VSI overhauls AV at the Pierhead

Vaughan Sound Installations (VSI), part of the PAI Group, has overhauled audiovisual equipment at The Pierhead in Cardiff Bay. The company says the installation has transformed the main room of the Grade One listed building of the National Assembly for Wales into a multifunctional space.

The building was originally constructed in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. Its main hall can now be run as an interactive visitor attraction or utilised for numerous events and functions. VSI worked to a technical specification originated by theatre consultant Paul Covell.

A projection system shows a seven-minute video biography detailing the history of the Pierhead. This combines various archival and current materials and is projected onto six large electric roll-down screens (three per side) running down both sides of the walls of the main room.

Keith Fish led the project for VSI and said: “It was a pleasure to be involved with such a prestigious local and historical landmark site and being able to see the design through from conception to completion”.

The projection is via six Panasonic PT-D4000E machines. Behind the screens, the windows are in turn blacked out by an elegant series of roll-drop blinds, also supplied as part of the VSI package. These have been RAL matched and painted to fit the existing decor.

One of the installation challenges for VSI's team included making the technology blend into the existing environment as discreetly as possible. This was a primary stipulation by project architect David Barnes of Donald Insall Associates. Therefore, the white projectors were neatly ensconced in the complex cosmetic and structural detail of the ceiling.

The History Show is fully automated. The content - a mix of archival and contemporary stills and moving images - is stored on and replayed from a 7th Sense Delta media server. At the heart of the control system is an AMX NI3100 and 10” Modero touch screen controller which can be set to auto mode or be manually triggered from an eight button AMX pre-set control panel in reception. This enables staff to run the show when there are enough people in the space, complete with all the audio, lighting and video effects, switching and triggering.

Control equipment is neatly tucked away in an adjacent ante room, and includes Kramer switchers and networking and a Tascam DVD player.

Sound is delivered through a Martin Audio system, with four white Martin AQ8 white speakers powered by MA900 amplifiers, and run through an Allen & Heath 1DR8 digital signal processor and a Yamaha 01V 96VCM mixer, all switched via the AMX. A selection of microphones and stands completed the audio, together with two portable Mackie SRM450 speakers and stands that can be utilised for functions.

Part of the supply also included the installation of a basic event lighting into the space with Light Project lanterns, a Zero 88 Chilli dimmer pack and Juggler control console. The lighting and sound system control consoles can also be used independently for live events taking place at the Pierhead.

The display of e-voting information was also incorporated as part of the package, allowing visitors to have their say on issues of the day, with the results and information displayed on the screens. The idea behind this is to widen democracy by engaging voluntary and community organisations in public debates and exhibitions.

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