Issue 193 / July/August 2016
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
MEDIA PLAYERS How sporting venues are becoming content providers p36 on the rise p8 Networking Our second annual audio survey collaborative future p30 A Installation Roundtable reveals team trends to extremes p42 Go AV in harsh environments The winners at this year’s glittering event – page 6
Master Station serves up to 24 remote stations
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DIGITAL INTERCOM - CUE LIGHT CONTROL - GPO TRIGGER
Channels for Cue Light Control, GPO Trigger or Listen Only Full duplex intercom channels Program audio feeds over network
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Orgatec, Cologne 25-29 Oct 2016 Hall 11.2 Stand F-039
Subscriptions to Installation are free to qualiﬁed readers. Register online at www.installation-international.com/subscribe Circulation & subscription enquiries Tel: +44 (0)1580 883848 Email: email@example.com Installation is published by NewBay, The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU, England Please send press material to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Paddy Baker email@example.com
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Managing editor: Joanne Ruddock firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3829 2618
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Sales manager: Gurpreet Purewal email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029
Digital director: Diane Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior sales executive: Nicola Pett email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6026 US sales – Executive vice president: Adam Goldstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors: David Davies, Qian Du, Roland Hemming, Rob Lane, John McMahon, Ian McMurray, Steve Montgomery
here’s a nice sketch on YouTube, from the Oxford English Dictionary and the TV show QI, in which the head of the OED resigns because Britain’s decision to leave the EU has led to the banning of the letters E and U from the lexicon. “It is with hug sorrow that I annonc I am handing in my notic,” she says. “As many of yo will b awar, words and langag ar my lif.” For me, this was one of the few genuinely amusing things to have emerged since the shock result on the morning of 24 June. I think what depressed me most about the referendum was not the result, but the complete lack of any kind of authoritative plan as to what would happen if the Leave campaign won – and hence no real appreciation by anyone of the consequences for business, for Paddy Baker, Editor the economy, even for the unity of the United Kingdom. As I write, email@example.com ﬁve weeks on, no-one seems to know what to expect – beyond @install8ion the ramiﬁcations of the fall in the value of sterling. One person who has made some interesting Brexit predictions is the behavioural economist Roger Martin-Fagg, who was the guest speaker at the PLASA AGM lunch recently. Some of what he had to say was (fairly) good news: he doesn’t expect a UK recession until 2019 or 2020; the banks are far more robust than they were in 2008; and he believed that most of the PLASA membership – from smaller, owner-managed companies with a known, relatively small customer base – would be less affected by macroeconomic woes than the corporate behemoths. He set out some predictions based on two potential kinds of deal we could make with the EU: a Norwaystyle trading arrangement, or one that follows World Trade Organization rules. But whichever route the UK takes, we won’t get there for some time, not least because we don’t have any international trade negotiators; that role has been carried out for us by the EU (and its antecedents) since the 1970s.
Special thanks: Sonal Bisht, Molly Fry, Kellie Hasbury, James Knight
© NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2016. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Printed by Pensord Press, Wales
Print ISSN: 2050-6104
Got th Brxit bls? T
Online ISSN: 2052-2401
Cover image: Estadio Mestalla, Valencia – courtesy of Blackmagic Design
A sister title to SCN
‘Many countries need a signiﬁcant inﬂux of immigrants to offset the declining birthrate’ He also pointed out that many countries actually need a signiﬁcant inﬂux of immigrants each year to offset the fall in productivity from the declining birthrate: in the case of the UK, that number is 130,000. How ironic is that, given the weight that the Leave campaign put on immigration? There’s much more than I can go into here, but PLASA has put his presentation slides online at http://plasa.me/58fr8. For now, here are some rousing words from the OED editor in the sketch: “Collags, frinds, it’s tim to mov, and mov forward… Last, but not last, siz th day. Carp dim.” Finally, I’ve just got space to mention that, if you’re exhibiting at IBC2016, there’s still time to submit your new products for NewBay’s Best Of Show Awards. The deadline is 31 August – you can enter at www.newbay-awards.com.
Installation is part of NewBay’s extensive portfolio of professional AV brands: TECH&LEARNING UK Technology for engaging minds To enquire about marketing opportunities in any of these brands, please contact Gurpreet Purewal – firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 20 7354 6029
News & Data 08 Analysis Audio networking trends revealed in our latest survey Swift growth for NPP LED displays market 14 Regional Voices: Ireland
People 16 Industry Moves 20 Opinion Rob Lane on the need for integrators to embrace change John McMahon discusses a potential SPL ‘arms race’ 24 Interview Installation Hall of Fame inductee David Willrich on a career in museums and visitors attractions
Features 36 Sports venues High-quality, low-cost broadcasting equipment has turned more venues into content creators in their own right 42 AV in extreme environments Working in harsh environments has become increasingly common for AV companies 48 Product picks A look at some of the most significant and impressive products launched this year
Solutions 52 Opera Theatre, Florence
Particular emphasis was placed on acoustics at this newly constructed avant-garde concert venue 54 Shrek’s Adventure! London This themed attraction is the first in the world to feature DreamWorks characters 56 NTNU Health Care SimLab, Trondheim Simulation technology has upgraded the learning process at this medical centre 58 Solutions in Brief Featuring a Frankfurt boardroom by ASC and the Rolling Stones exhibition by Electrosonic
Technology 61 New Products Including Sony, Matrox, Wyrestorm and Mackie
64 Showcase Mounts and furniture 68 Demo of the Month Polycom RealPresence Centro
Also inside 06 InstallAwards: Winners at the awards ceremony 26 Show review: InfoComm 2016 30 Installation Roundtable: The future of collaboration systems with Maverick and Microsoft
34 Show review: Digital Signage Summit Europe
06 INSTALLAWARDS 2016
Please put your hands together… The third InstallAwards took place in June – once again celebrating the best installation projects and the people behind them. Here’s a selection of photos from the event – which was the biggest and best yet
he InstallAwards 2016 took place on Friday 24 June at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London. Once again, the host was laconic comedian Ian Moore, who soon put thoughts of the UK’s EU referendum result, announced just a few hours earlier, out of the heads of the 200 or so guests with his comic observations and laid-back delivery. A total of 17 awards were presented: six Best Project Awards, two Star Product Awards and two Awards for Innovation across the Business and Education categories; three Team of the Year Awards; a Rising Star Award; and three inductions into the Installation Hall of Fame. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to making the event such a successful one: our independent judging panel; the sponsors and event partners; the companies that submitted entries and helped to make the categories so competitive; and to all the guests who came to the event.
Our grateful thanks to the following sponsors and partners for their support for the InstallAwards 2016:
Survey: audio networking takes over Once again, we’ve worked with RH Consulting on a worldwide survey into audio networking – and the results indicate that major changes have taken place over the past 12 months. Roland Hemming reports
Graph 1: What percentage of your projects use audio networking? 2014
% of projects
or a second year, Installation and its US sister title SCN, along with publications in the Middle East and Asia, asked their readers to complete an online survey on audio networking. With the ability to read year-on-year data, the trends for audio are really starting to appear. The survey was open to all. In particular we wanted to hear from people who don’t use audio networking technology, and there was a good response from this section of the Installation readership. Inevitably, though, the majority of responses came from people who already use this technology, so that needs to be taken into consideration when reading some of the answers. The purpose of the survey was to try to ﬁnd out how much audio networking is going on and what choices people are making. We kept most of the questions the same as last year but added a couple of important new ones. In general we were looking at the ‘big ﬁve’ industry protocols, as well as seeing how much use there was of proprietary ones.
% of responses
% of responses
% of responses
Graph 2: How many of your projects are using each protocol?
Project trends One of the signiﬁcant trends is the sheer number of people using audio networking technology. With two annual surveys we now have three years of data (Graph 1). First of all there is a ﬁve percentage-point yearon-year decline in the number of people not using audio networking at all: only 13% don’t expect to use it in the next 12 months. More startling is that 69% expect it to be used in more than half their work – so audio networking appears to be the predominant method of audio connectivity in the next 12 months.
Protocol growth We wanted to know about what protocols people plan to use and how many projects they would do using each protocol (Graph 2). First of all, use of Cobranet has fallen off a cliff, with only 30% of the use of the previous 12 months. AVB use almost doubled and RAVENNA more than doubled, albeit from a much lower starting point. And then the leader for last year, Dante, has grown nearly 300%, to be used on more than three-quarters of all networked audio projects in the survey. For the moment it’s Dante’s game to lose.
Number of projects
Asking why We wanted to know what would make people switch from one protocol to another (Graph 3). Product choice is the key factor but reliability and interoperability were important too. Out of the eight possible answers on offer, ‘based on standards’ came sixth. While we like the idea of standards, it seems that just getting the job done reliably is more important. From their use of different protocols, we asked
how easy each one was to use. Dante was the clear leader, the only one with more than 50% of respondents ﬁnding it easy or very easy.
And the non-networkers? We put a gun to the head of the non-networkers and said, if they had to use the technology, which protocol(s) would they use (Graph 4)? (Multiple responses were permitted.) Compared to last year Dante has consolidated its position, up from
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Graph 3: What would make you change protocol?
38% to 80% of respondents. All other protocols showed a decline in interest except RAVENNA.
Are we really converging?
We asked a new question this year. We wanted to know whether people were trying to merge networked audio along with other IT services (Graph 5). As we suspected, around 70% of projects are running audio as a separate network. It might be fair to say that most people are not converging their systems, they are just using networking technology. The question to ask here is why? Why are people not working with the IT teams to put the audio through the building IT network? I think this should be a point of industry discussion. Are people afraid of trying to put the audio into the IT network? Is it an education issue for IT specialists? Are there technical reasons why it won’t work?
Number of responses
Looking to the future Graph 4: If you were to use networking for the ﬁrst time, what would you use?
Finally we asked people to peer into their crystal balls and to predict the future for each protocol. People expected AVB to increase a little, Dante to increase a lot, RAVENNA to stay the same and the others to signiﬁcantly decrease.
Last year we wrote of “a massive predicted increase in use” of digital audio networking. The ﬁgures show this to be true – and even with just two or three years’ ﬁgures we can really start to see the direction things are going in. Dante leads by every metric. Users want variety of product – currently Dante gives people that. Their user satisfaction is higher and this is a demonstration that Audinate has simply put more investment into digital audio networking than anyone else. That investment is clearly paying off. Summing up, this is the year that Cobranet and EtherSound effectively died and audio networking has overtaken analogue as the standard approach for most our respondents’ projects.
% of respondents
Graph 5: How many projects are truly networked?
Roland Hemming is a consultant with RH Consulting. Fewer than 30%
Prize draw winner Survey sponsor Audinate offered the prize of a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones to a randomly selected Installation reader who completed the survey. We’re happy to announce that the winner is Mikael Collin.
% of projects
Our thanks to Audinate for sponsoring this survey.
30% to 70%
(40% of respondents have never combined audio and IT networks)
25 More than 70%
% of responses
35 Years d&b is 35. Olof is d&b. Olof Arvidsson is Managing Director of ARVA, d&b Distributor in Sweden. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been on board since 1995. â&#x20AC;&#x153;d&b is a very very serious and innovative company committed to making the highest quality sound systems. And like a very nice family.â&#x20AC;? In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide VWDQGDUG LQ SURIHVVLRQDO VRXQG V\VWHPV ,WÂˇV SHRSOH OLNH 2ORI ZKR PDNH WKLV VWRU\ SRVVLEOH DQG MXVW WKDW ELW GLË HUHQW from the rest.
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Narrow pixel pitch LED grows strongly By Qian Du
arrow pixel pitch (NPP) LED had a strong year in 2015, with total value reaching $678 million, representing an increase of 201% year-on-year. The market has now entered a steady but strong growth phase in 2016. Futuresource expects that the NPP LED market will account for 34% of total value in the videowall market – highly impressive for a technology that was only launched in 2012. In 2016, as Futuresource expected, P1.9mm has started its transition to the mainstream pixel pitch, and P0.9mm is becoming the premium option. Average end-user prices have been falling, due to the increase in surfacemounted device (SMD) LED package production and tier 2 Chinese LED manufacturers signiﬁcantly expanding the local market with relatively low price SKUs. Chip-on-board (COB) LED continues to receive more attention, and is often considered to be the next production technology for NPP LED. COB LED offers low energy consumption and water/dust/break-proof features. Compared with SMD LED, COB LED has higher production yields and lower production costs. However, COB LED is currently unable to match the picture quality of SMD LED and the repair process is challenging. Instead of racing for ever-tighter pixel pitches, vendors have focused on improving products and developing better solutions. Futuresource
has seen the approach from vendors change, with the creation of solutions or speciﬁc products designed for speciﬁc applications. Furthermore, many vendors have moved towards a more standardised 27.5in diagonal cabinet design, with 16:9 aspect ratios seemingly the preferred size. The competitive landscape of the market changed in the past 18 months, with international brands such as Samsung, NEC, Panasonic, Planar (Leyard), Christie, Delta and
eyevis all entering the market. These brands are expected to stimulate the market, especially with Sony unveiling its Crystal LED Integrated Structure (CLEDIS) at InfoComm, which redeﬁnes high-end display solutions. Qian Du is market analyst, professional displays at Futuresource Consulting.
Narrow pixel pitch LED market trend 2017* % Vol
Rear Projection Cube
LCD Narrow Bezel
Source: Futuresource Consulting
* = forecast
Communicating smart thermostats market heating up By Steve Montgomery
he communicating and smart thermostat market is expected to grow strongly, particularly in North America and Europe where energy efficiency mandates are taking effect. These devices enable consumers to save money and play a part in connected home solutions. Different distribution channels have emerged: building management system installers, domestic and commercial system integrators and lighting service providers are adding them to their service portfolios. Additional software and services are a vital part of these thermostats, adding to market opportunities and value. Increasing awareness of energy management, proliferation of connected home devices and broadening distribution channels have stimulated
market expansion. Other factors are holding it back: cost, lack of awareness, unquantiﬁed savings and unclear product differentiation.
Communicating and smart thermostat device and software and services Revenue by region ($m)
4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000
1500 1000 500 0
2022* Source: Navigant Research
2024* * = forecast
Bridge the gap in boardroom tech and UC By Steve Montgomery
he corporate market continues to be a key sector for AV providers, demanding solutions to enhance employee efficiency in meeting and collaborative group environments. Across France, Germany, the UK and USA, there are more than 5 million rooms. Touch technology and videoconferencing solutions have been prime movers. One quarter of employees use tablets or smartphones to share content in meetings. Half of employees have a company-sponsored videoconferencing account and there is a strong requirement to utilise these tools in meeting spaces with one in five face-to-face meetings including a remote attendee. The adoption of display products highlights the growing appetite for ﬂatpanel solutions. Thirty percent of companies expect to purchase an interactive meeting room display within the next two years. However, channels used for display purchase are changing; there is a
growing reliance on web channels as the primary point of purchase for display solutions, with IT managers responsible in many organisations.
Corporate AV purchasers and meeting room users : if you had a choice of display devices to share content with others in a meeting, which would you choose?
Flat panel display
Source: Futuresource Consulting
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14 REGIONAL VOICES
IRELAND Ireland’s strong recovery from recession and austerity in 2014 and 2015 seems to have slowed this year. But what are the indicators for its installed AV market showing? Our latest country survey ﬁnds out
ur survey into the installed AV market in the Republic of Ireland opened with our usual question about levels of conﬁdence in the country’s installation sector, compared with six months ago. The survey was split roughly equally between ‘higher’ and ‘the same’, with a negligible response saying ‘lower’. Accordingly, more than half of respondents expected their company’s
GDP annual growth rate, Q1 2016 Source: Trading Economics
revenue to increase modestly (by up to 5%) over the next year. This optimistic viewpoint carried on into current trends in various different vertical market sectors in Ireland this year. Only retail was felt to be showing a net negative trend, while corporate, digital signage, education and hospitality were all strongly positive. This month we asked a new question: “What do you think will be the effect on your business of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union?” A choice of ﬁve possible responses was given – from highly positive to highly negative. Just over half our sample said the effect would be slightly negative, either because of price rises from UK suppliers (which has already started to happen) or, according to one respondent, because international musical artists would be
less likely to come to perform in the UK and, by extension, in Ireland. We also asked our respondents to pick from a number of business-related issues, the one that was of most concern to them in the context of their own company. Once again, the most popular – chosen by more than half the sample – was ‘clients going for lowest price rather than best value’. One respondent commented: “Decisions based on short-term cost rather than long-term investment can sacriﬁce quality, which is bad for the professional industry.” Another said: “[There’s] always an issue with clients choosing the lowest price and then regretting that decision as the job was not adequately done. Choosing price over experience and quality equipment is the wrong choice.” Issues with cashﬂow and margins were also cited by some respondents.
Budget deficit (as proportion of GDP), 2015 Source: Trading Economics
Finally, we asked what one thing our installation professionals would change, if they could, about how the Irish AV market works. “I would ask clients to pay for design and consultancy,” said one integrator. “They generally expect it to be included within [equipment] costs [and] will not pay if you [charge it separately].” Another would like to have “more information and notice to be able to quote for upcoming projects.”
What will be the business trend in the following vertical markets?
GREATEST INCREASE Corporate Digital signage Education Bars, clubs, restaurants Worship Performing arts venues Sports venues Museums/visitor attractions Retail DECREASE
16 INDUSTRY MOVES
Duo of directors named at Polar Audio
n Community Professional, Apart Audio
Stuart Leader is promoted while Tim Riley joins from Audio-Technica
Kim Muurholm Juergensen
has been named APAC sales manager for both Community Professional and Apart Audio, sister compaies within Audioprof Group International. He has 15 years of experience in the pro-AV industry including time at Danish Interpretation Systems and Shure Asia, where he held management roles in business and market development.
www.apart-audio.com www.communitypro.com n Core Brands
is now manager, technical services, reporting to director of business development Joe Lautner. He comes to Core Brands from Kaiser, where he focused on streamlining business processes and customer support deliverables. Previous experience includes time at Wargaming America and Mindjet.
www.corebrands.com n Marquee AV
olar Audio has announced that Stuart Leader (left) has been promoted to the position of integrated solutions director while Tim Riley (right) has taken up the newly created role of brand development director. Riley joins the company from Audio-Technica where he managed UK professional markets as well as working to develop relationships with international online retailers in the UK and Europe. Leader, who was previously head of installation, will relinquish his direct day-to-day management of accounts, taking on a wider
responsibility across the whole installation sector, including co-ordinating system design and heading up sales management. His team has been expanded accordingly, with new installed business development manager Adam Brown taking direct responsibility for key accounts in London and the South East. In turn, Jason Spooner and Matthew Farrugia have been appointed to expand Polar Audio’s Technical Support Team.
www.dbaudio.com www.sflgroup.co.uk Apex has named Audio Integrate as its exclusive distribution partner in the Netherlands for the Liviau control platform. Richard Grevelink, director of Audio Integrate, said: “Apex Liviau… is a perfect addition to our portfolio and we are convinced it will open doors for projects where we are not already supplying.” www.apex-liviau.com www.audiointegrate.com
16-18 Install193 Industry Moves_Final Digi.indd 1
www.marqueeav.com n Onelan
New Partners d&b audiotechnik Great Britain has appointed SFL as an official UK sales partner. Founded in 1990, SFL specialises in sales support, permanent installations and corporate hire, as well as offering an in-house training programme for live production engineers.
has joined as project manager, tasked with overseeing the company’s installations in largescale venues. After achieving an ABTT diploma from the City of Westminster College, Draycott commenced his audio career in theatre sound before running his own audio installation and hire business. He joins Marquee AV from RaceTech, where he held the position of head of audio engineering.
Acoustic Arts is now Renkus-Heinz’s distributor in India. Based in New Delhi, Acoustic Arts was founded in 1999 and is one of the country’s leading AV solutions providers, providing turnkey solutions, design and project management to audio and video professionals. www.acoustic-arts.com www.renkus-heinz.com Stampede will serve as the premier North American pro-AV distributor for VRstudios’ virtual reality platform and products. According to Stampede’s Kevin Kelly the agreement marks the first time that enterprise companies across North America can access VRstudios’ VR capabilities and products through major pro-AV resellers. www.stampede.com www.vrstudios.com
has been appointed chief executive officer at Onelan. He is responsible for overseeing growth and providing leadership as the company builds its position in the digital signage and data visualisation market. He brings with him a broad knowledge of the media, big data, mobile and computing industries having built strategic relationships at all levels within world-leading organisations.
n Vue Audiotechnik
has taken up the position of vice president global sales. In this role he will oversee all of the company’s sales and distribution activities and initiatives. Based in Seattle, Loyko brings 36 years of executive experience building sales networks at companies including EAW, RCF, Avid Technology and the TC Group.
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18 INDUSTRY MOVES
New Partners Alcons Audio has appointed Lancashire-based InSynergy as its new UK distributor. “I truly believe that the performance of Alcons products is unmatched by any other system,” said InSynergy founder Steve Badham. www.alconsaudio.com www.insynergydistribution.com
4EVAC has announced the appointment of its new Danish distributor, Pro-Partner AV Solution. Pro-Partner will handle 4EVAC’s commercial voice alarm solutions, including the new Compact500 audio/voice evacuation system. www.4evac.com www.pro-partner.dk
Peavey Commercial Audio
Joe Kurta has returned to Peavey as chief technical officer. He previously held the role of systems integration specialist and brings over 20 years of pro-audio technology knowledge to the role.
www.peaveycommercialaudio.com ZeeVee has expanded its network in France with the addition of FVS as a distributor of its SD-HD RF products, and HD/Ultra-HD/4K over IP video distribution solutions. FVS will have access to the full line of ZyPer products. www.fvs.fr www.zeevee.com Pexip has teamed with Logitech to provide enhanced visual meeting experiences for joint enterprise customers. The combination of Logitech’s ConferenceCam line of videoconferencing cameras and endpoints and Pexip’s Infinity Connect Mobile app automatically connects the user to the meeting, simplifying the experience of joining. www.logitech.com www.pexip.com
SigNET AC is now RCF UK’s specialist distributor in the United Kingdom for the DXT 3000 Emergency Evacuation System. SigNET will also be able to offer sales of RCF’s associated EN54-certified voice alarm products into the fire alarm and security systems market within the UK. www.rcfaudio.co.uk www.signet-ac.co.uk Riedel has extended its contract with Ideal Group to address growth opportunities in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The manufacturer has also intensified its focus on south-east Asia through a new partnership with Thai systems integrator and distributor 101 Technology. www.101g.com www.idealsys.com www.riedel.net
Michael Peveler has joined WePresent as vice president of global sales. He brings with him 17 years of executive level experience at AMX, most recently as vice president of global education sales.
James Ritter is the latest addition to the APAC team at Adamson, taking up the position of sales manager for the region. Ritter began his career as an audio technician, gradually working his way through service, sales and R&D.
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20 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Rob Lane New era, new opportunities Integrators need to take heed of the fast pace of change, or risk being left behind
n this post-Brexit world nothing is certain; the only inevitability is change. And aside from the huge changes taking place in British politics, their wider, pan-global ramiﬁcations, and the economic effect (good and/or bad) this will have on our industry, AV is currently engaged in its own intense micro-economic evolutionary process. This era of evolution is something that integrators will be well advised to embrace, lest they get left behind. As discussed in this column a couple of issues back, the convergence of AV and IT presents huge opportunities as well as pitfalls for them. Technology is moving at an incredible pace – virtual reality being perhaps the best example in AV – pulling AV and IT into increasingly converging orbits, with sensor connection tech being arguably the biggest gravitational force. As Wired UK’s editor-in-chief David Rowan put it at this year’s ISE, the “sensor connected world” is colliding with the “storytelling tools of audiovisual”. Other buzzwords and phrases spinning out of the rapid technological change – and informing changes to AV – include Big Data, the cloud, IoT and connected services/ living, all intrinsically linked to IT.
Corporate convergence Of course, some of the convergence in AV/IT is as a consequence of AV’s growing popularity within the corporate environment: think huddle spaces and increasing use of interactive displays within business. Historically, corporate institutions saw AV as a bespoke add-on, perhaps utilising it on a limited, project-by-project basis. But today pro AV is big news in the corporate sphere, and this is where the most obvious convergence with IT occurs.
Huge amounts of today’s corporate AV solutions factor in VC or digital signage, leading to IT departments, and some IT vendors and their channels, becoming involved and increasingly taking control in AV. This, of course, puts understandable pressures on those engaged in the business of AV to accommodate mainstream IT practices – for example standards, centralised
times, although how much of the industry growth is as a result of adopting IT practices is unclear. In 2014 strategic research and business consultants Acclaro Growth Partners predicted that the global AV market will hit $114.2 billion by the end of 2016 – that’s 11% compound annual growth in demand for AV products and services since 2012.
‘This era of evolution is something integrators will be well advised to embrace, lest they get left behind’
support and volume procurement. If AV companies don’t up the IT ante, it’s possible that IT-facing companies will step in and do the job for them, taking the AV proﬁts with them – or worse, swallowing up AV as a sub-industry to the beast of IT. So the challenge facing AV companies is how to be taken seriously by IT departments that are more used to dealing with IT vendors, integrators and service providers. Not easy, but what an opportunity! The IT industry is huge in comparison to AV: $3.8 trillion compared with just over $100 billion. Why can’t AV aspire to similar heights? IBM has been up and running for over 100 years with a turnover last year of $100 billion – similar to AV’s global turnover for 2015. In the same year Apple made $187 billion, while Microsoft came in at $93 billion and Cisco at $49 billion. AV is certainly making hay in these uncertain
If AV can adopt a more IT-focused approach to business, there’s no reason why it can’t also raise its game and grow into a more mainstream animal, as IT did many moons ago; no reason why AV can’t offer standardised, scalable solutions and step up from low-volume, bespoke installations to more mass deployment. At the same time, if AV can more fully embrace David Rowan’s “sensor connected world” – something that some of the biggest American AV vendors are pushing hard this year – and effectively don another IT hat, the industry will hopefully move forward at a similarly fast pace. According to Forbes, 78% of small businesses in the US will fully adopt the cloud by 2020, 41% up on today. And Silicon Angle predicts that global values of cloud-based equipment could top $79 billion by 2018. As Jay-Z (himself no stranger to technological innovation) told Forbes in 2010: “One of the biggest things in business is to open yourself up for change.” For sure, change is indeed a ‘big thing’– and if AV is to ﬂourish in these changing times (macro and micro), absolutely essential. Rob Lane is a tech/business journalist and founder/owner of Bigger Boat PR. He voted Remain but is opening himself up for change
Designed for Perfection
Half meter long producing 124 dB (peak) Wide horizontal coverage Weather resistant :[HPUSLZZ Z[LLS PU H WVSPZOLK ÄUPZO
22 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
John McMahon The maximum SPL ‘arms race’ Industry credibility will suffer unless speaker manufacturers become more open about how they generate their published speciﬁcations
coustical output power is an important measure of loudspeaker performance, and as such it represents a critical parameter in the design and speciﬁcation of large sound reinforcement systems. Usually stated as a maximum in dB SPL, and referenced at 1m on axis, this ﬁgure ideally designates the loudspeaker’s useful limits in a deﬁned application. But how valid is that number? Is it a carefully measured value reﬂecting long-term, real-world use? Or is it derived from a short-term burst designed to yield the highest possible number? Unfortunately, a recent trend among some loudspeaker manufacturers is leading us towards a maximum dB SPL ‘arms race’ in which the object is to publish the highest possible numbers at the lowest possible product cost. This may realise a short-term sales advantage for some, but over the long run it calls into question the credibility of our industry as a whole. An analogy here might be a light bulb connected to a variable voltage source. You could notch up the voltage right to the point where the bulb burns out, record the lumens at that instant, and publish the ﬁgure as the brightness of the bulb. But how useful is a light bulb that burns out in a few seconds?
Multiplying the problem This issue goes beyond a single number published on a loudspeaker data sheet. When questionable methods are used to generate data sets for acoustical modelling software, the problem can be multiplied many times over. Consultants and systems integrators rely on these programs to prepare bid documents; if the actual installed
performance comes up short then the system has to be upgraded or both parties may be subject to lawsuits. We’ve heard of this happening more than once. A core problem here is that a number of variables are involved in producing a value for maximum acoustical output, and these are not always apparent in the published data. One obvious variable, alluded to above, is how long the loudspeaker can maintain this output level. The data sets for Meyer Sound loudspeakers, as incorporated in our MAPP XT software, reﬂect levels sustainable for at least two hours. We suspect this may not be the case industry-wide. Other often unstated variables include the associated ampliﬁers, processors and cable
‘We advise constructive scepticism. Dig into the ﬁne print and footnotes, and ask tough questions when necessary’
lengths. Reputable loudspeaker makers who also make their own external DSP ampliﬁers will give different maximum SPL ﬁgures for the same loudspeaker, varying by as much as 6dB, depending on which model of ampliﬁer is used. Absent this information, you cannot know for certain the ampliﬁer power and limiter proﬁles that were applied to generate the ﬁgure. In addition, the long cable runs in larger installations can introduce signiﬁcant variations with externally powered loudspeakers. (Note that these particular variables
are eliminated with self-powered systems, such as those from Meyer Sound.)
Common methodology In response to the vagaries of this dB SPL ‘arms race’, industry groups are working to develop a comprehensive, common methodology for specifying maximum acoustic output. Meyer Sound is fully supporting this effort. In the meantime, in the interests of full transparency, we have created a video entitled Real World SPL (viewable at http://bit.ly/2ab7D2R). It details the exact methodology we employ in creating the data sets for our MAPP XT software, using a LEOPARD line array loudspeaker as an example. You are welcome to replicate these tests, and you will ﬁnd that your results will consistently match predictions and are sustainable over the long term. Until the various parties involved can develop a uniform test methodology, we encourage all professional loudspeaker manufacturers to be open and transparent regarding how they generate their published speciﬁcations and acoustical modelling data sets. In the meantime, we advise constructive scepticism. Dig into the ﬁne print and footnotes, and ask tough questions when necessary. Know what’s behind the numbers. Our common credibility is at stake. As an industry, we need to make sure that results promised are results delivered, consistently. That way, everybody wins. John McMahon is vice president of solutions & strategy, Meyer Sound Laboratories.
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GS-WAVE SERIES Bringing energy back to a former power plant in Berlin, the phenomenal sound system at techno club Magdalena comprises eight 3-metre GS-WAVE stacks plus extra subs and lenses, and eight tweeter pods above the dance ďŹ&#x201A;oor. This huge installation, driven by Powersoftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s K Series amps with built-in DSP, provides total coverage of a modestly sized 800-capacity room. Keeping most of its power in reserve, the system can run effortlessly when the club is open for days at a time.
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24 INTERVIEW: DAVID WILLRICH, DJ WILLRICH
Riding the rollercoaster
David Willrich founded his eponymous company 30 years ago. Fresh from his induction into the Installation Hall of Fame at the InstallAwards, he reﬂects with Paddy Baker on a career spent in museums and visitor attractions
he National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire has played a central role in David Willrich’s career in AV. He joined the staff there as a technician straight out of sixth-form college, looking after “120 projectors and all that went with them”. He explains: “In those days Beaulieu hosted seminars for the independent museum world, and a lot of the people who came looked in awe at the scale of our AV and the fact that it was all working. They joked: ’Will you come and sort ours out for us?’” But the jokes became a reality, and when the requests became more than Willrich could handle in his spare time and holidays, he decided to go freelance. He started his company – DJ Willrich Ltd – in 1986, retaining the Motor Museum as a client. “We were allowed to carry on trading out of the workshop we had, but we bought all the tools and the resources we
were using.” Thirty years and two office moves later – but still on the Beaulieu estate – DJW is still looking after the Motor Museum. The arrangement originally went beyond AV – taking in early word processors, turnstiles, light bulb changing, 110V slot cars, radio controlled cars and other electronic technology, but is limited to AV and entertainment technology today. The leisure market has traditionally been a cyclic one, he says. In the early days, there would often be an end-of-year spending bonanza, as venues, particularly public authority-owned museums, looked to use up their budget, which made for a busy ﬁrst quarter for DJW. Easter and the Spring Bank Holiday were key project deadlines, and from the latter weekend to the August Bank Holiday “literally all our work was maintenance, particularly of slide projectors and LaserDisc players”. The bulk of September and
October was spent visiting potential new projects “as they knew how much money they’d made and what they wanted to spend before the next Spring Bank Holiday. You can imagine what that was like in terms of cashﬂow – huge swings in the ﬁrst six months, much smaller the rest of the year, when you could still be living on money you made earlier.” At one point, he says, there was an incentive to even things out by going after boardroom installation work – “but being based out here in the forest, you’re at an immediate commercial disadvantage compared to companies based in London, so that wasn’t a market that was sensible to attack. We did some provincial boardrooms at that time. But you have to gear yourself to your market, and we’ve always been geared to museums and attractions – that’s the skill base of everybody in the company. So over
A brief biography David Willrich began in the industry as a technician at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu – and his relationship with the museum persists to this day He founded DJ Willrich Ltd in 1986 with his wife Lynn, who is the company’s financial director. The company’s multidisciplinary approach encompasses consultancy, project management, project engineering, AV design, lighting design, programming and purchasing He has worked on visitor attraction and museum projects in the US, Middle East, Asia and mainland Europe, as well as the UK He has been a board member and president of the Europe and Middle East division of the Themed Entertainment Association, and will become president of the TEA in November the years it’s made far more sense to stick with that, and ride the rollercoaster.” Since the late 1990s, the advent of National Lottery funding in the UK has helped to smooth out cashﬂow, he says, because that organisation works to its own timescale when it comes to allocating and releasing ﬁnance – “so that has evened out the project ﬂow an awful lot, and done us quite a few favours”.
Millennium madness Particularly when cashﬂow is up and down, it must be difficult to ensure steady growth in a company, I suggest. Were there ever times when he bit off more than he could chew? “The market was just crazy over the Millennium – it was the biggest volume of work we’d ever done. We had four zones in the Millennium Dome and a number of other Millennium projects – and the AV industry as a whole in this sector lacked capacity, so anybody in this market was beyond maxed out. At one point we would spend three days on one site and four days on another trying to keep two clients happy and keep two projects moving in parallel.” Looking back over his career, which technology development does he think had the greatest effect on the leisure sector? He chooses digital projectors – “when they ﬁnally got it right”. Early LCD projectors were “a disaster – that hurt the market because a lot of organisations spent money on projectors and they just weren’t up to it; in a lot of attractions they didn’t even last 12 months. “The thing now,” he continues, ”is having good quality and reliable projectors.” Having to change lamps two or three times a year, and the associated cost of ownership, used to make
INTERVIEW: DAVID WILLRICH, DJ WILLRICH 25 some venues reluctant to install projectors, he recalls: “Now designers and museums are more conﬁdent about projectors and can create large display areas with dynamic graphics instead of static panels. Media servers have supported this trend, but it’s been projector-led.” Projectors have had a major impact in theme parks, particularly dark rides, he says. “Park owners like Disney and Universal could afford to use big ﬁlm projection rigs – they’re now converting them over to digital projection, but obviously that scales down in size and cost, and comes into the realm of smaller parks and attractions, and of course museums. And it all helps to produce more dynamic and interesting displays.”
Industry association Willrich has been strongly involved in the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association), which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. TEA represents the supply side of the industry – “designers, architects, consultants, down to theming companies, scenic painters, AV companies and show control programmers”. The organisation has grown from 20 or 30 companies at its inception to around 1500 members (companies or individuals) today, he says. It has four divisions across the world, each of which organises events during the year.
‘Payment terms can be very onerous and not relevant to the way we have to work within AV’
He has previously served as president of the Europe and Middle East division of the TEA, and this November, he will become overall president for a two-year term. One thorny issue he wants to address during his presidency is contracts. “They are still an issue for audiovisual companies throughout the whole AV industry, not just themed entertainment. We invariably get builders’ contracts thrown at us – and we’re expected to sign up to a contract that isn’t 100% relevant to what we do. And that can also reﬂect in payment terms, which can be very onerous and not relevant to the way we have to work within AV.” Other companies within TEA, such as theming companies, have exactly the same issues, he says: “We are not a construction industry, but because the prime contractor is generally a construction company, they want everything to work their way with construction-type contracts. “I really would like to get to a point where we see associations of all sorts trying to make a stand and say, ‘This isn’t the best way of working
– it’s not in the best interests of anyone other than the general contractor.’ The sad fact is that the majority of companies that go under do so because of cashﬂow, not because they’re no good. It’s because they’ve done their level best to try and work to a contract that’s working against them; and if you get two or three of those together they can compound and drive you under.”
The next generation Are we as an industry doing enough to recruit and develop young talent, I ask? His main involvement here has been with a TEA programme called ‘Next Gen’, which has had its main successes in the US. “We’ve made major moves to get closer to universities with specialist courses targeting the world of themed entertainment – not just design, but all aspects. We’re making sure that the way they see the industry is the way the industry is.” TEA’s SATE (Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, Experience) conference is usually hosted by a university, “and we’ve found that to be a really good mix because you’re getting company owners and senior management from the industry giving presentations that the students are exposed to. It’s amazing how many have got internships through that conference alone, and jobs through the Next Gen programme in general.” Turning to the AV industry in general, he says: “There are deﬁnitely issues in the way technology is taught – it’s taught in a very general way, and in the past was biased towards more major employers. But the AV industry is now a fairly major employer, but it’s being left to InfoComm to train people in the way industry needs rather than the colleges taking a look at it. There’s deﬁnitely a gap between colleges’ perception of the AV industry and what it is in reality, but how we plug that I don’t know. I don’t have enough hours in the day to get involved in any more associations! “The big shame is that you get kids going through schools, sixth-form colleges and all the higher education offers, not knowing that some of these things exist. They are exactly what they’re looking for, but sometimes they don’t ﬁnd them until they’re in their late twenties or early thirties. There’s certainly a lack of understanding of our branch of audiovisual and the themed entertainment industry as a whole in colleges and universities – and it’s becoming a bigger and bigger employer.”
You can read a longer version of this interview – in which David Willrich nominates his favourite project – on the Installation website.
26 SHOW REVIEW: INFOCOMM 2016
An exciting Vegas line-up The trend towards systems offerings, AV over IP, Dante – the themes of InfoComm 2016 were pretty much as expected, but it was still an exciting show, with a few surprises along the way. Paddy Baker reports
ittle more than two years ago, companies such as Biamp, Harman and QSC could safely and accurately be described as audio companies. Harman was the ﬁrst of these companies to move beyond its traditional realm – with the acquisitions of AMX in 2014 and SVSi in 2015 – but InfoComm 2016 saw a number of other companies announce their move into technologies in which they were not previously involved. Biamp added low-latency, 4K networked video distribution to the Tesira platform with the introduction of TesiraLUX, which transports both audio and video signals over a single network with AVB/TSN. “With the addition of TesiraLUX, we have put the ‘V’ in ‘AVB’,” said Chris Fitzsimmons, product
manager for video products at Biamp. “TesiraLUX delivers dependable performance and automatic handling of lip sync, resulting in transmissions that are visually lossless and perfectly aligned.” Even one of the most technologically diversiﬁed companies within the AV space, Crestron, went further by adding a new DSP offering. It believes its Avia DSP products solve issues associated with rival products: Avia deploys channel strips that are said to simplify programming by means of drag and drop; an integrated design tool simpliﬁes the creation of touchscreen UIs; it uses Dante for ease of I/O expansion; and it can easily be integrated into bigger systems via Crestron Fusion Cloud. QSC, which surreptitiously dropped the word ‘Audio’ from its name a few months ago, was keen to portray Q-SYS as a software-based platform rather than simply a standalone DSP product. This message was emphasised by the launch of QSC’s AV-to-USB Bridging solution for conference rooms, which comprises the Q-SYS I/O-USB bridge and two PTZ-IP conferencing cameras. QSC says the new solution “solves the problem of the meeting room geography when integrating soft codec conferencing with camera feeds and audio”. As many bridges and cameras can be added as required, and the bridging solution integrates seamlessly with Q-SYS, without the need to download additional software or drivers. Kramer also signalled a major shift in its approach to the market through its stand design: the relative absence of black boxes was an indication that the company is moving from a purely hardware-based play to a combination of hardware, software and cloud technologies. Typifying this new approach was Kramer Control, which the company launched at the show. This software is designed to enable any AV device to
be controlled from anywhere in the world. It uses a distributed architecture and is claimed to be highly scalable, offering the same ease of use for a single room or an entire global enterprise. It offers options for public, private or hybrid cloud implementation. AV over IP proved to be a major theme at InfoComm 2016. Atlona launched Omnistream – a range of networked AV products designed for integrating and distributing 4K/UHD video, audio and RS-232 control over Gigabit Ethernet networks, employing off-the-shelf network switches. The range comprises single- and dual-channel AV encoders and decoders, along with a dual-channel Dante networked audio interface. AptoVision’s stand featured a shootout between different codecs used in sending AV over Ethernet networks: the same still image was sent to four different displays using the company’s BlueRiver NT+ technology, VC-2, H.264/265 and MPEG 2000. Not only did BlueRiver NT+ show the best picture quality – with no breakup of text and ﬁne image detail; by moving a window on the display via mouse, they could also see that AptoVision’s technology showed the least latency. Also making side-by-side comparisons was AMX, but here it was showing the performance of three of its own family of SVSI networked AV solutions sending 4K over 1Gb networks: the N1000, which uses MPC ‘Minimal Proprietary Compression’; N2000, which uses JPEG2000 and offers a tradeoff between latency and bandwidth; and N3000, which uses H.264. Adder Technology was showing AdderLink XDIP, the newest member of its easy-to-install AdderLink KVM and AV extension line. Using this new extender, users can locate critical computing hardware away from the user work station, while maintaining the original desktop experience.
AdderLink XDIP can extend video, USB2.0 and audio 100m along a single Cat5e cable. RGB Spectrum launched the Zio AV over IP technology platform. Zio is a family of products that can send video, audio and control data over IP while addressing challenges around time-sensitive and time-ordered video streams. Zio can handle resolutions up to 4K. Zio endpoints attach to a 1Gb Ethernet switch, and can operate over dedicated or shared networks. Switching over the network is seamless. ZeeVee showed its new HDBridge3000 encoder/ modulator, which offers distribution of HD and SD video in a 3RU chassis. With 12 customisable input slots, the HDBridge3000 can handle 24 channels of HD or 72 channels of SD, or a mixture of the two.
PROJECTORS Panasonic launched a trio of compact singlechip DLP laser phosphor projector ranges. Aimed at exhibition, staging, signage, control room, education and meeting room applications, the series are the PT-RZ970 (three models up to 10,400 centre lumens), PT-RZ770 (two models up to 7,200 lumens) and PT-RZ660 (two models up to 6,200 lumens). Also launched at the show was the PT-RQ32KU 3-chip DLP laser projector, with 27,000 (centre) lumens and above 4K resolution (5120 x 3200). Shipping this summer, the compact Christie AP Series of 3LCD projectors deliver 5,000 ANSI lumens. The LW502 (5,000:1 contrast) and Christie LWU502 (10,000:1) offer HDBaseT single-cable connectivity, up to 6,000 hours’ lamp life and integrated audio. Christie also previewed Christie Mystique, a suite of tools, including software, hardware and services, to support the design, installation and operation of projection-based experiences in theme parks, sport stadiums and arenas. Sony’s VPL-GTZ270 4K laser projector is particularly aimed at entertainment use. The 5,000-lumen model features image enhancement functions including Reality Creation upscaling and compatibility with HDR content. Its wide colour space covers the full DCI range and simulates the new ITU-R BT2020 colour gamut. It can also operate in 4K 3D mode. Highlights on the Vivitek stand included the DU7090Z, a 6,000 ANSI lumen WUXGA laser projector that is said to be among the quietest laser projectors in its category, with 33dB fan noise. It is designed for auditoriums, conference rooms, worship facilities and museums. It is DICOM compatible for use in medical teaching and conferences and is rated for intensive use environments. Also on show was the ultra-short throw DH759USTi, a 1080p plug-and-play interactive projector for education and business applications. It offers pen interactivity with optional interactive
SHOW REVIEW: INFOCOMM 2016
How was InfoComm 2016 different for you this year? “Seeing that AV over IP was the major trend this InfoComm, it was encouraging to see the industry finally realising that there can be no convergence if AV and IT remain on two independent networks.” Kamran Ahmed, CEO and co-founder, AptoVision “It was the best show ever for Kramer. We see the actual convergence of AV/IT after about 15 years of talking about it and we are positioning ourselves to be a leader in the new AV/IT world.” Clint Hoffman, VP of marketing, Kramer “InfoComm 2016 was the best one yet for us. There is increasing market demand for audio and video on the network, along with a very healthy networked product ecosystem. The network in AV is no longer exotic, but expected!” Mike Sims, director of marketing and sales, Attero Tech “I thought the show floor was more professional than ever. It speaks so well of our industry growth”. Ron Camden, vice president of global sales, Biamp Systems “Attendees really gravitated to our continued alignment it IT-centric design paradigms, and how QSC delivered on its promise of a software-based platform by adding video cameras and bridging to our platform.” Patrick Heyn, director of marketing, QSC 10-point touch on a screen size up to 110in diagonal. It features 3,500 ANSI lumens brightness and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. Epson demonstrated bundled solutions for its BrightLink Pro Series of corporate projectors, designed to simplify the way people work together and collaborate. The BrightLink Pro All-in-One Interactive Display includes an 87in or 100in Da-Lite IDEA screen with 2.5 gain. Using a digital pen or ﬁnger touch, users can to work on the display in real time, locally or remotely from multiple devices. The BrightLink Pro All-in-One Interactive Table comes with a motorised surface. Users can project onto the sleek desktop table, and use the digital pen or finger touch capabilities to work the projected document. Among these 13 new projector models that Ricoh has produced since InfoComm 2015 are the high-performance KU12000, with WUXGA (1920×1200) resolution, HDMI, HDBaseT, and 12,0000-lumen brightness; and the PJ XL4540 (XGA) and WXL4540 (WXGA) laser short-throw projectors, which bring up to 3,200 lumens to classroom, presentation and digital signage applications. Tempest was showing its modular G4 range of projector enclosures, comprising ﬁve product families. Blizzard G4 outdoor enclosures are now fully stackable and come in three sizes capable of housing projectors up to 15,000 lumens. Whispr,
“The concept of networked audio is officially mainstream, the vast majority of booth visitors were actively using or were looking for products to implement Dante. Another positive was the number of companies seeking to partner in the pursuit of complete solutions rather than key pieces.” Brian McCormick, chief marketing officer, Stewart Audio “We experienced a decline in visitors to our booth, however the quality was of a higher calibre. Specifically they were much more engaged and discussed real opportunities for our products. Wednesday morning and Friday past noon were particularly dead from a foot traffic perspective; we would support a noon closing time on the last day.” Chris Scurto, vice president, marketing and North American sales, ZeeVee “We no longer see thickly packed hordes in the aisles – presumably this is a factor of layout changes and increased exhibitor numbers – but enjoy meeting well-informed and focused visitors to the booth (instead of dazzled passers-by!).” Rob Robinson, CEO, Stardraw “This year’s visit to InfoComm was prompted in part by the opening of our New York office and recent consolidation of our global reach. We certainly weren’t disappointed with InfoComm, and it afforded us a unique insight into the North American market while allowing us to meet with partners and also several key journalists and AV commentators.” Ed Cook, CEO, AVMI also in three sizes, is said to provide unparalleled noise attenuation for quiet indoor environments. Tacit builds on Whispr, offering projector-speciﬁc models from 20,000-45,000 lumens. Typhoon G4 is a rental and staging projector enclosure, with models for most popular projectors. Finally, Cyclone G4 outdoor enclosures are also projector-speciﬁc, with models available for all business and cinema projectors up to 45,000 lumens.
DISPLAYS Large displays always ﬁgure strongly at AV tradeshows, and InfoComm 2016 was no exception. Front and centre at the Sony stand was a massive example of the company’s new Canvas display system. It’s based on the company’s Crystal LED Integrated Structure (CLEDIS) – see Products, page 61, for more details. Leyard launched the TWA Series of LED videowalls with an 8K installation of 64 individual 1.2mm pixel pitch units. Designed to be a seamless drop-in replacement to legacy LCD and rear-projection videowalls, the TWA Series is made up of 54in, 16:9 ﬂat panels that can be scaled, seamlessly, to almost any size. They are said to consume 35% less energy than standard LED videowalls. Improvements over earlier products are said to
28 SHOW REVIEW: INFOCOMM 2016
include wider viewing angles with excellent offaxis uniformity, and advanced calibration to bring uniform colour and brightness uniformity across the largest videowalls. New from SiliconCore was its ﬁrst outdoor LED display, the Tulip Outdoor 3.9mm. The IP65, 4500-nit display shows strong contrast even in direct sunlight, has a viewing angle of 140º and can reproduce 281 trillion colours. Like all the company’s displays, it uses Silicon Core’s Common Cathode technology – which reduces power consumption by 30% compared with standard LED – and patented driver chip. LG Electronics was showing its new DualView Flat OLED Display – the ﬁrst digital signage solution to offer OLED technology – scheduled to begin shipping in July. As its name suggests, the Dual-View Flat OLED display is double sided, and at just 8.9mm thick has an extremely thin proﬁle. The 55in 1920×1080 model can swap and mirror content on either side of the screen at the press of a remote control button. With OLED, each of the screen’s pixels can be turned on and turned off, delivering perfect blacks, according to LG. Mitsubishi Electric showed a prototype Direct View narrow pixel pitch LED display speciﬁcally designed for command and control applications. The 130in diagonal 1.5mm pixel pitch screen had a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The pixels are comprised of 3-in-1 SMD LED packages developed specially for this application. Mitsubishi says it has been looking into the use of narrow pixel pitch LED in command and control applications for over two years, in particular the issues of long-term colour stability of LED and potential operator fatigue due to excessive brightness. This work will continue ahead of the commercial launch of the new display in 2017. Finally, NanoLumens invited several hundred show attendees to the opening of its new visualisation centre in Las Vegas.
AUDIO With the number of Dante-enabled products on the market rising to 800 in June, ‘Dante spoken here’ signs were out in force across the InfoComm showﬂoor. Stewart Audio showed off two compact PoE+ Dante ampliﬁers: the AV8-2 PoE+ LZ (2 x 8W@4/8 ohms) and the CVA16-1 PoE+ CV (16W@70/100V). These are designed for smaller zones without local power in hospitality installations, classrooms, conference rooms or houses of worship. Also on show was the new MC850 Series of 8-channel Dante audio ampliﬁers, which produce more than 50W RMS per channel in a 1RU enclosure. This series includes three models: low-impedance, mixed-impedance (two channels 4/8 ohms, six constant voltage channels), and 70/100V. Attero Tech was showing two new products. The unDNEMO Dante Network Monitor can select and monitor up to 64 Dante audio channels. Dante Daisy Chaining enables multiple units to use a single Cat5e/6 connection to a network switch. Also new was the unD6IO-BT, a BYOD Dante interface wallplate that allows any Bluetooth smart phone, tablet or PC to stream audio wirelessly onto a Dante network. RCA and 3.5mm stereo inputs are also included. AVB champion Meyer Sound launched Galileo Galaxy, the next generation of the Galileo processor line. It is fully networkable, with multiple units sharing 24-bit/96kHz multichannel audio via an AVB network. Compared with its predecessor it delivers increased dynamic range, a lower noise ﬂoor, and low latency of 0.6ms (analogue in to analogue out). Maximum input count has been increased from six to eight to make 7.1 systems easier to implement. Symetrix was showing its recently announced Solus NX series of DSP for non-networked installations. The three DSP models differ only in their number of analogue audio inputs and outputs (16 x 8, 8 x 8 and 4 x 4), and feature a highresolution graphic OLED displaying system status
and metering. They provide the same processing power and memory as the Symetrix Radius, Prism and Edge products. Vue Audiotechnik showcased the al-12, the newest and largest addition to its al-Class of scalable line array systems. Designed for large-scale applications, the al-12 can function seamlessly with other al-Class elements in a coherent, symmetrical array from the largest element at the top of the array to the smallest elements at the bottom. Every al-Class element is compatible with VUEPoint beam-steering technology. Lab.gruppen unveiled three 60W LUCIA ampliﬁers: the LUCIA 60/2M features a 4-in, 4-out matrix-mixer; the LUCIA 60/2 has a 2-in, 2-out conﬁguration; and the 70V LUCIA 60/1-70 is 2-in, 1-out. All have conﬁgurable DSP features. After 20 minutes of no signal input, the ampliﬁers automatically enter standby mode, powering up within one second when signal returns. LUCIA’s half-rack 1U form factor allows it to be installed behind video screens, in rack shelves or drawers, or attached to the optional pole mount. Listen Technologies announced enhancements to its line of ListenWiFi products. ListenWiFi uses its own wireless access points to send audio to personal smartphones. The number of access points has been increased, raising the maximum number of users from 60 to more than 1,000; channel count has been increased, providing the ability to set up to 24 stereo channels or 48 mono channels; and venues can program channels in their native languages while allowing users to choose the own language for navigating menus.
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30 ROUNDTABLE: COLLABORATION SYSTEMS ROUNDTABLE in association with
Working together A recent industry roundtable, hosted by distributor Maverick, debated the future of collaboration systems with a broad mix of leading industry representatives. Paddy Baker, who chaired the event, reports
n May, as part of a partner day based around Microsoft Surface Hub, Installation was asked by Maverick to chair a roundtable discussion about the future of collaboration systems – encompassing both technological and business aspects. The event, led by Rikke Rasmussen, Surface Hub product marketing lead at Microsoft and Mark Tildesley, general manager, Maverick UK, was so well attended that it was necessary to split it into two halves, with different participants in each.
What is it? I started with a simple question: ‘What is collaboration?’ “From a human standpoint, it’s people coming together to achieve a single objective or multiple objectives,” said David Willie, head of UC&C, Saville AV. From a technology perspective, he added, it is generally delivered “across a variety of devices, and sometimes a variety of different technologies, which each participant has access to.” David William Hearn, a composer and app developer, commented that collaboration is an enabler for the hive mind: “You can achieve something that’s far greater than the sum of its parts when you involve a lot of people
– especially in business where you can bring people together across the entire world.” Brian Bickerstaffe, chairman of Carillion Communications, felt that collaboration had become a marketing buzzword recently – “actually we’ve always collaborated in that we’ve worked as teams”. He noted, however, that video technology “has opened up a world now of trying to do collaborative working with people in different locations – that brings new challenges if people are to still feel part of a team”. Danny Rogers, alliances director at AVISPL, made the point that we all collaborate every day: “We’ve all got our smallest collaboration tool in our pocket. Our phone is the smallest, the most used, the most pervasive piece of technology we all use: we collaborate,
PARTICIPANTS Andy Evans, managing director, Viju Brian Bickerstaffe, chairman, Carillion Communications Craig Bentley, account director, Microsoft lead, Viju Danielle Crayn, Surface product marketing manager for tablet, Microsoft Danny Rogers, alliances director, AVI-SPL Dave Sayers, sales lead, Windows devices, Microsoft David William Hearn, composer and app developer David Willie, head of UC&C, Saville AV Dee Reed, managing director, Carillion Communications Jane Hammersley, European business manager, Maverick Europe Jeremy Cussons, business development manager, Saville AV Jon Sidwick, vice president, Maverick Europe Liz Warton, Microsoft business manager, CDW Louise Wright, account director, TechData Mark Tildesley, general manager, Maverick UK Mark Williams, sales manager, AVMI Matt Corn, account manager, AVMI Nicky Chapman, innovation project manager, AVMI Richard Warren, UK technical resource for Surface Hub, Microsoft Rikke Rasmussen, Surface Hub product marketing lead, Microsoft Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface BG lead, Microsoft
we multi-task, we use cloud facilities on it, and we use it in the day-to-day.”
Determining needs But even if the concept is familiar, customers require assistance from vendors to determine their collaboration systems needs. “They need more help than they’ve ever needed,” said Rogers. “Typically they’ve got a bunch of technology silos they want to bring together, and use collaboration as their method of doing it. But no-one comes to you and says ‘I’ve thought it through and this is the answer.’” Customers need to see new collaboration systems in action to gain an appreciation of their potential, said Bickerstaffe: “The availability of different technologies opens people’s minds to different ways of working. They see an application and say ‘I can use that for something relevant to my world.’” The breadth of collaboration technology means that solutions have massively different use even within the same company. Craig Bentley, account director, Microsoft lead, Viju, said of his Microsoft Surface Hub demos: “There’s not really one particular sector that we’ve had great success with – it’s been spread broadly. Every time we demo the device, we ﬁnd different use cases in different businesses, and even in different departments.” Richard Warren, UK technical resource for Surface Hub, Microsoft, remarked that selling collaboration systems marked a return to turnkey solutions – a phrase that had been prevalent in the 1980s. “We’ve come full circle – it’s not about the latest device, it’s about ‘there’s my problem’ and ‘that’s how we’re going to solve that problem’.” For their part, customers need to experiment with the technology on a small scale to build a ﬁnancial case for more widespread deployment, said Bickerstaffe. “You can’t come up with an ROI on a potential of a hundred systems without doing a pilot and getting some meaningful data in your environment. Any business of any size can justify the cost of the pilot.” In a presentation before the roundtable, Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface BG lead at Microsoft, cited studies that simply eliminating the delay associated with setting up and starting meetings can generate substantial savings. Willie
ROUNDTABLE: COLLABORATION SYSTEMS raised another aspect of the importance of timesaving: “We’ve never been busier – so really, if I go into a meeting, I don’t want to sit there for an hour for my ﬁve-minute section – I want to go in, do my bit and get out, and let everybody else do their bit. And I think there have been relatively few tools that allow us to do that.” Rogers made the point that consumer technology is in the driving seat: “The consumer market is driving the enterprise market for the ﬁrst time in our industry ever. And millennials are demanding in the workplace the same tools and functionality that they use at home. That’s a big, big change – and for a lot of people, that’s a struggle.” A long-time goal – making homeworkers feel as close to the business as if they were in the office – is getting closer to being realised. “My business has been asking ‘How can we get people working from home as if they are in the office?’ since the ﬁrst advent of PCs in the early 1980s,” commented Bickerstaffe. “We can do it – we can connect via the internet, we can have an open videoconferencing connection which has people linked on open screens at home and in offices so all the collaborators can see their colleagues and vice versa – but that’s not yet particularly common for home workers. The capability is there but making this work easily, dynamically, interactively, so that you do feel part of a team as if you were in the same room, is still not that intuitive.”
Interoperability I asked the panel whether they thought all the necessary interoperability standards are in place, so that different kit manufacturers’ equipment can interoperate. “It used to be that you could only ring a Polycom system from a Polycom unit, Cisco from Cisco, Tandberg from Tandberg. Now we’re getting to a world where you can link all of those together, “ said Andy Evans, managing director, Viju. “It’s ‘reassuringly expensive’ sometimes, but the cost point and the simplicity are coming down. There two or three really good integrator platforms on the market can integrate any legacy platform – and they can be on-premise, hybrid, cloud, they can be deployed wherever you want to put them.” "It can be quite a challenge when customers expect to see the same user interface all the way through, even though they’re using disparate systems,” observed Jeremy Cussons, business development manager, Saville AV. “Interoperability is one of the most challenging sells – because you have to work with security departments – the network team, the UC team
and traditional AV and video teams as well,” commented Bentley. He continued that tools such as WebRTC offer a simpler, browserbased option. “As long as the customer has a camera, speakers and a microphone in their device, they can join through a browser. Generally it’s very unusual for a customer not to be able to join a call.”
Cloud and security Although a cloud-based model is not essential for successful collaboration, panellists felt that this is the direction in which the market is moving. “There’s now a lot of faith in the security of the cloud – and that’s been a bit of a gamechanger in the past couple of years,” remarked Evans. “In ﬁve years time it may come back and the cloud will be distrusted, and we’ll go back to on-premise again – you can never tell.” Rogers felt that this was due in part to greater acceptance of other cloud-based services: “We do it all now – people use Dropbox and other services, and that’s even in the enterprise space. I believe that cloud, migrating away from hybrid or on-prem to real genuine secure public cloud, will be the way that we consume 90% of our facilities and services.” Given that collaboration by its very nature implies greater access to data by more people, did the panel believe that the necessary security systems, in place for organisations to deploy collaboration systems to whatever level of security they want – including Bring Your Own Device? “The security industry realises that the ceiling’s got to be high enough to allow the collaboration that’s required within the workplace below it,” said Jon Sidwick, vice president, Maverick Europe. “It’s something that everybody should be looking at as part of deployment of any collaboration environment, but it shouldn’t be a barrier.” “You might not want to enable BYOD as an enterprise,” commented Evans. “You can do a lot with a clever mind and the wrong device in an organisation – or even a dumb mind and a clever device." Sidwick countered: “I think the world has punched through that. Not long ago you couldn’t take your mobile phone into the work environment and log on to email – you couldn’t
32 ROUNDTABLE: COLLABORATION SYSTEMS get email on your mobile phone unless you had a BlackBerry. Now, accessing your work email on your mobile device is something that’s expected. So I think all those barriers have to come down in an enterprise organisation.” While the panel felt that the necessary security standards are predominantly in place in the corporate world, Asdourian warned: “I think it’s about staying as current as possible, and staying on top of security technology. The technology will help keep you safe, but by deﬁnition there’s nothing that’s 100% secure.”
The future’s bright I asked the panellists what potential they saw in collaboration systems. “I think it’s in its infancy – it can be absolutely huge,” declared Mark Williams, sales manager, AVMI. “For the AV industry as a whole, it’s something new to talk about, it’s new technology, it’s something new to go to market with. I think it’s the tip of the iceberg.” Dave Sayers, sales lead Windows devices, Microsoft, agreed, and drew a comparison with the early days of the PC era. “When PCs ﬁrst came into offices they were very much officebased tools, for spreadsheets and word processing; today, people listen to music on them, they watch videos, they use them for mobility, they make phone calls from them. So I think the use case for collaboration systems will get stronger and stronger as they evolve.” “Maybe this is as big as a change to the way that we work as the PC was in the eighties,” added Warren. “I think we’re at that exciting point again where we’ve got almost no idea where we’re going to be in ﬁve years’ time.” “We’re on the bottom rung of a very long ladder,” said Sidwick. “The new world of AV that we’re seeing now is a transformation from product to platform, from presentation to collaboration; it’s a whole change, and we’ve just started. AV devices in the collaboration environment are going to grow dramatically.”
Where from here? I was curious to know what our experts thought about the possibilities for collaboration systems to improve, given that we are already at the stage where the quality of real-time sharing and collaboration is pretty close to that of a face-toface meeting. The answers I got were all very different. Evans thought that, while there would
Surface Hub leads the collaboration drive As the roundtable took place as part of a day based around Microsoft Surface Hub, many participants wanted to discuss the potential of this particular collaboration system. Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface BG lead at Microsoft, explained that the genesis of Surface Hub came from combining all the different aspects of conferencing technology into a single package: “How can you take your content, make sure it’s confidential, make sure it goes away when you don’t want it there, and make sure no one can access it? How do you capture what’s actually in a meeting, and make sure that anybody you want can get that data?” Surface Hub, he added, is “like an extra person in your meeting.” Brian Bickerstaffe saw the Hub’s pedigree as an important USP: “It’s made by Microsoft, and anything that works within the Microsoft world is potentially going to be available in some form or other on this device. It’s quite a challenge for any other manufacturer to have that kind of strength of position.” And because the Hub runs on Windows 10, said Dave Sayers, it gets a welcome reception from IT departments: “When we showcase Surface Hub to business decision-makers, they then go to their IT people who say, ‘Yes, absolutely, this is Windows, it’ll plug into our environment very nicely.’” The vast potential of Surface Hub excited everyone around the table. Richard Warren commented: “Customers who see the device for the first time have almost no expectations about it. But almost every time I do a demonstration, another use case comes along: the guys in the room say ‘Could we use it for this?’, and you have a go, and yes, you can.” It’s not just its installed capabilities that impress, it’s also the ability to enhance the Hub’s functionality with apps. “Traditionally you buy a device for your office and it does what it does when it comes out of the box. This grows with you. That’s the beauty of it,” commented Mark Tildesley, general manager, Maverick UK. “We have a lot of developers working on apps,” added Rikke Rasmussen, Surface Hub product marketing lead, Microsoft. A native Windows 10 app will run on the Hub – you don’t need to do anything special to it.” Jane Hammersley, European business manager at Maverick Europe, pointed out an opportunity for the channel beyond the collaboration room. “Hub connects the remote worker beautifully, but they need the right technology at the far end – such as headsets, monitors and interactivity. There’s a great opportunity here to look at the remote collaboration experience as well as the in-room experience.” Summarising, Tildesley commented: The beauty of this product is everyone is comfortable with that interface. Literally everybody, because we’ve all got Windows. But the really exciting part is as the world uses it more and more – and takes it further... this is where it’s going to explode. This is the tip of the iceberg – it's a massive opportunity.” Rasmussen added that she expected – and welcomed – competition: “Surface Hub is in a new category of its own right now, but my guess is that in two years’ time many of our competitors will have joined us. And this is a great thing because collaboration is a huge market opportunity – not just for Microsoft.” be “tweaks and improvements” to systems, the main improvement would be around “proliferation across multiple room systems. There’s probably 5% of the world’s rooms that are enabled for videoconferencing. If we can get that to 20%, all of us will be on the beach in ﬁve years. There are so many dumb meeting rooms out there that we need to make clever.” Asdourian looked to 3D to provide an even more lifelike experience. “When you get to the 3D experience, that’s a completely different ball game. It’s more than just what you see on a person’s face, it’s what you experience in their entire expression, which is something you get face-to-face that video doesn’t fully capture today.”
What caught Sidwick’s imagination was the Internet of Things, and smart building environments that ‘know’ who has just entered a room and what their room set-up requirements are. “You’ll walk in, you’ll use, you’ll walk out, and the system will do everything else for you – because it knows you’re in the room, it knows what you want to do. The cloud is where your repository of information is, but IoT ensures it follows you. We’re in the very early stage of combining technologies – what we were doing ﬁve years ago will look like the Dark Ages in ﬁve years’ time.”
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34 SHOW REVIEW: DIGITAL SIGNAGE SUMMIT EUROPE
Growing event is on the move Smart city, retail and DOOH advertising were the three pillars of Digital Signage Summit Europe, which held its 10th anniversary event in late June – and is set to move to a larger venue next year. Clare Szabo reports
rganised by invidis consulting and Integrated Systems Events, the Digital Signage Summit Europe returned to the Munich Airport Hilton on 23-24 June, with the fundamentals of consumer engagement underpinning a packed programme that covered strategies for advertising, retail and public spaces. The conference got underway with a keynote address from invidis consulting managing director Florian Rotberg, who announced that owing to signiﬁcant growth, DSS Europe will next year move to a larger venue in Munich. This year’s event experienced a nearly 5% increase in delegate numbers, with 503 attendees compared to 2015’s 478. The venue change creates an opportunity for the organisers to utilise more space, introduce breakout sessions and take DSS Europe to the next level.
Trends and innovation In his presentation, Rotberg continued to touch upon the trends currently driving DOOH, such as cross-media packaging and the now standard data-driven campaign, as well as creative programmatic buying systems that will build awareness for dynamic real-time campaigns in the DOOH market. Physical retail cookies, as used by Facebook and Google, are also emerging as their capabilities to link in-store purchases to online ads increase.
A panel discussion on the morning of the second day, titled ‘Turning stores into stories’, looked primarily at the role of data and analytics now and in the future, and how stores can get better at converting their shoppers into buyers. Damian Rodgett of pilot Screentime argued that “it is still about marketing, being emotional and trying to convince the shopper that a product in that time and place is the right thing to buy”. And Razorﬁsh’s Sascha Martini predicted that the future will see the demise of loyalty cards in encouraging shoppers to go into a store. “As we begin to track people as they enter a store, a physical card will be redundant. But the question is, how do we have the data in place to do this?” Smart City made its debut as a topic in the DSS programme. A hot issue throughout the programme, it received a positive welcome from delegates, with Rotberg conﬁrming that it will return on next year’s agenda: “We’ll be keeping Smart City as a topic based on its success this year and the opportunity it offers us to reach a whole new audience group,” he said. “Moving forward, we’ll have three pillars that we believe are the future for digital signage as a conference: smart city, retail and digital out-ofhome advertising.” During the two days we saw how smart city was often cited as a new driver in the market, with the integration of digital signage offering citizens, tourists and businesses digitally based
services and solutions. One such solution was presented in the next keynote: Brad Gleeson, CCO of CIVIQ Smartscapes, discussed ‘smartscaping’ cities and presented LinkNYC, a remarkable case study examining an initiative that has converted more than 7,500 old payphones to Link kiosks that provide fast, free municipal WiFi to New York’s public. Gleeson described it as a winning infrastructure that also provides device charging, a tablet for internet browsing, as well as access to emergency services – while managing privacy concerns.
Industry drivers In the afternoon of Day 1, Neil Morris of UK-based Grand Visual looked at creative programmatics for DOOH, discussing the power of the ‘context effect’. This is effectively the impact delivered when a message is targeting a condition set in the now – namely getting the right audience, the right message and in the right conditions. Examples referenced the UK’s lottery owner, Camelot, which experienced a 50% increase in scratchcard buyers and its biggest sales week in six years after implementing a campaign celebrating the number of lottery winners in real time. Large screens in train stations linked departure times with data from scratchcards to show how many winners were expected before a certain train was due to depart. The result was a clever,
successful campaign that delivered information to which commuters could connect. However, Morris concluded that the context effect “is just a part of where we need to go”, suggesting that a loop of data-driven insight is required that is planned, traded, delivered and played out with “full reports of the playout and its attribution”.
Matchmaking Networking was very much in play at DSS Europe, with the introduction of DSS Matchmaking, a useful online tool that enables attendees and exhibitors to schedule professional meetings before and during the show. InfoComm International hosted a networking evening reception with Pamela Taggart, senior director of development Europe, closing Day 1’s proceedings by inviting delegates and exhibitors for a rewarding beer and buffet at the Airbräu. Commenting on the event, Taggart said: “It was fantastic to be a part of such a key event for digital signage in Europe. With more attendees than ever, the Summit provided excellent opportunities for business knowledge sharing and we held some very productive meetings. A host of important and engaging trends were explored at the event as part of a busy schedule – including IoT and Smart Cities – and I think there was something for everyone in the industry.”
Technology spotlight One of the most fascinating presentations came at the end of Day 2, when Luc Yao of Germanybased company Merck introduced free-form LCDs and their potential for integration into digital signage within cities. A global market and tech leader in liquid crystal displays, Merck
SHOW REVIEW: DIGITAL SIGNAGE SUMMIT EUROPE 35
has partnered with FlexEnable, a UK company based in Cambridge. Yao showcased ‘truly ﬂexible electronics’, which are as thin as a human hair and can wrap around a matchstick. Their potential within smart cities is vast, Yao said, adding that “innovative displays are key interfaces for modern lifestyles in cities”. Ideas to implement the technology in smart cities via wearables, transportation and digital signage were shown to delegates in video footage and images, with one example illustrating how the screen has been affixed to the back end of a bicycle frame, allowing advertisers to promote their message using a city’s bike share network.
Case studies Some other case studies illustrate the breadth of content presented during the two-day event. Stewart Caddick of Connectiv mapped the spectacular evolution of digital signage at Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport, explaining how datadriven campaigns have been implemented into duty-free concourses to drive sales. With the airport handling more than 80 million passengers annually, Caddick provided delegates with a visual insight into how the customer journey was analysed in order to boost shop ﬂoor sales, highlighting where and how digital signage can be implemented and intensiﬁed. London’s high street was the focus of JCDecaux’s presentation about its new planning and buying tool SmartBrics. Designed to assist brands in overcoming the difficulties of creating dynamic ads, the supply-side platform is currently being used on 50 digital bus shelters on Oxford Street, near the British capital’s premium retailers. Linda Ralph from UK-based Mood Media delivered a comprehensive summary of the
multi-sensoral environment for consumers. A global leader in elevating consumer experiences, Mood Media focuses on the physical in-store environment. It has achieved success with a combined digital signage and information campaign for Dutch bank ING, as well as for high-street fashion chain New Look, where a large videowall was combined with real-time photoshoots of consumers to drive traffic to the store’s basement level.
Reﬂection and future Reﬂecting on the two days, both DSS organising bodies noted the event’s ongoing success and growing interest, adding that exhibitors and sponsors continue to give positive feedback. Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events, said: “What we’re really happy to see is the expansion of DSS into other regions and the successful development of this series, but even more so our move to a larger venue next year, which will take this conference to the next level.” However, with the shock result of the UK’s so-called ‘Brexit’ vote announced only hours before the start of Day 2, invidis’ Rotberg was quick to acknowledge concerns. “The effects on all of Europe will be noticed as the UK is the second most important digital signage market in Europe after Germany, so there will certainly be concerns as the results of the EU referendum unfold.” But he voiced optimism that the industry would not be affected, citing additional events already conﬁrmed for MENA, Africa and the USA as evidence the DSS series is facing a bright future.
36 BUSINESS FEATURE: SPORTS VENUES
Cashing in on content
Key Points Clubs and venues at all tiers are looking to produce both short- and long-form content for use in venues and online platforms
Opportunities to reach new audiences and open up fresh revenue streams mean that an increasing number of sports venues and federations are investing in broadcasting equipment and becoming content creators in their own right. David Davies examines a trend that is impacting venues ranging from local athletics centres all the way up to top-ﬂight football stadiums
t was perhaps inevitable that the increasing accessibility of high-quality, low-cost broadcasting equipment would encourage more sports venues and organisations to explore new ways of reaching their fans beyond the traditional broadcasting rights holder infrastructure. But the extent to which this has become commonplace over the last few years has surprised many people – as have the diversity and innovative nature of the content being produced. Broadly speaking, sports venues and organisations are looking to produce content to satisfy two primary requirements: the deeper engagement of fans on actual event days – before, during and after the sporting activity has taken place; and outside of event days with a wealth of online content to maintain excitement levels about the venue or club between ﬁxtures. In both cases, this content brings with it fresh
opportunities to generate advertising and/or sponsorship revenue. Although the content boom sprang in large part from the world of football – where clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal now have their own sizeable broadcast and media departments – it has permeated many other sports, including rugby, tennis and athletics. Inevitably, the available resources will determine how deeply a venue or club is able to become involved with content production – or how many sophisticated broadcastquality tools it can add to its infrastructure. But with the last ﬁve years witnessing an explosion in the availability of compact and integrated media production solutions, the ‘entry point’ into this world is increasingly within reach of even the smallest operations.
Price and accessibility As the company behind some of the production
While a few cameras and editing software may provide a sufficient entry point, many venues are also investing in affordable integrated media production systems Football was undoubtedly the trailblazer in this area, but now the trend is spreading to rugby, cricket, horse-racing and numerous other sports Implementing a solid and expandable network infrastructure will be crucial as content access demands continue to grow
solutions most commonly speciﬁed in sports venues around the world, NewTek is well placed to track the recent emergence of a new type of content producer. For director of sales east, EMEA, Chris Waddington, it’s the result of several important developments intersecting. “It’s no longer the reserve of the elite, and that’s down to two primary factors,” he says. “Firstly, the equipment needed to create high-quality content is now more accessible cost-wise than ever, bringing it within reach of a vast majority of people – not just top-ﬂight teams, but lower leagues as well. Secondly, the business model is such that production teams now have more ways of monetising their content, and can therefore
achieve a greater return on their investment. “Making the in-stadium experience more compelling is a particular driver of change, suggests Waddington. “From a business standpoint, increasing revenue steams beyond just tickets sales is a compelling reason for teams and stadiums to invest, whether it’s an upturn in food and beverage or merchandise sales, or more time spent in hospitality areas. If you can engage with fans and provide compelling content that grabs and holds their attention, then they are likely to stay in the stadium for longer, and you are on the way to generating more revenue.” Based in Preston, Lancashire, ADI’s remit has grown from supplying LED screens to providing a variety of solutions intended to power fan engagement, including full support of venues and clubs on match-days as well as the production and archiving of content. ADI’s Daniel Gray agrees that “most clubs are now able to provide content on at least a weekly basis, and at the bigger clubs it is more likely to be daily. [In terms of material being distributed online] it is certainly the rise of social media and the demand for more content that is leading clubs and venues to invest in the resources that allow them to become content producers.” Colin Farquhar, CEO of enterprise IP video technology specialist Exterity, says: “While we are not seeing the trend at the bottom-
FEATURE: SPORTS VENUES
tier football clubs just yet, the second tier is certainly becoming [more involved with content production]. In the English Football League, in particular, there is a huge drive towards fan engagement and the improvement of the matchday experience so that it appeals to the younger generation. So you see a lot of people trying to ﬁnd new ways to do that through in-house media production, social media sharing and distribution of video within the arena or stadium itself.”
‘If you can provide content that helps to hold fans in the stadium for longer, then you are on the way to generating more revenue’ Chris Waddington, NewTek
The online content is also helping to drive physical attendance at sports events, says Kevin O’Connor from Sonic Foundry, whose ﬂagship solution is the Mediasite Video Platform – an automated and scalable system for creating, publishing, searching and managing video material. “A lot of the stadiums and associations
we deal with are using the online content to drive in-person attendance – the idea being that people will see material online and think that would be a great thing for me to go in the near future,” says O’Connor.
Production tools At the most basic level, it is possible for venues and clubs to invest in a very basic set-up – essentially little more than a few cameras and some decent editing software – that allows them to capture player interviews and other footage around the ground. But the availability of lowercost integrated production solutions is prompting an increasing number of venues to raise their sights expectation-wise. For NewTek, the story of its presence in sports venues began a new chapter in 2005 with the launch of the ﬁrst product in the TriCaster family, which provides an integrated multi-camera production and media publishing solution to create programmes for streaming, online video, post-production, broadcast, social media and projection. In recent years, the introduction of more cost-friendly solutions like TriCaster and 3Play has brought full production capabilities within the reach of an even greater cross-section of customers. “When we developed TriCaster we wanted to take all of our expertise and know-how in building
38 FEATURE: SPORTS VENUES integrated production systems and offer a solution with a very comprehensive feature set – but at a signiﬁcantly lower price than the vast majority of solutions out there. TriCaster has all the capabilities people need and love when telling a story through video,” says Waddington. Acknowledging the fact that “when it comes to sports production you have to think about two main aspects – graphics and replay – and both of those can be expensive”, NewTek has also developed 3Play. Geared towards the needs of local producers, 3Play offers a feature set including: multi-camera capture, 2-channel delivery to feed video boards or broadcast; seamless mixing of live video with assets from a media library; and slow-motion playback. “As well as the fact that it is possible for clubs and venues [to use these solutions] to produce content in a seamless way, using integrated systems means that there is no longer a need to have large teams to produce content,” says Waddington. “Smaller production teams can be more agile, more efficient, more reactive and, of course, more cost effective”
Service providers Although some venues and clubs have gone down the road of adding dedicated broadcast personnel – or at the lower tiers sourcing help from local media colleges – and effectively doing everything in house, there is also a model that
‘We are registering a signiﬁcant increase in demand for more effective distribution of material in the stadium [with an] effective network layer at the core of the solution’ Colin Farquhar, Exterity
sees an external company help to produce, distribute and archive content on their behalf. In the UK, ADI is arguably the leading light of this particular trend. “We work in two primary ways here in that we are able to empower the clubs to produce their own content, and then also support that with the content we have produced. We have the dedicated resources – including producers and directors – to be able to deliver those services,” says Gray. While there is no doubt that football has been the trailblazer in terms of the sports content boom, Gray says the trend is also permeating other sports. Meanwhile, the company is continuing to consolidate the success of Live Venue – its ﬁbre network that connects stadiums
throughout the UK to the world’s leading broadcasters. Among other features, Live Venue makes it possible to connect and deliver live content to every screen in a stadium, allowing the provision of “truly collaborative programming” and removing the need for investment in on-site studios and personnel. Live Venue also makes it possible to deliver a huge range of additional streaming, content and asset management services. As well as its core weekly work, ADI can also provide additional resources to help sports venues and clubs celebrate their most special moments. Leicester City’s recent triumph in the English Premier League is a case-in-point, with ADI providing LED screens for the celebratory parade event in Victoria Park, as well as a team to ﬁlm and produce live footage of the parade and the signal distribution linking live cameras back to the park. A production team was also on site to edit and distribute highlights footage to external broadcasters.
Content types In terms of the actual content being produced by venues with more sophisticated set-ups, it is evident that this can take many different forms. As Farquhar notes: “The material we are seeing is often ancillary material, in order words feeds that augment the experience. Those might include material from previous games, interviews with players and managers, and some locally produced fan stuff.” Inevitably, a fair amount of this content is shortform material of a few minutes or so that can be pushed out on various social media platforms, as well as used to intersperse feeds on internal venue digital signage networks. But there are also plenty of operations that are delivering full, ‘bells
and whistles’ magazine-style programmes – such as the Cardiff City FC example cited by James Keen, marketing manager of IPTV, VOD and digital signage specialist Tripleplay Services. “Every week they produce an hour-long TV show that includes interviews with players, training ground footage and goals of the week, as well as coverage of the juniors’ team, the women’s team and the Cardiff City soccer school,” says Keen. “They record all footage and distribute it to social media channels, as well as playing it out on match-days at around 1:30pm. It’s a way of being inclusive to fans and also encouraging them to come to the site a bit earlier.”
Network capability and IP workﬂows For venues thinking about the future, the decisions that are being made about infrastructure now are perhaps more crucial than ever before. This is due in no small part to the explosion in bandwidth requirements that is almost certain to take place over the next few years. With many fans wishing to access high-quality replays and additional content while they are inside the venue, it stands to reason that WiFi networks will need to be expanded and strengthened. The current emergence of 4K content is also going to add to the bandwidth burden. But with content also likely to take on new and unexpected forms as demand grows, the impulse to embrace IP-based production will also be difficult to ignore. “There is a tremendous amount of interest in the industry around the topic of IP workﬂows,” says Waddington. “With an Ethernet network in stadium, it is going to be much easier to deploy cameras as and when you want them. Our NDI (Network Device Interface) protocol affords you the opportunity to bring different
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40 FEATURE: SPORTS VENUES types of technology into the production process, plus you’ll be able to broadcast to more screens, more devices, more platforms and therefore, more people.” Launched at IBC2015, NDI enables multiple video systems to identify and communicate with one another over IP, and to encode, transmit and receive many streams of high-quality, lowlatency, frame-accurate video and audio in real time. The protocol can beneﬁt any networkconnected video device, including video mixers, graphics systems, capture cards and many other production devices, including mobile devices. As a leading developer of IPTV solutions, Tripleplay Services has been well placed to observe the adoption of IP-based solutions at venues throughout Europe. Keen is sure that the trend is ongoing, although inevitably the nature and extent of deployments will continue to “vary massively in line with individual budgets and demand. For example, I know of clubs that have spent upwards of half a million pounds on digital signage IPTV systems, while some at the other end of the market may spend in the region of £30,000 or so.” But even the smaller clubs can beneﬁt from the type of installation where bespoke content and subscription channels can be distributed
to VIP suites and corporate boxes as a further way of enhancing the experience before and after matches – with the obvious commercial possibilities this connotes.
Ain’t seen nothing yet? While all the vendors who spoke to Installation for this feature remarked upon current strong activity levels, it is clear that the next few years are going to witness a further explosion in demand for content and distribution solutions. Alongside demand from the main mass-appeal sports, enquiries are also coming from “velodromes, swimming centres, horse-racing tracks and so on. We are registering a signiﬁcant increase in demand for more effective distribution of material in the stadium [with an] effective network layer at the core of the solution,” says Farquhar. That solid networked foundation is likely to become even more crucial as European countries follow the US lead on “match-day production, where everything is preplanned and produced”, says Keen. “With American football, for example, there is quite a broad scope for production as it can take 4.5 hours to ﬁnish a one-hour game! But here in the UK we are starting to see that kind of experience being emulated with fan zones and public areas set up with screens to show live
produced content and interviews. I think we will see more and more of that kind of initiative as organisations work to maximise revenue generation.” Ten years ago the complexity and cost of implementing a broadcast-quality infrastructure would have been prohibitive for all but the top-tier venues. But thanks to the advent of more costeffective and user-friendly solutions, the ability to have a high-quality production infrastructure has now been brought within the reach of a sizeable majority of clubs and organisations. Simultaneously, the smartphone revolution and ever-growing numbers of social media platforms have heralded the possibility of engaging with audiences in new ways – and thus opened up new methods of generating revenue through subscription and advertising. So while a great deal has already happened in this area, it’s difficult not to conclude that it’s really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this exciting new sphere of content creation.
www.adi.tv www.exterity.com www.newtek.com www.sonicfoundry.com www.tripleplay-services.com
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42 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: AV IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS
Key Points Products specifically designed to withstand extreme conditions are widely available IP ratings should be treated with caution: they’re a guide, but not the whole story
Appropriate enclosures can be worth considering Installing AV systems in harsh environments can be profitable – but can be a money pit if corners are cut
As technology becomes progressively more capable, we ﬁnd new ways of using it and new places to deploy it. As Ian McMurray discovers, that can take manufacturers and installers into tricky territory
or those of us who have grown up during the computing revolution, perhaps one of the most startling developments has been the advent of fantastically resilient electronics. Time was, if you moved a computer, you’d better have arranged for an engineer to ﬁx it when it got to its new location. Now, we expect to be able to sit on our mobile phones; throw our laptops on the back seat of the car; take our tablets to the beach. But try leaving any of those consumer devices in direct sunlight for more than a brief period. Or immersing it in the bath. Or dropping it on a hard ﬂoor. Extremes of heat and cold, the probability of water ingress and the threat posed by contaminants are, however, becoming increasingly common challenges for the AV industry as customers look to leverage the technology in the most daunting of environments. “We installed an LED wall in a water park in the Middle East,” notes Jonathan Cooper, business development consultant, NEC Display Solutions Europe. “The system has to withstand extreme daily temperature shifts, salt water and humidity.” “One example we have seen a number of times involves architectural lighting for ski lodges, theme parks and so on in far north geographies that get several feet of snow during winter months,” adds Bradford Benn, solutions manager, Harman Professional Solutions. “In these cases, devices such as in-ground washes can end up under snow
for several months at a time. This can cause the temperature around the ﬁxture to drop quite low.”
IP ratings: a quick guide
Sun, rain, salt, humidity “The harshest environment is undoubtedly marine, where sun, rain, salt and extreme temperature and humidity changes are all factors,” rejoins Jason Baird, research and development director at Martin Audio. “Overcoming those challenges for the products we have installed in such an environment took a considerable amount of engineering and also testing.” Dikran Tawitian, head of marketing and sales at Inﬁnitus Outdoor has, unsurprisingly, given the nature of his company’s business, many war stories. “We have a site within the Arctic Circle in Sariselka, Finland that needed to cope with extremes of cold, snow covering – which eventually melts – and long days of sunshine. In Qatar, another system is challenged by heat and microscopic dust particles. At the nuclear plant in Dounreay, Scotland, proximity to the coast means salt water is always trying to destroy both the electronics and the enclosure. In another installation in the Adriatic port of Split, humidity, a salty atmosphere and heat are real threats.” “Our enclosures are installed across the globe, from the frozen north to the tropics and deserts,” smiles Tim Burnham, president of Tempest. “One such example is our work at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert, where the
While the ﬁrst digit is often used to determine the extent to which a product is dust-tight, it also indicates the extent to which any foreign body can be inserted into the enclosure. The second digit describes the extent to which a product is waterproof – from protection against condensation (1) to the ability to operate in conditions of complete immersion (8). Thus, an IP57 rated product should not be susceptible to harmful dust and should operate even after temporary immersion. installation was able to withstand extreme heat and protect against sand ingress, dust storm damage and the unpredictable storm cells that strike this part of Nevada. The harsh desert conditions were a great test of our Blizzard enclosures, which protected eight Christie Roadster projectors.”
Audio manufacturers respond Housing a piece of equipment in a specialist enclosure is certainly a solution in many environments – but is, for example, perhaps less likely to work for an audio system. How are audio manufacturers responding to the requirement?
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44 FEATURE: AV IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS “For many of our speakers, we actually have two levels of outdoor ratings – WRC and WRX,” explains Benn. “These are variants of our standard speakers with additional environmental protections added. WRC speakers have an IP55 rating, which should be more than sufficient for speakers installed under eaves or an overhang. For installations requiring direct exposure to the elements or designed for more extreme environments, we offer our WRX treatment. JBL’s WRX speakers employ ﬁbreglass around the outside – including all corners – and the interior is sealed with gelcoat. This beefs up the protection rating to IP56, ensuring the device will be protected from the sort of high-force water jets that a speaker might encounter in a storm.” Benn also describes how, in northern climates, Harman has also used pink noise generators built into the ampliﬁers to keep the loudspeakers active at all times, preventing them from icing up and the ferroﬂuid from becoming stiff.
‘IP ratings can be misleading with high-power equipment, since it is essential to blow large amounts of air through them’ Tim Burnham, Tempest
“For a number of years, Martin Audio has offered loudspeaker products speciﬁcally designed for outdoor use, whether on a permanent or temporary basis,” says Baird. “They differ from our standard products in a number of ways, which relate to the requirements of the environment they are used in; typically water ingress, humidity, corrosion and UV resistance are the primary concerns.” It seems that audio manufacturers have it covered. But what of display companies such as Inﬁnitus? “All of our outdoor displays are designed to withstand UV radiation, extremes of heat and cold, water, vandalism, humidity and rapid changes in conditions,” declares Tawitian.
The TNI challenge Tobias Augustin, product manager – large-format displays at NEC, outlines one of the challenges. “TNI is the temperature at which the pure liquid crystal system in a display undergoes the isotropic-nematic transition,” he notes. “Below this point, the liquid crystals work perfectly. If the temperature rises above this transition point, though, the crystals will melt and lose their ability to guide light. The screen will create black spots in the affected areas. To prevent this, the NEC HB display series uses liquid crystals with a
All at sea with Martin Audio According to Martin Audio, maritime is among the harshest environments in which AV equipment can be installed – and the company’s loudspeakers have been speciﬁed throughout two recently commissioned cruise liners, operated by Germany-based TUI Cruises. In addition to Martin Audio’s MLA Compact Multicellular Loudspeaker Array – making its marine debut – the installation included solutions such as OmniLine, Screen 4 and Effects 5 cinema speakers, DD6 differential dispersion technology, W8LC compact line array, XD15 and examples from the AQ architectural range – as well as marine versions of standard speakers to withstand life out at sea. higher TNI of 110°C which will guarantee perfect visibility even in situations where sunlight is heating the panel surface, compared to standard screens using panels with a TNI of 60-80°C.” A recurring theme in any discussion of AV systems in harsh environments is a product’s IP (ingress protection) rating [see boxout, page 42]. In theory, that rating tells an integrator or end user everything that needs to be known about the suitability of the product for challenging deployments – but is that really the case? “We ﬁnd IP ratings fairly accurate,” says David Weatherhead, president of integrator Advanced. “Being headquartered in Canada, we are used to extreme temperatures. Next month, we’ll be installing a 2 x 3 LCD videowall for an outside shopping mall. The display will need to endure -40°C to +40°C temperatures. We are also using Batko for the custom enclosure.”
Look further Others believe it’s important to look further. “A device’s IP rating is obviously important,” believes Benn, “but you should also look at durability and life expectancy – that is, how many hours the device is rated for and how it will stand up
over time. You should always consider both the operating and storage temperatures, especially for installations where it can be either very hot or very cold during certain times of the year.” Baird develops the theme. “IP ratings are only half the story at best,” he avers. “Additionally, you need to look for UV stability of enclosures and also at things such as salt spray tests, in order to determine the likely colour-fastness and corrosion resistance of the product over time. A product’s operating temperature and relative humidity range are also often speciﬁed. Beware of products where this information is unavailable. Environmental testing is time consuming and therefore costly. It also usually throws up some surprises too, so experience is a key factor in designing products which will last in harsh environments.” Inﬁnitus’s Tawitian, however, is vehement in his belief that users and installers need to tread with care. “Its IP rating absolutely does not tell you whether you can expect an AV product to perform in extremes of heat/cold, rain/snow or dust/ contaminants,” he considers. “The IP rating is only part of the story, and you need to understand the complete thermal management system to be able to judge. For example: an IP66 enclosure is good,
46 FEATURE: AV IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS the norm. Few companies have more experience in this than Alcorn McBride.
because it will be clean. But on the other hand, you need to know how to create an operational environment for an LCD display in that closed box – otherwise, it will just be big oven.” In other words: a product’s IP rating is a rough guide as to the conditions under which a product can be expected to operate – but no more than that.
Remote monitoring “Being in themed entertainment, harsh environments are the norm for us,” laughs the
Misleading Building on Tawitian’s point, Tempest’s Burnham believes it’s also important to be realistic. “IP ratings can be misleading with high-power equipment, since it is essential to blow large amounts of air through them. This inevitably means that we need to provide large, ﬁltered vents for the air to pass through. The inlet vents are invariably ﬁltered to prevent passage of dust particles larger than 10 microns, but we have to allow some level of dust ingress along with the air, or there would be no ventilation. Tempest enclosures are tested and approved to NEMA 3R, a weatherproof standard for electrical enclosures. I think the most important thing with Tempest enclosures is that they are proven to work.” Designing products for harsh environments is, of course, all about reliability – but maintenance of those products is likely to be more taxing than
‘The harshest environment is undoubtedly marine, where sun, rain, salt and extreme temperature and humidity changes are all factors’ Jason Baird, Martin Audio
company’s director of sales, Scott Harkless. “Access to the product is often difficult, so you really want to avoid systems that need to be rebooted often or have hardware cleaned, replaced or reseated. Computer-based systems are an obvious no-no for these very reasons. Remote monitoring is, of course, very important but easily solved as most professional-grade equipment has Ethernet functionality.”
Installing AV systems in inhospitable environments is not to be undertaken lightly – but, done well, it can be ﬁnancially rewarding, according to Advanced’s Weatherhead. “If they’re done right, they’re a great way to add proﬁt,” he says. “Frequently, though, I see competitors cut corners selling outdoor displays that will not survive the Canadian climate. The client can often put pressure on you to go for a cheaper solution, but in the end it will be a huge money pit when the display fails and has to be completely replaced with a new more robust solution – the one that should have been selected in the ﬁrst place. We simply will not sell a solution we do not believe will work for the long term in the local environment.” Given the strides the industry has made in developing products signiﬁcantly more robust and reliable than the typical phone, tablet or laptop, there can be few excuses for getting it wrong.
www.advanced-inc.com www.alcorn.com www.harman.com www.infinitus-outdoor.com www.martin-audio.com www.nec-display-solutions.com www.tempest.biz
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48 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: PRODUCT PICKS
SiliconCore Camellia z
Custom driver chip produces four times the pixel processing speed, while reducing the required number of LED drivers by over 75% Ideally suited to corporate, control room and retail applications Minimum viewing distance of less than 1m
Analog Way VIO 4K z
With all options, VIO 4K features up to nine inputs and three independent outputs. Although only one source can be processed simultaneously to the three outputs at any given moment, each video delivery of the selected source can have different resolution and image area of interest Adapted for non-standard signal management, specifically for LED walls
AV Stumpﬂ Wings Engine Raw z
Capable of playing up to four times 4K uncompressed video content at 60fps It hosts AV Stumpfl’s new WingsRX render core engine, developed especially for premium quality picture applications Wings Engine Raw contains professional server technology from IT data centre equipment
Barco F90-4K13 z
Designed for installation in visitor attractions, boardrooms and auditoriums as well as its primary simulation applications The laser phosphor light source enables users to experience both image quality and cost efficiency Offers installation flexibility able to run in any orientation, due to its wide range of lenses from ultra short to long throw
Top gear Installation has featured a plethora of impressive product launches so far this year. Duncan Proctor looks at the impact that the most signiﬁcant solutions have had across the industry
tarting with displays, the level of R&D and pure competition across this sector is reﬂected in the number of technologies vying for market share. While LCD remains the safest and most versatile option, LED has become a genuine force with more of the major players in the industry introducing LED solutions. SiliconCore is leading the way with its Camellia 0.95mm LED display, which is the lowest pixel pitch LED display in production. SiliconCore’s LED driver chip features a highspeed pixel clock, ensuring the display has the bandwidth to reach 4K while maintaining brightness, colour depth and uniformity. Common Cathode technology reduces power consumption by up to 40%, which generates less heat as well as extending the lifespan to over 100,000 hours. “The high-end LED display industry is driven by demands for increasing resolution, which is why we have seen such a change in the last three years in dramatically reduced pixel pitch,” says Steve Scorse, VP of EMEA for SiliconCore. “At the same time, we’ve seen costs coming down, and this has really impacted the industry in terms of increased adoption and more creative applications.” One of the most exciting recent developments in the industry is OLED, which has signiﬁcant upside such as improved image quality and reduced power consumption; however at this point the technology is still spoken of more in terms of potential. Additionally, HDR (high dynamic range) offers many advantages in terms of picture quality, promising higher contrast and a wider gamut of colours, but like other emerging technologies it is ready for some
applications today but not for the mainstream, as issues with processing and distribution of content remain. 4K continues to be the focus for many manufacturers and is edging closer to becoming an industry standard. This year Analog Way launched its VIO 4K multi-format converter, a video processing toolbox offering the latest digital connectivity. Natively equipped with seven inputs and a single multi-plug output, VIO 4K enables the conversion of signals including Dual-link DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, 3G-SDI, SPF module cage and universal analogue, into an impressive array of output signal formats up to 4K 30Hz 4:4:4. “The VIO 4K converter experienced a tremendous start,” says Philippe Vitali, Analog Way product marketing director. “The product was very well received by the market which appreciated its ‘anything in, anything out’ capabilities, as well as its unique functionalities for LED walls. “To ensure a futureproof and scalable solution, we keep on further developing the product through new audio and video expansion modules. Among them, the video card capable of supporting formats up to 4K 60Hz 4:4:4 should make the VIO 4K even more attractive.” From signal management to content management, AV Stumpﬂ pushed the limits once again this year with the release of the Wings Engine Raw. Able to deliver up to four times uncompressed 4K60 playback, the Wings Engine Raw is currently setting the standard for media servers. Tobias Stumpﬂ, CEO at AV Stumpﬂ, explains: “Wings Engine Raw 8K is another example of how AV Stumpﬂ is continuing to raise the
FEATURE: PRODUCT PICKS 49
performance bar. It far exceeds any competition in the market today. It can be used to manage content over a virtually unlimited number of LED screens or to drive a four by 4K projection system with soft edge blending, mapping and geometry correction.” As reported in the June issue of Installation (via Futuresource Consulting), the projector market is facing challenges from competing display technologies, which resulted in a 7% drop-off in worldwide sales of mainstream B2B projectors in Q1 2016. However, laser phosphor projectors are getting cheaper and brighter, broadening the scope of the technology and providing a source of strong growth. The F90-4K13, from Barco’s F90 series of solid-state projectors for the simulation market, not only delivers in terms of picture quality but is also claimed to be the smallest, lightest 4K projector on the market. It offers smearing reduction, which ensures that fast-moving objects are depicted with the highest accuracy; the laser phosphor technology provides a high level of illumination, meaning fewer channels are needed on large display areas, reducing TCO. Barco’s director strategic marketing pro AV, Peter Pauwels, comments: “The core values
For more information: call +31(0)40 2647400 or email email@example.com
of the F90 are ﬂexibility, freedom and 4K. We are already looking forward to bringing more in 2017.”
Logitech Group Kit z
Conferencing and collaboration In the ﬁeld of videoconferencing and collaboration, 2016 has been a big year already, seeing Logitech and Microsoft enter the market for the ﬁrst time. From Logitech, the Group Kit with Intel NUC, is the company’s ﬁrst collaborative meeting room solution. The Group Kit includes a Logitech Group ConferenceCam, Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 PLUS, Intel NUC, Intel Unite application and Iluminari Quicklaunch SE. It is compatible with virtually all PC-based video and web conferencing platforms, requiring just a display and internet connection in a meeting room. The Group Kit offers 1080p video and professional-grade audio and is optimised for use with Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, Cisco Jabber, and a number of Logitech Collaboration Program members including BlueJeans and Zoom. “Customers across Europe have expressed a need to easily procure, manage and deploy affordable videoconferencing in meeting rooms without being locked into a single platform.
Optimised for Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, and Cisco Jabber The Intel NUC enables the system to run HD videoconferencing with support for multiple HD and 4K UHD displays Features a fully configurable user interface as well as one-touch meeting starts, and automated room resets
50 FEATURE: PRODUCT PICKS Microsoft Surface Hub z
Able to detect 100 points of multi-touch and three simultaneous pen inputs Combines videoconferencing, whiteboarding and annotation Utilises features from Windows 10, Skype for Business, Office, OneNote and Universal Windows apps
www.microsoft.com/microsoft-surface-hub Shure Microﬂex Advance z
Consists of a table and a ceiling array, which both come in black, white and aluminium Table Arrays provide adjustable coverage areas in table-top solutions Ceiling Arrays provide configurable and invisible coverage from above rooms of any size, shape or application
www.shure.eu Dante Via z
Delivers routing of computer-based audio, allowing applications and devices to be networked and interconnected Enables the creation of a Dante network without the need for dedicated hardware, making it easy to route audio using only computers USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt devices can join any Dante audio network
www.audinate.com amBX SmartCore z
Smartcore is lighting control software designed for use with smart, connected lighting systems Significantly reduces the time it takes to program a lighting control system, due to its scalable nature enabling scenes to be applied to any number of lighting points Uses five different types of sensors and can be combined with daylight harvesting systems
Logitech and Intel have joined forces to address this need and taken the guesswork out with a fully tested and pre-conﬁgured solution,” says Anne Marie Ginn, senior category manager, Logitech, EMEA. Something of a watershed moment, the hugely anticipated release of the Microsoft Surface Hub proved to be worth the wait. The fervour surrounding the Surface Hub led to high initial demand, which only grew while Microsoft ‘tuned’ its manufacturing process, with shipping delayed till March this year. Available as a 55in or 84in solution, the Surface Hub combines key collaborative scenarios, including general communications, visualisation brainstorming, remote collaboration and data insights. Both versions are integrated with optically bonded displays capable of detecting 100 touch points and up to three simultaneous pen inputs, as well as dual 1080p frontfacing video cameras, and a four-element microphone array that detects and follows voices to eliminate background noise during videoconferencing sessions. “Surface Hub was always going to be a gamechanger in the AV industry as a collaboration tool, because it stepped in as a completely new solution and a transformation to the way people worked,” says Mark Tildesley, collaboration director at distributors Maverick UK (see Roundtable, page 30). “While previously collaboration tools existed, Microsoft brought them together in the Surface Hub product, while at the same time, creating a new hardware category that bridged AV and IT.” Shure Microﬂex Advance networked array microphones proved to be one of the highlights at this year’s ISE show. The premium network solution is designed speciﬁcally for AV conferencing, whether in a high-end executive boardroom, meeting room or huddle room. The system consists of MXA310 Table Arrays and MXA910 Ceiling Arrays, which feature a new pattern with more targeted directivity, unlike the polar pattern on traditional solutions. For greater control, they feature builtin browser-based software for set-up and conﬁguration. The microphones also have preconﬁgured templates for quick set-up. For third-party control system compatibility, Shure uses Ethernet commands to communicate to audio DSPs or control systems, so the mics can be controlled via touchscreen. “The launch of Microﬂex Advance has been a major milestone for both Shure and audio conferencing technology,” comments Duncan Savage, manager, systems group, Shure Distribution UK. “We are noticing a sea-change in the way integrators and their clients think about
conferencing sound and the great impact it has on their business, from client perceptions to productivity, collaboration and the health and the well-being of staff.”
Networked audio – and lighting With networked audio solutions on the rise, backed up by a survey conducted by Installation in conjunction with RH Consulting, Audinate stands to beneﬁt the most with the results indicating Dante was far and away the most popular industry protocol (see page 8). To spread Dante functionality, Audinate introduced Dante Via, which brings Dante functionality to IT networks as well as any audio device connected to it and any audio applications it is running. The software allows a Dante network to be created without the need for dedicated Dante hardware, providing a straightforward approach to routing audio using only computers. Dante Via also enables integrators, engineers and end-users to create and extend audio systems using cost-effective computer based networked I/O to virtually anywhere. Brad Price, Dante’s senior product manager, explains: “Dante Via has expanded the ways that people are using Dante, bringing previously non-networked equipment and software to Dante audio networks in installations and stages alike, at minimal cost. We think we are just beginning to see the creative possibilities that Dante Via opens up in products that our customers already have.” In the lighting sector, the next big step is the use of PoE and IoT in lighting control systems such as the SmartCore from amBX, with PoE representing a “paradigm shift in lighting,” according to John Niebel, CEO of amBX. The new software delivers more ‘humancentric’ control, as well as less programming compared with traditional lighting control systems. It also offers cost savings with reduced infrastructure costs from sharing Ethernet cabling. SmartCore uses input readings from sensors as well as direct control by users to produce the best possible implementation of the desired outcome using the light ﬁttings that are available. The ﬁve different sensors include daylight harvesting, occupancy, colour temperature, air quality, and room humidity and temperature. “Interest in amBX SmartCore from the lighting industry has been excellent since its launch in March this year,” says David Eves, director, CTO and founder. “From the immediate reaction and ongoing engagement with the industry, we have seen that a software solution is certainly the right approach for the new generation of connected lighting.”
The MX Half & Half Board
WHOLE IS GREATER
ITS PARTS. Aristotle
The half & half input board for the MX matrix switcher series
52 SOLUTIONS: OPERA THEATRE, FLORENCE
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
Florence and the machines The new Tuscan opera theatre has an impressive array of digital audio equipment and an extensive stock of LED lighting. Mike Clark reports
ork on the construction of Florence’s new Opera Theatre began several years ago, but only in recent months did the entire staff of the famous Maggio Musical Fiorentino programme of concerts and opera and ballet (in its 79th season this year) move into its new home. Although the ﬁnal stage of the lengthy equipment installation process (the stage mechanism) has still to be completed, along with part of the actual building work, the venue is already staging operas and other shows. Described as a “traditional horseshoe-shaped Italian-style opera house design interpreted by avant-garde architecture”, the theatre’s architectural design, by Rome’s ABDR Architetti Associati, won a national award in 2014 for the best architectural work over a ﬁve-year period. Acoustics obviously play a fundamental role in venues of this type and, as well as supplying the stage’s acoustic shell, specialist German ﬁrm Müller-BBM did the acoustic planning for all spaces (room acoustics as well as building and technical acoustics). Acoustic project leader Jürgen Reinhold worked with acoustic engineer Simone Conta on the project. He explains: “We did all the site supervision for acoustically relevant details, laboratory measurements in our labs for the seating, curtains, etc, carried out the ﬁnal
measurements and worked with the musicians during the inauguration and on-going performances.” As well as the Opera Theatre, there are numerous rehearsal rooms of various sizes. The largest, for orchestra plus choir with a volume of 3,500 cubic metres, has variable room acoustics. Six smaller ones (400–700 cubic metres) for sections of the orchestra are also variable. “In order to ensure unrestricted simultaneous use of the venue’s concert hall and the opera hall, an acoustic joint was created between these two structures. The big rehearsal rooms are built in a ‘box-in-a-box’ format, with massive masonry walls put on resilient supporting elements, heavy ﬂoating ﬂoors and a countertop consisting of several layers of plasterboard. In this way, they are separated acoustically from each other and from the concert hall and opera hall.” Reinhold worked on the restoration of some very important European opera houses, such as the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, acoustically reinstalled after the building was destroyed by ﬁre. That was followed by projects such as the San Carlo in Naples, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and the Opera Garnier, Paris. He remarks: “For the next step – hopefully soon – together with the realisation of the auditorium, we shall ﬁnalise the huge stage rehearsal room, the big choir room (2,600 cubic metres) and
Installed Audio Midas PRO1 and PRO9 consoles Yamaha 02R96, 01V and 03D consoles Lexicon PCM92 reverb Klark Teknik DN360 graphic EQ Behringer UltraCurve DSP 8024 EV Xi-1122 full-range speakers EV Xi-1191, EVF-1181S subwoofers EV Dx38 DSPs EV EVA-2082 dual-element line-array modules EV EVU-2082/95 two-way speakers EV ZX1-90 two-way passive speakers Akai DR8 HD recorder Digidesign Digi 002R and 003R control surfaces RME Fireface UC interface
Video Eiki LC-XT5 projector NEC NP3250G projector Philips LC4341 projector Dataton Watchout multi-display software
Lighting Clay Paky A.LEDA Washes Spotlight ProfiLED 150, 600 Zoom RGBW Spotlight ProfiLED 150 Zoom RGBW, 250 Zoom Spotlight LED Bars 200 RGBW Spotlight PARLED 200 RGBW Spotlight PCLED 200 Warm, 600 RGBW Spotlight LED cyc 300 RGBW Spotlight FresneLED 600 Warm White Spotlight Motorised PCLED 600 RGBW Spotlight SpotLED 55 Warm White about a dozen small individual rehearsal studios for one to two musicians.” Regarding the acoustics, world-famous conductor Zubin Metha has said: “It’s almost like being embraced by the room… the sound is warm and soft, but also powerful and incisive, and diffused evenly throughout the room, highlighting ensemble parts, the various sections and the solo passages. The musicians can ﬁnally hear one another, a decisive factor for quality.”
Audio for productions Silvio Brambilla, head of the theatre’s AV department, has worked with the Maggio
About the consultant Founded in 1962, Müller-BBM has a workforce of over 400 and offices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia It is one of the leading engineering firms for consulting services, measurement and planning in all areas of acoustics, physics, and environmental protection A world leader in room and building acoustics, Müller-BBM has contributed to the design of prestigious opera theatres in Europe, the US, Latin America, Russia and China Musicale Fiorentino since 1981 and leads a team made up of assistant Massimo Caponi and technicians Luca Tagliagambe, Stefano Fiaschi, Luca Cibecchini and Davide Nocentini. Brambilla says: “We have two Midas consoles at our disposal: a PRO1, used to mix all the live shows in the theatre and for recordings and live TV broadcasts, and a PRO9, installed in the recording/editing room for multi-track recording. Outboards are a Lexicon PCM92 stereo reverb, a Klark Teknik DN360 graphic EQ and a Behringer UltraCurve DSP 8024 Pro Digital 24-bit dual DSP mainframe/EQ.” The theatre also has a trio of Yamaha digital consoles: a 02R96, a 01V and a 03D, used when shows are staged in other theatres or outdoors. The most recent addition to the loudspeaker systems are eight Electro-Voice Xi-Series 1122 two-way full-range enclosures and four Xi-1191 subwoofers. These are supplemented by a legacy EV powerhouse comprising two AP 1200, two AP 2000 and two AP 3000 amplifiers; plus four EV Dx38 processors with
SOLUTIONS: OPERA THEATRE, FLORENCE 53 RACE editor software and crossover for the subs. These are also used for shows being staged in other theatres or outdoors, or to boost the venue’s resident system, an EV EVA line array set-up with four 2082 full-range modules flown on either side of the stage and a delay system with two 2082 and an EVF1181S sub per side. Stage monitors are four EVU-2082/95, and several other enclosures can be positioned wherever required: two EV EVF-1181S subwoofers and eight EV ZX1-90. Four EVU-2082/95 are on front fill duty. Brambilla adds: “We record all our productions, not only for our archives, but also – on request – for state broadcaster RAI and other broadcast networks. This is done with a pair of iMacs and a MacBook Pro, with Digidesign Digi 002R and 003R interfaces, an RME Fireface UC interface and an Akai DR8 HD recorder. Software includes BIAS Peak Pro 5.2, Apple Logic Studio 8, Ableton Live 7 and QLab 2.3.8.” The theatre’s resident video set-up features an Eiki LC-XT5 15,000 ANSI lumens LCD projector, a NEC NP3250G 5,000 ANSI lumens unit and a Philips LC4341. Playout is courtesy of Dataton Watchout multi-display software.
LED inventory As well as these impressive audio recording and sound reinforcement systems, the theatre is one of the ﬁrst venues of this type to be able to put a large in-house stock of LED lighting ﬁxtures at productions’ disposal. Milan’s Biobyte developed the design of the stage equipment, the multimedia systems and the stage lighting, and supplied the LED-based lighting rig.
Head electrician Gianni Pagliai explains: “At present, the theatre puts both conventional LED lighting ﬁxtures at the disposal of the productions it hosts, but our objective for the future is to exploit ﬁxtures using LED technology to the utmost. “The difficulty we meet when submitting our list of LED ﬁxtures to the various Italian and foreign lighting designers is the fact that, not being fully aware of the value of the ﬁxtures and the results they can achieve on stage, some are reluctant to change, preferring to play safe with conventionals; but in the end, once their resistance has been overcome, and they use the LED ﬁxtures, they are convinced that they offer an excellent alternative to the so-called old lights.” As well as eight Clay Paky A.leda washes, the theatre took delivery of no fewer than 300 LED fixtures by Italian manufacturer and distributor Spotlight. Since automated discharge ﬁxtures are constantly upgraded, the theatre normally brings them in according to the LDs’ requests. For example, for the 2016 Festival’s opening opera, Iolanta, they were supplied by the lighting contractor for the venue for over 25 years, Alberto Mariani’s Luce È. “We also have a long-standing relationship with Milan-based lighting manufacturer Spotlight, which has always guaranteed topgrade efficiency from its own products and the brands it distributes,” adds Pagliai, concluding, “Iolanta featured a rig with 70 automated fixtures and, thanks to Davide Gabbani of ETC Italy, we were able to control it with an ETC Gio console and the support of a specialist op drafted in for the occasion from London. This proves the importance of our festival – one of the oldest in Europe – and the cultural value of the Opera di Firenze Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Foundation.”
www.abdr.it www.akaipro.com www.apple.com/logic-pro www.avid.com www.biobyte.net www.claypaky.it www.dataton.com www.eiki.com www.electrovoice.com www.etcconnect.com www.lexiconpro.com www.luceefirenze.it www.music-group.com www.muellerbbm.com www.nec-display-solutions.com www.operadifirenze.it www.philips.com www.rme-audio.de www.spotlight.it www.yamaha.com
54 SOLUTIONS: SHREK’S ADVENTURE! LONDON
Ensuring the dream works Shrek’s Adventure! London is the ﬁrst themed attraction to feature DreamWorks characters. Installation recently had the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes look at the AV installed at there, and at other linked attractions in the same complex. Paddy Baker reports
isitor attraction operator Merlin Entertainments operates a number of experiences on London’s South Bank in and around the old County Hall building, including the Coca-Cola London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium and Shrek’s Adventure! London. Designed in co-operation with DreamWorks Tours, Shrek’s Adventure! London is “one of the ‘heaviest’ attractions that Merlin has created in terms of AV,” according to Simon Casey, show services manager at the Coca-Cola London Eye. It is also the ﬁrst themed attraction anywhere in the world to bring DreamWorks characters to life. The attraction transports visitors into Shrek’s Far Far Away Land, where they encounter various characters, both animated and played by live performers. Technology plays a big part both in creating the scenes and in ensuring that all the interactions between live and animated characters run smoothly. “Throughout Shrek’s Adventure! are a number of projected scenes – there are approximately 20 projectors in there. The performers interact with the media that’s being played around them – so that all needs a large amount of show control to run those interactions,” explains Casey. The projectors, all from Epson, are used in for projection mapping in a number of key areas: these include bringing Puss in Boots to life in a bar; animating the designs on a magical door in response to a spell cast by the visitors; and
projecting onto a model of Shrek to create the illusion of him talking, and then knocking down a stone wall in front of him. Other animated content is shown via NEC displays: in all, 10,000 frames of projected content appear throughout the attraction. In order to create a seamless experience, the actors can drive the narrative of the show. Hidden buttons, lights and sounds cue them in with other elements of the exhibit, so they can open doors and trigger audio, video, lighting and gag cues. Sound also plays an important role – with multichannel audio designed to make the different settings more lifelike, as well as drawing on the sound scores from the Shrek movies.
Networked solution Design and installation of audio, projection, show control, 4D effects – which include wind, fog and scent – and lighting was carried out by experiential technology studio Seeper, working in conjunction with SSE Audio Group as well as Merlin’s in-house AV team on the installation. To help keep infrastructure costs down and to simplify future upgrades, they designed a networked solution, deploying 12 AV racks throughout the attraction so that each zone is served locally. The equipment racks all contain the same kit (in slightly varied combinations): 7th Sense media servers, BSS Soundweb BLU-326 I/O expanders,
Audinate Dante virtual soundcard Vue Audiotechnik i-4.5 surface mount speakers Vue Audiotechnik i-6, i-8 speakers Vue Audiotechnik is-15 subwoofers Vue Audiotechnik is-26 surface mount subwoofers Bose DS40F ceiling speakers Crown DCi2|300, DCi4|300 and DCi8|300 amplifiers AtteroTech unDIO2x2 break-out boxes BSS Soundweb BLU-326 I/O expanders Focusrite RedNet One networked audio interface
Video Epson G6900 6,000-lumen WUXGA projectors Epson Z1005U 10,000-lumen WUXGA projectors Epson EBZ9875U 8,700-lumen WUXGA projector NEC P403 40in LCD displays NEC P463 46in LCD displays NEC P553 55in LCD display 7th Sense Trio, Duo, Nano, Nucleus (6-head), Infinity (8-head) and Nano Audio Delta media servers Medialon Showmaster show controllers Crown ampliﬁers and Medialon Showmaster show controllers. The media servers all feature Audinate’s Dante Virtual Soundcard, outputting audio to the Soundweb BLUs. For redundancy, a spare media server has been installed. “We can shift audio tracks between servers without any hassle,” says Casey. Nearly all the loudspeakers in the attraction are from Vue Audiotechnik – “the whole guest experience, through the ticketing hall, into admissions, then into Shrek’s Far Far Away Land, all the themed experiences, they’re all Vue Audiotechnik,” he conﬁrms. The only exceptions to this are some Bose ceiling speakers, used for background music and effects in rooms with false ceilings. For instance, the ‘Magic Portal’ features a 16-channel surround sound set-up to create a spinning vortex effect with 360˚ video content. Casey continues: “The media servers are perfectly syncing audio and video through Dante Virtual Soundcard – for example, when you get to meet Donkey, a performer interacts with that character on a display on the wall. So a good sync is needed for that interaction.” There’s a bigger synchronisation challenge
SOLUTIONS: SHREKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ADVENTURE! LONDON 55
too: â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Shrekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Adventure! There are a number of scenes where syncing and show control are very important. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got moving scenery thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s projection mapped with an actor interacting â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so you need perfect video, sound and movement, all tied in at the same time. The Medialon show control and 7th Sense media servers offered that reliability for us.â&#x20AC;?
Eye sound Dante Virtual Soundcard is also at the heart of the audio distribution at the Coca-Cola London Eye. Background music â&#x20AC;&#x201C; supplied by Imagesound â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is played from a custom-built PC, outputting over Dante Virtual Soundcard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A Focusrite RedNet One networked audio interface handles a lot of physical outs from Dante into Symetrix Prism. We chose that product because it has DSP and Dante built in,â&#x20AC;? says Casey. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also sending Dante audio over to the ride where the same background music source is playing, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using Attero Tech break-out boxes over there.â&#x20AC;? Unlike Shrekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Adventure!, which uses a dedicated AV network, the Eye (and also SEA LIFE London Aquarium) uses a shared network for AV and IT. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dante saved us a lot of cabling headaches that we would have had if we had run analogue cables everywhere. It was great
that we could just plug and play Dante over the existing infrastructure,â&#x20AC;? says Casey. He also appreciates the simplicity of the Dante networked approach. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plug and play: you plug any computer into the network and access it, and make the changes you need to.â&#x20AC;? Virtual Soundcard runs on Mac (popular with AV technicians, he says) as well as Windows. Finally, Installation readers may remember that we previously reported on the London Eye 4D Experience, which had a major audio upgrade at the start of 2014. This is still entertaining visitors before their ride on the London Eye, and, says Casey, is due to get an upgrade to Symetrix Prism DSP and Alcorn McBride show control.
www.7thsensedesign.com www.atterotech.com www.audinate.com http://pro.bose.com www.bssaudio.com www.crownaudio.com www.epson.eu www.focusrite.com www.imagesound.com www.medialon.com www.merlinentertainments.biz www.nec-display-solutions.com www.seeper.com www.sseaudiogroup.com www.symetrix.co www.vueaudio.com
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56 SOLUTIONS: NTNU HEALTH CARE SIMLAB, TRONDHEIM
Practice makes perfect This project by Caverion Norge at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology illustrated how the education of medical students can be improved through the use of simulation, reports Duncan Proctor
hen Caverion Norge was asked to create a new Medical Simulation Centre for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Faculty of Health and Social Science (NTNU), the main challenge was the lack of IP medical simulation systems that could easily be integrated with an AV solution, as well as an existing simulation supplier that could provide a 4K platform. The solution needed to fuse two distinct facets, the ﬁrst being the IP-based standalone simulation solution with simulation mannequins, servers, patient monitors, IP cameras, while the other includes more traditional AV solutions with uncompressed audio/video and HDMI signals. Caverion integrated Laerdal simulation technology with the Crestron DigitalMedia platform and an array of other AV technology including Biamp servers, Sennheiser microphones, and NEC and Philips displays.
Simulation core The core of the simulation centre is a Crestron DM-MD-128X128 matrix, currently running at 50% capacity, with all cable and DM platforms delivering 4K content. Six classrooms are equipped with smaller DM matrixes, each connected to the 128 x 128 matrix with two inputs and two outputs. The centralised videoconference codecs can be routed to any classroom or any training simulator, which means that demonstrations can be shown to many students instantaneously, instead of just groups of 10-20 students in the training simulator. Crestron USB-EXT-DM takes care of the KVM for the Laerdal Medical SimView Servers that are also centralised. Audio-Technica headsets with microphones are used with the Telex RTS intercom system,
Installed Control Crestron CP3N, AV3 control processors Crestron TSW-1050, TSW-1052 touchscreens Crestron DM-RMC-4K-100-C receivers/room controllers Crestron DM-RMC-4K-Scaler-C receivers/room controllers Crestron DM-TX1-4K-C-1G wall plate transmitter Crestron DM-MD128X128, DM-MD32X32, DM-MD8X8, DM-MD6X4 matrix switches Crestron USB-EXT-DM USB over Ethernet extender Crestron DMC-STR streaming input card Crestron DM-TX-201-C transmitter
Audio Biamp TesiraFORTÉ CI AVB 12x8 DSP units Biamp Tesira EXO and EX-MOD expanders Biamp SERVER-IO AVB Tesira server Sennheiser ew 322 G3 wireless microphone systems Sennheiser HS 2-1 ew wireless headband microphone Sennheiser ASA 1 antenna splitters Audio-Technica BPHS-1 headsets with which the operator communicates when students are in session. Sennheiser wireless mics in the auditorium and Audio-Technica ceiling mics at the training station provide stereo sound, and the system is tuned so that students appearing on the left in the picture are only heard in the left audio channel. There is also a mic by the mannequin head picking up audio when a student talks to the ‘patient’, which is tuned to only pick up sound when someone speaks close to the mic. For the patient’s voice there is a small active JBL speaker placed by the mannequin’s head. “Instead of the traditional solution of having
Audio-Technica U-853RW, ES-945W microphones Audio-Technica BPHS1 broadcast stereo headset Grape-Q25A2W speakers JBL GO portable speakers RTS BTR-800 two-channel wireless intercoms RTS TR-800 multi-channel wireless beltpacks RTS MH-302-DM-A4M dynamic microphones RTS ALP 600 bidirectional antennas
Video Sony SRG-120DH PTZ cameras Sony VPL-FHZ60, VPL-FHZ700L laser projectors Sony VPL-CH375 3LCD projectors Sony FWD-55X8600P 4K LCD displays Sony FDRAX100EB 4K camcorders Polycom RealPresence Group 500-720p codecs Axis P54 PTZ dome cameras Axis M1025 fixed cameras Philips BDL5520QL, BDL3220QL displays Grandview frame projection screens NEC MultiSync E705 LED-backlit LCD displays the operator stations and training simulators next to each other with a one-way mirror in-between, NTNU wanted a ﬂexible solution where a 50in 4K display replaced the one-way mirror to allow them to centralise much of the simulator hardware,” explains Caverion project manager Thor Berg. “So, instead of several standalone specialised simulators there is one operator room, complete with four fully equipped operator stations that can each control the six remote training simulators, offering a user-friendly, ﬂexible and easily expandable solution. Thanks to the Crestron TWS 1050 user interface, the operator can choose
SOLUTIONS: NTNU HEALTH CARE SIMLAB, TRONDHEIM
About the installer Caverion was established through the demerger of Building Services and Industrial Services businesses from YIT Group in 2013 Caverion Norway is one of the largest AV system integrators in Norway, having started working in AV in 1990 whether to speak to the students, the facilitators or to be the voice of the mannequin.” Sony 4K cameras at each training station show a ﬁxed overview of the bed on a 4K display in the operator room. Elsewhere, Sony videoconferencing cameras and laser projectors have been added in the auditoriums as well as NEC and Philips displays showing patient monitor content from the SimLab, which can also be used with a Polycom RealPresence Group kit. Each training simulator has two 1080p IP cameras set up with dual stream unicast, one 720p stream for the Laerdal Medical SimView Server, and one 1080p stream that, through the Crestron DMC-STR, connects to the 128 x 128 matrix. A third 4K camera connected to a Crestron wall plate transmitter is the operator station’s ‘window’ and is routed to a Sony 55in 4K display. The user interfaces at the operator
stations and in the classrooms are Crestron TSW-1050/1052 touchscreens. Patient monitors at each training simulator are also connected to wall plate 4K transmitters. By having the Laerdal medical solution connected to the DM platform, the client is able to route any signal to any connected classroom or via any of the four codecs to any external part. It’s also possible to route audio/video from any classroom to one or more classroom(s). A Biamp Tesira DSP routes audio from microphones and two-way communication between the operator and a facilitator who observes the students’ training in the simulator.
Happy outcome Both client and integrator are happy with the outcome. Trond Indergaard, technical manager of SimLab at NTNU, comments: “Caverion has designed and built what we consider to be a state-of-the-art simulation centre.” And Knut Gaaserud, Caverion executive VP and CEO, Division Denmark-Norway, concludes: “With an increasing demand for advanced technological solutions, we need people who do not give up where others say it is impossible. With this project Berg and his team proved that progress comes from creativity and innovation.”
www.audio-technica.com www.axis.com www.biamp.com www.caverion.com www.crestron.eu www.grandviewscreen.com www.jblpro.com www.nec-display-solutions.com www.philips.com www.polycom.com www.pro.sony.eu www.rdlnet.com www.rtsintercoms.com www.sennheiser.com
58 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
ASC and macom blend AV tech with tradition at Metzler Bank Metzler Bank has turned to macom engineering company and Amptown System Company Frankfurt to create a contemporary working environment in its new Frankfurt office. In the large bel étage conference room, ASC has set up a media wall with an integrated 90in Sharp LCD monitor and separate TV tuner, together with Fohhn AT-61 speakers behind a fabric screen. Beneath the monitor there is a Polycom videoconferencing system, while a wireless Crestron AirMedia 100 Gateway allows for BYOD into the existing network. There are two seminar rooms on the second ﬂoor, each containing a media wall incorporating a concealable 70in Sharp LCD monitor with a separate TV tuner as well as Sonus speakers and ampliﬁers. ASC also implemented three MediaCarts with integrated cable management for ﬁve additional conference rooms. A Samsung 65in LCD monitor with separate TV tuner was installed into each of these mobile system solutions.
Barco projectors used for ‘world’s most realistic ship simulator’
Norway’s Rørvik Safety Centre has completed a major upgrade to its MarinSim navigation and bridge simulator to provide shipmasters with a more realistic training experience. The simulator uses nine Barco F22 WUXGA projectors and a camera-based auto-calibration tool from German company domeprojection.com. Also new is a Transas simulator which shares a 50sqm room with a 4m x 12.6m spherical screen, onto which the nine compact Barco projectors display precise, realistic images of nautical routes and waters.
Besiktas stadium invests in K-array The Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, home to Besiktas football club, has undergone a sound system upgrade with an advanced solution from sound designer Stage Craft and distributor Lotus Technologies. The 43,000-capacity stadium, which will also host concerts and live shows, features 15 KH5 loudspeakers and six KS5 subwoofers from K-array’s Concert Series suspended from both sides of the scoreboard.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 59
E-V family for Fred Olsen cruise ship
Electrosonic provides satisfaction for Rolling Stones
EW Production Services Ltd (EWPSL) has designed and installed an ElectroVoice EV-Innovation loudspeaker system for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ MS Braemar, with the install completed at sea. To fix the audio issues in the Neptune Lounge, which hosts live music, comedy, cabaret and full theatre productions, EWPSL designed a system based on models from the Electro-Voice EV-Innovation family of installation-dedicated loudspeakers and the Electro-Voice N8000 NetMax digital matrix controller. The primary loudspeakers are four EVU-2082 mains hung above the stage and sonically matched with two EVA-1151D subwoofers. Three Electro-Voice CPS series multichannel ampliﬁers power the entire sound system. Outﬁtted with RCM-810 remote control modules from Electro-Voice, the amps integrate via IRIS-Net software into the N8000 digital matrix controller from Electro-Voice, enabling complete tailoring of each channel.
The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism is claimed to be the largest touring exhibition of its kind ever to be staged by any band or artist, as well as the band’s ﬁrst major exhibition. Currently taking place at the Saatchi Gallery in London before embarking on a world tour, it features AV systems integration from Electrosonic across its nine galleries. Overall, Electrosonic installed nearly 70 LCDs throughout Exhibitionism. LED walls are also used as a backdrop for an extensive range of designer clothes. One of the galleries consists of a spectacular display of 50 LCD screens, of different orientation and sizes, which immerse visitors in a fast-paced ﬁ lm exploring signiﬁcant moments in the band’s history. Audio also plays a signiﬁcant role throughout the exhibition, particularly in the opening show and the ﬁnale. In the ﬁrst case, Electrosonic installed a JoeCo BBp1P multichannel digital audio player, fed to a Behringer X32 rack-mounted digital mixer.
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Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF Sony THE MONTH CLEDIS display technology
It’s… Sony’s new large-scale LED display Canvas.
What’s new? CLEDIS’s construction offers dazzling image quality, high contrast and huge scalability.
Details: CLEDIS (Crystal LED Integrated Structure) uses independently controlled pixels consisting of ultrafine red, green and blue LEDs. Each pixel is 0.003sqmm in size, and together they occupy less than 1% of the surface area – the rest is black, which helps to deliver high contrast (1,000,000:1, according to Sony). The Canvas is built up from tiles measuring 403mm x 453mm (320 x 360 resolution – a pixel pitch of 1.26mm), and joins are invisible. A display controller can control up to a
maximum of 72 units (3840 x 2160), and up to 20 controllers can be synced together. Each controller sports two DisplayPort and two DVI-D (single-link) sockets. CLEDIS has a brightness of approximately 1,000 nits and a viewing angle of nearly 180º. It can display images with 10-bit colour depth and a wide colour gamut (approximately 140% of sRGB), and supports HDR content. Sony’s pixel drive circuitry enables it to show video at up to 120fps – with no delay and no artifacts in fast-moving sport, concert or simulation footage. The technology offers corner-tocorner uniformity of brightness and colour, even on a large scale. Sony is targeting the technology at environments requiring realistic simulation on a large scale and/or detailed video displays, including industrial product design and
manufacturing, theme parks, museums, hightraffic lobbies and showrooms, as well as boardrooms and broadcast studios. “Compared to other solutions currently available for large-scale display it’s a leap forward in depth, contrast, wide viewing angle, colour, resolution – and pure visual impact,” says Damien Weissenburger, business head of corporate & education solutions, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. CLEDIS was premiered at InfoComm 2016, where an 8K x 2K (7680 x 2160) display stood 2.7m high and 9.7m – and proved to be a major crowd-puller.
Available: Q1 2017 www.pro.sony.eu
62 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS TeamMate VariHite
VariHite from TeamMate is an electronically height adjustable screen stand that can be mobile or mounted to the wall for Microsoft Surface Hub or VESA-compatible flatscreen displays. Compatible with both the 55in and 84in Surface Microsoft Hub and up to 90in standard VESA mount displays, the VariHite screen stand features an in-built 19in 150mm rack for securing a PC or other AV equipment. www.teammateworld.com
combines new the 32-channel DL32R digital mixer with the DC16 control surface to deliver a solution that is said to create a new standard in live sound mixing workﬂow.
Details: With 32 remote-controllable Onyx+
7thSense has expanded its portfolio with the addition of the entry-level Nano-SDI Media Server from the Delta Media Server range. A simplified web browser-based user interface has been developed for simple playlist configurations while full Delta GUI control is still available for more complex applications. Nano-SDI is available in two configurations: Nano-1-SDI with up to 2K/HD 60p output in both compressed and uncompressed playback formats; and Nano-1-SDI-4K, which is capable of up to 4K 60p SDI uncompressed output, with storage and playback upgrade options available. www.7thsense.co.uk Hitachi LP-WU9750B Hitachi has announced its first 8,000 lumen single-chip DLP laser projector. The LP-WU9750B delivers up to 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation and features a quad-drive laser engine that is said to offer near-instant 100% brightness and built-in redundancy in the event of an unlikely single laser failure. The LP-WU9750B offers five digital connection options including SDI, HDBaseT, DVI and two HDMI ports, and seven interchangeable lenses, including the Ultra-Short Throw FL-920. www.hitachidigitalmedia.com Wyrestorm NetworkHD Touch WyreStorm has launched its NetworkHD Touch iPad control app for NetworkHD 100 and 200-Series single screen and videowall AV over IP systems. Available free from the App Store, Touch puts control of an entire NetworkHD system at a user’s fingertips, with live video preview of all sources and displays and drag-anddrop selection of content onto each display for easy switching of any number of sources to any number of displays or videowalls. www.wyrestorm.com
It’s… a digital mixing system with full Dante integration.
What’s new? The modular Axis system
mic preamps and 18 outputs paired with massive built-in DSP, the system is suitable for medium and large channel count live sound production and system integration applications. The system relies on Dante for communication between the DL32R mixer and DC16 control surface, enabling additional networking capability for professional applications. Visual feedback is provided by large, fullcolour channel displays that are said to be nearly double the size of competitive designs. Each screen delivers critical channel information with
clear functional colour differentiation, crisp icons and ultra-large, legible fonts. This is in addition to the high-resolution screens of the iPad, which is at the heart of the system. The Axis design provides a surface-towireless workﬂow, allowing users to seamlessly switch between DC16’s hardware controls and comprehensive wireless mixing. This is possible via the integrated SmartBridge, which can house up to three iPads, delivering simultaneous control over multiple channels and innovative smart sensing that knows when an iPad is in place. SmartBridge provides customisation over each iPad view with both a ﬁxed and history mode that creates workﬂow ﬂexibility.
Available: This summer www.mackie.com
Matrox Mura IPX
It’s… 4K capture and IP decoder cards that are now available to OEMs and AV system builders.
What’s new? Available in models with and without fans, the Mura IPX are an integral part of advanced videowall controllers featuring high-quality, low-bitrate multi-channel 4K or HD decoding over standard IP.
card to simplify integration and reduce installation costs. They provide four HDMI inputs for direct high-resolution 4Kp60 or 2560 x 1600p60 capture plus H.264 decoding of up to two 4Kp60, four 4Kp30, eight 1080p60 or 16 1080p30 streams. Models with fans provide onboard ventilation for compatibility with a wide range of systems.
Available: The MURA-IPX-I4DF decoder card is Details: Designed to work with Matrox Mura MPX videowall capture and display cards and Matrox C-Series multi-display graphics cards, the Mura IPX capture and decoder cards pack 4K capture plus high-density decode functionality onto a single PCIe
available now; the MURA-IPX-I4DHF fanless model will be available in Q3.
TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS 63
Cambridge Sound Management Qt Active Emitter
NEC has launched new Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) Slot-in PCs for largeformat displays and projectors, enhancing content playback for digital signage. The sixth generation Intel Core i processors offer crisp and clear UHD resolution for applications such as flight information control in airports, media playback for retail signage, menu board systems for quick service restaurants, or videoconferencing in corporate applications. www.nec-display-solutions.com
It’s… an active emitter that uses directﬁeld technology to deliver an all-in-one sound masking, office paging and background music system for commercial facilities.
What’s new? The Qt Active Emitter brings power to the barely visible emitter, allowing for louder paging and music playback through the sound masking system. Downward facing from the ceiling, the Qt delivers uniform and consistent sound masking performance. Paging and music reproduction is clear and therefore highly intelligible due to the direct distribution of sound into the office space.
Saville AV ThoughtZone
Details: The Qt Active Emitter introduces a wider sound masking frequency range and enables audio consultants to customise to their speciﬁcations. It works with the current line-up of Qt 300 and Qt 600 control modules, and new ﬁrmware allows for precise control as well as web-based management from any device.
Available: Late Q3 www.cambridgesound.com
HDL300 It’s… an audio conferencing
What’s new? This integrated wall-mounted microphone and speaker system uses Nureva’s patent-pending audio processing technology to provide remote participants with a natural conferencing experience. Nureva’s processor is 15 times more powerful than conventional systems, which enables the HDL300 to simultaneously create and process sound from more than 8,000 virtual microphones.
natural ambient sounds. The result is that remote participants feel like they’re in the same location, so they’re more engaged and the overall meeting is more productive. For ease of use, when the USB cable is plugged into a computer, the HDL300 system is recognised as a standard USB audio device – no additional drivers need to be installed. In addition, the integrated microphone and speaker bar is easily installed on any wall and connected by a single Ethernet cable (for power and communication) to the breakout box.
Details: Designed for small to mid-sized rooms, the HDL300 features 8,000 virtual microphones, each of which picks up sound from a precise location in the room, focusing on the intended voices while retaining the
To embrace the move away from formal meeting rooms towards multiple smaller agile working zones and collaboration spaces, Saville has launched ThoughtZone, a range of contemporary furniture solutions with integrated, built-in AV technology. The range comprises MindZone, sofa-based booths from two to six seats; TeamZone, for group-based brainstorming sessions; HotZone, for meetings on the go; and TalkZone, a more traditional, formal collaboration space. www.saville-av.com Vision AV VFM-W
Nureva system featuring thousands of virtual microphones to create a natural listening experience for remote participants.
NEC Slot-in PCs
Available: Late 2016 www.nureva.com
The VFM-W range of flatpanel wall mounts is new from Vision. The four models include two VESA100 and 200 mounts, and two larger models which accommodate VESA sizes up to 1200 x 600 and 800 x 400. Together they cover the spectrum of flatpanel sizes. The two larger sizes are made from especially thick material to take the weight of heavy interactive flatpanels, including Microsoft’s 84in Surface Hub. All mounts have security fixtures. www.visionaudiovisual.com Panasonic EF1 The EF1 networked display range focuses on high image quality, reliability and selfcontained functionality in an IPS panel. Each features a built-in USB media player, eliminating the need for a set-top box or a connected PC for basic functionality. It’s also possible to have synchronised playback on multiple screens using the USB media player, when connected via LAN and a hub. The EF1 series is available in 32in, 75in and 84in, expanding on the existing LFE8 series, which is available in 43in, 48in, 55in and 65in. business.panasonic.eu
64 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Mounts and furniture Manufacturers are targeting a range of applications with the latest round of solutions, which provide users with greater ﬂexibility and accessibility, writes Duncan Proctor
Arthur Holm’s BYOD-ready meeting system The DynamicX2Share is a retractable monitor that integrates a full HD video distribution and selection system. The solution requires no external devices to distribute, share and select information for a meeting. Installation is simple and monitors can be daisy-chained using one HDMI cable; it is also a BYOD-ready system. Signals for controlling the monitors are embedded into the HDMI signal so there is no need for additional cabling. DynamicX2Share includes a built-in control system, but can also be controlled remotely through an external system. There is also a retractable HDMI cable integrated into the top-table cover plate, which can be used to connect laptops, tablets and other devices. The cover plate can also integrate
a mechanism to lift and retract gooseneck microphones: these are equipped with an LED ring, which changes colour from green to red to indicate the readiness of the user to talk. For added ﬂexibility, any user can choose to control their display by selecting the shared or local signal input. Buttons can be locked remotely through the control protocol and there can also be a ‘chairman’ user with priority over others.
Large displays mounting option from Peerless Offering quick assembly and easy maintenance access, the DS-VW795-QR Full Service Quick Release Video Wall Mount is designed for displays up to 98in and 102kg. The simple push release mechanism and tool-less adjustment allows quick servicing and maintenance access, providing versatility and convenience for integrators, with estimated install time cut by 60%. The DS-VW795-QR is particularly useful for recessed videowall installs as it provides access to the rear of the screen without needing to un-mount from the wall; the installer just needs to gently press on the front of the display for access.
Unicol provides ﬂexible Surface Hub solution The Rhobus stand from Unicol is a dedicated solution for the 55in and 84in versions of the Microsoft Surface Hub that combines structural strength with cabling capacity. Its modular construction enables PCs and other systems to be arranged in different conﬁgurations. There are a number of mounting options including wall, ﬂoor to wall, stand and trolley; installation is aided by ﬂatpacked delivery. The trolley version is easy to manoeuvre with handles that are ﬁtted as standard; some trolley options can nest together to minimise the space the solution takes up. Additionally, Rhobus can be customised and branded to customer requirements.
Middle Atlantic promotes discreet mounting The UTB Series Universal TechBox is suitable for mounting equipment such as streaming devices and interface accessories discreetly within huddle spaces, conference rooms and other collaboration environments with limited rack space. It includes a pair of rackrail and front and rear covers for both 1RU and 2RU sizes and offers security for settings and cable connections by preventing tampering. The unit can be mounted horizontally or vertically without tools and its low-proﬁle design is unobtrusive. It is available in traditional 19in rackmount and a half-rack and is conﬁgurable with all necessary hardware and accessories for both sizes.
Conference 8 – 12 September : Exhibition 9 – 13 September RAI, Amsterdam
IBC2016 Conference Speakers Announced Transformation in the Digital Era Keynotes:
Sir Martin Sorrell CEO, WPP
Erik Huggers President and CEO, Vevo
Shahrzad Rafati Founder and CEO, BroadbandTV
Dominique Delport Global Managing Director, Havas Media Group
Alex Mahon The Foundry Content and Production
Alex Green Amazon IBC Leaders’ Summit
Kevin Baillie Atomic Fiction IBC Big Screen Experience
Spencer Stephens Sony Pictures Entertainment Business Transformations
Hendrick McDermott NBC Universal International Platform Futures
Sara Johnson Keshet UK Content and Production
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66 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
B-Tech’s System X range offers signage support The BT8372 videowall stand, part of B-Tech’s System X range, is available in a variety of conﬁgurations and for screen sizes between 46in and 60in. This contemporary bolt-down mounting solution supports all models of videowall screen, and is suited to digital signage applications, particularly in retail and other environments with minimal ﬂoor space. It has been designed with a small footprint to enable installation close to windows. It includes tool-less eight point micro-adjustment and a universal screen position spacer to speed up the installation process.
The simple aluminium design of the BT8372 aids integrators during assembly and the online conﬁgurator tool allows the user to specify requirements, with a choice of over 2,000 conﬁgurations for videowall set-ups ranging from 2 x 2 up to 6 x 4. The System X range also works in harmony with B-Tech’s System II range, providing over 10,000 possible mounting permutations for wall, ﬂoor, ceiling, freestanding or mobile applications.
Vogel’s delivers modular accessibility PVF 4112 videoconferencing furniture can be used as both a standalone model and combined with Vogel’s Connect-it interface bars and interface display strips to mount displays from 55in to 90in or dual displays up to 65in. To create a complete solution the PVF 4112 can also be used with camera and loudspeaker holders. The modular design ensures unrestricted access to connection points. The interior consists of a separate central compartment to mount a power socket and two 19in rack spaces for horizontal or vertical storage of AV equipment. The furniture has an integrated cable inlay system and displays can be mounted at various heights. The slim design and front panel, which opens horizontally, make the product suitable for use in small rooms. The cabinet can be locked to prevent unauthorised access to the electronic equipment inside.
DAS balances adjustability with comfort
APTIOM is a modular furniture solution speciﬁcally designed for 24/7 control room applications in a variety of sectors including aviation and surveillance. It incorporates a multi-screen mounting system that provides unrestricted adjustment and enables ergonomic positioning. Another advantage is the accessibility to the technology stored inside the console, which beneﬁts system integrators and electrical engineers as well as the maintenance team. The ergonomic design increases efficiency and alertness, reducing the risk of error due to fatigue and distraction from discomfort, and so improving the user’s ability to monitor and react to critical situations.
LEADERS IN LAMP FREE PROJECTION NO LAMPS, NO MAINTENANCE, NO WORRIES 1-CHIP & 3-CHIP DLP PROJECTORS - 20,000 - 60,000 hours of illumination - Laser or LED light source - WUXGA or 4K - No lamp changes - No projector down time - No recalibration in multi-channel environments
The Visionaries Choice www.digitalprojection.com
68 TECHNOLOGY: DEMO OF THE MONTH
Polycom RealPresence Centro Joanne Ruddock gets hands on with a system designed to put people at the heart of collaboration
f you’ve been a regular at the various tradeshows that have taken place this year, chances are Polycom’s RealPresence Centro has caught your eye. Its unique design and innovative approach to collaboration certainly draw the crowds wherever it goes, but there’s more to it than just a new style of monitor placement. At Polycom’s London demo centre there are two Centro systems set up as well as a wide variety of the latest technology designed to make the workplace of the future a reality. One Centro has been installed in a meeting room which also has a whiteboard mounted on one wall, while the other is in the open reception area. As the system is mounted on casters it is possible to move it to different areas as needed (it’s worth noting, however, the screens may need to be removed depending on door width). Installation itself is said to be very simple: individually boxed screens ﬁt onto the frame with all cabling underneath. Once completed you’re left with a four-screen circular collaborative system complete with 360º cameras, integrated microphones and powered speakers.
As Ray McGroarty, global director for enterprise UC solutions at Polycom, explains: “Our thinking in terms of fashioning it like this is that there’s always been a concern from some users about the ‘bowling alley’ presentation style for videoconferencing with the cameras at one end of the table meaning people can’t sit too close – you may just be able to see their shoulder or arm but they don’t know that’s how they’re being presented. Then there’s people getting further and further away and the unfortunate behaviour where the chair of the meeting sits at the head of the table. We’ve done all sorts of things to deal with that in other products – camera technology that follows the speaker for example. This is another way of dealing with the discomfort that some people feel in normal videoconferencing.”
Demo conﬁguration The demo consisted of four people each sat at a screen. There are options for different seating conﬁgurations, for example with higher stools added to allow more people to take part, which may be useful in an education or training environment. However, the nearer the screen
each participant is, the more opportunity there is for collaboration. Starting a call is easy – simply hit ‘make call’ on the user interface. A call can be scheduled via Outlook, in which case it will show up on the screen – touch the name of the meeting on the screen and then join. That meeting is hosted on the Polycom or Microsoft infrastructure that exists on the network. Just like all the other Polycom systems, Centro will speak natively into the Microsoft environment. If the meeting detail is on your personal device you can join via QR code. A code embedded on the screen matches your personal device and consequently your calendar with the Centro system. Once this is paired with your personal device you have an option to join the meeting and your device sends an instruction to Centro to join that virtual space. Your device will unpair when you walk away from the meeting, leaving Centro free for the next user. It’s once in the call that Centro really comes into its own. There is a visible indicator to show when a call is active: when the system is not in a call the LED light on the top and around the base is blue. This changes to green once the call is live, and if you touch the screen to mute the call, the LED goes red. One of the most interesting features is just how easy it is to engage and make a connection with other participants, both those in the room and those at the far end. As soon as the screen is activated, the system starts making decisions about who the camera should be focusing on. As expected, the speaker makes up the main image but above that is a view of the other participants, meaning it is possible to gauge the expressions of all members of a meeting – useful for getting feedback on ideas. As the speaker changes, the view changes. It’s also very easy to ﬂick your attention between people in the room and those at the far end simply by changing where you look – at the screen or at the people in the room. As McGroarty adds: “That again was quite different from normal VC where unless you’re actually very conscious of what you’re doing, it’s so easy to forget the people who are at the other end. You have to build your emotional connection with the people at the far end, you have to build less of an emotional connection with the people who are in the room as you’re able to interact very naturally with them – so your attention has to be directed at the camera and this makes it a bit easier to do that.” It’s true that it is easy and natural to move eye contact between the screen and the people in the room. When we dial in to a meeting with the system in reception the image is sharp, it adapts quickly to speakers moving around the room and it is very clear if participants are engaged and collaborating or not.
TECHNOLOGY: DEMO OF THE MONTH 69
McGroarty explains: “There’s an equity thing here as well in that if someone is speaking everyone is visible in a similar size – it isn’t the case that one person doesn’t get on the camera, one person is far away and the person who is addressing the audience isn’t the big cheese, so to speak. That is a consideration for some members of some audiences.” Graeme Fish, director, EMEA theatre experience centres, adds: “It’s also the case that you don’t have to say ‘you need to sit in this place in this room’.” Indeed when he moves around the room, the cameras track and centre him.
Camera technology In order to achieve this image quality, five HD cameras surrounded by mirrors are positioned on the top of the unit. The cameras pick up the images and the system uses a set of microphones to determine which camera should be transmitted as the main picture. There’s also a visible representation of where the camera is pointing, in the form of a blue LED on top of the camera highlighting which one is active. McGroarty expands: “The systems can also determine if a speaker stands up or moves
around, draws on a whiteboard etc – the same camera will zoom in on these movements.” Once in a call it is also, of course, possible to share, annotate and take away content up to 1080p60. In the Polycom demo room an additional touch-enabled wall-mounted screen had been installed. Content shown on this is mirrored on Centro’s screens and each participant can annotate. Content is also shared between the two Centro systems – a document is sent to one Centro from a laptop via the wireless network. Other documents, such as PowerPoint files, videos and CAD animations, can also be pushed into the call via personal devices or the USB ports at the base of the Centro system. These ports can also be used as charging stations for devices. Also on the base is an LED clock. In terms of the screen layout at this time, it is possible to see just the content or have a split screen that also shows the other participants. At the end of the call content can be taken away via USB or all of the meeting can be recorded virtually via Polycom Realpresence. Content can be cleaned up and published via Media Suite onto a company website.
Audio No matter how clear the images in a videoconference, if the audio quality doesn’t match up the call will be a wasted one. Fortunately Centro delivers in this area too. Although the participants at the far end were in a large, open and relatively noisy reception area, the conversation was crisp and clear and there was no hint of the lift noise, phone calls and general activity going on in the area. Even when the caller moved around the space, the cameras adapted to make sure he remained in shot and the microphones continued to pick up his voice clearly. Polycom NoiseBlock technology can also be activated to ﬁlter out common meeting room noises such as typing and paper rustling, creating what McGroarty calls “a serene experience”. The ﬁnal word goes to McGroarty: “The easiest way to use these things is not to use them at all – you come in, sit down, have your meeting and go, you don’t need to touch it. There are some people who demand that sort of interaction with technology and some people start that way and move on to being a bit more interactive.” Centro certainly seems to offer this functionality.
of audience is international from 70 countries
LONDON, OLYMPIA | 18-20 SEPTEMBER
PLASA 2016 Re-focused
After substantial market research PLASA 2016 is moving back to the heart of the city to London Olympia on 18-20 September. See the very latest live entertainment technology, live product demos, technical workshops and the free to attend seminar sessions.
Register free today plasashow.com/2016
Book a stand plasashow.com/enquiry
LEEDS | 9-10 MAY, 2017
GLASGOW | 18-19 JANUARY, 2017
of PLASA visitors haven’t visited any other show in the past year
£3billion combined purchasing power of visitors registered for 2015
of visitors are more likely to visit the new West London location
PLANYOUR MONTH AHEAD
Our pick of what to see, do and discover in the weeks ahead, including the Best Trade Show in Australia, a new event for restaurant tech and the return of the Pro Sound Awards
PICK OF THE MONTH
include digital signage, uniďŹ ed communications, and connected residential properties. This year will also see the introduction of a new stream, dedicated to live production AV â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Integrate LIVE. www.integrate-expo.com
expected to draw over 5,300 visitors, who will be able to get hands on with 500 of the latest AV products. They can also learn about the trends and technologies affecting the market in an extensive seminar series: topics up for discussion
With the 2015 event named the Best Trade Show over 10,000sqm at the Exhibition and Event Awards of Australasia, Integrate 2016 has a lot to live up to. Taking place at the Sydney Showground from 23 to 25 August, the show is
Restaurant Tech Live
Pro Sound Awards
This major new European exhibition is dedicated to the emerging technology and services that are forming the future of the restaurant business. Taking place at ExCeL London on 27-28 September, Restaurant Tech Live will include 50 seminar sessions and the opportunity to test the latest product innovations. www.restauranttechlive.co.uk
Returning for its third year, the Pro Sound Awards recognises excellence from across the wide spectrum of pro audio. In the Installed Sound category, awards will be given for the Best Permanent Installation Project, Best Temporary Installation Project and Team of the Year. Tickets for the 22 September ceremony are available now.
Futurelearn is offering a free Open University online course looking at how smart cities can address challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanisation while debating issues including ethics and security. Students can also learn how to participate in the creation of smart cities.
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Welcome to System reality.