25.11.08

Internal affairs

AUTHOR: Inavate

Czech systems integrators AV Media have provided the ministry of the interior with a well appointed, multi-purpose media centre for its HQ in Prague, writes Chris Fitzsimmons.

Large format projection, wireless conferencing and interpretation and extensive collaborative technologies are all things you might expect to see in a modern media briefing room for a large corporation, but perhaps not in a ministerial building.

So why, all of a sudden, has the Czech Republic’s government felt the need to come over all media friendly? The reason is the country’s impending chairmanship of the European Union in 2009. The new facility installed by AV Media is designed to be as a multifunctional as possible, enabling it to be used both as a public facing press room, or as an internal conference and briefing centre.

All the technologies employed are focused around sharing information, and interacting with it, both for the presenter, and attendees of an event. Equally the room is designed in such a way as to be able to re-arranged into several configurations depending on use.

The primary display system is comprised of a pair of Panasonic PT-FQ100NT projectors firing onto Projecta motorised screens. They can be operated independently or in parallel showing HD content such has overhead maps, photographs, or current documents as well as live video from the video conference system.

Because of the size of the room (which can seat almost 150 people), additional secondary plasma displays were installed. Two 50” Panasonic plasma displays, and two 40” models are ceiling mounted on custom built brackets. These are motorised, which means that when the displays are not in use they can fold flush to the ceiling, so as not to obscure sight lines to the main projection.

Two of the screens are located at the front of the room, effectively acting as monitors for whoever is presenting, whilst the other pair is rear-facing for the audience.

Also located at the front of the room is a further, 65” plasma display from Panasonic, which as been fitted with a Smart KLA365 interactive overlay kit. This allows the presenter or a group to annotate any content they wish, either that which is being shown on the main display system, or additional material.

Smart Technologies equipment was also used on the presenter’s podium. A 17” Sympodium panel serves both as a preview monitor for a talker, or as an interactive interface for annotation and control of computer sources.

A key aspect of the interactive solution is that it is fully integrated with the room’s video conferencing codec. Any aspect of what is occurring in the briefing room may be captured by the Tandberg HD 6000 MXP system for external transmission.

The primary sound system consists of JBL Control 26CT ceiling speakers, driven by Crown CT-Series amplifiers. Feedback elimination is provided by Tandberg’s Vortex system, linked to the VC codec. In addition, AV Media supplied a total of 20 pieces of Beyerdynamic’s MCWD-50 wireless conference system. This was selected due to its extreme flexibility, in terms of room configuration, and also ease of use when required. The conference system is linked by line-level outputs to both the VC and proceeding recording equipment.

Accompanying the conference system is Sennheiser’s fully digital infrared translation equipment, which provides up to five channels of interpretation to a maximum of 50 delegates.

All of this supplementary equipment is controlled from the AV control booth located just to one side of the podium. Both this, and the adjoining interpretation booth are covered with mirrored glass to prevent delegates from being disturbed. The technical room provides preview and monitor displays for all incoming and outgoing video signals, as well as master control over the Cue media control system. It is from here that the av technician can also control recording of events going on in the conference room.

The complex signal processing and routing system required to operate the room is based on Extron CrossPoint and MAV matrix switchers. For the VGA signals to the screens and projectors, CrossPoint Plus 84 and 88 units are used, with a MAV Plus 128 SVA being used for audio signals. The large number of channels was needed because the system design called for any of the signals to be able to be routed to any one or several of the displays. Either of the two main projectors, each of the Plasma displays, the interactive 65” or the control-room preview, as well as the recording and video conference equipment can be fed at any time.

The video conference system itself is based on the aforementioned Tandberg HD 6000MXP and is the primary method of co-operating with the outside world. It is transport agnostic, in that it can be operated simultaneously over both an ISDN or IP connection in HD resolution.

A pair of Tandberg VC cameras completes the outfit, providing recording facilities in addition to normal duties. They can give area shots of the room, or zoom in on a delegate or the podium position.

The project was carried out under the auspices of co-managers Radim Sejnoha and Viktor Guinyor, and was completed in September 2008.