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Kontek Systems Modernizes UNC Moot Courtroom Pt 2

Show 158, Part 2

SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 158-2

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles concludes his interview with Billy Morris of Kontek Systems in Durham, North Carolina about their AV installation for the moot courtroom at the University of North Carolina Law School. Billy describes the Vaddio ClearVIEW HD-19 PTZ cameras and he outlines the sound system installation for the facility.

 For Part 1

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From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Billy Morris of Kontek Systems. Show notes and equipment links for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at

In a courtroom the stakes can be very high and training law students to handle the technology while convincing a jury can be tough if you don’t have a modern training room. That’s why the University of North Carolina Law School brought in Kontek Systems to upgrade their moot courtroom with Extron control. Billy Morris is back to tell us about how they did the sound system. That’s up next on the SVC Podcast.

Billy, great to have you back with us for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast from Kontek Systems in Durham, North Carolina. We were talking about the AV upgrade for the moot courtroom at the University of North Carolina Law School. We talked about the control aspect of it but I wanted you to tell us a little about the Vaddio WallVIEW HD-19 cameras you put in. Why did you pick those?

Well we’re a big fan of Vaddio products. We’ve used them for a long time. They’re very reliable; great performance and features for the price. So all of that is under consideration, but frankly we just needed good quality cameras, pan-tilt-zoom cameras that can be used for both views of the judge’s bench and the attorneys when they’re in courtroom mode, and a view of the presenter’s podium for recording when they’re in classroom mode. As we said earlier, this courtroom functions in two different ways and UNC Law has adopted across its enterprise the Echo360 lecture capture platform and so we are feeding camera views that are switchable to the Echo for recording. Another reason to use the Vaddio products frankly is they offer a USB video output for connection to their permanent PC in the lectern so that they can do web conferencing. And just a really good product category all the way around. [Timestamp: 2:14]

And you used some sort of USB extension?

Yeah. The breakout boxes for the Vaddio camera video feeds and USB feeds are back in an equipment rack that’s located in a little side area right off the judge’s chambers and then we used USB extension to get out to the podium for connection to the PC. That’s right. [Timestamp: 2:34]

Sometimes an even trickier part of these things is the sound system so how do they pick up and distribute the sound in the courtroom?

Well a number of ways. There are ceiling mics in the gallery area; four of those. It’s really mostly for classroom mode of the courtroom picking up student questions and all during a discussion for recording. There are a couple of mics over the jury box that would pick up jury questions during a mock trial. There are lectern mics at the judge’s bench and the two attorneys’ tables and the witness stand and the podium so that whole mic mix is sent to various places. We used a Biamp Nexia platform, a couple of chassis, to distribute and mix audio. Audio goes to a mix minus system for speakers in the gallery and speakers above the attorney tables, speakers above the judges and witness stand and speakers above the jury box. So that was an interesting system to dial it in and get it just right. And then we’ve got audio going to the Echo box for recording and to the PC for web conferencing. [Timestamp: 3:54]

Is there any manual control for the mics or is everything just automixed?

Well it’s mostly on autopilot mode. They just wanted to not have to necessarily do anything manually. But we did give them a technician page on the Crestron touch panel for individual mic channel audio control. [Timestamp: 4:12]

Yeah, that would come in handy if you want to add anything or just diagnose a problem.

Yeah. That’s right.

I think you also put a Shure wireless system in there. Who uses that?

Yeah. That’s probably primarily used by the instructor when the room is in classroom mode I would say. Of course they always have the option of using it on a person who might want to roam around the courtroom and not stay put at one of the fixed mic locations, but I think that’s more seldom than presenter mode. [Timestamp: 4:42]

On a university campus you might have multiple mic systems in adjacent buildings put in by different contractors. Any frequency coordination issues?

Well if there were they would have probably been among mics within this building that were installed by us in other rooms. Fortunately we don’t have any adjacent buildings where we had to worry about unknown factors. But no, I think our guys did a great job of finding clear frequencies and making things sound really good. [Timestamp: 5:07]

And you’ve got all the support gear in the rack that needs to be out of sight but close by.

Right. There’s a full-sized equipment rack as I say in a little nook that was created off the judge’s chambers with all of the gear that essentially is the brains of the system. Only the user gear is out in the courtroom itself.

And I think you were talking earlier in Part 1 about the Crestron controllers. I think that’s what it was.

That’s right. There are touch panels, same model touch panel at the presentation lectern and at the judge’s bench and those have proven to be kind of our workhorse touch panels. We’ve got plenty of touch panel real estate to set up a nice GUI interface in it and it’s just a really reliable way to control a system. [Timestamp: 5:52]

Yeah and the trick is giving everybody sufficient flexibility without making it too complicated to operate. I know it was a blast when they got in there and saw what they could do with this system.

Yeah. I mean between seeing the room just physically having undergone such an amazing change and having this really great technology at their disposal I think the client is really thrilled all the way around. [Timestamp: 6:14]

Got done. So what’s coming up next for Kontek Systems? Got some other things about to happen there?

Well we’re always busy. We’re right in the middle of our busiest season of the year when most of our university clients have large jobs that have to be completed before students come back for fall semester classes in August. It just so happens that some of those right now are very long-term construction projects that we are hoping that will come in on time so we can meet our deadlines. But it’s always busy here at Kontek.

Alright. Billy Morris, Senior Account Manager at Kontek Systems in Durham, North Carolina and the AV upgrade for the moot courtroom at the University of North Carolina Law School. Thanks for giving us the game plan on this one, Billy and good luck with the upcoming projects.

Thanks, Bennett. I’ve enjoyed talking with you.

Thanks for joining us for the SVC Podcast with Billy Morris of Kontek Systems. Show notes and equipment links are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Get with us again for the next SVC Podcast.

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