Behind the AV Programming and Installation at Henkel Dial, Part 1

When German company Henkel AG acquired the Dial Corporation, they built a huge new headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., complete with videoconferencing and digital signage. 6/10/2010 12:02 PM Eastern

Behind the AV Programming and Installation at Henkel Dial, Part 1

Jun 10, 2010 4:02 PM, By Bennett Liles

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Behind the AV Programming and Installation at Henkel Dial, Part 2
Level 3 Audio Visual installed an all-new facility with world-wide videoconferencing and digital signage....

When German company Henkel AG acquired the Dial Corporation, they built a huge new headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Level 3 Audio Visual was called in from nearby Mesa to completely outfit the facility with videoconferencing and digital signage. Jeremy Elsesser is here to tell the whole story on how Level 3 made it all happen.

Jeremy, it’s great to have you with me on the Corporate AV podcast representing Level 3 Audio Visual in Mesa, Ariz. You had quite a big project with the new Henkel Dial headquarters out there in Scottsdale.
That is correct.

But first tell me a little bit about Level 3 Audio Visual. How long has that company been around?
Well, we’ve been in business since 1996. We started out doing corporate AV or standard boardroom distributed audio/distributed video. About five years ago, we hired a educational sales person who got us on state contract, and we started a education division of our company focused on the K-12 market—interactive whiteboard technology. In the last three years, we have branched off further and specialized in the medical markets, developing telemedicine solutions and opportunities as well as different medical, O.R., and operating room technologies that are very specialized in that medical market. We do a lot of professional development in the education world. We’re doing a lot of IT integration, so very quickly our company’s going from what used to be the traditional audio/video integrator to truly a technology solutions provider and marrying audiovisual and IT. [Timestamp: 2:03]

Smart move for any AV company these days. So when the companies joined and decided to set up a new headquarters, how did you and Henkel Dial get connected on the project?
Our director of business development, Brent Stanphill, had a very great relationship with the inhouse AV support group that Henkel Dial utilizes and through that relationship—Henkel Dial had planned on building their headquarters for a number of years, so this project has been known around the valley for a number of years and when they finally geared up to do it, again, our director of business developments’ relationship with Greg Wolf, who is the inhouse AV coordinator for Henkel Dial, really is what brought this project into Level 3. We spent a couple of years taking him to tradeshows and developing ideas and building technology concepts with him so that when the time came for the new building to be built, it was a very natural transition for us to just go ahead and do the complete design as well as integrate it for them. [Timestamp: 3:09]

And running that huge place has got to be a mighty big job. The more I read about it, the more they seem to be into there. I understand the Henkel Dial is very big into videoconferencing.
They are. So Henkel’s based out of Dusseldorf, Germany. They own a number of different businesses. They’re very close to a Procter & Gamble. They have a number of large businesses under the Henkel umbrella, and having such a large business and geographically diverse the way they are, videoconferencing is extremely important to them. Obviously getting people back and forth from the U.S. to Germany can be very expensive. So many years ago, Henkel Dial started investing in videoconferencing technologies to reduce their travel cost and carbon footprint. [Timestamp: 3:55]

That headquarters building is a huge place. How many AV-equipped rooms do they have there all together?
Currently, they have 13 AV-equipped rooms. They have a total of 36 conference rooms in the building. We prewired the other 23 conference rooms, so when they’re ready to bring those rooms online, the cabling and infrastructure is already in place. It’s just a matter of connecting equipment on both sides and programming it. [Timestamp: 4:21]

So as the company and its job grows, the facility will be technically primed and ready to grow with it without tearing things out and starting all over. I think they have something like 10 more conference rooms in the new building than they had in the old place?
That’s correct.

So you had pretty much a clean slate to work with—a brand-new building where you knew where everything was already without retrofits and so you’re able to go in there and just get right to work on it.
In that respect, it was ideal. We were brought in very early in the design process, worked hand in hand with the architects and the electrical engineers and all the different trade teams to ensure that our technology seamlessly integrated with the building. So yeah, from that standpoint, we very much got in early on and were able to capitalize on being brought in that early to make sure that one, we could save costs, and like you mentioned, not have to tear things out to get new things in as well as do a beautiful job on the project. [Timestamp: 5:20]

And this building and the AV outfitting of it represented a huge undertaking and certainly no small expense. So what was the problem with the old building and why wasn’t it good enough for the job?
Well, the limitations in their old facility, specifically, regarding around videoconferencing is that they did all of it off of carts. So they would drag carts around from room to room to room and try to schedule these carts, and as videoconferencing became more prevalent within the organization, obviously, you would see that there was a resource conflict. People would want to do videoconferencing. They didn’t have enough carts to accomplish all of that. Obviously when you bring a cart into the room, there’s cables on the floor, there’s things that need to be plugged into wall plates and made to function on a temporary basis, so they very much wanted to spend the money to not have to work so hard to accomplish the communication that they desired. [Timestamp: 6:12]

Behind the AV Programming and Installation at Henkel Dial, Part 1

Jun 10, 2010 4:02 PM, By Bennett Liles

Yeah, that’s probably not very impressive to clients when they pay a visit and you walk around with cables going down hallways and through doorways and things.
Jeremy Elsesser: Absolutely.

So what do they use for videoconferencing? Do they use different systems in different places or is it all one type of system in all of the rooms? It’s all a Polycom system so again, Dial is under the Henkel umbrella. Henkel has a mandate corporate-wide that Polycom is the videoconferencing end-point and infrastructure vendor of choice, so we being very large Polycom fans and proponents agreed with that and proceeded forward using an entire Polycom infrastructure and codec solution for them. [Timestamp: 6:54]

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Behind the AV Programming and Installation at Henkel Dial, Part 2
Level 3 Audio Visual installed an all-new facility with world-wide videoconferencing and digital signage....

And they’ve got to have some way of controlling all this in a way that’s easy enough for people to just walk in and do. So what do they use for controlling the AV facilities in videoconferencing?
The front-end of the system for the user to touch is all Crestron controlled. We chose Crestron for its ability to handle intensely complex technological environments and simplify it down into a very simple, easy-to-use, intuitive user interface, so each conference room that has videoconferencing capability has a TPMC-8T touchpanel, which is a table-top color touchpanel that sits on the table, and they use that for turning the system on and off, controlling volume and microphone inputs, dialing and answering calls on the videoconferencing system. [Timestamp: 7:40]

Crestron has a huge variety in hardware controllers, which processor do they use for control on the system?
We have MC2E processors in every single room for local processing and management of the local hardware in each room as well as we have a Pro2 processor up at the head-end AV rack that handles control of the head-end routing and matrixing devices that exist up there. [Timestamp: 8:06]

OK, and on the MC2E’s you’ve got a lot of hardware interfaces. You’ve got relay contacts, infrared serial control outputs. What was the reason that you went with the combination of the TPMC touchpanels and the MC2E processors? Was it just that you’ve done that before?
The client really wanted a very sexy, nice-looking table-top touchpanel that fit into a particular price point. The TPMC-8T fit both those bills. It was very attractive looking touchpanel with high-end, high-resolution graphic capability, which we’ve used to brand the Dial Henkel name all over it, as well as it fit into the price point that they were looking for—that also applies to the MC2E. There’s a number of devices within each room, a DVD/VCR, a matrix switcher, a screen, a TV, a camera that require a different flavor of RS-232 IR and relay ports and the MC2E fit the bill perfectly while being very cost-effective. [Timestamp: 9:08]

OK, and on the Crestron stuff, the programming was little bit more formidable than on some of the other systems, but because of that I think you may have a good deal more flexibility to do a lot of things. Did Level 3 AV do the programming or did you hire that out?
We do the programming ourselves. We actually have a dedicated department, a programming department, that does all of our touchpanel and DSP programming, so they programmed every touchpanel and the entire DSP for this system. One of the unique aspects of the programming going on is that we built a codec farm here where you have all of the videoconferencing codecs stacked in one location here being the AV head-end and all of the routing happens at the AV head-end. So when you walk into a conference room to the touchpanel and you say you want to do videoconferencing, the Crestron code actually goes through the system and sees what the next available codec is, routes the video, the audio, and the network appropriately to that codec, and then reserves it for that room—a very advanced level of programming; very excited. But to answer your question, we did all of that inhouse. [Timestamp: 10:17]

And once again, a more sophisticated installation and set up to facilitate a simpler and more intuitive operation for the user. How do they do the video monitoring? What have you got in each conference room for that?
Each conference room: So there’s 10 of what we like to call standard conference rooms that all have 40in. LCDs as well as ranging in size, projection screens. So they have two video outputs in every room of these 10 rooms. The 40in. LCD is primarily used for the videoconferencing element, so the camera is actually mounted above the LCD and is used for the far-end display. The projection within the room is used for local presentation purposes or if the videoconference has content that they’re displaying, they’ll put the content up on the projection screen and again, have the far side video on the 40in. LCD. [Timestamp: 11:13]

And how are you getting the video to the monitors? What video format do you use in there?
We are using 720p and 1080i formats, all component video throughout the entire facility. Everything routes to and from the head-end so every room—all of its sources and outputs—route to and from the head-end, which allows us the capability to route any input to any output throughout the entire facility. We are accomplishing that using Extron’s twisted-pair MTP products. We have some very long haul, high-definition video existing in this building, upwards of 800 to 900ft. [Timestamp: 11:51]

And they’re using, I guess, some type of PTZ cameras in there for the videoconferencing?

How do they control all of those? On the same touchpanels?
We chose Sony’s standard-definition PTZ cameras for now due to the price point that Dial was looking at. However, everything is fully upgradable to high definition, so it’s just a matter of changing out the camera to a high-definition camera, and they will have high-def. How they are controlled is exactly what you mentioned, which is from the same touch panel that they use to turn on and off the system. They’re able to use that to control the camera. Another point about the camera is that they’re an IP-based camera, which gives the AV operation team the ability to dial into the camera live during a videoconference and monitor the room live and make sure that everything is functioning while it is sending signals through the videoconferencing codec at the exact same time. [Timestamp: 12:49]

That really helps too from a central location, not just having an indication to show you if the display device is on but to actually be able to see what they’re doing in there to know if they are having any sort of technical problems, you can be a lot more pro-active.
It’s a really beautiful thing. It allows the AV team to troubleshoot and support the meetings without ever having to enter the room. [Timestamp: 13:10]

How are they picking up the sound? What kind of micing situation are they using for that?
We went with Shure in-ceiling microphones, omnidirectional microphones. Dial Henkel was very particular about not wanting any sort of microphones on the table and minimizing the technology on the table down to the touchpanel as much as possible. So in each room, of the small 10 conference rooms, they have Shure in-ceiling microphones, two each. In the integrated executive boardroom, they have Shure boundary mics, which actually do sit on the table and the reason we went with these is it’s a very large boardroom table that can support up to 30 participants, so we want to get microphones very close to the end-user so that it would pick up high-quality sound. In their training room, which is a unique room in and of itself, all conferencing is done through the wireless microphones, which consist of a handheld lapel combo unit. [Timestamp: 14:09]

It really makes a big difference in the sound quality, just a few feet between the users and the mics, one way or the other.
It does. It makes a large difference.

And they want to watch video clips or demos now and then so they’ve got media players in there. Do they control those pretty much the usual way with a hardwired infrared link from the processor?
Absolutely, each room is outfitted with its own DVD/VCR player and each MC2E that is in each of those rooms connects to that via IR and is controlled from the Crestron touchpanel. [Timestamp: 14:39]

You talked earlier about the head-end control room. How far away from the conference room is that and what all have you got in there?
The head-end is actually located on the fourth floor. It’s a four-story building, and there’s conference rooms on every level. The head-end where everything comes back to is on the fourth floor. Up there we have video codec farm. So there’s 12 Polycom HDX video codecs stacked in there used for videoconferencing throughout the building. We have a full MTP matrix switcher as well as transmitters and receivers from Extron that handles the twisted-pair distribution of high-def video throughout the building. We have a full Biamp audio DSP system that handles all of the audio EQing, matrixing, routing, and distribution throughout the entire building housed up there. We have a full Extron 6400 matrix switch, which is a analog RGBHV matrix which handles the matrixing of all the signals across the building, allowing us to send any signal type to any output location. We also have six digital signage players, Sony VSPNS7s, stacked in the AV head-end for distribution out to public display signage areas. We also have eight direct TV satellite boxes, again, used for public display as well as individual conference rooms that can call up a satellite box. The way they do that is they actually have to call the AV team, tell them that they’re looking to watch some satellite down in the conference room, and then the AV head-end team is able to route that down manually from the AV head-end. [Timestamp: 16:26]

All right, the men behind the curtain. Well, Jeremy, it’s been great having you here on part one, and on part two maybe we can get more into the satellite receivers and the Pro2 dual-bus and just how a routine videoconference set up goes. But thanks for being here with me for part one.
Thank you very much.

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