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Immersive Videoconferencing and Digital Signage at the NHL, Part 2

Apr 22, 2010 2:33 PM, By Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

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Immersive Videoconferencing and Digital Signage at the NHL, Part 1
Professional ice hockey is a furiously fast moving and exciting game, and the National League wanted visitors to its headquarters to get a real taste of it right out of the elevator. ...

Visitors to the headquarters of the National Hockey League are immersed in the sights and sounds of the game right away and along with that, state-of-the-art conferencing facilities were set up by McCann Systems featuring multiscreen video and surround sound. McCann’s Joe Fusaro is here to give us the low down on how they made it happen.

OK, Joe, in part one we were talking about the installation that McCann Systems did at the headquarters of the National Hockey League way up there on the top floors in downtown New York, and you’ve got audio and video coming at you everywhere when you walk into this place. Then we got into the conferencing system. They’ve got a big 50in. plasma monitor in there. How do you get video to the big monitor?
Well what we did in the rooms is there’s a dual monitor. There’s a projector and also a 50in. flatpanel plasma monitor, and there are two display devices in the room: a projector and an 50in. plasma screen, and what we did was we used an Analog Way Octo-Plus to feed the two displays. We were able to set the resolution to the native panel of the projector and also the flatpanel TV, so all the sources come in at the highest resolution that they are able to produce and the Analog Way Octo kicks it up to the native resolution on the display and you get a nice clean crisp image. Those are also fed via DVI with DVI extenders, and they are able to, through the Crestron system, pick which monitor they want to use. And if they want to alternate between the two in the middle of a meeting, it’s just a press of a button. [Timestamp: 1:59]

It’s a typical thing, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, but very simple from the user interface point of view, I guess.
Yeah, absolutely. The whole goal was to give them a lot of features and a lot of different things that you could do in the room but you still want somebody to be able to walk in and use it and not be intimidated by it. And part of that goes into how you design your touchpanels as well, and we laid them out in a fashion where if they’re fairly intuitive. Someone could walk in there and look at it, start touching buttons, and it’s obvious how to run the system. [Timestamp: 2:29]

Yeah, I mean there has to be a fairly easy learning curve on it because these are not, I guess, primarily tech people that are going to be using this. You mentioned the Analog Way Octo. The area of video routers is a very competitive market. What made you choose the Analog Way Octo for this particular job?
Two reasons: One because of its ability to take in all different resolutions and give us a native resolution that we could set for each display, and also because it had the dual monitor output, and this fit perfectly with what we were doing with the two different type of displays—projector and the flatscreen. [Timestamp: 3:04]

And they’ve got the big conference room plasma monitor and how does the control signal get to that? Is that a serial or infrared?
All serial. Yeah, we don’t do infrared. Infrared is good for residential but not for corporate. You want to know that when they hit a button to turn a flatpanel on or to change inputs that it actually happens, and with serial, it’s obvious. In industry, you send a signal, TV does it, and it bounces back what it just did and [the] control system can confirm that what it wanted to happen actually did happen. [Timestamp: 3:31]

Yeah, it seems like a lot of the infrared features on the things is just one power button. A lot of times…
...where if it’s already on, and you have to try to outsmart the system to figure out if it’s already on or whether it’s off.
Yeah, and you don’t want to be saying to this professional when he walks into the room to use the system, “Oh, try hitting that again, maybe it will turn on this time.” They walk in the room, they have their people in there, they want to run their meetings. and you want to make sure that it goes off without a hitch. [Timestamp: 3:58]

It’s got to be set to turn of some time…
…so that it doesn’t run continuously and that can get tricky if you’re trying to use infrared control too.
Exactly right, and we do have timers built into the system that turn the system off late into the evening, and when the control system sends out that system off command, you want to know that it actually happened because the TV acknowledges the turn off, the Crestron system realizes it, and everything is good. [Timestamp: 4:23]

How do they get the satellite feeds in there? Where do they come from?
Satellite feeds were picked up off of the riser. They were satellite dishes that were placed on a rooftop riser, and we had our demark point that we picked off of. The satellite receivers themselves are within each AV rack within each conference room and it was just a horizontal feed from the AV rack over to the riser. [Timestamp: 4:46]

And that’s just a co-ax it carries on in there?
Yeah, we ran RG-11 for that.

Of course, you’ve got the ClearOne audio conferencing that we talked about before. The control interface that they use in there, the Crestron touchpanel…
Yeah. Is there any particular reason why you went with Crestron or I mean there are other touchpanel people so…
Yeah, this particular panel fit in size and also comes with a optional docking station that we installed in a room, and you can place it down on a docking station to run the system, and it looks like it belongs within the docking station. It doesn’t look like two pieces, and then if you pick it up you can walk around the room and run your presentation at the same time. So it’s quite versatile. [Timestamp: 5:31]

And in the executive board room, I think they’ve got one of those too. You’ve got a big 20—what is that?—a 122in. videowall?
Yeah, it’s a 122 in. videowall. What we did there is we had enough space that were able to design a rear projection system for them, and then doing so rather than just doing a frame with a tension screen, we went with a Stewart Starglass on a single bounds rear projection rig with a Christie projector. And with the benefits of the Starglass and the contrast that it offers the picture is absolutely stunning—nice and bright. It pops. Even during the day you are able to see the picture. Obviously, we made sure that the AV room was painted black and dark there so we don’t have any light within that room carrying onto the screen, and that’s what gives it that nice clear image with plenty of color, and the Christie projector is a great projector—a lot of lumens behind and it’s a DLP, so our color palate is very good. [Timestamp: 6:32]

What was it, a HD5K projector?
Yes, HD5K, correct.

Yeah, well, that’s a really good unit. A lot of people are using that. Seems to be well tested at least. So I understand there was a surround system in there too?
Yep, there’s a 7.1 surround system in there, and here I guess we went to a little home theater, wasn’t that difficult but a high-end home theater type speaker system. We used speakers by a company called Triad. They’re hidden room LCR systems for the front, and obviously, we have a left and right speaker flanking the screen. The center channel is just below it with a subwoofer also framed within the front videowall, and then we have in the ceiling surround speakers by Triad. They were installed inside the ceiling, flush to the ceiling, and it’s a 7.1 surround sound. For videoconferencing, there’s a separate set of speakers for that, but they do a mix of a surround sound for a hockey video that they’re creating. They can play it back, people can comment on it and listen to it, and it’s real simple 7.1 surround system. [Timestamp: 7:41]

OK, so you’ve got a source rack back there, I guess, inside the rear projection room?

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