A leading manufacturer of office and technology accessories since 1917, Fellowes Brands owns and operates 17 subsidiaries worldwide. When the global company decided to upgrade the Burnham conference room at its headquarters northwest of Chicago, it tapped OSA Integrated Solutions, Inc., of neighboring Wood Dale, to design and install a new AV system.
“The Burnham Room is a large multipurpose room that Fellowes mainly uses for large executive meetings and presentations with outside manufacturers and vendors,” relates OSA Director of Integration Brandon Gardner, who co-designed the new system with colleague John Sinshack. “The room has tables that can be moved for different setups, so they can meet in a circle or have a more podium-focused meeting. We had to figure out the locations they’re going to present from, get cables to those locations, and ensure the presentations could be seen and heard throughout the room.”
OSA’s solution was an AV-over-IP network managed by a Q-SYS Core 110f processor, with audio ingest via AES67 and video distribution using Visionary Solutions DuetE and D4100 4K UHD encoders and decoders. “The biggest thing that led us to doing an IP system was that the client wanted to integrate Skype for Business and soft codec conferencing from laptops they would bring in,” Gardner explains. “In traditional systems, if you want those capabilities, you use a desktop computer in a rack. These days, everybody’s using laptops. The ability to use any laptop with Skype and other sources is a major benefit of the Q-SYS Platform and Visionary Solutions IP network, and it’s what led the client to choose this system.”
Both OSA and Fellowes were treading new ground. “We had used the Q-SYS Platform in the past, but this was our first deployment of Q-SYS with Visionary Solutions,” recalls Gardner. “We were up front with the client about that, and they were initially skeptical about deploying a system they were unfamiliar with. But we knew this was the correct solution. I wanted that challenge. I did not want to quote them a traditional system because it wasn’t the correct solution.”
The new AV system offers five HDMI inputs equipped with Visionary Solutions DuetE encoders, which serve the podium, the front table, a Barco ClickShare wireless presentation system, a DirecTV cable box, and a Q-SYS PTX12x72 conference camera. Three Visionary Solutions D4100 decoders feed an 89-inch Samsung front main display and two Barco 55-inch LCD displays on the right wall. The encoders and decoders are powered over Ethernet.
“What’s great about the Visionary Solutions decoders is that since we’re using RS-232, the client can swap out those video displays for virtually any display, and regardless of the display resolution, the decoders will adapt,” Gardner enthuses. The client controls the system with a tabletop-mounted QSC TSC-80-G2 8-inch touch screen controller or an Apple iPad.
“At the podium and all table HDMI locations, we installed a Q-SYS I/O-USB bridge so the client can plug a laptop into USB and drive their entire Skype videoconference call or audio call from whatever laptop they bring in,” Gardner notes. The system uses an analog phone line for audio conferencing but can be updated to VOIP.
Then Gardner and the OSA team took a deep dive to give the client something special. “We built a custom script using the software-based control engine within Q-SYS so you can plug into any HDMI or USB input, and the system will recognize that a device is plugged in, turn on all of the displays, and flip to the proper presentation control page on the QSC touch panel. If you plug in a second HDMI or USB source, the sources are selectable. When you unplug every HDMI and USB source in the system—except for the DirecTV and ClickShare, which are they’re not in the control chain—the system will shut down and power off all of the displays in 30 seconds.
“This is the first time we’ve deployed a system that’s plug-and-play to the point that the client doesn’t even have to use a touch panel. From the client’s perspective, that’s a huge benefit.”
A laptop is permanently in place at the podium and is always plugged into a Q-SYS USB I/O-USB bridge. It’s connected to the Internet and is preconfigured for Skype conferencing. When someone raises the lid on the laptop, if that’s the only source, all of the displays come on, and the laptop takes priority over other inputs.
Integrating the QSC and Visionary Solutions systems proved easy. “It was like working with one manufacturer,” Gardner attests. “In Q-SYS Designer Software, we just dropped in encoders and decoders and had control of them. There’s nothing complicated on our end.”
Designing and scripting the automation wasn’t nearly as easy but the OSA team found willing allies. “Support from both QSC and Visionary Solutions was key, especially because we were doing most of this for the first time,” Gardner recollects. “We were learning as we went along, and the Visionary Solutions guys were amazing; they were super responsive and happy to help.”
The results were well worth the hard work. “The system works flawlessly,” reports Gardner. “The client is super happy; they’re ecstatic. We’re already talking about new conference rooms using the Q-SYS Platform by QSC and Visionary Solutions. There’s no turning back now: I’ve joined the AV-over-IP cult.