Issue 206 / November-December 2017
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
sound calling p12 A The leading acoustician who ‘fell into’ the subject displays p34 Interactive How the technology and the market are changing buildings p38 Heritage Updating the past brings risks and opportunities
MAJOR PROJECTS Special report: How to manage complexity – plus lessons from key installations p20
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Editor: Paddy Baker firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6034
Content director: James McKeown email@example.com Production manager: Jason Dowie firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3829 2617
Senior staff writer: Duncan Proctor email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6037
Digital director: Diane Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales manager: Gurpreet Purewal email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029 Sales executive: Mark Walsh firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3871 7377 US sales – Executive vice president: Adam Goldstein email@example.com Designer: Tom Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors: Mike Clark David Claringbold David Davies Tim Frost, Rob Lane Ian McMurray Steve Montgomery Denise Nemchev Special thanks: Adam Hughes Robin Johnson Kerry Marsh Charlotte Myer Cover image: Fotolia
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Speakers – a sweet business
here’s a style of TV commercial that’s quite popular this time of year: usually for a chocolate or other confectionery brand, it features the product being hand-crafted in a shoplike environment by smiling artisans in chef’s hats, to the delight of a visiting child and parent. But because this isn’t how the product is made in real life, advertising regulations demand that the caption ‘product development’ is added. These images, and particularly that disclaimer, popped into my head when I was thinking about loudspeaker manufacturing. I sometimes have trouble shaking off a mental image of a boffinish, even hobbyist industry, since so many brands were started by enthusiasts tinkering in their garages or basements. Even today, Paddy Baker, Editor some company founders – such as John Meyer of Meyer Sound firstname.lastname@example.org and Tony Andrews of Funktion-One – are still actively involved in @install8ion driving the development of their products as they search for the Holy Grail of perfect, uncoloured audio reproduction. But just as those master chocolatiers on the TV make their companies look like small family concerns rather than multinational businesses, so to think of the loudspeaker industry as the work of a collection of enthusiastic ﬁgureheads is to underplay its signiﬁcance on the world stage. By any measure, loudspeakers are big business. Futuresource has just released its latest analysis of the global professional loudspeaker market, which it predicts will grow from $2.6 billion today to $3.6 billion in 2021 – that’s a rise of 38% over four years.
‘The global professional loudspeaker market will grow from $2.6 billion today to $3.6 billion in 2021’ Many of the reasons cited for this growth are familiar: customers placing greater emphasis on the quality of installed sound solutions; brands crossing over from the touring market into installation; and the move by some manufacturers, such as Bosch and Harman, to offer complete systems sales. Another indicator of the trajectory of an industry is acquisition activity, of which speaker makers have seen a fair amount over the past couple of years: Loud Technologies (parent of Martin Audio and EAW), d&b audiotechnik and, of course, Harman have all come under new ownership. And if you wanted further evidence that this is a mature sector, Futuresource mentions the industry is increasingly using data analytics and research to identify growth opportunities. But while the industry has come a long way from its humble origins, this doesn’t mean that the door is closed to new entrants. It is still possible for new companies to gain a good foothold in the marketplace within a few years of starting up: I’m thinking of the likes of EM Acoustics (founded 2002) or Flare Audio (2010). I just hope that the growth predicted by Futuresource means that the market will continue to be able to support such a diverse line-up of participants.
Viewpoints 06 Regional Voices: Norway 08 Opinion Rob Lane reveals how corporate-style tech is flourishing within education David Claringbold on balancing a concert venue’s modern needs and original purpose 12 Interview Helen Goddard of AMS Acoustics advocates for the wider understanding of electro-acoustics Kevin Kelly of Stampede on the AV distribution market
16 Show Preview: ISE 2018
Special Report: major projects 20 Successfully managing complexity We look at the steps that those involved in complex AV projects need to take to ensure successful outcomes 26 Major project case studies Lessons learned from significant projects: The Maersk Tower, University of Copenhagen Cittadella Visitors’ Centre, Gozo The Dubai Mall’s Aquarium & Underwater Zoo Traffic Management Centre, Washington
34 Interactive displays How is interactive display tech developing and how can the channel continue to best serve the market? 38 Heritage buildings We look at how manufacturers and integrators can navigate the challenges that crop up on heritage and listed building projects
Solutions 42 St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh This historic cathedral gets a comprehensive new AV system to meet worshippers’ growing expectations 46 MSC Meraviglia, Saint-Nazaire The largest ship ever built by a European cruise line is home to the biggest LED screen at sea 48 Solutions in Brief Including a low-latency IPTV and digital signage system; a sprawling audio installation onboard a floating theatre; and 14 million pixels at a new airport terminal
Technology 53 New Products Including Barco, Allen & Heath, Control4, SignStix and Mitsubishi Electric 56 Showcase Education technology 60 Demo of the Month Google Jamboard
06 REGIONAL VOICES
NORWAY A 2017 World Bank survey found Norway to be the eighth easiest country in the world to do business with – one place behind the UK. But is its AV installation market similarly smooth-running? Our latest country survey ﬁnds out
he majority of respondents to our survey into the Norwegian installed AV market were either optimistic or equivocal on most of the questions we asked them; unusually, there were very few signs of pessimism in the answers we received. A little under half of our survey thought that general levels of conﬁdence in the country’s industry were on a par with what they were six
Predicted annual GDP growth, 2017 Source: OECD
months ago, while a slightly smaller proportion believed them to be higher. There was a similarly bright outlook when we asked them how they felt their own companies were faring: around twothirds believed that their revenues would rise by up to 5% over the next 12 months. Asked to choose from a list of issues the one that was of most concern to their businesses, the most popular choice – as it tends to be in most of our country surveys – was ‘clients going for lowest price rather than best value’. “The trend today – being compliant with the spec – is that just price counts,” said one respondent. ‘Poorly qualiﬁed newcomers distorting the market’ was the second most popular choice from our list of six issues, which cover matters ﬁnancial, technological and competition-related. Nothing too unusual so far, but we had some
less predictable answers when we asked about vertical market trends. Digital signage often tops the list in these national polls; but houses of worship and museums and visitor attractions both performed more strongly than is often the case (see below). Conversely, sports venues, which generally do well, came in at the bottom of the list; however, it should be noted that despite this low placing, the sentiments expressed for this vertical averaged out fairly close to ‘no change’. Turning now to the number of players active in the market: the majority of respondents thought this was not changing. One of the minority who thought the numbers might be decreasing gave their reasoning as follows: “We might be looking at fewer and bigger companies. The key factor
Predicted trade deﬁcit, 2017 Source: OECD
will be IT competence and involvement of the client’s IT personnel.” We had a range of responses when we asked respondents about the one thing they would change about how the Norwegian install market works. A consultant hoped for an end to “building and electrical contractors cutting corners”. And ﬁnally, a distributor suggested that “the speciﬁer should also carry out post-installation testing!”
What do you think the business trend will be in the following vertical markets for installed AV in your country this year?
INCREASE Digital signage Education Museums/visitor attractions Corporate Worship Retail Bars, clubs, restaurants Performing arts venues Sports venues NO CHANGE
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08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Rob Lane Educational enterprise Commercial approaches and corporate tech proliferate
ngoing budgetary constraints impacting upon the education sector – postﬁnancial crash credit crunch; resulting austerity policies; foreign student applications squeezed by Brexit – have arguably magniﬁed a more commercial approach now adopted by many institutions, particularly when it comes to AV. The advance of and demand for uniﬁed communications technology also has a big part to play. Ultimately this commercial mindset offers crumbs of comfort for integrators, hit by an overall reduction on AV spending across education. As budgetary constraints have bitten, higher education institutions have been forced to look at ways of monetising their real estate assets. Not a new thing, of course, but the mother of invention often gets her way and for many education facilities commercial necessity is the new reality. As universities in particular have felt the need to designate more buildings and rooms for commercial ventures – with UC front and centre – the need for corporate tech experts has increased.
Ironically, in the case of Winter Gardens, UC isn’t on Weston College’s AV radar. Rather, the Pavilion is a commercial events space, comprised of four distinct areas, each requiring different audio and video technology and treatments. However, it’s clear that Design AV Europe wouldn’t have beneﬁted had Weston College not taken a commercial approach to Winter Gardens. Other HE institutions are integrating UC, often including office spaces alongside their commercial ventures. And their in-house tech evangelists look to the corporate sector for inspiration and also knowledge – education, it appears, is a two-way street. Of course, AV integrators and consultants also have a big part to play, and there are perhaps two corporate trends that are informing the design of education facilities more than any others: the
‘The generation entering the workforce is massively impacting how corporations re-imagine their building design’
Commercial pressures Last issue featured a Solutions piece that I wrote, focused on the Winter Gardens Pavilion in Westonsuper-Mare. Subject to a major refurbishment, it has been treated to extensive audio and video installations, undertaken by Design AV Europe. Weston College acquired the Pavilion from North Somerset Council. However, it isn’t actually functioning as a university building at all – it’s an independent and commercial venue rented back to Weston College: an extreme example of how commercial pressures are prompting HE institutions to think outside the box when funding their tech-led facilities.
rise of the informal meeting hub, and the new generation of adults entering the workspace. Corporations have been redesigning workspaces to include more informal meeting hubs, equipped with collaboration technologies, along with quieter zones more suitable for dedicated projects work. Meeting-hub room design lends itself to higher education, where many meeting spaces are less formal by nature, allowing students and staff to work with one another remotely.
Next generation expectations The generation entering the workforce is massively impacting how corporations re-imagine their building design, with today’s workers expecting the same sort of technology that they have access to at home and the same easy communication they enjoy day-to-day. This new-gen workplace revolution is informing the growth of UC tech, ﬁltering down to education from enterprise. There’s also a trend towards more distributed learning environments in higher education, powered by these collaborative technologies. Students can now book from-home video calls with their tutors, rather than arranging meetings in campus, and this further informs the new-gen comms mentality of workers when they leave higher education. This inﬂuences corporations further and then ﬁlters back again to the education sector – a virtuous circle. “The main driver is student expectation,” Jon Garaway, education account manager, NEC Display Solutions, told me. “Informal collaborative learning is becoming standard in many universities because it meets the way students want to learn. They want social interactions to become part of their learning process at a time and place that suits them.” Ultimately, whether it’s commercial necessity, student expectation, the inﬂuence of the enterprise sector on HE design and build, or a combination of the three, uniﬁed comms and other commercial-facing technologies are here to stay in the education sector. Good news for integrators, even as budgets continue to bite. Rob Lane is founder/director of Bigger Boat PR Ltd and has been writing about AV technology for over 20 years.
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10 Q&A: DAVID CLARINGBOLD, D&B AUDIOTECHNIK
Value management in concert venues It is crucial to balance the competing forces of a venue’s modern audio needs and its original purpose, says d&b audiotechnik’s chief marketing officer Are truly multipurpose concert venues now achievable, or is there always going to be some level of compromise when catering to different applications? The great theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh once said that the ﬁrst casting decision he makes in a production is the venue. I like that approach as I believe a venue should provide not only enough seats and the right technical capacity, but also a strong sense of identity and purpose that aligns to the customer experience of the art forms it presents. Otherwise, we’ll just be building soulless boxes with big car parks. There are compromises involved in presenting contemporary art in a classical environment, or vice versa, but when it’s well done, the results can be spectacular. How has audio technology developed to enable manufacturers to deliver different reverb times for multipurpose concert venues? The idea of adjusting reverb in venues is certainly not new. The acoustician Russell Johnson from Artec Consultants was famous for building large chambers into his concert halls so that rooms could be adjusted manually. Not everyone has that luxury, but the technology is available to provide this type of capability for venues of all sizes. To make it work you need a holistic approach, taking in the entire signal and processing chain. The critical components are the reverberation samples, providing access to the algorithms to tailor the sound for speciﬁc purposes and, of course, enough processing power to ensure that latency is kept to an absolute minimum. The other great technological leap is the ability to place a sound source within a 3D plane. This, combined with distortion-free loudspeaker systems aligned and optimally placed, will give outstanding results.
What are the trickiest concert venue building features and construction types for achieving the desired listening experience? The most common failure of design in concert venues is when an architect who has been poorly briefed designs a venue that looks great, but functions poorly. Older venues can also fail in their lack of ability to adapt to the changing requirements of programming. They need to adapt in order to remain relevant to new audiences. A symphony concert hall is a work of acoustic art, but if you place a Brazilian band in there, nobody wins. So we have competing forces, a clash between a venue’s modern needs and its original purpose. New venues try and build in these adjustable elements, but often over-complicate the issue, creating a false compromise, which provides no beneﬁt. The best way forward is to have a clear idea of what you need to achieve and ensure that you value manage the design process to focus only on this. Venues are measured by their programming and their suitability for that programme; so often I’ve seen venues spend money on things that don’t matter, leaving them unable to achieve what does. In what ways does working in new concert venues differ from working in historic venues? With new concert venues there are always the big unknowns: Who are the artists? Who is the audience? Who will manage the venue? With established venues, you’re able to make far more effective decisions about renovations or upgrades, as many of these aspects are well known. In both instances, the essential ﬁrst step is to design a brief that sets out the venue’s programming vision, values, and desired future state. By doing this, you ensure that the consultants begin with a clear
understanding of the desired space allocation, workﬂow and audience experience. With more touring productions choosing to use their own sound systems, how are in-house concert venue systems changing? Venues are increasingly recognising the need to install high-quality sound solutions. Sound is such a critical aspect of the customer experience and, consequently, the venue’s brand reputation. The audience doesn’t understand that the touring company provides the sound for the artist – they will always equate the show with the venue.
‘The best way forward is to have a clear idea of what you need to achieve and ensure that you value manage the design process to focus only on this’
In my time at Sydney Opera House, we faced this dilemma for years before ﬁnally installing a no-compromise sound solution more than 10 years ago. While I haven’t worked there for a couple of years, my experience is that no act ever changed the system. This saved thousands of hours of labour, increased venue utilisation and reduced the extensive wear and tear on the venue. The result for the audience was also consistently spectacular. Instead of reviews in the press discussing poor sound, the journalists focused only on what the artist was doing, which is as it should be.
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INTERVIEW: HELEN GODDARD, AMS ACOUSTICS
‘Once I had discovered acoustics it soon became a calling’
Helen Goddard with Ed the Head, a head and torso simulator used for acoustic measurements – simulating the acoustic ﬁeld around a person
More than two decades on from the start of her career, AMS Acoustics principal and MD Helen Goddard remains a prominent and passionate advocate for the wider understanding of electro-acoustics. And as she tells David Davies, modern architectural practices and increased levels of hearing damage mean that the surrounding debate is set to become even more acute…
elen Goddard is describing the way that “people just seem to fall into acoustics” rather than deliberately seek it out, underlining her point by noting that “we have a room full of musicians here, with the exception of one team member from a telecoms background, but even he studied the cello.” But once people have ‘fallen into’ acoustics, there is often no stopping them: “It can very quickly become a passion – it certainly did for me.” Having determined that a full-time career as a classical pianist wasn’t her destiny, Goddard began working as a junior technician at AMS
Acoustics in 1995. Thereafter, her ascent through the ranks was rapid; she became the owner and MD in 2000 and oversaw the expansion of the company to its current 10-strong team of full-timers. She is also very active in industry bodies such as the Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers (ISCE), and has been involved in helping the organisation to achieve the right to assess and issue Electrotechnical Certiﬁcation Scheme (ECS) approval for sound engineers – more of which anon. But the starting point for Installation’s conversation with Goddard was her own
unexpected initiation into the world of acoustics back in 1995… So how did you come to enter the world of acoustics? I trained as a classical musician, studying piano, but I came to realise that I would eventually have to get a ‘proper job’ at some point to sustain me and be able to do all the things my ‘grown-up’ friends could do! I was good at music, but not marvellous at it, and in terms of a career the reality was that it wasn’t going to take me anywhere. I could have become a music teacher, but to
INTERVIEW: HELEN GODDARD, AMS ACOUSTICS
A brief biography Helen Goddard joined AMS Acoustics in 1995 as a junior acoustic technician, was made an associate in 1998 and became principal and managing director in 2000 Key projects include the integration of the PA/VA design at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium; the ExCeL Convention Centre for the London 2012 Olympics; and all Heathrow airport concourses including the Queen’s Terminal She regularly chairs meetings at the IOA and ISCE A classically trained musician, she teaches musical theatre in a local performing arts charity be honest I couldn’t think of anything worse! So I started to look around for other options, and it was through this search that I eventually began working as a junior technician at AMS Acoustics. It felt like I was a bit of a latecomer to the sector, but once I had found it I was right out of the starting blocks. It became a passion – almost a calling, really – and the urge to learn and move forward with my understanding of the discipline was kind of unstoppable! So by 1998 I had completed my Institute of Acoustics postgraduate Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control, and had also become active in organisations such as the ISCE. Do you think your musical background meant that you were more conducive to quickly getting to grips with acoustics? It’s an interesting point. As a musician you are obviously aware of acoustics; for example, there is a huge difference between an upright piano that you might play at home and a grand piano in a concert scenario. But your perception is more in artistic terms, so to then move into this sector and gain an understanding from a technical perspective was fascinating to say the least. Within five years of joining AMS Acoustics you were at the helm – but this rapid ascent was in part due to a tragic development at the company… Yes – it was a very sad set of circumstances. The owner Peter Barnett passed away very sadly and unexpectedly. There was the possibility that a corporate engineering company could buy us, and that concerned me as I had already realised by then that I was a bit too ‘maverick’ to ﬁt into a big corporate structure. Fortunately, AMS’ bank manager took me to one side and said that I was already effectively running the electro-acoustics wing anyway, and that if I applied to the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme I would be able to match the other company’s offer and buy AMS myself. So being young and naive, I thought ‘yes’ and went for it! It was pointed out to me at the time that this is when I would ﬁnd out whether I was an entrepreneur as well as an acoustician, and I am glad to say that that has proven to be the
case. I do think I am willing to take more risks than some people would be, hence the fact that we do a great deal of research here. If we have an idea we go right ahead and start exploring and experimenting. In which primary ways has the composition and geographical spread of your work changed during the last decade? We went through a period of very rapid expansion due to the rise of public-private partnership arrangements, but when the recession struck in 2008 a lot of those contracts stopped overnight. It was at that point that I fully realised we had all our business in one marketplace, the UK, and made a conscious effort to expand globally to some extent. Hence we now do a fair bit of work in the US, Middle East and Far East. In the pre-recession boom period we were working on major infrastructure projects, such as railway stations, but now it’s more museums and shopping centres. Sports venues have also declined as a part of our work – I think the football clubs are spending money on legs to kick balls rather than on infrastructure! – but I think that will come back in time. It’s the question to which everyone would love to have a definitive answer, but what impact do you think that Brexit is likely to have on your area of the business? It’s not hard to envisage the number of publicprivate partnership-related projects dropping off once again if there is a recession as a result of Brexit. The last recession of 2008-11 really did cut very deep in this industry, and in truth it has never quite got back to its previous levels of activity. So yes, I am concerned about the possibility of a further recession. The issue of speech intelligibility has arguably enjoyed a greater profile than ever in recent years; has the world become more intelligible? ‘No’ is the short answer! The longer one is that there are a number of reasons why that is true, including the materials that architects use for the sake of modernity, such as steel and glass, not being conducive to good speech intelligibility
and resulting in lots of reverberation. There is also an issue that we might call ‘talker proﬁciency’ – in other words, how well people can enunciate over a PA. I think the fact that more and more communication is taking place visually is a key factor here, and as a result there is less thought being given to effective sentence structure and the use of robust words. I would also highlight the rise in popularity of busy canteen-style restaurants where it can be difficult to have an intelligible faceto-face conversation, as well as the looming possibility of an epidemic of hearing damage from personal devices and earphones. It could be that in 20 years’ time we have to completely rethink the speech spectrum and boost the high frequencies in order for people to hear messages in public spaces.
‘[With] the looming possibility of an epidemic of hearing damage… it could be that in 20 years’ time we have to completely rethink the speech spectrum’
So all in all, it’s not exactly a cheery outlook then! To end on a more positive note, what are the benefits of the ISCE having recently secured the right to assess and issue Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) approval for sound engineers via a card system? In conjunction with the Construction Skills Certiﬁcation Scheme (CSCS), an ISCE sound engineer ECS card will allow sound engineers to prove their identity, qualiﬁed status and occupation when they are working on site. The ECS card scheme complies with the requirements of the CSCS scheme in the sense that it is compulsory that all participants must hold an up-to-date health and safety qualiﬁcation in order to receive a card. It’s something that we have been pursuing for quite a while, so we are delighted by the approval. As an industry we do want some more recognition for what we do in the workplace as a part of large construction projects. Highlighting the scheme during my presentation at the PLASA Show in September was part of an ongoing effort to draw attention to the scheme. We really hope that people will get behind the initiative and recognise that raising the proﬁle of the pro-audio and AV industries within a wider context can only be a positive development.
14 INTERVIEW: KEVIN KELLY, STAMPEDE
Stampeding growth US-based distributor Stampede has made major inroads into Europe following its acquisition of Just Lamps last year. It’s also at the forefront of the drone movement in the AV world. Paddy Baker talks to its COO and president When you were at school what were your favourite subjects? I really enjoyed math at school, math and science. And as I got further into it I developed an appreciation for history, although I didn’t like it at ﬁrst. But my strongest suit was my mathoriented classes. And you went out into the world, you worked for a consumer electronics retailer. Did your love for science and math steer you in that direction? I think that my passion really became the sales and marketing of consumer electronics products. The math that I enjoyed wasn’t to do with the speciﬁcation of the products but to do with the business side. You moved to Stampede in 2001. What was behind that? Growth and development. The retailer I was working for was a smaller family-owned company with a US presence, and at the time that was a platform that worked for me. But the opportunity came to move to Stampede: it was a company that had international owners and a sister company in the UK. We were at the time focused only on projectors, and the plasma monitor had just come into existence. I remember the ﬁrst time I described this to somebody, the gentleman asked what other healthcare equipment I was selling – he thought it was something for counting blood platelets! That’s how early in the evolution of that technology we were. And then three years later, with your business partner, you bought the company. It was time once again for an evolution. The ownership was certainly open to us purchasing the company, and so we put together a plan to do it. The direction that we wanted to go in, I don’t think that the previous ownership was interested in, and so it made sense for us to purchase the company and continue growing and developing it in the direction that we thought best. And then signiﬁcant growth followed on a pretty much year-on-year basis. Yes, out of 20 years of existence we’ve had 19 years of growth, and 18 of those have been
record years. Our number one objective for adding value to our manufacturer partners is to ﬁnd ways to incrementally grow their sales. That is something we look to live up to every year, and we push ourselves and certainly look for our manufacturer partners to be willing partners in that process. Can you tell me more about the British side of Stampede, and your launch into Europe? My business partner, Mark Wilkins [Stampede
CEO], is British, and he came over from the UK to start the company up under the previous ownership. We had a small business in Europe up until the point of acquiring Just Lamps. We had established Stampede Europe back in late 2014 with the intent that we were going to grow and develop the business. We had purchased a product line called TAPit, and that was the ﬁrst product that we had inventory in Europe. But it was clear that there was a path forward to expand, and offer our manufacturers some real
A brief biography Kevin Kelly’s first employer in the AV industry was Stereo Advantage, a family-owned consumer electronics retailer He then became president of Advantage Computer Co., which became the fastest-growing electronics entity of Advantage Co. He joined Stampede in 2001 as VP of sales for North America, and bought the company with colleague Mark Wilkins (now CEO) in 2004 He joined the InfoComm (now AVIXA) board of directors in January 2016 value in being able to provide them additional territories where they were not doing business. So we decided to purchase Just Lamps – at the time it was the world’s largest projector lamp distributor. They were specialists, and they had built a wonderful business around the world. We purchased that company because they had active customers, and now we’re in the process of expanding those sales operations from being solely lamp-focused. So by broadening the offer to those customers, you plan to overcome any decline in lamp business? Yes. We are in the process of taking those active customers and introducing them to new product lines on a daily basis. We’ve turned the corner already in Europe where we are now selling more AV in outright dollars than we are selling lamps, after about a year. We see continued growth in the overall market and our lamp business is doing ﬁne. We’ll continue selling lamps for as long as people want to buy them, but we’re aggressively developing the other categories. Worldwide we have more than 200 manufacturer relationships and we have a pretty broad portfolio, about 19,000 SKUs deep, and we look to bring elements of that product portfolio to our customers that are purchasing lamps from us today. Do you see any differences between the way that the US and European distribution markets are structured? Manufacturers tend to slice and dice Europe up based upon relationships or preferences or internal strategy, but in the United States we typically get the entire country with one contract. So that offers us an opportunity to deliver different product portfolios in different markets. That’s probably the biggest difference. Typically what the end-users ﬁnd important, and
INTERVIEW: KEVIN KELLY, STAMPEDE what the integrators and retailers and resellers need from a value-added distributor in the AV category, is the same all around the world. What are the advantages of being a globally based distributor? There’s very few specialists in the marketplace that have the ability to serve a manufacturer in more than 70 countries. When you say the word ‘manufacturer’ most people immediately think large multinationals. But in sheer numbers there are far more regional-based manufacturers than there are multinational manufacturers; there are literally thousands of smaller manufacturers that only operate in one or two regions. That gives us an opportunity to add signiﬁcant value to manufacturers that want to grow in regions that they don’t have a presence in. Certainly we are a known commodity to many manufacturers from our success in one market or another, and that helps develop a level of credibility that that has been built over the last 20 years.
‘I’m proud of the fact that we will drive the spec on a deal 50% of the time’
Do you see your growth as primarily organic, or is there an extent to which you’re competing with other distributors and taking manufacturers and customers from them by offering better service? It’s both. The major driver of our growth, in outright dollars, is in existing markets where we continue to grow faster than the market. We’re not necessarily looking to take business from the competition – we’re looking for ways to drive the spec initially and be at the beginning of a project more often than our competitors. And the difference is pretty significant. The harder we work at creating high-quality deals, the more we close, and the more we differentiate ourselves from our competitors through that process. I’m really excited about the work our sales team does with our customers every day and I’m proud of the fact that we will drive the spec on a deal 50% of the time. In this day and age, with manufacturer salesforces being deployed at end-user level, I’m proud of that because we truly add value to our resellers. They look for our educated opinion, they rely on our expertise, and they are comfortable going with our lead on product recommendations.
Stampede has made a lot of noise in the market about drones. How have you found the demand from that market in Europe compared with the US? The US is certainly the fastest-growing market in the world right now, and that will continue to evolve. The applications are continuing to evolve, and are working their way towards the commercial and enterprise marketplace. There’s always going to be more rapid adoption in all markets around the world by more sophisticated end-users that are using the technology to drive results. So drones are just getting started. They are by no means a mature category in the enterprise, from a commercial standpoint. We’re thrilled that we’ve been chosen to help Intel come to market with drones in both the US and in Europe – that’s a great testimony to our expertise. Looking at European market development, it’s going to be based on the end-user organisations understanding what the technology can do for them: reduce their costs, save time, reduce risks associated with human activities, and potentially save lives. I don’t believe that there’s a big lag between the US and Europe. The fact that the US is the fastest-growing market in the world is based on the interest that exists at the consumer level. But the next real wave that we’ve been waiting for is the commercial and enterprise-focused products, and I believe that you’re going to see both regions adopt them quickly. Because it doesn’t take long for a business to learn about what its competitors are doing and then look to achieve the same types of results itself. What are the main applications for drones currently? According to research, aerial photography and video is 46% of the use of drone products. The next one is surveying and mapping, and third is real estate – we can talk about real estate companies where every listing has a drone video as a standard deal. And construction follows that. You’d be surprised at the number of uses, and really we’re just getting started because the evolutions and innovation are going to continue. And that’s the exciting part. Do you think that Stampede can continue to grow for the foreseeable future at the current rate? We have continued to grow – we’re having a record year this year. I expect us to continue to ﬁnd ways to help our manufacturers grow. Some of our manufacturers have some pretty high expectations, and we look to go ahead and exceed them.
16 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
It really is bigger than ever Not only is the exhibition area at ISE 2018 the largest in the show’s history – there is a fuller programme of events than ever before. Here are some of the highlights
ntegrated Systems Europe has become such an intrinsic part of the calendar in the AV and systems integration world that it’s easy to forget that next year’s show is only the ﬁfteenth ever held. The ISE show returns to the Amsterdam RAI on 6-9 February 2018. The show’s continued growth is reﬂected in the presence of another new hall. In addition to the new Hall 14 that debuted in 2017 in the centre of the RAI, a new Hall 15 will take its place at the front of the complex. At time of writing, the exhibitor total stands at 1,087. Although the showﬂoor is sold out, this number is likely to rise as co-exhibitors come on board to share stands with exhibitor partners.
XR Summit and Zone One of the key focuses of ISE 2018 will be AR, VR and mixed reality – sometimes referred to collectively as XR. The main appeal of XR is around its role as a ‘display’ technology – a mainstay of the ISE show community. Additionally, the industries that it is impacting are many of the most important verticals for the AV industry, including entertainment, education, training, events, simulation, digital signage, medical, real estate and conferencing. It’s for these reasons that ISE 2018 is hosting XR Summit ISE, a one-day conference that will explore the latest in AR, VR, mixed reality and multi-view technologies, business strategies, and solutions that will take place on Thursday 8 February. XR Summit ISE will deliver market intelligence and best practice case studies from some of the world’s leading XR experts and
thought leaders. These technologies will also be showcased as part of the exhibition. Holovis, which presented the Immersive Technology Zone at this year’s show, will be back at ISE 2018 with the XR Technology Zone. This will feature a fully tracked rig and a range of applications for both entertainment and enterprise and developments of emerging XR platforms. Demonstrations for the enterprise sector will include work that the company has been doing towards Industry 4.0. These include virtual training, real-time object tracking and simulation, AR CAD overlays and development of the Digital Twin – a virtual version of an object or environment that may, for instance, be too hazardous to interact with in the physical world. For entertainment, the company will be showcasing free-roaming VR experiences, where visitors can walk around, explore the environment and interact with real-time avatars of local and remote colleagues. This will all be powered by InMo, a Holovis proprietary software suite that enables collaborative virtual environments from multiple real locations and devices. A highlight from Holovis at this year’s ISE was the highly engaging VR/AR ‘Near Death Crane Fall’, which used various sensory inputs to create an immersive experience of being lifted in a moving platform high above a construction site – before unexpectedly plummeting back down to earth. ISE 2018 will see Holovis showcase another training experience from its Near Miss Simulator range. The Fatigue Simulator recreates the
What? ISE 2018 Where? Amsterdam RAI When? Conferences 5 - 8 February 2018 Exhibition 6 - 9 February 2018 effects of falling asleep at the wheel, to alert shift workers to the dangers of driving when tired. Show visitors will take to the driving seat of a van wearing a VR headset with surround audio through headphones and interactivity through gesture tracking. This multisensory approach allows them to interact with their environment, from using all the vehicle’s operating features to changing the radio station. They then begin the drive down a dark road where they encounter various dangers and distractions – including wildlife, other vehicles and a phone ringing on the passenger seat. As the journey continues, symptoms of microsleeps begin until the simulation comes to a stop with a bang.
Opening Address As has become the custom at the show, an Opening Address will be presented on the eve of the exhibition. At ISE 2018, this will be given by Carlo Ratti, a leading architect, engineer, inventor, and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He directs MIT’s Senseable City Lab, a research group that explores how
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18 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018 new technologies are changing the way we understand, design and live in cities. He is also a founding partner of the international design and innovation office Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA). Drawing on Ratti’s MIT research, CRA merges design and urban planning with cutting-edge digital technologies, so as to contribute to the creation of “an architecture that senses and responds”. “Social and technological developments in the evolution of smart cities and smart buildings are quickly shaping how we must plan to work and live in the future,” says Ratti. “I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with the ISE audience.” Signiﬁcant achievements of his office include the masterplan for a creative hub in the City of Guadalajara, the Future Food District at Expo Milano 2015, the renovation of the Agnelli Foundation HQ in Turin and the Digital Water Pavilion at Expo Zaragoza 2008. He has also worked on prestigious product design projects. In each instance, Ratti’s studio investigated the ways in which new technologies, including digital sensors and portable devices, are changing both the built environment and everyday life. Mike Blackman believes that Carlo Ratti is “a perfect ﬁt for ISE as he works in a ﬁeld that has grown in importance for our exhibitors and attendees. He will bring a unique insight into smart city and smart building development.”
approach (commercial and residential), the conference will bring together speakers from the world of AV, architecture, IT, construction, facilities management and elsewhere in a multidisciplinary approach.
Projection Mapping Masters Among the events taking place for the ﬁrst time at ISE 2018 is the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition. Dedicated to showcasing works of projection mapping art, the competition is as a co-operative venture between Amsterdam Light Festival, ISE and the RAI Amsterdam. Work from ﬁve competing artists will be projected on the three-dimensional facade of Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum from 14 January to 9 February. A panel of judges will decide the overall winner of the competition on Thursday 8 February, and the winner will be announced the following day, which is the ﬁnal day of ISE 2018. The challenge for the artists will be to create a work of video art that can be experienced from multiple viewpoints, including boats sailing on the IJ, the quay near Central Station and the Amsterdam Tower. The competition will also be livestreamed in HD.
TIDE Conference Following a very successful inaugural event at InfoComm this year, there will be a TIDE Conference, organised by AVIXA, on Monday 5 February at ISE 2018. TIDE (the acronym stands for Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience) explores the creative forces shaping the AV industry, and discusses how businesses can leverage these concepts. The theme of the Amsterdam event will be ‘Design Thinking for Business’ – an approach to innovation that hits the sweet spot of incorporating technology to fulﬁl business needs and meet the needs of people. A programme is promised of designers, brand marketers, architects, integrators and live events producers who have never before spoken at ISE.
Other events Smart Building Conference ‘From Smart Building to Smart City’ is the theme of the Smart Building Conference, which will be held on Monday 5 February at ISE 2018. Ratti will participate in the one-day conference’s closing roundtable discussion, entitled ‘From Smart Buildings to Even Smarter Buildings’, which will conclude the conference. His Opening Address will follow shortly afterwards. Smart Building Conference chairman Bob Snyder comments: “As more layers of digital networks blanket urban space, new approaches to commercial and residential built environment are emerging.” With its familiar two-track
SVG Europe, which previously presented the Sports Venue Technology Summit, will team up with PanStadia and Arena Management magazine to bring the Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit to ISE 2018. In addition to these new events, a number of familiar events will return. These include Digital Signage Summit ISE, Audioforum, the Stand Design Awards, Show Floor Theatres, the Drone Arena – and, of course, full professional development programmes from AVIXA and CEDIA. We’ll have more details in our next issue.
ISE Daily Installation will once again be running the ISE Daily, the official newspaper of ISE 2018. Written by a team of journalists reporting live from the showfloor, the newspaper is put together in an office at the RAI and printed overnight for distribution at the show, as well as in major Amsterdam hotels and on shuttle buses. The same team is also responsible for the Official ISE Newsletter, sent out before, during and after ISE. For 2018, we will have a significantly larger team reporting at the show, filing more stories each day from the showfloor, conferences, seminars and other show events.
AV Technology Europe Awards Our sister title AV Technology Europe will be holding its first awards ceremony during ISE 2018. The AV Technology Europe Awards, which will be held in Amsterdam on 7 February, have been created exclusively to celebrate the achievements of the AV end user community. “There are some truly extraordinary and innovative examples of AV technology in action today and we feel it’s important to recognise and celebrate those companies and the people who made them happen,” says Michael Garwood, AV Technology Europe editor. “We’ve worked closely with the industry to create a strong and relevant list of Award categories to ensure every business in every sector, big or small, has an opportunity to enter and to win.” Entries close on 24 November. For full details on all categories, required criteria, how to enter and to book your tickets, please visit the AV Technology Europe Awards website. www.avtechnologyeuropeawards.com
Best of Show Awards NewBay will once again be recognising the most innovative new products on show in Amsterdam with its ISE 2018 Best of Show Awards. The competition is open to any company showing a product at ISE 2018 that is new since the 2017 event. Awards will be given by Installation, AV Technology Europe, PSNEurope and Audio Media International. Entrants may submit a product for consideration by one or more of these publications and may submit multiple products. Submitted entries will be vetted on the ISE showfloor by a panel of judges from across the pro AV spectrum. Winners will be presented with a Best of Show certificate during the event, and all entrants will be featured in a Best of Show Digital Edition sent out after the show.
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20 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
Successfully managing complexity Major AV projects are almost always complex projects. To begin this special report, Ian McMurray looks at the proactive steps that integrators and others can take to ensure that complex installations reach a successful conclusion. On the following pages, we report on some real-life examples of successful but challenging projects
ith 100 billion neurons and some 100 trillion nerve connections, it will come as no surprise to ﬁnd that the most complex thing known to mankind is the human brain. The space shuttle, for example, with its mere 2.5 million parts, 370km of cable, 1,000+ valves and connections and more than 1,400 circuit breakers, pales into insigniﬁcance beside it. Even the complexity of the Stratix 10 FPGA, with its 30 billion transistors, doesn’t really come close. The world has become more complex – and, very often, that complexity is reﬂected in the AV industry: the halcyon days when a projector and screen were the height of audiovisual sophistication are long gone. But what creates the complexity in today’s installations – and how can integrators ensure that particularly challenging projects are no less successful than simpler ones? “Location is one of the challenges that contribute most to project complexity,” believes Ross Magri, managing director of visitor attractions designer Sarner. “Working in emerging economies and dealing with differences in culture, customs and immigration, lack of local resources and contractors who, shall we say, don’t necessarily have the focus on deadlines that we do can make life difficult.
“That’s not to say that complex technology does not present its own challenges, especially if it’s very new and may have been rushed to market and hasn’t beneﬁted from being fully tested within a complete, integrated system,” he goes on, “but these challenges are manageable – whereas locations are much less so.”
‘The further from the ﬁnal client you are in the chain, the more complex the project is’ Eliot Fulton-Langley, CDEC
Multiple stakeholders For consultant Roland Hemming, who specialises in the design and management of audio installations, it’s the number of stakeholders that can make life difficult – as was the case with his involvement in the London 2012 Olympics. “We needed to ensure that the requirements of the athletes, the broadcasters, the spectators, each venue team, local authorities and so on were all met – and work in conjunction with many other departments and with numerous
Key Points There are many ways in which a project can become complex – but it’s possible to identify most likely causes Technology is rarely a cause of project complexity – unless it’s unproven or being deployed in a radically new way High value or multi-site does not per se mean complexity – only more pressure or more challenging logistics There is no substitute for detailed planning at the outset, with risk identification the priority Regular, clear, honest communication between stakeholders is key contractors. The requirements and expectations of these different groups are quite different and sometimes in conﬂict. Finding a way through this, while also delivering your element, can be hard.” He has an ally in Steve Blyth, founder and group CEO of creative technology agency Engage Works. “Projects get much less simple when there are multiple stakeholders/client teams or multiple clients,” he notes. “That leads to more
SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
interfacing, more delays, more budget overspend risk, longer sign-offs and so on. Even if it’s a single site or one location/project – all these points can make it overly complex. Overlay that with multiple sites, and things like installing a large project into a working site that involves outof-hours working, or IT issues like DMZ lockdowns and remote access for future support – and it can drive you to despair. The technology is usually the easy bit in comparison.” He is not alone in his belief that the technology is seldom the issue – even when it’s leading-edge.
Holistic view “We are typically hired to deliver projects with designs and ideas that have never been tried before,” says Blair Parkin, EMEA principal at international technology consultancy TEECOM. “This usually means specifying and working with cutting-edge, highly innovative technologies, or repurposing technology that has only previously been used in a different application. However, one of the things that typically deﬁnes a particularly complex project is that of the ‘project container’ – the building itself or a project’s surroundings. “We have to think beyond the technology and
Twelve warning signs that tell you your project is likely to become complex 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
You ﬁnd yourself working in unfamiliar surroundings A deadline early in the project is missed The customer says: “Can you just…?” You need to make technology do something it hasn’t done before There are multiple stakeholders involved The working environment is multi-disciplinary The project is highly constrained by the physical environment You don’t have 100% clarity on the requirement/expectation You haven’t identiﬁed and mitigated/eliminated potential risks You’re uncomfortable with the level/nature of communication with the customer You’ve done countless projects like this before – so you dispense with a plan You’re at some hierarchical distance from the decision-maker
instead look at how it will be co-ordinated with everything else on the project – taking a truly holistic view, if you will,” he continues. “We can control the technology, but the real challenge lies in harnessing the building’s features and the application itself. For us, a complex project is one that needs lots of technology design co-ordination with other disciplines from architects, to engineers, scientists and other stakeholders.” The challenge Parkin sees is one that Sierk Janszen, partner and co-founder of experience technology company Rapenburg Plaza, also sees
– although for him, the technology can also make a project more difficult. “An element that can add to complexity is working with a lot of specialist disciplines in a relatively conﬁned space,” he declares. “The Canon of the Netherlands, a project that we recently completed, is packed with technical apparatus and miles of cables and tubes, as well as historical exhibits and artefacts and a lot of props and scenery. When delays occur – and they always will – they affect a lot of people. Even the shortest delay on the part of one of the
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22 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
specialists can cause a huge problem at the end of the process.” “Complexity also often occurs when the client gets carried away in the middle of a project and wants a system to do more than it was designed for,” he continues. “Obviously, we do the best we can to accommodate all needs: we rarely say ‘no’.”
Lack of clarity Eliot Fulton-Langley, solutions architect at UK integrator CDEC, has found projects become more complicated where his team are at some remove from the client. “Generally, the further from the ﬁnal client you are in the chain, the more complex the project is due to lack of clarity and direct communication,” he says. “Politics can also have a great impact. This is more so where the integrator is employed by a construction company, with consultants and M&E contractors involved. Beyond this, the ﬁxed expectations of the customer can often cause the complexity, especially if they are not open to forming a tight relationship and listening to advice from the integrator.” Although not unknown, it seems that AV technology itself is rarely the cause of complexity in a project. Integrators are, after all, well used to being at the leading edge – and it’s perhaps the one element over which they have control. What’s interesting, though, is that it seems that a high-value or highproﬁ le project is not necessarily complex. A multi-site project need be no more complicated than a single-site one – although, of course, it presents its own problems. “Multi-site raises the simple issue of travel time and logistics,” says Hemming. “You physically can’t keep your eye on everything all the time. It’s more difficult to ensure consistency across a multi-site project as there are likely to be different contractors and managers involved.” “It’s more about the scope of the project,” believes Fulton-Langley. “Hanging 100 screens across many sites is not complex, other than logistically. Designing and installing complex AV systems may rely on the customer’s infrastructure and network conﬁguration which the integrator has little inﬂuence over, even if only across two sites.” “No, multi-site isn’t necessarily more complex,” adds Parkin. “Multi-site is going to be more work, of course, but not always more complex work. “Multi-country projects, though, almost always translate into greater complexity,” he continues. “Different building codes, cultural variations, language barriers, varied power requirements are just a few of the many challenges. Localisation is an incredibly complex thing to manage; engineering changes aren’t too challenging, but people certainly can be.”
Project scale Although not of itself a guarantee of increased complexity, the scale of a project also introduces potential pitfalls. Just doing the same as you would do for a smaller project, but doing more of it, isn’t necessarily the answer. “Complex projects require a different approach as complexity is hardly ever related to scale – unless you consider time a complexity,” adds Janszen. “A small project using the latest technologies at the cutting edge of what they were designed for can be quite a lot more complex than a big one with tried and tested technology.” Time, though, can indeed create complexity in what would otherwise be a simple project. “We were recently chosen to produce an innovation showcase at a very high-proﬁle global summit for a government,” says Blyth. “It was a project that would normally take three months.
‘Complexity is hardly ever related to scale – unless you consider time a complexity’ Sierk Janszen, Rapenburg Plaza
However: the client wanted it in seven weeks. We delivered by the deadline, but learned an important lesson: always ask for more time.” “You can’t just scale up,” avers Hemming. “You have to take an overall view of the requirements and identify the key stakeholders and the critical risks. From there, you can break the project down into tasks and sub-tasks and schedules. You then need to be able to keep driving the overall plan – and then swoop down into speciﬁc detail as required. Building a good team where there are clear lines of communication and clear deﬁnitions of people’s roles is also important.” Some of the factors that can create complexity could be said to be common across the industry. Others, however, are unique to
subsections of it. The nature of Rapenburg Plaza’s business can create unique challenges, for example, as Janszen explains. “Our speciality is in creating a unique narrative for every individual user or visitor by combining multiple individual attractions and interactives,” he says. “Complexity can stem from using different technologies together, especially when a system needs to work in sync or as a whole.” How possible is it, then, to identify when or where challenges might arise?
Surprises “All projects look simple at the outset, but become increasingly complex as they progress,” smiles Parkin. “No matter how simple a project might seem, at the scale and impact we work at, there’s always going to be a lot of surprises along the way. Take the simple example of an architectural drawing we were working from with a note on it that said ‘removed for clarity’. It turned out, that marked the site of a staircase or pillar – which had major implications for positioning a projector, as we only discovered later in the project.” The watchword here seems to be “expect the unexpected”. Blyth has another example. “We were working for a renowned multinational professional services company to create an innovative, data-led space,” he explains. “It included collaboration software, based around our bespoke CoCreate enhanced collaboration environment solution. It was complex in itself, but simple to create and install – until the client threw in the need to then get it to port into their nationwide Windows
Five things to do to ensure complexity doesn’t derail a project 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Plan Identify potential challenges Communicate Get agreement Test
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24 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS 10 platform, as they had upgraded every site. That simple request at the end and not at the beginning created the most pain.” There is also the inherent danger of the “been there, done that” syndrome, as Magri notes. “The simplest of projects tend to be the most challenging,” he says. “That’s frequently not because of the level of sophistication, but as a result of over-conﬁdence and consequent lack of planning – which leaves one exposed to unforeseen issues that can be difficult or near impossible to resolve.” For Fulton-Langley, there are multiple reasons why a project can become more challenging. “Looking at the size of the spaces being installed into can be deceptive,” he believes. “I have worked on ‘small’ projects in the past that have taken more time and energy than a much larger space. The further into the project we went, the more the customer and integrator had to meet to discuss the next steps. It turned into a much more complex project – but with a good relationship in place, all issues were eventually resolved. A key complexity of this project was issues that were caused by other trades on site before the integrator. “Customers changing the scope can also cause a project to go from simple to complex very quickly,” he adds.
likelihood of future commissions. That, perhaps, is an even worse scenario than one which results in cost overruns that can turn a project from proﬁt to loss. It’s all about preparation. CDEC’s FultonLangley has an example. “One recent project we undertook was for a major London university that commissioned CDEC to supply and install AV systems into 91 rooms across the campus,” he explains. “We built a strong relationship with the university and understood the critical factor for the success of this project was minimising the impact and amount of time the rooms were out of action during the physical onsite installations. “In view of this, we worked closely with the rack build team to effectively enable us to ‘wheel in’ a completed room of kit,” he continues. “Through this system, CDEC effectively built, conﬁgured and programmed the majority of equipment offsite. This meant the various spaces could be installed in minimal time, allowing the room to be free for student bookings. Because of the success of the programmed offsite build process, what was to be a 30-month rollout was able to be condensed into a nine-month project. This allowed more rooms to be upgraded in year one and the completion of the enhanced learning environments to be implemented sooner.”
‘All projects look simple at the outset, but become increasingly complex as they progress’ Blair Parkin, TEECOM
No excuse Hemming’s position is that even if the precise nature of the challenges can’t readily be identiﬁed, that’s no reason not to try. “I think I always know when a project is going to have challenges,” he discloses. “If I hadn’t anticipated that things might escalate, then I would regard that as a failure on my part. As project manager, there’s simply no excuse for not grasping the nature of the project. Obviously, you can’t anticipate every detail or problem – but it’s essential that you have an understanding of the stakeholders, the real requirements and how the project might evolve.” No one doubts that attempting to de-risk a potentially challenging project at the outset is vital. Not doing so will, for example, almost certainly impact a successful, on-time implementation – with its possibly negative impact on the customer relationship and the
His experience is mirrored by Sarner’s Magri. “Planning, planning and planning is central, allowing sufficient time to ensure the design is cross-checked and reviewed, and new solutions properly evaluated and tested,” he says. “Equipment purchased in sufficient time to allow racks to be built and tested in advance of shipping, equipment soak-tested to ensure that any early failures are identiﬁed and resolved – these are key to maximising the chances of a successful complex project.” The recurring cliché, of course, that’s often (if not necessarily accurately) attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” It becomes clear that, for even the apparently simplest of projects, detailed analysis of potential complexities and the risks they may bring is an absolute pre-requisite. Projects don’t always start life as complex projects, nor do they conveniently announce themselves as being complex. And: to somewhat twist a well-known epithet: complexity happens. “Long-term planning is crucial in ensuring risks are mitigated,” says Magri. “That’s why we make sure that every project has a competent project manager to ensure that schedules are maintained and projects are delivered on time. Advance planning and offsite build will ensure risks are minimised, making sure that issues are identiﬁed early in the project’s timeline.”
Relationships are key “We have processes in place to manage complexity,” adds Fulton-Langley. “Additionally, each risk or issue is addressed by the on-site project team, based on the speciﬁcs of the risk or issue, and they bring in wider company resources if required. Relationships are key, across all involved parties, not just the integrator and customer, although that is a central relationship. Make sure you keep communicating with all relevant parties and listen to the customer. Clarity across the board, internally and externally, is crucial.” “Our process kicks in at the front end to mitigate the pain points as they are identiﬁed,” says Blyth, “and we don’t move forward until all risk points have been removed and signed off.” Blair Parkin offers some guidance. “Listen, communicate, share your concerns and any issues as early on as you can,” he advises. “Preparedness in terms of research, open communication and transparency is the only way to thrive and prosper in a complex project environment.” Echoing the old adage to be heard in cynical cubicles around the world – “no failure shall go unrewarded, and no success unpunished” – there is an extent to which the AV industry has become a victim of its own success. The more manufacturers and integrators show they can do, the more customers want, and, often, the more complex a project will become – and not only at the outset... The consensus in the industry seems to be that, above all, complex projects require more thought – which is exactly what we have those 100 billion neurons for.
www.cdec.co.uk www.engageworks.com www.rapenburgplaza.com www.rhconsulting.eu www.sarner.com www.teecom.com
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26 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
A towering achievement
Installing the AV systems throughout a 15-storey, €200 million building is no small undertaking. The integrator’s project leader tells Tim Frost how the Maersk Tower project was managed
he Panum Institute’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen is housed in the new 15-storey Maersk Tower, which was officially opened by the Queen of Denmark in January 2017. All AV systems at the DKK 1.5 billion (€200 million) research and education facility were designed, engineered and installed by Stouenborg ApS of Copenhagen, under the supervision of project leader Anders Jørgensen. This comprised ﬁtting out four auditoriums, 100 meeting rooms, 16 100-person education rooms and four conference rooms – as well as 50 signage displays and 100 room-booking screens. The building itself was in the hands of a governmental agency, but the A. P. Møller Foundation, a major funder of the building, determined that it would take on the entire responsibility for the AV systems and then gift it complete to the university. Three of the auditoriums have Meyer Sound Constellation electroacoustic systems – making the Maersk Tower the largest educationfocused Constellation installation in the world by some distance. The largest auditorium has a capacity of 550; it has been equipped with 89 microphones, 124 loudspeakers and 19 networked D-Mitri frames, including core processing, D-VRAS and input/ output. The other two Constellation auditoriums, seating 220 and 120, have systems with 32
microphones and 97 loudspeakers; and 32 microphones with 88 loudspeakers respectively. More than 22km of cable was installed for AV throughout the building – mostly Cat6a to support networked applications and to provide a degree of futureproofing. The AVB protocol is used for the Meyer Sound D-Mitri as well as the Biamp Tesira system used for auxiliary systems and smaller rooms. Other major items of AV include Panasonic displays and projectors, a 4K Crestron DigitalMedia system, ONELAN media players, and wacom touchscreens connected to a master PC.
Templated elements While there is no ready-made overall template for a large project like this, says Jørgensen, “we template for elements such as the way we do cabling or racks, and how to test things. You can copy-paste the backbone and the project management processes with things we have learnt from previous jobs. But it’s impossible to have a single overall template with a big project like this as they are all so different.” This was Stouenborg’s largest single project in terms of scale and complexity, which presented challenges. “From a technical standpoint it is not hugely different. Instead of doing one auditorium we have four auditoriums, which means just addressing more of the same problems. The real complexity is in the logistics – securing supplies
and the people to do the work. Planning errors on a large project can really kick in and you really need plan the next ﬁve steps ahead at least.” Stouenborg was deeply involved with deﬁning the technical environment. Early discussions revolved around how technology will support the learning environment for the next decade. “We had a lot of discussions about aspects like TEAL (technology-enabled active learning). There are lots of new learning forms to reduce the distance between the professor and the student and this makes it easy to interact, even in a big 500-seater auditorium – that’s where the Constellation system came in.” Since the Foundation was commissioning the project, Stouenborg could change the speciﬁcation to include newer, better technologies when they became available. “The project started in 2014 and completed in 2017 – that’s a hell of a long time. If this had been a public tender then they would have been stuck with the older products and technologies – so we would have had HDMI rather than an IT infrastructure. We actually changed the video system three times during the project.”
Novel solutions With a build of this scale it made sense to look for some novel project solutions. “We had 2,500 network lines of more than 40m length, so we bought a tool to test network cable. It cost around £10,000 but then
SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
we weren’t chasing ghosts when there were problems. On a smaller scale we optimised our soldering process with a £200 system that saved 40% of our soldering time for the 10,000 solder points on this project.” Did the project run smoothly? After a pause, Jørgensen explains how to manage an installation when, due to a number of issues, the building in which it is located ends up being completed well over a year behind schedule. He focuses on the impact this had on the personnel involved. Stouenborg substantially expanded the pre-assembly and testing systems, moving the work and its people back to the warehouse. “We set up 16 education room systems with projectors and everything – loaded and tested them for months, ensuring that all the programming was done. That also meant we reduced one of the things that really takes time: sorting faults on site.” Stouenborg believes in building a strong relationship with the pool of additional people it draws on for bigger projects. “In reality that means we can scale back up more easily because we have created a strong connection between the company and the employee. The most important resource is your people; companies that don’t understand that won’t be
in business for long.” Looking back, what was the main thing Jørgensen learned? “We learned a lot about preparation and that planning is the key to everything. Every time you don’t plan and don’t look three or four steps ahead, you lose it, and you see that on the budget and the timescale.”
www.biamp.com www.crestron.eu www.meyersound.com www.onelan.com http://business.panasonic.eu www.stouenborg.dk www.wacom.com
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28 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
Making AV and archaeology mix Sarner’s visitor centre project on the Maltese island of Gozo had some unusual challenges, reports Ian McMurray
elivering compelling, captivating and informative visitor experiences can be difficult at the best of times – but add to the mix a remote location, a project where you’re working as part of a civil contractor’s team, a listed building being signiﬁcantly adapted to create a visitor centre and an adjacent archaeological dig that causes frequent disruption, and you have some signiﬁcant challenges on your hands. That was the situation facing Sarner when the company was commissioned by the Ministry for Gozo – a small Mediterranean island some 5km from Malta – to help create a unique visitor experience telling the 2,000-year history of the island. The location chosen was the disused reservoirs within the walled Cittadella, and Sarner’s brief was to create nine zones, each of which would be equipped with interactive touchscreens and multi-language translation iPads to help tell the story.
Reliability, ease of use “When we design AV systems for permanent installations, two of our top priorities are reliability and ease of use,” notes Sarner’s managing director, Ross Magri. “This was the case for Cittadella, and we go to great lengths to make sure that, wherever possible, we use AV equipment that we have previously installed in other projects and are conﬁdent of its reliability. Every project we work on is unique, which makes a templating approach impossible: sticking with equipment with which
we’re very familiar is how we ensure we can deliver consistent, successful outcomes.” According to Magri, the most complex part of the project was providing 360º projection within eight arches – the culmination of the visitor experience, weaving together many of the themes from the previous zones. For this, the company deployed 16 Panasonic projectors, with the combination of the reservoirs’ cathedral-like space and their listed status providing particular challenges in hanging and cabling the units. The surround projection is designed to make visitors feel that they are immersed by water, that they are outside in the green landscape of Gozo and then that they are surrounded by the high walls of the Cittadella, and threatened by the guns of the Turkish corsairs to the side and behind them. “We have delivered more complex and largerscale projects than Cittadella,” he continues, “but this project was unique because of its proximity to an active archaeological excavation. Discoveries of Roman and other remains were being made on a frequent basis, delaying the project and making it impossible for anyone to provide with any certainty a programme of works that we could adhere to. Although we have had a lot of experience working within historical sites and listed buildings, our experience where there was a high level of excavation was limited, and we did not fully appreciate the implication in limiting access and delays to the works each and every time that a discovery was made.”
Timeline-based For show control, Sarner chose Wings Engine media servers from AV Stumpﬂ: these are timeline-based, and changes can be made quickly without the need to write or change code. The AMX touch control user interface was chosen for its user-friendliness; it allows for technical control of the installation via password-protected access. The experience also beneﬁts from Sarner’s provision of two 5 x 3 videowalls, using Philips screens, on either side of the tunnel that leads to the immersive show, and ﬁve 42in touchscreens that are used as information points. The show is fully automated: in the morning, the operator switches the system on from the touchscreen. This powers the equipment sequentially and runs a self-test, while at the same time playing test media so the operator can ensure that everything is working. The walk-through experience is eight-anda-half minutes, and allows up to 30 visitors through each zone at a time with a controlled timed ﬂow system. As well as attracting widespread praise from client and visitors alike, the project also won Sarner the Best Visitor Attraction Project award at the InstallAwards 2017.
www.amx.com www.avstumpfl.com http://business.panasonic.eu www.philips.com/signagesolutions www.sarner.com
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30 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
Retail therapy on steroids The Dubai Mall’s latest AV attraction puts modesty to one side, claiming three world records. It’s a 50m-wide, curved OLED videowall that is wowing visitors to Dubai’s Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Rob Lane ﬁnds out how it was created
igger continues to be better in Dubai, especially when it comes to tech. The latest AV attraction at The Dubai Mall – the world’s most visited retail destination – is a huge, two-storey 700sqm (50m x 14m) curved, ‘waveform’ videowall above the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Comprising 820 LG OLED screens, it boasts 1.7 billion pixels and is claimed as the world’s highest-resolution, largest hi-def and biggest OLED videowall. Unveiled in August, overseen by leading entertainment and leisure providers and overseers Emaar Entertainment, and installed by Dubai-based systems integrator Digital Communication (DigiComm), the giant OLED videowall mimics the rolling waves of the ocean and complements the Emaar Entertainment-run Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo that it looms above. “This is by far the most exciting and largescale videowall project we have ever worked on,” explains Abdul Bakhrani, CEO at DigiComm. DigiComm supplied the technical speciﬁcation, solution and installation expertise for the project, co-ordinating with Emaar Entertainment and key suppliers Dataton – which provided the media servers, content management software and custom show control – and OLED experts LG. Dataton’s WATCHOUT multi-display production and playback system, WATCHNET manager software and compact WATCHPAX 4 servers deliver all of the high-resolution content for the wall. All functions and the bespoke user interface were tailored to meet the venue’s speciﬁc requirements. “We worked with Dataton to create a costefficient media delivery system that would seamlessly deliver high-quality videos and images at the native resolution of 1.7 billion pixels,” says Bakhrani. “A total of 52 WATCHPAX 4 Media Engines have been networked to synchronise content across 820 OLED displays.” Designed primarily to promote the aquarium, the wall also provides a visually stimulating canvas for additional content and sponsors.
Biggest challenge “The biggest challenge was to work only ﬁve hours per day as allowed by the venue – 1:00am to 6:00am,” explains Bakhrani. “The main discussions were primarily based on the tests required to make sure that such a large
synchronisation was possible. We had to innovate a format of creating videos in resolutions exceeding 80,000 x 20,000 pixels and then upload them to 52 WATCHPAX 4 players. It [the installation] taught us that we are prepared for even larger and more complicated projects.”
to provide world-class ‘edutainment’ using innovative platforms. “Emaar Entertainment continues to push the boundaries and achieve greater heights through innovative installations and attractions,” says Maitha Al Dossari, CEO of Emaar Entertainment.
“With such a high-proﬁle installation there are, of course, great demands on content quality and reliability,” says Trond Solvold, sales director at Dataton. “WATCHOUT with WATCHPAX 4 was likely the only system in the world that could pull off such a complex installation. The system needed to be ﬂexible and scalable, and requests for future functionality left other systems far behind, making our solution the best choice for the installation. “Besides high performance, the media servers needed to be robust to handle almost 24/7 use and have a compact form factor. Space is incredibly tight behind the videowall – virtually non-existent – and extensive cabling to a server room was never an option. That meant each server had to sit close to the screens. With quad 4K video outputs and a trim A4-size footprint, the WATCHPAX units were eminently suited to the task.”
“We’re committed to delivering the best in the industry and are honoured that the new OLED screen at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo has received three world record achievements [highest resolution, largest hi-def and biggest OLED], underpinning our commitment to pioneering innovative attractions, continued advancements in technology and digital attractions, and inspiring joy.” Kevin Cha, president of LG Electronics, Middle East and Africa, comments: “LG has always pushed boundaries with innovative display technologies, especially with its pioneering OLED technology. In the heart of The Dubai Mall, we are proud to showcase to the world a global
Edutainment The Dubai Mall videowall is part of owner Emaar Entertainment’s ongoing strategy
example of how LG digital signage products provide innovative solutions that B2B customers of today demand, creating a visitor experience unlike anything anyone has ever witnessed.”
www.dataton.com www.digicomm.ae www.emaar.com www.lg.com
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32 SPECIAL REPORT: MAJOR AV PROJECTS
Driving a phased project A traffic management installation in Washington needed to accommodate 750 video feeds and a display wall comprising 102 displays. Rob Lane reports on how Diversiﬁed of Seattle managed the project
hen the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) moved its Traffic Management Centre (TMC) to its new headquarters, management commissioned a much larger highway monitoring system. The project called for the management and display of 750 live video feeds within the new Operations Centre, and elsewhere in the building. For the Operations Centre, WSDOT demanded a videowall for seamless and constant views of traffic conditions, with instant enlargement of areas of interest. “The videowall is used for collaboration and continuous monitoring of problem sections where we know accidents are likely to occur,” explains Michael Forbis, ITS program manager at WSDOT. “The TMC in the old building had about 40 monitors, and we were always trying to squeeze in more, for more camera views.”
Issues addressed Indeed, only a couple of issues arose during the build. During installation of the videowall, the Diversiﬁed team discovered that the sheet metal in the false wall built to hold the Peerless-AV brackets didn’t go up as high as initially thought – so additional support was required.
right – with the left and right sections inclined towards the centre of the room by 30º. Each wall display was installed using PeerlessAV’s easy-release SmartMount Full-Service Video Wall Mount (DS-VW765-LAND). A further 10 displays throughout the build were installed on SF640S SmartMount Universal Flat Wall Mounts,
Exceptionally prepared WSDOT engaged Seattle-based Diversiﬁed for the installation, although Forbis selected all of the technology. Indeed, Diversiﬁed was extremely impressed with the WSDOT team’s input, commenting that it exhibited an “exceptional” level of preparedness. “He [Forbis] anticipated what we needed for seamless integration, from power and storage, to identifying space for server rooms,” says Jackie McNeice, installation manager for Diversiﬁed. “Michael and WSDOT were also ﬂexible and understanding problem-solvers, which made it a very easy project for us.” A two-phase project taking place over nine months, it required the Diversiﬁed project management and integration teams to work seamlessly with WSDOT and the general building contractor. The wall needed to comprise individual monitors that could be swapped out in the event of failure – rather than a huge one-unit wall that would incur higher upgrade costs: “We can replace the wall in sections for smaller amounts of money over time as needed,” says Forbis. The installation went smoothly, particularly considering its size and scope. “Broken out individually, there was nothing out of the ordinary,” says Pete Monuteaux, account executive at Diversiﬁed. “It was just the scale of the project that made it stand out.”
Another potential issue with the wall was as a result of the building’s location in the Paciﬁc northwest: “The building came with an earthquake requirement, so we had to run the mounting by a structural engineer to make sure the monitors would stay on the walls in case of an earthquake,” Forbis explains. The unusual scale meant that the project was particularly bespoke, with very little in the way of ‘templating’. “Unless it’s a situation where a solution is being copied over to another location as part of a larger rollout plan, it’s unusual to have a templated, formulaic approach, and very rare the larger the project is,” continues Monuteaux. “The volume of displays and complexity of the video processing portion of the project put this on the larger side of projects in this industry.” Phase one saw the installation of 90 NEC Display Solutions P463 46in monitors, each with an NEC OPS-PCIC-SWS video processor. The wall is conﬁgured in three sections – left, centre, and
with six installed using the SF660S mount. In phase two, the centre of the videowall was installed. This features a 3x4 conﬁguration of NEC X554-UNS 55in monitors, driven by a Barco TransForm N video processor and CMS software. Personnel can grab images from an individual display and expand them on the videowall – “ampliﬁed viewing”, which provides detailed views of crises and enhances TMC’s effectiveness in handling such situations. Diversiﬁed partnered with Vistacom for the conﬁguration of and training for the Barco CMS collaboration software and the TransForm N streaming video input node, which comprised the networked visualisation solution driving videowall content.
www.barco.com www.diversifiedus.com www.nec-display-solutions.com www.peerless-av.com www.vistacominc.com
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34 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS
A touching tale Interactive displays are part of everyday life for millions of people, particularly in corporate and education environments. But how is the technology developing, and how can the channel continue to best serve the market? Steve Montgomery reports
or several years, large-format displays and projectors have been essential elements in every corporate meeting room, school classroom and university lecture theatre. During that time methods of working, collaboration and teaching have evolved and the technology used has developed accordingly. It is set to change still further to meet the expectations and ways of communication of new generations of students and workers. Perhaps the most signiﬁcant movement recently has been toward interactivity, with users being given the facility to directly interact with displayed content.
‘The requirements are for fast, effective, interactive screens that are as responsive as mobile devices’ Birgit Jackson, Sharp Visual Solutions
Projector-based interactive whiteboards have always incorporated interactive capability, but while these have been attractive in primary education, they have not been so readily accepted in higher education or in the corporate sector. However, with the widespread availability
and reducing cost of large-format LCD screens, the capability to interact directly with PC software and applications is now much more attractive to those reluctant users. “The UK is by far the largest market for interactive displays in EMEA. The market has grown strongly from a low point in 2011, driven on by a robust replacement market for interactive whiteboards that were installed 10 years ago and are now being replaced by interactive ﬂat panels,” says Colin Messenger, senior consultant at Futuresource. “Over 70,000 interactive displays were sold in the UK in 2016 and there is likely to be around 11% growth in 2017. This is despite a feeling of uncertainty as school budgets are under tremendous pressure. The whole EMEA market is still growing after experiencing large sales volumes in 2014 and 2015. The corporate market is starting to build. There has always been an underlying strong level of interest but a spate of new vendors and models, such as Microsoft Surface Hub, Google, Cisco, Samsung, Dell and others, will help drive the market up.” Flat screens are becoming the dominant technology for large-format displays at the expense of projectors in both the education and corporate markets, as Chris Moore, AV product manager, BenQ UK, points out: “There are still some end-users deploying projectionbased solutions but these are becoming less
Key Points Interactive LCD panels are displacing projectors generally, although some applications still benefit from projection technology Corporate and education sectors have differing requirements, leading to a range of offerings from vendors Despite applications being bundled into screens, there are still opportunities for integrators to generate revenue Gesture and voice control are likely to emerge alongside touch interaction as common features in the future frequent. Factors like shadowing and inaccuracy are issues that projector users face, along with brightness, which often causes problems in sun-ﬁlled classrooms. The cost of interactive screens has deterred customers. However, prices are falling signiﬁcantly, removing the last hurdle for users looking to switch from projection-based solutions.” However, Nureva product manager Dan Oleskevich counters: “With the increasing availability of ultra-short throw, full HD solidstate projectors, the market remains very positive for this type of display.” This, he
believes, is due to “the fact that the image sizeto-cost ratio for projectors is an advantage over ﬂat-panel displays. For large interactive walls, projection solutions can be built at a much lower cost than tiled multiple ﬂat-panel displays. Projection-based displays are also gentler on the eyes because the image is reﬂective rather than emissive, as with ﬂat-panel displays. Today, solid-state projection is one of the best ways to deliver the large-format experience, but as other technologies mature we will adopt them and deliver them to our customers to create effective digital workspaces.”
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS 35
ensures that the same software packages are available throughout the school. SMART was one of the ﬁrst companies to produce solutions that were attractive to educational users, although several other brands are now catching up.”
‘It’s all about emancipation of pixels and people from their chairs’ Mandeep Jawa, PwC
Different markets There are fundamental differences between the education and corporate markets. Usage and content are completely different between these sectors and so a range of products is called for. “One of the major differences between the two types of user lies in the suites of software that they choose to access,” explains Brian Davies, development director at GV Multimedia. “Schools tend to prefer interactive displays that mimic the functionality of whiteboards and choose complete solutions with both hardware and software applications integrated into a single unit. Once they select a brand, like SMART or C-Touch, they tend to stay with it and equip the whole site with a single type of product. This delivers a sense of familiarity to teachers and
The primary features for educational users are ease of use and robust operation. “As you can imagine, school equipment must be extremely robust and reliable. It needs to handle a few knocks from over-exuberant pupils,” says Shaun Marklew, sales and marketing director for Sahara. “Software is also extremely important to schools. Teachers want to be able to seamlessly use their existing lesson plans as well being able to access and search for suitable education apps to bring lessons to life and engage children.” Moore points out a further, less obvious requirement – that of hygiene: “BenQ’s interactive ﬂat panels are equipped with low
blue light and anti-bacteria screens to help foster a healthy learning environment, with specialist eye-care and reduced spread of illnesses. This is extremely important in the lower-age classes in which screens are used for long periods by several pupils at once.” Higher education colleges and universities are more likely to invest in interactive screens that provide direct access to the general software used throughout the courses. That is predominantly under Windows 10, which provides a good level of support for touchscreen interactive applications. Says Davies: “Higher education facilities are essentially looking for large screens that are an extension of the desktop-human interface and that allow lecturers to present classes and students to work together on large screens using generic applications, as they would on small ones. One of the major beneﬁts for lecturers is that they can annotate pre-prepared lecture slides on a large screen in front of the class, without having to use a laptop or small computer screen remote from the main image. This can mean that they remain in contact with the class, working on the presented material, and notes can then be distributed electronically to students. This leads to more engaging lectures: the lecturer can focus on the students and the students can focus on the lecturer.” Business organisations also prefer this
36 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS approach. Birgit Jackson, commercial director at Sharp Visual Solutions, explains: “Connectivity between local and remote users is very important in the business world and organisations already have a wealth of communication and collaboration tools that are hosted securely on their main computers and already conﬁgured to connect to users’ personal devices through established BYOD strategies. They look for interactive screens that deliver close contact between users in small huddle rooms, larger meeting rooms and conference suites, with the ability to connect to remote users in videoconferencing and shared screen situations. The requirements are for fast, effective, interactive screens that are as responsive as mobile devices and can access the tools that users are already familiar with at their desks and on their own devices. “Our concentration is on providing the optimum user experience, one that approaches the feel that users have when writing on paper. It has to be fast, smooth and responsive, highly accurate and deliver a natural writing flow, while resisting false contact from fingers and wrists.”
‘There are still opportunities to add value and deliver a backto-basics approach on helping users through the minefield of choices and options’ Jeremy Stewart, U-Touch
IT system managers appreciate tools that aid the continuous smooth running and maintenance of equipment. “Maintenance and management of screens is a key consideration for many organisations, especially those rolling out multiple screens across an estate such as a school or large conferencing facility. IT and system managers need to perform diagnostics on individual or groups of screens, as well as managing essential security functions like memory wiping on shutdown and removing or enabling application software packages from a central location,” says Marklew. “In addition, it is important that new features, bug ﬁxes, software and hardware updates can be seamlessly delivered to every screen ensuring continued smooth running on site.”
Adding value AV system integrators are in a unique position to understand the complexities and application of interactive technologies in today’s markets. As vendors increasingly package hardware and applications together there is little scope for
dealers and installers to generate revenue from a sector once so fruitful to them. “There are still opportunities to add value and deliver a backto-basics approach on helping users through the mineﬁeld of choices and options,” says Jeremy Stewart, director of U-Touch. “There are always higher-margin niche market opportunities and a sector I believe in is large-format LCD and LED videowalls. There are a number of interactive solutions and touch interfaces available to convert videowall systems into interactive displays. This, in turn, opens opportunities to supply content, installation, support and service. Vendors such as NEC are also targeting this sector offering standard SKUs to assist SIs and resellers with sourcing.” David Wilson, workplace consultant director at Engage Works, identiﬁes an additional opportunity: “Interactive technology is just an enabler and needs to be supported by great content with a purpose. There is a role for integrators to facilitate relationships and introductions to good content developers who understand the whole human-machine interface across ages, experience and comfort.” Wilson predicts that the whole concept of interactivity will change in the future as users become more familiar with non-touch technology, including voice and gesture interaction with applications. “I expect that a universal gesture command language akin to pinch-and-zoom on a touchscreen will start to develop with machines able to decipher what is an intended gesture and what was just gesticulation. Then the interface can take on a more distant relationship and offer up a greater range of opportunities, such as being able to interact with digital bill posters located high up in shopping centres or on the other side of the tube tunnel.” He also predicts that “voice input will become more prevalent as people become more comfortable with speaking to a machine. This is already happening through interactive tools and devices like Siri, Cortana and Alexa.” Gesture input is already built into collaboration solutions provided by Oblong Industries. “The ability to interact with Mezzanine from anywhere in the room with a gestural wand, tablet or web browser, and being able to facilitate, participate and control the meeting remotely creates an environment conducive for group collaboration,” says Steve Pryor, director, EMEA channel sales, Oblong Industries. “Mezzanine enables faster decision making, fostering a highly productive working environment.” He believes that there is a need to operate over several rooms at once. “Unlike traditional interactive displays that just focus on the in-room experience, Mezzanine replicates multiple interactive display surfaces between rooms using ‘Infopresence’, with many input data sources, and delivers that experience
through mobile devices to really meet our customer demands.” The rapid evolution of interactive display technology, coupled with lowering product cost, physical size and ever-advancing human interface software and techniques have come together to offer solutions that are exciting users around the world; not just in enhancing meeting efficiency, connectivity and collaboration, but in generating new business opportunities. Mandeep Jawa, PwC’s director of emerging workplace technology, summarises the beneﬁts to PwC of seamless connection between multiple interactive screens and personal devices using touch and gesture interfaces in their Delta meeting rooms: “We can’t show customers a vision of the future using technology that has not changed for the last 20 years. We have built meeting rooms with interactive technology that create an environment in which people feel less inhibited, more conversational – basically taking all the pixels that are trapped in several rectangular screens and making them work as if they are all inside one giant canvas. Something on the screen can be looked at on an iPad, commented on and shared with someone who is not even in the room. It’s all about emancipation of pixels and people from their chairs.”
www.benq.com www.engageworks.com www.futuresource-consulting.com www.gvmultimedia.com www.nureva.com www.oblong.com www.pwc.com https://saharaav.com www.sharp.eu www.u-touch.co.uk
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38 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: HERITAGE BUILDINGS
Key Points Lighting systems have been transformed by the move to wireless and LED sources The difficulty with sound solutions is finding the balance between small to preserve the aesthetics and big for optimal audio performance
Risk and reward
It’s crucial to understand that most installation methods used in other environments will not be permitted in heritage buildings
Heritage and listed buildings are some of the most challenging environments for audio and lighting installs, so how do manufacturers and integrators navigate these tricky waters, asks Duncan Proctor?
orking on heritage buildings leaves next to no margin for error; while these projects can be high on prestige, mistakes could result in damage to an historic structure that cannot be rectiﬁed. However, while these esteemed structures are often those most in need of audio and lighting help, their age can result in difficult working conditions and their listed status may make obtaining approval for alterations laborious. When modifying the acoustic properties of a space is not feasible, it falls to integrators and manufacturers to combat the numerous challenges presented on such projects. This means that solutions must be designed and installed more creatively, and technology has to continue to evolve in both performance and form factor. The limitations of heritage buildings mean that installed solutions often reﬂect a balance between performance and aesthetics, as the make-up of buildings may not support the integrator’s ﬁrst choice of lighting or audio systems.
Challenges In addition to the challenges that arise from an integrator not being able to choose their preferred
solution, integrators are also not able to install systems in the way they would normally like, as certain practices are off limits in heritage sites. “Possibly the biggest challenge is trying to take historic buildings and modernise them with the very latest technology without losing the essence of what makes the building special,” says Jonjo Glynn, White Light’s venues director.
‘You need to ensure that you use the right technology with minimum footprint’ Jonjo Glynn, White Light
“The main challenge of installing lighting equipment in heritage sites is ensuring that the aesthetic of the building remains unchanged,” comments Sam Woodward, customer education leader, Europe and Africa at Lutron Electronics. “For sites, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, lighting and lighting control systems also need remarkable ﬂexibility for a range of uses – not
only providing lighting for the general public – such as special events and state occasions, but also security, cleaning and maintenance.” A common problem with audio systems stems from the acoustic properties of the structures as they are not always sympathetic to the standards expected of modern audio. As these acoustic properties are built into the venue and cannot be changed, the solutions speciﬁed must compensate. Daniele Mochi, product specialist at K-array, comments: “We are constantly challenged with providing optimal sound and coverage for spaces with architectural design elements such as long hallowed halls, high ceilings and lack of speciﬁc acoustic treatment that aren’t conducive to clear audio and even dispersion, as these features tend to abruptly reﬂect sound.” Installing audio equipment tends to involve drilling, wiring, and mounting or suspending large items from the walls or ceiling. “All of these activities are generally prohibited or discouraged in historic buildings, so integrators have to get very creative,” says Jim Mobley, Renkus-Heinz technical sales manager. Glynn adds: “In an ideal world, we’d love to run cables between walls and be able to really
FEATURE: HERITAGE BUILDINGS 39
integrate the latest equipment as part of the building. However, this simply isn’t possible in a listed venue.”
line arrays, both steerable and mechanically aimed, are generally the best choice as they combine directivity and output in a visually small package.”
Compromise is key
Do more with less
The solution to these issues and restrictions invariably involves compromise. With the physical changes permitted on heritage buildings extremely limited, coupled with the strict limitations on visible cabling, choice and location of equipment are signiﬁcantly affected. “You need to remember that where you’re positioning equipment and cable may not be the ideal location but it is, in fact, preserving the aesthetics,” explains Glynn. “You need to ensure that you use the right technology with minimum footprint. Thankfully, in recent years, there have been some huge advancements with equipment, meaning we can rely on wireless technology, mesh networks and IP travel to send data.” Nowhere is the compromise so evident as with speakers, as Mobley explains: “While smaller is nearly always better from an aesthetic standpoint, bigger is nearly always better for loudspeaker performance. The challenge is to ﬁnd a loudspeaker that is big enough to do the job, but unobtrusive enough to be acceptable to whomever makes that decision. Slender column
All the challenges and restrictions in these environments means that the solutions deployed need to be able to do more with less. Woodward explains how LED light sources have transformed the form factors available for lighting ﬁxtures.
‘While smaller is nearly always better from an aesthetic standpoint, bigger is nearly always better for loudspeaker performance’ Jim Mobley, Renkus-Heinz
“No longer are they limited to accommodate standard lamp shapes, but they can be any shape and size as the light-engine can be designed to ﬁt,” he says. “The accompanying driver electronics for LED ﬁxtures are typically smaller than traditional magnetic ballasts, further reducing space requirements. When this
is combined with reliable wireless control, extra cables for control can be eliminated.” Glynn agrees, adding that LED lighting produces less heat, while being smaller and more efficient. “Another factor is the introduction of multi-function ﬁxtures,” he says. “Whereas these may be larger ﬁxtures, they can do many more things so are actually much more beneﬁcial. Similarly, manufacturers are now making products that interact with a variety of power sources, which obviously allows many more options.” Another lighting innovation that helps to address these limitations has been the move to wireless: “Solutions need to be wireless and easily scalable to join multiple other areas with the right level of performance,” explains Woodward. “Lutron’s ﬁeld-proven Clear Connect RF communications technology, for example, is ideal to maximise system performance for retroﬁt projects in all heritage buildings.” On the audio side, digitally steerable column array speakers provide a number of advantages over conventional loudspeakers “because of their low visual proﬁle and ability to steer sound without being physically aimed,” says Mobley. They are more expensive, but “offsetting that is the consideration that one steerable array may
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40 FEATURE: HERITAGE BUILDINGS
replace dozens of conventional loudspeakers,” he adds. Mochi agrees that column arrays are the preferred option: “Traditional speakers tend to distribute the sound in all directions, resulting in a great deal of energy sent to the walls and ceiling. To avoid the resulting reﬂections, the sound beam must be focused on the vertical plane, meaning the sound energy is concentrated along the axis of the diffuser and not distributed towards the ceiling. The narrow vertical coverage minimises the sound spill towards the ceiling and the ﬂoor, thus increasing the intelligibility in highly reverberant environments. This behaviour is all the more accentuated the longer the column is.” Limiting sound reﬂections, while minimising aesthetic impact, is a constant battle for audio companies. “To be pedantic, there’s nothing that the sound system can do to reduce reverberation – that’s an acoustic property of the room,” states Mobley. “What can be done with the sound system is to increase the ratio of direct sound, sound that arrives at the listener’s ears directly from the loudspeaker, to the reverberant sound, sound that’s bounced off one or more things in the room. “The only way to make a loudspeaker directional is to make it large in at least one
dimension. This is why arrays, particularly of the steerable column variety, are so popular in reverberant rooms. They are big in only one dimension – height – the other dimensions are reduced to the absolute minimum, making them easier to hide.”
Extra considerations The nature of heritage building projects is that along with sound and lighting, there are a number of extra considerations that need to be taken into account. “In terms of labour costs, you need to be honest and appreciate that things don’t happen quickly in listed buildings,” comments Glynn. “Many of the projects we’ve worked on have required weeks and even months of sign-off time. Therefore, you need to ensure that you plan efficiently so that the execution of an event can be run smoothly on the day as, chances are, you won’t be able to make any last minute changes.” In addition, there are understandably higher levels of bureaucracy associated with heritage and listed building projects. Glynn explains further: “This is mainly due to these buildings having such historical importance and often housing priceless artefacts and displays. That said, these are there for a reason and so you should be incorporating these in your pre-
planning. It’s important to let your client know the restrictions and then use these to decide what technical set-up will be achievable.” As Mochi details, this means audio companies often have to rely more heavily on stacking and joining accessories. “At times, we are prohibited from mounting a speaker onto a wall but luckily, we have many joining hardware and stacking accessories that allow for a variety of set-ups for integrators to adapt the installation.” So it’s fair to deduce that all these limitations must place a greater burden on the integrator. “These obviously do affect the integrator but it’s a case of using these restrictions and formulating a creative technical solution around them,” says Glynn. “For instance, at WL, we are approved suppliers to HRP (Historic Royal Palaces) and UVL (Unique Venues of London) venues, many of which have been around for centuries. It’s about knowing what is possible within the venue, drawing on the technology that will work within that space and delivering something which combines the latest technology with historic architecture.”
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42 SOLUTIONS: ST GILES’ CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
Crowning achievement One of Scotland’s most historic cathedrals has been equipped with a comprehensive new AV system that, among other things, has signiﬁcantly improved sound reinforcement. Tom Bradbury reports
egarded as the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh is an important place of worship for the Church of Scotland, its crown-shaped spire a distinctive part of the city skyline. The present building dates from the late 1300s and features a number of chapels, including the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland’s chivalric company of knights appointed by Her Majesty The Queen. As audience expectations rise in parallel with developments in audio technology, installing sound reinforcement systems that satisfy modern demands in historic buildings is always fraught with potential difficulties. The St Giles’ installation has demonstrated how these issues can be overcome, delivering a solution that is effective and also includes a large degree of future-prooﬁng. Michael Hyland of AV systems consultants Michael Hyland & Associates was approached to design the new sound reinforcement system, along with the CCTV, video distribution and AV related data cabling infrastructure. “Cathedral and church related projects tend to take time, because there are statutory bodies involved whose permissions must be obtained and invariably there is a need for funding to be put in place,” says Hyland. “Although initial discussions took place back in 2007, it was
known that the project would be dormant for some time. The project resurfaced in 2015 and began with discussions to establish the cathedral’s audio, CCTV and video distribution requirements, which formed the basis of the client brief.” While the timescale between submitting proposals and getting a sign-off can be protracted, in this instance, Hyland says that “it was more or less by return”, highlighting the importance that the cathedral placed on getting the project under way as quickly as possible. Once the go-ahead was given, two speciﬁcations were produced for tender purposes – one for the supply and installation of the cabling by an electrical contractor and the other for the equipment. The contract to supply, install and commission the equipment was awarded to Whitwam AVI, part of the Winchester-based Whitwam Group, in January 2017. Compared to many such projects, the installation timescale was very compressed – just three months. Sourcing, setting up and configuring the system elements in the company’s workshop and then transporting them over 400 miles to Edinburgh inevitably added to the pressure on Whitwam, but the company’s long experience with such projects meant that everything was completed on schedule.
Installed Audio Yamaha MRX7-D matrix processor Yamaha XMV4280 and XMV8140-D power amplifiers Yamaha EXi8 input expanders Yamaha EXo8 output expanders Tannoy VLS 15 column loudspeakers Ampetronic ILD1000G induction loop amplifiers Sennheiser e865 hand-held mic Sennheiser ew300 lapel mics with ME104 capsules Sennheiser SK300 belt-pack transmitters Sennheiser SKP300 plug-on transmitter Sennheiser A2003 aerials Audio-Technica ES935/ML mic Audio-Technica U851R boundary mic
Control Crestron CP3N processor Crestron TSW1052 touchscreens Enclosure Technology racks Apple iPad Air 2 tablets
Video Fostex RM3 AV monitor Genie HYHDVR multi-channel logging recorder Panasonic AW-UE70 HD PTZ cameras Sierra Video Aspen video matrix Tascam SS-CDR200 media player/recorder
SOLUTIONS: ST GILES’ CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH 43
About the installer Whitwam AV Integration is one of three companies within the Whitwam Group, alongside event production company designed and video production company Videofrog Whitwam was founded in 1909 as a retailer of pianos, sheet music and music-reproducing machines As well as houses of worship, Whitwam AVI also has clients in the public sector, the corporate world and in learned societies and scientific bodies Superior DSP The 26-zone system is based on a Dante network, managed by a Yamaha MRX7-D matrix processor with input/output expanders. It also includes four Yamaha power ampliﬁers, plus compact input/output rack units. “The superior DSP and ﬂexibility of the Yamaha products, along with the ability to easily implement future changes as and when required were factors in making the choice,” says Hyland. “The MRX7-D offers a palette of facilities from which you can pick what you want. On some projects, it is easy to underestimate what is needed in terms of programming and the MRX7-D ensures that anything can be achieved in a quick, straightforward manner.” Sound coverage is achieved by pairs of Tannoy column loudspeakers along the length of the nave and likewise the chancel. Additional loudspeakers provide coverage of the associated side aisles. Being in a large, reverberant space, the MRX7-D processor provides delay, EQ and other processing as required to each pair of loudspeakers. Further loudspeakers are located in offices and other areas. Microphone coverage is provided by eight radio mics and three cabled circuits. In the event of users forgetting to switch on one of the Audio-Technica cabled microphones, the Beadles (cathedral officers) can do this via a duplicate switch on any of the touchscreens. The installed radio mic inventory consists of ﬁve Sennheiser lapel models, along with two other units: a Sennheiser e865 handheld, and an Audio Technica ES935/ML microphone used with an SKP300 plug-on transmitter. Six Sennheiser A2003 aerials have been installed to provide comprehensive UHF coverage. Outputs from the system – including those from overhead ambient microphones in areas where the choir sing – also feed induction loop zones for the hearing impaired in the nave and chancel, as well as media recording devices. The appropriate microphone can be selected and be fed to the loop system. In the absence of speech or music, hearing aids receive the general ambience of the cathedral instead of silence.
When a speech microphone is switched on, the signal from the selected ambient microphone is automatically attenuated and replaced by the speech signal – and vice versa when the speech microphone is switched off. This automatic switching eliminates the need for hearing aid users to switch their aid between the loop and their internal microphone to take account of the speech and choir sections of a service. Line level outputs have been installed in the roof void. These provide a feed from the cathedral system for hired systems, which can be rigged temporarily to give loudspeaker coverage beyond the cathedral’s west front. Five Panasonic HD PTZ cameras provide the organist and the Beadles with views of the key areas in relation to services and other events. Switching the CCTV system on automatically moves each camera to a preset default position, which maximises the view of its associated area. An output from each camera is connected to a Genie HYHDVR multi-channel logging recorder. The recorder can be accessed from a desktop computer in the Beadles’ office, enabling camera outputs to be viewed live, recorded material to be played back and sections downloaded to DVD.
Blended in As with most historic venues, aesthetics were as important to St Giles’ as the sound. Indeed, Hyland acknowledges the irony that the Yamaha equipment is making a radical improvement to the cathedral’s sound, yet the public will never see it. “Where they existed, the cabling contractor, Edinburgh-based CableCom Electrical, followed routes used by the previous system’s cabling – for example through the roof vaulting, around
arches and so on. Connection boxes and other infrastructure were also kept to a minimum,” says Andy Pymm, Whitwam Group’s director of AV integration. To reduce the volume of cabling and the extent of the runs, equipment was de-centralised and instead, racks were installed at three key locations – the North Porch, the Bell Tower and the base of the organ – interlinked by a ﬁbre backbone. Two multi-core ﬁbres are installed between each of the rack locations to provide resilience and ﬂexibility. The majority of the horizontal cable runs are at roof void level where they have been installed on cable trays. From the trays, there are cable drops on pillars to the loudspeaker positions. Pymm continues: “Visible elements were painted in colours to match the surfaces on which they were mounted, the colours being
44 SOLUTIONS: ST GILES’ CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH
specified by the architect [Edinburgh-based Studio Tristram]. This was complicated by the cathedral’s different phases of building – there are three different styles of pillar, so we had to produce three different types of bracket, loudspeaker mounting and use three different paint colours. The radio microphone aerials and base plates were also painted so they disappeared.” This ‘vanishing trick’ also applied to the system racks. A decentralised scheme was designed to reduce cabling runs. Two 24U racks, located in a lobby area on the cathedral’s north side, house all the user-accessible equipment like the touchscreen monitors, a Tascam recording/playback device, video controls, Ampetronic induction loop ampliﬁers and the system’s aux inputs and outputs, as well as the Yamaha matrix, extenders and a power ampliﬁer. The main 42U rack – containing the receivers for all the radio microphones, plus the Yamaha ampliﬁers and I/O units – provided a bigger challenge, being located in the clock chamber at the top of the cathedral’s Bell Tower. “We had to build, wire and test the rack in our workshop, then transport it to Edinburgh, take it apart, carry the components up a spiral staircase, across part of the roof, into the tower and reassemble it all,” says Pymm, with a slightly rueful smile.
Fully integrated The new system has completely changed how
St Giles’ manages its sound reinforcement. The previous, single loudspeaker zone system was based on voice-activated microphones and had been effectively, as Hyland puts it, “switched on and left on autopilot.” “When one microphone was being used, sound from the loudspeakers activated the unused microphones. This increased the reverberant sound level signiﬁcantly which, in turn, reduced intelligibility. The single zone loudspeaker zone exacerbated the situation, given that loudspeakers covering unoccupied areas could not be switched off. As a result, you ended up with sound rattling around the cathedral,” he says. In contrast, the new solution ensures that the sound is limited to the areas where it’s actually needed for any particular service or event. “Each of the three ﬁxed microphone locations have local on/off switching for operation by the user, while the whole system can be controlled by the cathedral’s Beadles via a Crestron touchscreen or iPad app,” says Pymm. “Most of the time only a single microphone is in use and the MRX7-D is programmed to restrict the sound to the area where it’s needed. However, there are presets for a variety of different uses and a lot of DSP is being used – the MRX7-D is using 97% of its DSP capacity.” As well as the audio, the Beadles can use the touchscreens or iPads to control CCTV, video and other related systems. There is also a touchscreen by the organ console, which
provides control of audio and CCTV elements speciﬁc to the organist. A Crestron CP3N processor provides control over the various audio and video elements, such as loudspeaker zones, cabled microphones, radio microphones, reproduction levels and their visual indication, record/replay facilities, CCTV cameras, video distribution and so on. For regular cathedral services, presets on the touchscreens enable the loudspeaker zones to be selected. The zones are also shown on a plan of the building on a page of the touchscreens, enabling any speciﬁc zone or zones to be selected manually. Zones can be manually added to or be removed from a preset. The project was completed at the end of March 2017, on time and within budget. It signiﬁcantly improves the audible experience for worship and the range of other events for which the building is used. “The system and the related facilities are devoid of ‘bells and whistles’. However, ﬂexibility and futureprooﬁng were keywords. The facilities installed are far more comprehensive and ﬂexible than those in other cathedrals of a comparable size,” says Hyland. “People are very quick to complain about bad sound, but when reinforced sound is high quality, or so natural that people don’t realise it is being reinforced, of course they don’t say anything,” he smiles. “There have been compliments and very positive comments from both the congregation and also those with hearing impairments. For the ﬁrst time, hearing aid users can now clearly hear not only speech, but also the music and ambience of the cathedral.” “Yamaha continues to be our go-to DSP solution,” adds Pymm. “Their range of processors provides great ﬂexibility in the way we can programme them, the systems can be integrated extremely well with video recording, playback and other devices, plus they’re extremely reliable.” • This article is by kind permission of The
Minister & Kirk Session of St Giles’ Cathedral.
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46 SOLUTIONS: MSC MERAVIGLIA
An LED ceiling to marvel at The largest cruise liner launched in 2017 is also home to the largest LED screen at sea. Mike Clark reports on how a curved ceiling is drawing passengers to the social hub of the MSC Meraviglia
SC Cruises, the world’s largest privately owned cruise line, recently took delivery of its new ﬂagship, the MSC Meraviglia (‘marvel’), at the STX shipyard in SaintNazaire, France. At 315m long, 43m wide and 65m high, the Meraviglia, with its gross register tonnage of 171,598 and guest capacity of 5,714, is the largest ship ever built by a European ship owner. MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago says: “MSC Meraviglia’s coming into service marks a key milestone in the history and future of our company. New ships coming into service over the next 10 years will be purpose-built connected ships, featuring innovation in both product and design.”
Mediterranean promenade Two features set this ship apart. One is world-class entertainment in two exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows. The other is a curved LED ceiling featuring stunning 16K content, set within a Mediterranean-style promenade that is designed to become the social hub of the ship. At 80m, this is the longest LED screen on any sea vessel. Novara-based CM Srl was contracted as consultant for all entertainment AV systems aboard the Meraviglia and also MSC Seaside. Discussing the promenade, CM’s Claudio Mazzucchelli says: “We designed the solution based on the owner’s requests; selected the LED screen supplier (Leading Technologies of Monza) and the installer (VIDELIOHMS); engineered rigging aspects with VIDELIO-HMS, Leading Technologies and STX France; designed the audio system with Fohhn’s R&D department; and selected the content provider (4DODO). We were also responsible for work supervision and promenade technology start-up tests.” 4DODO was responsible for the 16K video
content and its management system. A creative studio headquartered in Udine and specialising in visual and immersive communication, 4DODO developed the necessary hardware and software entirely in house. Founded by Federico Cautero and Stefano Vidoz, the company includes programmers and interactive designers Marco Godeas and Giulia Totis, responsible for product development. MSC’s brief for the ceiling was for a system that could handle a wide variety of content and if necessary support any last-minute personalisation work. From preliminary analyses, 4DODO realised there was no technology on the market that could create and play out 16K content; so the team designed, developed and built an integrated system that distributed processing power over several units, kept in sync to play the same single visual content across the entire dome surface. Totis explains: “A server cluster was created with components appropriately selected to ensure 24/7 operation and an integrated system constructed, based on various self-diagnosis algorithms, able to detect any faults and if necessary transfer processing power from one unit to another extremely rapidly.” As well as a scale model of a portion of the promenade to simulate content playout, a virtual 3D model was produced and viewed using an Oculus Rift device. By observing the dome’s contents from on-board points of view, the team could decide how to screen and position the visual elements. She continues: “MSC gave indications regarding the themes to be developed for the various events during the day and content was divided into two main categories: ceiling and static images, realised using perspective and anamorphosis techniques. A series of ‘Dome Shows’ was also produced: from outer space to the Jurassic era, from the world’s
Installed Video Leading Technologies Lightbeam 3.91mm LED panels Leading Technologies 9MRNOCVT310 fibre to Cat5 converters Novastar MCTRL 300 DVI sending cards Panasonic AW-HE130KEJ HD PTZ cameras PureLink PM-32X modular matrix switcher 4DODO 4U custom media servers
Audio Apart CMSUB8 8in dual-coil ceiling subwoofers Apart REVAMP1680 16-channel power amplifiers Biamp Tesira I/O AVB digital audio platform Biamp Tesira EX-MOD modular expander Fohhn AS-10 ultra-compact bass systems Fohhn AT-10 two-way speakers Fohhn CS-04 ceiling speakers Fohhn Linea Focus LFI-220 column arrays KIND KQX 28.4 compact power amplifiers RDL TX-A2 audio converters RF Venue CP Beam UHF antenna Shure microphones and IEM Aphex 120B SMPTE distribution amplifiers
Lighting Elation ZCL 360i RGBW moving heads
Control AMX NetLinx NX-3200 integrated controller AMX AXB-DMX512 DMX interfaces KissBox MIDI2TR dual MIDI transceivers Motu MIDI Express XT 8-in/8-out MIDI interfaces Rosendahl MIF4 MIDI timecode interface
SOLUTIONS: MSC MERAVIGLIA
About the integrator VIDELIO-HMS is one of the largest providers of AV systems for the global cruise ship market Founded in 1983 it also works on projects in theatres, broadcast and monitoring centres, meeting rooms, hotels and clubs Its parent company, the VIDELIO group, employs over 700 people in 30 sites around the world most beautiful ceilings to journeys through the abysses, the four seasons to cartoons for the kids.”
Multi-channel soundtracks The shows use multi-channel soundtracks and 32 16K templates to handle images, videos and entire folders of multimedia ﬁles in real time. The audio for the Dome Shows is a combination of effects produced in house by 4DODO and music by Vivaldi, Samuel Barber and Ennio Morricone (who composed music speciﬁcally for MSC). These were produced on 16 separate tracks and played by a multi-channel player – also developed in house – which is interfaced with a Biamp Tesira system. With the exception of 30 Apart ceiling subs, sound reinforcement is courtesy of Fohhn’s speaker systems: 109 ceiling speakers, 12 passive 300W bass systems, four beam-steering active line arrays
and 24 two-way promenade speakers. The audio powerhouse consists of three 16-channel digital Apart power ampliﬁers (16 x 100W output) and 10 KPL four-channel amps. Control is based on a Biamp Tesira I/O AVB digital audio platform, and includes a Tesira EX-MOD modular expander, Dante network card and RDL audio converters. Apart from an RF Venue UHF antenna, the microphones, IEM and earphones for events along the promenade are all from Shure.
Ceiling statistics The huge dome screen is formed from 26 segments of Leading Technologies 3.91mm pitch Lightbeam modules: 1,144 1,500mm x 250mm panels and 156 500mm x 250mm panels. Control is via 37 Novastar DVI cards, 149 Leading Technologies multimodal optical ﬁbre to Cat5 converters and 124 ﬁbre optic cables from the control set-up to the screen. The video server cluster has seven 4U custom media servers created by 4DODO. One server is used as an interface with external devices, four are active and two are on active dynamic backup duty. As well as the 4DODO content created, live video of events on the promenade can also be played on the overhead screen, thanks to a pair of Panasonic PTZ cameras and a PureLink matrix switcher. ‘Show’ lighting is provided by 40 Elation single-
beam moving heads, which feature a 90W RGBW LED and a new collimator optic lens. Such a complex system had to be user-friendly, so 4DODO also developed a control interface that is accessible from any on-board device. Following the success of this dome, CM’s collaboration with MSC Cruises will continue with the same type of LED ‘sky’ on the Bellissima, the Meraviglia’s sister ship, scheduled for 2019.
www.amx.com www.apart-audio.com www.aphex.com www.biamp.com www.cm-srl.net www.elationlighting.com www.fohhn.com www.4dodo.com http://kindaudio.com http://kiss-box.nl www.leadingtech.it www.motu.com www.msccruises.com www.novastar-led.com http://business.panasonic.com http://main.purelinkav.com www.rdlnet.com www.rfvenue.com www.shure.com www.videlio.com/en/videlio-hms.html
48 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
Mercedes-Benz Arena utilises low latency solution The Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin has had its technology infrastructure upgraded with a new Tripleplay IPTV and digital signage system. The system provides options such as remote screen control, content scheduling, event triggers, social media delivery, user access control and low-latency IP streaming. Around 200 NEC displays were deployed at the arena in the VIP areas, bars, restaurants, F&B concession stands and concourse area. The content is delivered by Tripleplay’s IPTV headend and digital signage CMS, built on HP Enterprise servers and Amino H150 set-top boxes. Tripleplay’s platform is also integrated with the venue’s legacy scoreboard software.
Floating theatre takes visitors back in time The Zhiyinhao, a ﬂoating theatre and museum, based in Wuhan, includes a sprawling audio installation with two Symetrix Edge DSPs at the heart of the system. By day, it’s a ﬂoating museum; by night, a unique theatre experience. Passengers are taken down the Yangtze River and back to the 1920s, where the show unfolds around them. The ship is a recreation of the Jianghua, a 19th-century Chinese steamer, accommodating over 1,000 people (including 108 performers) over three themed decks, restaurants and more. Keeping the show aﬂoat is a ship-wide infrastructure of network cabling, transporting 64 channels of Dante in both directions to 470 loudspeakers across almost 100 individual rooms.
D.A.S. Audio line arrays in major stadium upgrade Following an update to a sound reinforcement system that had been in service since 2002, the main in-bowl area at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena is now equipped with new line arrays from D.A.S. Audio. Located along Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, the arena, which is home to the NBA’s Miami Heat basketball team, is an upscale facility in every respect, with 2,105 club seats, 80 luxury suites, 76 private boxes, and a total seating capacity of just over 21,000. The facility enhancement includes 128 D.A.S.
Audio Aero 40A advanced line array enclosures, 16 Aero 20A cabinets, along with eight UX-218RA sub bass enclosures – all governed by a Lake/Dante loudspeaker management and distribution system. The D.A.S. speakers were selected for their sonic efficiency. The line array system design facilitates even frequency response and clear coverage throughout the seating areas.
50 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
LED displays create innovative building environment International telecommunications company Ooredoo has completed an AV installation at its Doha headquarters, working with integrator Technomight and manufacturer SiliconCore to install LED displays in its lobby area. Three SiliconCore Magnolia 1.5mm LED displays were chosen to create a visual impact in the lobby and events area: the biggest measures 130in. The brief called for futureproof technology: the HD displays can be supplemented later with additional cabinets, to upgrade the system to 4K. Content is shared across the three walls via a long-distance 4K signal distribution system, although each display can be treated separately to suit the space being used in a variety of ways.
dnp screen chosen for TfL project ADi Audiovisual has speciﬁed a 5m-wide dnp Supernova Inﬁnity Screen for Transport for London’s (TfL) ‘Art on the Underground’ visual arts showcase, situated in the main ticket hall at King’s Cross Underground station. For the project’s new commission, ADi recommended the Supernova Inﬁnity Screen as the central media display, paired with a Panasonic 10,000-lumen laser projector. This was supplied and installed by dnp partner Visual Displays. A lightweight solution was essential as the screen is ﬁxed to an existing glass balustrade. The 12-minute ﬁlm, made by Broomberg & Chanarin, is called The Bureaucracy of Angels. It is running from 28 September to 25 November at King’s Cross St Pancras Station, close to the Eurostar exit – a very high-footfall area.
Large-scale video comes to new airport terminal AV Stumpﬂ media server and show control equipment has been selected to power an advanced video installation at the new terminal at Bergen Airport in Flesland. Systems integrator Stagelab, along with Bright Norway, speciﬁed AV Stumpﬂ’s Wings Player Pro media server and Avio Master show control system. In the check-in area, video is projected onto the southern sidewalls using seven Panasonic PT-RZ31K laser projectors; these deliver a total of 217,000 lumens and 14 million pixels to create an image 57m long and between 4.5m and 7m high.
On the wall in the gate area that stretches across the walkway to the old terminal, three projectors (93,000 lumens total) produce an image around 20m wide and between 3.5m and 5.5m high. The content is images and video of the picturesque area surrounding Bergen. The AV Stumpﬂ equipment is installed in the building’s basement, with content carried to the projectors via ﬁbre optic cable.
The Smarter Mixer ATDM-0604 Digital SmartMixerÂ®
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September 2017 avtechnologyeurope.com
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PRODUCT OF Barco THE MONTH UniSee It’s… Barco’s new LCD videowall platform. What’s new? Almost everything! Barco separated much of the electronics from the display, and created an innovative new mounting technology that simpliﬁes installation and uses gravity to align the display tiles.
Details: Installation saw a pre-production version of UniSee on a visit to the manufacturer in October. It comprises three elements: the UniSee View LCM, the UniSee Mount and UniSee Connect. “The biggest pain point with installing and servicing conventional videowalls is detaching them from the mount,” says Suchit Rout, director of global strategic marketing at Barco. To address this, the electronics have been separated out from the UniSee View LCM. This means that the LCM tiles, which weigh just 14kg, are simply docked onto the UniSee Mount after the input boards, power supplies and cabling have been attached. When each panel is installed onto the mount, there is a 3cm gap all around it, facilitating handling and reducing the risk of damage. Once all the 55in 1,920 x 1,080 panels have been installed, it’s a matter of using a simple tool to pull the modules together on a ratchet mechanism: ﬁrst grouping them into columns, then moving the columns horizontally to join them up. A column of up to 10 panels can be moved using just one hand. It’s here that the UniSee Mount’s physical design comes into its own: displays can only move up or down at a 45º angle, and so-called ‘smart corners’ enable adjacent screens to self-align as they come together under the force of gravity. The end result is a very narrow gap between panels – approximately 0.3mm, or a couple of pixels. Accessing a panel for maintenance uses the same process in reverse. The wall is opened up using the same tool until the required panel is accessible – then it’s just a matter of releasing two clips on the mount to free the panel, the top of
which gently swings down. “Think of it as undocking and docking your laptop,” says Rout. The self-alignment features also compensate for inaccuracies in drilling; according to Barco, holes can be out by up to 15mm. Alignment along the Z-axis can be adjusted by means of a ﬁxing bolt. Another useful feature is that it is possible to power up a display module and perform a ‘dead on arrival’ test while it is still in the box, without breaking the seal. This offers advantages to the installer, who could save up to a couple of days detecting a damaged panel and ordering a replacement; it also offers advantages to the channel, as damage incurred after the box is opened cannot be passed off as having occurred during shipping. But in any case, the light weight of the panels and the design of the mounting mechanism make on-site damage much less likely. It’s not just the mounting and alignment that sets UniSee apart, according to Barco – it’s the image quality as well. The company is quoting 95% image intra-tile uniformity, signiﬁcantly outperforming its big-name rivals. Brightness is 800cd/sqm. UniSee Connect software assigns and calibrates the panels and can be used to manage the entire wall. This uses the same open software platform as all current Barco videowalls. By connecting over IP to the BCM controller on the wall, users can access a user-friendly web-based interface; additionally, an API is available to connect to control systems. UniSee Connect manages Barco’s Sense X automatic calibration system: sensors inside each tile measure colour and brightness in real time, and Sense X immediately makes any adjustments to
ensure the image is balanced across the entire wall. Sense X continues to operate during the 100,000-hour lifetime of the wall. Ambient reﬂections are minimised (the company quotes a 44% haze level), ensuring performance in daylight. Four power supply options are available: builtin single, built-in redundant, remote single and remote redundant. Built-in redundant features two power supplies; automatic failover ensures continuity of power when these are connected to separate power outlets. The remote redundant power supplies are hot-swappable. Because of its noiseless, fanless operation, Barco says UniSee is suitable for applications that include control rooms, corporate lobbies, boardrooms and meeting rooms. Rout concludes: “We’re excited about UniSee. This is the way videowalls should always have been envisioned – and were delighted to be ﬁrst to bring it to market.”
Available: Now www.barco.com
54 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS Vaddio ConferenceSHOT FX This fixed USB camera promises enterprise-class videoconferencing quality at an entry-level price. Designed for small conference rooms and huddle spaces, it plugs into a USB port and works with major UCC soft clients. The USB 3.0 output can send uncompressed, high-resolution video at 1080p/60. Field of view is 88º and optical zoom is 3x, with configurable presets and manual pan/tilt operation. A web UI covers remote configuration, management, and control. Users can adjust image colour, shading, backlight and wide dynamic range. www.vaddio.com Alcons QR24/110 This new addition to the Q-series of modular two-way column speakers features 110º horizontal dispersion. Used as a scalable vertical array system, it is said to combine linear and dynamic sound reproduction with superb intelligibility and throw. The ‘stereo sweet spot’ is widened significantly for the offaxis positioned audience. Because vertical dispersion is tightly controlled, intelligibility over distance is independent of SPL, without any DSP-based beamshaping. Two cabinets can be stacked, or up to 11 flown. The 80º QR24/80 can be combined in the same array. www.alconsaudio.com B-Tech Universal LED mounting range Using its System X technology, B-Tech is offering configurable mounts compatible with the most popular LED panels – front service or rear access. Mounts can be configured using B-Tech’s online tool. Wall-mounted, freestanding, mobile (on castors) and bolt-down solutions are all available; finish is silver aluminium, with uprights in black or silver. Using off-the-shelf components means that solutions can be packaged and shipped promptly. Key components are pre-assembled to cut installation time. www.btechavmounts.com/led-panelconfigurator Kramer VS-1616DN This modular matrix switcher can be populated from 2 x 2 to 16 x 16, in increments of two inputs or outputs. Using Kramer CORE products, different signal formats can be mixed, and copper, fibre and twisted pair can all be used at the same time, subject to module selection. The matrix receives signals from compatible Kramer transmitters, automatically converts between the available infrastructure options and sends the signals to compatible Kramer receivers. Maximum data rate is 10.2Gbps (3.4Gbps per graphic channel) when using compatible cards. www.kramerav.com
Allen & Heath SQ series It’s… two compact 96kHz digital mixers suitable for a wide range of scenarios.
What’s new? SQ is the centrepiece of a wraparound ecosystem of apps, remote I/O expanders, audio networking cards and personal mixers, increasing the system’s expansion and integration possibilities. Details: The SQ-5 and SQ-6 mixers are founded on Allen & Heath’s XCVI 96kHz FPGA engine, delivering high-resolution audio with a latency of less than 0.7ms. SQ-5 (pictured) has 16 onboard preamps and 17 faders and is 19in rack mountable, while the SQ-6 provides 24 preamps and 25 faders. Both consoles can be expanded up to 48 inputs via a family of remote expanders and feature an audio networking slot for optional Dante, Waves and other card formats. A built-in SQ-Drive makes it easy to capture high-resolution 96kHz stereo and multitrack recordings direct to a USB drive. SQ can also be
hooked up to a PC or Mac via USB to become a plug-and-play 32 x 32 audio interface. SQ also features a fully integrated automatic mic mixer, suitable for conferences or panel sessions. The user interface marries a capacitive touchscreen with a set of illuminating rotary controls. Channel and mix layouts can be conﬁgured to ﬁt the audio professional’s own workﬂow, with colour displays and custom naming on all strips.
Available: Now www.allen-heath.com
Control4 Pakedge S3 series It’s… two switches for Layer 2 and Layer 3 routing in pro AV applications.
What’s new? The new S3L-24P and updated S3-24P switches are both Avnu certiﬁed, and also support Dante and Q-LAN technology. Details: The switches feature 24 Gigabit PoE+ capable ports, and four dedicated 10Gb SFP+ ports for increased throughput and faster reliable transmission of audio and video streams. Both support high-density network traffic with Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching functionalities, as well as static routing, IGMP v1/2/3, audio over IP, and quality of service (QoS). The switches support advanced IGMP Snooping for superior VoIP streaming across complex AV networks. The S3L-24P (pictured) delivers ‘lite’ Layer 3 functionality and the features needed for pro AV and smaller commercial AV installations. It supports a quick set-up conﬁguration for audio-video networking technologies including
AVB, Dante and Q-LAN, reducing installation time and implementation costs. If a network requires the use of more than one protocol, the quick set-up smartly adjusts to allow these to coexist on the same switch without interference between protocols. The updated S3-24P suits larger AV installations, such as corporate campuses, retail centres, or concert venues. It delivers complete Layer 3 functionality with additional dynamic routing for greater isolation and control, as well as a greater capacity for IP routing entries, IPv4 multicast groups, multicast entries, and AVB streams.
Available: Now www.control4.com www.pakedge.com
TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS 55
Listen Technologies ListenTALK It’s… a mobile device for groups of any size to listen and talk at the push of a button.
What’s new? ListenTALK is said to enable clear, secure, reciprocal communications with the largest range of any existing technology – up to 200m. Details: The pocket-sized device is described as ideal for noisy, crowded and/or mobile environments where people want to communicate without shouting or whispering. Example applications include guided tours, training and collaboration, mobile sales or safety presentations, intercom, and language interpretation. It is built on the less crowded 1.9GHz DECT band and offers secure encryption and full duplex spread-spectrum technology. ListenTALK groups can be set up quickly using the free software suite, docking station tray, or by just touching the units together using NFC. Rather than requiring users to manually select
channels and conﬁgure each individual device, ListenTALK devices can be conﬁgured in bulk by pushing a button on the docking station tray. Up to 10 groups can operate at once in the same space. Users can switch groups by touchpairing their device to another leader device. Participant talkback modes can be listen-only respond (listen and respond to leader only), or discuss (listen and respond to leader and group). Users can use the ListenTALK transceiver with its built-in microphone, or with any other standard 3.5mm headset or earbuds.
Available: Now www.listentech.com
Mitsubishi Electric VS-15NP160 It’s… a direct view narrow pixel pitch LED screen for large-scale indoor display projects.
What’s new? This is Mitsubishi’s ﬁrst directview LED product for this market – although the company has 30 years’ experience with its Diamond Vision outdoor LED displays. Details: Designed speciﬁcally for control rooms and other demanding indoor applications such as TV studios, the VS-15NP160 (15-NP for short) is designed and built by Mitsubishi Electric in Japan. It is based on a specially developed 1.5mm pitch, three-in-one SMD LED package. The 800 cd/sqm output, high contrast ratio and seamless screen surface make it highly suitable for SCADA-type applications. The 15-NP is rated for 100,000 hours of continuous operation. The anti-burn feature ensures static graphics shown for long periods will not harm the display; also, LED luminance and chromaticity remain uniform over the screen’s lifetime. Display depth is just 90mm, and both front
and rear access versions are available. Displays are assembled on site as required from individual 480mm x 540mm units. Construction is designed to be quick and easy. Standard OPS slots can accommodate 3G-SDI-input boards or HDBaseT inputs for long-distance signal transmission via Cat6. Dual-loop signal inputs and redundant power supplies ensure continuity of function if a power unit fails. Dynamic power consumption features actively monitor image luminance and adjust power output accordingly to optimise power consumption and reduce operator eye fatigue.
Available: Now www.mitsubishielectricdisplaysolutions.com
56 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Education technology Classrooms and lecture theatres are increasingly embracing technology to streamline the teaching process and enable students to learn in a variety of ways. Here are some current offerings in the areas of display, collaboration, lecture capture and accessibility
Clevertouch Plus Series is speciﬁcally aimed at education Among the Clevertouch range of interactive touchscreens, it’s the Plus Series that has particularly found a home within education. It’s built speciﬁcally for demanding environments, with an all-metal frame, 4mm safety glass and a child-proof screen lock. Available in ﬁve sizes from 55in to 86in, the 350nit, 4K display has 20 touch points. Children who have used apps on smartphones and tablets will be comfortable with the concept of the integrated Cleverstore. With around 100,000 downloads to date, the Cleverstore features over 170 apps that are all free to use, rendered for a 4K display and do not offer any in-app purchases. As well as apps for speciﬁc school subjects, the store also offers standard document and ﬁle apps. Web-enabled, the Plus Series runs Android 6.0 (7.1 from February 2018), but offers crossplatform connectivity, so it can work with
Android, Windows, iOS and Chrome devices. The operating system can now receive updates automatically over the air. Another recent addition is Mobile Device Management, which allows all Clevertouch displays in a facility to be managed centrally. This
enables functions including pushing messages to all displays, and switching all displays off remotely – not just the Android module.
M series offers high performance in small package Designed for lecture rooms and classrooms, the Panasonic PT-MZ670 laser projector series comprises four 3LCD models with up to 6,500 lumens brightness and up to WUXGA resolution. They have a small footprint and weigh just over
15kg. They are quiet – operating at 28dB in Eco mode – and offer a 20,000-hour lifetime (which is also the lifetime of the ﬁlter). A computer isn’t necessary, as the MZ670 can present content from a connected USB
device. An optional wireless module adds a wide range of collaboration properties, including projecting wirelessly from multiple devices and securely streaming content. The lenses are interchangeable (compatible with PT-EZ770 series) so the same projector can be used in different-sized rooms. The Powered Lens Shift function means that lens shift and zoom/focus can be controlled remotely, and a geometric adjustment feature enables projection onto curved or specially shaped screens. Colour output can be adjusted so that projectors used near each other produce matching displays. Additionally, an ambient light sensor adjusts the brightness of the image to suit the room conditions.
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65in BIG PAD has wireless option Sharp’s PN-65SC1 is a recently launched 65in option for its BIG PAD interactive displays. Like the rest of the range, it is designed to be easy to use, lesson-ready within seconds, and feel natural to write on. With 10-point multitouch technology, up to four people can write on the screen at the same time. A handwriting recognition function converts on-screen writing to standard text. A privacy button on the bezel enables users to freeze or hide content on a display immediately; so, for instance, teachers can freeze their display while they continue to work on a connected device, or prepare the content they plan to show next.
A Mini OPS expansion slot gives the option of upgrading the PN-65SC1 by inserting an optional module into the back of the monitor. For example, the Wireless module allows up to four users to simultaneously display content from a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Sony partners with UbiCast for lecture capture
Earlier this year, Sony announced a co-operation with lecture capture specialist UbiCast. The manufacturer has already installed these solutions within some prestigious higher education institutions across Europe. Sony and UbiCast’s lecture capture offerings allow lectures to be shared across multiple rooms, capturing audio, video and presentation data, with one central video distribution platform to facilitate live streaming of lectures or on-demand webinars, conferences and events. As well as digitising and delivering lectures, UbiCast enables the creation of content for global webcasts and interactive videos for massive open
online course (MOOC) programmes. Once a lecture has been recorded, all the post-processing can be carried out automatically. Simple slide navigation can be added, as well as making the content searchable by metadata, making it easier to use for students and faculty alike. Video content can be made more engaging by adding interactive elements including time-based comments, links and quizzes. There is also a search engine that leverages optical character recognition to ﬁnd speciﬁc information.
Loxit lift provides access for all The Hi-Lo 750 from Loxit is a versatile electric wall-mounted lift that allows a whiteboard and projector to be raised and lowered by up to 750mm to provide access for all users. The clear space underneath the mounted board enables wheelchair users to have close access to the screen. The Hi-Lo 750 can work with all makes and models of interactive whiteboards up to 80in with 4:3 ratio and up to 105in at 16:9. As stud walls may not always be robust enough to carry the weight of bigger boards, an Extension Leg is recommended to spread the weight across the wall and the ﬂoor. Within the mount there is an articulated universal projector mount plate, which enables a maximum projector throw of 1.5m. The mount is 200mm deep, which prevents any whiteboard-to-wall
collision during raising and lowering, and also allows for features such as trunking, cabling and dado rails. All cabling is hidden behind the frame with full cable management.
wePresent gateway makes displays collaborative In the classroom environment, the wePresent WiPG-1600W presentation gateway turns an existing display into a collaborative surface. Supporting wired LAN, wireless LAN and a combination of the two, the device can be used to support various different learning styles, including small-group working and ﬂipped learning. Content can be read from a USB key, or streamed directly to the wePresent. Up to 64 devices can connect at any one time, with the displays of up to four of them shown on the main screen. Additionally, if multiple gateways are connected together on a network, a presentation can be shown simultaneously on multiple displays. If the WiPG-1600W is integrated with touchscreen displays or smartboards, it allows wireless control of any user’s device, and also allows the touch display to be controlled from multiple devices on the ﬂy. Minimum OS
requirements for connected devices are Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.9, Android 4.0 and iOS9. Extended Desktop functionality allows teachers and lecturers to share content for display on the main screen, while viewing separate content, such as notes, on their own desktop.
60 TECHNOLOGY: DEMO OF THE MONTH
We’re jammin’ Google’s Jamboard, available from BenQ, is a ‘whiteboard in the cloud’ that allows users across multiple sites to collaborate. Paddy Baker got the chance to see it at the recent Sahara Showcase
ahara AV’s annual showcase event, which took place this year at Hanbury Manor in Hertfordshire in October, provided an opportunity to look at a range of products new to the market. Perhaps the most keenly anticipated of these was Google’s Jamboard, a collaboration device for the huddle room market, which is being distributed globally by BenQ. Lisa Yates, sales manager for corporate solutions, at BenQ UK was on hand to demonstrate the device. According to Yates, Google created the Jamboard because “they were ﬁnding that when they were looking to be creative or to brainstorm they would use a physical whiteboard, and they wanted to make something that was a bit more collaborative.” Of course, Google has had a number of software tools that support collaboration for some time now, and these are part of the Jamboard experience. Incidentally, BenQ’s involvement is purely to act as a distribution partner – there is no BenQ hardware in the device. It’s fair to say that most, if not all, of Jamboard’s functions will be familiar to people who have seen other collaboration devices. However, it’s a very convenient all-in-one solution, at a price that compares favourably with, for instance, Microsoft Surface Hub.
In the cloud Born out of the idea of “a whiteboard in the cloud”, Jamboard enables multiple users to collaborate on the same document, whether they are in the same room or located remotely. It is centred around a 55in 4K panel, with 16-point touch. “The touch technology is in-glass IR – the IR sensor sits behind the glass,” said Yates. She explained how to get started with
Jamboard: “You add yourself as the owner – that’s how you set up a collaborative session. You can then produce an access code, which you can use to get other Jamboards to join. If you have smartphones and tablets, there are apps available in the iOS and Android stores that you can download, and take part that way.” To demonstrate the remote capability at the Sahara event, a nearby second Jamboard had been connected to the same session. All the changes made on the ﬁrst board were mirrored on the second one. Up to 20 Jamboards (or connected smart devices) can participate in a ‘jam’ session. “As with all products designed by Google, the end user experience is high on their priority list, so they’ve made the platform as intuitive as possible,” commented Yates. “You shouldn’t need end-user training – the user should be able to pick up a pen and start working.” Two stylus pens are supplied for writing or annotation and the handwriting recognition function is surprisingly good. An eraser is also provided, although the display is set up to recognise rubbing-out done with a ﬁnger.
Drive integration Yates continued: “It’s got integration with [Google] Drive, so I can bring in PDFs or any content stored in my Drive straight into the jam session, so we can continue to work on those.” Users can also add sticky notes, create storyboards and even use emojis. At the end of the session, Jamboard pages can be saved in Drive for future use. However, Jamboard isn’t just about sharing screen drawings. It has an inbuilt web browser, making it possible to pull in online content, such as graphics or videos. It also supports Google Cast, so content from mobile devices can be put
up onto the big screen. Also built into the device are a wide-angle camera, plus microphone and speakers – and thanks to integration with Google Hangouts Meet, video calling is supported. Other connectivity comprises HDMI, NFC, USB 3.0, USB Type-C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, gigabit Ethernet, and SPDIF audio out. Yates was keen to stress that Jamboard is fundamentally a product for huddle spaces. “It’s for two or three people around the board being able to relay information and have that video link. You wouldn’t put it at the end of a boardroom table for traditional videoconferencing.” Jamboard comes in a choice of red, blue or grey surrounds. The UK list price of £3,999 also includes a wall mount, two styluses and an eraser. Yates said that the majority of customers have also opted to pay for the rolling stand (priced at £1,000 until the end of the year) – supporting the view that it is mainly being used in ad-hoc huddle spaces rather than in single locations. There is also an annual management and support fee of £498, although this is currently on offer at £249. Overall, Jamboard is a neat, fun product – easy to use, and neatly interfacing with Google software. It’s best to think of it as a giant whiteboard rather than a computer: for instance, while you can annotate documents, magnify them and clip them, you can’t natively edit them on the board. So it won’t suit everyone; but for workplaces that have a regular need to collaborate on visually based material, I can see it getting a lot of use.
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62 WORDS OF WISDOM
Denise Nemchev A CEO’s perspective this issue, as Denise Nemchev offers her thoughts on engaging people, time management, personal effectiveness and more People and change People are both the most effective agents for and the biggest potential barriers to change. You need to assess quickly who are supporters, sceptics, critics and cynics. Be very inclusive of your supporters, listen to your sceptics and engage your critics by putting them in charge of a project or programme. You can’t always win everyone over: so monitor cynics and ultimately, if their behaviour doesn’t change, move them out. When I work to engage people, I think feet/ hands/heads/hearts. Bring your organisation together (feet), get them working together (hands), convince them of the case for change (heads) – and where their heads are, their hearts will follow. Engage them in the vision, empower them to contribute to its execution and inspire them with their achievements. It’s vital to communicate, communicate, and communicate. People naturally ﬁll in the gaps with the worst-case scenario. You need to build a strong rationale for each change, showing how it helps stay competitive, moving the organisation along the path towards your vision. It is essential that you continually communicate both the vision and the rationale to all stakeholders.
drew up a list for years one, two and three. We focused on delivering those that were a priority to do now. The others, that needed to wait perhaps for another change to be made, were compartmentalised to another time period. It worked. Two years on, we’ve actually implemented almost half of the original ideas. We’ve moved on and a further third are now in hand. Most of the remainder are parked until we’re ready to turn to them. tvONE is transformed as a result of the changes we’ve delivered and are working on – and we have a rich resource of further ideas to continue that transformation.
value: these have always shaped my approach to running a business.
See the world
A business book I think everyone should read is Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly
The career advice I would offer my 21-year old self is to get global experience as quickly as you can: travel and learn about the world and what’s going on. Make the opportunity for an international assignment. I am happy I made the decision to backpack around Europe on Interrail during a college summer break. That experience really opened my eyes to how amazing the world is, and fed my desire to work for global companies. Put away money as early as possible: including take advantage of company sponsored programmes like pension plans, stock purchase plans, healthcare programmes. Money you put away now will be worth so much more to you in retirement than money you put away when you’re 50. Finally, be ready, willing and able to move for career opportunities – especially when you’re younger. Expect your career path to be a bumpy one with side steps and even backward moves on occasion. Establish a trusted network of advisors to be there along the journey.
‘Communicate, communicate, and communicate: people naturally ﬁll in the gaps with the worst-case scenario’
Get priorities right My key time management tip is – prioritise. There are 168 hours in the week. Set the right priorities based on importance and urgency, and execute wisely to move the needle. Compartmentalise: focus on what you are doing, in the here and now. Proactively manage expectations: check in with the receiver(s) of the work you are doing for clarity on exactly what needs to be delivered when. When I joined tvONE two years ago, I met with every employee in the company. We held several brainstorming sessions to create ideas for making tvONE better. Out of this came nearly 300 opportunities for improvement. We took down every single idea and prioritised:
Effective People. I took a course over 20 years ago and have completely absorbed this teaching into my working life. The ﬁrst three habits (be proactive, begin with the end in mind and put ﬁrst things ﬁrst) are about managing yourself. Habits 4-6 are about engaging with others (think win-win, seek ﬁrst to understand then to be understood, synergise). The ﬁnal one (sharpen the saw) is about continuous improvement. In addition, Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Chan Kim’s Blue Ocean Strategy, Ram Charan’s Execution, and all things Lean Enterprise have been great inﬂuences. Leverage your core strengths, keep learning and focus on customer
A second brain The gadget I can’t live without, besides my iPhone, is my Covey Planner. It’s an analogue device, and its name is ‘my brain’... I’ve been using ‘my brain’ for over 20 years now and I keep everything in it: calendar, strategy, ideas, best practices, meeting minutes, customer inputs, to-do list, not-to-do list. I often revisit the 20+ years of notes from ‘my brain’ dump for refreshers on what is important and how to positively effectuate change.
Denise Nemchev is CEO of tvONE.
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