Space Contractor Designs Own Blended Videowall

When the division of Lockheed Martin that launches global positioning satellites needed a new place to meet and share ideas, it designed a center around a unique, blended projection system. 2/02/2011 10:17 PM Eastern

Space Contractor Designs Own Blended Videowall

When the division of Lockheed Martin that launches global positioning satellites needed a new place to meet and share ideas, it designed a center around a unique, blended projection system.

CHALLENGE: Build a multifunctional, ultra-widescreen display that can support a variety of sources while being visible anywhere in a large, multipurpose meeting room.

SOLUTION: Start by designing the screen to the dimensions you actually require, then apply multiple high-brightness projectors and precision-calculated blending to fit the video to the display.

Last july, government contractor lockheed Martin opened a new meeting facility in Newtown. Pa. And although the term "mission-critical" is often tossed around to describe any measure of importance, the new Lockheed Martin Patriot Center truly fits the bill. The company's Newtown location is home to Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems and the next-generation Global Positioning System III and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series.

Lockheed Martins own Advanced Presentation Systems division worked with future users of the Patriot Center to determine the size and shape of the videowall they needed. Integrator Applied Video Technology helped build the blended 2150x720 screen.

"This facility sits on the campus that designs satellites for the next-generation GPS," says Mike Horner, CTS-I, project manager of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Presentation Systems, which oversaw the AV integration.

As such, the Patriot Center was tailored to a variety of potential users, from engineers collaborating on satellite design to representatives of the U.S. Air Force signing off on those designs and overseeing actual satellite launches. "The goal was to have an AV system that was versatile," Horner says. At the heart of the center is a large multipurpose room that can act either as one 250-person auditorium or four soundproof meeting rooms. Like multipurpose rooms in venues such as hotels and conference centers, the Patriot Center's comprises moveable dividing walls and an AV system that can be zoned and rezoned depending on the room's configuration.

"About two years ago they were talking about transforming the cafeteria into a media center," says Bruce MacLelland, CTS, account manager of integration company Applied Video Technology (AVT), which worked with Lockheed Martin on the installation. "That was ultimately nixed in favor of constructing a new building for the purpose." Today, MacLelland says, "Every time they launch a satellite, Lockeed personnel are assembled to watch it on the big screen."

As the official lead on the Patriot Center project, Lockheed Martin brought in its own architect. "The architect knew that our vision revolved around the AV," Horner says. "The overall AV experience of the facility took top priority, which allowed our AV design to drive the architecture. With this design model in place, and architectural limitations lifted, Lockheed Martin's AV design engineers were able to be creative and custom-design a screen we felt best suited all possible viewing angles and user scenarios."

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Space Contractor Designs Own Blended Videowall

When the division of Lockheed Martin that launches global positioning satellites needed a new place to meet and share ideas, it designed a center around a unique, blended projection system.

Blended Around the Edges

The center's focal point is a 36-by-8-foot projection screen, custom-fabricated using Stewart Filmscreen GrayMatte material at a 4.5:1 aspect ratio. To fill the screen, Lockheed Martin and AVT went with a trio of Digital Projection Titan HD-600 projectors, which run at a native resolution of 1280x720 pixels.

The next task was to get the screen of choice to match up with the projectors of choice. "We edge-blended them at 22 percent on two overlaps and came up with a solution that allowed us to properly display a 2150x720 resolution image," Horner says.

The blending is accomplished using an Analog Way Di-VentiX II scaler-switcher and video processor. With the Di-VentiX II, the large screen can display a single continuous picture or dynamically show up to 12 movable windows through the processor's picture-in-picture (PIP) support. Each PIP can be resized independently and display its own image.

Technicians can preview PIP images from three Dell 23-inch monitors located in the control room. Their configuration and orientation are handled with an Analog Way Orchestra controller, which allows Lockheed Martin multimedia staff to get creative with the way they present disparate information in order to utilize every pixel.

"PIPs can be positioned on the screen in different ways to ensure that users can display everything they may need at any point," says Dan Small, director of technical services at AVT. "With a screen so large, there is a lot of opportunity to position the different PIPs."

Sources feeding the Di-VentiX include a Tandberg 6000 MXP videoconferencing codec with five high-definition Vaddio ClearView HD-18 cameras, five digital computer inputs from the nearby the control room, three digital signage PCs running Scala InfoChannel 5, an LG BH-300 Blu-ray player, and nine analog computer signals from patch points throughout the auditorium. All analog sources run through an Extron CrossPoint450 matrix switcher before being routed to the Di-VentiX II.

Lockheed Martin uses a Hewlett-Packard workstation to create background graphics and videos. The workstation includes a custom Matrox TripleHead graphics card to drive display information to the three Titan projectors. The Matrox hardware itself also compensates for edge-blending across the three projectors in order to match the 2150x720 resolution.

The hybrid analog-digital AV solution wasn't Lockheed Martin's first choice, according to Bob Kearns, multimedia design engineer at the company and the lead engineer in the Space Systems group. As an end user, he says, "I had certain ideas of what I wanted from the product." However, cost concerns and a digital-only solution that came in at twice the budget forced the company down the analog-digital path. Fortunately, because Kearns and other eventual users of the system were consulted from the very beginning, making adjustments was painless.

"To be able to participate from the ground up enabled us to look at the spaces and look at things that made sense from an AV perspective," Kearns says. Now that it's complete, he says Lockheed Martin is pleased with the level of flexibility inherent to the system.

Conference Room Blueprints

The large multipurpose room is just one part of the Patriot Center. AVT was also involved with the integration of AV for seven other conference rooms of varying sizes. The main requirement was that the systems be consistent from room to room so that regular users could operate the AV intuitively regardless of where they held their meetings.

While the auditorium space is managed through an AMX NetLinx controller, the conference rooms all have Extron MediaLink MLC 62 controllers. In each room, 3,000-lumen NEC NP905 projectors, held in place by Chief RPA218 ceiling mounts, light up Draper Access V 60-by-80-inch motorized tensioned screens. For certain conference rooms near the main auditorium, AVT used controlled relays from Radio Design Labs and Extron XPA 1002 stereo amplifiers to allow extra zones of audio to the rooms' local speakers so users of those conference rooms could hear the same audio as the auditorium.

The facility's handful of computers running Scala 5 digital signage software feed Sharp displays in common areas to show event information, welcome messages, and company videos. In one change order, AVT hung a touchscreen version of the Samsung 460FP-2 LCD display and networked it with an additional Scala player. In another, the company swapped out a standard-definition NewTek TriCaster portable production system for a TCXD300 high-definition TriCaster, which allows Patriot Center staff to edit, mix, stream, or broadcast events that take place at the facility. Kearns says the learning curve for using the HD TriCaster was especially modest.

Now, with the Patriot Center's AV systems exactly how Lockheed Martin envisioned them–from their functionality to ease-of-usethe company expects to open the center's doors to the community for hosting special events. That is, when Lockheed Martin isn't monopolizing it.

"It's been packed since we opened it up," Kearns says. "We're using it so intently among internal groups that renting it out may not be practical."

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