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Advanced Performs Total Corporate AV Upgrade Part 1

Show 148, Part 1

SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 148-1:

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles talks with Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski of Canadian AV firm Advanced about a corporate installation project including an executive boardroom, auditorium, conference room, classroom and four meeting rooms. They outline the selection and demo of SMART interactive displays and the Crestron AirMedia Presentation Gateway.

For Part 2

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From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski of AV communication firm Advanced. Show notes for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at

Advanced had to outfit an executive boardroom, auditorium, conference room, classroom and four meeting rooms for a big corporate client so there was much to do and little time to get it done. Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski of AV communication firm Advanced are here to tell us how they pulled this one off and got it all done on time. That’s coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski of Advanced in Mississauga, Ontario. We’re going to be talking about a job you did for a corporate client. This one includes an executive conference room, an auditorium and some meeting rooms. Quite a bit going on with a wide variety of projects at Advanced so tell us about the company. Mark, is there any type of these projects that’s your favorite?

Mark: Yeah, thanks, Bennett, for having us. It’s Mark McPherson here from Advanced and we are one of North America’s largest AV integrators. We’re actually coming up on our 20th year anniversary next year, so we’ve been doing this for a little bit. And the types of projects we tend to really get excited about are those involving display technology, usually large-format video walls or unique display requirements, in addition to working with companies that are looking to modernize their meeting spaces and make them more collaborative. That’s the other area that we really specialize in. [Timestamp: 1:50]

Sounds like a lot to do. Let’s get into this one. There was a big financial firm that wanted to move their annual client meetings to their office building. Apparently the AV facilities were not quite up to the task so they called in Advanced and what did they want you to do on this one?

Mark: Well, it all started when they reach out to us they were trying to create a vision for updating all their rooms and trying to figure out how to accommodate, like you said, those annual client meetings. A year and a half ago we moved into a new headquarters and designed a new technology demonstration center. And so we were able to bring them into our demo center and showcase a whole bunch of different technologies for them to kind of visualize and touch and feel so that really could give them a good understanding of what their options were for designing a new building. At this point, then, Andrew Hykoski who was our senior account VP on the project, started working with them to try to craft their vision. [Timestamp: 2:50]

And part of that vision included Smart interactive displays in these rooms so was there a particular reason why you went with that brand and how did you introduce the clients to them?

Kevin: Well, we actually demoed the Smart Meeting Pro software to the clients at our briefing center and they really liked the simplicity of its use.

It’s got to be impressive when you walk in there. How big are the Smart displays?

Mark: There are some different-sized meeting rooms throughout the building. It’s quite a large building, and so the display sizes ranged from 70-inch to 84 up to 90-inch. [Timestamp: 3:42]

Of course that was only part of what you did there. How basic was the overhaul in the office building? Did you have to run new power or do any kind of acoustic treatment before the actual installation?

Kevin: No. The infrastructure was already in place when we actually moved in for the AV upgrades. It was part of the larger facility facelift, so that was already done for us by the time we got there as far as cable pulls. We ended up just terminating all those cables at each end for the install. [Timestamp: 3:49]

And the Smartboards. Let’s go to the executive boardroom just to pick one. Do they like to stand at the board and do their presentations or do they prefer to do it from a seat at the table?

Mark: Yes, they’re able to do both so it just makes it much more effective in a meeting environment and they’re definitely using Smart Ink to go over the top of any of the applications they’re driving. So definitely it works very well in that conference room application. [Timestamp: 4:16]

You did a number of separate rooms so which one of the rooms had the most AV gear to go in or required the most work?

Kevin: That would be the auditorium. We actually replaced three existing projectors with some Sony solid-state units, laser projectors, and some new 1610 projection screens. We also have two dual 65-inch displays that were located at the rear of the room.

What was the sound situation in there?

Mark:  So there was an existing audio system already in the theater area and so we did some upgrades. And really what we focused on was adding more ceiling microphones just to create a better user experience for the audience. [Timestamp: 4:58]

And that could get a little tricky because if they’re doing live conferencing or recording what they’re doing, it gets a little awkward if you have to pass a mic around. But then you have to get one single voice out of the crowd without it sounding like you’re on a jet plane or something.

Kevin: Yeah. We also had four Sennheiser wireless mics, I believe, with headbands – headsets.

Mark: Yeah. One of the real challenges to the presenters in the past was they weren’t feeling as comfortable on the stage with the various wireless microphones they had, so we upgraded all those just for comfort, but also just to really improve the quality as well. [Timestamp: 5:32]

And keep their hands free. I guess some people are a little intimidated when they’re handed a mic or have to walk up to one on a stand. These people aren’t performers so it can get kind of interesting.

Mark: You’re right. In fact, that’s a really good point you brought up. That’s where, when you get into these types of applications you really end up chatting a lot with the presenters themselves and the users. One of the things we learned was they really wanted to increase their comfort on that stage. So we ended up installing a number of confidence monitors – additional monitors to what they had already – just because they really like to roam around that stage. And in addition we added a 24-inch Smart interactive podium which just sort of enabled them to annotate over their presentations and really helped them deliver their points. [Timestamp: 6:17]

You used Crestron’s AirMedia on this job. Tell me about that. Why AirMedia? Did it require a lot of training?

Kevin: Yeah, there was training for that. There was also separate training for all the Smart products involved in the system as well. So we have people on board here that do full training of both those systems. The AirMedia, the reason it was chosen, you could have up to 32 participants in a quad split on the screen or full screen, and up to 40 remote viewers as well. [Timestamp: 6:46]

And I think this system can allow one person to be the presentation traffic coordinator if there are a lot of people involved?

Kevin: Yeah, they can slide participants over into whatever quad they want to seal them into or they can eliminate them from the screen as well.

Sounds like the auditorium was probably the most challenging part but you had the meeting rooms, executive boardroom. We’ll get more into the details in Part 2. All of these were obviously tied together but I’m sure each one was a different environment with its own story.

Mark: You’re absolutely right. One of our challenges was being an organization as large as they are, they are one of the largest investment companies in Canada, they did want to have a very consistent user experience across all these environments. So we’ve got rooms of different sizes and trying to have a seamless experience across all those environments is a challenge. [Timestamp: 7:36]

Well, it has been fun hearing about this part of it. Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski from Advanced in Mississauga, Ontario and the complete corporate training and conference system that you installed. Thanks, guys, for taking the time.

Mark: Great. Thanks, Bennett.

Kevin: Thank you.

Thank you for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Mark McPherson, Kevin Linton and Andrew Hykoski of AV communication firm Advanced. Show notes are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Be back with us next week for Part 2 for more details on the auditorium and the corporate classroom. That’s on the next SVC Podcast.

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