In-House TV

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For more than a decade the chef/performers at the Chef’s Table Experience managed to pull off a live demonstration cooking show in front of an audience, while simultaneously triggering camera angles by stepping on (or knee-whacking) cue pads at just the right moment—or swiftly detouring into the production area, washing their hands, hitting a tablet, and returning to their sauté in progress. It makes the antics of Teppenyaki chefs seem easy.

The Chef’s Table application may have been the only foot and knee-triggered Crestron control system ever. “As you can imagine, in a cooking environment, those floor pads didn’t last very long,” says Andrew Walker, principal at Battle Creek, MI-based Avtek, charged with developing an automated multi-camera HD production system for the popular in-house attraction at Zazios Restaurant & Bar in Kalamazoo, MI.

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A combination of products supports a completely automated three-camera production setup.

With stadium-like seating for up to 36 guests, the Chef’s Table at Zazios is an interactive five-course dinner and drinks pairing featuring different dining themes through the year. The performance is also available to be viewed by an overflow audience in one of the banquet rooms.

The immensely-popular “dinner and a show” was the idea of Kalamazoo-based Greenleaf Hospitality, which owns the Radisson where Zazios restaurant is located, as well as other properties including the Kalamazoo Wings hockey team and arena, and an ice rink and sports bar.

Walker says that while working on a new sound system for the arena, the client’s AV/ IT department asked Walker to take a look at the dysfunctional production system for the Chef’s Table. Considering that more than a decade had elapsed since the Crestron-based analog system had been installed, it was certain that something better could be done. But after years of built-up frustration the client’s bar was high. “They didn’t want the chefs involved in the AV at all, they didn’t want them to have to stomp on anything, whack anything, push anything or remember anything,” Walker recalls. “We talked about whether there could be a remote production area, with an operator and they said no to that idea. They wanted an On/Off button. They didn’t want personnel involved in any way.”

The solution was a Broadcast Pix Mica 1000 integrated production switcher with the VOX voice-automated production option. The Mica is a mid-sized customizable HD production system that can serve up to three screens. It has patented control and automation technology, support for IP-based protocols, cloud storage, media management and a built-in customizable feature set. It has eight SDI in, plus one external key cut, eight channels of clip and graphics, plus six SDI and two DVI out. It has a solid graphics feature set, making it easy for Chef’s Table to get the necessary graphics.

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The content can be distributed to an overflow room and can also be recorded.

The Broadcast Pix Vox sofware auto-detects which microphone is active, triggers a series of camera moves accordingly, and activates Fluent Macros assigned to that microphone. Fluent Macros is a standard feature on any Broadcast Pix integrated production switcher to create automatic audio-followvideo. Fluent Macros can be programmed to select camera presets, roll clips and animations, add or remove titles, and even execute sophisticated compositions such as picture-in-picture or a three-box. Plus, multiple macros can be assigned to each microphone—and selection criteria can be established—allowing each automated VOX production to yield dynamic live results every time.

At Zazios, the new Mica system with VOX is housed in an equipment closet in the restaurant’s private dining room. One output from the Mica system drives a large HD monitor mounted on the range hood to provide Chef’s Table diners with a clear view of the food prep, while additional Mica outputs feed a private dining area and multiple TVs throughout the bar.

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Motion analytics are used to cue cameras as the chefs step into designated areas.

Motion analytics are used to cue cameras as the chefs step into designated areas.

The VOX audio-follow-video solution auto-detects which microphone is active, then works with the file-based macros system in the Mica (or any Broadcast Pix switcher) to trigger a series of camera moves. As a result, VOX enables the Mica to simulate a live switching environment without an operator.

Walker initially wanted to use separate microphones in each work area to trigger camera switching, but could not create a mic pattern that would deliver the coverage and remain hidden. They considered RFID chips and other sensors, but ultimately, AVTEK created a unique solution based on Mica that combines the capability of the VOX option with Peavey’s MediaMatrix NION distributed audio system.

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A small equipment closet holds the video production equipment.

While the video presentation is produced with three Vaddio PTZ cameras, the switching solution uses small security cameras with motion analytics. When the chef moves from the prep station to the grill, for example, the motion detection analytic triggers a relay that the NION’s programmable logic uses to output pink noise to the VOX based on which detection point is triggered. In turn, that commands the Mica to switch to the appropriate camera.

“Motion analytics have been around for a long time and we knew that cost-wise we could make it function.”

For the presentation, AVTEK created a timing pattern that switches between cameras to provide shot variety, and uses VOX to display a lower-third graphic with the restaurant logo and chef’s name during particular shots. “It’s like having a director switching the show, only we are doing it with logic gates and time intervals,” Walker explained. “It has a TV production look to it.

“We knew we wanted to go to Broadcast Pix. The system works really, really well – and the chef doesn’t have to remember to do anything.”

“The picture is night-and-day different. We’ve heard nothing but awesome feedback,” added Michael Oswald, Greenleaf vice president of food, beverage, and entertainment. “It’s a really cool visual experience for our guests.”

And they got their On/Off button.



● 1 Broadcast Pix Mica
● 1 Broadcast Pix VOX
● PTZ Controllable Cameras
● 2 Vaddio Roboshot HD-SDI 12
● 1 Vaddio Roboshot HD-SDI 30
● Vaddio trim kits and PoE Power Injectors


● Avigilon Micro Dome Camera
● H.264 Encoder
● HD Recorder


● 1 Media Matrix NION nX Dante


● 1 Powersoft Octanalli 1204 with Batformers


● Martin Audio CDD5 - Private Dining
● Martin Audio C6.8T - Distributed zone audio speakers
● Martin Audio CSX112BF Subwoofer


● 2 Shure SLX14 with Lavalier and Handheld
● 2 Shure PA8055W8 Wide Band Antenna
● Video Distribution
● 1 Intelix DLM HDM44 Matrix
● 1 Intelix Digi-1x4
● 3 Intelix DLHD70
● 3 Intelix DLHD60
● 1 Blackmagic Design 3GSDI - HDMI 4K
● 1 Blackmagic Design dual 3GSDI Monitor


● AJA Ki Pro Rack