23.01.08

Infinite knowledge

AUTHOR: Inavate

Impact Marcom has completed a major re-equipment of the Djanogly Innovation Centre for Europe (DICE) conference room at Nottingham Trent University including an innovative large format display and multiple video sources.

Nottingham Trent University is one of the largest universities in the UK, with over 25,000 students. Its lectures and classes are held in some of the city's oldest buildings and yet the university has invested in some of the nation’s most advanced, cutting edge audio visual technology to enhance its learning facilities and provide a modern environment in which lectures and conferences can take place.

The university's Djanogly Innovation Centre for Europe (DICE) conference room recently underwent a major technological refurbishment, updating the room's AV equipment to fit with the rest of the contemporary, glass-fronted building and state of the art amenities. The modernised conference room has the capacity to house over 160 seated visitors and was completed in mid-September by AV specialist Impact Marcom, in time for a university-wide internal exhibition, NTU Working Together, just days later.

Impact Marcom was approached by Nottingham Trent University's AV Manager, Craig Stonall, in May of this year to help design and install the system. The aim was to bring the out-of-date room up to speed with the host of sophisticated AV facilities available.

Craig Stonall initiated the DICE conference room project and described the specifications of the install: "We wanted the room to be flexible as it is used for both corporate and educational applications. We wanted to create a big visual impact, as well as a room that was functional, simplistic and modern. I contacted Impact Marcom to develop the spec and work on what technologies we could incorporate into the room."

Adrian Livsey of Impact Marcom commented on the solution they employed: "Integral to the system is the 4 x 4 Infinite Plasma wall from UK distributors PSCo. The reasoning behind the choice of the Multiple Plasma Display Panels (MPDP) was primarily the room itself. The previous system was quite basic and dated, with a projector situated at the rear of the room, but the distance led to poor image quality and lecturers often complained of the glare from the projector bulb. With a very high, curved ceiling there was no option for a ceiling-mounted, short throw projector and the sky lights make it difficult for a projector to produce any sort of decent picture quality.

“Initially, we hired the Infinite Plasma wall on a temporary ‘trial run’ and on the basis of that we decided to invest in a permanent install,” added Stonall. "One of my major concerns was that our staff wouldn't be able to use the new technology, but the display is simple to use in conjunction with various inputs, which we programmed into the screens. The wall also allows a split screen function, which speakers and lecturers have found particularly useful and obviously the 'wow' factor is great for corporate events."

The screens are the next generation product with a seam gap of just 3.8mm, increased contrast and brightness ratios, combined with a new anti-reflective surface; they are perfect for high ambient light environments. “The Infinite Plasma wall offered the perfect solution, with high definition imagery and a brightness that would combat the room's ambient lighting. We really like the system, it's extremely flexible and easy to program. The screens can display different imports from numerous locations and it is still straightforward enough for all of the university’s staff to use," said Livsey.

"The side wall of the conference room consisted of three 42" Panasonic Plasmas, to compliment the 4x4 plasma wall. These were set up to allow the same content as the main display, or a different input altogether, mainly for corporate functions or exhibitions held in the suite. Display distribution consisted of a Gefen VGA-DVI scaler, Extron 60-734-03 DVI Repeater as well as an Abtus AVA-DV119 DVI and Kramer VM-100YC S-Video Distribution amplifiers," continued Livsey. "The system incorporated multiple inputs from varying sources, including a SD37 VB DVD VCR Combi, the university's own PC & PC monitor, laptop and visualiser inputs, as well as a more advanced Crestron AV2 processor, touch panel, ethernet card, docking station, charger and a Kramer VP32XLN VGA 3:2 switcher. It is essential that the system enables use of these sorts of technologies, particularly for lectures and educational seminars."

Impact Marcom also installed a double lectern to house the necessary AV equipment, including the JVC AV-P960 XGA Visual Presenter and a Smart Sympodium ID350 interactive whiteboard panel with 15" interactive touch screen. Livsey commented: "It was really important that the system lent itself to interactive whiteboard technology via the Visualiser and Sympodium, situated on the lectern, these sorts of interactive technologies are essential AV for educational environments and allow lecturers to do things like annotate the lecture slides under discussion."

For conferences, events and even lectures, the microphone system incorporated one gooseneck lectern microphone and four Sennheiser 300 series radio microphones, two hand held and two lapel, to provide both lecturers and guest speakers with sufficient audio projection. Impact Marcom also supplied an aerial combiner, antennas and antenna boosters from the Sennheiser range, as well as an 8x8 Extron Matrix Switcher, Soundcraft Spirit M12 flat bed mixer and VM-3A 1:3 Stereo Audio Distribution Amplifier from Kramer.

Vital to the system was the Standalone Rack, which housed both audio and control equipment. Livsey explained: "The rack incorporates a PC and monitor, SD37 VB DVD VCR Combi and the university Freeview box. As the venue is quite large, audio equipment within the Standalone Rack consists of a P.A. system, including InterM R300 Plus P.A. Audio Amplifier, a pair of JBL Control 5's Program Audio Speakers and a pair of Control 23's P.A. Audio Speakers. The control equipment consisted of a Crestron AV2 Processor, 6.4" Wired Control Panel and Crestron Rack Mount System for the TPS-3000 panel.

“The rack also acts as a secondary control panel for university technicians so that, if needed, the system can be remotely controlled from the Standalone Rack. In fact, all the systems we supply and install for the university are network addressable which means the equipment can also be monitored remotely. This is achieved using an IP-addressable control panel which is either housed within the room, or a touch screen panel with an RJ45 input which can be plugged directly into the network, anything connected to this can be monitored remotely.”

The installation itself had to be completed within difficult circumstances and time constraints. Project Manager Chris Dossi explained: “The two main challenges we encountered were the time constraints of the install and the restructuring of the room. The conference room was highly booked and we couldn’t stay in the room for an extended period of time. We had to fit the work around lectures, classes, exams and corporate events, often having to move in and out of the room allowing for it to be used afterwards.”

“The building work also proved a major challenge, as the estimated one and a half tonne weight of the Infinite Plasma wall was too much for the old building. We worked alongside the university estates department to make sufficient structural changes to hold the weight of the display, using the recess of the old wall to discreetly hide the switching and distribution equipment.”

Livsey concluded: “We’ve worked with Nottingham Trent for many years, but this is the most specialist install we have completed for them. The DICE conference centre offers a lot more versatility than standard classrooms, and in terms of capabilities it integrates the most advanced technologies available on the market.”