Combine and configure at the CICG in Geneva
Installing 8 large conference rooms is tough, but when the rooms are designed to merge it takes real skill to deliver an easy to use system. Paul Milligan visits the CICG in Geneva to find out how it was done.
When your conference venue is booked out for the next five years it can make it very difficult to keep on top of the latest technology, and that was the problem facing FIPOI and its teams managing the CICG (Centre International de Conferences Genève) in Geneva, Switzerland. FIPOI (The Foundation for Buildings for International Organisations) is a private foundation created jointly in 1964 by the Swiss Confederation and the local government of Geneva to provide international organisations with facilities. The CICG has been specifically designed to host international conferences and can accommodate for up to 2,200 people in rooms of varying sizes and configurations. The Centre contains 19 conference rooms of between 20 and 300 seats, and 2 large rooms with 350 and 1,000 seats.
Built in 1968 (and renovated entirely in 2005), the CICG has just completed a major technical renovation in two phases; December 2018 and September 2019. Phase one saw the technical update of rooms 1, 2, 3 and 4 and phase two that of rooms 5, 6, 15 and 18. Tasked with designing and installing the new AV systems was Swiss-based AV system integrator Projection Nouvelle. Alexandre Rouvelet, technical director, indicates that the relationship between the CICG’s AV team and Projection Nouvelle was key to the success of the project. Jérémy Marie, the FIPOI AV manager adds that the brief pushed for reliability and ease of use; “CICG customers do not want to be limited in their events by having to worry about technical issues.”
Given the types of conferences run at the CICG, the choice was made to install Televic conferencing equipment, so as to offer flexibility in merging rooms easily. Decision was also made to standardize all the conference equipment for all 8 rooms, making it easier to manage repeat clients. This meant 842 Confidea F-CS listening units, 66 Televic Unicos 10-in multimedia presidency units and 1,018 Confidea T-DI delegate units. Before installing the equipment, Projection Nouvelle created a proof of concept room at the CICG so the client could test functionalities of the Televic multimedia and delegate units. “Televic indicated it was their biggest installation ever under this configuration,” says Marie. Each delegate unit houses a microphone and voting capabilities. Because the interpretation devices are key to CICG conferences, redundancy is also a key issue. “The interpretation system is fully redundant. For each device two cables come from two different switches and each switch is powered by a different power supply. If a device failure appears, the conference can still continue with other devices,” says Rouvelet.
The four main rooms (1, 2, 3 and 4) are equipped with interpretation booths for six to eleven languages and can be used either independently or merged under a single large plenary room configuration, by using mobile walls and panels. Room 1 can seat 940 attendees, has 11 interpreter booths, and features 14 Unicos 10-in presidency units, 380 Confidea T-DI delegate units and 548 Confidea F-CS listening units. It also features a 20,000 lumens Panasonic PT-RZ21 laser phosphor projector which projects onto an 8x6-metre Oray CineVision projection screen. On the top floor of each large room in the CICG sits a technical booth, run by the CICG’s in-house AV team, housing a standardized Soundcraft Si Impact 40-input digital mixing console. Each renovated room is fitted with Panasonic PTZ cameras, playing a vital role in large conferences. When rooms 1, 2, 3 and 4 are merged there are a total of 20 cameras at work. Because of the number of people participating to a conference, cameras have to work hard to locate speakers in the audience. To facilitate this search, Projection Nouvelle wrote a bespoke software. Rouvelet explains that “Each seat is memorised in the program and when a microphone is opened (on the delegate unit) the camera moves to the position on a preview screen. The operator can adjust the pan/tilt/zoom before clicking on a (AMX 10-in Modero X Series) touch panel to stream the camera. The system also works in full automatic mode.”
Because rooms are so large and yet require a different setup 3-4 times a week, cabling was a major issue. The delegate units are all powered by hidden Cat6 cables. “The CICG building is 50 years old, so there are no false floors and the floor cable slots are quite small. The configuration changes daily, so the cabling is structured to give as many possible configurations as possible,” says Rouvelet. To help with the cabling situation Projection Nouvelle designed what it calls “entre-table” (which translates as “between tables” and can be described as a small box, linked to a mini rack). “With its HDMI, VGA and mic inputs and HDMI outputs, we can move these boxes everywhere and configure them as wanted. Delegates can use them to plug in a laptop, or send a signal to a screen,” says Rouvelet. There are two to seven per room and they provide a central cog in making the rooms as flexible and configurable as possible.
Room 2 seats 500 people, and features 8 interpreter booths, 12 Unicos multimedia presidency units, 242 Confidea T-DI delegate units and 286 Confidea F-CS listening units. Because rooms can be merged (and often are), all stages in the CICG can move. The floor of the stage in Room 1 can move down by about 20 meters when rooms 1+2 are combined. All the presidency devices can be dismounted and remounted as required. Room 2 also features a 12x5.5-metre video wall, which consists of 320 Leyard LED tiles, with a resolution of 4,800x2,176 pixels, driven by an AnalogWay Ascender 32 video wall processor. Audio in Room 2 is driven by two Active Audio line arrays and amplifier. All rooms are linked by fiber optic cables to a central control room. All audio is routed by a Biamp Tesira Dante processor to give flexibility says Rouvelet, “We can send and receive signals, so we can move the sound everywhere. It’s also possible with the AMX SVSi system and Televic to create VLAN distribution and combine rooms with fiber optic, with one button on AMX touchpanel.”
Bandwidth was another key consideration because the client wanted AV signals to be sent around the various rooms, but also to the CCV (Centre de Conférences de Varembé) located across the road. Providing bandwidth to a 50-year old building proved to be one of the biggest challenge of the project says Rouvelet. “We have 90 SVSI encoders and 110 decoders and had to be careful with the switch conception. There is a central technical room to which all rooms are connected with 10 Gb fibre. In each room we have a local switch. It was also a challenge to combine the Televic system just with one button, the multimedia units are also a broadcasting system, so you have to be careful when you design the concept.”
Rooms 3 and 4 both seat 104 people each, have 6 interpreter booths and a moveable stage, with images provided by a 6,500 lumens Panasonic PT-MZ670 LCD laser projector on a 4.5x3-metre Oray No-Limit screen. Both rooms feature 10 Televic Unicos multimedia presidency units, 108 Confidea T-DI delegate units and 4 Confidea F-CS listening units. Rooms 5, 6, 15, and 18 feature 5,200 lumens Panasonic PT-RZ570 laser 1-chip DLP projectors.
Rooms 5 and 6 can both seat 60 people each, and feature 4 Unicos units, 60 Confidea T-DI units. Room 15 features 6 Unicos units, 26 Confidea T-DI units, with Room 18 providing 6 Unicos units and 34 Confidea T-DI units. In case TV companies want to broadcast footage from a conference, there are 5 mobile racks in different language feeds available.
Working in a 50-year old building undoubtedly generates unexpected issues for any integrator, but having been able to deploy the project in four-weeks was a very impressive work done by Projection Nouvelle. To top it off, the client is very satisfied, “The quality of what we are now able to deliver to our conferencing clients is truly impressive.”
Active Audio MPA 6150 line array
Biamp TesiraForte CI audio server
Presonus eris e4.5 studio monitors
Sennheiser SL 1 BE mics, SL H DW-3 wireless mics
Soundcraft Si Impact Dante digital mixing console
Symetrix x12 Dante expanders
Televic Confidea F-CS listening units, Unicos presidency units, Confidea T-DI delegate units
AMX MXT-1000 Modero touch panel, NMX-ENC-N3132 encoder, NMX-DEC-N2422 decoder
Audipack QFIX 3-0500TG mounts
Blackmagic Design ATEM 2 M/E production switcher
Extron DA HD 4K distribution amplifier
Leyard LED video wall tiles
Oray CineVision, No Limit projection screens
Panasonic AW-HE130K PTZ cameras, MZ670, PT-RZ21, RZ570 projectors
SMS FH MT mount