AV Technology Europe
September 2017 avtechnologyeurope.com
CORPORATE CONFERENCING SPECIAL INTERVIEW: AV USER GROUP AV IN EDUCATION RECRUITMENT LATEST TECH
AV IS MAGIC WE’RE THE MAGICIANS Dan Crompton, the Tate's audio visual service manager, reveals the AV strategy at one of the world’s most iconic art galleries
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Michael Garwood, Editor
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
ello and welcome to our debut issue Each issue of AVTE will also come with a theme of AV Technology Europe (AVTE)! - the first of which is around ‘corporate It’s been a hectic few months - but conferencing’. We’ve not held back, with 14 pages we’re here and I’m incredibly of industry interviews, features and expert advice on excited to be launching this brand a range of different topics, including microphones, new publication, dedicated exclusively for end-user lighting, speakers and bandwidth. All this and so businesses like yours. much more in the following 60 plus pages. With hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of research Just the beginning and meetings, culminating in an “Like any good AV But like any good AV technician, expenses sheet as long as adult we’re not about to become technician, we’re content on what we learned giraffes neck - we’ve created a magazine we’re confident will yesterday. This is, as they say, just not about to provide you with an informative, the beginning of a journey. One become content. which will see many twists, turns insightful, educational and at and changes. As already stated, times entertaining (occasionally This is just the funny) resource - spanning a our sole purpose of being is to beginning ” support you - therefore your broad and varied range of different topics, whatever industry input and feedback is crucial to you may be in or part of. the content we produce both in As you will have seen from a spectacular front print (second issue drops mid-November) and online - so please do get in touch. cover image, this issue features a behind the scenes look at how AV technology plays an integral role in But that’s not all. We want you to be part of the content and there are plenty of ways to do so, with the presentation of some of the world’s most valuable pieces of art at the Tate Modern in London numerous sections designed to showcase your own - one of the busiest museums on the planet (P19). achievements, as well as help to provide guidance We also have an exclusive interview with the AV and inspiration to your peers. User Group (P14), an organisation - like AVTE, that Thanks for your support and I look forward to is devoted to serving the needs of end users, not just getting to know you all. Welcome again to AVTE. in the UK, but now on a global basis. If you’re firstname.lastname@example.org unfamiliar with AVUG this is a must read! @avtechnologyeurope
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Content director: James McKeown email@example.com Editor: Michael Garwood firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6022 Sales manager: Gurpreet Purewal email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029 Account manager: Ollie Smith firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6026 Production manager: Jason Dowie email@example.com +44 (0)20 3829 2617 Contributors: Heather McLean, Steve May, Justin Oâ€™Connor, Ian McMurray, Margot Douaihy, Matt Pruznick
Print ISSN: 2050-6104 Online ISSN: 2052-2401 September 2017
CORPORATE CONFERENCING: Our In Focus series looks at how AV is transforming the conferencing environment, plus experts give their top tips to AV technicians and managers
WOMEN IN AV: AVTE finds out how the group WAVE is helping to increase the number of professional women working in the AV industry through its educational and networking events
AV ON CAMPUS: AVTE takes a tour of the University of Hertfordshire to see how its best-in-class AV is helping its students and tutors make the grade
AV IN ACTION: Case study on how leading insurance provider QBE revolutionised its head offices in London - boosting productivity of its staff, whilst wowing visitors
Regulars 7 Industry Insights
43 Tech Guide 49 AVT Stateside
40 Eye on Recruitment 66 Brief Encounters 5
AV OVER IP A TECHNOLOGY FOR TODAY Don’t let the past define your company’s future
V over IP (AVoIP) is a term that you installation, and importantly creates flexibility, will undoubtedly have read about. allowing new end points to be added much more It’s essentially the streaming of audio quickly and easily. Furthermore having something and video content over an existing that the IT department understands means one less Ethernet network. This IP network cost overhead for management. can be a LAN or WAN, and is simply delivering content from sources to displays. Those sources Technical challenges can be anything from a local PC in a lecture hall or The reason why AVoIP has taken longer to emerge conference room, a streaming video server on the than for example, voice over IP, is largely due to bandwidth. Video content, especially streaming network, cloud based servers all the way to streaming services over the internet. media, requires network bandwidth be managed carefully. However the cost of It already surpasses anything that a conventional proprietary high bandwidth network solution can offer, and with the switches, 10G in particular, has been dropping consistently, development investment behind it, “AV over IP somewhere near 20 per cent per there is no doubt that the gap will provides end users year and now costs under $100 become wider. This is because the per port. Then AptoVision intelligence resides in the network with significant a chipset solution that and the software running the opportunities for launched equipment. Software now builds allowed uncompressed video (right up to 4k60 4:4:4 and 10bit) video walls and other features, cost savings” to be sent over a 10G network. not hardware. The possibilities for an app driven video network This means that you get so much more flexibility, future proofing, using IP infrastructure are endless. and ultimately cost saving, than any proprietary Benefits AV switch can ever offer. AVoIP provides end users and network operators The future with significant opportunities for cost savings, AVoIP is certainly helping to drive convergence. flexibility and future proofing. It is also based on standardised and widely supported technologies. Innovative and progressive IT managers are Quality low latency video can be streamed over running toward the opportunity as they see it as a a 1Gbps network without affecting capacity, but to way to better leverage their people and ultimately ensure its future proof many are already moving help to justify much needed network infrastructure upgrades. We are going to see “AV, not on my up to 10GB. network” quickly become a thing of the past as Even where a new IP network needs to be more IT people come to the realisation that AVoIP installed to accommodate the volume of AV traffic, AVoIP technology simplifies cabling and can help fund their network upgrade. Chris Scurto is Vice President - Marketing and Business Development, ZeeVee Inc.
THE NEXT GENERATION Businesses need to connect with Generation Z
ust when you thought you had a handle generation aims high; they want to be winners and on Millennials, along comes Generation Z, progress quickly. So, how can workplace the first truly digital native generation, to technology simultaneously satisfy a need for start shaking up the workplace afresh. Gen independence and inclusivity? Zers, born between the mid 1990s and up A workforce that doesn’t stand still is, of course, to early 2000s, are the fresh, junior great news in terms of driving economic growth candidates knocking on the doors of the global and productivity, and businesses need to embrace workforce. It’s vital for businesses to consider how technology that supports this momentum. AV to address Gen Zers and the tools required to professionals are pivotal to the implementation of enable this new generation to thrive. Certainly, the pixel-rich workplace and the communications key to harnessing the potential of Gen Z, who tools that facilitate informed and faster decisionhave never experienced a time making. As an industry we must without internet, is technology. ensure that AV/IT systems not Gen Zers are tech fluent, they only enable this accelerated are used to consuming and approach to working, but are “A study by sharing information instantly and sufficiently future-proofed so that Goldman Sachs enjoying social interaction at their as technology develops and ways found almost half of working continue to evolve, the fingertips; a study by Goldman Sachs found that almost half of AV and IT systems are not of Gen Zers are Gen Zers are connected online for restricting this development but connected online are instead enhancing it. more than ten hours a day. Understandably, they expect Gen Zers need frequent, even for more than ten immediate gratification to satisfy daily, mentoring to keep them hours a day” their requirements and to lead motivated and to satisfy their them onto the next thing. need for continuous progression. To succeed with Gen Z, Therefore, businesses must make businesses need to offer the very connectivity is a top priority. As best technology that fits with their preferred ways flexible working becomes more commonplace and of working. As a generation raised in a time of employees are ever more distributed, smart phones and connectivity, organisations that communication streams must be seamless from offer more in the workplace than can be found on both inside and outside the office. Instant your average smart phone will have greatest connectivity means the workforce is breaking appeal. Immersive environments, pixel-rich through the confines of traditional office workspaces, and AI utilities will satisfy the urge environments, using technology that allows them for collaborative work styles and easy access to to connect to systems, colleagues, mentors, and essential data. Gen Zers want to showcase, and be information from anywhere in the workplace or merited for, their individual talents. This new anywhere in the world. Mary Ann de Lares Norris is VP EMEA of Oblong Industries, Inc.
So how does workplace technology need to change productive solutions provide participants with to engage Generation Z? simultaneous access and control to a united Firstly the traditional meeting, consisting of all workspace, regardless of their location â€“ thereby attendees gathering in one room with one large creating a much more inclusive workspace for screen to see a presentation (and sharing independent ideas. then respond later with Secondly, enterprises need deliverables) is clearly outdated. workplace collaboration systems â€œThe traditional Gen Zers operate within their that are device agnostic, enabling own devices, bringing laptops, streams from a wide range of meeting room tablets and smartphones to connected devices regardless of with one large meetings and to reference work in operating system, location, or real time; with the right type. Whiteboard, internet, screen to see a technology they can share laptops, databank - all of these presentation is instantly and simultaneously the need to come together side by side content locked in those mobile clearly outdatedâ€? to remove barriers to productivity devices across multiple wall and engagement. For meetings to surfaces for everyone to see. really engage Gen Z, workplace Video-teleconferencing and infrastructure must empower document sharing technologies are already offering participants to share their work and ideas instantly room-to-room and peer-to-peer connections to accelerate decision-making by bringing all between locations but the most sophisticated and factors into a common view.
AV TRENDS AND CHALLENGES
THE CHANGING FACE OF AV AV departments are embracing the challenge of new technology head on. Steve May talks to a trio in the front line
iven the rapidly changing nature of our industry, just how do corporate and educational AV departments plan to address requirements today and tomorrow? To better understand the role of these evolving end-users, and get a glimpse at what tomorrow’s AV department may look like, AVTE talked to industry leaders on the front line. Ben Pain, manager of audio-visual, technical and media services (Events Department), at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), is keeping an eye on augmented reality. “The possibilities for using AR in the live event environment are intriguing,” he told us, “but it may be a couple of years before we see event planners adapting their content to make use of these technologies.” He adds: “Going forward, app and software development look likely to be the areas that will have the most impact on the way AV is used both from a control and a UX perspective.” ‘Change agents’ Ben reveals that at the RCP, his team are considered “change agents” at the highest levels. “Not only in terms of the way we deploy technology but also in how we introduce the organisation to new technology and new ways of working,” he says. “While it depends largely on the ambition of the AV team as to what the parameters of their role are within their organisation, I think a
modern AV department should be involved at both a strategic and an operational level. Organisations are essentially trying to sell a product or an idea, and AV is the means by which we communicate.” Positive impact Owen Ellis, chairman of the AV User Group, believes advances are having a positive, practical impact on the day-to-day workload. For one thing, he tells AVTE, there’s less physical support required for the day to day standard meetings, because they’re being managed more effectively and efficiently through remote services. “There’s also more focus on the high end spaces and ‘VIP’ events, and more overlap with UCC (IT), with a greater requirement for network knowledge,” he says. There’s also less burden on maintenance, thanks to mostly solid state hardware. Remote support technologies and state-of-the-art video network operations centres are taking the strain. Ellis says he’s not sure if it’s due to any wider adoption of IoT though. “I hate these phrases! It’s more about the move from standalone to networkconnected, and a future move from hardware to software,” he counters. But not everyone in the industry is on the same page. It’s important to recognise the intransigence of some AV departments, he cautions. “Some users haven’t made or completed the first transition, let alone thought about the second,” he says.“Although undoubtedly system deployment will change, it will
AV TRENDS AND CHALLENGES
“Organisations are trying to sell a product or an idea” be many years before this happens on a large scale.” Ultimately though it’ll change the way users manage and control systems, he suggests. Tomorrow’s world And what of tomorrow’s AV ecosystems? The resolution revolution continues to be a water-cooler topic, although it seems content creation isn’t yet driving an upswing in 4K distribution. “The hardware rollout is significant as most screens are UHD capable anyway, whether we want it or not,” concedes Ellis. “But as most of the content is still HD we’re not yet seeing a massive move to 4K distribution infrastructure. Although again as so many distribution products already support 4K, those that have had the content requirement to transition appear to have managed successfully.” Looking ahead, will artificial intelligence (AI) and voice control have a role in the AV solutions of tomorrow? Ellis isn’t so sure. “This is difficult to predict until we see some real world working applications we could use in the corporate end user environment,” he mulls. Ultimately, perhaps the biggest change to tomorrow’s AV department will be in the skill sets required? “There’s no doubt that the abilities they have and the services they offer will change,” suggests Ellis. “There will be less integration at the lower end, as there is more commoditization. There will also be
less integration required as we transition from hardware to software, and from on premises to the cloud. He continues: “The SIs will no longer be building racks of equipment, they’ll have to focus on high-end skills like commissioning. They’ll also need to consider new revenue generating services that they don’t provide today, as there won’t be the margin in either equipment sales or integration!” The RCP’s Ben Pain suggests it’s not such much skill sets which are changing, as mindsets. “A lot of the tried and tested AV models are being challenged by newer, cheaper alternative solutions,” he says, “Why use Polycom when you can use Skype?” Pain also advises caution when it comes to UHD. “It’s not as significant as display manufacturers and the content creators would have you believe,” he suggests. “UHD and 4K are pretty much the Emperors’ new clothes in many meeting situations. How close to a 50-inch screen would you need to be to get the benefit of UHD? Its impact and cost on infrastructure strategy far outweighs its benefits, except for very specific scenarios,” he notes. Convergence On the convergence of AV and IT, Pain suggests: “It’s a venn diagram, not two perpendicular lines. There are overlapping skills and responsibilities that need to be negotiated. What’s more important is that both parties understand the others language and priorities.”
AV TRENDS AND CHALLENGES
> The Jurassic Seas exhibition at the Sea Life Centre, Brighton
connected, people will find ever increasing ways to When it comes to IoT, though, there’s nothing new subvert new technology, it’s a challenge that will to report, he adds contentiously. “The technology is need meeting and will be a continuing problem.” slightly different and more advanced than what When it comes to AI and voice control, Carling we’ve seen in the past, but the concept is largely the can see some innovations in his crystal ball. “They same. We’ve been doing it for years though could have an interesting role to play in conference control systems. It might have a personalising the meeting room environment by commercial impact on the likes of Crestron and remembering users preferences and recalling those AMX if their business model doesn’t take into settings as people enter a space.” account any extra competition.” He’s also enthusiastic for UHD. One of Pain’s biggest concerns, he “We’re slowly starting to see the reveals, is a lack of appropriate “It’s hard to increase of 4K equipment,” he training. “The CTS is outdated pinpoint what says. “Pretty much all the content and too US-centric. We need a skills will be most created these days is shot in 4K, proper apprenticeship programme so if you have the content and the and a qualification for both important in the technology why not display it.” B-TEC and degree students.” coming years” Of course, the more things Ian Carling, director and change, the more they remain the project manager at AV and same. lighting specialist Fusion, “We don’t consider AV ever just being about a big suggests: “With a forever changing industry, it’s screen or projector,” comments Owen Ellis. “We’ve hard to pinpoint what skills will be most important always been responsible for the audio system, in the coming years. What is clear is that there will control systems and building wide TV systems. be new technology and software available for each We’ve also generally always had an engagement in new project, this requires constant learning and the booking and scheduling systems and that’s researching to find the perfect product.” typically how support services were booked or One skill that Carling urges his operatives to have arranged to support the meetings. Generally these is an NVQ level 3 in electrical installation. He also services are still supported by AV even though they believes the industry is only now getting to grips may be networked based and with infrastructure with challenges posed by network connectivity. “It’s associated with them.” inevitable that with more and more devices
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<Above: AV User Group Management Committee member Kevin McLoughlin
AV USER GROUP: TO CONNECT, TO SERVE
pproaching its 20th year, the AV User Group (AVUG) has become a globally recognised not for profit organisation, devoted exclusively to supporting AV end user professionals. More than 650 members and close ties with the industryâ€™s elite, the AVUG continues to grow, both in numbers and its importance. AVTE caught up with Kevin McLoughlin, AVUG Group Management Committee member to discuss find out more about the company - from its origins to its plans for the future. Hi Kevin. Letâ€™s start at the beginning. When was the AV User Group first created and why? The AV User Group was first formed in London in 1996 by Simon Dudley. Back then he was a sales rep at PictureTel. The purpose was to provide an independent, supplier agnostic forum for end users of AV equipment to learn from their peers and industry
suppliers by sharing best practice and experiences. The ultimate goal is to promote effective use of audio visual equipment and services to the end user community. Who are you predominantly appealing to? The audio visual and UC end user, whether engineering, production, event, project delivery, etc. What is your reach? The group is now truly international. We hold meetings in New York, London and Hong Kong. We recently started a UK regional group, which will meet again in Glasgow in January and hope to launch on the US west coast (San Francisco) in 2018. How has the Group evolved? Originally a small informal group of around ten end users, meetings were held intermittently and there was no supplier engagement or interaction. Supplier engagement crept in around 2002 and formal
LEAD INTERVIEW sponsorship around 2005/6 by which time membership had increased to around 50. The group took control of its own destiny in Janury 2010 when membership was around 70 and has subsequently expanded into New York and Hong Kong and now has more than 650 members located around the world. Tell us about those members. Our members are from most market sectors and across all audio visual service provision, numbers are continually growing, with 350-plus in the UK and a further 300-plus worldwide. How often do you hold meetings? London has set the model of four meetings a year, which sits well with our members work lives and this model will spread across other locations. UK regional meetings will increase in 2018 with the north of England with further plans to spread across to Northern Ireland and the RoI. Is there a membership fee? Membership has always been free and keeping it free is core to the Group’s aims. The Group’s funds come from sponsorship. How supportive is the industry? The Groups funds come from sponsorship. Being a community of their clients they are obviously very keen to be engaged with the group and generally incredibly enthusiastic about the Group’s growth and supportive of the spread into new locations. Without sponsorship from the wider AV community our member’s benefits would be vastly reduced. How closely do you work with the industry? The Group maintains strong links with manufacturers who see the group as a valuable asset for end user feedback and customer relationships. We are constantly looking for more ways to provide value to both them and our members through our engagement. The relationship provides a way for end users to influence roadmaps so that manufacturers develop products they actually want to buy. What do members get out of your events? Knowledge. In addition to manufacturer presentations there are case studies from members, educational seminars from industry experts, product demonstrations and site tours. Following meetings we hold our networking events, which bring together end users, suppliers, manufacturers, consultants, AV media and
“Numbers are growing, with 350-plus in the UK and 300-plus worldwide” Kevin McLoughlin, AVUG Group Management Committee member technology managers in a melting pot of ideas and information exchange. What would you say are its key benefits? When I first attended in 2011, I was immediately helped by being connected to the right people, peers and suppliers, who could solve the technology challenges I was experiencing. This quickly became a two-way activity as I shared my own experiences and presented a case study to the London group. Volunteering to join the management committee was just a natural extension, as I wanted to help share the group’s benefits with as many others as possible. With members ranging from global organisations to one man teams the group becomes an equaliser where all members have access to peers and suppliers as a joint resource to help them do their jobs better.
<Chairman Owen Ellis catching up with an AVUG member during one of its events
How important is it for end users to be at the forefront of new technology? It’s paramount. As our technology becomes more network based it’s the AV end users responsibility to be at the leading edge of technology. New developments happen so quickly that before you realise, you have old technology with no support that becomes a risk and security threat. In addition large global corporate enterprises can easily fall behind their own clients, and become ‘incompatible’ or suffer serious interoperability issues with their clients and the rest of the industry. Finally, they can’t afford not to if they want to attract and retain talent in a technological age. What are your ambitions going forward? To continue membership growth both in our existing areas of operation as well as globally, adding more member value and benefits resulting in the group becoming a standalone world leading AV end user membership body. These are very exciting times for the group as our chairman Owen Ellis will shortly be taking on a full time role allowing him to drive these ambitions forward into a new phase of growth. www.avusergroup.com
GETTING TO KNOW: EXTERITY
C <With over 15 years’ experience and offices on every continent, Exterity has become a global force in IPTV and digital signage solutions
hief executive officer Colin Farquhar co-founded Exterity with CTO Mike Allan in Fife, Scotland back in 2001. Today, the IPTV and digital signage specialist has operations all over the world and boasts a long and impressive line-up of leading organisations as customers. In the first of our ‘Getting to Know You’ series, Colin answers our questions, to provide greater insight about the business.
Tell us about Exterity and its role in the current AV market? Exterity was one of the very first companies to offer enterprise IP video solutions. In 2001, many video providers were relying on coaxial cabling to distribute TV content around buildings – something we believed to be an expensive, inflexible and unsustainable solution. We recognised video streaming over internet protocol television (IPTV) as a gateway to the future for how TV and video content would be delivered in an enterprise. At the time, it was radical and about three to five years ahead of the game. Since then, video over IP, or ‘AV-over-IP’, has become a mainstream delivery method, which is now adopted by a wide variety of companies around the world. Our core product portfolio focuses on solutions that enable companies to stream video over an existing IP network. Over the years, it has evolved to include the delivery of video over Wi-Fi and mobile networks to any device, anywhere. In 2016, Exterity launched ArtioSign, our digital signage solution and IPTV solution in one. Since
ADVERTORIAL then, we have been deploying it for clients in a variety of industries – including corporate and finance, education, hospitality, stadiums and venues. For people unfamiliar, can you explain what enterprise IP video technology is? IP video, or IPTV, traditionally refers to television that is distributed over an IP network – the same kind of network people use to surf the Internet and exchange emails. In reality, IP video technology enables an organisation to use an existing IP network to carry much more than just television. With IP video, organisations can easily distribute live terrestrial and satellite television and radio, video, DVDs, video on demand (VoD), digital signage, information boards and web content throughout their facility. This multimedia content can be viewed on standard and smart TVs, thin clients, large format displays and computers. What’s your geographic reach? Exterity has more than 80 staff in offices spanning every continent – from its HQ in Fife, to Australia, South Africa and the US. Through these offices and our StreamForce partner programme, we service 40 countries in Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas.
worldwide StreamForce partner programme. This provides systems integrators, consultants, distributors and resellers with all the technical support, sales and marketing tools needed to successfully sell our products and solutions. They are also supported by 24/7 access to comprehensive technical assistance and in-depth, ongoing training. Why are companies turning to digital signage? As the AV/IT convergence continues apace, digital signage has become a key component in delivering unified communications as a natural companion to an IP video system. This has led to a change in end user requirements for digital signage players, with an increased need to now handle both TV/video and signage together seamlessly. Today, digital signage is everywhere – from corporations, airports and restaurants, to banks and shopping malls. Widely used to deliver entertainment, information, alerts and advertisements, it combines high-quality video, graphics and text to offer a powerful medium that can reach the right audience in the most compelling way possible.
What products/services are proving popular right now? “Exterity has more The clear winner at the moment is digital signage and for Exterity, What’s your target market? than 80 staff in this means the latest addition to Due to the flexible nature of our offices spanning our portfolio, ArtioSign, which is solutions, our target markets include corporate and finance, used to create, manage and every continent” education, hospitality, and venues dynamically display content in a very user-friendly way. Now and stadiums. We also have Colin Farquhar, equipped with more in depth numerous customers in the chief executive officer, scheduling and user permissions marine, oil & gas, transport and Exterity features, it uses a simple drag-andhealthcare industries. drop interface to quickly create Our customers range from engaging signage playlists and better manage large investment banks in Asia, such as Bank of content on the go and in real time. China (Hong Kong), through to British universities – including the highly innovative University of Content protection is also a hot topic as more Surrey that uses Exterity’s IP video system to and more video is freely distributed across global live-stream live dissections, thus enabling an networks. Our AvediaStream Encoders, and more specifically their HDPC v2 and professional content intricate procedure to be viewed up-close by a large protection features, are popular with industries that number of its veterinary students. With growing need to ensure compliance with the latest security hospitality markets, Asia Pacific and the Middle requirements for copyrighted content. East are core regions for Exterity as well. Exterity’s solutions are also widely used in the What do you consider to be your USP? stadiums and venues market, with customers such With over 15 years of experience in developing and as The Open and four of the ten stadiums that hosted the UEFA Euro 2016. implementing IP video solutions, we have built our reputation and our extensive list of customers based What are your routes to market? on having company stability and reliability, quality Exterity primarily operates a traditional channel assurance, product excellence and some very strong distribution model, extending our reach via our channel partnerships.
<Colin Farquhar, chief executive officer , Exterity
COMPANY STRENGTHS: Q Expertise and reputation Q Stability and reliability Q Quality assurance Q Complete end-to-end systems Q Product excellence Q Strong channel partnerships Q Built-in digital signage Q Being an approved provider with open standards support Q Customer service excellence
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TATE: THE ART OF AV
‘AV IS MAGIC - WE’RE THE MAGICIANS’ With close to six million visitors each year, London’s Tate Modern is one of the most visited art galleries on the planet.
art of the Tate Group, which includes Tate Britain (also London), Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool (eight million visitors collectively), the Tate Modern is home to some of the worlds most important and valuable collections of modern art, post 1900. Picasso, Warhol, Dali to name but a few celebrities of the artistic world, who’s work has hung proudly inside the former power station, which first opened its doors at the turn of the millennium.
With ten floors, AV plays a crucial role in not only the visitors’ experience, but in the preservation and care to the many “priceless” pieces of art it guards. Dan Crompton has been the audio visual service Manager for Tate since 2007 and has responsibilities across all four of its national footprints – the biggest (in terms of size) being the Tate Modern. He works alongside colleagues in the Information Systems, Tate Digital and Collection Care departments to help deliver support for a wide range of Audio Visual displays and events.
TATE: THE ART OF AV
More than a gallery With a career in AV dating back to 1981 (36 years), and a passion for the arts (he’s also a musician) he has built up a wealth of experience – experience required for such a vast array of requirements the Tate demands on a daily basis. “We’re not just an art gallery in what might once have been considered in the traditional sense,” Crompton explained, as we sat down in the venue’s Starr Cinema control room. “I started in AV when I left school in 1981, but I feel like I’ve still only scratched the surface. Those two letters (AV) are the shortest acronym I know, for the widest possible range of things you have to do. There are many individuals who don’t perceive the complexity and intricacy on what it might take to achieve good results.” He’s not wrong. As already noted by Dan, and witnessed during our walk to the Star Cinema, there is a lot more to the Tate than simply displaying pieces of art on the walls. Concerts, talks, performance art and exhibitions are just some of the daily activities taking place – all falling within Dan and his team’s remit. “There is always something to do here,” he said smiling. “It’s vital we get everything right and we’re always meeting peoples expectations.” Magic His take on “meeting expectations” is an interesting one. For Dan does not view AV as a secondary component into achieving a desired result. He explained that AV should always be viewed in the context of the overall immersive experience – something which can apply in any situation; be it a conference room, in the cinema, watching a concert, listening to a talk or viewing a piece of art. “I perceive AV as a form of magic,” said Dan. “If you’re in the audience watching a magic trick, all you see is the wonderment. You don’t see how it’s done, because that takes you out of the moment. In art, you don’t perceive the fantastic hammer and chisel work of the sculpture and you don’t usually perceive the brushwork of a painting. The same goes for AV. If the audience sees the AV technician or the AV system, it’s probably because they’re distracted. That usually means something has gone wrong or isn’t quite right. He continued: “Sometimes if an artist or someone hosting an event is looking for a wow factor, that’s where AV can play a part. Yes, the message is
important, and the technology enables that. A recent exhibition from Wolfgang Tillmans used multiple moving lights with multiple performers, complex audio and varied projection works. The technology was intense and the experience was intense. The essence of his message was tied up in the technology.” You can’t beat experience Given the age of the Tate Modern, built in the mid-1900s, achieving the desired result is not always easy. With high concrete ceilings, largely hollow movable wooden walls and a mix of wooden and stone concrete flooring, audio quality can be problematic. This is where experience is vital, explaied Dan, stating not all problems can be solved with a “fancy bit of technology.” Discussing a recent Tate ‘After Hours’ event, he noted that a very high level of reverberance was an issue during the set-up process – an issue they had under an hour to resolve. The resolution in this instance, saw the audio loudspeakers moved from the side of the stage, to the back of the room facing towards it instead. This, explained Dan, allowed for extra distance between the speakers and the microphone. “The solution isn’t always about the technology and there isn’t always a tech fix,” said Dan. “Yes, there will be certain technical things you need to get right, but the reality is it’s actually more about the skills and the expertise of the technicians.” Quality over cost Experience is also a crucial factor in choosing and purchasing equipment. Dan is quick to praise his employers and Tate’s “incredibly generous” partners and sponsors – but admits any expense must be carefully considered first. “I think we achieve amazing things on very modest budgets,” he said. “Acquiring artwork is not cheap. We are a museum, but we are also the holder of the nation’s collection of British art since 1500 and international contemporary art since 1900. That’s a formal role we play, we are meant to represent the nation. Clearly the appropriate money needs to be spent in the appropriate places to achieve that objective.” As with all museums in London, Tate is providing a public service, paid for through (as mentioned) sponsorships, grants and the taxpayer. There is no
TATE: THE ART OF AV
admission fee at the door, although some exhibitions are chargeable unless you hold an annual Tate membership. No compromise on quality But the quality is never jeopardised insists Dan, claiming the best equipment for the job, does not always have to be the most expensive. In fact, he says without the appropriate experience and knowledge, simply choosing the most costly or newest release of something, could in fact be detrimental. “In many situations, you might be using less expensive technologies to do the job. For me, it’s all about how you use them and how you apply them in order to achieve that magic trick. “The quality is generally perceived on a scale of poor to good. The reality is there is a wide range of qualities within. So in AV terms it’s about what it your trying to do. Yes, everything needs to be of good quality, but not everything necessarily needs to be amazing quality. You might need a projector to work well in high-ambient light, or reproduce motion correctly. Many projectors don’t have an emphasis on good quality fast moving video because they’re designed more for something like a PowerPoint presentation. “The projector in the Starr Cinema is top-level state of the art, so the picture is as good as it can possibly be. The screen we use is perfect for that, but you could go out and find one that’s five times the price. It all comes back to having that knowledge and experience.” Lighting Lighting is also a vital component to achieving that “immersive” experience for visitors at Tate. However, this is not as simple as it might sound – with a host of do’s and don’ts often unique to a gallery environment to contend with. As anyone who has ever put a child’s drawn picture or photograph on the fridge will know, that light, particularly sunlight, causes things to fade. But there’s also another problem. With light, be it natural or artificial, there also comes heat – another natural enemy of the art world. For the Tate, these are problems which cannot be underestimated or ignored and considerable investment has been made to provide a round the clock solution across all sites – both public facing areas and storage.
“Artworks, particularly anything drawn on paper, paintings and sculptures are sensitive to lighs,” Dan explained.“The thing with an art gallery is, many artworks will want to be presented in daylight, whilst many will want to prevent daylight getting to them. It can be quite a challenge for the curators.” Internet of Things (IoT) Part of the solution sees many of the rooms in the Tate Modern “environmentally controlled”. But this isn’t a simple case of switching on the air conditioning or manually opening some windows as and when it feels either too hot or too cold. The Tate Modern is a strong advocate of IoT – connected devices – which receive and transmit data. For Tate, these come in the form of sensors dotted around the building that monitor and react to changes in temperature and brightness. Dan explained the recently opened Blavatnik building is “entirely” environmentally controlled, with sensors fitted to windows, which automatically open and close when certain environmental conditions are reached. Lighting will also automatically adjust should a room become too bright, too dark or when occupancy dictates a need. “When you’re in the privileged position to build an entirely new building you can address some of the historical challenges as part of the planning – rather than as an add on.” Overcoming obstacles Each exhibit is different and requires its own set-up. Dan highlighted how the Tate recently exhibited a prestigious collection of very sensitive artworks. The requirements for this were extremely precise, with works reacting strongly to light, humidity and temperature - hot and cold. The exhibit, like many, required a “buffer zone” controlling the airflow into the room. This is to prevent air entering the gallery from the exhibit entrance, and avoid risk of moisture. Again, this is controlled using sensors. Dan explained recently the sensors for this exhibition had developed a fault – which could have been damaging. However, the sensors immediately fed back the information to staff, alerting them to the issue – ensuring things were quickly rectified. “We use sensors because we are protecting priceless artworks. The technology alerted us to a problem we may not have spotted otherwise.”
TATE: THE ART OF AV
“AV is the shortest acronym I know, for the widest range of things you have to do”
STAR QUALITY SOUND AND VISION
> Above: The Bloomberg sponsored interactive display allows visitors to select and explore work from their favourite artists
IT Dan also explained how the advancements in technology, particularly around IT and AV over IP, have allowed for greater efficiency when managing situations where a fault may have occurred. Walking through the Tate, there are many examples of connected displays providing entertainment and information for visitors. Some of these may be standalone, whilst others for a part of a carefully synced exhibit, which if not functioning correctly, would spoil the experience. Historically, this is something which could have left exhibits (or parts of) out of action for a longer than desired period of time due to availability and location of a technician. However, faults can often now be fixed remotely – in the same way you might have your computer fixed by an IT department. Dan noted that one of his colleagues is often able to resolve issues on a smartphone, from anywhere. “He can log in on his phone or computer, identify the problem and depending what it is, may be able to fix and resolve it there and then. It might be rebooting the machine or something more complex. “I’m absolutely a huge advocate of the IT world. I think it’s amazing in what it does.” Learning never stops But Dan, for all his experience, knows it’s important to keep his finger on the pulse at all times with
THE STARR Cinema at the Tate Modern has recently undergone a complete refurbishment, stripped back to the concrete and rebuilt. The original, which had been there since day one in 2000, had become what Dan described as “a bit shabby”. Upgrades included using 4K DCP projection and Dolby Atmos sound. But Dan notes, there is only so much that technology can do alone. You can have best projector and the best speakers in the world – but if the environment isn’t right, the results will be always compromised. To remove these concerns, Dan and the integrators worked directly with Dolby to create a “perfect sound environment” with the walls, ceiling reshaped and upholstered to achieve it. “There are zero directly opposing surfaces, meaning the walls are pointing outwards and the ceiling is stepped and comes at an angle. None of it is flat. The purpose of that is to prevent standing waves of sound bouncing off and reinforcing each other. The sound is as good as it could possibly be.”
advancements in technology and, he jokes, conducting “mystery shops” on other galleries and museums (recently the Imperial War Museum) to see what they’re doing. “I’m always learning,” said Dan as we concluded our chat. “The industry moves very fast and it’s important for me to keep up to date with everything I possibly can. “As mentioned before, AV is the shortest acronym I know, for the broadest range of things you have to do. There is always something new to see and learn. Expectations, be it a customer, an artist, performer or someone being presented to, are always high. It’s crucial those expectations are met.”
THE WORLD ISN’T FLAT
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CORPORATE CONFERENCING: PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE The array of potential meeting and conferencing technology solutions can be bewildering. Ian McMurray talks to the industry about how to make better choices
t was more than 40 years ago that Video Arts published a series of training videos – remember videos? – entitled “Meetings, Bloody Meetings”. They starred John Cleese, and aimed to impart wisdom about how to ensure meetings were effective and productive. Since then, it seems likely that meetings and conferences have only proliferated – driven, perhaps, by increasingly collaborative management styles on the one hand, and the role of AV technology in facilitating them on the other. As that technology progressively declines in price, existing systems are being upgraded, and new facilities equipped. What, though, should be the decision-making criteria?
Work backwards “Users should work backwards from what they are trying to achieve in, for example, a meeting room,” believes Scott Wharton, vice president and general manager, Logitech Video Collaboration. “Are they simply looking at data, which may be true in a boardroom scenario, or are they looking to brainstorm and spend time manipulating data, something more likely to happen in what is now commonly called, a huddle room. “By understanding the most likely use-case, a suitable solution is much more likely to be identified, equipped with the right functionalities. I’d recommend looking for products that are platform-agnostic as well.”
IN FOCUS and conferences – yet it has a profound impact on the quality of the experience. Hug notes how Polycom has introduced technology that mutes the audio from speakers after they have finished talking, attenuating unwanted background noise. “Corporate conferencing users should look for options that enable them to collaborate wirelessly on documents, such as presentations, designs and spreadsheets, regardless of location. The enterprise needs to be fully geared for flexible working.” Paul Zielie, manager, enterprise solutions at Harman, attaches similar importance to audio. “The most important consideration in choosing web conferencing for a group space is making sure that you have adequate audio for the room,” he claims. “It will never be enough to just plug speakers and a microphone into a PC.” Because of the nature of multi-purpose appliances, such as Windows-based PCs, Zielie believes they can never be adequate for the sound management necessary for a satisfactory audio experience. Here, he recommends the use of purpose-designed echo cancellation systems for huddle spaces, and DSP technology for the optimum audio solution.
It was back in May 2011 when Microsoft announced it had acquired Skype for $8.5 billion. Today, we have Skype for Business, and to say it’s now ubiquitous is an understatement. Andrew Hug, who is VP, systems engineers, EMEA at Polycom sees it as an almost inevitable starting point. “It’s all about connectivity,” he insists to AVTE. “Most organisations need to integrate Skype for Business functionality so, depending on the workflow, culture and budget of the organisation, there are plenty of value-add options for Skype for Business users, such as high-definition voice, content sharing and video.” With much attention focused on the video experience, audio is too often forgotten in meetings
Fundamental requirement The theme of connectivity is a recurring one in any discussion of AV technology for meetings and conferences and, for Chris Rawden, head of the communications and collaboration team at UK integrator Saville, it’s a fundamental requirement. “Interoperability and future-proofing: these are surely key factors in deciding on any conferencing system,” he says. “The lifespan of hardware is getting shorter as the rate of new systems being introduced to the market increases. One of the key criteria in choosing a new system is to make sure the software infrastructure that underpins how the hardware functions is the correct choice. “Skype for Business is a perfect example of how this can be led. More and more devices are being produced that are S4B ‘compliant’ and which address user-specific needs – the key being that they all work seamlessly on a common platform. This is very appealing for both end users and integrators,” he goes on, “as it means that hardware systems can be designed that specifically fit a client’s communication model, safe in the knowledge that all the discrete components should easily integrate with one another. Specific cloud-based SaaS solutions can help align new systems with existing legacy systems, providing end users a route to sustainable and economically sound progression to newer systems.”
< Logitech’s Meet Up ConferenceCam features 4K optics and a 120-degree field of view and is designed for small conference rooms and huddle rooms
KEY LEARNING POINTS Q The key is to determine what kind of meetings the AV technology needs to support. Q It can be too easy to overlook audio as a contributor to meeting participant quality of experience. Q Industry- and open standards-based modular meeting solutions will deliver superior flexibility, upgradability. Q Many organisations are choosing to build their meetings strategy around Skype for Business.
> Andrew Hug: VP, systems engineers, EMEA, Polycom
> Chris Rawden: head of the communications and collaborative teams, Saville
> Paul Zielie: manager, enterprise solutions, Harman
> Scott Wharton: VP and general manager, Logitech Video Collaboration
No certainties There are observable trends but, inevitably, no absolute certainties. “The rate of change today is so fast that it’s easy to be paralysed by a fear of making a decision,” observes Wharton. “The key is to look for the most flexible, future-proofed solution possible. For example, USB devices working with off-the-shelf cloud-based applications are far more flexible than dedicated hardware devices tied to one supplier.” He also recommends putting video in every room. “It’s cost-effective and standard to deploy, even for rooms without heavy usage,” he says. As in so many other parts of the AV business, software is taking over from hardware – not least because of the inherent flexibility it brings. “Ensure the device can be managed centrally,” Software-based advises Rawden, “and has a software upgrade path “The state of the art in conferencing from a to keep up with the fast-paced developments in the technical standpoint is still the single-purpose group world of video collaboration.” conferencing appliance,” says Zielie. “Those are For Polycom’s Hug, it’s all about perspective. expensive and deployed in islands. Personal “Look at future requirements and think big about collaboration is growing into the meeting space your working culture: how can conferencing with soft – PC-based – conferencing like Skype and technology enable and support more flexible and WebEx being used in group settings. These devices productive ways of working? Get advice around allow users in group settings to have access to both protecting existing remote participants available to investments and developing a web conferencing without the constant struggle of dealing with “The rate of change migration path to known or expected use, application and a conference room PC.” today is so fast technology.” The industry is also agreed that the importance of the cloud will paced that it’s easy Viable route not diminish any time soon, and to be paralysed by a And speaking of advice… will be the key enabling “Understanding a client’s business technology for meetings and fear of making a goals and needs is paramount to conferences for the future,” says decision” designing any new system and, Wharton. “Over the next five more importantly, ensuring that years, cloud-based video will be there is a viable route to future almost universal in businesses. expansion and upgrades,” believes Rawden. “This is The race to the top is driving innovation in where the integrator’s role is key, and developing cloud-based software as companies produce services the right relationship with the right provider is a that are more stable and intuitive than ever before.” major decision for end users.” Meanwhile, conferencing and meeting solutions Meetings have evolved significantly since John will become less monolithic, and more modular. Cleese exhorted us to prepare better in order to Skype for Business, the industry is convinced, is in ensure successful meetings. There is little doubt that the game for the long haul. Telepresence – once the preparation is still vital – but, increasingly, it’s about ‘next big thing’ in videoconferencing has pretty preparing today for what AV technology will allow much died a death, such is the realism achievable us to do in our meetings and conferences tomorrow. with today’s technology, but who knows what VR, AR and AI will bring to the table? Beyond the technology, the growing expectation today is that workforces will only become more www.harman.com dispersed, with remote working increasingly the www.logitech.com norm - and the cloud becoming a vital enabler in www.polycom.com bringing those people together. www.saville.co.uk “For the enterprise business, ensuring seamless and familiar communications across the entire range of meeting spaces – dedicated video meeting rooms through to huddle spaces and mobile on the go applications – is a key factor in driving user adoption. It’s another fundamental factor in choosing a conferencing system and one that is frequently overlooked with alarming regularity. If users struggle to use the technology, then the system is effectively dead money.” There is, of course, no “one size fits all” AV technology solution when it comes to meetings and conferences. The requirements of a board room or dedicated videoconferencing suite will always be different from those of ad hoc meeting spaces.
THE EUROPEAN D E S T I N AT I O N FOR THE GLOBAL AV INDUSTRY
CONNECTING MARKETS AND PEOPLE Integrated Systems Europe is the definitive showcase for the worldâ€™s leading AV manufacturers and service companies operating within a range of sectors, including: Digital Signage, Education Technology, Professional Audio, Residential Solutions, Smart Building and Unified Communications. Held in Amsterdam on 6-9 February, ISE 2018 will be the destination of choice for international AV professionals interested in learning about state-of-the-art technology and the latest end-user business solutions.
A JOINT VENTURE PARTNERSHIP OF
W W W. I S E U R O P E . O R G
6-9 February 2018 Amsterdam, RAI, NL
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
DON’T BE LEFT IN THE DARK Five ways to improve your lighting experience in collaboration spaces
LIGHTING IS often used to create a particular mood or to emphasise a certain part of a space. For conferences in particular, the main focus is often on the stage or the lectern so ensure these are positioned in a place where the lighting is able to get the most out of them. Lighting should be considered as important an aspect as the seating layout as it plays an equally pivotal role.
WHEN WORKING in a historical space, this may include working alongside artefacts or exhibits. Whrever and whenever possible, ensure these become part of your event. Many people feel the immediate need to hide anything they feel isn’t immediately relevant to their conference. However, the use of uplighters and artefact lighting actually embraces their presence and allows them to become a part of the space.
COVERAGE IS essential and often something that is overlooked. While it’s important to ensure the main parts of your space are lit, don’t forget the person sat in the very far left-hand corner. Ensure lighting covers every area of the room, ensuring that everyone within the space feels involved.
THE QUALITY of lighting can be the difference between a memorable experience and one to forget. Whatever the environment, lighting plays a crucial role, be it an event, retail store, a public space (such as a museum), or inside a conference room. WhiteLight, is one of the countries most experienced production and solution specialists, operating for more than 40 years across range of markets such as theatre, concert touring, broadcast, themed attractions, education, trade and numerous corporate events. Speaking exclusively to AVTE, the firms’ conference account manager, Shrenik Singhavi shared his top five tips for AV technicians to consider and to avoid when creating a corporate conferencing environment.
“Don’t forget the person sat in the very far left corner”
REMEMBER EXTERNAL factors such as the weather and the time of day. Chances are the space you’ll be using will have some sort of window/opening that exposes the outside world. Unless taken into consideration, this can ruin your entire lighting setup so needs to be taken into consideration during the preparation stages.
USE LIGHTING to emphasis your company’s message. Whether it’s a selection of fixtures that reflect your company’s colours or custom-made gobos that literally project your company logo, lighting can be utilised to reinforce your company’s brand to anyone who enters that particular space.
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SERVICING THE TRANSITION TO BREXIT The Brexit process is starting to have an effect on technological investment, but AVMI is continuing to flourish thanks in part to its well established and enviable service division.
rexit means Brexit: even the staunchest of UK citizens who voted to leave the EU in last year’s referendum will likely now concede that these are empty words. The fact is, we still don’t know exactly what Brexit is going to look like, and how this will ultimately shape UK plc. What is certain is that the UK and Eurozone economies are going to hit some bumps in the road as the Brexit process accelerates towards its – possibly transitioned – conclusion. In the UK, business is already being affected of course, with uncertainty putting the brakes on investment. The tech integration industry continues to boom, but there are growing signs of a slowdown in the specification of technology across most sectors, as businesses look to consolidate existing equipment or lease rather than buy. “In the UK we’ve had to deal with the effects of Brexit sooner than our European counterparts and we’ve had to be more agile more quickly when it comes to dealing with its potential effects,” explains Mark McAlpine, services and support director at AVMI. “Our European partners are more likely to wait until after the negotiations are concluded before they put plans – good or bad – in place; we don’t have that luxury, as we are situated right at the centre of the storm, as it were.”
AVMI, however, is well situated to weather any potential Brexit storm. Its strong service division – just over 40 per cent of AVMI’s overall business – continues to grow, and it has invested significantly in implementing a new cloud-based service management platform to streamline its operations. With many organisations pressing the pause button on infrastructure investment as they await the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, service is becoming king. “It’s the service side of our business overall that is growing the most rapidly,” says McAlpine. “This is partially as a result of the current market conditions – the Brexit uncertainty – and also the continued convergence of AV and IT, and AVMI’s burgeoning reputation as being the service-focused technology integrator. Service is in our DNA. “That said, the tech integration side of AV is still booming and AVMI is incredibly busy,” says McAlpine. “Our order book is full and indeed we continue to see all sectors engaging us on project work. Although we might see a short-term impact in the mid-market, purely from a project perspective because there’s not so much cash available; from a service perspective, we’re forecasting quite large growth in the mid-market as companies affected by the perceived Brexit squeeze look at alternative
In association with
<AVMI has over 200 full-time service engineers helping companies operate more efficiently and maximise the benefits of their AV investments.
ways of managing their tech resources.” Brexit is starting to have an impact on the integration of new technology, then – albeit hopefully short term as the Brexit process and its outcome shakes down. McAlpine notes a more cautious approach from clients who, having completed projects in the previous three years, would normally be looking to refresh their technology investment. “In order to future proof and plan for Brexit, companies are looking at other ways in which they can procure hardware, software, licenses and support,” says McAlpine. “Some of the banks, for instance, are planning for potentially shifting their operations to out of the UK to secure ‘passporting rights’ by reducing back office and infrastructure headcounts in London – being more agile by using companies like AVMI to fulfil their AV and IT requirements.” By moving this headcount to AVMI, such companies are able to retain the required skillsets, procuring them back as a service until they “get a little bit of certainty” post-Brexit and re-recruit internally – if they ever decide to do this, as McAlpine says many are surprised at just how good the external service provision is. “Our investment in services is second to none,” says McAlpine. “AVMI’s managed on-site teams
have access to service delivery managers and supporting coordinators, maximising response times to team sickness or peak requirements, and a large cover pool of technicians offers extra resource. Over the years, our ‘Trusted Advisor’ philosophy has resulted in an average client relationship of ten years – and this is only set to lengthen as our service division continues to strengthen.” Whilst the Brexit process means companies are currently less inclined to invest in replacing or upgrading technology, they do want to invest in ensuring that they maintain the same levels of functionality and efficiency – either by ramping up their service and maintenance contracts and/or turning to leasing companies. “During the financial crash of 2007 we saw that big-ticket purchases effectively stalled both at a corporate and consumer level,” says McAlpine. “Businesses whose trading cycles were counter cyclical to the economy saw a large uplift in revenue, specifically if that business was in the services industry. This counter-cyclicality is apparent again as AVMI begins to see more service lead opportunities whilst clients consider holding capex projects into their next fiscal years.” www.avmi.com
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL Expert advice on things to consider when kitting out your
Viewing position When considering VC and interactive presentation solutions for your conference room, it’s important to also consider how you plan to mount, operate and manoeuvre them. Specifically designed trolleys, stands and wall mounts are available to support large format screens and interactive displays that provide ideal viewing positions, match the décor of any professional setting and can be easily transported from room to room. New solutions are available incorporating innovative lift technology that allows users to raise or lower a display, with just a finger and without any mechanical parts.
3 > Peerless-AV trolleys offering an ideal mobile solution for conference room AV and VC requirements
“Time is money, so wasting it through ineffective collaboration isn’t an option”
CREATING OR updating a conference room isn’t just about buying speakers, microphones and displays. There are many other factors to consider, many of which can easily be initially overlooked, potentially impacting the desired goal. Keith Dutch, is the managing director of AV solutions manufacturer and distributor Peerless-AV. With 13 years of experience in AV installation, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, both good and bad. Here are his five top-tips for business decision makers and AV tech managers to consider when building and upgrading their conference room.
Compatibility and training Time is money in business so wasting it through ineffective collaboration isn’t an option. In today’s evolving workplace where staff have the flexibility to work wherever and whenever, the physical office space needs to keep pace. Collaborative tools play a fundamental role by connecting co-workers, customers and partners spread across multiple locations and different time zones. Making sure all the products specified work seamlessly together and that staff have the right training to make use of the investment is key.
Going large or super-slim Increasing demand for the biggest or slimmest LED and LCD display models means more consideration is required for the choice of mounting solution. This is to ensure the environment is able to safely support the weight capacity of a heavy screen or to complement the sleek design of a thin display with a slim to wall profile. Mounts for large displays up to 98” that are tested to four times the product’s weight capacity will ensure safe, reliable usage in the real world. UL safety tested trolleys also give peace of mind with regards to handling and structural reliability during use, transportation and storage.
Content is king AV should be neatly integrated into the corporate environment so the audience is completely focused on the message rather than the technology behind it. For video wall installs in conference rooms where there is a recess, consider full service mounting solutions that allow displays to sit flush to the wall with quick access to the rear for serviceability and maintenance.
Aesthetics Cabling can be an issue in some conference rooms where functionality and aesthetics come hand in hand. Consider mounting and trolley options that have internal cable management to contain and conceal unsightly cables for a clean, neat and tidy installation.
IN FOCUS: TOP TIPS
COMING TO YOU LOUD AND CLEAR Expert advice for installation of your
loudspeakers WHEN ORGANISATIONS look to upgrade corporate audio, achieving optimum sound in a room can prove to be a real challenge. Sami Makinen, Genelec’s business manager for AV Installation provides a handful tips to help ensure your loudspeaker installation delivers the performance you need. What is the application? It is always important to establish what is required from a speaker solution. What is the acoustic environment like? What sources will you be using? How much area needs to be covered? For some applications, such as a small conference room, an optimal solution may be as simple as a left and right speaker acting as an output for your room’s AV system. This, however, may not be sufficient in a larger conference room, and would not suffice for a large restaurant or gallery, where more audio power would be required, and more consideration would be needed. Every room is different, and each successful installation demands careful attention. Think neutral The ultimate goal of any audio solution is to deliver clarity and a balanced, neutral sound to its intended audience. Poor sound quality can come about as a result of improper placement of speakers, excessive cost-cutting (i.e. choosing a cheaper speaker or not specifying enough speakers) and a general lack of consideration for the space and the application at hand. Users will often try to overcome poor sound quality by increasing the volume, which can create a noisy, unpleasant room environment – this should be avoided at all costs. When seeking to create a neutral sound, it is important to consider which areas you need to cover (what is the expected listening position?). How many speakers you may require in order to achieve this, and whether there are any reflective surfaces (such as glass and hardwood) or obstructions which require further attention. Room response controls are available on some loudspeakers that will allow for the adjustment of levels for bass, mid-range, treble and more, meaning that they can be altered to suit any acoustic environment.
Consider aesthetic If you want your installation to stand the test of time, it’s important to consider the visual look of your room. Some loudspeakers are available in a wide range of RAL colours, which means that they can either blend in subtly to suit the look of your space, or they can also stand out as a colourful and impactful design statement. In-ceiling speakers are another more discreet option, although wallmounted speakers are able to provide sound at ear level, and they can also be relocated with more ease. By using active speakers, there is no requirement for an additional external amplifier, which eliminates the need for an unsightly piece of equipment. Do it once, do it right By opting for a more premium choice of speakers, you are likely to have equipment that uses a higher quality of materials, meaning that is able to withstand more wear and tear, last longer and also sound better. Whilst the initial outlay may be more, in the long run it could prove to be a sensible, more cost-effective decision per usage. By taking your time to consider your purchasing decisions, you’ll end up with a product that suits your own purposes and budget, and hopefully end up with an audio solution that will excel for many years to come.
> Sami Makinen, Genelec’s business manager for AV installation
“The ultimate goal is to deliver clarity and a balanced neutral sound” 33
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CEILING IS BELIEVING Richard Knott, project engineer at Shure UK, discusses the benefits of using ceiling array microphone technology
“Ceiling array microphones allow participants to act naturally and not focus on speaking into a fixed microphone”
WHEN IT comes to conferencing, the key to effective, productive and efficient meetings is for participants to be able to join a call, participate in it fully and comfortably, and understand their fellow attendees. While this may seem simple, many people are still wary of conferencing systems, sometimes because they are too time-consuming to set up and use or because important points can be lost or misheard due to latency issues or poor quality audio. Ceiling array microphone technology can solve these issues and bring many other benefits to meeting and presentation spaces of all different sizes and configurations. A key factor when investing in a conferencing system is user acceptance – if users don’t feel comfortable with the system and it isn’t responsive to their needs, it won’t be fully utilised. Ceiling array microphones allow participants to act naturally and not focus on speaking into a fixed microphone, so regardless of whether they are sitting upright, leaning back, using their laptops or talking at the display, they can be heard clearly and understood by all. As array lobes can be aimed at specific areas of the room both seated participants and presenters will be clearly picked up, even if they move around. As the benefits of ceiling arrays begin to be
realised, I am being asked more and more about the Microflex® Advance™ MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone (pictured), which has been successfully installed in many high-profile corporate spaces. One very recent application involved a leading global financial advisory firm, where several MXA910s were used to update the audio infrastructure in a multi-purpose training and conference space in London. The client needed a system that would deliver high-quality audio and highly intelligible speech throughout a triple-divisible meeting space that is used for video conferencing, presentations and training. The MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone was chosen because it enables voice capture for video meetings and also can be used as the microphone that captures speech as part of a third-party voice lift system used for training and presentation purposes. The MXA910 was also recently installed in Bayer’s new UK headquarters which features a number of collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, and presentation suites. Central to the building is the main meeting space and town hall area. This large space is designed to be divisible into a number of rooms or opened into one space, creating a challenge when it comes to maintaining clear, intelligible audio. To achieve this, the space was designed for audio conferencing and voice-lift from two Microflex® Advance™ MXA910 Ceiling Array Conferencing Microphones and a Microflex® Wireless AV Conferencing system. Here a major factor behind the decision was the fact that the Microflex® family is corporate network ready. The MXA910 has opened up new options for installed sound systems in corporate applications: the MXA910s allow presenters to move around the room, converse with colleagues and gesticulate, knowing that the microphones will pick them up. In addition, by installing the microphones overhead, rather than on a table, users can enjoy a discreet, natural conferencing experience while enjoying a clutter-free meeting space.
THE TECH MANAGER’S GUIDE TO CONFERENCE ROOM MICROPHONES No pressure, but mics can either make or break your conference room, says technical advisor Justin O’Connor
mmersive technology is becoming increasingly common. We’ve all seen or used the distinctive head-mounted displays (HMD) used for virtual reality rides or console games, or enjoyed the antics of Pokémon Go hunters seeking augmented reality beasties. But outside of entertainment, where are the strong business cases for AR, VR and mixed reality (where digital and real-world objects coexist)? The answer is in-fact, all around us. Effective communication can be defined in a number of ways and comprises many elements. In face-to-face discussions, we hear the words and inflections of another person, and we also pick up on other critical input including body language and intentional gestures. Having a conversation or taking in a presentation is a multisensory experience. Remote meetings employ technology that is intended to provide a multimedia experience that emulates this as closely as possible. Providing video and audio to all participants has become nearly standard for conferencing. While both audio and video content are a part of effective remote communication, they are not equal.
continue without video and documents can be shared by email if necessary. If audio becomes unintelligible or is lost, the meeting stops. Even if video remains, without audio the meeting will stop until the problem is rectified. If it is not, the meeting will most undoubtedly be rescheduled. Video is important to communication, but audio is absolutely critical. The distraction can range from annoying to detrimental. Even having to strain to understand the far end of a call can limit the creative and analytical thinking that makes collaboration efficient and more productive. There are many factors that influence good audio quality. First and foremost is the capture of the spoken word. Good capture relies on good microphones, the right type of microphones, and attention to room acoustics. Getting the microphones right can go a long way to overcoming other potential detractions in the audio path. Getting the microphones wrong will absolutely cause problems that cannot be mitigated later in the signal path. Microphones will make or break the effective audio communication from your conference room.
Quality audio ‘critical’ Poor video quality or loss of video signal is frustrating and distracting. It can interrupt the flow of communication and collaboration. If the video signal does not return or improve, the meeting can
Acoustics But before looking into microphones, there must be some consideration for acoustics. It isn’t always feasible architecturally, aesthetically, functionally, and financially to deploy acoustic treatments in a
MICROPHONE POLAR PATTERNS / PICKUP PATTERNS OMNIDIRECTIONAL
ratios. Since the capsule, even in a directional conference room. Anything that can be done to microphone, will pick up sound energy from more address acoustic matters is helpful. In most than one direction, the reflections of sound conference rooms, the typical acoustic problem is throughout the room will be picked up. If the reflective surfaces. Construction and furniture relative energy difference between the original materials that are hard or glossy tend to reflect spoken words and the reflections is low, the sound sound frequencies that are critical to the quality will not be as good. If the ratio between the intelligibility of spoken words. original speech and the reflection is large, the In a room that can accommodate 12 to 15 people intelligibility and quality of what is captured will be or fewer, these reflections are unlikely to impact much better. In the case where the energy of the intelligibility for the people in the room when reflected sound is closer to the original, the listeners listening to a person speaking. In the case of at the far end will perceive the room to be large, microphone capture, these reflections can impact “cavernous”, and “echoey”, and the perception is the intelligibility on the far side. These reflections that the people talking are far away from the arrive at the microphones later than the original microphones. sounds. If they are nearly as loud as the original In some cases this is indeed because the people signal when they arrive at the microphones, they speaking are too far from the microphone. will obscure parts of the words being spoken. The best microphone placement and type would In a highly reverberant room, there will be many be a directional microphone for each individual, late arriving reflections and they will retain enough within a few inches of their mouths. This reduces of their original sound pressure level as to be the impact of the acoustics of the room as the audible and mask the words of the person speaking. comparative level of their spoken words to that of Tackling reverberation is best done by adding as the late reflections will be much many soft, and therefore sound higher. All sound energy absorbing, materials to the room dissipates as it travels through air. as is possible. Drapes, and carpet “Tackling the original spoken words only are excellent choices as is the reverberation is best Ifpass through a few inches of air hanging of art that is on large space, and the reflections travel done by adding as canvases, rather than prints or all the way to a wall and back, photographs covered by glass. Any many soft, sound for example, the energy will have step that can be taken to mitigate absorbing materials dissipated, even in a highly reflections will improve the reflective room. There are many intelligibility at the far end. to the room as factors that influence whether possible” this type of microphone Microphones approach is feasible in a Microphones capture acoustic conference room, including energy and convert it into electrical budget, furniture, aesthetics, and room functionality. signals. Most typical microphones have a The closer the solution is to a single microphone diaphragm that physically responds to the air element in close proximity to each person in the pressure oscillations of sound. The diaphragm, room, the better. attached to a coil of wire, moves sympathetically and the coil passes through a magnetic field Tabletop microphones generating an electrical signal that is representative Tabletop microphones can take on various forms. of the acoustic energy. Gooseneck microphones with a base on the table Microphones have a variety of pickup patterns, and a neck extending the microphone up to the which determine where the efficiency of the person speaking are arguably the best acoustic microphone is greatest. Three common patterns are: approach. They are, however, often considered omni-directional, which has an equal pickup in all visually unappealing and some people experience directions; cardioid, which has a null point at the discomfort with a microphone in front of their face back of the capsule; and super cardioid and hyper and speak more softly. Also, depending on the cardioid, which while having a small lobe at the pickup pattern and how animated the person rear, have greater directionality of the primary speaking is, they may move out of the pickup pickup lobe. These patterns are represented by polar pattern while speaking. Other table top plots, as shown on the image to the left. microphones are low profile boundary mics that sit Good capture quality from a microphone is about
very close to the surface of the table and even use that boundary surface to increase their efficiency. These help with the worry about people moving out of the pickup pattern, but it also means the microphone element is further from the person speaking. An additional concern is that the microphones can be blocked by laptops, covered up by papers, and tend to pick up noises at the table. Ceiling microphones Ceiling microphones hang from the ceiling and capture the sound of speech from above. This solves some of the disadvantages of tabletop microphones by getting the microphones off of the table. They canâ€™t be covered by papers or blocked by laptops, and they are less likely to pick up table noises. Ceiling mics are also generally less noticeable as they are above the sight line. If enough ceiling microphones are installed and placed properly, they can account for people getting up from the table while speaking and they are also an effective for avoiding issues such as running cable on top of or through tables, and aesthetics. They are, however, further away from the people speaking. While most ceiling mics allow for variable installation heights to accommodate different ceiling types, they will essentially always be further away from the people speaking than a table microphone. Ceiling mics may be less likely to pick up table noise, but they end up in close proximity to other noises such as the fans of projectors. Beamforming microphones Beamforming microphones have been increasing in popularity and in the number of options available. Most are available in either ceiling mount or
tabletop versions, but they differ from single element, traditional microphones due to the array of acoustic capsules they feature. A beamforming microphone array uses multiple elements that are forming a large pickup pattern. When a person is speaking, the signal strength of that speech at all or some of the elements is compared by processing algorithms to determine where the person speaking is located with relation to the array. The processing can then focus the pickup of the person speaking by adjusting individual capsule levels to increase pickup of the person speaking and increase rejection at other parts of the array. Advanced approaches to this processing allow the beamforming array to track the person speaking if they are moving, and in some cases will support multiple simultaneous beams. Final thoughts There is no one size fits all answer to microphones. Even rooms that have the same size table and the same number of chairs may well need different microphone approaches based on acoustics, aesthetics, or room functionality. While it is advisable to have standardisation in conference rooms within an enterprise, this standardisation should be reserved to user experience and control, and to infrastructural technology. Microphone selection requires intentional decision making based on the various influences. The result may be that many rooms share the same approach, but if this arrives from careful consideration of the challenges, needs and the input of a knowledgeable professional, the results will be far more effective and of much higher quality than attempting a single answer to all rooms.
ARE YOU BANDWIDTH READY? Getting the network right for corporate conferencing by Heather McLean
efore you implement a conferencing system in a corporate environment, you must first consider the state of the underlying network. Whether you go for a wired or wireless AV solution, corporate networks have to be able to stand up to the rigors of regular usage and perform perfectly. Explaining why it is vital to get the underlying network, whether wired or wireless, right when talking about AV solutions for the corporate conferencing market, Chris Mendoza, senior director of EMEA marketing at Ruckus Wireless, told AVTE: “All components must be up to date, otherwise it will slow down the entire network. Without a strong network, the control system will
struggle, intercom functions will be compromised, and connectivity will be weak resulting in ‘spotty’ internet connections. This will result in a disappointing experience.” Define the project Planning ahead is crucial to ensure successful results, comments Kevin Madeja, technical director at Snelling Business Systems: “AVoIP conferencing, HD video conferencing and streaming, require a certain minimum bandwidth and QoS to operate correctly. It’s important at the outset to conduct a thorough needs analysis; design of a network topology to support the rollout of the IP conferencing solution, definition of requirements as
IN FOCUS <Polycom’s EagleEye Director II in action
“Without a strong network, the control system will struggle, intercom functions will be compromised and connectivity will be weak” What about quality of service as well as bandwidth? “Address these issues and end users will enjoy seamless and productive collaborative conferencing,” he says. While Mendoza warns change is inevitable: “Innovations in media fromVA, AR and robotics will change the way audiences engage with their environments. That will bring new challenges for networks. Corporate conferencing venues will require a future proof environment to ensure the network is still capable of handling new technologies ten or fifteen years later.”
to minimum standards required relating to the configuration of the network switches to support the rollout. More users also now present wirelessly so a robust wireless network with sufficient speed and bandwidth needs to be provided. Security and access Polycom’s Andrew Hug, vice president of systems engineers EMEA, comments that concerns around security and access are ever-present and increasing, so organisations need to make sure they work with their systems integrators and IT departments to address them. “Bandwidth and quality of service can also pose a challenge. The devices we use to conference may demand slightly more bandwidth than in the past. Organisations need to make sure their network is ready for the demands of video and next generation collaboration technology.” Things to bear in mind when choosing a system should be, says Hug, focused on security and access: Can they share their desktop? Do they have enough storage to collaborate on big files? What about guest access? Where can users access information?
Big challenges As to what are the biggest challenges when getting a corporate conferencing network up to speed, explaines Mendoza: “Fundamental challenges include interference issues and providing a stable and reliable network that can withstand the heavy capacity requirements of a conference venue.” However, Snelling Business Systems’ business development director, Steve Royans, warns: “Collaboration between the AV integrator and the client-side networking team isn’t always holistic in view, and may not necessarily involve all the functionaries critical to successful roll out. For example, sanctioned bandwidth, encryption of data streams and network login credentials policy. This often results in a breakdown in the lines of communication. “An off-shoot of this problem is without all the relevant people involved, a thorough needs-analysis may not have been completed, and therefore, troubles crop up during the lifecycle of the project which could have been avoided, or worse the end user cannot get the solution that they envisioned for the project,” Royans says. Wired or wireless? Finally, on what is best for corporate conferencing AV solutions, wired or wireless networks, Hug concludes: “There is no right or wrong answer to this one. It very much depends on the environment and what the enterprise wants to achieve from its conferencing AV solutions. Wireless is great for flexibility but it tends to provide extra security and access challenges.”
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EYE ON RECRUITMENT A selection of the latest movers and shakers from across the AV industry, plus some top tips from leading AV recruitment firm, Jacobs Massey
Philip Law Focus 21 Head of Managed Services Congratulations on your new role! What attracted you to Focus 21? Having worked within AV for a number of years I was aware of Focus 21’s positive reputation within the industry. There was an instant synergy across our approaches. What will your responsibilities be in your new position? I am the head of managed services, which involves the management of the Focus 21 clients that have team members based onsite providing a whole range of AV services. Onsite managed services is a key focus for our business as it demonstrates to clients our ability to provide effective and efficient tailored services to support their overall AV strategy. What trends and changes have you seen in the AV industry over the past 5 years? Services such as LinkedIn have been seen by some as a disruptor to traditional recruitment, however I believe this has only enabled an easier connection route to candidates. The candidate still needs to be able to demonstrate relevant skills and experience but social media provides an additional conduit to access staff. In my eyes, this evolution will not replace high quality recruitment agencies who are able to apply a wealth of experience to the application as well as the applicant themselves. Finally, what’s the best part of being in the AV industry? AV is a very exciting industry as it balances the requirement of best in class services and state of the art technology. This ensures communication becomes a priority and by ensuring quick, easy to access and successful communication in visual and audio aspects helps drive a more positive work/life balance.
Przemyslaw Mika B-Tech Mika has worked in the AV industry for 20 years (including stints at Sharp and Panasonic), and joins the firms European sales team, tasked with building brand and product awareness as well as increasing sales throughout the Central European Market
Tony Barton NanoLumens Barton joins NanoLumens as director of strategic partnerships, having left his role with Christie Digital Systems, where he was senior director of sales since 2002. He brings more than 35 years of experience in commercial AV. Insight: Graeme Massey We’re in a candidate driven market. Where the demand for specialist AV talent out-strips supply, companies need to be more aware than ever to promote career opportunities. Your brand and reputation is integral to potential employees. Tip of the month: tell your company story when recruiting. People are always attracted to success.
Share your recruitment movers and shakers with AV Technology Europe If you have recently made a new appointment and would like he or she to be featured in our ‘Eye on Recruitment’ page, please email our editor Michael Garwood: firstname.lastname@example.org
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THE TECH GUIDE Peerless AV
DSF265L(-P) Floor-toCeiling Cable Mount Product type: Display mount Target market: Retail and Commercial markets
E-Vision Laser 4K Product type: Laser projector Target market: Education, corporate, rental staging, visitors attraction, home cinema What’s new? The E-Vision Laser 4K-UHD from Digital Projection offers 4K images, in a compact chassis. It also provides peace of mind for users with a five year 20,000 hours warranty in a maintenance free package thanks to its laser technology. Details: The E-Vision Laser 4K-UHD delivers7,500 lumens from a stable solid-state light source, capable of producing over 20,000 hours of illumination. The 4K UHD resolution delivers a level of detail and image subtlety that only 4K-UHD powered by Texas Instruments DLP chip can. This single chip projector was developed with ‘Fit and Forget’ directive, ensuring it needs only minimal maintenance throughout the lifetime of the display. Combine the bright, long-life illumination source with a host of other precision features, and you have a projector solution that’s perfectly suited to a diverse range of professional venues. HDMI 2.0 comes as standard as well as HDMI 1.4b for when you need Frame Sequential and Dual Pipe 3D.
What’s new? This versatile, easy to install mounting solution creates a discreet and unobtrusive digital signage installation with its minimal depth and quick, simple connection to joists for a secure and stable foundation. Details: Peerless-AV’s DSF265L(-P) Floor-to-Ceiling Cable Mount caters for retail and commercial application settings where a subtle mounting solution is required or where mounting to walls is not an option. Suspended on high tensile steel wire, the mount creates a secure and stable foundation, which facilitates flexible positioning for flat panel displays up to 65”, with landscape or portrait versions available to accommodate up to a maximum weight of 29.5kg. It’s adaptable to a wide range of environments but is especially suited to retail to complement merchandise in store displays. Available: Now Where can I buy?: For reseller details contact email@example.com or visit www.peerless-av.com Price: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Available: Now Where can I buy? For reseller details visit http://www.digitalprojection.com/emea/contact/ Price: POA
Wings Engine Raw - 8K and 4K Server Systems Product type: media server Target market: AV applications requiring full resolution content Whatâ€™s new? The Wings Engine RAW media server is capable of playing out four simultaneous streams of uncompressed 4K (4:4:4) content at 60Hz, making it suited for use in a variety of applications in different branches of the AV industry. Absen
A27 Series Product type: LED screen Target market: advertising, retail, corporate, fixed installation environments Whatâ€™s new? The new Absen A27 Series features a standard 27.5-inches diagonal. The A27 series from Absen is ideal for those looking at replacing their aging LCD installations. Details: The new A27 comprises three models: the A2719, the A2715 and the A2714, with a respective pixel pitch of 1.906mm, 1.58mm and 1.46mm, each boasting a 3840Hz refresh rate and high brightness of up to 1,000 nits. Designed to be as standardised, simple to use and easy to set up as an LCD screen, the A27 series boasts dot-to-dot FHD for true 16:9 4K resolution, HDMI interface/APP control, and ADA-compliant, VESA compatibility for simple and fast front installation into any space. Available in three versions, the A27 Series features black matte SMD LEDs for crisp contrast complementing a vivid and uniform display quality that is rich in colour detail, thanks to a 110 per cent colour gamut. The A27 series can be linked together and maintained in uniform flatness, using in-built levelling latches, in any configuration
Details: RAW servers can display video content using a full 12-bit colour depth, delivering more color information than the current server standard. The render engine allows for high frame rate footage of up to 120Hz making it possible to create seamless 8K soft-edge blending panoramas. Native image sequences like TGA, DPX, or TIFF can be used without any need for converting them into an intermediate codec format. RAW servers can be equipped with two, four, or eight-channel 3G-SDI input cards that support formats from SD (PAL, NTSC) to 3G-SDI (1080p) per channel. The individual channels can be combined for capturing 4K at up to 60Hz either using the Square Division or the 2-Sample Interleave method. The new input card options also make it easier to integrate RAW media servers into existing 4K broadcast workflows. Available: Now Where can I buy?: www.AVStumpfl.com Price: POA
Available: Now Where can I buy? For reseller details visit https://www.absen-europe.com/partners/ Price: POA
Built-In DSM Product type: Digital signage hardware Target market (s): OEM commercial
Quattrocanali series Product type: Amplifier Target market: Bars, restaurants, retail, fitness centres, etc. What’s new? Powersoft’s new four-channel, switch mode amplifier platform, Quattrocanali, offers the traditional trademark sound quality and reliability of all the company’s products in just a one rack unit (1RU) package. With output power ranging from 300W to 1200W per channel, special features of this Class D amplifier include in-depth control and monitoring capabilities, while the patented SRM (Smart Rails Management) and PFC (Power Factor Correction) technology ensure maximum system efficiency. Details: Set out to address the requirements of small and medium applications, Quattrocanali has quickly found its way into bars, restaurants, retail outlets and fitness centres globally. Quattrocanali is available in both DSP and non-DSP versions, both fully remote controllable via standard GPI/O connections, Powersoft’s proprietary Armonìa software, dedicated web app, or third party application. The operator may also set up limited control functions with Armonìa enabling guest users to access only basic functions such as volume and zoning. The amplifiers can also be set up via the Quattrocanali off line, enabling the audio engineer to work on presets from the comfort of his office.
What’s new? Affordable, feature-rich, easy-tointegrate digital signage player on a single board. Details: BrightSign is making it easy for their solid-state digital signage media players to be integrated in OEM commercial products through its BrightSign Built-In digital signage module (DSM). Residing on a single board that measures just 70mm x 100mm, it boasts a hardware-accelerated HTML5 rendering engine and Full HD (1080p60) video. Intended for integration in OEM commercial displays and kiosks, the Built-In DSM makes it easier for manufacturers to embed digital signage technology directly into their displays and sell them signage-ready, straight out of the box. Ideal for settings with limited player placement options. Benefits of the module include Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF digital audio, USB 2.0, Serial connectivity and IR control for expanded interactive options. GPIO and UDP are also available to enable engaging, interactive control capabilities alongside a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module for wireless connectivity and BrightBeacon support. Available: Now Where can I buy? +44 1223 298500 or sales@ brightsign.biz Price: Available on request
Available: Now Where can I buy? For reseller details visit http://www.powersoft-audio.com/en/contacts/ worldwide-distributors Price: POA
SOLO Product type: Supercardioid dynamic microphone Target market (s): live vocalists, live musicians, front-of-house engineers, venues, recording studios, home studio set-ups, guitarists, drummers, touring companies, hire companies, rehearsal studios What’s new? The SOLO picks up where the STC-80 left off with a redesigned, sleek body and a tighter supercardioid pattern. Audio Technica
ATCS-60 Product type: Infrared conference system Target market: Installed conference environments What’s new? Audio-Technica’s ATCS-60 infrared conference system is designed, to deliver increased levels of signal security when compared with UHF systems. With an infrared conference system the wireless signal will not leave the room – so it is impossible to capture from another building. Compared to a UHF system, which behaves in the same way as a radio station transmitting over a broad area, the infrared system excels at protecting information, since no leakage is possible.
Details: The SOLO is a supercardioid dynamic microphone for live vocals but also ideal for guitar amps, snare and kick drum on stage and in the studio. Designed in the UK, the mic is crafted from aluminium with a black military-grade anodised finish and engraved logo and name on the front. The SOLO feels solid but not weighty in the hand and is supplied with its own mic clip and a handy zip-up pouch to store and transport it safely. The SOLO is an environmentally conscious microphone too, as the packaging, foam and printed sleeve are all made within 30 miles of Sontronics’ Dorset HQ and all are 100 per cent recyclable. Available: Now Where can I buy? UK Sontronics stockists (including Gear4Music, Absolute Music, Andertons, Dawsons, GuitarGuitar & Red Dog Music), worldwide Sontronics distributors Price: £99 including VAT
Details: Versatility and ease of use is also built-in to an ATCS-60 system, thanks to its Conference Manager software and ATCS-V60 modular, retro-fittable voting system. Up to 150 delegates can be controlled by the integrated DSP audio processor, with a single control unit managing the conference. Four simultaneous interpretation channels are available for multi-lingual situations and the ATCS-60’s diverse connectivity allows for easy integration with various other systems. Available: Now Where can I buy? For reseller details visit https://eu.audio-technica.com/buy Price: Contact reseller
VIDEO CONFERENCING MADE SIMPLE WITH MERCURY Crestron Mercury is an all-in-one tabletop device that transforms meeting rooms into highly efficient collaboration spaces. Combining all the ‘must-have’ conferencing features, Crestron Mercury is secure, easy to deploy and easy to manage
ideo conferencing was once seen as a bit of a luxury. There was a designated room with highly specialised hardware, software and infrastructure. It could also often be very expensive, confusing to use and difficult to scale or manage. Today, it’s called web collaboration, and everyone carries the codec, speaker, microphone, and display in their pocket, backpack, or briefcase. The problem is that everyone uses different software, which is not always collectively compatible. For example, if an organisation standardises on Cisco Spark or Zoom and then a client, vendor, or partner walks into the meeting room with Skype for Business on their laptop, it won’t work. Outside the room, you get email invitations to remote meetings on various platforms, whether it’s WebEx, Goto Meeting, Join Me, Amazon Chime, Slack or others. When we click the link to join the meeting, we find we have to download a file, execute the download and hope it will work. The Crestron Mercury room solution (pictured) is designed to resolve these video conferencing challenges faced by businesses today. All in one solution According to Crestron, by connecting your laptop, Crestron Mercury, will work with any web collaboration platform you’re already running on your device and ships with a USB room camera, plus all the cables you need. “You can turn any room into a professional video conference space,” the firm insisted to AVTE. It can also be setup from a browser based tool to run native Skype for Business or Zoom. If an organisation has standardised on Skype for Business or Zoom, they don’t need a laptop to make conference calls, only to share content. Mercury is also a fully open SIP conference phone that directly
‘You can turn any room into a professional video conferencing space’
connects to MITEL, Cisco, Avaya, OnSIP and other servers. It features built-in Bluetooth to “seamlessly” pair with mobile phones and AirMedia for wireless presentation. It directly connects to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and G Suite for room scheduling. Room availability and meeting details are displayed on the built-in 7-inch touch screen and on the room display. The built-in speaker and microphones are engineered for speech audio and designed for large rooms, such as boardrooms, but ‘well priced’ for high volume installations in tight-budget spaces such as huddle rooms. Available: Now. Two models are available to accommodate different applications and budgets Where can I buy? Crestron Approved Dealers Price: Starting from £1796.00
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SHAPING THE NEW AV/IT MODEL 9 takeaways from the Denver AV/IT Leadership Summit AV Technology’s editorial director (US), Margot Douaihy reports
EADERSHIP. How do you define it? 1) Emerging technologies: hype or reality? Does leadership mean setting a “good Mike Walker, research director and an author of example” for your team or community? Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, Is it about strength in the face of delivered the AV/IT Leadership Summit’s opening adversity? Maybe it involves keynote. Gartner, the world’s leading research and management of complex projects and team advisory company, helps business leaders across all members with diverse skill-sets? major functions in every industry and enterprise size For many AV users and technology managers, with the objective insights required to help them leadership, at its core, is about being proactive with make the right decisions. systems integration and not simply reactive. This Mike Walker’s keynote distilled analysis concept inspires the curriculum at NewBay Media’s conducted by the global research firm, and AV/IT AV/IT Leadership Summit series where technology Summit attendees were the first to see the results of stakeholders meet in real time to the new 2017 Hype Cycle for share best practices, invest in Emerging Technologies. professional development, and A few surprises appeared on this create action-plans. year’s Hype Cycle, and Walker, who “90 per cent of The AV/IT Leadership Summit, has 20 years industry experience, today’s jobs will now in its second year, consists of shared unique insights on emerging two days of spirited panel technologies as they relate to AV/IT not be here as a discussions, AV/IT Talks, topic systems. He predicted that the result of machine “digital twin” be a disrupter in dives, intimate discussion groups, and networking with peers. commercial organisations within the learning” Technology vendors provide next few years. As IoT and metrics attendees opportunities to test-drive become more integrated into AV new solutions, procure product operations, Walker also pointed to feedback, and plan roadmaps. the critical importance of managing Many tech managers and users sign up for beta big data. “Big data without big insights is a big testing of new product lines. problem,” he warned the audience. Our recent AV/IT Summit convened in Denver, Walker also underscored the growing relevance of 3-4 August 2017. We met to not only reflect on the artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), converged AV/IT industry but to help change and and virtual reality (VR). All possess real market shape the AV/IT industry. potential and should be considered when The conversations we had in Denver, the ideas we constructing your next-level AV infrastructure plans. sparked, the questions we asked, and the Machine learning (ML), in particular, will impact relationships we formed will influence new designs, technologists. As Walker explained: “90 per cent of new lifecycle plans, and new ways of thinking. today’s jobs will not be here as a result of ML. The Here are nine notable AV/IT Summit takeaways business model that got you here won’t necessarily from this year’s event. be the one that brings you into the future.”
“Big data without big insights is a big problem” Mike Walker, Gartner Research
> Speakers and guests at the AV/IT Summit, in Denver last month
2) AV as a service The AV as a Service (AVaaS) model is not new, but it is becoming more prevalent. Ready or not, some solutions providers are making the hardware to software to service shift. At the Denver AV/IT Summit, experts explored what this model could look like at your institution. In the As a Service panel, our experts weighed in on what the model might do to your short – and long-term planning, and refresh cycle? “In a properly run service delivery framework, everything is reactive, but it looks proactive,” said Paul Zielie CTS-D, I, manager of enterprise solutions at Harman Professional. “At WKU, we support 750-plus classrooms and all the big campus venues – anything AV on campus, we have to deal with,” said Justin Rexing, who is the audiovisual systems engineer at Western Kentucky University. “Proactivity is the magic of actually reacting before it’s caught,” added Mark Taylor, principal technology manager at Microsoft. 3) The new AV/IT model Structured as concise and intense topic-dives, in less than ten minutes each, the Summit AV/IT Talks addressed a broad range of issues face by AV users and tech managers today. In his AV/IT Talk, Rodrigo Ordóñez, CTS-D, principal at K2 Audio,
provided a framework for how to leverage converged networks and structured cable infrastructure to increase the flexibility and scalability of the AV application. Ordóñez explained how an IT-based approach to AV provides the architectural team, facilities personnel and staff to have buildings that are flexible and where spaces can be reassigned. In the new AV/IT model, adding a new AV source or destination is simply a matter of using an existing connection point. “With the AV/IT model, the capabilities of the system is only limited by what the network can do,” Ordóñez said. 4) Designing for big data: why can’t this be more like ALEXA? The complexities of systems have become impossible to understand without the use of data acquisition and predictive analysis. Further, the analysis is infinitely more useful to humans when it is visualized. Much of research is physically done in disparate locations and requires conferencing, collaboration, and connectivity to teams and affiliates. Craig Park, FSMPS, ASSOC, AIA, principal consultant at The Sextant Group, used his AV/IT Talk to explore trends in new and emerging technologies and facilities design related to data analytic visualisation, connectivity, and collaboration in inter-disciplinary research facilities.
AVT STATESIDE His examples illustrated approaches to developing common languages and platforms so organisations can more seamlessly input and share data, and to visualise it in a common, neutral space. Fundamentals of technology planning, budgeting, and infrastructure design were also discussed. “The consumer user experience is driving the corporate and education user experience,” Park said. “The next big question in technology: ‘why can’t this be more like ALEXA?’” 5) AV/IT security: a matter of urgency As AV systems are being migrated onto enterprise data networks, user organisations expect the AV system to maintain a security posture in alignment with their security goals. Harman’s Paul Zielie showed AV/IT Leadership Summit attendees how to determine and document AV security requirements relevant to organisational needs. In many cases these requirements may be more than a case of business best practices, but may be a matter of regulatory compliance. “Understand your vulnerabilities,” said Zielie. “It’s hard to show an ROI on security, but it’s a prerequisite for being connected to the network.” Security is also a key consideration during a traffic assessment. For example, if the forecast says the IT network can handle the additional AV traffic, one option is to consider partitioning the network using a virtual local area networks (VLAN). That architecture can be particularly valuable if visitors will be frequent users of multipurpose rooms because the VLAN means they can’t accidentally or intentionally access, say, the server with payroll information. 6) All hands on deck for next generation video solutions All hands, IPTV, digital signage, and performance recording were among the topics explored by Cody Kleven, vice president of partnerships at Haivision. Kleven shared ways that video streaming solutions can help solve both business and IT challenges for securely delivering live and on-demand video, to employees anywhere on any device, even in low-bandwith areas. Summit attendees learned how to improve video workflows while minimising the impact on your network with a flexible and interoperable video platform either on-premise, in the cloud, or with a hybrid solution. “The challenge is supporting all users, including those off network, and doing it securely,” Kleven said. “The goal is to have a unified experience, no matter where users are consuming their content.”
7) Creating an autonomous distance learning studio (cutting the anchor chain) Intuitive, easy-to-use AV and room control systems are expected these days. But some systems that enable a natural, interactive in-classroom and distance learning environments continue to be cumbersome and constraining. Oklahoma State University’s AV engineer, Rockford Todd, and his team at the University, has a surprise for professors returning this fall. A new autonomous distance learning studio will allow instructors to walk freely around the room and not be tied to a console. They won’t even need to “learn” how to use the new system, and will be able focus on teaching and interacting with in-class and distance students. In this AV/IT Talk, Rockford diagrammed the pain points that led to the search for a better system, the decision process, and the system implementation. Todd and his academic tech team didn’t want to “carry the anchor,” he said, so “we cut the chain. We’re moving forward with active learning spaces.” 8) The rise of content conferencing Video teleconferencing alone no longer supports the collaboration requirements of the modern workplace. Knowledge workers look to digital content to facilitate ideation, emphasize important points, and drive consensus. Christopher Jaynes, founder and CTO of Mersive Technologies, explored how thousands of organizations are using wireless content conferencing platforms to augment their traditional UC infrastructure to put meeting content on equal footing with video and voice and drive new levels of collaboration. “The era of cable is dead, and that’s a good thing,” Jaynes declared. 9) How Microsoft Corporation’s IT approaches enterprise AV Microsoft is known for its applications used by nearly everyone. But ever wonder how this behemoth corporation plans for AV in its meeting spaces, conference rooms, and event spaces? Mark Taylor, principal technology manager at Microsoft Corporation, shared how the IT department plans for 3,500-plus conference rooms and 112 event spaces in Puget Sound, and approximately 10,000 conference spaces worldwide. “We wanted to maximize TCO and ROI while minimizing failures, so we charted out our lifecycle plan.” More information Gartner Research’s 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies: Vist: goo.gl/4Q18uf
SEEING, HEARING, REMEMBERING 9/11 Memorial Museum’s AV installations educate and commemorate By Matt Pruznick
hen people visit a museum of a historical event – a Civil War battle, for example – they expect to be transported to that era by means of artifacts and period-costumed staff. But what about an event so close to the present, one that nearly every adult watched unfold live on television? The answer, of course, is absorbing audiovisual elements, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum has them in spades. “Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing that morning, and I think the audiovisual aspect of the museum really brings you back to that moment in time,” said Fernando Mora, the museum’s manager of audiovisual and multimedia technology. “You walk through those doors of the historical exhibition, you hear the 9-1-1 calls from the first responders, and you get a real sense of the initial confusion and chaos of the moment followed by the panic after the second plane hits the South Tower, then the subsequent collapse of the towers. I believe audiovisual experience plays a large part in this effort without overshadowing the physical artifacts. I think the exhibit designers struck the perfect tone in this regard which is no easy task.” Telling the story Located largely beneath the accompanying 9/11 Memorial in the foundations of the original World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan, the museum features some 150,000 square feet of exhibition space and more than 90 AV exhibits that add to its educational, experiential, and memorial
functions. Designed by integration firm Electrosonic and opened in May of 2014, the AV operations have been fully under the care of the museum’s own team, led by Fernando. Since then, the AV team – which consists of Fernando as manager/engineer, AV engineer Jose Vazquez and two technicians, Chris Fraley and Marc Thompson – are in charge of all day-to-day operations and internal upgrades. “The vast majority of the AV projects are designed, engineered, and installed in house,” Fernando said. “We very rarely go out to integrators for these projects. I have an integration background, and so does our engineer Vazquez.”
Photo© Jin-Sup Lee
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> One of the two Memorial reflecting pools at the World Trade Centre site
This may seem like a tall task – even more so, considering that much of the AV equipment is due for a refresh, owing to an unforeseen setback that delayed the museum’s opening. Projectors are a big part of the upgrade process, according to Fernando. Of the museum’s 64 projectors, 24 have been replaced with Christie G Series laser-based models; of the others, 27 lampbased Digital Projection models will be exchanged with laser units in 2018 saving us approximately $400,000 in lamp costs over the life of the projector. This is an important consideration, given the museum’s extensive hours of operation and inaccessibility of some of the units: in the cavernous
Foundation Hall, for instance, three lamp-based projectors are mounted within the 60-foot-high ceiling, and lamp changes and maintenance necessitate bringing in a very large scissor lift. Getting signals to all the exhibits around the sprawling facility isn’t easy either, and is another area ripe for enhancement in the coming years. On the audio side, Peavey MediaMatrix NION DSPs in the three control rooms use CobraNet for audio distribution; Fernando said that the museum is in the midst of gradually moving this process to Dante. On the video side, Adtec SignEdje Watchout and 7th Sense players send signals via Extron transmitters and receivers via DVI-D.
“This is still a traditional AV system, but it has a lot of IT components to it,” Fernando explained. Every device here has an IP address; I can get to anything remotely. Our network has five VLANs, but they’re mostly for control, monitoring and intersystem data communication. We’re putting small amounts of video on it, little by little, as we ramp up. The idea is to completely go AV over IP over the next three years.” One way that Fernando is selling the idea to upgrade to AV over IP to the museum’s budget decision makers is the “disaster recovery element,” as he calls it: the freedom from relying on so many physical devices that could be damaged in a future flooding event. “If one control room gets flooded, this entire wing of the museum is down, and we have to find a way to get system operational again quickly,” he said. “But if we were to go AV over IP, we are less reliant on where the sources originate from. We can take the show, bring it over another control room, and drive the content from there.” However, Fernando acknowledges this transition can’t be rushed: with as many as 90 individual exhibits and 120 video streams (accounting for blended exhibits) playing at once, the move to full IP requires patience. “Those are things you have to scale up for,” he said. “You have to buy the hardware, give your IT managers a chance to balance the load, and be able to handle it, or else all we’re doing is going from a stable system to an unstable system, and that’s not going to help.” While audio and video presentations play a powerful part in telling the story of the events of 9/11, they are equally moving in aiding in the memorial aspect of the space. A central feature of the museum is the memorial exhibition. Lining four walls within the footprint of the original foundation of the World Trade Center South Tower are portraits of almost all of the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the 2001 and 1993 attacks. Around that space are several ELO 3243L interactive touch display tables, where visitors can look up more information on each victim. Visitors can then choose to send a person’s profile into an interior room or what the museum calls “Inner Chamber” where their name and information are projected onto a screen and a recording of their name is played. There is also a wing featuring recording booths, where visitors can record testimonial videos about loved ones or their memories of the event. In the atrium, there is an auditorium that, while normally functioning as a theater that screens films every 30 minutes over the course of the day, can
“Everyone remembers where they were that morning. The audio visual aspect of the museum really brings you back to that moment” also serve as a lecture hall and event space with sophisticated broadcasting abilities. Using a NewTek 460 video production switcher, the auditorium’s control room can pull from the space’s Sennheiser SKM5200-II wireless mics and three Sony BRC-H700 PTZ cameras, and broadcast out a streaming feed of the occasional large event, such as when Yankees’ erstwhile manager Joe Torre spoke about the importance of baseball in restoring normalcy to the city after the attack. Maintaining the message Keeping a facility of this scale running smoothly would be a challenge for any size team; with just four technicians, the museum’s AV team certainly has its hands full. With a weekly operating schedule of nearly 80 hours and more than 11,000 visitors streaming through its exhibits on an average day, a lot of things can go wrong. “Every day there are some exhibits that are problematic,” Fernando said. “Ninety-five percent of our exhibits, if they’re having a particular technical issue, they happen in the morning: as PCs boot up, players start, or projectors turn on after being off overnight.” Sometimes, a particular piece of equipment will require some clever troubleshooting. One of the touch-tables in the memorial exhibition area would have issues turning on, and Fernando’s team
Photo© Jin-Sup Lee
eventually figured out it was the result of a problem with the hot-plug detection on those screens, so they changed the entire design of it. Several projectors in a film screening room would blow their lamps in the middle of the day; they discovered the cause was outdated firmware. The Macs capturing a visitor’s testimonial in the recording booths would frequently crash, so the team wrote a script that delayed the launch of the recording software one minute after booting up, exponentially reducing the incidence of failure. Fernando says the key to staying on top of maintenance for over 1000 devices is assiduous documentation. Using a database management system called Atlassian Jira, he keeps detailed reports on every issue in each exhibit. “[In the database,] the problems have a line of issues month by month, and it will show you right when we made a change, and how that affected the fault reporting,” he said. Meticulous reporting also prevents small problems from persisting. “If there’s an audio wand that’s not working, one of the technicians fixes it I wouldn’t typically know about it,” Fernando said. “But because I keep track of it in JIRA, I can tell how many times that one wand has failed, that allows me to provide resources to it, monetarily, or equipment wise, that helps resolve problems.” All of these preventative and reactive measures
have so far kept malfunctions mostly invisible to the public, allowing the audiovisual elements to meld with and enhance the transformative gravity of the space. Fernando said he’s read many reviews of the museum on TripAdvisor extolling AV’s role in enriching the experience. “I feel that in many ways we are the custodians of this incredible content; it’s a very important part of the museum, because of the time in which it happened,” he said. “We were in an audiovisual age at the time, and there were many cameras in the hands of the public, as opposed to something that happened during World War II where many events went undocumented, for example.” But ultimately, Fernando believes that AV – no matter how moving – is merely an instrument for conveying the solemnity of the space, and for retelling the events of a day that changed America forever. “I think that when people come here, they leave with a completely different perspective on what that day was,” he said. “For us it’s not the audiovisual; it’s what’s being displayed here, and our job is to make sure the story is told clearly, that it looks good, sounds good, and we’ll let the story tell itself. The story is powerful enough; it’s not something that we need to add anything to.” Matt Pruznick is senior editor for Residential Systems and Systems Contractor News. Follow him on Twitter @Pruznick.
> Above: Fernando Mora, AV and multimedia manager at the National September 11 Memorial Museum
FOR ALL YOUR AV NEEDS Tucked away down a small road just off Regent Street, Central London is Jacobs Massey (JM). Founded 15 years ago, the company has become an unassuming but vital component for UK businesses in achieving their AV requirements – Editor Michael Garwood finds out more
M is not a distributor, nor an integrator or reseller – yet every day, hundreds of companies in the UK depend on its services to ensure their AV requirements are met. “We don’t bid for outsourced contracts, we are not competing with integrators and we don’t provide any AV or technical equipment,’ explained JM co-founder and MD, Graeme Massey during our visit to its offices. So what does it do? The premise of the business is relatively straightforward – at least on the outside. On the one hand, JM is helping AV professionals to find work – either on a permanent or freelance basis. On the other, it’s helping businesses to quickly find the best people to carry out their AV needs. This could be for a full-time position or on an ad hock basis such as an installation or event. “We’re a good middleman for end users and those looking for work,” said Graeme. “Some of our clients have an internal team of AV technicians and managers, but they will work with JM as an extension of their team on a freelance or on an ad-hock basis. We’re here when they need us.” Over the past 15 years, JM has established “hundreds and hundreds” of relationships (partnerships) with qualified and carefully vetted AV professionals working in the UK. The process, he explained, begins with a CV submission, followed by a formal interview to discuss their qualifications, skillsets and whether they wish to be considered for full time or freelance work. Two years of work references, plus proof of their right to work in the UK are also required.
“Every candidate, must physically come to our office first and meet us,” Graeme explained. “There is no virtual registration here. We adopt best due diligence to ensure the individual is correctly registered, compliant and able to do what they say.” No job too big or small Placing people into work is the second string to JM’s bow – currently accounting for 80 per cent of its business. With a data pool of AV professionals, JM works closely with registered companies to help facilitate their AV needs by matching them to an appropriate candidate. All companies are visited first by a JM team member to gain a clear picture of the organisation. There is no discrimination when it comes to size either, be it a one-man-band or a multinational. “We will provide a technician to support an hour-long lecture if that’s what’s required,” said Graeme. “On the other end of the scale, we’ll run operations that require teams of people across 52 weeks of the year.” Graeme explained that growth of the business has been “incredible” and has a long, healthy line-up of customers on its books, each regularly seeking freelancers to carry out their AV work. Clients shown to AVTE, but can’t be named, included leading councils, museums/galleries, banks, retailers and leading social media firms. JM is currently averaging between 130-150 freelance jobs every week – with around 90 per cent in the London area, although it has clients all over the UK and in some parts of Europe.
“The AV technician of tomorrow will be an AV/IT hybrid”
Booking in The booking process for posting and accepting a job has been “perfected” over “many years” to keep things “simple” for all parties. Graeme explained that, once registered, clients can post a job directly on its JM platform, which can be white labelled. The client will stipulate the jobs details and can even request specific people to carry out the work. JM will then facilitate this request with the candidate and client, generating a quote. Once agreed, the booking is confirmed. “Our intention is for our clients to build a pool of site familiar trained professionals, who they can call upon 24/7 and 365 days a year. “We’re working with the freelancers in accordance with their proven experience and our intention is to offer them access to our established portfolio of clients.” He added: “If you’re an AV professional and you’re looking for work, talk to our operations team, send in your CV and arrange a time to come and meet us. Likewise, if you’re an end user and looking for the right people to fulfil your AV needs, please get in touch.” Future proof your career Graeme is also happy to provide advice to AV professionals. One of his key messages right now is,
that it’s “never too late” to learn new skills. The reason for this, he explained, is due to seeing an increasing number of employers pursuing IT and AV hybrid skilled staff. JM currently has 829 permanent vacancies listed on its website, but insists “there are more jobs in the AV sector than we can physically fill,” and the extra demands, are making it increasingly difficult for traditional AV technicians to find work. “Demands are now higher from employers,” said Graeme. “The vacancies registered with us 12 months ago, look very different to what we see today. The AV technician of tomorrow will very much be a hybrid and not just someone that understands AV applications or has a basic knowledge of networking. They will have a strong background in all elements of AV tech that sits on the network, be that broadcasting, video, sound or control technology. The IT demands will only continue to grow and grow.” Graeme is therefore encouraging people, experienced or just starting off, to boost their qualifications, highlighting CCNA and CTS amongst the most desirable. “Any formal qualification you can ascertain will be of benefit to your career. I’d never suggest those qualifications supersede experience, but once you’ve secured that qualification, no one is ever taking that away from you. It will help to open doors.”
> Above: Jacobs Massey co-founder and MD, Graeme Massey
AV ON CAMPUS
A BEST IN CLASS LESSON IN AV AVTE Editor Michael Garwood takes a tour of the University of Hertfordshire
“The world of AV is always moving forward and we feel we very much have our finger on the pulse”
or those who noticed the wrinkles around my eyes on page three, it will come as little surprise that it’s been more than a few years since I last meandered through the grounds of a university campus. Back in my day (words I say more and more these days), the technology used for audio and visual purposes were little more complex than an overhead projector that required felt tip pens and a fat, wooden looking TV on wheels. Things have of course advanced significantly over the proceeding years, with AV technology now playing a crucial role for students both in and outside of learning environments – even deciding which University students wish to attend. Just a short train ride from Central London, is The University of Hertfordshire. With annual investments in AV regularly touching six-figures, the university’s commitment to AV and its 25,000plus students, has afforded it an enviable reputation in academia circles. Adam Harvey is the solution architect for AV and digital media at the university, a role he has held for the past three years, whilst his tenure at the
university dates back to 1994. He’s responsible for all AV decisions made within the boundaries of the every changing 200-hectare site and always seeking out the next big thing. “The world of AV is always moving forward and we feel we very much have our finger on the pulse when it comes to providing students and teachers alike with what they need,” said Adam. “Everything we do is motivated and designed to make the lives of our students and academic staff better. AV is prolific wherever you go.” Best in class With the university investing more than £200 million in recent years upgrading its facilities, including a £50 million “state of the art” Science Building benefiting from AV over IP (which we’ll discuss more of shortly) the University has developed a best in class reputation. With empty lecture theatres and students and tutors away on their summer holidays, Adam found time in his diary to give AVTE the grand (and at times heart stopping) AV tour of the University of Hertfordshire campus.
AV ON CAMPUS
The Learning Zone One of the key goals for the university is to provide students with a wide range of places for them to work, rather than limit it to specific dedicated rooms, such as the student residence’s or the Learning Resources Centres. “Students want to sit down and work wherever they want, so it’s important we provide them with different environments to do so,” Adam explained as we walked from the reception area to one of several dedicated ‘Learning Zones’, dotted across the two sites. The Zone is filled with sofas, booths chairs, desks and display monitors. Each desk is fitted with power sockets, HDMI and VGA cables, allowing students to “effortlessly” connect their laptops and occasionally a games console. With students from over 100 different countries, universal compatibility is crucial, so each table is fitted with a Crestron Digital Media Transmitter (hidden under the table) and a Crestron Universal Scaler, connected to the back of the display. “In an environment like a University, with students brining all different types of technology from all over the world, we need to make sure they are compatible. It’s fool proof.” Kit: Crestron TT-111, Crestron DM-TX-401, Crestron RMC Scaler, Central Crestron RMC3 processor for area. Shielded CAT6a for AV cabling
> The Learning Zone
Internal Communications Walking from reception and through the Learning Zone, we passed several of the 79 digital signs installed and displayed throughout the two campuses. The university’s marketing department manages all content featured on the signs, the first of which were put up over six years ago. They’re typically used for self-promotion, whilst an RSS feed to the BBC news website is also present. Content can be universally displayed across the two campuses or customised for specific locations, such as the gym and dining areas. All screens are touch enabled, although this is not currently used. Plans to launch an interactive version are in the pipeline, but no solid launch date.
> Internal Communications
Kit: NEC V463-TM is standard display. The Signage Platform is the now end of life – TV Tools. The University is investigating in an upgrade Lecture Theatre 1 The next stop was a visit to the first of three very different lecture theatres. This room, the smallest of the three, houses up to 20 students, all of whom face a 70-inch flat-panel-display at the front. To the side of the screen, is a “standard university” Lectern (teaching table) designed by Top-Tec. The lectern holds a list of various electrical equipment to help a tutor manage their lesson/lecture. These include a touchscreen monitor running off a Windows 10 Desktop installed PC, a keyboard, visualiser, for live demonstrations, a microphone and hub for HDMI, VGA and USB connectivity. An Apple TV box is also hidden inside the table, to allow for Apple AirPlay Mirroring along with a Miracast device. Everything is controlled using a Crestron Touch Panel Control, which is affixed to the table. Adam explained the set up is consistent across the University to avoid any confusion for teachers. “We have taken the fear out of technology. Wherever they go, whether it’s a room like this for 20 people or a large 350 seated venue, they don’t have to worry about the technology. It will always look and feel the same.” 59
AV ON CAMPUS
Kit: Top-Tec Explorer, Crestron TSW-760, Crestron DMPS3-4K-200-C, NEC E705-SST, Epson ELP-DC21, liyama T2252MTS-B5, Extron DMP64, Crestron AMP-2100, Apart CM Series Speakers, Apple TV, Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor Lecture theatres 2-3 The second and third lecture theatres visited were until recently identical in terms of size, style and layout – but now couldn’t be more different. This was part of an experimental process two years ago to explore new teaching and learning environments. The traditional format features sloped flooring, six rows of desks and a projector mounted to the ceiling. The new concept sees chairs replaced with sofas and a radical new L-shaped layout. Instead of a projector, two 84-inch displays have been added, each pointing in a different direction. With the desks removed, students are encouraged to take notes on their own devices and save on their UH Microsoft 365 account. Kit: 4 x Top-Tec Synergy Desks, 4 x NEC V463-TM, 2 x NEC E705-SST, 4 x Crestron TT-111, 16 x Crestron DM-TX-401, 9 x Crestron RMC Scaler, Crestron 16x16 DM Matrix, 8 x Intel NUC PC’s, Extron DMP124, 2 x 84” Clevertouch Plus
> Lecture Theatre 2
The Oval This Oval is standalone building providing a destination for students to work, socialise or go to the gym. A standout AV feature includes a ceiling based projector and a large display – which can be covered by a projector screen. This, explained Adam, is frequently used by students to watch movies and for gaming competitions. Speakers and cabling are all provided as part of the installation. “It’s all about providing something for people to use. They just need to bring in their laptop or console and plug it in. It’s very simple.” Kit: NEC P-Series Displays, SY Control Panels
> The Science Building
The Science Building The final stop of the tour was a visit to the £50 million Science Building, which was completed and officially opened by his Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh in November of last year. The impressive building was designed to bring together all of the University’s science facilities in one place and create a “state-of-the-art” teaching and laboratory space for students and staff. Unlike the rest of the university, all AV technology in the Science Building runs over an IP network – which was developed by the university alongside Reflex, WyreStrom and POLAR Audio. In practice, AV over IP enables the ability to send any video or audio source to any display across the entire building. For example, a laptop on the network could be routed to any of the 15 projectors or 50 plus displays, regardless of which room they’re in. Likewise, an experiment being conducted could just as easily be broadcast using a visualizer or even a microscope. “It doesn’t make any difference where they are located in the building, it’s just one massive AV matrix. It’s not relying on any physical point to point connections. It’s all over the network. “From a user point of view, they [tutors] don’t see a difference. And that’s often key with technology because most people don’t care how something works as long as it does. It’s been a massive learning curve for us.” www.avtechnologyeurope.com
AV ON CAMPUS
“It’s environments like this, which helps make our students feel like they’re getting true value for money”
> Lecture Theatre 3
IT Lab The first of three rooms visited in the Science Building was a flat level, ground floor IT lab (“desktop suite”) consisting of more than 40 desks (four batches of 10), each with a PC. Throughout the room were strategically placed display screens, whilst hanging from the ceiling were three projectors – each pointing in a different direction. This, explained Adam, is to ensure students always have the best possible view of what’s being shown by the tutor (video or visualiser). Clinical Simulation Centre (CSC) Remember the ‘and at sometimes heart stopping’ comment earlier? Well this is where that beat skipped. As we pushed through the next set of doors, we entered a dark room - which, for a second, gave me sight of what appeared to be a hospital bed and the outline of someone badly in need of a haircut. “Don’t be freaked out,” Adam requested as the lights flickered into life. But for my better judgment, I was on a hospital ward. It even smelt like a hospital. Adam explained the CSC is designed to provide a realistic clinical environment, where trainee healthcare professionals can practice the necessary skills under expert supervision and become familiar with different pieces of medical and monitoring equipment. The various bed-ridden mannequins, offer numerous real life scenarios for students to handle. September 2017
“It’s used for training,” Adam explained. “Before they get launched into real life, they can practise with a mannequin. The technicians have scenarios on their iPads and can even do a manual override, such as stopping the heart.” Each room is kitted out to allow students to be monitored on how they react and what they choose to do during various tests and scenarios. The university uses a Scotia Medical Observation and Training System (SMOTS) – which includes a camera, microphone and speakers, so events can be recorded and filed for instant playback and review, whilst also allowing for two-way communication between participants and observers. Kit: SMOTS, NEC 24” Displays for Clock Displays
Pharmacy Passing through our final set of doors, we were immediately transported to a lifelike pharmacy/chemist. The set up and purpose of the room mirrored that to the previous – albeit with no scary mannequins this time. Again, everything in the room seemed impressively real (the boxes on the shelves were empty though). Standing by the counter, Adam concluded the tour by saying: “It’s environments like this, which help make our students feel like they are getting true value for their money. That’s our goal. We want to provide them with everything they need to help them with their course, to go on and get their degree and go on to succeed. “Having world class facilities like this is what helps to attract students.”
> Clinical Simulation Centre (CSC)
WOMEN IN AV
A WAVE OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN WORKING IN AV Set-up to promote, support and increase the number of women working in the AV industry, the ‘Women in AV’ group is going from “strength to strength” For the past few years, WAVE has been active in the UK and under the leadership of Abigail Brown, the group, both in terms of awareness and in its achievements, continue to grow. How did you become involved with WAVE? My introduction to the group was through my previous employer. That’s when I started attending WAVE events. A few years later, in 2014, the then leader of the group relocated to Italy, so I was approached to take over and took the reigns (for the South) in the September. Why did they choose you? I was a very regular face at the events and was (am) very committed and passionate about what the group is about.
> Supporting women working in the AV industry – Abigail Brown and AV User Group director, Kevin Mcloughlin
t’s no secret there’s a clear disparity between the number of men working in the technology space, compared to that of women. Some put the number as little as 17 per cent in the UK, one of the lowest of any sector. The future looks somewhat bleak too. Recent research from PWC showed women occupy just five per cent of leadership positions in the technology sector, whilst a recent survey of 2,000 female A-Level and University students, showed three per cent would pick a career in technology as their first choice Whilst there are no figures specific to AV, the imbalance is one that’s largely acknowledged. Helping to readdress the gender gap, is the group ‘Women in AV’, or WAVE for short. The group, born in the US, was formed to ‘help promote the growth and performance of women, by empowering them to feel recognized, respected, productive and important to the AV industry’.
How would you describe its purpose? The reasons for forming the group were essentially to educate, support, encourage and inspire women in the AV industry. We do this through collaboration, research, mentoring and networking opportunities throughout the year. These are either combined with other technology events, or our own. It’s a great opportunity to network. How big is the gender gap in ? We don’t have specific numbers, but it’s hard to dispute. There has been a lot of negative news in the press lately around the subject of women and pay – but to be clear, that’s not what we’re about. We’re more about the number of women working in the industry, which is hugely weighted in favour of men. There is nothing resentful about our tone. Is this improving? Again, I don’t have specific figures but from our membership numbers and the volume of people coming to our events, there is definitely a rise in
WOMEN IN AV > WAVE members at a Sennhesier sponsored event, 2016
WOMEN IN AV STRIVE TO: 1 Promote collaboration, sharing of ideas, and brainstorming about all things AV. 2 Provide a compassionate environment where treading I new areas for the first time is appreciated and encouraged.
new faces. That can only be a positive. We like to think companies out there will always appoint the best person for the job, be that a man or a woman.
University of London, the Imperial War Museum and at KPMG. It really is a wide pool and we encourage those in the end user space to join up and become involved.
3 Support a balanced work/life principle where having success in one area never compromises the other.
How many members do you have? We have around 200 today. It’s growing really well and numbers on social media increase almost everyday. At the start, it wasn’t uncommon to have only 10 or 12 people attend our events. Last summer we held one and 24 people showed up, but our most recent event saw that number double.
4 Recognize the achievements, successes, and challenges of Women in the AV industry.
Is there a membership fee? No. WAVE is still young and continuing to evolve, so we do all we can to keep costs to a minimum. However, this may have to change as the group grows to ensure the quality isn’t put at risk.
6 Mentor and offer young women assistance to advance his or her education and experience.
Are you doing anything to help boost the number of women choosing a career in AV? We haven’t as yet gone down the route of talking to younger women about their career moves, but it is something we will look at in the future. At this stage, we are more about encouraging people within the industry to progress. How can we help you? How can we put you in front of the right people? How can we increase your relationships and how can we help “We encourage boost your skillset? The events we those in the end hold absolutely serve this purpose and provide huge benefits. user space to
What can people expect from attending WAVE events? We often have a theme. For examples, we’ve had meetings focused on social media training. So, in that instance, we had some people working in this space come in to provide some tips and advice. Other events might be in partnership with a sponsor who can use the event as way of making introductions. Obviously the women that come to the events are all at different levels and work in different industries, so we try and make them appealing for everyone where possible. Tell me more about your members. They are very widespread in terms of positions and where they work. We have people working at manufacturers, distributors, integrators and end-users. From an end user perspective, we have a number of AV managers, including people at the
How supportive has the industry been to WAVE? The industry has been fantastic. The quality of the events we have held over the past couple of years is due to the sponsorship, hospitality and generosity of the industry. When is your next event? It’s on October 19 at the new Lutron experience centre in London. There will be an interior design theme. We will also be looking to do something in December and are currently exploring a number of different options. How do people get in touch? The best ways are through social media or by getting in touch directly. The door is always open and we’d love to see more new faces come along. You can learn more about Women in AV through their website www.womeninav.com.
5 Research and educate women about opportunities for advancement within the audiovisual industry.
7 Sponsor social and business networking opportunities to establish relationships and partnerships. 8 Leverage our partnerships for advancing our individual businesses, women-owned business and other under-recognized organizations in the AV industry; 9 Establish a supportive forum for women to openly share thoughts and ideas on professional and personal topics. 10 Align with industry associations that drive the AV industry. 11 Pioneer sustainable business models to streamline daily requirements of commerce and advocate responsible, social and economically business practices.
> QBE’s newly fitted European HQ corporate reception area
INSURING QBE STAYS TOP OF THE PYRAMID QBE is one of the world’s leading insurance firms and wanted to provide its European HQ with an environment reflective of its success. Here’s how it did it TODAY’S AUDIOVISUAL solutions are changing the way insurance firms operate, from improved collaboration in fully equipped meeting rooms and flexible working to eye catching and informationrich displays upon entry to the firm. This is what QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s largest insurance companies employing more than 14,500 people in 37 countries, was looking for when it approached Pyramid AV. Project brief The project needed to be delivered with minimum disruption and as-close-to-zero downtime as possible. Split over two floors of its European Headquarters in The City of London, the project included a public facing suite of meeting spaces, reception, Town Hall/events area plus a large flexible dual divisible meeting room. The core requirement was to refurbish and integrate QBE’s existing London premises to create
a flexible working environment, as well as enhance the flexibility of the space as much as possible. Specified by an experienced AV consultant, this 37-week programme was a significant project delivered by specialist integrator Pyramid AV, ISG and CBRE alongside QBE’s dedicated team over a three-phase programme. As the project required many different technologies to be brought together, Pyramid AV worked with Midwich and Owl Visual Midwich and Owl Visual. The solution Overall during this complex install, there was a need to ensure interoperability of four different vendors’ technologies, which was a significant challenge over a limited timescale. QBE’s consultant had selected a video switching and control suite from US manufacturer AMX. At the heart of the system is an AMX centralised control system with a DGX 64 x 64 Matrix, as well www.avtechnologyeurope.com
EQUIPMENT SUPPLIED Q 5 Screen Samsung
Q K-array kt2 satellites
and ku26 subwoofers
Q Dgx 64 x 64 matrix Q Amx central control
Q Dgx matrix
Q Cisco vc systems Q NEC PA622u
as multiple AMX central control processors for standalone meeting rooms, linked with localised AMX touch panels and a Condeco room booking panel for every meeting space. Corporate reception (pictured left) The reception area is a focal point for the AV installation, with a stunning five screen video ‘Window on the World’ display powered by a tvONE video wall processor and fed by a Onelan 4K digital signage player designed to impress clients and partners alike. The Broker’s Lounge Connected to the reception area is The Brokers Lounge, a flexible space that required more discreet AV provision. The agreed solution is a ceiling based NEC PA622U Projector mounted on a Future Automation lift and complimented by a 3-meterwide, tab tensioned, ceiling recessed Da- Lite screen, complete with five full HD mobile relay screens. The audio solution combined K-array KT2 satellites and KU26 Subwoofers providing the full range of coverage split into distinct zones, which can be switched on or o in seven zone combinations, depending upon preference of layouts and meetings. Town Hall and meeting rooms Wrapped around the reception area, there are a number of client facing meeting rooms, the largest of which is a 14-person dual divisible meeting room with a unique ‘Skyfall’ acoustic walling system. This September 2017
room contains a combination of wired and wireless inputs selectable on the AMX touch screen in conjunction with two Samsung 75” HD screens, with touch screen overlay, and a Panasonic projection system. All together a very flexible space for meetings and or events. In addition, the main offices benefited from 45 newly created and designed meeting rooms of varying capacities, plus AV/VC equipped single office spaces – totalling 60 rooms. Multiple Cisco VC systems are deployed alongside wholesale AMX controls, centralised DGX matrix backbone as well as in room audio systems, using a combination of QSC amps and processing, interactive screen overlays for collaboration and a centralised room booking systems by Condeco. In partnership with Owl Visual, Midwich Technical highlighted potential integration issues and discontinued products and recommended alternatives. Due to the nature of the client, and the volume of customer facing areas being refitted, out of hours work was essential. Midwich and Owl Visual was responsible for product supply. The result The final result is a more productive London office, with increased video conferencing usage, large projection systems and centralised room booking system. All this can be rolled out to other sites across the globe, so that employees have the same experience whether in London or Sydney.
Q Future automation
Q Da-lite screen Q 5X full hd mobile
Q Samsung 75” hd
Q Condeco room
Q Qsc based digital
Q Custom k-array
Q Video one processor Q Tvone coriomaster Q Onelan digital
Q Qsc amps Q exterity iptv Q Wepresent byod
TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS: www.thepyramidgroup.co.uk www.midwich.com www.owlvisual.co.uk
60 SECONDS WITH: Robin van Meeuwen president and CEO at Crestron EMEA
Hi Robin. When did you first become involved with Crestron? A long, long time ago! It was some 27 years ago when I first got introduced to Crestron, through my father who brought home these interesting touchpanels and control systems from the USA. Seven years later I joined the company. How has the company evolved since this time? When I joined 20 years ago, we were with some 50 people in the US and four people in Europe working from a home office. Today we are with more than 4,000 people globally, with 376 people and 18 offices now in EMEA.
of revenue. This most significant product still remains extremely popular. Why is that? When it was launched it bridged the analog world to the digital world. It was so unique and no one in the industry had what we had. You could combine analog devices with digital, and we managed to solve tricky HDMI issues. It was like magic and Digital Media is still key to our business.
“When i joined 20
What advice would you give to businesses investing in AV? Make sure you choose a complete end to end solution, rather than one made of different boxes plugged in. Avoid this ‘mix and match solution’. On paper it might save money, but in reality it compromises user friendliness and crucially, reliability.
More specifically, how has years ago, we were your portfolio evolved? 50 people. Today Evolving from the touchpanel and control system business, we we are more than gradually started offering the 4,000 globally” complete end-to-end solution. It was borne out of the fact that we Outside of work, how do you needed to guarantee the end user a like to spend your time? fully functional reliable system. Because I travel a lot, I love The front end was our technology, spending time with my family. I but often the backbone wasn’t. When the system do a lot of exercise, go to the gym, run, and didn’t work correctly, our engineers would be called occasionally play golf. I love to cook, and am happy out to fix other manufacturers problems because we take on this duty at the weekends when I’m not had our name on the system. The vision was always travelling and have more time. to broaden our product portfolio and offer the complete end-to-end solution. Finally, tell us something about yourself, which might surprise people? What products are proving the most popular at I studied to be a pilot 12 years ago. It gives me an Crestron today? enormous sense of joy and freedom, which is a Digital Media grew to become the most successful welcoming feeling to destress in today’s busy life. It product range ever made and represents 60 per cent means I am never late for my business meetings too.
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