svc Blogcast
American Prohibition Museum Comes to Life with A/V Binloop HD Pt1
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 09:55
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Attraction Designer Ryan McCurdy. We’ve got show notes and product links for this interview and other SVC podcasts at svconline.com.

Prohibition was an incredibly interesting time in American history and the emotionally charged 18th Amendment carried a lot of unintended consequences. Now, there’s a museum in Savannah, Georgia dedicated to that exciting period and Attraction Designer Ryan McCurdy is going to tell us how it all works with the Alcorn McBride Binloop HD and other AV gear. That’s right up ahead on the SVC Podcast.

Good to have you getting with us for this one, Ryan. Independent attraction designer, this time working on the American Prohibition Museum down in Savannah. I wouldn’t have immediately thought of that but now that I’ve gone to the web site and checked it out, it gets more interesting every time I look at it. You put this place together for Historic Tours of America so tell us about them first.

Absolutely. And I would count on them to come up with the idea of doing something like the Prohibition Museum, which at first blush it sounds like something that you wouldn’t think about filling an entire museum with. But it’s a great idea. It’s been really well executed. Historic Tours is a specialty tourism company. They operate in a number of American cities. They actually have six cities that they are primarily in. They work on trollies. They have museums. They have experiential. They have specialty ghost tours in all of these cities. The ones up and down the east coast and the ones that I’ve worked in specifically are Boston, Key West, St. Augustine and Savannah. They also have a D.C. location and a San Diego location and they’re a great company. I’ve been a contractor for them off and on for about nine years. [Timestamp: 2:03]

Certainly no shortage of history in Savannah, Georgia. I’ve been there many times. And this turns out to be such an interesting topic. At first I thought a law that was passed and then it was undone, but it had such a range of unintended consequences. So how did it the museum for this happen? Did Historic Tours come to you and say we’ve got this Prohibition museum idea and we want you to set it all up?

Well, actually I think it was originally the president, Ed Swift III, who had this idea. It’s always been an interesting period of American History to him, and he was very familiar with these unintended consequences which include the federal penal system, it includes the way income tax became a necessary part of American life. All of these things that this 13-year swath from 1920 to 1933, this very seemingly lost in time 13 years, has affected everything that’s happened into the 21st century. So yes, I actually just luckily happened to be at the original summit of the designers and presidential team. I was in Savannah on other business and they didn’t have any full plans at that point. They said do you want to come to this empty space that may have just been purchased for something and hear what they’re thinking about? So I got to sit in a roundtable, and actually they had just bought the space and it was gutted, so we didn’t even have chairs. The group of about 14 of us sat in a circle, crossed our legs and started talking about what has now become one of the jewels of their museum empire. [Timestamp: 3:33]

And it’s located in a prime spot right in the heart of the historic downtown area on the City Market. Great place to see a lot of a very eventful past and there are already a lot of tour stops just near there so it’s a great location.

Oh, it’s perfect for them. In fact, for years and year the trolley has been stopping at what is called City Market and it happens to be that the stop was now about 100 feet from the entrance to the museum. And Savannah’s square footage can be hard because there’s not a lot of the downtown district. So for them to be able to have the second floor across a number of first floor buildings and restaurants has been very beneficial. And their major thing, because they operate in a lot of smaller southern cities, their big mission – the art department and the executive department – is to make square footage count, which is sort of where I came in. They had 7,000 ideas and just barely 7,000 square feet. So the question was how do we put all of this into our space? [Timestamp: 4:33]

So take us into this place. I believe there are 13 galleries involved in it so what have you got to see when you get in there?

Absolutely. I think one of the genius ideas at the very beginning was that this was always planned to be a linear museum that you get history from right about 1920 to 1933, the beginning and the end of prohibition, and to use the square footage we have in a logical way. You are on one path the entire time, but you are not being rushed to experience any of the galleries at any particular speed so you can encounter the history in the way that it interests you. And we find there’s a lot of people who are particularly interested in the legalities from the very beginning, so they’ll stay in the first several galleries. And there’s people that are much more interested, as I can appreciate, in our working and completely operable speakeasy, which is towards the back end of the museum. And you see a lot of people, especially as the museum has taken on more public knowledge, people that are moving through the history at the beginning to get to the drinking part at the end. But what’s great about historic tours is even though the speakeasy is fully functional, has its own menu, has its own incredible mixology staff, it’s very historic as well. And the history comes first, that’s the way the speakeasy is laid out, the way it’s been designed; the reader rails and the staff’s knowledge of their own time period. [Timestamp: 5:57]

I would think that one of the more challenging aspects of this would be that you’ve got AV machinery, speakers, video playing and you’ve got live actors, who might like to ad lib sometimes, mixed with media playbacks that don’t change or adapt to what the actors are doing.

Of course, yes. And the museum manager, whose name is Kayla Black, spearheaded the team that developed all this for the actors. Obviously the video is finite. All of the video loops, some of it is 45 seconds looping, some of it is six or seven minutes looping. I think the longest looping video that we have in the space is about nine-and-a-half minutes. And so what she did, rather than write scripts for the actors that they’re going to repeat 700 times a day, is she compiled dossiers of the history of the period for them – characters they could be, people that were likely to have fought different things during the time. And so every actor spends their different days at the museum in a number of different characters at different points of the history of the museum, which encourages their fresh interactions with the audiences every day. It also gives them, instead of seven or eight lines, it gives them pages and pages of material that they’ve memorized like a traditional tour guide would. And they’re being able to channel that information and put it into the actor perspective, which I think is really the only way to efficiently mix technology and actors. I’ve seen museums that have mixed them far less efficiently and I think this really great idea at the center of the museum is giving them a novelization of their own history and then asking them to memorize and be prepared to use it as it interest them. [Timestamp: 7:37]

You used the Alcorn-McBride Binloop HD as sort of the heart of the system and I think you’ve used that on a number of projects before.

I have. In fact, the first thing I did with Historic Tours is still using, you know, we’ve switched out the V4 at the center of that first exhibition I think twice in – I think it’s actually coming up on a decade of operation. But if I’m not mistaken it is still the original DMX machine in that exhibition. So yes, Alcorn-McBride has proven – I’ve been using them, like I said, for about a decade – the pieces work, the customer service is excellent. And then I think what is most important to me is that the length of operation is very long. They don’t burn out. They don’t misfire. They don’t boot up wrong. They’re just these rock-solid machines. And we really needed that for Prohibition Museum because every guest is being fed an extraordinary amount of visual content and we knew it needed to be something that it would turn on every morning and be completely rock solid. [Timestamp: 8:40]

And as the actors interact with video playback, what sort of surfaces are these videos projected onto? You don’t have a lot of room for people to get back and look at the whole thing.

No, and that’s actually been – that was another thing that’s been developed extensively at Historic Tours. It’s the third time we’ve done it in a museum for Historic Tours of America. It was first done in St. Augustine at the Oldest Store, which I think we did a podcast about over half a decade ago now. It was then done in Boston at the Tea Party Ships and Museum. And it’s this concept of the talking portrait, which I think is a really clever idea. But unlike the Harry Potter use of the talking portrait, which is purely as a visual gag, this is a communicative device and the actors have memorized and are able to speak back to it. But instead of a projection it’s a monitor embedded into a wall that’s been fauxed out. It has a crackle finish on top and then a frame that goes around that which usually distorts the size of the monitor a little bit so that it tricks the audience into thinking that what they’re looking at is actually an antique frame. And the great thing about the Prohibition Museum is it’s actually two monitors that speak to themselves and also speak to a live actor. One of them is oval; one of them is square – very different sizes, but the eye lines are complete between them. So we didn’t have to project, which was great. We used Samsung monitors with boot-up ready technology using basically straight runs of HDMI from the equipment central and they are being frame locked by the Alcorn-McBride software and hardware. As a result they are probably running 250-300 times a day. [Timestamp: 10:22]

And when people walk in, the machinery has to know where and the system has to detect that the museum visitors have arrived and are all in place so how are the sound and video playback triggered?

Right. They actually are triggered by a foot pedal which the actor has control over. It’s the one part of the museum where people are gathered up into a slightly larger group until they’re released to go forward. And it’s right at 1920 when people are still arguing, and so the portraits are actually two figures of the time arguing about the pros and cons of prohibition. So the actor is able to stop the group, gather them up in front of this wall of portraits, and then triggers the sequence, which also allows the actor the opportunity to know when their dialogue comes in. And it’s actually very similar to the way that the portraits are used in Boston where it’s another dialogue between the portraits that the actor triggers. Every other place in the museum that we use video it’s on a stylized loop, but this is the one part where they are frozen until they are called upon. They’re triggered from the floor and then they go back into a ready mode, which is also frozen until they’re used again. [Timestamp: 11:28]

Attraction Designer Ryan McCurdy good to be talking to you again. It’s been a long time. The American Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia. A fascinating idea for an interesting historical era that got me more interested the more I read on it. In Part 2 next week we’ll get more into the tech details of lighting, sound and video on this. Ryan, thanks for being with us and we’ll see you again next week.

Great. Looking forward to it. Thank you so much, Bennett.

Good having you with us for the SVC Podcast with Ryan McCurdy. We’ve always got plenty of show notes and product links at svconline.com. Next week Ryan will get into more technical detail on the inner mechanics of the American Prohibition Museum so get back with us for the next SVC Podcast.

Diamond Support Services Brings Laser Projection to Calvary Lutheran Church Pt2
Monday, November 13, 2017 - 17:33
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Steve Diamond of Diamond Support Services. Show notes and product links for this podcasts others are at svconline.com.

Even in a traditional church, things have to evolve and at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grants Pass, Oregon their old projection and sound systems were difficult to use. Diamond Support Services put in two new projectors, hung screens and revamped the sound system. Steve Diamond is back to finish up with their sound system upgrade. Next up on the SVC Podcast.  

Steve, good to have you back and we were talking last week about the Calvary Lutheran Church and the effect that the new Eiki EK-810U projectors had on the congregation there. Let’s go to the screens though. What was behind the selection of the Crystal Screens display surfaces?

Well, you know, as I told you last time we spoke that three of the walls are window walls, basically. They’re glass – predominantly glass – and we had a tremendous amount of horizontal light that we’re dealing with that has to be overcome to give a good picture. Crystal Screens is one of only just a couple of companies using a new screen material that rejects ambient light and really gives you a clear picture from the projector, but gets rid of all that horizontal light that’s coming into the room. And we went with what is called their Reflect 3.0, that’s a +3 gain, with a 70-degree viewing angle. We went with two of those screens which covered the room beautifully. But by going with the Reflect 3.0 we were able to really get a great picture without the horizontal light really coming into play. [Timestamp: 1:47]

And rather than mounted on the wall, I believe the screens are suspended. How long did it take you to get those up and oriented the right way?

It was about two guys and two hours. We took the frame – the velvet-covered frame that came with the screens – and we used a tap and die set to make holes through the aluminum frame. And then we were able to use wire rope to suspend those from the ceiling at exactly the right angles. That’s how we mounted the screens rather than a wall-type mount or a pull-down or any of that. They’re fixed-frame screens. [Timestamp: 2:19]

Those screens had to have a huge effect on the brightness and the clarity of those projectors in that ambient light. I’m sure the church crew was impressed.

Unbelievable. When we turned on those projectors and we put a picture through it, the people who were there from the church were kind of helping and hanging out and watching gasped. It was such a great picture. And I will say this. Crystal Screens basically manufactured these screens for us – custom – because up to that point they hadn’t done large screens. The screens were limited to about a 6x8 and these are a little larger than that, so they had to figure out how to put these pieces together of the screen material so that it would work. And they did a horizontal seam. We have 134-inch diagonal picture that we were shooting onto that screen, so it had to be that big to do that, and they successfully made the seam; brought the pieces together. We tensioned the screen onsite and then mounted it as I’ve described. [Timestamp: 3:21]

And I think you also made some modifications to the sound system including relocating the front of house mixer.

About a year and a half, two years ago I put in an Allen & Heath GLD digital console for them. And the reason that I went with the digital console is that previously they had an analog console, but their congregation didn’t really know how to operate a control board. There was nobody there who was technically-minded and there was no tech in charge of it. So by going with the digital console, I could do a lot of the setting up of the console for them and then they could use a recall button to recall different scenes that I had set up for them. [Timestamp: 3:59]

Yeah, I’ve always thought that digital boards are great for churches.

They are great for churches. They really are. Churches have volunteer staffs, most of them, and they have different levels of ability. And the digital control board allows the person who is the best tech to do a lot of the programming and the setup. And then you have a volunteer come in who has less skills and they can go through and look at the scenes created by the one who knows, move it to their area of the console and hit recall and they’re up and operating. And it sets a baseline for the church so that their sound quality is more consistent over time. With the analog board, if you have a guy that knows what he’s doing and by the time it gets to the end of the service things have moved quite a bit, the next guy who comes in as a volunteer, they don’t know what they’re doing. They start making changes. They start moving stuff around. And there were a lot of times pastors would come to me and say, “Steve, would you come down, tune our system and reset our console because what we’re getting now is not very good.” And I’d go down there and I would set everything up and I’d stay with them through a Sunday service and everybody would go, “Wow, it sounds great. We’re really happy.” And the pastor would go to the tech people of the church and say, “Don’t touch anything that Steve set. Leave it alone. Don’t move anything.” I said, “Pastor, it doesn’t work like that. Sound, it flexes and moves. It breathes. You can’t just set something and expect it to be right every service.” [Timestamp: 5:25]

There are a lot of aspects to getting that right and keeping it set up right but you can’t just string barbed wire around the thing. So what type of wireless mics did you install for the church?

We installed Shure QLX-D digital microphones. They are a very high-quality mic, very good-sounding mic. Very, very, very low opportunity for interference using those digital microphones. And they don’t have a lot of wiring in their church because they were a very traditional church when the building was built, and they had a microphone from the lectern and one microphone over by the side and that’s about it. So I was able to get a CAT-5 cable pulled around and put in a digital stage box so they could take some of the instruments that they’re using now, which they weren’t using when they started the church, and give them a place to connect to the control board via that. But in wireless mics they really didn’t have a lot of mics. So we have 12 channels of QLX-E wireless there, eight of which are for their side mic singers, and we have DPA headset cardioid microphones for their singers going to belt packs. And then we have several hand-helds, including one that is now being used from the lectern because the wiring was very, very old and not in good shape and it was just easier to go wireless. [Timestamp: 6:42]

And what else did you do on the sound system before that was wrapped up?

Well, we’re in the process of right now planning their speaker change out. The speakers they have were produced by Apogee back in the mid 90’s and they were good speakers. And when I sat with them several years ago, we started walking through what the priorities were. And because the Apogee speaker was actually a very good speaker when it was made – I wasn’t crazy about the hang or some of the other aspects of it – but it’s a good speaker. So I said let’s keep these speakers and let’s go step by step and over the course of time we will figure everything out and bring you up to date. One of the things we just did, I was there when we moved the console and all the stuff that went along with that. I turned on the system and started tuning it and thinking man, it doesn’t sound very good over here. When their console was up at the front of the church you couldn’t hear the speakers so it didn’t matter, but when I moved the board back I went, “What is this?” And I went back and found that they had two speakers, one for each half of the room, basically, and the amplifier had only one working channel. So I called another church down there in Grants Pass that I have a relationship with and I said, “Do you have a spare amp I could borrow?” And they said yes, we do. So I went over and got their amp, hooked it up, and all of a sudden they’re going, “Oh, my goodness. That’s why we couldn’t hear.” And all of a sudden the sound was decent. So we just recently put in a new PowerSoft four-channel amplifier. PowerSoft is a one rack space/one rack unit amplifier that puts out absolutely fantastic sound. And the reason I went with that is in my planning for this future speaker replacement, that amp will actually drive all of the speakers that we’re going to put in the room. So that’s what we’ve done as far as the amplifiers are concerned. Now as far as the antennas for mic receivers, we put in a couple of antenna combiners for all of their microphones so they don’t have the porcupine back there with all the antennas sticking up. It’s one set of antennas and it feeds through different combining networks to feed all of the microphone receivers. [Timestamp: 8:46]

Yeah, make it work better, too without all those antennas reflecting off of each other. So what’s coming up next for Diamond Support Services? You got any other projects coming down the line?

Well, I head to Singapore this week to meet with a couple of churches in Singapore. And we’re also working with a church in Hawaii that is in the process of building a new building and we’re doing all the sound, lighting, video and acoustics for that as well. My background is in acoustics – it’s a big part of what I do. I have my certificates, if you will, in acoustics and audio engineering, but the guys that work with me are video specialists, lighting specialists, etc. So we can handle a pretty good-sized facility with the team we have. [Timestamp: 9:25]

You never know exactly what you’re going to get on the acoustics when you walk into a place. For the other things you can look at specs, schematics and equipment lists but the acoustics are a little more experimental and subjective. Thanks for giving us the details on this one. It’s Steve Diamond with Diamond Support Services and the Calvary Lutheran Church in Grants Pass, Oregon. Lots of system improvements and maybe they’ll get some of the younger folks in now.

Yes. Let’s hope so.

Thanks for listening in for the SVC Podcast with Steve Diamond of Diamond Support Services. The show notes and product links are all right here at svconline.com. Get with us again next week here on the SVC Podcast.

Diamond Support Services Brings Laser Projection to Calvary Lutheran Church
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 18:14
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Steve Diamond of Diamond Support Services. Show notes and product links for this one other SVC podcasts are at svconline.com.

The Calvary Lutheran Church in Grants Pass, Oregon wanted to expand its congregation to include younger members and one way to do that was to install two large projection screens with hymn lyrics and other visual items. They called in Diamond Support Services for the installation and Steve Diamond is here to tell us how it all went. That’s coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.

Steve, thanks for joining us from Diamond Support Services in Junction City, Oregon. And we’re going to be talking about the Calvary Lutheran Church nearby in Grants Pass. They wanted to get more into big screen video. And that church has an older congregation?

 

They are an older congregation, there’s no question about it, but they are striving to draw younger families and youth into the church. And part of their reason for installing the video is to give them technology that younger families and youth are used to so that they can do more to draw them. And that’s what they’re trying to do. [Timestamp: 1:21]

 

And when those churches call Diamond Support Services, what are they looking for? What do you mainly do for them?

 

Our mission is to serve the body of Christ. I have been in the audio field since 1973, so I’ve got a few years under my belt. I had a company here in Oregon that did national and international work for many years and last fall I sold my percentage in the company. And the new company that purchased the company that we had had a different vision. They only wanted to serve mega churches and work with budgets that were fairly large. My heart has always been to serve the smaller and medium-sized churches and so we parted company the beginning of December of last year. And in January I started Diamond Support Services to continue to serve the smaller and mid-sized churches. We do large churches, too, don’t get me wrong. But my focus is definitely small and mid-sized because they tend to be the ones that really need some guidance and some help with honesty. And you have quite a few dealers out there who their main focus is sales, and my main focus is serving the church. So I tend to give them good deals, but more than that I give them solid advice and really take into account their budgets. I try not to exceed their budgets, but I am a realist with them. And I also tend to move them towards wise stewardship decisions where they’re spending the money once and spending it wisely. Not necessarily buying cheap. It may be expensive, but it’s something that will last them a decade or two. And I feel that is a much better value than selling them something they fight with and then five years later they replace it because they’re too tired of fighting with it. [Timestamp: 3:07]

 

And what was it that they wanted to accomplish by installing the new projection system? You mentioned the younger crowd. Were they just trying to blend the congregation better and get into a little more sophisticated video system?

 

They’re trying to blend the church better. They have a good contingent of seniors and they’re trying to draw in those families and the youth. They’re trying to get a little younger in their technology as a way of being attractive to the younger generations. Previously, they used a small projector that was just sitting on a cart and they would pull down a screen and put the words and sermon notes and that kind of thing on the screen, and the seniors couldn’t see it very well. The room has three glass walls. The rear wall and the two side walls are predominantly glass and there’s a tremendous amount of horizontal light that comes into the room through all that glass. So that was one of the challenges about getting them to a good solution where the seniors could read the words clearly and see clearly and the youth would come in and go, “Wow, they have cool video.” [Timestamp: 4:12]

 

Yeah, I can see why they why they would find that to be more engaging.

 

Yeah. So that’s kind of what we were up against. The video they had was terribly washed out and really did not function well. It was just kind of a stop gap measure on their part. I’ve been working with them for close to a year and a half to find a video solution that would work for them in that space. And one of the things when we started, it was like gee, this is expensive. Yes, you need a high-power projector to overcome some of this light, but you still have issues with all that horizontal light coming in. And we investigated motorized, drop-down shades that would cover some of the glass. We talked about curtains being pulled over the glass and all that kind of stuff. But most of the people in the church were very taken by the architectural aspects of the building and didn’t want to block out all the natural light that was coming into the room. So those solutions we kind of worked through and they weren’t 100 percent sold on it. We did mock-up of screens and showed them where the screens would hang, that kind of thing, but they weren’t really taken by the aesthetic at that point in time. [Timestamp: 5:20]

 

So you installed a couple of Eiki 810U projectors I think. What was the attraction of those particular ones?

 

Yes, we did put in Eiki 810U’s. The attraction was two-fold. First of all, it’s an 8,000-lumen projector and 8,000 lumens is pretty good power at a reasonable price as far as the ability to cut through the existing light and space. And the second aspect is that it was a dual laser, and that in itself has a couple of benefits. But the dual laser has a blue laser and a red laser, so color rendition is extremely true and extremely natural-looking. Plus it has an extremely high contrast ratio in those projectors. You’re looking at about 100,000 to 1 contrast ratio. And of course the contrast ratio means that the blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter. And when you look at a standard incandescent-style bulb projector you’re talking contrast ratio is typically in the 3,000 to 1, maybe 5,000 to 1 area as opposed to 100,000 to 1. So contrast was really important, especially for the seniors in that congregation to be able to see writing clearly. [Timestamp: 6:30]

I can see that with the ambient light level how the contrast ratio would be a very big factor. Now I know that you probably didn’t have to do the whole thing by yourself so who helped out on the installation?

I have a couple of guys that I work with regularly. One – my lead is Enoch Howell, who is a certified technology specialist, CTS-D. There’s only about 2,000 of them in the world and he’s one of them. So he’s a tremendous asset as far as our company being able to pull off this kind of thing. I did the design and the specification of the equipment. He did the installation, the tuning in and the actual hands-on work. I was there, mind you, working, but he did the bulk of directing that and he’s just absolutely terrific at it. [Timestamp: 7:20]

So you got together and put in these EK-810U projectors. I looked through the specs on these and there’s a liquid cooling feature for the optics. How does that work?

 

[Laughs] That’s a good question. I would think that is a closely-guarded secret. I don’t know the specific engineering regarding, but I will say this. The cooling aspect negates the need for filters in the projector. It is a sealed light unit. It has a 20,000 hour guarantee on it. It doesn’t require filters being changed or even being cleaned, so the maintenance is extremely low. And for an older congregation, having less maintenance is a big deal. [Timestamp: 8:00]

 

Yeah, I can imagine.

 

 So just having it be less maintenance was big. A 20,000 hour guarantee is great, and you know, when we looked at the price of the projector everybody went, “Oh, that’s expensive.” Well, not really when you consider that if you want a really good picture you would have to replace the bulb every year or two and a good OEM bulb is $400.00-$500.00 a pop. And if you replace that, let’s say every two years instead of one, over the course of 10 years you’re doing several thousand dollars just in bulbs. So when you add that to the price of the reasonably high-power projector that gets you in that 8,000 lumen area the cost is not very much different to go with the laser. Better contrast ratio, better picture, truer colors. We had just stunning results when we put that in. [Timestamp: 8:49]

 

And from where do you control these projectors? What do you use, serial or LAN, how do you do that?

 

Everything is set in their little booth at the back corner of the room. Not my favorite place to put a booth, but that’s where it is. It is definitely a wired LAN. They use an iMac through an ATEN matrix and the wired LAN gives us a very good IP control and allows us to remote in, if necessary, to help them. That’s a big deal. [Timestamp: 9:18]

 

That would be a giant thing for them not to have to wait for you to get down there to the church to do something or check something that you could do remotely.

 

Right. When you say “get down there to the church,” it’s 200 miles away.

 

That’s a mighty long trek anyway.

 

Yeah. So getting down there is like gee, is there another way we can pull this off without me hopping in the car and driving?

 

At least you can look at some diagnostics and see if there’s something that’s about to go bad or not working right on those.

 

We also set it up that the projector would notify us if something goes wrong. So we know sometimes before they do if there’s a problem. We haven’t had any so far so everything is good, but that is something we definitely looked at in setting up the IP control. [Timestamp: 10:01]

 

And how do you get the video signal up to the projectors? Is it HDBaseT or how do you handle the video signal?

 

We are doing HDBaseT and we use an ATEN, four-in/four-out matrix so that they can hook up their computer and they can hook up a DVD player and whatever. And that gives us the ability to get the signal right up to the projectors. [Timestamp: 10:21]

                                                                                                             

Sounds like the easiest way to get all the sources up there and once you do, what’s the actual throw distance from the projectors to the screens?

 

There are two screens, two projectors. From each projector it’s a 57-foot throw to the screen. So long-throw lenses were specified along with the projectors. The projectors basically don’t come with a lens; you specify the lens. [Timestamp: 10:42]

 

Sounds like an installation that had a significant impact on the whole personality of the church and their congregation. Next week we’ll get more into how you did the church’s sound system. Thanks for getting with us on it, Steve. It’s Steve Diamond of Diamond Support Services in Junction City, Oregon and the Calvary Lutheran Church projection display upgrade. Thanks Steve, for getting with us.

Sure, and talk to you next week.

Nice to have you with us for the SVC Podcast with Steve Diamond. Show notes and product links for this one and others can always be found at svconline.com. Next week Steve will tell us about the Crystal Screens display surfaces installed for the Calvary Lutheran Church. That’s on the next SVC Podcast.

Masque Sound Upgrades Baltimore Center Stage Head Theater Pt2
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 09:48
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Matt Peskie of Masque Sound. Show notes and product links for this and other SVC podcasts are at svconline.com.

Baltimore Center Stage has a newly renovated facility and a brand new sound setup in their Head Theater featuring Symetrix control, d&b Audiotechnik speakers and a DiGiCo mixer. They’ve got remote control all over the building installed by Masque Sound. Matt Peskie is back to finish up his story on how the whole project was finished. That’s coming up on the SVC Podcast.

Matt Peskie with Masque Sound in East Rutherford, New Jersey, thanks for getting back with us and we were talking last week about the Baltimore Center Stage whole building renovation including the Pearlstone Theater, the Head Theater and a sound system that extends control to locations everywhere. Matt, take us through what you did when you first got into the Head Theater.

Well, I guess the big thing with the Head initially was getting all the infrastructure laid out, which was part-and-parcel brought to us from the consultant, Charcoalblue. Once all that infrastructure was put in place then that really allows Amy, who is the audio head down there, and whoever is the visiting system designer is to lay out what they’re going to specifically put in for the show. Charcoalblue, I guess I should reface this with the kind of work on two different contracts when they do a project, at least in our past experience with them. The first contract would be the page program infrastructure and then along with a performance infrastructure. And then the second contract would actually be the fit out of all the equipment that would utilize that infrastructure and kind of give yourself a functional system. So I would say now they’re allowed – that infrastructure is there. Amy and whatever system designer comes in the place has the opportunity to take their plethora of d&b speakers, which they’ve got a multitude of different models, and pick and choose where to locate those for that specific show. So I think we talked about previously, Bennett, giving them the blank canvas and they can kind of paint as they choose. [Timestamp: 2:22]

A versatile system is certainly the bottom line on this one and I think it was the SymVue control panels. Is that what you put in there?

Yeah. That’s the touchscreen – well, not touchscreen per se, but the interactive control screen for Symetrix DSP. So basically in this scenario we gave them, I believe it’s around six different user pages to access different parts of the system in order to make changes be it a level control or be it routing control. I know we touched base that there’s a large Dante network put in place. So all of the speakers, say for example, in the lobby when you first come into the building, every speaker has essentially a level control handle that you can access through SymVue as well as you can choose what’s routed to that speaker. So you could choose to take the simple analog input, which there’s another selector further upstream that chooses what that analog input is, whether it’s the Head program or the Pearlstone program. Then we also put in a Dante input as well. So somebody could simply go onto the network with their computer using a virtual soundcard and choose to route that signal to a multitude of speakers or to just one speaker. In the lobby they’ve got three displays next to each other, each with a speaker. So they essentially could have a different program playing on every one of those speakers. [Timestamp: 3:45]

You deal with a lot of creative personalities in the theater business and this system allows them on the technical side to do whatever they come up with and channel that creativity through the whole system.

Yeah. From both the video and audio side, absolutely.

I also read about some portable stage manager cubes in the Head Theater. How did you set up and equip those?

Yeah, those are nice. They’ve got the Symetrix contact closure module inside of each one of them and they’ve got an arc controller. So it basically gives the stage manager the ability to use a custom LED panel that we put on the front of the rack and they can choose one of eight different zones where their page is going to go. So they can page either the Head house or the Pearlstone house or Head dressing rooms, Pearlstone dressing rooms, the lobby specifically, an all-page. So it kind of gives them the ultimate flexibility. And like I said we gave them a real nice custom LED touch panel. The buttons on the front, I believe they’re EAO buttons, so obviously you push them, they light up. It looks really nice. [Timestamp: 4:50]

And all of the available sound sources can be selected for monitoring all over the building in the various offices and dressing rooms. They can pull up sound from anywhere.

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And that’s convenient as well. There’s kind of three different volume control scenarios throughout the facility. They’ve got some of the Symetrix ARC-2 remotes, which are in the production manager offices and a couple of the rehearsal rooms where they’ve got like even or eight different choices. They can choose from for a source and then kind of the more traditional volume control, locations. Used the Atlas AT35 PA, so it’s got the priority relay at the volume control in itself. So they can use – they either choose the Head backstage or the Pearlstone backstage. And then in some of the more traditional offices they can just choose the program from each of the locations. So very easy to be in any office or any dressing room and monitor what’s happening in either one of the theaters. [Timestamp: 5:48]

And I would think they would really like the live video feeds from the stage so anybody backstage can see what’s going on out front.

Yeah. Yep, they’ve got video feeds throughout most of the dressing rooms, I believe. And I think they do a lot of stuff over their data network as well. [Timestamp: 6:02]

You chose Symetrix for the central control component. Was there a special reason for that or do you use that quite a bit?

We use it quite a bit and yeah, we’ve had nothing but great experience with their products. The SymVue pages, like I said, they’re very presentable. You can really lay them out to be very user-friendly and functional. And yeah, we’ve had nothing but good experience with their stuff. [Timestamp: 6:25]

This control and monitoring wiring is run all over the place so when you were installing all of it did you have to test it in stages or just put the whole thing together and then run it through and see how it all worked.

We do a little bit of both, actually. If we have some wires run, especially there was a lot of free air wire run on this project. There was a lot of wires specifically in the page program system. That was run free air so it’s not in conduit. Typically, in those situations we would try to test that cable before the ceiling gets closed just to verify that the cable didn’t get cut by another trade. But most of the other panels, like your typical kind of AV panel that’s got audio, coax, data, etc., that we would test once it’s terminated. And this is kind of one of those projects where we did a lot of terminations out in the field prior to everything totally terminated in the Head end. So it’s kind of wait until the Head end is terminated. Okay, we can go through and test these panels. Great, let’s test them. And then we kind of would sweep through after a panel was complete, with the exception of fiber, then we would do the fiber connection. So once that fiber was terminated and the panels closed and tested, no one is going back into the panel to possibly disturb the fiber terminations. [Timestamp: 7:41]

And once you got everything in and tested okay, how did the first production go with it?

It went really well, yeah. I think they’re on like number three or number four in the two different theaters now. So yeah, we’ve got nothing but good feedback from – and actually a couple of the shows have come through Masque here, that they’ve pulled some consoles and whatnot to send down there. So yeah, we’ve got nothing but great feedback. [Timestamp: 8:02]

And not only did the show work fine, you also got the craftsmanship award for that project. So what have you got coming down the line at Masque Sound?

We’ve got some exciting stuff. The Manhattan Class Company Theater, we’re in there working on that. That’s scheduled to open this coming year. And we just wrapped up a project at Fordham High School in the Bronx, which is a Bette Midler Foundation project which redo’s theaters and auditoriums in schools throughout the five boroughs. So we’re always happy to help out on that end of things. And yeah, lots of stuff coming up I’m sure this fall into next year. [Timestamp: 8:38]

Well it was certainly good to hear that everything worked fine. This was an especially challenging and far-ranging project not only due to the technical complexity and just the physical scope of it but also because of the versatility of it for the users. So it was great having you here to tell us about it. Matt Peskie from Masque Sound and the big renovation of Baltimore’s Center Stage, a project that rated a special craftsmanship award. Thanks for giving us the story on it.

Thanks, Bennett.

Thanks for joining us for Matt Peskie, Masque Sound and the Baltimore Center Stage Head Theater complete AV system renovation. We’ve got the show notes and product links at svconline.com. Get back with us right here again next week for the SVC Podcast.

Masque Sound Upgrades Baltimore Center Stage Head Theater Pt 1
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 09:46
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Matt Peskie of Masque Sound. Show notes and product links for this one and other podcasts are at svconline.com.

Baltimore Center Stage had a huge renovation this year and a good part of that included fixes for their Pearlstone Theater and a complete re-do of their Head Theater. They called in Masque Sound for the job and Matt Peskie is here today to tell us what they did and how they got it all done. That’s coming up on the SVC Podcast.

Matt, it’s great to have you with us once again on the SVC Podcast. It’s been a good while since we talked way back about the 54 Below project and now you just finished earlier this year a huge sound system renovation for Baltimore Center Stage, particularly their Head Theater. But before you give us the details on that, if there’s anybody on the AV side of the planet who doesn’t know about Masque Sound, give us a little update.

Well, Masque has been around for, I guess it’s 81 years now. So third generation owned, the Shearing family, doing primarily Broadway stuff for years and years. And we’ve got an install department and we do some performing arts centers, theaters, houses of worship, things of that nature. So I’m in the install department and that’s kind of the rundown, I guess. [Timestamp: 1:29]

And when they have a new project what do you do on it? Do they send you in first to kind of look it over?

It just kind of depends. I mean, we mostly are doing spec work so we’re on the approved bid list for quite a few consultants in the area. So kind of the work comes to us, at least in regards to bidding on the install side – very different from the Broadway side where they’re working with designers and they work with our couple of sales guys and put together an equipment list and bid the project that way. [Timestamp: 1:57]

Baltimore Center Stage had a big renovation that I think involved two theaters and much of the rest of the building. One of those was the Pearlstone and the other was the Head Theater with a complete re-do on that one. I think there were a few complications from the Pearlstone demo but you can tell us about that. What was the larger project that included theater sound system renovations? Was that part of one for the whole place?

It was the whole building that did a renovation with basically everything with the exception of the Pearlstone. The Pearlstone they did some minor work. It wasn’t anything major – major as in the rest of the building. But the rest of the building the Head Theater was a complete gut reno where they took the, it’s about two-and-a-half floors of space and just completely gutted it down to the steel and then redid all the structural steel inside for the catwalk support and everything. So the Head got a total redo and then the building itself, because of the historical landmark, a lot of the office floors, they did as much renovation as they could and really updated them in regards to electrical and data infrastructure and whatnot. So really it’s like walking into a brand new building. I mean the lobby is brand new. Everything really, except for the Pearlstone, which it got some sheetrock work done. It got some new AV stuff done. A little bit here and there, but it didn’t get a full reno like the Head did. [Timestamp: 3:24]

And did they do something in there where they actually ended up taking more of the old AV system out than they had planned?

Yeah. There was some demo that was done. There was kind of a cable pass-through outside in the lobby of the Pearlstone. When they were doing the demo a bunch of stuff got cut and it actually ended up being to the benefit of Amy down there who is the audio head. It actually kind of forced their hand to redo a lot of stuff that they hadn’t planned on redoing. So when a bunch of wires got cut they came to us, the general contractor, Whiting-Turner, and said can you guys address this issue? We said yeah, we’re more than happy to, but there’s a million wires here that it’s going to take us three weeks to just go through and do investigative work. And that kind of got the folks down at Center Stage involved and they went through and pulled out a bunch of old abandoned wires and kind of figured out what they really needed to have put in place of the stuff that got cut. So it actually ultimately was to their benefit that this happened, actually. [Timestamp: 4:20]

Well, at least it’s a good thing that they had to come up with something newer in there, too. So how big is the Head Theater? It’s not a huge place but what’s the seating capacity?

Yeah, I think it’s around – like between 325 and 375, depending on the show. I think they move some seats around and kind of redo some things depending on the show size and kind of how the show lays out. [Timestamp: 4:41]

And then there’s an outfit called Charcoalblue and what role did they play in all of this?

Yeah, they were the consultants. So they’re the ones that work directly with Amy and the folks down at Center Stage to make sure that the system that was being specified met all their needs and requirements. [Timestamp: 4:57]

And what did you do on this? Did you run into anything especially difficult after you started really getting in and behind things?

Yeah. I mean, just the cable runs – there was a lot of long cable runs. I mean, I think it was in the article; it was like 25 miles or something of wires. [Timestamp: 5:11]

Yeah, huge cable runs.

Yeah, some huge cable runs. It really was just ultimately a lot of managing how conduit comes into a room and how that conduit lands onto a wire tray and how it gets to your racks. You know, it’s one thing to deal with maybe 10, 20, 30 conduits coming in, but once you start getting into the 100-plus range it takes a lot of forethought when you’re laying out a room and kind of how stuff is going to sit in the room in order to have it be accessible from ladder tray and from conduit. So that’s probably one of the biggest challenges, and just dealing with, obviously, the building wasn’t completely redone. A lot of the walls and pathways and whatnot were already there, so we’re kind of dealing with some stuff where we can run new runs and some places where we couldn’t – where we had to deal with what was put in place. [Timestamp: 5:57]

One of the main features that you added there were a lot of new control points to allow them to do their things however they want to do them.

Yeah. They have ultimate flexibility, I believe, just in the catwalk in the Head Theater. There, I think, are 11 panels and each panel has 8-12 analog audio tie lines plus 8 data lines, 4 speaker lines, fiber, I think 4-6 coax lines. So really, everything whether you want to hang a speaker in Point A or Point B, there’s at least going to be three panels within 10-15 feet of where you’re going to hang the speaker or put said device. Which is really, that’s what a house like this needs when they have visiting shows coming in and different designers coming in. They have the ability to put devices anywhere within the space and have it easily be accessible. Patch into a patch point, go back to the rack room, patch it down to the console or an amplifier. Very easy. Simple. [Timestamp: 6:57]

And what types of panels did you use? Were they all the same make and model or did you do different ones in various places to give them different capabilities?

Yeah, it’s kind of different in different spots. Everything was custom made per Charcoalblue’s specs. So obviously there’s some projector panels where there’s a couple data lines and a couple fiber lines and maybe a coax line versus a panel that’s on stage that’s going to have probably more analog audio inputs, but it’s still going to have some fiber, still going to have some coax, still going to have some data. So they have all the points there. There is a big Dante system that’s put in place, so there’s different ports throughout the facility that land directly on to the Dante switches. So Amy down there has the ability to wheel in a console and get right onto the Dante network, which is very convenient. [Timestamp: 7:49]

And just gave them, I think one of the articles mentioned, a new canvas for them to use to exercise their own creativity.

I think that’s a good description of it because really, we’re not dictating what you plug into these panels. We’re just providing you the infrastructure and giving you the chance to bring whatever in you’d want to bring in, ultimately. [Timestamp: 8:08]

And who knows how long it may be before the next big renovation there so you had to do some things to future-proof the system and I believe that included some fiber runs.

Yeah, there’s a ton of fiber and it’s all OM4 so it’s all 10 gig a second, which is pretty much the standard for everything that’s going in now. So yeah, I can’t envision them needing any additional infrastructure for quite a while to come. And, of course, they still have plenty of just straight copper infrastructure, be it coax or data lines, and specifically audio, of course. [Timestamp: 8:38]

You may run into a lot of different seating arrangements and this theater looks like a fairly versatile one. Not a huge place as you said, but it looks like it has a wrap-around seating layout so were there any special sound considerations for dealing with that?

Not so much on our end in regards to the infrastructure that we put in. I mean, I think that probably reflects more on specific sound designers that are coming in, but they ultimately have in that balcony and under the balcony they’ve got the ability to do both under-balcony fills as well as surround speakers. So I believe, I want to say under that balcony I think there’s about 30 or so panels that are ultimately flexible, they’re just patch points. So whether they hang a speaker as a surround speaker or as a fill speaker, there’s the patch point there on a simple one-gang panel and power is right next to it. Which is really nice, especially if you’re in this day and age where a lot of manufacturers are making self-powered speakers, but you still have some passive speakers. So you’ve got a speaker line there and you have an audio signal line there along with power so you can put any speaker up that a designer really would like to use.

[Timestamp: 9:47]

And where do they control all of the sound from in this theater?

They’ve got a little mix booth at the back of the house that’s got a load of tie lines that go up to the main rack room. So they’ve got the ability to mix from there and then ultimately if they needed to move the desk they can move it to another spot and just repatch the lines for the DiGiCo system. [Timestamp: 10:08]

And the DiGiCo, I believe that’s an SD10 model.

Yeah. I believe it’s got the theater software, so yeah. And they’ve got one SD rack, a mini rack, and they’ve got a couple of the orange boxes that convert MADI to Dante in order to put everything on the Dante network. [Timestamp: 10:25]

That would save a lot of time I would think because they can set up for different seating arrangements, save it and with a push button have it ready for any show.

Yeah, absolutely. Storing presets is huge and even if it just means if another show comes in and it’s very similar, you can go in advance of that coming in and just go in and make a few little changes and do a “save as” and there you are. [Timestamp: 10:46]

And I believe some congratulations are in order because you won the 2017 Craftsmanship Award from Metropolitan Baltimore’s Building and Congress Exchange so what exactly were they judging on this award?

Oh, thank you. I believe it really was just the ultimate craftsmanship, I guess, and kind of the way we went about our business on the project. I know the general contractor, Whiting-Turner was very pleased with kind of how we went along and did our business from start to finish. And you know, we really take pride in the work we do. And like I’ve said times before in some other past interviews, that I really feel like the end of the project is really where we show our muster and that’s when things get hard at the end. Because usually the easy stuff you get done first, and it’s the hard things that kind of linger around. So it’s executing those things at the end of the project and finishing strong, I think, is really what separates us from other vendors. [Timestamp: 11:42]

Well, it’s certainly nice to get recognition for all of the hard work and I’m sure it was well deserved. In Part 2 we’ll get into more detail on the things you included in the project and exactly how they work. Thanks for getting with us and giving us the story on the Baltimore Center Stage Renovation with the Pearlstone Theater, the Head Theater and exactly how you did everything in there. Matt Peskie from Masque Sound and we’ll see you again next week.

Thanks, Bennett.

Great to have you with us for the SVC Podcast with Matt Peskie. We’ve got show notes and product links for today’s talk at svconline.com. Next week Matt will tell us about the portable stage manager cubes, the building routing and the stage video feeds for Baltimore Center Stage’s Head Theater on the next SVC Podcast.

Paramount Events & MD Audio Upgrade with Powersoft Pt 2
Saturday, October 14, 2017 - 10:59
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine of Paramount Events. Show notes and product links for this and other SVC podcasts are at svconline.com.

Fixed installations are one thing but the gear can really take a beating on the road at outdoor events. Rafael Narine of Paramount Events and Murvin Persaud of MD Audio got together to equip and run the recent ECLIPS Music Festival in Jamaica, New York and they’re both back to tell us how they got it done with Powersoft amps. That’s right now on the SVC Podcast.

Murvin and Rafael, thanks for being back with us for Part 2. Last week we were talking about the Calgary Assembly of God installation and this week we completely switch gears to cover the recent ECLIPS Music Festival. It gets a little more challenging with a big crowd and a huge variety of music acts onstage, right out in the open. Rafael, where was that held? I think it was in Queens, right?

Rafael: Yes, that was held in Queens in a park called Roy Williams Park. That park hosts a lot of large-scale events throughout the year and the entire summer. We’ve done quite a few events in that park over the years. This one in particular was a little special. We were doing it a little differently. We were a little bigger scale-wise; more audio, more lights, more video, more everything. All of that, it’s not unfamiliar to us, so we had no problems pulling it off. [Timestamp: 1:41]

And Murvin, I know they used the Powersoft amps for this but you were transitioning some of your equipment from other amps over to Powersoft to save some power and make your racks run cooler.

Murvin: Yes. Well, Ralph actually started to get into the Powersoft so he’s getting rid of some of the old stuff and replacing with Powersoft amplifiers right now. [Timestamp: 2:00]

So how much advance time did you have to set up for the festival? I would think that an event like that would be pretty tight on the setup time.

Rafael: Yeah. You know what? I made an arrangement with the promoters and the event planner that we need an adequate amount of time to get it done. We started about three days ahead of schedule. The show was on a Sunday, but we started on the Thursday – the morning. The stage came in and we started building. It came in from a company in Pennsylvania, Mountain Stage – a pretty big company. We hauled in about 44 or 46 line arrays in large format EV Xvls and Xvlt. Those are dual 15’s so they’re quite robust. We had to do some serious coverage, about 600-800 feet – that was the throw – so just to give you an idea. [Timestamp: 2:50]

Yeah.

Rafael: And then we had about 46 subs; double 18’s and double 21’s.

And did you do the mixing on that or just do the setup?

Rafael: Well, I handle everything. My company, we did the entire install. We did all of the mixing, except when you had a – some of the acts with their own front-of-house engineer. But for the first 15-20 performances, we did that. No problem. [Timestamp: 3:16]

And how was it doing the front of house mix on this thing with so many different acts onstage even though some of them had their own sound people? I would think that it would get a little dicey just figuring out what they’re going to do next.

Rafael: We had a little sound check before, but when you do this for a living and you understand what to expect, it becomes much easier because we all have an agreement – all the engineers and everyone. It’s a festival and you have to do a festival mix. Meaning it has to be set up in a way that you’ve got to tolerate what the other guy was doing to a certain extent. And keep in mind that you have to let go of what you’re trying to do because there’s another act coming up after you and you have to be able to transition flawlessly or seamlessly without having an issue of oh, now we’ve got to go rebuild the entire mix we had before. So during festivals, unless you have an extra console sitting there for every major act, if you’re using the same console you have to give the chance so the other guy that’s going to come up next to you or after you – so everyone has to be in harmony with what has to get done. [Timestamp: 4:20]

And Murvin, when you’re providing this equipment for the ECLIPS Festival and other events, do you see a lot of people coming in an taking lots more stuff than they need just to have a lot of backup gear just in case?

Murvin: Well, Ralph has about enough to do with whatever he needs to get done. Basically he’s got a lot of headroom to work with. He runs multiple amps. I can’t remember how much exactly, but he can conform. But he had a few racks of Powersoft amplifiers there and some of them actually came from me. [Timestamp: 4:51]

And in addition to setting up the amps Rafael, you have to get the mic signals from the stage to the mixer.

Rafael: We used those Yamaha CL5’s front of house and stage monitor mix, but we networked them together with the Rio stage boxes; 48 channels. And then we had 24 returns from the front of house and the stage, but I had everything run directly to the DiGiCo console and had that run the entire system as far as front fill, delay, side fills, subs. Everything was managed from that mixer. So that alleviated any stress from the front of house engineer trying to control the PA at the same time. So we kind of did it that way to keep to separate because we know what’s going to happen is you’re going to have four or five engineers coming up to the console for their artist and they won’t have the ability to tell them what to do: “Hey, listen. I need more side fills,” or “Hey, I need more front fills.” So we took that away from them. Just focus on your mix and we’ll focus on the PA and that was it. So there was no interruptions in that sense. [Timestamp: 5:54]

At the ECLIPS Festival do they primarily use floor monitors or IEMs?

Rafael: Well, there was a combination of IEMs and floor wedges. We used the D&B M2, I want to say – those were the dual 12’s from d&b – but we didn’t use the Powersoft amps. It actually came with its own amplifiers from d&b, which we had no control over, which was how their monitors were built. But, we did use the Powersoft system on the PA, which was fine. It ran the entire day flawlessly. No issues, nothing shutting down, nothing blown, nothing. So that’s a plus. [Timestamp: 6:27]

I guess that and making sure that all the wireless gear works and there’s no frequency coordination problem.

Rafael: With the wireless situation there’s a lot of issues in certain places, but when you’re out of the Manhattan/Times Square area, it seems to be a lot easier because what happens is in Times Square you have a lot of – you have Broadway. And they have about 20 or so studios; a couple of hundred wireless packs. And the airways are just crowded. Everyone needs a space. So that’s the issue, but in the situation where we were, in the park, it was easy; not much interruption. Yes, the airport is right there, but we were good. We were fine. There was no unexpected issues. You just check it out with your local airways, the regulation, and we were fine. [Timestamp: 7:13]

And Murvin, what have you got coming up right now? Have got some big projects coming up on the equipment side of it for installations or for road gear?

Murvin: Well, I have something in order, some Powersoft amplifiers – and those are not the permanent install ones. Those are touring amps. So waiting for those orders to come through. They’re actually big orders and some of them are for the United States, some are for export. Basically MD Audio does both. We sell in and out of the United States. [Timestamp: 7:45]

And Rafael, for Paramount Events, what have you got looming ahead?

Rafael: Well, I have a few orders I have to make with Murvin because I had a couple of installs come in in the past two weeks. And I told some of the manufacturers of line arrays and such that I’m only using Powersoft amps and if you cannot allow me to do that then I can’t use your product. And now they’re working out ways and means to allow me to do so because I like the amps. I like how they work and they do what I need. And now that these manufacturers are understanding, hey listen, this guy knows what he’s doing. He’s got to get what he needs and we’ve got to do it. You want to make the sales you’ve got to deal with it. And that’s the message I’m giving them. Listen, if you can match these numbers up, fine, but they can’t. So they have to work with me. And Murvin knows. And I tell him some of the stories and I show him some of the emails and some of the discussions about what happens. So when you look at the numbers it’s a no-brainer. Powersoft definitely wins. [Timestamp: 8:40]

I’m sure you were glad to have them at the church for the installation there and then at the ECLIPS Music Festival with everything that was going on. Good of you both to tell us how you worked on these projects and got them done. Murvin Persaud, owner of MD Audio.

Murvin: Well, MD stands for Murvin Danny Persaud. That’s where the MD Audio came from. So some guys know me by my middle name, some know me by my first name, but MD Audio, that’s what it stands for. [Timestamp: 9:03]

Well, that keeps it covered then.

Murvin: Yes. Mm-hmm.

Rafael Narine, CEO of Paramount Events in New York, always busy. And again thank you both for taking time out to tell us about these projects.

Murvin: Thank you.

Rafael: Sure. There will be more along the way. You’ll hear about them.

Sounds good. Looking forward to it.

Glad you made it back with us for Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine of Paramount Events. All of the show notes and AV gear links for today’s talk are right here on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Let’s get back together again next week for the SVC Podcast.

 

Paramount Events & MD Audio Upgrade with Powersoft Pt 1
Saturday, October 7, 2017 - 14:39
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine of Paramount Events. Show notes and product links for this and other podcasts are at svconline.com.

Amps, speakers and other gear only has a certain lifetime before it wears out and becomes unreliable but new technology stands up to the wear and tear better. Murvin Persaud and Rafael Narine have teamed up their companies to put new technology at the pulpit and on the road. They’re here to tell us about it, coming up on the SVC Podcast.

Murvin and Rafael, it’s good to have you with us on the SVC Podcast from MD Audio and Paramount Events. You teamed up for a couple of projects. The first was the Calgary Assembly of God in Ozone Park, New York, that I think had some urgent problems to be fixed. Before you tell us about that Rafael, tell us about Paramount Events. It sounds like you do quite a bit of just about everything there.

Rafael: Yes. Here at Paramount Events we handle all kinds of events; corporate events, concerts, shows, festivals, meetings, special services, graduations. Everything that really has to do with audio, video, lighting, those kind of deals. And during the slow seasons and off times what we do is, we do a lot of installs and upgrades for churches and schools and try to give them the newest technology to help them achieve what they need to. So that’s pretty much what we do. [Timestamp: 1:41]

And in addition to the nuts and bolts side of it, you have to also do a lot of translating for the non-technical church clients who need to know where their budget is going and why.

Rafael: A lot of times when you use an industry term, whoever is in the industry, they get it. But when you mention something like an equalizer and then you say a 4K plus 6 dB, they’re like, “What does that mean?” You know, they don’t understand what those terms are, but you have to show them and explain to them. And efficiencies, amplifiers, speakers, the way they work, components, a lot of people are not familiar with the terminology. They’re familiar with the stuff they get at home. You plug in a CD player and you turn it on and it works. But they don’t understand what happens behind those knobs and that’s where we come in. How we can integrate technology into what they’re trying to do. [Timestamp: 2:29]

And I know that’s a constant challenge to be able to make clear the benefits of specific sound and video hardware to the people who write the checks. So, Murvin, what’s been going on at MD Audio lately?

Murvin: Well, we’ve been moving a lot of Powersoft amplifiers because a lot of people are trying to get modern equipment. And Powersoft happens to be dominating the market for quite a while. The prices are pretty good. The product is very reliable. And everybody just wants to have a couple of them in their racks, if not may a few dozen. From the small guy to the big guy, now everybody is going after it. [Timestamp: 3:03]

Well, I think in that regard, you made some improvements for Calgary Assembly of God and Rafael, what exactly did your team do for them?

Rafael: What they had was an install that was done years ago. The problem was at the time the budget was – it was significant, but back in the early 2000’s, a significant budget does not mean you get a lot of A-list equipment because technology was at that turning point where it’s all new stuff and everyone knows when the new stuff comes out you pay a premium price for everything. But over the years, the amplifiers, they kind of broke down on themselves and components, they dehydrate. Like for example capacitors. They have something that’s called electrolytic fluid and over time with enough heat, it dries up and then the amplifier becomes inefficient and it burns itself up. So what happens is they start to fail systematically. So we were in talks about doing the upgrades for a few years and eventually they were forced. One night they had a thunderstorm or some sort, and then the next day everything just went out. And there was an emergency repair job. We had to overnight the amp, and we got it done in time for the next service. [Timestamp: 4:14]

I guess that’s always tough when you have a quick fix necessary like that and you’re trying to coordinate shipping, installation work and the church’s schedule. It’s nice when you have the luxury of long-term planning and being able to phase the in the upgrades, but I would think it’s going to be a bigger job to get it right in an emergency.

Rafael: Right. And they have the amps in stock and it wasn’t a problem for them to get it to us fast because I’m friends with Danny for quite a while and I said, “Hey, listen. This is the deal. This is what I’m dealing with and we got to get something done fast.” Danny was exactly what they needed and it fit right in. It took me a couple of hours to get it installed, and after that they heard the difference. And from that point on, it was a no-brainer. Everything from that point, they realized listen, you’ve got to embrace technology. And when I took the old amplifiers out there was a pile almost four feet high with amplifiers versus a single amp that’s only two-space. Then, it’s why haven’t we done this years ago? At the time I explained to them the technology wasn’t quite there as yet and now we start to see that you have the LED fixtures where you can run 13 Lekos and ellipsoidals on a single 20-amp circuit. You told me that 20 years ago I would have laughed at you. “Yeah, sure. Okay.” [Laughs] But now the efficiency is so amazing, you can run an entire PA system on two 20-amp circuits. That’s unheard of. It was an easy sell after they saw the numbers. It made a huge difference. [Timestamp: 5:42]

And Murvin, were you in on that installation or was it equipment support in getting the new amp to Rafael as fast as possible?

Murvin: I supplied equipment for the installation.

And Rafael, I think you’ve had a long history with this church and they keep relying on you so you must be doing something right. This wasn’t your first time around with them.

Rafael: No. We’ve done quite a few other events and installs and repairs and upgrades over the years. And honestly, it’s one of the first churches I attended when I started, so it was dating back in the 90’s. And I used to do a lot of the sound and mixing at all of the private events, the corporate events that they have sometimes, the fundraisers and all of that. I used to be involved in that and then they kind of realized hey, this guy knows what he’s doing and they kind of let me handle a lot of repairs and upgrades and maintenance before Paramount was even in existence. [Timestamp: 6:31]

And Murvin, one of the things about the Powersoft amps that you provide for these projects, some of these places have some very high up-time on the AV gear. Do you think this is more so for churches as opposed to the big event venues or is it the other way around?

Murvin: Well, the big event venues grab a lot more, but there are different classes of Powersoft amps. You’ve got the touring edition and then you have the permanent install edition. So it’s not the same amp you use both in indoor and outdoor. [Timestamp: 6:58]

What was involved on the church installation in getting the old stuff out? Were you able to use the same wiring or did you have to completely start from scratch?

Rafael: As far as the old wiring, they were easy to integrate. The only difference is we were pulling out one set of installs and replacing with just one of the key components – the amp. And that was easy. You didn’t have to rewire, we didn’t have to do anything. Just pretty much unhook the old stuff, reconnect the new stuff and program it all, you know, control the DSD and have all the crossover points, limiters and such in place, and that was pretty much it. Power, we actually had to reduce the amount of power needed in the rack down to a single 20. And they’re looking at it and going, “Wow, all of this.” We removed it all.” [Timestamp: 7:42]

And sometimes in churches especially you never know for sure what you’re going to run into as far as power. I think you’ve gotten into some of these churches and the house voltage isn’t even the right level.

Rafael: You know what? That’s one of the main reasons why the amps went out, the old ones, because they were rated 100-120 volts. The problem is the voltage was actually at 130-plus. So there was no regulation in the entire building. There’s no transformers, there’s nothing. So we don’t know how is it that the volts are over 130. It’s still over 130 and then no one can explain it. I think they have the power company coming in to take a look, but I think it’s happening from the transformers on the streets or something. I don’t know. The Powersoft amps don’t really care. They’ll take from 90 all the way to 260 volts, so I’m not worried about that. [Timestamp: 8:32]

So where have you got the amps located in there? Are they at the position of the front of house mixing or somewhere else?

Rafael: No. There’s a dedicated control room with servers and other equipment. The front of house will have another upgrade going on soon. We’re going to swap out the old Soundcraft K2 and we’re probably going to go with a DiGiCo. I’m not sure yet. [Timestamp: 8:54]

At least with a digital console you can get the trainees back to a starting point after they’ve had their fun with the adjustments but the budget for all but the really big churches is sometimes a little tricky to call on big ticket hardware items. The other point about Powersoft amps where they seem to run a good bit cooler and you can put more of them into a smaller space.

Murvin: Well, Powersoft amps, they run pretty much cooler than the regular amps around. You save on the weight, the rack space. They’re more efficient. The switching power supply in those amps. If you’ve got a little overload, anything over 120, they compensate for that. You don’t have to make a shift on anything on the amp from 110, 240, whatever. This is just plug-and-play.

Rafael: And there’s one more thing you can add to that. The sound quality is phenomenal. It’s like night and day. A lot of people had negative thoughts about switchable power supplies and high frequency, high pass and low passing. They’re kind of skeptical about that. Those are stuff that was going on in the early stages, but in over the years a lot of companies, they realized and they tended to those issues and now you really don’t have a frequency oscillating issue anymore. So that’s done. [Timestamp: 10:04]

And on the Calgary church project, I know it was a hurry-up. How long did it take you to get in and get the amp upgrade done?

Rafael: Of course a few days, because we’re still in the process of doing some more. We had another amp we just realized is actually blown also, so we’re in the process of getting that replaced. So it took a few days, but the original install took quite a few months. We were going from scratch. [Timestamp: 10:27]

Alright, interesting hearing about the new installation at the Calgary Assembly of God and in Part 2 we’re really going to really shift gears and get over to the ECLIPS Music Festival where we’ll talk about that live event.

Rafael: Yep.

Until then, it’s been fun having you guys on. Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine, CEO of Paramount Events in New York and we’ll see you next week.

Murvin: Thank you.

Rafael: Sounds good.

Glad you made it back with us for Murvin Persaud and Rafael Narine. The show notes and links for today’s talk are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Get with us when Murvin and Rafael tell us about how they did the ECLIPS Music Festival on the next SVC Podcast.

New Digital Signage at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center Pt 2
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 10:08
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision and Robert Schoneman of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Show notes and product links for this and other SVC podcasts are at svconline.com.

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, North Carolina has come a long way since their days of DVDs and paper signs in the lobby areas. Special Events and Projects Manager Robert Schoneman and Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision are back with us to finish the story on how their digital signage evolution was crafted. That’s right here on the SVC Podcast.

Robert Schoneman and Ryan Cahoy thanks for being back on the SVC Podcast for Part 2 and we’ve been talking about the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, North Carolina and the extensive digital signage project completed there. It’s an incredible place and even more interesting is that this whole lobby signage project was done in-house. Robert, you and your team ran the cable, mounted the displays and got it all working. With as much going on there as you have, all of that must have been something of a scheduling challenge.

 

Robert: Yeah, absolutely. There were a number of reasons that drove that decision; financial, scheduling. And also, we wanted to be sure we got exactly what we wanted. We’d been involved in some projects before where what was said and what were done were two different things. And sort of where the disconnect was there is always hard to know. But instead of going through a long iterative design process we really felt like it was best for us just to think it through ourselves to determine exactly what it was we wanted and then to execute on that directly. [Timestamp: 1:53]

 

And if ever anything does need fixing or modification your people can do it because they put it all in.

 

Robert: Absolutely. And we’re a 24/7 operation. Shows happen all the time and these things need to work. We count on them. There is no backup to it. If the displays at the bars don’t work there isn’t another sign that we hang over the front of it that shows what the inventory and pricing is. Those are what there is for patrons to see. So it’s important that these systems be functional and the best way to ensure that we can always have it working is to have done it ourselves. We’re not beholden to somebody else to make updates to a control system or troubleshoot cabling if we can’t figure it out, or to work on something that’s customer built that it’s a one-off. Everything we use is commodity equipment, commodity hardware, commodity software. It’s all readily available in the marketplace if I want to expand it, modify it, change out a component or work on something. There’s nothing to it that’s closed it any way. [Timestamp: 2:51]

 

Your team knows where every wire and connector is so there’s no need to call a contractor in for every little thing. So Ryan, I want to get the bigger picture of this and what a big step it is when you go from all print and DVD playback to a digital signage system like the Blumenthal Center has now. Is this a typical evolution for Rise Display’s clients?

 

Ryan: Absolutely. I mean, the price of technology has come down significantly over the last five to even 10 years. And any organization that’s expending resources on people to update printed posters or run around from screen to screen changing DVD’s or thumb drives, I mean they really realize the benefit of a network once you’ve connected all that signage together. I mean, it’s hard to deny the power of being able to sit down and get your message out or update out at the click of a mouse. [Timestamp: 3:40]

 

It’s one of those things I would think that once you’ve got it in and working, you get used to it and it’s hard to imagine how you were doing it before.

 

Ryan: Yeah. We talk to people all the time that they struggle wrapping their head around what they can do with digital signage. But then once they have it, a whole new set of ideas come flowing and they realize what they were missing. And it really is a powerful tool. [Timestamp: 4:01]

 

And the main project for Rise Vision on this was the interactive kiosk in the Blumenthal Center’s Spirit Square. So describe for us what you did out there in that area.

 

Ryan: Sure. I mean, the objective was to feature local artists on a punch-enabled kiosk so it had to be really visual, easy to navigate, let users watch short videos about each of the featured artists. So the goal was really to keep it simple. Most organizations, when they put in digital signage, they’re tempted to try to do too much with their touch screen. The reality is when a user walks up to a screen, if they’re given too many choices they’re going to get confused and do nothing. And that’s why the screen had to have simple visuals. It had to tell the story with video. And what helped make this project easier than a lot of them we deal is the Blumenthal team had a lot of great media assets for us to work with. [Timestamp: 4:48]

And Robert, what did you have in Spirit Square before? I think you had some local artists painted on those columns and some information about their work before the interactive display was there.

Robert: Yeah. The digital signage is this bigger application – the touch screen application – is sort of an add-on to a project. We had some local artists paint some columns in an atrium space at one of our facilities at Spirit Square and we wanted to provide information about the artists. Not about the people who did the painting, but about the artists the paintings were about. They were about well-known people who were from the Carolinas and we wanted people to have the opportunity to get to learn about them and also to see the art sort of in use, if you will. But we didn’t want to have just little stands with printed pieces of paper in front of the columns. We didn’t want to clutter up the flow of the area, and we didn’t want to have to limit the art that was painted onto the columns in order to create space to put something on the columns. So what was decided was a touch screen interactive kiosk positioned directly adjacent to where all the painted columns are would be the best way to allow the public to learn about the art they’re looking at and that has worked really well. And it just sits there seven days a week running all the time, giving people the opportunity to learn about it at their own pace. So if they only want to learn about one of the columns they only have to. If they want to watch a nice long video about a bunch of them they can certainly do that. If they want to learn about the painters or get their social media information they can do that as well. [Timestamp: 6:21]

Yeah, I think when you have a crowd in there and they see others using the interactive display it gets their attention and they’re curious as to what you can do with it. Ryan, you touched on this last week but describe for us the various steps in the development of the interactive display in Spirit Square.

 

Ryan: We follow the same process for pretty much every project we work with whether it’s passive or interactive. The key is to start with a concept and you take that and you work it into black and white wire frames. Then we move to color renderings and then finally we’ll build the design out in HTML. That iterative process really gives the customer a chance to provide feedback at every step. We want to ensure that we don’t get too far down a path that wastes anybody’s time or money. So the end result is trying to come up with something that’s very easy for the user to interact with but to get to that stage it takes a few rounds of design changes to make sure we capture everything and all the requirements. [Timestamp: 7:14]

 

And Robert, the digital signage project in the lobby area. Has this been a part of a bigger upgrade project there?

 

Robert: Well, we’ve talked about two different things here. We refreshed our lobby space. That was the space with all the LG displays and then the touch screen kiosk was in another facility. The LG displays and all of the concession menus and everything we’ve spoken about, those were part of a refresh we did on the lobby; sort of updating of fixtures, furniture and finishes, if you will. The touch screen kiosk was just an additional freestanding thing that we did at Spirit Square; although that facility had existing digital signage displays. I think there are five or six in that facility already, so this was just another one added on to that. But all three of our campuses are using Rise Vision for all of our digital signage whether it be interactive or passive. [Timestamp: 8:05]

 

Ryan when Rise Vision does one of these I would think that it’s not just installed and you walk away. It must be a continual modernization process with the content and the system itself. On all of your digital signage projects it’s probably never really done.

 

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, it really depends on the application. I mean, there’s applications like financial trading floors or directories or event boards where your design really stays consistent because you always want people to know where to look for that data. For example, if I’m a trader I want to look up and see the Dow Jones. I don’t want to guess where it is in a new design. I just want to know it’s the correct number and always in the same place. But other applications like – that you may find on a college campus or in an employee break room – those you always want fresh contents. You want to continue to evolve and ensure they’re meaningful for the people when they’re passing by day in and day out. In answer to your question, generally speaking yes. Content should evolve and that really means organizations need to properly allocate resources to keep the content relevant. If you look at what Robert and the team at Blumenthal have done with all those displays out there, they’ve had to allocate resources, keep focused on it, because they are mission critical to the environment. [Timestamp: 9:14]

 

We’ve talked now and then for several years about Rise Vision. What have you got coming up in projects that you can tell us about?

 

Ryan: For the last five years we’ve really been focused up on building the functionality of our free platform. We continue to get about 100 installs a day from our web site all around the world. The last six months we’ve been focused on interviewing users and learning what premium offerings our users would want. And we just released an enterprise offering that’s mainly targeted education to help school districts and universities manage a hierarchy of accounts. So for example, IT or marketing can see the entire network. And each department or college has their own account, which is their designs and their displays. We don’t tend to do a lot of big, flashy projects. The vast majority of our users just have a few displays and they’re looking for easy low-cost solutions to display their message. So we’re really focused on giving users plans that range from free all the way up to enterprise so that we can give them the right tools for the job that they’re looking to do. [Timestamp: 10:11]

 

Robert, what have you got coming up at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center? Who have you got coming in there?

 

Robert: Oh, wow. Well, we’re just about to start our 2017-2018 Broadway season, so we’ve got an all-star lineup of shows. We’re also bringing back a number of very popular shows that fans really love in a separate encore series to give people an opportunity to see those shows again. So it’s going to be a big year for us. And this is also our 25th anniversary so the company, the building that bears our name, opened in 1992. So 2017 begins the celebration of our one-year-long 25th anniversary. [Timestamp: 10:46]

 

You’ve got plenty happening there and I know the new digital signage is going to be a central part of it. Thanks to both of you. It’s Robert Schoneman, Special Events and Projects Manager for the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, North Carolina and Ryan Cahoy, Managing Director at Rise Vision in Shawnee, Kansas. A perfect mix of what you both do and it’s been fun hearing about it.

Glad you made it back with us for Robert Schoneman of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision. All of the show notes and equipment links for today’s talk are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. We’ll see you again next week for the SVC Podcast.

 

New Digital Signage at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center Pt 1
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 10:01
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision and Robert Schoneman of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. You can find show notes and product links for this one at svconline.com.

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, North Carolina has transformed their signage using LG Commercial Lite TVs in the Belk Theater lobby and an interactive kiosk in their Spirit Square. The Blumenthal Center’s Robert Schoneman and Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision are here to give us the story. Coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Robert and Ryan, great to have you both here. Robert, Special Events and Projects Manager, tell us about the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. I’ve seen some pictures of this place and it really looks fantastic.

 

Robert: Thanks, yeah. We appreciate that. We are, both a facility that bears our name and also a multi-venue operator so in this case we’re talking about the lobby of our Belk Theater, which is one of the three venues that’s in our facility here in Charlotte. [Timestamp: 1:13]

 

And you have had for a while now a substantial digital signage upgrade going on in the theater lobby and that has taken you from using a lot of print sources to a more modern system. So what were the primary goals of this signage upgrade project? What did you want to do with it?

 

Robert: We did. We replaced print signage as well as DVD’s that we were using to show promotional material. So the goal was to make it for the bars and concession areas to have digital signage displays where our staff – the bar staff, the front-line staff – would actually be able to update the available inventory for the bars that day. So as they run out of things or as they change things they would be able to show that in real time on the screens, and for our marketing department to be able to show promotional videos in the lobby without having to burn DVD’s and cart them around to all the various different facilities. And to move to HD; because we were using DVD’s we were in standard def. So the goal in all of that being to improve the customer experience to make it easier for people to see their choices when they’re standing in line for concessions, to give people the opportunity to see other shows that are coming to either the venue that they’re in presently or one of the other facilities that we operate. [Timestamp: 2:27]

 

And as you mentioned, saving tons of time for people trying to burn DVDs and running around changing printed signs. I’ve seen pictures of it and the LG monitors look great the way they were placed and I’m sure the theater visitors are going to get a much better experience out of that. I want to bring Ryan Cahoy in here, Managing Director with Rise Vision in Shawnee, Kansas. Ryan, I’m curious about the relationship here. How long has Rise Vision and the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center been working together? How did Rise Vision get started on this project?

 

Ryan: You know, I believe they’ve been using us since early 2014. And to be honest, at Rise we really didn’t have that much involvement in the initial evaluation, selection and when they started deploying. And the beauty of our system is anyone can create and account and register displays and start building content without any involvement from us. So the most important thing is the do-it-yourself types. People like Robert that roll up their sleeves, start working with the software, seeing what’s possible. So really, all the kudos for deploying this goes to Robert and his team. [Timestamp: 3:26]

 

We’re going to be getting into how they did that and that’s one of the most interesting parts of this whole story. When you see the Blumenthal Center there are windows everywhere. During the day it’s got to be very bright in there so what is the ambient light situation in the theater lobby area? That must have been something of a challenge for your technical team in placing those displays.

 

Robert: There’s quite a wide variety of light environments. We have displays that are set back inside a concession pod where there’s not a huge amount of ambient light, and we have displays that are mounted to a white wall in a lobby that has an entire wall facing out on the street of glass and a glass dome. So the light levels vary quite a bit. [Timestamp: 4:08]

 

I would think that you would have to be very careful in mounting the displays to keep the reflections and viewing angles in mind especially with the difference in night lighting and the change in sun angles during the day.

 

Robert: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously one of the big considerations, especially for what we’re trying to do, was we want to make sure people can see it. We want it to be visible. If you’re standing in line to get something at a concession stand we want to be sure you can see it before you get to the front of the line so you’ve already made your selection. We want you to be able to see our marketing materials while you’re in the lobby without having to be right on top of the display. [Timestamp: 4:41]

And these were all LG Commercial Lite displays which seem to have hit the spot with your team. Did you use a lot of different sizes on those?

Robert: Yeah. The LG displays, the Commercial Lite displays, really hit the sweet spot for us as far as the feature set. We’re using displays in that space from the 47-49 inch range all the way up to, I believe, 60. [Timestamp: 5:01]

 

Your visitors, especially when there’s a big crowd, aren’t going to be standing right in front of each monitor so the viewing angle on these must have been a primary factor in what you finally decided to use.

 

Robert: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Did you go through a long selection process for the displays or did you know pretty much what you wanted from the beginning just by looking at the specs?

 

We had some experience with some other displays from other large manufacturers. And for this application we knew that we needed a specific price point and we needed a specific cabinet appearance, and we needed them to be readily available in different sizes with a common control set. So those requirements on top of just the specification requirements we had really left us with one available choice and that was the LG displays. We never actually demoed any of them, though. It was bought sight-unseen just based on specs. [Timestamp: 5:53]

 

I use them myself and they do work well and I’ve found them to be very dependable. Once you got the monitors up that was only half the battle. Ryan, Rise Vision was called in to help set up in particular the Spirit Square kiosk. Has this project been fairly representative of the way you usually approach things?

 

Ryan: Every project has got a little bit different requirements depending on their content and what they need to do. In this case the initial setup of things for the basic content, like the menu boards and that, was all done by Robert and their team. We weren’t too involved in that. Where we kind of came to the forefront of this project was after a couple of years of using our free platform, the team at Blumenthal came to us with a sketch of what they needed; some interactive content. So they engaged our creative design team to build out an interactive experience for the Spirit Square to honor some local artists. So our creative team, once they got engaged they did a few wire frames and some mockups to capture the design, and then we built all the content out in HTML. So our role was simply to take their vision and then translate that into something that worked well on a touch-interactive screen. [Timestamp: 6:57]

 

That’s a remarkable process when you begin the creative interaction with a client and figure out not only what they say they want but exactly how they want it. You really have to be able to translate the visualization of how all of this is really going to look. Robert, what types of sources are available on those lobby monitors? Do you do promos of upcoming events and that sort of thing?

 

Robert: Yeah, absolutely. All the displays can show any of the players that are showing content, but primarily the displays show concessions menus, a live feed from the theater, or a promotional video loop of upcoming events. [Timestamp: 7:32]

 

How do you do the live feed from the theater? I thought I saw on one of the videos a camera mounted toward the back of the house.

 

Robert: We have a Panasonic HD PTZ camera that we use and that sends an HDSDI signal out, which we convert into our modulated video system and that distributes the signal out into the displays. [Timestamp: 7:55]

 

Do you also send any audio at all on any of the system sources?

 

Robert: We do. We have audio embedded on some of the channels in the QAM modulated system, not all of them. And in some applications we’re de-embedding the audio to peel it off to external speakers or distributed speaker systems. In other cases it’s actually coming out of the speakers in the TV’s. [Timestamp: 8:12]

 

And where is the control point for all of this? I would think everything is arranged in one central secure place and what sort of control system do you use for this?

 

Robert: Yeah. So all the players and the modulators and everything are all in the head end, which is in a room on the other side of the facility. What are we using for control?

 

Right something like Extron, Crestron, AMX, something like that?

 

Robert: We’re actually using a system called Display Express. It’s an innovative product we sort of came about by accident, but the really cool thing about it is it sends the control signals as a channel over the modulated video feed. So there’s a low-frequency channel that’s inserted into the QAM modulated video system and that channel carries the RS-232 control data. And then there’s just a little box you stick behind each display that peels off that channel and converts it from modulated serial, if you will, back to a DB9 RS-232 connection. So the cost of entry there is exceptionally low. It’s very easy to deploy because you don’t have to home-run anything to all of the displays. So we just loop RG-11 or RG-6 to call the display end points and then put the necessary terminations behind them and put these little addressable boxes in and that’s all there is to it. The front and to it exposes itself as a web page so there’s just a rack-mount server machine in our room and you can control it from an iPhone, an iPad, laptop – whatever you want. It has presets to turn the displays on, change the channels, change the volume, do other things. [Timestamp: 9:43]

 

And we’re going to get more into the mechanics of the installation because one of the most interesting things about this to me on the nuts and bolts side of it is the fact that your technical team did all of this in-house.

 

Robert: Absolutely.

 

I know that must have been a big challenge just scheduling it around all of the events and things. We’ll get into more details that next week in Part 2. Ryan, I know Rise Vision did an interactive kiosk in Spirit Square and we’ll talk about how that came along. It’s great having both of you here and I can’t wait to hear more about all this next week.

 

Robert: Thanks.

 

Ryan: Thanks.

Good to have you here today with Robert Schoneman and Ryan Cahoy. Show notes for the podcasts are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Get back with us next week to hear the rest of the story on the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s digital signage transformation. That’s on the next SVC Podcast.

 

Florida Hospital Church and Klang Stage Monitoring Pt 2
Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 08:07
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Pastor Chad Hess of the Florida Hospital Church and you can find show notes and product links for this one in Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

Stage monitoring can be a difficult thing to get everyone in a live music group to agree on but when the Florida Hospital Church put in a new KLANG controlled monitoring system it turned the musicians loose to get creative and mobile. Technical Director Chad Hess is back to finish up on how he AVnew in Orlando got it done. Coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.

Chad, good to have you back with us from Florida Hospital Church in Orlando. You’ve got so many different things there musically. It’s a different setup every week and then you have to strike all of that stuff right back down to a bare building, right?

 

That’s correct. There’s another church that rents from us on Sunday mornings and then we have other events during the week as well. So it’s a very multiuse space, which means we’ve got to keep that stage clear which is another benefit of a wireless monitoring system. It’s less cables I have to strike every week. So that’s been a nice adjustment as well. [Timestamp: 1:18]

 

That is a great thing when it comes to physically laying everything out. I would think that one of the trade-offs might be some coordination required on the RF that might be the tricky part of it.

 

Yes. RF coordination is always a tricky one, but it seems to have worked pretty well. We’ve had to adjust on frequency, but otherwise it’s been pretty good from our initial setup. [Timestamp: 1:40]

 

That’s fairly remarkable for the Orlando area. That place is really cooking in RF anyway.

 

Yes. Now when we replace all of our 600 MHz and we crowd it all in the frequency, that story may change. But we’ll make sure to coordinate that well when we do it. [Timestamp: 1:54]

 

That’s going to be a pretty big job, I would think.

 

Yes.

 

 

We were talking last week about how the musicians went from a corded or wired stage monitoring system to this KLANG controlled wireless IEM setup. What was the Shure part of it?

 

Shure PSM 300 IM’s.

And there’s a way that they can use Amazon Fire tablets to control their monitoring?

Yes. So that was another benefit that I really liked with the KLANG is it can be controlled from $50.00 Amazon Fire tablets. You know, all of your sound boards and stuff, you can have them remotely accessing a mix via iPad or something, but then you’ve got to buy $250.00-$300.00-$500.00 iPads. Well, when you’re buying eight of them that cost savings is quite significant. I mean you can use iPads. You can use phone. You could use any computer, any number of devices, but being able to use the Fire tablets really made that an economical choice. [Timestamp: 2:52]

 

That’s got to fun to work with. Exactly what do they do when they come in to get that all ready to go?

 

The Fire tablet is connected to the KLANG base station, so to speak, for the KLANG. And that just connects via Wi-Fi, and that is how they control their mix. It’s a pretty simple, easy-to-use interface there that they control. And then that all gets fed out into the PSM 300’s that they’re wearing that actually gives them the sound. [Timestamp: 3:21]

 

And how far away are those? What’s the transmission distance on that system?

 

The actual receiver is in our control room probably 80 feet away, but the antenna is right there on the stage. So they’re pretty close to the antenna. [Timestamp: 3:35]

 

I find that on a lot of church wireless systems, the antennas are the most neglected part of it and the way they connect back to the receivers and then the receivers then get all the bad rap when the system doesn’t work right.

 

Yeah.

 

And this is a DANTE system that you have, right?

 

Yes, it is.

 

Okay, so that makes things a little easier.

 

It also saves me all the bus processing on my board. I don’t have to have eight stereo mixes, 16 buses to eat up on my board, which I don’t think I even have. So that’s nice that I can just feed it all through DANTE and keep that processing off of my board. And we already do Dante for a lot of different things. That’s how we send from house to broadcast and multitrack record and stuff like that. So we’re very familiar with DANTE to begin with and that made it a very easy integration. [Timestamp: 4:24]

 

And once you’ve got that down it’s just a matter of plugging in more things.

 

Yeah. This setup of the KLANG system with the DANTE is actually surprisingly easy. [Laughs] Once I figured out what channels I want where and got all that routing sorted out in DANTE, really I turned on the KLANG, I went in and told it how mixes I wanted, and named the channels and everything was working. It was just very simple once you got it all pushed in the right spot, and with the name on it, it was done. It didn’t take a lot of fiddling, which really kind of surprised me. [Laughs]. [Timestamp: 5:01]

 

Yeah, that’s what I hear from just about everybody. Once you’re familiar with it, simplicity of setup and operation seem to be the most attractive things.

 

Yeah.

 

Oh, and I was going to ask you about your mixer. What type of mixer do you use there?

 

Our house mixer is an Allen & Heath iLive. Broadcast is an Allen & Heath GLD.

 

Well, I’m using an Allen & Heath mixer to do this so as far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with that.

 

Yeah. Someday soon we’ll upgrade that to a dLive, but right now we’re running on the iLive. [Timestamp: 5:28]

 

One thing that seems to be the same everywhere. The musicians have their own monitoring mixes and when they practice, do the sound levels tend to keep going up?

 

Like their individual levels or their mix?

I would think the whole mix because most likely nobody ever turns anything down.

[Laughs] It’s true. And that’s another piece that I loved with the KLANG is that’s exactly the problem that you tend to run into a lot with musicians when they’re mixing their monitors is oh, I need more of that and then I need more of this and more of this. Pretty soon everything is at 10 and it’s all muddy and fighting each other and you can’t hear anything. But with this one as soon as you moved an input all the way up, if you hit up again it automatically lowers everything else, which is really what needs to happen. If you’re needing more of that and you can’t push it any more, you need to bring other stuff down. But this does that automatically for them so it still makes it very intuitive for them. “I need more of this.” Okay, well then I’ll bring everything else down. [Timestamp: 6:29]

That would seem to save a lot of time and confusion, too.

Other mixers can do that, but not this user-friendly and intuitively.

What kind of physical layout is there to the church?

The capacity of our building is 500. We average about 750-800 between two services.

And you fill all of that space up and then take everything down and store it and you do that every week because there are other things going on there.

Correct, yeah. There’s another church that rents on Sunday and then other groups that are here all during the week. We have people here every day – day and night. [Timestamp: 7:02]

Do they use all of the same equipment that your people use?

Not a lot of the groups use the worship center, although we do have some. The rest of the building is used quite a bit. But any other events that are in the worship center, most of those are like – actually the hospital does their orientations here for new employees and so they use our system, but in a very basic way. They don’t use the monitors, you know, the in-ear monitors because it’s not live music, but they use the soundboard and the projector and light and stuff. We just have simple presets for them that they recall and give them what they need. [Timestamp: 7:37]

And Gil Parente over at AVnew initially set all of this up for you. He suggested the KLANG system.

He’s the one that showed us the KLANG system. And he’s been our integrator for years so he’s installed most of the stuff that’s here in the church – at least all the new stuff.

A lot of good technical contacts come through the church membership and who would better know what’s needed than people who are there all the time?

Exactly. It’s been very beneficial that Gil is both a church member as well as a great integrator. So he knows our needs very, very well and he also knows the marketplace. He knows what’s out there. And so he’s a great one to day hey, I think this is going to be a great fit for you guys. Why don’t you check this out? And so we’ll look at it, we’ll talk about it. [Timestamp: 8:26]

You told us about the mixer. Is that going to be the next tech upgrade for the church? What’s next for upgrades?

Microphones is the first one thanks to the FCC auction. That will be coming up this year and we’re already in the midst of planning all that and doing some demos of capsules to choose that. So that’s the next big one that’s happening. After that would probably be a new mixer. The GLD and broadcast is limited to 48 inputs and we hit that limit a few times a year. So we need more capacity both in-house and broadcast so we’re looking to do some upgrades there. [Timestamp: 9:00]

The RF mic situation is always fluid and it can be tough to sort of chart a course through that with all the changes going on. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning for you I’m sure.

Yeah. [Laughs] Yeah.

Great hearing about it Chad. Florida Hospital Church and Chad Hess the technical manager with their new KLANG controlled Shure IEM system. Thanks for telling us about that and about your church.

Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Glad you were here with us today with Chad Hess. The show notes and some handy links for this one are on the Sound & Video Contractor Magazine web site at svconline.com. Be back with us again right here next week for the SVC Podcast.

 

Florida Hospital Church and Klang Stage Monitoring Pt 1
Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 11:15
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Pastor Chad Hess of the Florida Hospital Church. And you can find show notes and product links for this one in Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

As a church grows so do its technical needs, especially if it has a wide variety of live music. At the Florida Hospital Church they have a little bit of everything and it took a KLANG controlled stage monitoring system to make it work for the musicians. Technical Director Chad Hess is about to tell us how new stage monitoring makes all the difference. Coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Chad it’s good of you to be with us on the SVC Podcast from the Florida Hospital Church. An interesting name and we’ll get into where that name came from but you’re in the Orlando area, right?

 Yes, that’s correct.

 Okay. This sounds like a pretty progressive church. That probably means that you have a lot of live music going on.

 Yes. It’s all live music; a very blended service. We’re not contemporary, we’re not – and even blended is probably not the right word. We just try and strike the whole gamut. All genres are available. So it’s not like we have to have a hymn and we have to have a praise song. It’s okay, this is the topic. What song of whatever genre, whatever style, is going to fit this? And so we’ve had orchestras, we’ve had quartets, we’ve had strings, steel drums – sometimes in the same service. [Laughs] So it’s a variety of stuff. [Timestamp: 1:24]

 

Well, that’s great that you don’t just do it the same way every time and I’m sure it keeps the members tuned in to see what’s coming this time.

Yes.

Of course the name of the church got my attention. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the name Hospital Church. And I know the place has an interesting history so what’s the story on how that name came up?

Sure. So for those not familiar with Florida, Florida Hospital is a huge hospital system here. It has like 20-some hospitals, it’s been here over 100 years. And their main campus is right here in Orlando across the street from our hospital. That’s where our origins start is from the doctors and nurses at the hospital wanting a service on the weekend. And so they would get together and they would have a little service just right there on the porch. Over time that grew and it grew and we grew and now we’re a separate institution, but we’re right across the street. We have a very good relationship with them. We actually broadcast live to six of their campuses on Saturday morning. So that’s a little bit of the history there and why the name is there. [Timestamp: 2:46]

 

Okay. You’ve come a long way then.

 

We have.

I know there are churches that have started in people’s living rooms and ended up with live TV broadcasts. But Orlando is a huge AV market and you have a lot of companies to choose from for help on this monitoring system.

Yes.

AVnew was the one you got with and Gil Parente is the one there who was in charge. How did you come together on this? Did you already know each other?

Yes. I’ve worked with Gil for as long as I’ve been in this role here which is about eight years or so. Originally he was with a different company and he’s actually a church member here as well, but he’s been my integrator. He’s been my go-to guy. Amazing guy who really knows his stuff, has a heart for the churches and what we need and understands the uniqueness that a church can bring and always works to give us the best solution for our needs. And being that he goes here he actually knows our needs very well. So that just makes it even better. [Timestamp: 3:42]

 

Well, you’re the technical director so the best guy for him to get with but that title can mean a lot of different things for different churches. The tech director could be the guy who just pushes the piano back into the corner when they’re done with it. I think your job there is quite a bit more challenging so what does the technical director job there involve?

 

So basically it means I oversee everything technical which would be audio, video, lighting, computers, networking – kind of the whole gamut there. So mostly my job lies with all of the technical equipment for the worship services, the different teams and everything like that, getting it all set up and making sure everything is running smoothly and everything like that. [Timestamp: 4:24]

 

And this particular project was focused on stage monitoring. You’ve got musicians playing all kinds of live music and with, let’s say, artistic temperaments everybody wants it a different way and their own monitor mix and so most of the performers went with an IEM but then some of them haven’t.

 

Our singers still use the front wedges, at least for now. We’ve talked about changing that, but that’s been that way for a while. But the band has been on a form of in-ear monitors for a long time. We’ve done several different systems over the years. Before this we were using Allen & Heath’s ME-1 monitoring system which works very well. It’s a nice system. The problem that the band was running into was they wanted some mobility. They wanted to be able to move around. Not that they move around much when they’re playing, but you walk off and your headphones grab you and pull you back kind of thing. And so they had talked about wanting to go wireless and so we were like well, feeing the ME-1’s into wireless can be done, but that’s kind of a lot of work and a lot more cables. Let’s look at some other options. And so talked with Gil and he said you really ought to check out the KLANG system because it’s a really cool system. If you’re wanting to go wireless that would be a great way to do it. So we kind of checked it out and I really liked what I saw and heard. So talked with our minister of music and he was on board with it, he liked it, and so that’s the direction we went. [Timestamp: 5:51]

 

I would think that probably required a good bit of testing to see how many liked it and probably some more than others. One of the most useful things I think is the 3D monitoring concept where they can have the various sound sources appear to be coming from any direction they like.

 

Yeah. So one of the things that I like with the KLANG is that it does such a great job of separating it and it makes it very intuitive to do so. So even our ME-1’s, they were fully capable of doing a stereo mix, and I would probably count the number of times our musicians ever actually did it, you know? They’re concerned about just turning it up in volume. They’re not thinking oh, let me pan this over here and that might make it better. They’re just I’m just going to run and I’m just going to do volume. So mostly they would even run in mono essentially. Well, first of all we started out with a template that moved them all around so they’re starting from that position of having a wide mix. But the interface, you have to work hard if you want to make it mono. [Laughs] It really kind of pushes you towards separating out those instruments and vocals to put them in different places so you can hear those and have a wider sonic space to work with. [Timestamp: 7:03]

 

 

Yeah the thing that probably took getting used to was the mobility they have now. I would think that for a while you might suddenly stop on stage thinking that was where their ear monitors usually get pulled off by the cable and then remember, you’re free to go wherever you want.

 

Yeah. They love being wireless. They have been very happy about that.

 

Now what else went in with this? Was it Shure mics or just RF components for the new IEM?

 

Well, not Shure mics. The KLANG system is really just the processing. I mean it has the outputs but you need something to feed it into. So we fed those into Shure PSM-300 IEM’s so it’s really the combination of the two forms of the system. [Timestamp: 7:42]

 

Yeah and I was just thinking that before you have a service there, since you have so many people playing such different types of music you would have to have some fairly intensive rehearsals.

 

Yes. We have a practice usually on Thursdays or Fridays and they’ll also come in earlier on Saturday morning. Our services are Saturday morning. But they’ll come in several hours beforehand to do more practice and then we talk through the entire service – the whole team does. So even before practice begins on Thursday or Friday I will have everything all set up. I set up the stage – because we strike the stage every week because it’s a very multi-use building. And so I set up based on whatever it is that week that we’re doing. I have that input list and so we set it all up and I get their monitors placed in there and the tablets are ready and charging and so we just leave those on the charger until they’re ready. But basically they can walk in, plug in and they’re good to go. [Timestamp: 8:40]

 

That sounds like the creativity isn’t just required of the musicians but that it starts with how you decide to physically set up the stage.

 

Yes. Sometimes that requires a lot of creativity. [Laughs]

 

Yes I can imagine, or at least knowing exactly what’s going to happen ahead of time for sure.

 

Yeah.

 

Of course you’ve got more than just stage monitoring to get right. You’ve got projection, too?

 

Sure. Yeah, we have one very large screen up front and the confidence monitors in the back for them to see. And so I get that ready as well, make sure all those slides are ready and songs and backgrounds and everything. [Timestamp: 9:16]

 

And that’s mainly hymn lyrics?

 

Yeah. Motion backgrounds with lyrics over them.

And you do any IMAG? Is it all robotic cameras or do you have some manned cameras?

For our video system, which we don’t do in-house – I mean that’s – we don’t do live IMAG I should say. We just have – that’s just for our broadcast and our stream. But yes, we have an extensive team, eight cameras, three manned, two remote control and a few static cameras. [Timestamp: 9:44]

A lot of stuff to make sure is working right and if it suddenly doesn’t?

That’s when they come running for me.

Yeah, that’s when they come running for you and hopefully those things and any glitches get fixed before they become part of the show.

Yes.

But Chad, thanks for getting with us for Part 1. You’ve got a lot to get lined up for your services and the KLANG stage monitoring has been a great addition to it. We’ve been talking to Chad Hess, technical director at the Florida Hospital Church in Orlando.

Thank you.

Glad you were here with us today with Chad Hess. You can always find show notes and equipment links for the podcasts on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Get back with us again next week hear about how the musicians at the church use Amazon Fire tablets for monitoring control. That’s on the next SVC Podcast.

Drones Have Big Impact on AV Production Pt 2
Saturday, August 5, 2017 - 11:35
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals and you can find all the show notes and equipment links for this podcast on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

One of the most exciting and useful new tools for AV production is the drone but controversy and politics also surround them. Bob Elliott of Elliot Visuals, a commercial drone operator in the Washington, D.C. area is back to talk about GPS, learning to fly drones and attending drone meets. That’s right here on the SVC Podcast.

Bob, good to have you back with us from last week on the SVC Podcast from Elliott Visuals in the Washington, D.C. area. Last week we were talking about drones and getting one and what to do, what not to do and their capabilities. Those capabilities are generating new legal aspects almost every day. Do you think the two will ever coincide? I mean, technology never waits on the law, does it?

 

No. The law is always there waiting. It’s incredible. How the drone realm and the legal realm are always shaking hands whether they really want to or not. But I have a legal counsel and I have insurance, so the legal world is very well-adhered to the drone world. [Timestamp: 1:32]

 

Yeah, I would think that there are law firms who are just beginning to have to sort all of this out and represent clients who love drones as well as others who hate them. We’ve seen the way that communications laws had had to evolve so fast to keep up with the technology and of course the FCC actually has its finger on drones, too.

 

It does. There’s a lot of, once again legal, I would say, assistance at this time. I have to carry, in order to be above the law, I carry liability insurance. I carry drone equipment insurance. And you can go anywhere you want to pick up insurance, and one of the places I go to a lot for my clients to put them at ease, I go to Verifly, which is an app you put in your phone and you can just go buy insurance for that hour you fly somewhere where you want to fly. And you buy it and you print it or you show them the phone and it’s all good and off you go making money. It’s a good thing. [Timestamp: 2:33]

 

Wow, now that is an unusual concept but it sort of follows. There is insurance for airplane owners that covers the plane only while it’s on the ground and other policies that begin coverage as soon as you add power for takeoff but I’ve never heard of the type that only covers you as the operator for a specific flight.

 

They do. They most definitely cover you by the flight, by the time, by the hour, what you’re doing. They offer up to $2.5 million of insurance for an hour and it’s very cost effective. It’s $20.00, $30.00, $35.00 depending on what you do, how you do, and how much insurance you want to show for it. As long as you don’t fly above people, knock yourself out. The client is always appreciative that you carry these things. [Timestamp: 3:18]

 

Another thing that I found interesting on the legal aspect of it is that there are different regulations for operating tethered drones than those on free-flying models.

 

A long time ago I used to have a little Cessna RC-controlled plane. It was tethered; I had strings to it. That’s what tethering means. It means that it’s not autonomous. So well, the string broke and my little Cessna gas-powered plane flew away and I never heard from it again – nor anybody else. So tethering brings into certain things – law, the FAA. The FCC is not too concerned, but tethering a drone is usually not smart and a lot of times tethering is to blimps or balloons, which is a whole ‘nother bailiwick. [Timestamp: 4:05]

 

I’m sure all the ins and outs of that have been worked out in the law but there would be obvious limits as to what you can do with a tethered drone. But I can think of a few things where a tethered drone might actually be perfectly suitable without having to deal with some of the regulations.

 

It does. I mean, when you have – and trust me, I’ve seen tethered items. It’s very difficult to tether a drone, but usually when you have a tethered blimp or dirigible the insurance has lessened and FAA is less concerned of fly-aways. But you have to also prove that it’s not going to fly away and you always have to have a back-up tether. If you only have one primary tether that may or may not give you the insurance coverage you need. You need to show that it’s doubly insured with two tethers – two is one, one is none kind of concept. [Timestamp: 4:57]

Drones can certainly be a hobby as well as a commercial application and wherever you have a lot of people interested in the same thing you have get-togethers and drone meets. When drone people have an event, how is the RF coordination done? That must be a big job.

Well, I mean, a lot of the time when I get drone enthusiasts together – I was just up in New York City for another race – and everything is flown on Wi-Fi, which is 2.4 to 5.8 gigahertz, so 32 channels. It has a tendency to make some people’s job a little bit more primary than others, but we all get together, we all race drones, we fly drones. It’s a very distinct community of individuals ranging from two years old to 95 years old. Everybody is very fascinated with how do you get that thing in the air and how do you keep control of it down the track? So signal is very important to drone operators. [Timestamp: 5:57]

Yeah, I guess when you get a whole bunch of these people together they’re pretty strict on when you can have it on and when you have to keep it turned off.

 

Most distinctly, if you’ve ever been to a drone event there’s always somebody who’s not listening – they’re concerned about something else – and they turn on their drone that happens to be on the same channel as somebody else and it falls out of the sky. So multiple times I’ve seen that – drones looking for drones at these events. So be sure that you chime in with the person who’s in charge of frequencies before you turn that thing on. [Timestamp: 6:29]

 

One of the most widely-advertised features that I’ve seen on drones is the ability for it to autonomously go to a specific GPS location if you lose RF communication with it.

 

Not so much the racing drones, but like my drone and some of the DJI drones you can set what they call a home point and the home point is where you are, where you want the drone to land. You can tell it what to do. But it’s important to know that you, the operator, the pilot, has to be able to tell it what to do because it’s just a platform. It doesn’t know where it’s at. It doesn’t know what it’s doing. So I usually have a like a 200-foot ceiling which gets me above most power lines and trees so if I ever lose contact with my drone it’s going to go up to 200 feet and make an L 200 feet to where I tell it home is and it’s been safe so far. [Timestamp: 7:22]

 

So for AV applications as opposed to just having fun with it, what sort of video footage to you usually shoot with your drone?

 

Well, there’s inside and outside footage. Inside footage for AV is typically getting shots on set, maybe doing an intro for a vice president or president of a company or stuff. Those are usually what we call B roll. Very little do we shoot A roll inside of a live venue because there’s way too many concerns about what’s going to happen, especially when everybody taps onto their phone. Or most assuredly if there’s Wi-Fi in the house that’s going to interrupt our signal. So when you fly outside typically you fly GPS, which are positioning satellites above us. [Timestamp: 8:08]

 

 

Last week we talked a little about your particular make and model. What sort of features does that one have that you found especially useful for a drone in the AV realm?

 

What I had in the AV realm was for the most part I could fly inside. And I could put it on ATTI mode, which is attitude mode, so I could fly inside. And you have to be an expert at flying this thing. You can’t just turn it on and think it’s going to do something because it doesn’t know where it’s at. It doesn’t know what ballroom or convention or city. It doesn’t know where it’s at. So a lot of times I would fly inside and get some really dramatic footage. You just have to know that certain drones, depending on your budget, won’t operate very well inside. DJI drones and Autel drones will have forward, ground and sometimes even rear-firing sonar or radar so it knows where the walls are, the floors are, the ceilings are so you can photograph a little bit better inside most assuredly. [Timestamp: 9:09

 

Well, some of these vehicles are getting so fancy that they may be smarter than some of the operators and the learning curve may be a little steep on some of them. Are there major differences between the control devices and how quickly you can learn those?

 

Yeah. Well, I mean I started up with Hubsan drones. They’re quick to learn on. There’s a lot of drones that are in the $50.00-$100.00 range that you can practice on. I wouldn’t practice inside. And you know, when you’re willing to step up to the game and invest some money you get an Autel or DJI, which will range from $1,000.00-$5,000.00 and you work from there. I like my Autel because if for some reason my phone or my laptop or my Kindle or whatever I’m flying it doesn’t work, I can still fly my drone. It’s difficult to do that with the DJI drone because they connect to the phone or the Wi-Fi in the area, which then has a tendency to confuse things, especially inside. [Timestamp: 10:11]

 

And GPS plays a huge role in drone technology and that can be tricky. There are devices out there now that can simulate a GPS signal and commandeer your drone and crash it or just fly it away.

 

GPS, you know I don’t want to harp on the Russians or the Chinese. You know, once you’re dealing with signal and code and 1’s and 0’s, if anybody has any aptitude or the willingness to do something that is a little bit unsavory they will. You can hack into anything. So it’s a predicament for a small percentage, but it’s still out there. I’m not going to say it’s not out there. And Autel has a way of dealing with things, DJI has a way of dealing with things, manufacturers have a way of dealing with things. So we just hope for the most part the GPS will tell you what you’re doing with your drone but Wi-Fi tells your drone what to do. So two different signals, but it’s a whole ‘nother show. [Timestamp: 11:10]

 

So it’s measures and countermeasures as the usual technology leapfrog game.

 

Most assuredly. The police – and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world – they will either shoot a Wi-Fi signal at your drone, they’re shoot a net at your drone. France has birds of prey that attack drones, so that’s a biological. Go ahead and figure that one out. So if you’re above board and you’re doing things correctly, you’re the least likely to be intercepted by countermeasures. If you’re just being a yahoo flying around getting crazy footage you’re more susceptible to the law enforcement agency putting the kibosh on you. [Timestamp: 11:56]

 

We’re still discovering more uses for drones in the AV world and elsewhere. Always fun talking about these things. Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals in the Washington, DC area and thanks for lending us your expertise on them, Bob.

I appreciate the opportunity to try to enlighten people into the new and developing technology of drones. [Timestamp: 12:15]

Thanks for being with us and with Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals on the podcast. Show notes and more drone links are on the Sound and Video Contractor Magazine website at svconline.com. Get back with us again next week for the SVC Podcast.

 

Drones Have Big Impact on AV Production Pt 1
Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 10:01
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals and you can find show notes and equipment links for this one on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

Drones. Once a weapon, then a toy and now a commercial tool in AV production. Their capabilities and their uses are growing all the time and the legal, commercial and social aspects to them are getting more complex. Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals in Maryland is going to give us the latest word on where we are with cameras, batteries and flying time with drones for AV. Coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Bob I appreciate your getting with us for the SVC Podcast so we can talk about one of the most interesting new AV tools and that of course, is drones. Your outfit, Elliott Visuals, is in Olney, Maryland and that’s about twenty miles north of Washington.

 

Yes. Olney, Maryland is about 20-22 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, yes.

 

A neighborhood where they get pretty nervous about drones, I think.

 

Everybody gets nervous about drones, but particularly people at our capital so they’re very nervous. [Timestamp: 1:21]

 

And among those who use drones quite a bit in your area is Elliott Visuals so tell us about that.

 

So Elliott Visuals, elliottvisuals.com, we’ve been around since 1988. And I’ve gone from a sole proprietor to an S corp. and now I’m an LLC because that just makes taxes easier.

 

Yeah, I understand that one and you’re using drones all the time.

 

I practice flying whenever I can. So on my days off I take off from places I’m supposed to take off from with my drone and I practice. [Timestamp: 1:59]

 

I think this has gotten to be such a big thing that there are a lot of people in the drones’ game right now, not just the big guys.

 

There are a lot of people. Many drone operators aren’t licensed by the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and it has a tendency to make us not look so smart sometimes.

Yeah, plenty of opportunities for the bad drone operators to make it all look bad. So what type of drone, the make and model, do you use and have your money and time invested in?

I fly an Autel. It’s one that is manufactured here in the United States. DJI, and I actually don’t even know what DJI stands for. They’re out of China and they probably make about 85 percent of the world’s drones out of China. [Timestamp: 2:50]

 

Well, these days that isn’t really surprising. There are a lot of people getting into it, not necessarily commercially but just for the fun of it but the commercial aspects to drones are, you might say, just taking off.

 

It is taking off. It’s sort of the – I equate it to the car versus the horse and buggy. Everybody is kind of looking at it and trying to define the rules of engagement and it changes every day. Trust me on that one. [Timestamp: 3:15]

 

Yeah, I’m sure the regulations are in a severe state of flux right now as far as the FAA trying to handle or not handle them as much as they can. The drones run all the way from those tiny hand-sized ones all the way to the ones made by Hollywood film companies and they come up with some pretty fancy machines.

 

They do. You get the little, small drones. You can buy anything on Amazon, of course. You go to Hollywood and they will usually build their own drone out of carbon fiber and it takes weeks and months to build and lots of batteries and lots of motors and propellers. And usually they have FAA certification to fly and they tell them what they’re shooting and filming and off they go. But they’re actually the vast minority. The vast majority are anywhere between $100.00 and $500.00 drones – that’s for propellers and the motor – and people just buy them and go flying. [Timestamp: 4:13]

 

And among the many and still growing uses for drones is AV camera platforms so if you’re going to invest in one of these things with that idea in mind, what do you look for as far as specs? I guess power and weight lifting capability would be one of them.

 

Well, you know, when you’re – AV, when you’re dealing with indoor venues, a lot of times FAA isn’t concerned but of course the FCC, which is signal, is very concerned. You can fly inside, but then you have to deal with production companies and producers and clients and sometimes they really don’t like things flying over their heads that they don’t understand. So I think it’s pretty much up to the remote pilot to convince the powers that be inside of a ballroom or convention center that what they’re about to do is safe and never fly over a crowd. It’s always before doors – it’s like a photographer. Just clear the way, let me get some shots, and then you can open the doors. [Timestamp: 5:15]

 

 

One of the many things I’ve seen advertised for drones is the duration of flight time and how long it can operate on one battery charge.

 

Correct. In the drone world typically 20 minutes is the average time a drone will stay airborne. When you’re dealing with outside venues you have to deal with wind and height and all these things, so that takes into concern whether you can get the drone back and all these things. Inside, no wind, no storms – hopefully – so it might have a longer flight time. I usually try to fly between the height of the tallest ladder and the bottom part of the fastest helicopter. [Timestamp: 5:56]

 

That’s probably a good idea for those who use them a lot. You know, one of the tidbits of advice I’ve heard about buying a drone is make sure the first one you buy is a cheap one, at least in the price range of something that you’re willing to lose in the process of learning to fly it.

 

That’s correct. It’s kind of like gambling. Don’t gamble unless you’re willing to lose. So my first two drones were $100.00 and my second drone was $50.00 and I learned on those. I learned real quick about what it can and can’t do. And they both flew away on their own recognizance. I have yet to find them. We call that a fly-away in the drone world. And then I learned by watching and when I purchased my first $1,000.00-plus drone I at least knew how to respect it. [Timestamp: 6:47]

 

Yeah, I would think that’s always a process you have to go through. We talked about flight time and weight lifting. It depends on what you want to use it for and you can use them for so many different things. I guess they’re all electric motors and propeller-driven but within that realm there must be quite a variance on the engines that you can get for these things.

 

Yeah. I mean the propulsion you’re doing with little ones with what they call brushed motors – I’m not an engineer or a physicist, but when you get up towards the larger drone we have what they call brushless motors which last a heck of a long time. Usually those are attached to what we call a LiPo battery. It’s a lithium polymer battery. They have a tendency to give you a lot of energy really quickly but they’re not very stable. They’re rechargeable. They on the Lithium ion type of technology, but got to watch them. Can’t leave them alone. You think Samsung had a deal with them you should watch your batteries if you get a drone. [Timestamp: 7:47]

 

I would figure that being a drone owner would mean learning a lot about batteries and charging pretty quickly. It looks as though when most people think about drones they’re imagining quadcopters and optocopters but there are actually some fixed-wing drones, too.

 

There are. I mean Autel makes one. I go to the drone ranges a lot. There are fixed-wing drones. It’s not a big consideration for AV because a lot of AV takes place inside so flying something with a fixed wing, whether it’s an electric or gas motor may or may not work. But for the most part when people say drone they think of a quadcopter, four propellers or more. They really don’t think about something with an engine with wings that flies around – although those are cool as well. [Timestamp: 8:33]

 

Yeah and if the engine quits at least it’s not going to come crashing straight down at least if you still have an RF connection to the controls.

 

Most assuredly. You see a lot of videos on YouTube about coming down, whether it’s a fixed-wing drone or a quadcopter or optocopter or anything like that, you’ll see a lot of videos about how people get down. Very interesting. [Timestamp: 8:55]

 

A whole lot of POV footage of crashes. Hopefully a lot more than those shot in real planes.

 

[Laughs] I’ll tell you, once again YouTube is a fascinating place to see the footage of what respectable or unrespectable drone operators do with their drones. [Timestamp: 9:13]

 

And there are those who are really upset by them and it’s probably not uncommon to have them shot at or even attacked by birds.

 

I deal with birds and other flying objects all the time whether they’re bees or wasps or hummingbirds or birds. They see my flying my orange pumpkin, which us Autel people lovingly call our drone. It’s an attraction. Blue jays and hawks look at this thing and they don’t know what to do with it. So not only do you have to look out for aircraft you have to look out for the biologicals as well. [Timestamp: 9:47]

 

And next week we’re going to talk about drones and drone technology and some of the things that you do when a bunch of drone enthusiasts get together as far as RF coordination and so forth but it’s been fun hearing about this part of it. Bob Elliott of Elliott Visuals in Olney, Maryland and it’ll be great to have you tell us some more about drones.

 

Excellent.

Glad you were here with us today with Bob Elliott. You can always find show notes and equipment links for the podcasts on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week Bob will tell us about GPS, learning to fly drones and attending a drone event. That’s on the next SVC Podcast.

 

Hermes Music Does New Stadium Sound with Danley and Midas
Friday, July 21, 2017 - 12:46
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Eddie Zamorano and there are show notes and equipment links for this podcast on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

In Texas they love their high school football and when the sound system at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco started going bad, they called in Hermes Music to install a new system built around Danley speakers and amps. Eddie Zamorano is going to give us the story on how it all went in and got up and running for the Panthers and Wildcats big home games. Coming at you right now on the SVC Podcast.

Eddie thanks very much and it’s great to have you with us on the SVC Podcast.  Coming to us from out there in Pharr, Texas with Hermes Music. Good to have you aboard.

 

Thank you, Mr. Liles. Thank you for having me.

 

This must have been a high profile installation locally for the Weslaco football team but first let’s talk about Hermes Music. That looks like it was a very small outfit that’s grown considerably over the years.

 

Well, it’s actually – it is generally a small outfit. We are primarily an MI pro audio, pro lighting and DJ equipment retailer in south Texas. So that’s really what we do.

 

And we know that there was a high school that was in pretty dire need of a new sound system for the home games at Bobby Lackey Stadium. And is that fairly close by?

 

Well, it’s in Weslaco, Texas. And generally – we’re in the Rio Grande Valley and that’s like – it’s just like an area. I mean all these little towns are interconnected. You know, you just jump on the highway and you’re there in a matter of a couple minutes from one end of the Rio Grande Valley to the other. So it’s a territory here, really. That’s what it is. [Timestamp: 1:43]

 

Okay, and they needed a new scoreboard at the stadium so what was the process they went through in getting that? Did something big happen like a system failure to get them into action on this or how did they get moving on it?

 

Well, actually they still are in the process of finding a scoreboard. And they were looking into sound systems to attach to that system. Generally there’s this one big video screen/LED screen/scoreboard provider in south Texas; one big dealer that does that, a big national corporation. But they went to a game at another town and another venue and they heard the sound system that had just been installed a couple weeks before by that same company and they were like they not pleased with what they heard. So they were – once they heard that they were thinking we need to find something better, you know? Particularly Weslaco ISD, they have an outstanding video production group inside of the school district itself. They run all their ads on their screen that they currently have and they do a lot of productions with that including a pre-game – an ESPN-style pregame before the actual game. They service two high schools – Weslaco High School and Weslaco East High School – and then they do a post-game for about 30 minutes after the game. It streams out over the internet, but they also play it over the screen and the audio comes out over the scoreboard there in the stadium. [Timestamp: 3:03]

 

And so that’s all produced in-house by the high schools?

 

Yes, sir, it is in-house. It is in-house. And I’m telling you that for a south Texas school district running that kind of an outfit, it is top-notch. [Timestamp: 3:15]

 

Wow, that must be a great experience for the kids when they get to help out and learn about all of this stuff from the ground up.

 

They do. They actually do.

And this new sound system had Danley speakers. So how are they arranged on it? What’s the general design of the new system that you put in?

We went through a process. We had to do several demos with them. We did the J1. We did a J1 with a BC415. And finally when they had a catastrophic failure in the audio system there we did one last demo with them with a pair of J3’s and some BC218’s; actually a pair of those. And in the end that’s the system that they stuck with, I mean just because they got to try that thing first-hand. And last minute, you know, just something to finish the football season. And that’s what they decided they wanted. [Timestamp: 4:00]

 

Well, that’s great that they were able to demo it and decide by the sound it actually produces instead of having to rely just on promotion.

 

Sure. Yeah, the system sold itself. I mean Danley makes an outstanding product. I mean it’s unbelievable with the quality of sound. Sometimes the appearance may seem a little unorthodox to some people, but the thing is the product is outstanding. [Timestamp: 4:19]

 

And I think you used the Danley DNA 20k4 Pro amplifiers and those are four-channel units?

 

Yes, sir, they’re 4 channels. The thing is that we had to use one DNA 20k per Jericho – for J3. And then we used one more DNA 20k for the two BC218 cabinets.

 

Okay, and so each of those actually needs a four-channel amp.

 

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Especially with the way that the system is configured and the way they would set all the components up and everything inside of there. I mean, you need one of those amps and believe me, those amps they do all the work. They handle all the processing. They’re worth every penny. They really are. [Timestamp: 4:56]

 

And it looks like you didn’t have to do a lot of balancing and tweaking on this setup because you had some Danley presets all ready to go.

 

Yes. That’s the ease of using their software. They’re using a new software now that’s called System Engineer and that – I mean that software itself, you get into your DNA amps whether it’s any one of the DNA series and all you do is you load up presets that they’ve already configured for you and it’s real easy to set that up. The only thing with that install was that there was a little bit more involved because these are actually the 20k4 Pro Dante amplifiers. I’m actually running Dante signal from the press box all the way to the scoreboard. [Timestamp: 5:33]

 

Oh, and that’s what I wanted to ask you about in how you’re getting the audio from the amplifiers all the way to the scoreboard. So do you have the amps up there in the press box somewhere?

 

No, I don’t actually. What I did was I ran fiber optics. Over 700 feet of fiber optics from the top of the press box to the scoreboard itself. And I’ve used a couple of Cisco switchers and ran that through that fiber – yeah, it was about 700 feet of fiber cable – and did the conversion through those Cisco switchers. And then I ran that Dante signal through that. [Timestamp: 6:05]

 

Oh yeah, the fiber link really makes better sense for stadiums and big venues where you need to cover a lot of distance and you don’t have to worry with grounding issues if the scoreboard is getting its power from somewhere else.

 

It does. Exactly. No problems with that. The main thing about that is when you’re configuring those systems, especially with Dante, using that software, if you follow the instructions that Audinate uses with them it’s just – it makes life so simple setting these systems up. And I mean you run everything, even the configuration. I control the configuration amps from the press box. The user-recommended setup for the Dante amplifier, running their star configuration, it’s so easy to set up. I mean they practically just work on their own. I mean you’ve just got a couple of little things that you use with that Dante controller, you know, software controller, and I mean these things are ready to go. [Timestamp: 6:53]

 

And so what did you use for the mixer that you’ve got up there in the press box? I think it was a Midas M32R?

 

That’s correct, sir. It’s a Midas M32R with an X-Dante out card. It goes out from there into the switch and then the switch runs out to the scoreboard. Now out at the scoreboard we did use a climate-controlled, weatherproofed box. We set all the amplifiers in there and the router and everything. It’s very well-protected. It’s got an AC unit because things get really hot down here in south Texas, so it’s got an AC in it to help keep things cool in there and the system is protected. [Timestamp: 7:27]

 

Okay, so you’ve got the amplifiers at the scoreboard?

 

Yes, sir.

 

And you’re feeding the audio from the control area so you don’t have to deal with a long speaker run.

 

Right. Exactly. And the only other thing I did with that was I actually – we ran a long analog, you know, just insulated a mic cable all the way from the press box down to the same station there as an analog backup. [Timestamp: 7:49]

 

Yeah, always good to have some good old copper just in case.

 

You’re right. Exactly.

 

And so the Midas M32R, I’ve seen a couple of those and it looks to me like one of the advantages of that one would be having a lot of very versatile mixing power in a very small space.

 

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. It really makes the job easier for us especially in that situation because the live sound feed, everything is going into that mixer from the scoreboard and everything else that’s going on in that facility. Our engineers actually set up matrixes to run out to their video feeds as well, so I mean it’s all tied into that whole system there. [Timestamp: 8:22]

 

Okay, and I would think that the video control and audio control are co-located right there in the press box.

 

Yes, sir, they are. It’s right next door in the press box and I’m telling you, they run a top-notch video and audio production up there. [Timestamp: 8:34]

 

Yeah, great experience working on something like that in-house and not having to worry about getting a contract crew together every time they want to do anything. So with the former sound system out of action, how long did it take to get all of this in there?

 

Well, it took us longer than we would have liked. The main reason being is the Danley speakers are a little bigger. It wasn’t exactly what was in there before. I won’t mention what was in there before because they actually do make a great product, it’s just that I believe it was more user error on their part that actually led to that catastrophic failure. So that’s where we jumped in. It took us a couple of months to get in there only because the engineers in the school district, they’re contract engineers that just want to make sure everything is put in there right and we cover all our bases, especially with safety. The scoreboard is actually on the football field at that stadium so you have to be careful with these because there’s people walking around and it is an old structure as well. So it took us a little longer just to get the approvals from the engineers, but once we got that then we got ourselves going. It took us a couple of weeks just to get it up. [Timestamp: 9:36]

 

And I know that in Texas they are VERY serious about their high school football.

 

Yes, sir, they are. And, you know, it’s a production. I mean when you go to those games – I’ve actually been in the actual games – they run everything on that scoreboard. They have advertising. That’s crucial to maintaining what goes on in the stadium as well. I mean using their video capabilities they involved a lot of the people in the audience with some of their activities that are going on on the field during the breaks in the game or anything else that’s going on. [Timestamp: 10:01]

 

So since you had the presets to put in I guess it didn’t take very long to get the whole sound system tweaked and tested.

 

Honestly, it took me maybe a couple of hours maximum especially with the ease-of-use with the Danley amplifiers or this Dante. Dante, to me, is like I’m sold on that stuff. I mean, it’s really good. It’s easy to use. I haven’t had any problems with failure yet, so I mean and I haven’t gotten that call yet, so it works well. It works very, very well. [Timestamp: 10:29]

 

And the first time it was used, was that on a big home football game?

 

Well, actually they used it for an area track meet. The area track meets here, there’s certain levels in UIL, which is the group that runs all that competitive high school activity here in Texas. And the area track meet, it’s a local group of – I think it’s everybody in our region, in our area here in the Rio Grande Valley that showed up to that. It was totally intelligible. Everything that was going on, you could hear everything that was happening. And then the next event they had after that was the East-West All-Star game and honestly, there were no complaints. They used to have complaints before with the old system as it was getting ready to fail. You couldn’t hear anything. Things were unintelligible. It was just one thing after another with that system. So they really needed something bad. [Timestamp: 11:14]

 

Wow. So I’m sure after it was tested and you knew it was going to work there would still have to be a little pressure once you’ve got that big crowd out there expecting to hear good, clear sound.

 

Right, right. And that audio system is crucial to their advertising as well, so it will be important to really see it once they get their first football game series starting up this fall. We’ll get to see the degree of how they’ll be able to have their events and I’m sure people are going to be happy to hear in that stadium. [Timestamp: 11:40]

 

And with Hermes Music, are you more into sales or installation or a little of both?

 

We’re getting into the integration here with the AV integration here with us, especially the pro audio. I’ve done several projects here using a lot of Danley product. I’ve been able to demo a lot of the Danley product to some of the school districts down here. They get to see and they get to hear first-hand how these products work and I’m telling you they sell themselves. I mean, it’s just the way they work and the way they’re engineered, designed, it’s just optimum audio. [Timestamp: 12:10]

 

So, have you guys got some more installation projects coming up?

 

I do, actually. We’re getting ready to do some – schoolboard room, there’s a couple of smaller football stadiums and practice facilities in McAllen that we’re working on. I just finished one; I’m about to the other one once they get the facility done, and I’m still working that. People need to get out and hear these systems so they understand how good of a quality Danley is. [Timestamp: 12:34]

 

I know they’re glad to have their new sound system and it’s going to make a big difference at sports events where they really get into their high school sports, especially football out there.

 

Yes, sir.

 

It was great hearing about how you pulled all of this off without a hitch and everything that went on with it. It’s Eddie Zamorano with Hermes Music in Pharr, Texas and the total sound renovation at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco, Texas. Thanks for telling us about it, Eddie.

 

Thank you, sir. I appreciate you for having us on.

Glad you were here with us today with Eddie Zamorano. You can always find show notes and equipment links for the podcasts on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Get back with us again next week for the SVC Podcast.

 

CCI Solutions Brings New Sound to Calvary Community Church PT 2
Saturday, July 15, 2017 - 11:03
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Duke DeJong of CCI Solutions. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are ready on the magazine website at svconline.com.

Calvary Community Church in Sumner, Washington saved their resources for years and were finally ready to get a new sound system. For that, they went back to an old friend. CCI Solutions was brought in to upgrade and modernize a sound setup that they had installed many years before. Duke DeJong is here to finish the story on how they got it right again. Next up on the SVC Podcast.

Duke, thanks for getting back with us for Part 2 here on the SVC Podcast. CCI Solutions came into the Calvary Community Church in nearby Sumner and revamped and modernized the sound system you originally did for them years before. A somewhat easier job getting the old speaker system out since you had put it all in. But the complicating factor on church installs usually seems to be the quick timeframe.

 

One of the challenges we always have in working with churches is Sunday is always coming soon, so with a project like this we’ve always got to get things done between Sundays. On a larger project it always definitely makes it interesting. This project, however, with it being primarily a PA upgrade, we were able to roll in Monday morning. And fortunately, pulling the old speakers out, especially as large as they were, gravity takes pretty good care of that. Once we detached from the ceiling they come down pretty fast. [Laughs] So it’s – yeah, it all went really fast and we were able to replace a handful of very, very large refrigerator-sized speakers that were put in gosh, 15-plus years ago, and replaced it with a couple of ARCS WIFO arrays. And so installation super-smooth, super-easy and making that deadline, in fact we were ready to rock at rehearsal at the end of the week. [Timestamp: 2:13]

 

Not frequently the case and I guess you would have to deal with a real tight timeframe by applying a few more crew people to the job. But they had made a lot of visual changes to the services since you put the previous audio system in.

 

Yeah. They’ve grown a lot over the years and they’ve done a lot of work themselves and been putting in new projectors and some various screens. They’re a very creative church so they do a lot of creative elements both with lighting and projection. So definitely making the speaker system a smaller footprint was a big win visually, but the biggest win by far was the clarity and the consistency through the room now that the PA can bring. And so now the audio quality matches or exceeds what they’re trying to do visually, which is just fantastic. [Timestamp: 2:57]

 

And since they are a very progressive church I would think that they do a lot more things in there than just a regular Sunday service.

 

Yeah, absolutely. They’ll fill the room up round tables and do conference-type and training events on a regular basis. It’s always fun to see churches really maximize usage of their building. Sometimes you’ll get a church that will build a big, nice building and there’s only people in there once or twice a week. These guys run hard and serve their community well and they really use that facility pretty well. [Timestamp: 3:25]

 

And I think they’re doing video as well in there.

 

Yeah. Not only there, but they have some campuses in other parts of town and so video is both a key part of their presentation as well as how they deliver content to other sites. [Timestamp: 3:38]

 

To make sure all of that works every time I would think that they control all of the video and sound from the same place if the architecture allows that.

 

Yeah, I mean they’ve got a pretty simple operation. They’ve got a front-of-house booth in the back of the room and they run pretty lean and mean. But they’re doing some really great work and like I said, they’ve got an updated audio system now that will keep up with them, which is fantastic. [Timestamp: 4:00]

 

The changes over the years in video and lighting and projection probably didn’t make any basic changes to the power system. Looks like you probably knew what you were getting into there as far as power.

Yeah. Fortunately we didn’t have to mess with a whole lot there on the electrical side. I mean the reality is the ARCS WIFO system that we put in was really probably just a little bit more power efficient than what we had in there before. So from really most aspects this was probably one of the easier projects we’ll do most years. You know, all the infrastructure is pretty solidly in place and we took down double the weight we put back up. So it was one of the smooth ones. It was nice to have. [Timestamp: 4:38]

 

It could have been a lot worse and I’m sure that sometime you get into one where there are ground loops and power issues between lights and sound. Maybe some home-brew systems that have been installed by volunteers and I’m sure you’ve run into your share of those.

 

We definitely have. Fortunately we’ve got a pretty significant legacy of having really great infrastructure and designing great infrastructure. And so the good news is most of the time when the budget allows and the church listens to us, because of our infrastructure designs we don’t run into too many of those problems until somebody does something interesting. And fortunately with this one that was the case. This was a church that we got to build many, many years ago and between tech power and good infrastructure again, everything pretty clean. [Timestamp: 5:25]

 

Well, everything must have worked pretty well with the first sound system because by this time there was probably a higher level of competition for their business and they came back to CCI Solutions again so that’s got to say something.

 

Yeah. It’s always a joy when somebody we worked with 15-20 years ago comes back to us and says it’s time to upgrade. I mean we’d love them to come back in 7-10 years, but even at 15-20 if they come back and say man, it’s time to upgrade and you’re our guys it’s an honor because it tells us that we served well last time and they know that we’ll continue to serve them well and we’ve built a good relationship with them over the time. [Timestamp: 5:57]

 

So you got it all hooked up. How did you go through and tune it to that specific building? That must have been the fun part.

 

Sure. The project lead for the project, Mark Pearson, has handled a lot of our larger projects over the course of the last 15 years and he ran this one. L-Acoustics is one of those speakers that seems like it’s always pretty easy to tune so we can usually roll in there with a smart setup and once we get all the timing dialed in between the subs and the mains and any fills if there are any – and there weren’t in this one – but once we get all the timing set up it seems like we usually don’t have to do a lot to it. Maybe just a few minor things to kind of tame some room acoustical topics, but he was able to come in and spend an afternoon and really get it sounding great before rehearsal. [Timestamp: 6:45]

 

The contractor comes in and gets everything to a certain level where it’s technically good with no dead spots and things. The congregation though, doesn’t know about all of that but they know what they like. So how was it when you unleashed this new system on the church people?

 

Yeah, Mark was there and the response just was fantastic. I mean people who had, you know, their seat – their seat because they’ve got their own seat [Laughs] – could hear clearly, could hear speech clearly; could understand and didn’t have to strain to hear. Everything was just so much warmer and had more fullness to it. It’s always fun when there’s a dramatic change one, because nobody ever questions spending the money when there’s a dramatic change so everybody feels good about it. But it’s always fun to be in a room when all of a sudden there’s just extreme clarity and warmth and fullness. And regardless of what you’re doing, whether it’s a church service or a concert of whatever, you just see people really engaged because of how good it sounds and feels. It always makes this job a lot more fun when we get to see that. [Timestamp: 7:48]

 

As you mentioned at the beginning of Part 1, it’s all about communication and it’s a very basic aim of churches and having a new sound system like this moves them to a new level on that communication goal. Thanks for telling us about this one how it all worked. This is Duke DeJong from CCI Solutions in Olympia, Washington and the completely new sound setup for Calvary Community Church. Great hearing about it, Duke.

 

Thank you.

Great having you with us for SVC Podcast. There are some show notes and equipment links for this one on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine and that’s at svconline.com. Next week, get back here with us again for the next SVC Podcast.

 

 

 

 

CCI Solutions Brings New Sound to Calvary Community Church Pt 1
Friday, July 7, 2017 - 12:34
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Duke DeJong of CCI Solutions. You can find show notes and equipment links for the podcast on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

It’s an interesting experience when an AV contractor is called back to a church to upgrade an audio system that they installed, fifteen years before. CCI Solutions was called back to Calvary Community Church in Sumner, Washington to modernize and upgrade that system and Duke DeJong is here to give us the story. Right here on the SVC Podcast.

Alright, Duke. It’s good to have you back with us on the SVC Podcast. It’s been a little bit. Haven’t talked in a while.

 

Yeah, thanks for having me. I always have fun talking with you.

 

We’ve got the Calvary Community Church in Sumner, Washington to talk about which was an interesting retrofit for your guys. But since it’s been a while since we talked, tell us about what’s been going on at CCI Solutions.

 

Well, funny enough a lot of Calvary churches. This is one of somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 different Calvary churches we’re working with right now, so trying to keep them all straight has been fun. But we just continue to help churches all over the country with audio, video, lighting and acoustics and try to help them really connect well with people. And as you know, a lot of churches are struggling with old systems or poor acoustics and churches, their primary role is to communicate with people. So we have a lot of work to do with churches all over the place trying to help them communicate well with people in the room. [Timestamp: 1:44]

 

I know that can be a pretty tall order sometimes, particularly at smaller churches with growing needs and limited budgets. Do you find that churches have unique problems that tend to be the same ones over and over?

 

There definitely is a lot of consistency. We can pretty quickly walk into a room and tell kind of when it was built with most denominations because they ended up using the same architect who created a lot of the same problems. But you know, I think the biggest challenge as a whole with churches in general is they’re always really trying to fight the stewardship concept of how do we maximize every dollar we’re spending and how do we be extremely efficient? And all of those things inherently are good things. It’s just one of those things where they always have such high expectations and want so much, but the budget often isn’t quite there when it’s all based on donations. And always finding solutions that deliver good results at a very fair and reasonable price point is kind of the name of the game for us. [Timestamp: 2:40]

 

And this one wasn’t a brand new sanctuary where you might even get in on the building plans at the very beginning. You had to take out the old system first but I think in that part of it you had a little bit of an ace up your sleeve.

 

You know, a lot of times when we do a retrofit we kind of have to allow for a little bit of time for discovery to find out what don’t we know as we start to get in there. With these guys, though, we had a distinct advantage because 15 years ago or so their PA was put in by us. So they were overdue for an upgrade, but the same guy who was our project manager at the time and one of our lead installers at the time were able to work on this project again. And so the unknown was not a big topic for us this time because we knew what we were into and we already kind of knew what challenges we were running into walking in. So all in all yeah, it’s a church that’s grown a lot over the last decade or two. It’s a church that’s definitely changed its style and its approach to how they communicate with people. And their services definitely have more of a rock worship type of feel, they’ve got some really dynamic speaking, and their needs have changed dramatically from where they were 15 years ago. So it was time. It was time to bring in a system that would really hang in there with the performances, really the content they were throwing at it, and cover the room with not just good clarity but also warmth and fullness all the way down to the sub frequencies so they could really rock that room when they want to. [Timestamp: 4:06]

 

Of course it’s not every day that you take out your own old system but that for me would bring up the issue of how, as a contractor, how well you’ve documented everything especially after that much time has passed.

 

Sure. Yeah, I mean, you know, what’s always entertaining for us, especially up in the northwest where our office is headquartered, we’ll have churches 20 years ago that we worked on reach out to us and somewhere out in a warehouse we have boxes of all those files and documentation. We’ve tried to be good over the years of scanning some of the old stuff in, but some of that we just never got to and it’s still out there in a box. So fortunately out of our 41-year history we’ve got a pretty good history of documentation and as-builts, and a very poor history of cleaning out the closets. So we still own most of that stuff. Can’t always find it quickly, but we usually find it eventually. And even the older projects, we’ve got that stuff around. [Timestamp: 5:05]

 

Well, that place plays a number of roles during the week and has during the whole life of the building. Even though you probably knew the acoustics in there, was that place a converted gymnasium?

Yeah. Basically when they built it, it was really the – kind of the ultimate multipurpose room. I mean, even today they use it for many different functions. I mean they’ll use it for everything from kind of a conference center to, of course, their weekend worship. I don’t believe they’re using it much for sports any more, but when they built it, it was everything. I mean it was their weekend service gathering space. It was a gym during the week. It was conference center. It was – I mean it was everything. So it’s definitely still got that gym look and feel to it – in fact, I believe some of the baskets are still up – but I don’t think it’s been used that way much anymore. [Timestamp: 5:52]

 

Well who knows? With that progressive a church they might even work those into the services somehow.

 

Well, you can only hope. I mean, that would just be fun for me.

 

I looked at a video of this place. They don’t appear to use a podium like a more traditional church. They have mikes moving around and you never know where they might be.

 

And they’ve got some really great pastors on staff, very dynamic communicators. And because they are a multi-venue church, so they’ve got sites in different parts of the Seattle area. Video is really important to them, so I think their staff tends to be good about staying up on the stage, but I bet you during some of these events where they’re not video casting these things out they’re down on the floor walking amongst the people. [Timestamp: 6:30]

 

And for this I think you used the L-Acoustics ARCS WIFO speaker system and their scalable directivity must have helped get things right for the new setup.

 

It did. You know, for us we love the L-Acoustics product. There’s just a warmth and a clarity to those and just such great balance that we know that any customer who gets with an L-Acoustics system is going to be happy with how it sounds. So from there it’s just a matter of what’s going to cover their room and provide for us a plus or minus three decibel coverage throughout the entire seating space. And what the ARCS WIFO system allows us to do from front to back coverage wise is just fantastic. I mean, we are consistently able to throw those speakers into rooms that are 500-1,000 seats and really, really get just fantastic coverage from top to bottom. I mean they sound really great side to side with the box already, but any time you have any kind of array that top to bottom coverage definitely can kind of go sideways, especially as you get farther back in the room. And the way the Wide and the Focus boxes work together it just really gives us great coverage top to bottom. [Timestamp: 7:40]

 

It was a good while back when you put the original system in and I noticed that they have a lot of projection around the stage in there. Was that something they had in there then or has all of that been added since the original sound system was put in?

 

Oh no, that’s definitely something that’s been new in the last few years. The great news is 15 years ago speaker systems were much, much larger in general than they are today. And so the speakers that we took out of there were very large. In fact, they’ve been very affectionately named by our team “the refrigerators.” I think they were all roughly the size of a refrigerator each. But those were a custom-built cabinet that we used to make a couple of decades ago. And so really we were able to take down some very, very large boxes and replace them with these ARCS WIFO arrays. And so really, if anything, we’ve actually cut their footprint down, which is making their lighting and projection be able to work easier in that space. [Timestamp: 8:37]

 

Yeah, I’m sure they like having a sound system that better accommodates the visual elements and sometimes the contractor has to get a little creative in where they have to locate the amps and control. Had things changed on where you could locate the amp rack and that stuff?

 

No. I mean, fortunately with this one we already had a pre-set amp rack backstage and really it was just a matter of updating the equipment in it. Taking out the old stuff and putting in the new L-Acoustics amplifiers and the Symetrix DSP. And so by and large this one was a pretty easy one as far as implementation goes. We had a great design. Everything looked good on paper. We actually own a small demo rig for the ARCS WIFO and we were able to bring that out and let the church team get in front of it and listen to it. And they just fell in love with it and within a few months we had the new rig in and everybody has been really happy. [Timestamp: 9:30]

 

It doesn’t always go that way, but I’m glad it did with this one and next week we’ll get into more detail on how you actually did this and what came when. Thanks for getting with us and giving us the opening story on this project. It’s Duke DeJong from CCI Solutions in Olympia, Washington. Calvary Community Church was the project in, I believe it was in Sumner, right?

 

Yeah, Sumner, Washington.

 

Okay. And they’ve got a better sound system that your guys managed to get in there and slip in between Sundays. We’ll get more into this next week but thanks for being with us today.

 

Thank you.

Glad to have you along with us for the SVC Podcast. You can find show notes and equipment links for this one on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week, Duke will tell us about finishing up the installation and tuning it for perfect sound. Be back with us for that on the next SVC Podcast.

 

Autograph Sales & Installations Outfits New Theater Sound System Pt2
Saturday, July 1, 2017 - 13:57
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Euan MacKenzie of Autograph Sales and Installations. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

The new Adelphi Building, with its 350-seat theater at the University of Salford in Manchester, England has five different seating modes and 60 speakers to control. They have to be configured with the push of a button. Autograph Sales and Installations took on the job and Euan Mackenzie is back to finish his story on how they made all of it work. That’s coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Euan, nice having you back with us for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast. Coming to us today from Autograph Sales and Installations in London. Your guys went up to Manchester and the University of Salford’s new Adelphi Building to completely dress it out with a new sound system. We were talking last week about the DiGiCo SD9 mixer and I think they’ve had some upgrades on that one.

 

Yeah, that’s right. Since the time that the console was specified and even installed initially, DiGiCo released the new Stealth Core 2 software which has basically doubled the capacity of the desk. So the desk itself, the input count has gone from 48 inputs to 96 and the amount of groups or auxes are the same thing to a DiGiCo – they’re all buses – has gone from 12 to 24. So there’s a big advantage of the extra hardware that the DiGiCo has to offer. It’s just a matter of software updates. [Timestamp: 1:44]

 

And of course that’s always flexible but everything there has to start with the microphones so what did you use for mics in there?

 

We used Sennheiser’s 500 series radio microphones, which is a must for technical theater particularly with the lavalier microphones. So for their larger musical productions they have a wealth of MKE 2 Golds and for more technical sort of speeches and talks and lectures they use the ME 4 microphones. Over and above that they’ve also got a few handhelds which are the large diaphragm condenser microphone heads, the 965’s. So I think they went to the 500’s because they’ve got some existing Sennheiser radio systems and they want this to compliment what they already had. And also being where they are, they’re not in the middle of media city. They’re not vying for RF positioning. So if somebody goes on the show outside the theatre it’s going to be the university that’s putting on that show. So they don’t have to worry about UHF congestion and analog radio mics are going to be able to do the job, particularly the 500 series from Sennheiser. They’re very nice-sounding radio mics. [Timestamp: 2:51]

 

Yeah, if they’re away from the madhouse of downtown London I would think that would make RF coordination a much easier job. I noticed that you used the EM Acoustics amps and speakers on this new system so what were the attractive points of those?

 

Yeah, I mean I’m not sure how well known EM Acoustics are in your neck of the woods, but they’ve certainly been making waves over here in recent years. We’ve had a lot of experience with EM Acoustics because they fit very well into theatre – musical theatre. The beauty of them is they sound great straight out of the box and the speakers within the range complement each other across it. So you can put a box that fits to suit the dispersion of where it needs to be and be sure that it will marry up nicely with the others in the range. The guys who head up EM Acoustics – it’s called EM because it’s Ed and Mike who are the guys who created it – and Ed’s passive crossovers, there’s something special there. It’s a bit of a work of art. Nice analog crossovers inside each of the speakers. The price certainly pays a determining factor although I’m not sure how we quite managed to install 60 speakers into the theatre and remain within budget, but we did. To give you an idea of how good they sounded we only needed to take 4 dB off at 580 Hz and that’s from the installed left and right speakers only. The rest of the system was left with the factory EM Acoustics speaker presets excluding the high-pass filters and sub EQ. They really are pretty good out of the box. Sixty speakers might sound a little excessive particularly as to how much intimate a venue it is, but not all the speakers are used for all seating layouts. So in addition to the proscenium system we needed to cover all three sides of the under balcony on all three levels so when the system is switched to in the round for a production of Hamlet, for example, every seat is still covered. We also snuck in additional side fills which were tucked in behind the main left and right speakers for when seats are on stage. And we also made those available as stage fills for when there’s no seats on the stage; another benefit of the QSYS system leading us to whatever we want to do. [Timestamp: 4:59]

 

Yeah, I would think that with such a wide variance of seating arrangements that having a lot of speakers would give you the control you need. It really doesn’t sound excessive to me. I’m thinking it would be great to have that.

 

It’s more about coverage and even amplitude and frequency across the venue. So there’s a limit to how many speakers you can put in before you start introducing more artifacts with time alignment issues and making your job harder than it needs to be. But being able to mute the speakers that we don’t need and reconfigure the delay within a snapshot makes everything very, very simple. [Timestamp: 5:33]

 

I was going to ask what’s involved in going from one of these seating arrangements to something completely different but it sounds like just pushing a few buttons and making a few adjustments and you’re there.

 

Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, the touch screens in the control room – so from an end user’s point of view there’s not a lot to do, at least audio-wise. They select the seating layout that they want to use on the touch screen. We configured a 24 x 40 crosspoint matrix as in Q-SYS. That does a lot of the legwork. And we’ve also programmed in the required speaker mutes, delay settings within the same snapshot as that matrix so it is really just done with the touch of a button. [Timestamp: 6:11]

 

And that probably makes training on the system a whole lot easier.

 

It does to a certain point. I mean the guys at the venue weren’t that familiar with QSYS when we first went in, but because what we do is we like to make sure that they can hit the ground running we’ve already taken them through basic QSYS training on site and training is ongoing as well. So the technical team will be completing, if they haven’t already, the online Q-SYS training from QSC Direct, which is a great base of training that you can log in and do online. It’s done extremely well. And also yeah, with the DiGiCo they’re familiar with those in the past, but that’s one of our strong points. We do in-house training with DiGiCo consoles. We’ve got half a dozen of them set up in our training room and a couple of times a month we have a load of people in to learn the consoles and how they work. So we took that same training exercise up to Salford to train the team onsite and we’re going to return again once they’ve completed their first run of shows with some more specific training to their venue. [Timestamp: 7:16]

 

And you’ve got the DiGiCo Orange Box working with that and what specific configuration do you have that in? What type of the internal cards are you using?

 

So we’re going B and C MADI in and then out on Dante. Nice and simple. It just basically puts the SD9 on the Dante world and then via the switch network it goes into the DSP and then into the amps as well. The amplifiers have got Dante cards built in. [Timestamp: 7:40]

 

Alright so it sounds like everything is configured the way it should be for such a wide variety of formats and seating layouts. How much time did they give you to get in there, get all this stuff done and have it ready for the first demo?

 

I think we got off lightly with our installation. I think the building contractor had a steeper hill to climb. But we split our install into two chunks. We were up there for a week to get the end firing system in place and commissioned. We also took that opportunity to fly all of the delay speakers for the other seating scenarios as well. We then returned a few months later when the team were ready to turn the seating orientations around as we commissioned the other four seating layouts. They also threw a little curveball at us where they asked us to tie in surround speakers, which we didn’t install. That was done by another contractor – but they wanted to have those available on the main system both for cinema showing and also for the spot effects for their plays and their musicals. So that’s why we’ve got the analog cards in the back of the Q-SYS to get 16 channels to the analog amplifiers. [Timestamp: 8:43]

 

Well, I’m sure it was a great moment showing it off for the first time and demonstrating what it can do. So now that you’ve got this one in the resume and down in the books what have you got coming up for Autograph Sales and Installations?

 

There’s quite a bit. We’re very busy at the moment. We usually expect a natural surge of installations at the end of summer, so September or August vary. We seem to be steadily growing for the past four years and this year has been no exception to that rule. So one particular installation that we have coming up is the Haymarket Theater in Leicester. It’s currently undergoing a £3 million restoration following a 10-year closure. We’re supplying the front of house PA, which includes multiple DiGiCo desks, D&B PA system. We’re also doing the paging and the comm systems there as well. [Timestamp: 9:34]

 

Okay, we’ll stay tuned. It’s been fun hearing about this one. It’s Euan Mackenzie from Autograph Sales and Installations in London and the new theater sound system for the Adelphi Building at the University of Salford in Manchester. Fascinating with all of the different seating setups. Thanks for giving us the story.

 

You’re very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

Enjoyed having you with us for SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Join us again next week for another AV installation story on the SVC Podcast.

 

Autograph Sales & Installations Outfits New Theater Sound System Pt 1
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 14:05
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Euan Mackenzie of Autograph Sales and Installations. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

The University of Salford in Manchester, England now has their beautiful new Adelphi Building, with its 350-seat theater. Euan Mackenzie of Autograph Sales & Installations is here to tell us how they came up with a sound system capable of handling theater’s five different seating configurations at the push of a button. Coming to you next on the SVC Podcast.

Euan, nice of you to join us all the way from London for the SVC Podcast, via Skype of course. Autograph Sales & Installations. Nothing ethereal in that name, it tells me exactly what you do. We’re going to be talking about the new Adelphi Building at the University of Salford in Manchester, England and the theater sound system that you completely outfitted and installed but let’s get into Autograph Sales and Installations and the projects you do there.

 

Well, we’re an audio integrator based in West London. We handle our clients from consultation to installation. We also pride ourselves on the training and backup support that we provide. We’ve got a sister company called Autograph Sound Recording who are a hire company so we’ve got a wealth of backup equipment should anything happen to go wrong with any of our clients. Most of our clients, I guess, would be across London, but there are many further afield throughout the U.K. so recent projects in Perth in the north of Scotland, for example, and obviously up in Manchester as well for the Adelphi Theater. [Timestamp: 1:48]

 

Very new building and the pictures of it are impressive so I’m sure it was an exciting job getting to work in there.

 

Yeah, absolutely. It was something a little bit different, I guess, when it comes to the varied orientations of the theater. It’s not just a traditional end-firing system. It needs to cope with many different types of theater. The new Adelphi Building is part of the University of Salford and it’s their new home for the School of Arts and Media. And we did the installation for the main theater space which helps in courses and theater performance, music and dance, to put on their shows. The intention of that is to host more and more music and dances as well as larger-scale musical theater productions and fashion shows. [Timestamp: 2:31]

 

An incredible range of things going on there now and I would guess that instead of any sort of retrofit you got involved in this project at a very early stage in order to make all of this work for a theater capable of so many different seating configurations.

 

Yeah, that’s right. It’s quite nice. My first visit to the theater was while it was still a building site and contractors everywhere, hi-vis vests and steel-cap boots. The grids in the balcony and circle fronts were in, but there wasn’t a lot else there. We were working with or were aware of the consultants for the theater at that stage who were Theatreplan, so we knew they were in good hands. They built up the overall design and specification for the theater, but the university technical team separated out the theater PA so that they could have a more hands-on approval of what goes in there and they could have talks with suppliers and installers directly. They knew at the university at an early stage that turning the theater orientation around show by show would be a pretty tall order. So they needed to ensure that they could do all of this as quickly as possible. There’s no easy way to move around steel decking and seating banks, but at least we were able to make their workload a little bit easier with the PA. [Timestamp: 3:44]

 

Since there are classrooms and quiet spaces nearby, did you need to do any sort of extensive acoustic treatment of the theater?

 

That was contracted out to other businesses via Theatreplan. So we came in and we dressed in the PA, and time-aligned and commissioned that. But overall yeah, the acoustics were very well-controlled in the room once everything was in. Just one of the joys of working with a new build and a specialized theatre consultant being involved. For example, the walls were acoustically treated with diffusion material and they also had drapes that could be pulled or drawn along the side walls so they could change the acoustics to suit each show. It’s a nice, simple but effective way of doing so. But we found no major audio gremlins during commissioning. It’s a 350-seat capacity and with the circle and balcony levels it’s quite an intimate feel. I think the main left and right hangs are only throwing about 10 meters forward, so it’s not a huge space but it holds a lot of people. [Timestamp: 4:45]

 

And I’m sure that one of the biggest challenges on this was the fact that it can be configured as a thrust stage, in the round and several other things.

 

There’s five main layouts for the theatre. So there’s your traditional end-firing or proscenium setup. There is thrust stage. There is long traverse or catwalk style traverse. A short traverse, which is perpendicular to the long, so 90 degrees on that, and in the round. So there are some scenarios where you’re seating on the stage that we have to cover and others that are not; some where there are side delays that you have to cover under balconies and those positions, and then sometimes not. So yeah, we had to have something that could be configured at the drop of a dime and the technical team were pushing for the fact that they did not want to re-rig any speakers whatsoever. So we had to make sure that every seat was covered. [Timestamp: 5:40]

 

That need for versatility must have been one of the reasons you selected the DiGiCo SD9 mixer.

Yeah, absolutely. In a space like this the console has to be very flexible. So yeah, the ability to change system structure during preproduction, for example, is something that’s very helpful to have. And the DiGiCo lets you – if you need more auxes you just dial them into your system structure and you’re away. The SD9 specifically was chosen because it’s got a small footprint. The real estate within the control room is pretty high and the ability to get that many channels in a small space is very helpful. And also the ability to upgrade the desk to theatre-specific software for musical theater, which is going to be one of their focuses moving forward is a big advantage. Not all of the DiGiCo’s have the ability to go to the theatre-specific software, but it certainly makes things a lot quicker and easier to preprogram a desk for a show such as that. [Timestamp: 6:36]

 

Yeah, I know that’s got to come in very handy with the flexible seating they’ve got and the wide range of events they have in there. Another central part of that necessary versatility would be the QSC digital signal processing so how is that set up?

 

Yeah, absolutely. That’s really what helped us do the smart stuff and make things as simple as possible. So we’re using the Q-SYS DSP, for routing, level, delay, room EQ and input limiting the amplifiers. The IO for the main PA is all transported over Dante and we also used an additional 8-in, 8-out analog audio for the surround sound speakers, which are used for spot effects and cinema system. There’s a dedicated touchscreen in the control room which allows for status monitoring of the DSP and Dante. They can also mute to the balcony speakers if there’s nobody seated up there, if the seats haven’t been sold, so they’re not adding additional excitement to the room using speakers that don’t need to be on. And of course the seating orientation they can choose at the push of a button from the touchscreen. And finally there’s also a dedicated cinema mode which can be commissioned for them as well, which re-times all of the surround sound speakers and allows for a more consolidated center array of speakers rather than front fills across the stage. [Timestamp: 7:59]

 

That’s an amazing range of different things to have to cover and make sound right. Maybe all the way from a panel discussion where you want no reverberation and need speech clarity all the way to something like a big choir where you want them to sound reverberant and just very big.

 

Absolutely, yeah. I mean the open architecture of the Q-SYS DSP really lets us, and the sound designers, do what they want. So I mean we’ve put in a signal chain, which includes everything that they might need, as mentioned before. And we’ve popped in a dedicated Wi-Fi network to allow the sound designers or the technical team to reconfigure the DSP to suit each show from anywhere in the auditorium. And as a backup, if anything should go wrong that’s out of the hands of the in-house technical team, we’ve got remote access over the Internet to monitor any faults or to reprogram anything that’s a little bit more intricate. [Timestamp: 8:52]

 

Really gives you the ability to help the clients out on very short notice. Well, it’s been great hearing about this part of the theater setup. You know, I have nothing but admiration for the guys who get in there and take responsibility for these projects because there’s really a lot at stake with everything working right. In a brand new place people expect to hear the best.

 

The first impressions do count a lot. When you’re talking about live performances and ticket sales, then the system has to work the first time every time. So things like Dante with the primary and secondary networks for redundancy is something that’s very helpful to have and sets a lot of people’s minds at ease. [Timestamp: 9:30]

 

And in Part 2 we’re going to get into the speakers and mics and the more nuts and bolts part of this thing. Great hearing about it. Euan Mackenzie from Autograph Sales & Installations in London and the new multi-configuration theater layout in the Adelphi Building at the University of Salford in Manchester, England. See you again next week.

 

Thanks very much, Bennett.

 

Thanks for being here for SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week we’ll be getting the story on the mics, amps and speakers for the new Adelphi Building Theater in Manchester. Be here for that on the next SVC Podcast.

 

Road to InfoComm 3 - Jason McGraw How We Set Up the Show
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 15:48
Bennett Liles

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the Road to InfoComm Podcast with Jason McGraw. Show notes for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

 

Can you imagine what it takes to get the InfoComm show all set up and being the go-to guy for making sure all it gets done on time? Jason McGraw, Senior Vice President of Expositions for InfoComm International is with us today.  He’s going to tell us how they load in, set up, get power to everybody and accommodate the drone demonstrations. That’s next up on the Road to InfoComm Podcast.

Jason, thanks for taking time out of an incredibly busy schedule right now to get with us on the Sound & Video Contractor Road to InfoComm podcast. Senior Vice President for Expositions with InfoComm International. You’ve got to be one of the busiest guys around this week.

 

[Laughs] Absolutely, Bennett. We work all year long – actually almost two years in advance – to plan the show. So getting down here to the final days before the show opens is quite exciting. [Timestamp: 1:15]

 

Well, it’s great of you to carve out a few minutes to give us some insight to what happens backstage and how all of this is rolled in and set up. Once our listeners are out on the floor this time they’ll have a good idea of how it all comes together.

 

Absolutely.

 

This year there are a lot of new things going on. Is there anything in the way of significant new challenges in setting up this year’s show?

 

Well, each year we kind of start from scratch. You know, we work with the exhibitors to book their exhibits on the show floor. In fact, we’ve already started to do that for next year’s show in Las Vegas already with our top 150 exhibitors. We actually book their spaces before the opening of this year’s show. But we continue that on during the show week for the next year and book 80-plus percent of our space at the current show for the following year’s show from our major exhibitors. Then we spend the rest of the year working on trying to get all the other companies signed up. And each year we have a couple hundred new exhibitors that join us. So even though we go back and forth between Orlando and Las Vegas it is really starting from scratch with a fresh plan every year. Also taking a complete, fresh look at our content programs offered at the show over the course of the show week. We look at the special features and special events and how do we keep the show fresh and interesting? And of course, playing host to some of the greatest technology solutions that are out there in the pro A/V space from all the leading brands. So it’s a really exciting endeavor to be involved from the staff perspective in helping to organize the event and we hope everybody comes and has a great time. [Timestamp: 2:52]

 

Well, the technology is changing so fast that we probably don’t have a complete idea of what it’s going to look like just a couple of years down the road. There is one fairly new technology area and it’s of real interest to me and that’s the drones. They have drone manufacturers at the show and that’s a tricky thing to demo inside a building so do you have to make any sort of special arrangements for those?

 

Mm-hm. Well, you know in the past we had a drone pavilion with a large cage – you know, a drone cage netting that we had set up so that those could be demoed on the floor. We have a couple of exhibitors this year that have those in their booths and, you know, showing off the drones. You know, we’ve partnered with Stampede, one of our member/distributors, who carries a full line of drone manufacturers’ products as well and think they’re going to have some demos in their booth this year on the show floor. But yeah, you can’t let them free fly around the exhibit hall. There’s just so much wiring and rigging and signs and so forth it poses a flight risk, so having an enclosed cage area for demo is usually the way to go. [Timestamp: 3:56]

 

That’s got to be a unique thing these days having to accommodate flying objects inside of a building? … You have some very special things going on and of course all of these products and exhibits have to run on power. Just getting power to everybody and seeing that nobody trips breakers but making sure that all the exhibits get the juice they need. Who does that? Is that the Orange County Convention Center people or InfoComm or do you all work side by side on it?

 

Absolutely. We contract with the Orange County Convention Center. Their in-house services handle all the electrical and rigging in the Orange County Convention Center. It’s different in Las Vegas. Our friends with Freeman Companies, they do the rigging and electrical there. But in the building in Orlando, they have very qualified electricians and riggers that handle all that. With the amount of hardware on our show and LED screens and projectors and flown signs and lighting, it’s a very significant amount of electrical and rigging. Fortunately the building has got fantastic infrastructure so frankly we’ve not really had any problems in the past with brownouts or power flickering off and on, that type of thing. They do a really great job with that, but it’s a lot of planning in advance, especially from our perspective as show management. Also the individual exhibitors having their electrical plans and lighting plans and rigging plans and getting that all submitted in advance and they just go to town and have crews up there and lifts up in the catwalks. It takes almost a full seven days – six, seven days – to get the show moved in and set up and ready for Wednesday morning. [Timestamp: 5:37]

 

Well, the power is basic to this but also basic is just getting everybody in and out. There is so much stuff to load in and set up and then get out of there. How do you schedule the passage of all of that gear in and out of the building so that you don’t end up with a bottleneck somewhere and things piling up and waiting.

 

Well, our general services contactor, Freeman, they do a fantastic job. They’ve got a large marshalling yard close by the convention center and a large warehouse and cross dock. A lot of the exhibitors ship some of their freight in advance to Freeman’s warehouse and then it’s brought over. Trailers, there’s a lot of exhibitors that ship directly to the show. In fact, Freeman loads over 700 tractor-trailer-fulls of freight. It’s many, many millions of pounds of equipment that come in. The West Building of the Orange County Convention Center has over 100 docks on the backside of the building so they’re able to strategically unload and queue up the trucks. And then we have what’s called a target plan. So not all the exhibitors can come in on the same day at the same time. They strategically go through and as you can imagine the larger booths that are up in the front of the hall they try to load from the front of the hall and work their way back. So not everybody comes in all at one time, but they work hard every day to get everything unloaded. And then they’ve got to remove all the empty crates and store them during the show and then return them at the end of the show. So it’s quite an endeavor. There’s over 1,300 laborers that work; Teamsters and stagehands and decorators and carpenters and all kinds of folks that are working on the show to get it set up in edition to the exhibitor personnel there. So it’s quite amazing to go from bare concrete floor to the fantastic exhibits that we see when the show opens. [Timestamp: 7:25]

 

Yeah, I’d love to see a time lapse of the empty building and then everything going in. I’m sure somebody has done that. I know that there are so many potential mines to step on in this job but there have to be positive aspects to it so what’s your favorite part of the whole thing?

 

[Laughs] I get asked that question almost every year. I can tell you personally, and I’ve been doing tradeshows for 30 years, my favorite – absolute favorite time besides the ribbon cutting, right? So you work very hard to make sure the show opens on time and everything is done. So that’s a significant milestone. But actually midnight before the show opens I’m going around the show floor and just checking everything out. It’s kind of like if you can imagine yourself going through the shopping mall and the stores at night when there’s nobody there before the stores open and everything is pristine, everything is all done, the carpet is down and the exhibits look magnificent. You know, it’s just a real sense of pride in our team and the exhibitors and just have that moment of peace before the chaos of the show floor opening and everybody streaming in and having a great time. That’s probably my favorite time. You know, and it’s bittersweet when the show closes. So much work and so many hours and months and years went into planning this one three-day event and then it’s over with. And everybody strikes their exhibits and they’re out of there in just a couple of days. So it goes up, looks great, and then it comes down and then you work on it again. So it’s a lot of fun. It’s exhilarating and bittersweet and exciting, but more than anything it’s a sense of pride that I think – and I’m speaking for our staff – that we have the honor and privilege of serving the industry and playing host to such a great collection of brands and visitors. We have over 40,000 visitors this year from all 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries around the world. So it’s really a great gathering. [Timestamp: 9:14]

 

Well, now we know where you’re going to be at midnight before the show but while we’re all out there enjoying the show on the exhibit floor, are you going to be doing that or where are you going to be?

 

You know, I end up having so many different meetings and I do try to take an hour or two each day to get out there myself and see and meet with a bunch of our exhibitors. And then I certainly have some different honorary duties to pick winners for different contests and photo ops and handshakes and so forth. But no, it’s really great and I’m lucky if I spend the last couple of hours on Friday afternoon before it closes just really getting to soak it all in because it’s quite a busy week. [Timestamp: 9:55]

 

One thing that I think is all new is the TIDE Conference. Technology, innovation, design and experience.

 

Absolutely. This is a totally new concept for us. So much of our show focuses on the technology itself and the application of the technology. This year we really tried to put a conference together that focused on how do you create better experiences with the technology and focus on solutions and outcomes for the customers? In particular it’s about storytelling. How do you leverage technology to create those experiences and tell stories? And so it’s really about looking at creativity and using different technologies that are new and emerging, like say virtual reality, for example. So we put together an all-star, stellar cast of subject matter experts to speak at this one-day conference. It’s the day before the show opens on Tuesday. And then we have some custom tours for those attendees that they can go around and see some of the solutions on the show floor and kind of connect the dots between a lot of the thought-provoking ideas they got in the TIDE conference and then seeing what’s on the show floor. And that’s complimented by a new area that we have called Center Stage that’s also a thought leadership area of 20-minute sessions that go on throughout the three days on the show. It’s Booth 3461. It’s right in the back of Hall B. And we’re going to also have another collection of 25 different subject matter experts giving demos and kind of TEDx-style talks on the same kind of thing. How do you leverage technology to create better solutions and outcomes and experiences for customers? So we think that’s a really great add this year having the TIDE program, the Center Stage program on the floor and those really compliment the huge program that we have Tuesday through Friday. In our seminar workshop package we have over 170 sessions, workshops and manufacturer training session that kind of cover the whole spectrum of technologies and applications and solutions and everything from networked A/V to unified communications and collaboration. Talking about technologies that work security and then everything from audio, lighting, live events, digital signage, display technology, control systems – we’ve got it all covered. It’s really a fantastic program and it wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers that we have in the industry that step forward and share their knowledge. So we have over 150 speakers this year at the program as well, the biggest program we’ve ever had. [Timestamp: 12:29]

 

It’s going to be incredible this year and we have new things to see along with all of the good stuff that we’re already used to and I very much appreciate your taking time out to tell us about what’s coming up. Jason McGraw, Senior Vice President for Expositions with InfoComm International. A very busy guy right now and thanks for getting with us.

 

Thanks, Bennett. We look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando. Take care.

Thank you for being here with us for the Road to InfoComm Podcast with Jason McGraw, Senior Vice President of Expositions for InfoComm International. It’s coming down to the wire on this year’s show so have a safe trip and a great time at InfoComm 2017.

 

Road to InfoComm - HDBaseT Alliance To Show Networked Systems
Friday, June 2, 2017 - 13:44
Bennett Liles

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is Road to InfoComm Podcast with Valens and the HDBaseT Alliance. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

 

At InfoComm it’s at Booth 3761. See the latest developments with HDBaseT-IP and the HDBaseT Installer Expert course at the show. Gabi Shriki, Senior Vice President for Audio and Video at Valens and Tzahi Madgar, Director for Business Development for the HDBaseT Alliance are both here to give us the latest news on the Road to InfoComm podcast.

 

Welcome to the Road to InfoComm Podcast gentlemen. Gabi Shriki and Tzahi Madgar We’re going to be talking about the HDBaseT Alliance plans for InfoComm and Gabi, let me begin by asking the obvious question. What’s the first thing that attendees should plan on seeing at Booth 3761?

Gabi: Hi. Thanks for the opportunity. There are a couple of major products we are showing and announcing. We are showing for the first time how to extend over a single cable, single link, HDMI 2.0, 4K 60 4:4:4 or HDR content. So far it wasn’t available. If a customer or a vendor wants to implement such he either went to much deeper compression methods or he has to use two different cables to get it uncompressed. With the new Reference design we have created, customers can enjoy the benefits and the quality of 4K60 4:4:4 in HDR over a single link with a visually lossless compression with almost very little, up to a 100 microsecond, of latency. So that’s the first product we are announcing. The other one is very interesting. It’s the availability of HDBaseT-IP solution. Basically allowing customers and installers to build a more complex network topology; a hybrid topology that will be enabling the use and leveraging the existing HDBaseT inside a meeting room and interconnecting it between different rooms and creating a complex, maybe a campus-level A/V distribution solution over  Ethernet/IP network. So these two new announcements are going to be very, very interesting, I believe. In addition we are hosting actually 13 different members of the Alliance under the HDBaseT zone. So when they will come to our booth they will be able to see not only the two products I mentioned earlier, but also different vendors, different members of the Alliance showcasing their great products. [Timestamp: 2:47]

And since it’s one of the most popular education events at InfoComm, what’s going be covered in the HDBaseT Installer Expert course and who will be presenting that?

Gabi: So the presenter’s name is Daniel Schwartzberg and he will be presenting the two products I mentioned earlier as well as the HDBaseT Expert Installer program. And in these sessions we discuss and showcase how to do the best HDBaseT implementation in real-life applications. [Timestamp: 3:15]

Sounds like that one will attract a big audience and I’m sure it’s going to be sold out.

Gabi: It’s actually a sold-out event already.

I figured that would be a popular one and sold out pretty fast. I wanted to ask about the power capability. Where are we now with Power over HDBaseT? Are we still at 100 watts on that?

Gabi: So already today we are at 100 watts and we call it Power over HDBaseT. In near future, as you may know, under the IEEE there is an 802.3bt standard activity ongoing, which is about to match that power for roughly 100 watts. So once this is available and refined we will converge into the same so we will be compatible and interoperable. In different cases we do have – we have demonstrated custom applications where we had to deliver 150 watts and even 250 watts into different applications. Our technology, the HDBaseT technology is very robust and the error handling and the robustness of the technology allows us to sustain higher power over these four twisted pairs as opposed to other technologies. And therefore we are able to do higher power levels. There’s also an interesting cable certification program that we’re doing together with UL and I think that’s going to help a lot. It will allow to, I will say, converge traditional audio/video distribution with lighting, for example Video or Audio distribution with LED lighting – and other ideas around it. So UL and HDBaseT Alliance have jointly created a program to certify cables and to allow a wider usage of that technology. So the UL actually will have a dedicated session about this during the InfoComm and also at our booth as well. So it will be a great opportunity to learn more about it. [Timestamp: 5:06]

Okay, and if a company is planning to use HDBaseT technology in their upcoming product lines how do they become a member of the Alliance?

 

Tzahi: Hi. So this is Tzahi from the Alliance. And basically joining the Alliance is quite a simple process. They can reach out to our admin department and we will have a representative at the Alliance booth on the floor. And basically it’s just executing a few short membership agreements and paying the membership fee and that’s it. Quite easily you can become a member and we have several membership levels. The ones that are publicly open are the adopter level and the contributor level. The contributor level is the more advanced level of membership that actually allows you to take part in the different working groups in the Alliance including the A/V working group which promotes and actually writes the specifications for such abilities as Gabi mentioned before, the HDBaseT A/V and the 4K 60 4:4:4. So this enables companies to be the first or to know in advance about the different features and capabilities of HDBaseT and also be able to influence them and take part in progressing and advancing the standard. [Timestamp: 6:34]

I know it’s interesting when you’re at the booth and the people start coming in. What are the most frequent questions you get?

Gabi: Actually direct and real life applications and comments from our customers, potential vendors and so on is very, very important for us. It’s quite amazing that in every show – and we’ve been for quite a few of them over the past years – we still learn and get new ideas every time. It could be a new application that can take advantage of our HDBaseT technology. It could be a virtual reality extension. It could be a zero client application like internet café somewhere in China. We have tethered robots recently and also signage for transportation systems like buses, trains, subways. We have many ideas coming through these shows and it’s quite important for us. [Timestamp: 7:22]

And when manufacturers want to get their products HDBaseT certified what’s the general process for that?

 

Tzahi: Okay, hi. This is Tzahi again. So basically, we see certification as an important part of the HDBaseT standard, and it’s important to basically make sure that all the products can interoperate with one another. So we have an authorized facility for conducting this certification and all HDBaseT Alliance members are able to online open a certification request, submit all the forms and all the information, and then send the product to the certification facility and have it certified in a few weeks since it arrives to the facility. So it’s quite easy. I think one of the important things I want to mention about the certification process is that we have a process of certifying similar products for a very reduced cost which allow vendors that basically have the same HDBaseT design in several products to certify them without shipping the product to the certification center and for a very, very reduced cost. [Timestamp: 8:38]

Once you get set up at the show things happen pretty fast but do people come up and give you stories about their HDBaseT installations? What kinds of things do you hear from people who walk into the booth?

Gabi: Yes, all the time. We actually, through our web site – the Alliance web site and Valens – we are publishing actually interesting use cases. We have a lot of case studies. And actually also during the both itself we present on the big screens interesting case studies that we have collected throughout the year. So absolutely yes. [Timestamp: 9:09]

I think we touched a little on this at the beginning but I want to emphasize it. What’s the next big step for HDBaseT technology? I know people will want to hear about that at the show.

Gabi: Right. So I think you’ll see a glimpse of it at this coming show. The future is going to expand more on the networking capabilities and networking meaning being able to do more complex topologies and being able to interconnect the audio/video solution systems at a campus. So HDBaseT-IP is the first type of this. Along with it you have the native HDBaseT networking solutions, what we call HDBaseT Switch. We truly allow, at the end of the day, a very cost-effective and yet best performing video distribution solution where you have within the room a pure HDBaseT network that gets the best effective high-quality video and interconnects that HDBaseT island to another HDBaseT island over the infrastructure of the IP using the HDBaseT-IP. So it’s a bigger vision that we are building the steps to accomplish where we have both HDBaseT network and HDBaseT over IP – HDBaseT-IP network. Also we want to maintain our leadership in the actually uncompressed distribution system so we will be able to do HDMI 2.0, 4K 60 4:4:4 and using an uncompressed PHY. So this is a next-generation product coming from Valens. And now we will also open the door for using lite compression versions that we support HDMI 2.1 for a successful ramp in the near future in the next maybe year and a half. [Timestamp: 10:49]

Well, gentlemen I know you’re going to have a great time and there are a lot of new developments with HDBaseT. I don’t know how you keep up with it all, there is so much happening including the Installer Expert Program. I appreciate your taking the time to get with us and kind of give us a preview.

Gabi: Thank you very much. A pleasure.

Thank you for being here with us for the Road to InfoComm Podcast with Valens and the HDBaseT Alliance. There’s plenty to see and do this year at the show so make sure to get the latest look at HDBaseT-IP. Have fun and good luck at InfoComm 2017.

Road to InfoComm - Mike Tomei with Classroom AV Systems
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 13:57
Bennett Liles

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is Road to InfoComm Podcast with Mike Tomei. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

 Planning and managing AV installations in the higher education market can be a big challenge but this year’s InfoComm has answers. On Thursday June 15th Mike Tomei of Tomei AV Consulting will be teaching A Phased Approach to Classroom AV System Design and Installation Management. He’s here and ready to give us a preview on the Road to InfoComm Podcast.

Mike, nice to have you with us on the Road to InfoComm Podcast. You’ll be at the show with a course called A Phased Approach to Classroom AV System Design and Installation Management. That’s a real mouthful so it’s good that you’ve got two hours for the course.

 Yes. Yeah, seriously. The course is extremely busy. And I taught a version of it last year and the place was packed and we took every minute of the two hours. [Timestamp: 1:08]

 I’m sure there’s a lot to talk about on that topic and we’re going to get to that without giving too much away. That will be on Thursday June 15th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.?

 That’s right.

So, everybody be there. And let’s talk about Tomei AV Consulting. What kinds of projects do you handle there? I guess higher ed has to be a good part of it.

Yeah, higher ed is huge for me. So I’m an independent AV design consultant. I’m based out of central New York, but not all of my clients are right in central New York here. And right, I focus mainly on the higher ed market. So my background before I started my own business was working full time in higher ed AV system design, installation and support roles. So I worked full time at Harvard University and Ithaca College most recently before I started my own business. So naturally when I started my consulting business the higher ed market was my main focus. [Timestamp: 1:57]

Since I’m in that, too that’s what interested me about this one. I’m thinking Harvard, that must be a huge AV plant they have there.

Oh, yeah. Absolutely huge. Well, at the time when I worked there it was 13 different AV support departments. They were very decentralized, and every school had their own AV support department. There wasn’t a lot of overlap between them, so I knew a few people from business school, law school, medical school, but not that many. We really did our own thing. And there are so many classrooms and so many campuses that Harvard has it was extremely busy. [Timestamp: 2:31]

Well, I know the higher ed AV environment is unique. So what do you consider to be the special challenges of higher ed AV?

Challenges. I think one of the quirks with higher ed AV as opposed to maybe corporate AV clients is that in higher ed AV you have AV support personnel that are working at the campus. And they’ve probably developed standards. They know what they want and what they don’t want with their installations where on the corporate side of things you’re usually dealing with a company that might not have AV support people and they might not have any established standards so it’s a little more loose as far as your design recommendations. But in higher ed there’s a lot of standards that we have to adhere to as design consultants and a lot of design consultants and integrators don’t pay attention to established standards at universities and end up installing atypical systems that don’t jive well with the established standards on campuses. So that seems to be one of the biggest challenges, I think, is really getting to learn what works on that campus and what doesn’t and really designing systems that meet the needs of a wide variety of users. A lot of these campuses have classrooms that are used by all different departments, all different instructors, student groups, and you need to find a way to design systems that are going to work for the majority of those groups. So that’s a really big challenge. One big challenge I think everybody deals with in higher ed is that AV budgets are not huge. Even at the big schools, you know, even at Harvard we had pretty tight budgets and you really have to get the most for your money out of those budgets. So that is always a challenge, too. And I think another big one, too, is there’s limited installation windows with higher ed. You have your summer and maybe winter break depending on the size of the project and that’s about it. When the semesters are happening you can do some projector replacements here and there, but you really can’t replace large systems. So I think that’s a challenge, too. There’s just so much that gets crammed into the summer and, you know, everybody is just starting these few months of heavy installation work. That’s a big challenge, too, I think. [Timestamp: 4:39]

 I sure agree with you on that and sometimes having to fix or replace something in a classroom during a class day is sort of like having to operate like a NASCAR pit crew.

Yeah. Exactly.

Get it in or get it out and get out of their way.

Right. And you know, I remember times when the summer was really slow on higher ed campuses and you could get into rooms whenever you needed to and do repair work or installations. And it seems like these days the campuses are really busy. A lot of campuses rent out their rooms for other groups that come on campus and use them during the summer and a lot more summer classes these days. So I feel like there’s just less time to install this equipment and certainly less margin for error. You know, we hate to do installations right up until the last second right before classes start, but sometimes that’s the only time you can get in the rooms. And nothing like finishing up the day before classes start on a room. [Timestamp: 5:31]

Yeah, the good old classroom access problem. So at InfoComm you’re going to be teaching this course. Not to ask for specifics but as a general outline what are you planning to cover?

Right. So again, the class is called A Phased Approach to Classroom AV System Design and Installation Management. So I’m going to talk about the phases of a construction project and how they relate to higher ed AV design and installation process. So the goal for me teaching this class is really to help higher ed AV design and support folks understand all the components of a large design/bid/build project. So I’ll describe each design and construction phase in depth by focusing on all the stakeholders and deliverables that are going to happen during the project. I talk about the responsibilities of the owner’s team, the design team, contractors – not just AV contractors, but all the different contractors that are going to be working on these large construction projects and how they kind of relate to the AV installations; so electricians, general contractors, HVAC. I also focus on all the necessary deliverables to organize the AV system design and installation process. So things like programmer port, opinion and probable cost, infrastructure and system design drawings, specifications, scope of work documents. I’ll talk about all of those and give you an overview of how they come into play during construction projects and how to organize your construction projects better by using those documents. I also talk about the construction management process during equipment installation. So overseeing the integrators that are on the projects and working on things like submittal reviews, change orders, system commissioning. And the class kind of came to my mind to teach it because when I first started working on large AV installation projects I would sit in on the construction meetings and feel pretty clueless initially as to the process that the architects and contractors were following. And I really set out to understand that process because I felt like I was at first pretty clueless as to what they were talking about and asking from me. And this class is my attempt to clear up lots of that confusion for higher ed AV folks. [Timestamp: 7:49]

And in your experience on this, over time as these classroom systems get installed and used a lot – and I mean a lot – in a higher ed environment by a wide range of users. So what are the more common problems you see in classroom AV systems developing over time that you have to plan for in the original installation?

Yep. In the higher ed AV world equipment lifecycles are pretty long. You know, people are trying to stretch out as much as they can from these AV systems before they have to pay for placement. In the corporate world they’re a little quicker to swap out equipment and change out systems to keep up with the times, but in higher ed we’re looking at long equipment timelines. So people have gone from saying okay, we’re going to try to get four years out of a projector to now we’re trying to stretch eight years out of a control system, 10 years out of a control system, things like that. So I think it’s hard for higher ed AV to really keep up with the times of such long lifecycles. So on the design end of things, you know, when the project is in its infancy is really the time to focus on what those future needs might be and build in equipment or the ability to add equipment in the future, that could really help. I think a lot of times in higher ed AV people don’t have a really rigid system verification process or commissioning process so right after the system is installed they might not do the proper testing before the integrator has packed up and gone. And messy installs really cause a lot of service headaches down the line; a lot of hours for repair technicians in there and the campus AV service crew to be in those rooms. So I think backing it up and having a pretty rigid system verification process is the key to avoiding a lot of those problems down the line. [Timestamp: 9:31]

Yeah, I think that having to replace things quickly and do your work very fast can tend to leave things a little ragged inside.

Yeah.

And I would think that college campuses, if there are going to be new devices – especially wireless – that’s where they’re going to show up there first. So how do AV installers and planners deal with the bring-your-own-device concept?

BYOD is huge these days with higher ed and there’s obviously no way to anticipate absolutely every device that users will want to connect to your AV systems. You know, we deal with obviously standard laptops and tablets all the way up to complex microscopes and labs that are being connected to our display systems and every little handheld device under the sun that users are bringing into the rooms. From the AV support end of things, we all like wired backups and staying away from wireless is what AV support people love. But the users all want wireless – the ability to wirelessly display their devices. And there’s some boxes out there that do a pretty good job of it these days. There still isn’t that Holy Grail of wireless AV gateway that will allow you to mirror absolutely every device and easily access them through your enterprise wireless network and that sort of thing. So I think that’s still one of those evolving markets there and there are still a whole bunch of players in that market. [Timestamp: 10:52]

Higher ed AV is characterized by its large deployments and if you’ve got a whole building full of AMX or full of Crestron or Extron stuff, you tend to want to stay with that manufacturer so that each classroom doesn’t end up becoming a world unto itself.

Yeah, exactly. And developing a campus-wide standard and sticking to it is a big part of what I do. I don’t want to just come in, design a stand-alone AV system for a client and then back out and that’s it. So because I’ve worked in higher ed I understand the importance of these campus-wide standards and why it’s so important to develop them and maintain them and update them as needed. Instructors want to be able to walk into a classroom and see a familiar touch panel that they’ve used before. So getting these campus-wide standards established means taking the time to solicit the advice and the opinion of a wide variety of campus stakeholders while developing those standards and make sure that everybody kind of has the way to voice their opinion when you’re putting them together. And then develop them and stick to them. [Timestamp: 11:54

Good advice. A good uniform interface. I know you’re going to be covering all of this in your course at InfoComm that’s Thursday June 15th at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. A Phased Approach to Classroom AV System Design and Installation Management. Mike Tomei with Tomei AV Consulting, great talking about this and have a good show.

Thanks, Bennett. Talk to you soon.

Thank you for being here with us for the Road to InfoComm Podcast with Mike Tomei of Tomei AV Consulting. As we close in on this year’s show stay tuned for the next Road to InfoComm Podcast.

RPC Video & City Channel Pittsburgh - Complete Renovation Pt 2
Sunday, May 28, 2017 - 12:51
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with David Finer of City Channel Pittsburgh. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

Headquarters of local government TV programming, City Channel Pittsburgh had been making do with thirty-year-old cameras and sound mixers and the place needed a complete renovation. They teamed up with RPC Video, got to work and the final result is stunning. Communication Technology Manager David Finer is with us to complete the story on how it all came together, coming up on the SVC Podcast.

David, nice to have you with us on the SVC Podcast from City Channel Pittsburgh. And the complete renovation was a monumental project and it represented a quantum leap in the broadcast technology. We were talking to Steve Obenreder at RPC Video last week, your partner on this, and I know you’re both very excited about how it all came out.

 

It’s been about eight months since we finished this project and I still get giddy talking about it, sharing it, showing it. It was just so exciting to see the changes from the first day I got there to when it was finished. [Timestamp: 1:17]

 

And this wasn’t just dropping in a new sound mixer and laying some cable. This was about knocking out walls and getting down and dirty from the ground up.

 

Yeah. When I got to the city of Pittsburgh four years ago we were in a really outdated facility. And not just the equipment, I mean the walls were covered with early 1980’s carpeting. It was just a really old-looking, tired somewhat dirty space and it just wasn’t very comfortable to work in. So when you say it wasn’t just a brand new audio mixer you’re absolutely right. We had to completely overhaul absolutely everything but at the same time we had to stay on the air throughout the entire project. [Timestamp: 2:03]

 

I’m sure that was a little more than interesting with some of the very old gear probably duct taping things together temporarily.

 

One of the interesting parts was when I went to the Pittsburgh city council president and explained the project I said this will go a lot quicker if we can just record city council meetings on one camera and then replay them later that day instead of being on the air live. And I was told no, we would like to be on the air live. So almost every single time there was a live city council meeting the work, the construction and renovation and upgrade project, had to stop. City council meetings, as you probably know, are not 10 or 20-minute how-do-you-do’s. They can sometimes run four, five, six hours. [Timestamp: 2:53]

 

Yeah, politicians can certainly get long-winded. Especially around election time.

 

A little bit. [Laughs] So on the days that we had city council meetings to show on the air live there was essentially no construction renovation or upgrade work done because we had to stay on the air. [Timestamp: 3:10]

 

Well what was the specific state of the equipment that you were using? I know most of it went way back. I was looking at the video and as they panned across the mixer I noticed it was a big old Yamaha PM-2000.

That is correct. It was state of the art in, I believe, 1981 or 1982. It was approximately 300 pounds. It took, I think, four of us to lift it out of that space when it was time to move it. There’s something to say about the manufacturer that it lasted as long as it did, but it never should have, if that makes sense. [Timestamp: 3:44]

 

Yes. We had one of those in our remote truck at Georgia Public Broadcasting back in the early 80’s and I got very familiar with that one. Good old ballistic VU meters and everything.

Absolutely. It was a beast and it did exactly what we wanted it to up until the last day we used it. One of the things I said to someone else once was when I walked in there for the very first time it was like walking into a television and video production museum. I was really astonished at not just the Yamaha mixer, but all of these things were still in place and still working. [Timestamp: 4:18]

 

And what were you doing for a video switcher at the time?

 

We had an old Grass Valley switcher. I don’t remember the model, but the program bus of buttons at one point just totally stopped working. And we had been telling the city for a while that these were – I mean, we were holding it together with bubblegum and duct tape and whatever else we could find at that point. So we actually made a switcher purchase about a year before this project. I believe we did a Wednesday city council meeting and it was purchased, delivered and installed by the following Tuesday’s meeting. So we had to get it done. We explained to them without this we’re doing a one-camera meeting and of course they at that point understood. So we made the purchase right away. [Timestamp: 5:08]

 

Right. Threaten less cameras and they’ll probably do anything you want. We were talking about the timeline and you had to stay on the air so how long did it take to get all of the old stuff out? That must have been a continuing process.

 

It was kind of like putting a new roof on a house when a threatening thunderstorm was on its way. It was almost like we had shifts of people coming in to do the construction; knocking down walls, and as soon as the walls were knocked down the second group of people came to do what they needed to do, then a third wave. Once the walls were knocked down – it was middle of May 2015 when the walls were knocked down. We finished the project, I want to say, at the very end of August 2016, so a year and three months. We would have had it done in probably four or five months total if we had gone off the air, but it took us about a year and three months to do the entire project. [Timestamp: 6:00]

 

Was any of the old stuff repurposed or being that antiquated did it all just have to go?

 

No, everything went.

 

Yeah if I had repurpose anything that old it would be making me nervous about just moving the problem. I’m sure you were glad to see it go.

 

There were a couple of points in the project where almost as if there were mini celebrations. Taking the Yamaha audio mixer out was a celebration day. The walls coming down obviously was a celebration day. One of the things we did was the control room became a construction zone. Ceiling tiles were out, the walls were down, there were 2x4’s all over the place. And as we moved from the old control room the countertop and we moved to what was essentially a picnic table, we took all of the essential pieces of the control room – the CG computer and monitor, the new switcher, the old 1982 robotic camera control, a DVD recorder, a monitor for the DVD recorder – and we shoved everything onto this picnic table and we put it in the back corner of the new control room while the new countertop and desk space was constructed. So that’s what I mean by having to stay on the air. We had to find ways to keep things running even though we didn’t want to. And then eventually once the new control room was constructed, the new desk space, we were then able to move pieces from the picnic table to the new desk space. [Timestamp: 7:37]

 

This new gear must have to handle a wide variety of production. In addition to the city council meetings, what other types of programs do you do there?

As the government access TV station for the city of Pittsburgh, as you said we’ve got council meetings. They can vary from two a week to as many as five or six a week. We do press conferences with the mayor’s office. We do informational programming; what does this department do, how can it help you? We do internal training videos. Last year we did a brand new training video for the fire department and it was the first time we had a new training video in over 20 years. We’ll do trainings for various departments if employees can’t make it or if other department members can’t make it. We go to budget forums with the budget offices. We’re about to start that process for 2018 where we will go to the budget forums out and about the community. In the past the staff did anywhere from, I don’t know, about 30 or 35 productions a year. Since I took over two-and-a-half years ago, the first year we did 211 and I think last year we did 308. So it’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing. We’re just trying to get ourselves out there so that the city knows it has an internal video production department and we are here to help them get their messages out. [Timestamp: 8:52]

 

Last week when Steve Obenreder was giving us his take on all of this he mentioned the PTZ cameras in the city council meeting room. Do you ever have to put a human operator camera in there, too?

 

Well, we used to. When I started with the city as a videographer I would sit behind a camera in the council chambers for those four and five and six hour meetings. When I got the promotion and took over as the manager one of the things I noticed was for those long meetings, I mean we’re not doing football. It’s not a constant motion going on. So I found we needed to be more efficient. So instead of manned cameras in council chambers we went with four robotic cameras. We did a bunch of tests and we found that the placement of the four cameras allows us to cover the three different types of meetings we do in the room. So we went with four cameras so now instead of having people down in council chambers sitting behind a camera, we have two people in the control room; one doing recorders, audio and CCU’s and the other doing the robotic camera control, the switcher and CG. And then whoever is not working on a council meeting is off doing other things and that’s what I was talking about with efficiency. We’re able to do other things at the same time. [Timestamp: 10:05]

 

Yeah, I guess go out on field shoots and editing?

 

Yeah. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens enough times where a department will call and say we have a press conference and we used to have to say we can’t do it. We need people doing council. And now when somebody is not doing council they’re able to run out at a moment’s notice and cover these press conferences or cover these events that various city departments want us to give TV coverage for. [Timestamp: 10:29]

 

And how are you recording the meetings?

 

We’re recording them actually in three ways. We have some Grass Valley DVR’s. Those are just simply backup files just in case everything else goes wrong. We have a DVD recorder. There is still some pushback. People still want their DVD’s. I’m happy that they don’t want videotape. That was a big win on my part. So a DVD recorder and then our playback server which is Leightronics, we record there as well and that becomes our playback file. So when meetings are at 10:00 in the morning they replay at night at 7:00. [Timestamp: 11:05]

 

I’m sure that some of the planning for this had to take into account you might be short on people sometimes and the equipment had to be placed where at times you may have to do the one-man band sort of thing.

 

[Laughs] We don’t want to do that I mean, there are times when the absolute worst is happening and one person has to leave the control room. What we do is we’ll go to a wide shot of the council chambers and the other person will run mics. So at any given time there may be as many as 16 mics at the table. So yeah, we don’t want to do the one-man band, and the way I arranged the design of the desk space I was hoping that we wouldn’t do a one-man band. But we can’t get around it sometimes so we have to do it. [Timestamp: 11:45]

 

Well you’ve had a few months to at least wear the shine off of some things so how is it all going now?

 

The control room could not be better. I think that through my work with RPC Video and Steve Obenreder, I told them when it was done this is exactly what I had envisioned. We had a couple of hiccups in the first couple of weeks, obviously. With city council we had to be up and running right away so we weren’t completely trained right away and that’s no one’s fault. We just had to get up and get going. So there was a little bit of growing pains getting going, but once we got into a routine, once the staff figured out that everything was really the same it was just newer, I think we’ve been doing great work. The camera angles are better. The coverage is better. It looks crisper. Even though the channel isn’t high definition the recordings are in high definition so it just looks better. Everything looks better, nicer, and we really have equipment that is younger than the staff. [Timestamp: 12:41]

 

Hey, that is a big step and I know it’s great to be able to walk into the control room and not have to worry about what’s not working today. And I sure wish you the best with it. It’s David Finer, Communications Technology Manager for City Channel Pittsburgh and the total revamp of their broadcast operation. Lots of things the government does and you bring it to the people. That’s a very important job and I’ve enjoyed hearing about it.

 

Thanks very much for having me. This was a lot of fun.

 

Thanks for joining us for today’s SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week we’ll have a brand new story. Come on back and we’ll see you then.

 

RPC Video & City Channel Pittsburgh - Complete Renovation Pt 1
Sunday, May 28, 2017 - 12:38
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Steve Obenreder of RPC Video. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

With its antiquated equipment, the City Channel of Pittsburgh had been described as more a museum than a broadcast facility. They called in RPC Video to modernize their entire technical base. Walls were torn out, routers and other gear installed and this government TV station was born again. RPC Video’s Steve Obenreder is here to tell us about it. Coming at you right now with the SVC Podcast.

Steve, very good having you with us for the SVC Podcast from RPC Video where I believe your official title is Sales Manager.

 

Yeah, I am the sales manager. I’ve been here a long time, too.

 

And RPC Video is in Pittsburgh but you also have locations in Cleveland and Harrisburg.

 

That’s correct.

 

Well then, you must have plenty to keep you busy with three outfits going at the same time.

 

We’ve been fortunate to have good people in our offices and good business to carry us through. We’ve been around since – basically since 1986. [Timestamp: 1:22]

 

Well established and certainly no shortage of experience. I know that when this project came along you got in there for City Channel Pittsburgh, their local government TV channel that provides a great service bringing the workings of local government to the people there. Renovated and modernized their whole TV operation and we have a video link to that. Is this type of project pretty typical of what RPC Video does?

 

Well, it’s typical in that it represents sort of the broad scope of what RPC Video can do. It was a little atypical that it was spread out over roughly two years from our first budget discussions in early 2014 until the system got commissioned in August of 2016. So it was a long haul because it was a big system that had to stay in operation. There was a lot of time involved in sort of prepping that; you know, getting it ready and trying to find a way to switch from one system to another. [Timestamp: 2:13]

 

They do an amazing amount and a wide array of programming at City Channel Pittsburgh. Next week we’ll be talking to your partner in this project, their Communications Technology Manager, David Finer, for the story from inside. This was a very substantial upgrade. If you’re knocking out walls, this one has got to be serious. How many different facilities in this building had to be interconnected on this project?

 

Well, there’s signal infrastructure installed in numerous places in the building, some are active and some are drops for future use. So the active and connected spaces now are of course the engineering and control room suite on the 9th floor of the building, the city council chamber, which is a big focus of the city of Pittsburgh cable channel’s work. That city council chamber is on the 3rd floor of the building. And what they call the city stats room, which is a multiuse meeting space, is on the 6th floor. And then the offices of the cable channel Pittsburgh are also on the 6th floor. Now there’s several other meeting and conference spaces with fiber drops nearby and ready to be added as they needed or as the budget allows. So there’s quite a few and this is a big old building so it was tricky to get around in there. [Timestamp: 3:23]

 

How old is that building? I think it’s even more antique than some of the equipment they had in it.

[Laughs] It is. It’s hard to believe, but yes it was. The Pittsburgh city/county building, a big old neoclassical beaux-arts design was completed in December of 1917. [Timestamp: 3:38]

 

Okay. Well, that sounds a little scary right off the bat when you’re talking about this extensive a technical upgrade. Running fiber through it, knocking out walls, re-doing some of the architecture. Did you run into any problems with the building itself?

 

I’m not sure when we didn’t run into problems with the building. Of course, a building like that was never designed for the type of cabling infrastructure that we need these days. So thankfully there had been some cable access between the floors already in place from the 1982 system that was built there. That was the original cable bureau system they called it, and it was a big system – one of the biggest in the country. So they didn’t have to get through that building then and so thankfully we had some ways to get around the building already, although they weren’t all in place. So this could already be used, but to be sure there were a lot of challenges in getting around that building. [Timestamp: 4:25]

 

I would think that one of the biggest challenges since you have all the new equipment going in and it’s all using power, did you have to upgrade the power or add more drops to it?

 

In the control room side yes. Because we helped them redesign that whole space they tore down walls upstairs and turned what was basically three small control room spaces into one large, more modern control room space. So there was a whole new power brought into that area there. Even though our power needs aren’t astronomical, the power was a little antiquated so there are new power drops there. Now that was handled by the city’s people themselves, they have their own electricians and such, but we outlined all that and spec’d that and they put that in for us. The city council chamber not so much. That had been redone for power a few years ago because they added some lighting and things. So power needs down there didn’t cause a problem. [Timestamp: 5:12]

 

And in the city council meeting room there they record the meetings. What did you specify in there to record those meetings?

 

Specifically there’s a Biamp Tesira server in there running Dante audio between the 6th floor and the 9th floor. So they have multiple channels of audio for all the microphones for the council members, for the council president, for guests and speakers in there, for the public when the public has to speak. That was all redone. It was an old analog system before that was sort of hobbling along. And for video there are four Panasonic HE-130 cameras in there, pan-tilt-zoom cameras, that work very well. They also are wired to be able to roll in their studio cameras if they need extra cameras in there or they want a human-operated camera for some specific purpose there. The cable bureau, as we call it, their main charter is to show city council meetings. Now they do hundreds of other productions, but that’s one of the things they have to do by their charter. So those are all broadcast live over two – a Horizon cable channel and a Comcast cable channel – as well as streaming live on the web site for the city. They do back those up and record them, so for recording they use Grass Valley T2 servers. They have several of those down there. I think there’s four or five of them. And then for scheduled playout they have two channels of Leightronix, UltraNEXUS HD, and there’s also a large SAN system there from Scale Logic that they use for storage and editing and that kind of work. [Timestamp: 6:43]

 

And I’m figuring, in that old building they had no fiber run anywhere.

 

No, there was no fiber there. The original cameras, or the older cameras, were all multicore cameras – big CCU cables that ran between the floors. So this was new fiber from the council chambers up to the control room on the 9th floor and various other places around the building. [Timestamp: 7:04]

 

Yeah, running all of that stuff through that old building must have been an adventure in itself.

 

Here’s how that worked. Our PC didn’t actually pull the fiber. We designed the fiber system, we supervised it, but the city has an electrical contractor that knows that building pretty well and they had worked in there a number of times. And they were the guys that were chosen, thankfully, because they were set up to do that kind of work. And I believe there was some fiber in that building for other purposes, not for audio/visual or for video, but for network and some things in some places. So that electrical contractor did a good job of crawling through the building and getting things where we needed them to get. But it was not easy even for that. [Timestamp: 7:44]

 

And the heart of the distribution system is the Utah-100 UDS router. Was there a particular reason why you decided to go with that one?

 

Well, the original 1982 system had a large Utah router and it still worked fine. But it was analog composite video, which of course couldn’t work for this upgrade. So there really wasn’t much discussion of another router for that. Utah had proven itself very worthy and the folks from Utah that we dealt with, I’m telling you, were very, very good to work with. It was a good choice all around. [Timestamp: 8:14]

 

No better advertisement than something that just keeps working for that long.

 

Yes, that’s right.

 

What did you provide for an audio mixer for them in there? I noticed from the video that it looks like they were using a Yamaha PM-2000 before.

 

Yes. There was a big, old 32-channel PM-2000 that actually someone bought. They offered that stuff up for sale through some government channel and somebody bought that. So we wanted, and they wanted, to have sort of that same feel. A lot of what they do, especially during council meetings, is ride faders. People talk all over the place during those council meetings. So we wanted a mixer that sort of had that approach to it, that someone can sit down and easily say hey, I can run this for most operations. So we chose the Soundcraft Si Performer 32. It had 32 faders, so they were comfortable with that. It’s easy to do basic things on it for almost anyone, but there’s a lot of digital memories and digital features on that mixer that make it work very nicely if they want to dig a little deeper and do some of that kind of work with it too. [Timestamp: 9:17]

 

Sometimes I guess you break in new crew people on the audio job but that can actually be more complicated than the picture side of it.

 

That’s right. That’s right. So we wanted this to, when they sat down at it, not to be fearful that it was going to be too hard to learn and it’s worked fine. It’s worked out just fine. [Timestamp: 9:31]

 

I know there are some great people working there and they do it for the love of the job. This was a big project and it took a while to do so what have you got coming up for RPC Video? Do you do a lot of control rooms? Have you got any more of those coming up?

 

We do. We have two or three more nice TV production systems on the docket, a couple of large AV installations and such. But as we work our way in the future we like to say we’re working away from HDBaseT. We’re looking to continue with more fiber distribution for mid to large projects, looking at AV over IP. So our future, we think, is packed with lots of fun things to learn and integrate. [Timestamp: 10:07]

 

Well, running into one of these big projects where you have to actually change the building around has got to at least keep things from getting dull.

 

There was not a dull moment throughout this whole thing, believe me. There was unbelievable amounts of cable in those ceilings. I’d never seen so much cable. A lot of it was original. A lot of it had been added. And none of it – I mean none of it – was documented any more. So our engineering guys had to go cable by cable and test them and see where they went and figure out whether they could remove them or whether they were needed. Remember, they had to stay on the air all the time so they had to pick through thousands of cables everywhere to find out what worked and didn’t work and remove them and reroute them if they needed to. That part was tedious and it went on for months – I mean months. So it was crazy. We never did a job quite like that where you had so much deconstruction to do before you could start to build something. [Timestamp: 11:02]

 

The next couple of control room projects may be almost restful compared to this one.

 

They’ll seem easy, that’s for sure.

 

You had a great local crew there to work with at City Channel Pittsburgh with all of David Finer’s people.

 

David was wonderful to work with. We thought that because this was going to stretch out – and we told him this could take a long time. And he was so enthused about finally replacing that ancient system that he was patient with us and as we poured through this he was great to work with. I mean great to work with. [Timestamp: 11:28]

 

Well, we appreciate your time on telling us about this one. Steve Obenreder from RPC Video in Pittsburgh and the complete renovation of their local government TV operation. I’m sure you did a fine job on it and thanks for telling us the story.

Bennett, thank you very much for having us on. I appreciate that very much.

Thanks getting with us on today’s SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week we’ll have Dave Finer, Communications Technology Manager at City Channel of Pittsburgh to complete the story. Get back with us and we’ll see you then.

 

Daktronics Takes Kansas State to the Next Level in Video and Sound Pt 2
Friday, May 26, 2017 - 18:26
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Ryan Kuzman of Daktronics. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

Kansas State University’s Bill Snyder Family Stadium got new video and sound systems recently and Daktronics was there to provide both of them. These were the crowning touches to a renovation project that’s been going on for years. Ryan Kuzman of Daktronics Video Sales is with us today to give us the story on the stadium’s new LED displays. Stay with us for the SVC Podcast.

Ryan, great having you here for the SVC Podcast from Daktronics where I know it’s a very busy time of year right now so thanks for taking the time to be with us. How have you been doing?

 

My pleasure, Bennett. Very busy right now. Been doing well.

 

Good to be busy. I would guess that the weather up there is okay this time of year but I would hate to be installing big outdoor video displays in the middle of a South Dakota winter where Daktronics is home based.

 

[Laughs] Yes. So yeah, this technically is normally our biggest time of the year, but our schedules our normally driven by particular sports or markets and what seasons they’re in. And obviously the weather tends to be a little bit sketchy in the wintertime in some areas, but fortunately the sports markets kind of determine when we install big projects such as stadiums and arenas. And most of those actually fall during the summer because their openers or first start games tend to be in the fall or just at the end of the fall so it works out pretty good. [Timestamp: 1:41]

 

By the fall you’ve probably gotten a lot of work done but that first game of the season is a hard deadline. Last week we were talking to John Olsen about the Bill Snyder Family Stadium at Kansas State University. That place seems to have been modernized beyond its own sound and video systems so they called you in for a big technical upgrade. What did you do on the video side of the project?

 

Well, whenever there’s modifications to facilities the size of Bill Snyder Family Stadium there’s usually potential changes in how content needs to be delivered. That includes not only audio but also other mediums of communication with the fans. And a lot of times that has to do with what we do at Daktronics as well, which is large LED displays. So any additional seating, large changes in the facility that can change the overall footprint to this stadium can affect the needs that things may need to be updated for fan engagement. [Timestamp: 2:34]

 

Well, let’s get into the details on this one and this is probably the first question anybody would ask but how big are the new displays? Are they in addition to what was already there or in place of it?

 

They’re actually in addition to what’s already there on the south side. So in the past two seasons previous we were able to do some work for them for some large video displays on the north end of the stadium there at K State. And then this season we’ll be installing, or have installed actually, two new displays that flank the existing video display on the south side. So this season will feature two new LED hustle stat displays that flank the video that are 91/2 feet tall by 26 feet wide, and there’s a pair of those. And then there will also be new field level boards, LED boards, measuring 31/2 feet tall by 24 feet wide that are located right behind the goalpost near the field. [Timestamp 3:24]

 

That’s a lot of heavy hardware to put in. Did you have to make any changes to the actual stadium structure? Of course there was a lot going on anyway but any structural changes to accommodate these big new displays?

 

Right. We didn’t actually. The hustle stat boards that we’ll be putting in are on the same stanchions or the same structure that they are currently on today. So we did some removal of some existing scoring system that was there and replaced it with these new LED displays. So there wasn’t really any changes that were required on that end. On the field level displays, Kansas State University and Bill Snyder Family Stadium were doing some renovations to that area already so they pretty much prepped that area for these two displays to go in. So they were already ready and prepped before we even got there. [Timestamp: 4:08]

That’s a lot of display structure. How much do these boards weigh?

The two upper hustle stat boards displays, those are about 2,600 pounds each. And the lower boards, the field level displays, are 960 pounds each. [Timestamp: 4:22]

 

A lot of hardware to haul in there. What kind of timeframe were you looking at just to get this part of it done?

 

As far as the timeframe, we normally ask customers for anywhere between 90 and 120 days from the time that the projects get kicked off to the time of completion. But in this case the order was placed in plenty of time and we were onsite for the whole installation – the audio and the new displays – for about a month. We were pretty much there the majority of March and we were completed in about 30 days. [Timestamp: 4:51]

 

Since there was so much work already going on were there a lot of other people to have to work around or did your guys pretty much have the run of the place while you were there?

 

Yeah, normally it would take about probably two weeks so we did have to wait for some construction to be done on the field level displays, so those were the last to go in. But we really weren’t affected by anything doing the audio system or the hustle stat boards. Those went up pretty quickly. We did have to wait for some electrical and things like that on the field level displays that were complete. [Timestamp: 5:20]

 

You mentioned the smaller boards down on the field level. What do they show on those?

 

That’s a good question. The field level boards will be completely up to whatever the customer wants to show. So I envision that they will probably be used primarily for some sponsorship content, but they’ll also be able to be used for other things like fan engagement items, messaging, captioning. They can be used for stats as well. So there’s a lot of delivery items they can be used for, but technically and futuristically I would say that sponsorship would be one of the primaries. [Timestamp: 5:51]

 

I know that even with the best equipment, things don’t always go a hundred percent right so if anything does go wrong with any of these displays how do you construct them so that you can do a quick fix on them?

 

That’s a great question. We actually construct our displays to be front or rear accessible so that they can be repaired or addressed either from the front or the back. So with these displays in particular all of the service work will be done on the fronts of the displays so each of those modules would pop out and you could do any service work necessary that’s needed to fix any issue that is occurring through the front side. So with the lift on the hustle displays, which they have onsite, we would be able to get up there fairly quickly and on the field level displays you really don’t need any other tools other than your hands. So very simple on the field. [Timestamp: 6:35]

 

Very handy because if something does go wrong you’re very short on time to get it fixed. Good to have them quick and easy to repair. And these are at the north end of the field?

 

These are all on the south end. The north end, it was the equipment that we put in, I think, in 2015 and ’16.

 

Okay, so you’re not talking about having direct sunlight on these displays on a game day.

 

No. The north end would get most of the sunlight, but even if the direct sun was a factor it’s not something that we consider as being a huge problem. We actually spend millions and millions of dollars annually on research and development to ensure our customers get every need they could ever want on game day. So when it comes to direct sunlight all of our displays have the ability to be adjusted higher or lower in brightness depending upon the natural light that’s needed. So if it’s a bright, sunshiny day they can be turned up to provide the higher brightness necessary to fight the sun, and on the evening or a cloudy day they can be dialed back to be not as bright for the fans as well. So really not an issue. We actually tailor made our displays not just for K State but for all of our customers to be able to handle the sunlight in a satisfactory manner. [Timestamp: 7:41]

 

Yeah, I wouldn’t think that it would occur to many people that at night these displays could actually be too bright but that would be a situation where you would have to able to adjust the brightness on it.

 

Absolutely.

 

How do you control these new displays? Did you have to put in new cabling or anything to allow control for them?

 

Yeah. So each of these displays require fiber cabling to be installed. So we did have to pull some fiber for the field level displays and also the hustle stat displays. The fiber cable is run from the display itself up to the control in the west press box where control is located and then our show control user stations are controlling all the displays in the entire facility. So the north end displays and the south end displays are all controllable by the show control user stations that we provide up there. [Timestamp: 8:28]

 

That must have to be a carefully planned and set up situation so that you have the right video on the right display at the right moment during a very high profile event.

 

Absolutely. And Kansas State University has some very qualified people up there that do a very good job of putting on a very quality show for their fans. So we provide K State with all the tools and they provide all the expertise on how to run the tools. [Timestamp: 8:52]

 

That was a lot of distance to cover on the cabling. What would be more heavy on the timeframe, the construction of the board itself or running all of that cable?

 

Actually, the cable was pretty easy as long as we have a conduit path which we always do at Kansas State. The cabling and the running of the cabling is actually pretty easy. The display installation takes a little bit longer because those displays are delivered in sections and they have to be lifted and held in place so that they are mounted correctly. So I would say that the more time-consuming portion is the displays themselves rather than the cable run. [Timestamp: 9:23]

 

And Daktronics products are always pre-assembled and tested at the factory before they ever go out the door.

 

Correct. Yes. We do all the quality control in Brookings, South Dakota. Obviously all American made in the USA and up there in Brookings. So everything is quality controlled by us. We test everything before it ships out. Like I said, display equipment do come in modular sections, but each of those is tested before they actually leave. [Timestamp: 9:46]

 

There was a whole lot to this installation. Lots of details. Were there any surprises along the way?

 

That’s another good question. I really can’t think of anything that was too shocking or big of a surprise. Things went pretty smooth overall. I think that there’s always some things that come up during an installation that can get you to scratch your head a little bit, whether it be a conduit path that’s blocked or a bolt section that doesn’t go in quite right. But we’ve had so much experience not only at K State, but at so many institutions all over the world that we’re getting pretty good at putting this stuff together. So even the smallest or medium-issue doesn’t have to be a big surprise to us. So I think in the end everything went very smooth. I’m very excited to see all the K State fan reaction to these new displays coming up this fall. I think it’s going to be great. [Timestamp: 10:35]

 

You mentioned at the beginning that this is the company’s busiest time of year. John Olsen was telling us last week that you have projects coming up at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Jamestown and Waco ESD Stadium so a lot of things coming up.

 

Yeah. There are several others. Some of them we aren’t able to release yet as far as customers not wanting us to release when they’re getting their products, but yes we’re very busy with several projects. John mentioned a few there. There’s several more that are coming up and we’re very excited to deliver on those customers as well. [Timestamp: 11:06]

 

Well it’s been good talking to you about this one. We got audio details last week and now we have the story behind the video side of it at Kansas State University’s Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Ryan Kuzman from Daktronics Video Sales. It’s good of you to get with us during this very busy time of year.

My pleasure, Bennett.

Thanks for getting with us on today’s SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week we’ll have a brand new show so we’ll see you then on the SVC Podcast.

 

Daktronics Takes Kansas State to the Next Level in Sound and Video Pt 1
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 11:34
Bennett Liles

This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with John Olsen of Daktronics. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

Kansas State University has spent millions for an ongoing renovation project at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas and they brought in Daktronics to put in big new video displays and an a brand new sound system that works with the stadium’s new acoustics. John Olsen of Daktronics audio sales is with us today to give us the story on the sound part of the project. We’re ready to go on the SVC Podcast.

John it’s going to be very interesting having you with us today from Daktronics audio sales for the SVC Podcast. It seems to me that when most people hear about Daktronics they think of huge video displays and scoreboards in sports stadiums but Daktronics also has a very substantial sound system engineering operation.

 

Yeah, that would be correct, Bennett. We do. I guess you have, from the standpoint of some of our history – I’m not sure what you’re familiar with there, what the listeners are familiar with. Obviously Daktronics has been in business for well over 40 years, going on 45 years here – almost 50 now. About 12 years ago, Daktronics acquired a company that they had been working with for quite some time. It was a company called Dodge Electronics and they were based out of Topeka, Kansas and Dean Dodge was the owner of that business. After doing so much business with Dodge Electronics, Daktronics just decided that it would probably be a good idea to just bring that whole entire company into and under the umbrella of Daktronics, which is what happened. And then shortly after that occurred, I came on the picture here, too. And actually the company still has some of its original employees working for us today. Dean Dodge is the national sales manager for audio systems, so he is my direct supervisor. [Timestamp: 1:32]

 

All right. And I think you’ve had something like 150 large audio installation projects just in the past year or so.

 

We have a couple of different types of projects that we do and they’re based on the products that we offer. For instance, the 150-160 that we put in in the last fiscal year, those just account for what we call standard systems that we manufacture here in our plant in South Dakota and are purchased for basically a pre-engineered solution that allows the customer to have a stadium sound system for a very reasonable cost not only for the product but for the installation, and we have three different versions of that particular line that we sell. And then on top of that, the 160 or so installations that we did last year just on the standard product side, we’ve done quite a bit more in terms of our custom installations, which includes obviously stadiums and arenas as our mainstay, but then we also have a commercial video division where we provide some sound systems to various malls across the country. [Timestamp: 2:38]

 

Daktronics just finished a very big technical renovation project both for sound and video at Kansas State University’s fifty thousand seat stadium and I think it’s referred to as the Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

 

That would be correct, yes. We just completed that installation about a month ago and that was a retrofit into an existing scoreboard. It required quite a bit of modification to some structural components where we had to actually add onto the scoreboard. Fortunately enough for us, and I think for K State, we had done the original structural for the scoreboard that we were coming off of there. And that helped us out a lot and kept the project on time and on schedule and within budget. [Timestamp: 3:18]

 

This renovation project has been a marathon for Kansas State. It’s been going on for years and I think they’ve put something like 195 million dollars into it. I would think it’s good that they got all of the structural parts of the stadium done before the sound system instead of the other way around.

 

Yeah, it kind of helps to know what we’re going into and what the coverage of the speaker systems need to be. And in their case we went from mostly what was a point-and-shoot system to two very large line arrays by JBL. And then some additional coaxial boxes, which are two-way boxes that cover some of the near field seating. But the VLA line arrays that we installed there really do cover the stadium very nicely. [Timestamp: 4:05]

 

When you got in there and listened to the stadium’s existing sound system how did you decide on the design for the new one?

 

Just to kind of dial back the history on that, we actually put that original system in about 10 years ago and it had just pretty much run its course in terms of age. And the stadium was in a different state at that point in time, so it pretty much just worse itself out. The university wore it out over the course of time. But in terms of the new design what we do is we have an engineering team here internally at Daktronics where they will take the stadium X, Y and Z axis. We create a three-dimensional model and we use a program called EASE, which is a electro-acoustic software for engineers. And that program allows us to actually build the stadium, put the services of the stadium in, put the various structures of the stadium in, and then design a speaker system around those things. Now not withstanding, once that’s completed we also have to consider how are we going to integrate the system into structures. In this case we had to actually cut through the siding on an existing structure and attach some main beams within that. There was numerous types of approvals that had to be done with the engineer of record to verify that the structure would support what we wanted to do there. And then we have to obviously take out all the other equipment and electrical systems and then put the new equipment in. So it was a very extensive process, but with the teams that we have internally not only from the acoustical design standpoint, but also electrical engineering standpoint, structural engineering standpoint, and mechanical engineering we have a very experienced team that’s able to put these systems in place because oftentimes they do take a lot of validation and certification of what we’re going to do. So in this case, that was one of the things that we had to deal with. [Timestamp: 6:03]

 

Once you had the results of the EASE analysis and you had the design laid out what did you decide on for the amps, speakers and other hardware that was going to go in?

The amplification of the system, because they had already had a QSC Q-SYS digital signal processing system in there for digital audio transport, we are certified in those systems so we just decided that it would be best to utilize QSC amplification. And that obviously gives everybody a common reference and framework for any kind of service or maintenance things that have to happen. On top of that then the speaker models that we used in this case are JBL VLA’s which are totally weatherized – essentially weatherproof – and will give the university quite a few years in the position that they put in. It’s a big leap. The other part of it, too, is that with the amplification that we use we really try to keep the amplifiers as close to the speakers as we possibly can get them. And in this case we built several NEMA, or weatherized enclosures, with air conditioning to keep the equipment not only cool, but control humidity and just to provide solid performance through the course of the system’s lifetime. And then on top of that what we do with all of our customers of this magnitude is we build control panel systems and control monitoring systems that are just specific to their system so they can utilize the system, set the system up like they would like to and make adjustments in the system. We have presets in there and they can actually view into the system to find out if there are issues with amplifiers or speakers or anything like that. So if there are any kind of failures or parts that are for instance going out of range, then there are warnings that are flashed up and the customer can take care of those or call us and we will take care of them. That’s all part of the control panel monitoring systems that we built. We have our own template that our system design engineers have programmed and we plug obviously all the parameters of the amplifiers and setup of the amplifiers into that system. And it communicates digitally from the amplifier back into the digital signal processing system. And bring it up on the monitor in the control room and basically look at how all the amps are functioning in real time. So if there’s going to be a problem with the system, you can usually spot those. And there’s also warnings that will be – that will prompt the user that there’s a part that’s out of range. And that’s typically by color or whatnot. [Timestamp: 8:38]

 

And you also added a wireless microphone system to this?

 

Yes, we did. One of the problems that most venues have today, especially in the NCAA and other pro stadiums, is the incurrence of just all kinds of RF. So the way that the stadium performs when it’s empty – when wireless microphones are typically tested – they usually don’t have a whole lot of interference so you can validate that yeah, your ref mic is working correctly. But on a game day you’ll load the entire stadium with 50-60-70-80,000 fans and you know what all those fans have. They all have cell phones and they’re all competing within the confines of that stadium for their little slice of that bandwidth, that RF. And some of that RF and those signals end up in some cases interfering with the wireless mics. But there are also TV trucks that come in. We have TV Band devices that are activated by the networks that will cause interference and sometimes the network people just find an open channel and use it without any consideration for what else might be going on in the stadium or with the systems. Now what that’s done to the ref mic situation is that it’s made it very difficult for the ref mic to operate without any dropouts. There are many places, and K State was one of those, that they were having issues on game days with their referee mic. And so what we did there is we installed a new referee microphone system by a company called Shure and that equipment dynamically changes the frequency on the transmitter as well as the receiver and also just sets up an entire list of channels that the wireless microphone can switch to if the one that they’re on has some sort of spurious incursion or it can’t be used any longer because somebody has keyed in and started to use that particular frequency. [Timestamp: 10:29]

 

Yeah, I’ll bet that as the fans start showing up for the games, if you have an RF spectrum analyzer you can watch the grass grow on the display as the RF environment intensifies.

 

Yeah, you do. Yeah, you do. And it’s real interesting. Even with the Shure product that we put in they have a little piece in there that gives you that spectrum analysis capability in the range where the microphone is operating. And I’ve been in many situations where we sat down with a customer and we’ve trained them on how to use this and you see all the frequencies. You might have a list of, let’s just say, 50 different frequencies that the microphone is capable of switching to and there’s not a whole lot of RF activity going on in the stadium at that time. But then when the crowds are that list just continues to shrink and shrink and shrink. So I’ve seen it shrink from 50-plus down to 15-20 frequencies that the microphone will switch to if it needs to. And then that whole spectrum, like you said, you see all the grass grow. [Timestamp: 11:22]

 

That’s really something to behold on a big live sports event with the huge crowd coming in. I think you also provided them with a digital mixer for this one?

 

Yeah, actually we supplied two digital mixers, both by Yamaha in their QL family. One is a QL1 model and the other one is a QL5. The QL1 model is used in the PA room for all the essentially game day audio control ability and then the QL5 is in their video production suite. So they do all of their own video production for a number of different things that they distribute out to. But they were using an older Yamaha mixer back in that suite and the newer Yamaha mixer is now of the same family and are very similar to what was then a Yamaha M7 which was the standard for a lot of colleges and universities at this level. So that helped them out in terms of us being able to establish a very robust digital audio network with new equipment, which obviously is important. Some people think well, it’s digital. It will never wear out. Well, it’s not always the case, but having the same common functionality and the same purview into either system, one system can back the other one up. For instance if there is a problem with the mixer in the PA room that functionality can be switched over in just a very short amount of time over to the production mixer in the video room. Obviously they wouldn’t have a view back down on the field, but everything that’s on that mixer can be moved over to the mixer in video production for control so in case there’s some sort of issue with that mixer. [Timestamp: 13:06]

 

Well, redundancy is great to have especially when you’ve got that many fans in the stadium ready for action. They’ll let you know if things don’t sound right, I’m sure.

 

Oh, yeah. They do. [Laughs]

 

So now you’ve got them equipped with a system that can take them into the future. You’ve got other things coming up at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Jamestown, Waco ISD Stadium. Looks like you’ve got a very full plate.

 

Yes, we do. We do have a full plate and we have been very fortunate. We’ve been very humbled by our customers continuing to do business with us, but I think that’s one of the hallmarks of Daktronics is that we try to be honest, helpful and humble every time we turn around, which was one of our founder’s mantras. But those installations, for instance, at the University of Wisconsin, we’re doing both the Cole Center, which is their large arena. It seats about 18,000 people. Taking in that audio system that’s in there currently and taking the video board out that we had installed previously. We didn’t do the audio system previously, but the video board, we did the center-hung so that’s being replaced. And then we’re putting in the new JBL BTX array system in there. And then we’re also doing their field house, which is where they have all their volleyball. So that’s an entirely different scenario because we have to deal with a historical building and we’re doing both video and audio there as well. And the unique thing even with Wisconsin is that they have their entire audio network system on the QSC Q-SYS similar to what is installed at K State. And they have it installed basically between all of the audio facilities so when you go into your audio master control at the University of Wisconsin you’re actually getting audio feeds and can get audio feeds from anywhere the Q-SYS is set up, which is basically Camp Randall, which is over a mile away, the field house, which is located near Camp Randall, and the Cole Center are all tied together along with some other things within those buildings. That’s been a very big project. [Timestamp: 15:15]

 

You’ve got a big summer ahead and it great to by busy in this line of work. Thanks for telling us about the sound on this one and next week we’ll be talking with Ryan Kuzman about the video side of it, a fantastic job on both obviously. It’s been great having you here. It’s John Olsen of audio sales at Daktronics and the new sound and video systems at Kansas State University stadium. It’s part of the ongoing improvements out there and I’m sure the fans a pleased.

 

Yeah, the fans are really enjoying everything so far. They had a spring game and things worked flawlessly at that, and they were very happy. So when we get donors paying for things and you have marketing dollars moved into that making people happy is important. And we’re glad that we can serve all of our customers the way that we served Kansas State. [Timestamp: 16:16]

 

Sounds like you’re doing it and I appreciate your telling about it, John.

 

You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Glad we can talk today.

Thanks getting with us on today’s SVC Podcast. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Next week we’ll be talking to Ryan Kuzman about the video display part of the big Kansas State University stadium renovation. Come on back and we’ll see you then.

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