control system, which also fires and syncs all the audio, video and lighting cues. This was selected as the most flexible and adaptable option for integration of all these
Holy Ghost Chapel, Mechelen
control elements. Entering the third room, visitors pass into the original chapel building itself, with its distinctive highvaulted ceiling and eye-catching wooden roof frame and beams. The decor in this room is built by Roux Meubelprojecten, and the large paintings are positioned on easels around the room on a wooden platform with integral linear lighting that heightens the theatrical ambience. The paintings in the chapel are highlighted with 14 Chauvet Ovation lighting fixtures installed with beam-clamps in the roof. This variable white ellipsoidal style light has a six-colour LED engine and was ideal for the application as the colour can be adjusted to the colour temperature of the paintings. One extra Ovation is used to simulate a big stainedglass window utilising the combination of a printed sticker and a gobo to highlight the appropriate parts. The roof itself is feature-lit with GVA Lighting STR9s LEDs, with more of these used for grazing up the walls. The mood shifts from a cool, contemporary art space to a darker, more colourful vibe creating a totally different context for imbibing the art. Painting with Light’s lighting scheme for the reception area utilises AEG TLR05 LED pendant lights and Iguzzini wall washers. The lighting intensity is adjusted to the time of the day following an external light sensor. Visitors arrive in the reception zone, are issued with their headsets and audio players provided by guideID and wait for their allotted timeslot to start the one-hour tour. At the start of the tour, the audio is synced via a timecode signal that chooses the right start to the audio track. During the gallery’s opening hours, tours commence every 20 minutes. A countdown in the entrance hall indicates when the next ‘show’ is going to start and when the time arrives, the entrance door opens automatically, and the experience can start. Lighting was programmed by Cuypers together with intern Dorian Stevens using grandMA onPC software in combination with a grandMA 2-port node. The main show control was programmed by Cuypers using Widget Designer, which sends triggers to the lighting cues on the grandMA, the BrightSign media players and the Ethernet-to-GPIO modules. These modules read the control buttons of the reception desk and accordingly switch on/off the humidifier/dehumidifier outlets. Shows start at fixed times throughout the day, triggered by computer clock. The right timecode tracks are sent to the syncing modules of the audio system to ensure that video, audio and lighting are always working together, ensuring that a stable temperature and humidity levels are maintained for the paintings. This application has been developed with BMK Solutions and integrated into the main Widget Designer application.
Milestone PWL’s CEO and creative director Luc Peumans commented: “Delivering this project to the clients hands is another milestone in the 20-year history of Painting with Light. “In that time we have developed our know-how about how to combine creative and technical services for the ‘entertainment experience’, and for this specific project, our client had some extra challenges – the concept of visitors spending maximum one hour in the museum and focussing their attention on one painting at a time together with timing, lighting, audio and guest flow were all key. “Thanks to the talents of our multi-disciplinary team and our spirit of pushing the boundaries Painting with Light could deliver total show control for this unique experience. Our project manager Céline challenged herself to provide Het Kunstuur with full AV show control including automatic light settings, video projections and visitor guidance plus the correct humidity factors to protect the paintings. www.bmksolutions.be www.brightsign.biz www.chauvetprofessional.com www.christiedigital.com www.disguise.one www.e-vm.be www.malighting.com www.paintingwithlight.com/en https://business.panasonic.co.uk
Royal Institute of British Architects, London
Split design Flexible audio solution covers the Royal Institute of British Architectsâ€™ Jarvis Hall and breakout room and simplifies multiple room configuration changes, writes Tom Bradbury
he Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) drew on the combined strengths of Electro-Voice and Dynacord for an audio solution update in the Jarvis Hall at its London headquarters. T S Professional Sound+Light took on the installation project in the protected historic building to create a system that would be as
flexible as the room itself. Created as a lecture and examination space when the building was opened in the 1930s, Jarvis Hall has a 284-seat main hall, which can be expanded to a 400-person capacity with the inclusion of a breakout room, hidden behind a moving tapestry at the back of the space. This split design means that any solution
Royal Institute of British Architects, London
LEFT: Electro-Voice EVC-1082s are used as side fills in the main hall
being added to the technical setup needs to be flexible enough to cope with multiple configurations.
Expanded events “We originally had quite a limited system in here,” recalls Steve Barrett-White, AV manager at RIBA. “We had a two-channel, four-speaker system but because things have grown for RIBA on the events side, we required full 7.1 surround sound to cater to film screenings. In addition to this, the orientation in the breakout room can either face the main stage when it is being used as one large hall or can be rotated 90°. This led to a design with 13 speakers across both rooms.” Over three days, the T S Professional Sound+Light team installed Electro-Voice EVC-1122s as the main system, with EVC-1082s as side fills and EVU-2082Bs as centre fills in the main hall. Low frequency support is via a pair of EVC-1181 subwoofers installed under the stage. The breakout space features three more EVC-1082s to allow for the different configurations. “We took a look at what was already here, and we just tried to improve on that,” states Keith Upton, managing director at T S Professional Sound+Light. “The speakers had to be larger for a bigger sound. Thankfully, one of the things about Electro-Voice is that there is a speaker for every application, so you are never frustrated when you do a job. It had to be surround, but we were restricted with where we could install the speakers by the Grade II listed building status. So, we plotted where the speakers could be installed on custom brackets and agreed on
a design in consultation with Electro-Voice.” Power and control is via a pair of IPX10:8 amplifiers from Dynacord. These eight-channel installationdedicated models eliminated the need for a separate audio matrix. These amplifiers feature fully integrated high-resolution 96kHz DSP with Dante and OCA functionality.
More possibilities “The amps all have preconfigured settings which we can select for the different uses of the hall,” adds Gabriel Thorp, senior AV technician at RIBA. “This has opened up the possibilities for how the space is used, and we can give our clients the assurance that the sound system can be optimised for their needs.” Completing the solution is Dynacord’s new SONICUE sound system software, which provides comprehensive system monitoring and intuitive control via a ‘speaker view’ GUI. This gives RIBA’s engineers a real-time visual reference to what is happening with the sound system, with the ability to monitor impedance, control levels and mute speakers, when needed. Barrett-White concludes: “Electro-Voice and Dynacord came out as the number one choice for Jarvis Hall because of their flexibility with working with us and the architects to create the best possible system. The sound was so much better than anybody else’s; it just fit this space perfectly.” www.dynacord.com www.electrovoice.com www.tsproaudio.co.uk
BGU Murnau, Bavaria
Upgrade path The Vienna State Opera House has extended its Optocore network with a BroaMan system to provide multi-channel video transport between different buildings, Olivia Brady has the story
ack in 2016 Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) with its chief sound engineer, Athanasios Rovakis, started investigating the possibility of moving its audio and video distribution to fibre. At first, the Opera House modernised its audio system, purchasing a network fibre solution based around Optocore X6R-FX analogue devices and M8 MADI switch to bring together additional signal sources from distant places in the house, and to share signals for broadcasting. Looking to expand their communications reach, by the following year they were considering further
options provided by Optocoreâ€™s partner company BroaMan. This resulted in them purchasing a pointto-point set of Mux22 multi-signal transmission devices, with the new FrameSync8 board. Offering a superior upgrade to traditional frame sync technologies it allowed sync distribution together with eight video channels, IP and serial data.
Point-to-point But the upgrade path was far from complete, and this year the State Opera invested in a complete BroaMan architecture, with a system based on 10
Vienna State Opera
Repeat48WDM, which provide five point-to-point transport systems with 12 video channels, each transported on a single duplex fibre; a Repeat48 electrical-optical media converter, with six SDI-In and six SDI-Out; and six compact Repeat8-NANO to convert SDI to and from fibre. In a fairly unique deployment, all video is transported on multimode fibre. When designing the system Rovakis quickly realised that BroaMan devices were essential, as in view of the extreme transmission distances in the vast building copper was not an option, and fibre the only viable solution. “The audio control room has been steadily upgraded over the past 70 years, with devices from many generations and manufacturers – all with their own unique formats, connections and protocols,” explains Rovakis. “It is a major challenge for any new device that gets installed as it has to work with the old ones. But BroaMan’s Repeat48's brings a complete tunnelling to the entire Opera.”
Limited space He adds that since the Opera is under a preservation order, new cables are difficult and expensive – therefore they have to work with a limited amount of space, channels and bandwidth. “This made
multiplexing basically the only viable option.” Rovakis says he had full confidence in specifying the BroaMan solution since the Optocore-BroaMan platform had been rock solid since first being installed in 2016. And as for its advantages over similar systems, Rovakis comments: “In contrast to others, the Repeat48 has no boot-up time, which is vital for events with little prep time, and there is zero latency which is equally important.” BroaMan’s technical sales manager, Maciek Janiszewski, concludes: “We have recently noticed huge interest in our solutions for the installation market, specifically in concert halls and theatres. These venues require ultra-fast fibre transport with high flexibility, and lower channel count than in broadcast. “The BroaMan portfolio fits very well in that regard, offering simple and cost-efficient, yet extremely reliable solutions. The Vienna State Opera video system is based on point-to-point multichannel fibre transport between different locations in the building, and the Repeat48 family is a perfect match for that.” www.broaman.com www.optocore.com
Solutions in Brief
Archlight Cinema’s dramatic lighting scheme International lighting design consultancy Nulty has illuminated Archlight, a new boutique cinema at Battersea Power Station’s Circus West Village development. Nulty created a dramatic lighting scheme to reinforce the interior scheme by Ab Rogers Design (ARD). The all-LED lighting scheme works across interconnected arches, which house three cinema screens and a central ticket office. ARD’s overarching design concept is to create a warm underworld, compact in scale and cocooned from overpassing trains. This is defined by a unifying tonal palette comprising rich blue and green surfaces, upholstery and curtains, which have been paired with natural stone and bronze finishes. The focal point of each screen is a 3D ceiling of angled acoustic panels, designed to enhance the cinematic experience and reduce vibrations from the nearby Archlight Cinema railway. The illuminated panel ceilings have been set to deliver individual lighting scenes, greeting visitors with a dynamic effect on arrival, then slowly dimming to provide low-level lighting
as the film begins. The aesthetic form of the ceiling is always visible, but slowly fades into the background so as not to detract from the cinema screen. Within Archlight’s art-deco inspired foyer, Nulty used functional track lighting and a back-lit panel to illuminate merchandise displays and complement ARD’s handcrafted joinery and textured bronze surfaces. www.nultylighting.co.uk
White Light recently supplied the Royal Albert Hall with a range of Martin MAC Encore fixtures, continuing the phased upgrade of the in-house lighting rig. As it hosts concerts on an almost nightly basis, the venue features its own in-house kit which is used by incoming shows. The existing ETC Source Four Revolutions, while having served their time very well, were due for replacement in line with the Hall’s ongoing replacement programme. As a result, the venue approached White Light in order to invest in some LED alternatives for these new fixtures. White Light put forward a range of options and held an on-site demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall for the lighting team to see each one in-situ. The Martin Mac Performance CLD integrates cuttingedge LED technology with a proprietary light engine carefully engineered to generate, full spectrum light with high colour rendition. The moving head offers 6,000K crisp, neutral daylight. Its advanced colour mixing system delivers the full palette from smooth and subtle pastels to rich and vibrant saturated colours. The Royal Albert Hall invested a total of 18 fixtures 46
© Richard Thomas
Royal Albert Hall continues phased upgrades
which have all been successfully delivered and are now in pretty much constant use. The investment adds to a large stock of Martin MAC Viper Wash DX fixtures that were purchased last year, along with ETC Lustr Series 2 LED profiles and Robe Mega Pointes. The venue also recently replaced its stock of Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots, again purchased through White Light. www.WhiteLight.Ltd.uk
Solutions in Brief
Nomad gallery curates 360° Gustav Klimt exhibition The Nomad Art Multimedia gallery in Spain has opened a new exhibition featuring all of the incredible artwork by renowned painter Gustav Klimt. It was imperative that the exhibition provided a 360°, immersive experience where visitors could sit and engage with all the artwork. Therefore, portable, easy to install projectors were required for the job. In addition to this, the artwork by Klimt is powerful, punchy and bright meaning the projectors selected needed to complement these requirements. Optoma were able to meet all of the desired requirements with 37 ZU606TSTe and 12 ZU506Te high brightness professional laser projectors. The ZU606TSTe is the smallest projector in its class, fitting discreetly in the ceiling space. At 6,300 lumens with 4K and HDR compatibility, the ZU606TSTe is a low maintenance projector with long-life laser technology. The ZU506Te was selected alongside the ZU606TSTe projector due to its ability to produce professional life like colours and it’s small, lightweight chassis. Both projectors are able to project images over a 360° range along the projector’s horizontal axes and
are easy to install. As well as this, they both assure superior contrast ratio, adding more depth and meaning into the images displayed. Additionally, both projectors come with four corner adjustment which fits this installation requirements perfectly as it is possible to warp each corner of the image to create a perfectly square final image. www.optoma.co.uk
Leeds-based digital solutions provider UXG has recently completed the works on a project to upgrade the digital strategy and wayfinding media for Leeds Playhouse, as part of the theatre’s eightfigure transformation. The newly redeveloped Leeds Playhouse includes upgrades to the Quarry and Courtyard theatres, a new studio space named the Bramall Rock Void, revamped front of house spaces as well as a new cityfacing entrance and improved access throughout the building. The new digital displays and integrated software platform have been implemented over a three-month period by UXG. The project delivery has included implementing a large-format 6 x 3m outdoor LED Display (Digital 48 sheet) alongside a mixture of freestanding and wall-mounted external high bright advertising and wayfinding displays. Internally there is a feature LED display in the entrance running up three floors and over 45 HD wallmounted screens showing a mixture of content from box office releases and menu displays to live feeds
Picture: Anthony Robling
Digital transformation at Leeds Playhouse
Picture: Anthony Robling
from within the theatres. Robin Hawkes, executive director at Leeds Playhouse, said: “This is the beginning of the next big chapter for Leeds Playhouse and a major part of our transformation is ensuring that the internal and external appearance is attractive and inviting to embrace and engage with the Leeds City Region and beyond." www.uxglobal.co.uk
Product of the Month
KIT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
tvONE CORIOmaster2 It’s… a multi-window videowall processor. What’s new? More pixels and extra processing power and it’s the company’s flagship launch for ISE 2020. Details: CORIOmaster2 supports more windows with higher quality than before with uncompromised 4K60 and 8K ready performance. Standout features of CORIOmaster2 include exceptionally high bandwidth, large design canvas and 8K ready architecture. With 752Gb/sec of bandwidth, CORIOmaster2 can simultaneously display 40 windows in 4K60 4:4:4 with ultra-low latency. It offers AV designers access to triple 64k x 64k canvasses, with up to 12.3 Gigapixels of design space. The unit is 8K ready, future-proofing tvONE customers’ investment in their video processor. Andy Fliss, chief marketing officer and EVP of sales at tvONE commented: “CORIOmaster2 gives AV professionals the performance they need to address the technical and creative challenges of our demanding, visual world. It is the new video processing platform that will be trusted by professionals across the industry working in domains as diverse as control rooms, broadcast studios, live events, casinos, auditoriums and retail outlets. Whether the output is to LED displays, projectors or flat panel displays, CORIOmaster2 is the very best tool for the job.” The CORIO engine within CORIOmaster2 delivers scaling potential. Customers can deploy fixed, or flexible
Product of the month
scalers to match their workflow and have access to smart windowing with layering or transitions. CORIOmaster2 offers up, down and cross conversion, de-interlacing and audio conversion. Most importantly of all, CORIOmaster2 supports uncompressed video with low end-to-end video latency. tvONE has given thought to user interaction with CORIOmaster2, making this performance and functionality easy to access and control. tvONE has upgraded and expanded its CORIOgrapher videowall design and control software, providing quick videowall setup when required and full access to the advanced capabilities of this processor. For instant control, tvONE
offers the CORIOmaster App, giving access to five preset configurations and allowing users to switch sources and change audio settings on the fly. The modular design of CORIOmaster2 scales from two to 32 inputs and four to 56 outputs, allowing AV, IP, broadcast and legacy AV sources to be routed to LED displays, edge blended projectors or flat panel displays. CORIOmaster2 also offers users a low energy footprint, operating from dual redundant 400W power supplies, reducing the overall cost of ownership. Available: Now www.tvone.com
PA speakers To expand into a variety of new applications and environments, manufacturers are focussing on accurate sound reproduction and compactly designed speaker units
JBL brings quick sound reproduction JBLâ€™s IRX series is the manufacturerâ€™s first foray into an entry-level powered speaker, aimed at budget-conscious users who want to get great sound quickly. IRX speakers are powerful and loud, so they work as fixed mains or monitors. Bluetooth audio streaming in TWS (true wireless stereo) increases the versatility of the speaker. These speakers are aimed at musicians, hospitality, education and government users who need quick sound reproduction. The speaker models were engineered and benchmarked against larger
competitors, so the 8in box can equal the performance of a 12in box, and the 12in can equal the performance of a 15in. In addition, JBL has added Automatic Feedback Suppression, helping users who may not be full blown audio engineers avoid some of the pitfalls of live sound. Many competitors offer similar feature sets like Bluetooth audio streaming, or Mic/line functionality, but JBL has brought all of these features together, including music ducking, AFS (automatic feedback suppression) and easy-to-use presets
based on the most common use cases, bringing value to budget conscious and entry level users. www.jblpro.com
RCF delivers multi-purpose sound The COMPACT M series is a multipurpose two-way full-range speaker system composed of five models from 5in to 12in, suitable for a wide range of applications. The sound quality and compact design make the COMPACT M series suited to a number of different environments, from restaurants and shops to clubs, corporate spaces and venues. The main features of the speakers are the compact and neutral design. With a complete range of solid wood cabinets, multiple rigging points and accessories, installation time is minimal. The impressive size/weight to
SPL output ratio and the premium sound quality will allow the audience to enjoy an immersive musical experience. It compares favourably with the competition thanks to its reliability, easy installation, modern aesthetic and sound quality with low distortion. Compact M speakers stick to the functionality and
style of the Italian design, always in harmony with any type of interior. With a complete range of solid wood cabinets, multiple rigging points and accessories, installation time is minimal. www.rcf.it
TOA puts the public first TOA’s new column speaker series TZ-200BS / TZ-400-BS is a first-rate choice for all applications with a necessity of excellent speech intelligibility for public announcements, including: lecture rooms, houses of worship, auditoriums. The two-way speakers come with crisp sound due to built-in tweeter and weatherproof exterior. The slim design can unobtrusively be integrated into any interior setting. The high-quality PA speaker is designed for excellent speech intelligibility. With its wide horizontal and narrow vertical dispersion, the speaker can be installed even in acoustically challenging environments. With its ceramic screw connector and thermal fuse, the speaker complies the requirements for BS
5839-8. It is also planned to receive EN-54 loudspeaker certification. The TZ-200BS and TZ-400BS column speakers will be available as of Q2 2020. TOA thus widens its extensive product range of PA speakers. In many buildings a voice evacuation system according to EN-54 is mandatory. The series fits in with the rest of the company’s output meaning users can combine ceiling speakers – also with A/B-wiring or wide dispersion –, horn, cabinet or projection speakers with variable or line arrays and column speakers as per their specific requirements. www.toaelectronics.com
Yamaha provides focussed sound accuracy Yamaha’s newly launched white models of its flagship DZR/CZR series and DXS XLF/CXS XLF loudspeakers/subwoofers deliver accurate sound for touring artists and DJs as well as live venues and multi-purpose spaces. All DZR/CZR and DXS XLF/CXS XLF models will be available in the new white finish, providing more options for a greater variety of uses, such as hotels, houses of worship and auditoriums, where a high quality audio system needs to blend into the design of the space. The DZR range comprises eight full-range models and four DXS XLF subwoofers, including ‘D’ versions that feature onboard Dante IN/OUT capability. Featuring leading SPL
performance, 96kHz DSP processing and strong lowfrequency sound reproduction, DZR loudspeakers deliver professional quality sound with greater power in a compact, lightweight design. The DXS XLF subwoofers can reach an extended low frequency of 30Hz, the lowest of any DXS subwoofer yet. The passive CZR series features three full-range models, with two CXS XLF subwoofers. They share the same cabinet and speaker components as the DZR/DXS XLF models, delivering high powerhandling and focussed, professional sound. www.yamahaproaudio.com
Last word offer them. For us, it is also about being there at the start of the conversation, helping to spark the inspiration and shape the solutions rather than just getting involved in a pricing exercise at the end of the process. In terms of the measurement of success, it is an educational event first and a sales event second. We have objectives to hit in terms of visitor numbers and new business opportunities, but client and vendor feedback is vital to us in determining how successful the event has been and importantly, gives us a base point for planning the next one. I’m delighted to say that the feedback received so far has been very complimentary from both suppliers and customers, with all looking forward to our next Tech Day in 2020.
Connected world Following Pure AV’s commUniCate event last November, managing director Peter Sutton spoke to Duncan Proctor about the company’s first 15 years in business and how he sees the industry changing, and the integrator’s role within it What do you hope to get out of events like commUniCate? Events like commUniCate are a chance for our entire team to gain exposure to the latest ideas and solutions from our vendors; helping them to identify new ways to address the challenges and needs of our varied customer base. In the afternoon session, we bring together our customers so that they can engage directly with manufacturers and look at different ways to address the specific business communication issues they may have. The exhibition format, mixed with keynote talks allows visitors to consider what they want to achieve as an organisation, engage in open dialogue with our staff, vendors and other clients to collect and garner a clear idea of the solutions the AV industry has to 52
Apart from the growth of the company, how else has the business changed over its 15 years? And how do you see it changing over the next 15? Our marketplace has changed massively over the years. Our understanding of a client’s IT infrastructure is now vital in presenting the correct technology solutions to address a client’s needs, and in discerning the limitations of what can be achieved today. The core disciplines that the four founding directors brought to the company remain critical; engineering, programming, design and business expertise and have deepened and expanded to enable the business to connect effectively with the broader ecosystem of modern-day project delivery. Whether engagement with IT and networking, consultants or business process experts; we have had to build into the business the capability to understand the new ways of working and capacity to deliver a technology solution to support it. Alongside this, our internal processes have changed, as you would expect with a growing business, and we have brought in new people and resources to strengthen our capabilities and the connections between our internal business functions. In the market, the move to more fluid, agile work styles continues, changing the demands made on our workspaces and consequently those on the integrator. Historically clients met in a large room, presented or utilised a videoconferencing codec, but nowadays the meeting style is often less formal and generally briefer. The adoption of an agile methodology means that the spaces are more flexible, geared around a smaller workgroup and may have to accommodate the users own device for both presentation and VC uses. The future, certainly in the corporate sector, needs to invite and seamlessly blend the best user experience by utilising simpler and more reliable technology. The future will also see the traditional AV company embracing new methodologies and skillsets aligned
Last word toward the IT sector as we deploy endpoints and meeting spaces while utilising the infrastructure and constraints of an organisation’s networks. If we look at the ‘touch-points’ a user has with technology throughout the day, it is clear that the connected world is becoming the norm, and this will only accelerate in the coming years. Our challenge is to recognise this, upskill where necessary and allow the user to engage with their audience in the most efficient manner possible. We need to keep a keen eye on the future, but also protect our key differentiators as experts in AV today. What technologies are you particularly keen to see develop in that time? A client wants to maximise their return on staff, and that means that the technology we use needs to be simple to use, but more importantly reliable in its use and free from errors to ensure productive meetings. Generation Z, and the yet to be confirmed successors, Generation Alpha, expect more from their technology and how it enables them to interact with the world around them. Systems need to bury their physical complexity and present the user with simple, intuitive interfaces that allow people to exchange ideas, communicate and distribute information with little concern from the user as to
We need to recognise that the future is changing and be prepared to adapt, upskill and embrace these new technologies” how the system works – much as a smartphone does today. Managed and scalable maintenance platforms such as Creston XiO cloud are helping us achieve this, but we are at the early stages of its uptake and its usability. Some, but not all, AV roll-outs will become commoditised, and solutions will become self-deploying endpoints such as when a new piece of equipment connects to the outside world and recognises what it is, its position in clients
Last word will need to develop our understanding and fluency of these networks. Flexible and varied vertical market engagement will also be central to future success. I believe that staying and servicing a limited number of verticals is limiting to the sustainability of an organisation. Markets and budgets fluctuate, and if traditional integrators stay core to a limited client base, they are less likely to spot new market opportunities and more vulnerable to adverse market changes. There is also an advantage to be gained for sales teams who are multi-skilled and able to engage with different client sets. The experience and learning gained within a global corporate, for example, may also be directly transferable to a University client, demonstrating both credibility and awareness of how and when to utilise tried and tested AV solutions.
infrastructure and what its purpose is. It will set itself up and report back real-time on how and when it is being used, who and what is connecting to it and flag its status when issues occur. To some, this could seem like the death-knell for traditional AV companies, but we need to recognise that the future is changing and be prepared to adapt, upskill and embrace these new technologies. How do you see the role of the integrator changing going forward? AV integrators still have a place in the technology marketplace today and for the foreseeable future. Yes, we need to learn and adopt new skills, but that has always been the case when engaging with AV technologies. Our key differentiators are that of being able to flex our integration capabilities to scale from a single room experience to a multi-millionpound campus deployment. We will always be the specialists in integrating AV technology because we understand not only what the user is trying to achieve, but also how to translate that into a simple user experience. We look at the acoustics, the physical space and understand how video and data need to be distributed and managed for a seamless experience. We will need to be closer to the client’s IT teams as we now share common communications platforms, and consequently, we 54
Where are your greatest challenges and opportunities currently coming from? One of the key challenges in our marketplace is the commodification of communication technology. Take Videoconferencing for example; previously we sold a codec, display medium, audio and video switching, amplification, speakers, maybe a control panel and associated programming to meet the needs of the customer, now this can be achieved, in a fast-changing workplace, by bolting a screen to a wall with a soundbar and unified communication device sitting on a table. Yes, more extensive meeting room solutions are also needed, but as we engage with new clients and a changing workplace, many of our previous skills are swept away to accommodate a more straightforward, and arguably, more efficient meeting environment. Opportunities, though, are also there to be had. Engagement with new vertical markets brings challenges but gives you a wider audience who require a greater range of solutions from a single vendor. Take an enterprise-level customer; they will need meeting rooms, digital signage, maybe a boardroom or ‘town-hall’ meeting space. Add to that reception screens, wayfinding, background audio and a service contract to support its continued effectiveness. Now multiply that by, maybe, some other regional offices and possibly European or Global coverage, then at that stage the future becomes interesting. By keeping a clear eye on the customer, having confidence in the services that you offer, employing the best people that you can and delivering the best possible customer experience will ensure that AV Integrators have a place for the foreseeable future. Peter Sutton is managing director of Pure Audio Visual www.pureav.co.uk
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