Specialists in Boat AV Take Their Expertise to Land
Challenge: Within a tight budget, create a multimedia experience for a French cultural center that doesn't have AV experts on staff.
In each classroom, teachers can show French TV programming from the Dish Network receiver on the classrooms' LG 26LC7DC 20-inch plasma flat-panel displays or play DVDs via the RCA DRC247N DVD players. A Sherwood RX-4105 receiver in each room helps manage the AV signals.
The lobby includes an LG 42PM1M 42-inch plasma flat-panel display with a Denon Professional DN-V755 network AV player, which the Alliance Francaise uses to push basic PC-driven digital signage content. "They're slideshows, but I think [Alliance Francaise] does more video than digital signage," says Stamper. "When they have a wine festival, they show wine. When they have a film festival, they show some promos; but when they show classroom schedules, they use PowerPoint." Four Bose FreeSpace Model 16 inch-ceiling loudspeakers in the lobby provide background music.
"We wanted to be able to show movies, have lectures produce and present plays; a wide range of activity," says Timon. TechnoSystems chose a Sanyo PLV-WF10 projector for presentations and a Samsung DVD V5600 DVD player for films. "Our system can play all sorts of DVDs, from Area 1, which is the States and Canada, but it also plays European DVDs in Area 2, and DVDs from Japan, from all over South America, and so on," boasts Timon.
He also enjoys the ease of setting up. "Basically, you press on the digital key [on the touch panel] that indicates movie, the electrical screen is coming down, the video projector is on, the DVD player is on, the sound system is ready, and you just need to insert the DVD and it plays."
Unfortunately for TechnoSystems, installing the Draper Premier series 184-inch screen didn't run as smoothly. "One thing that all of us didn't realize: There was an air-conditioning duct that was planned to come up right behind the screen," explains Stamper.
According to McConville, TechnoSystems "had to construct aluminum brackets to hold the screen out from the wall a little so that the airflow could get behind the screen." Otherwise, not only would airflow move the screen while in use, the mechanical engineer was concerned about the state of air pressure created if the air couldn't escape the room. "We drew the screen in; [no one]–not the architect, not us, not the GC–noticed that the A/C was coming up through the screen," continues Stamper. "Not even the A/C guy."
Al Fresco Affairs
The entertainment isn't limited to the multipurpose room–or even inside the building. Outside, five Bose FreeSpace DS16SE loudspeakers are mounted to the side of the building, where digital gray reflective acrylic paint from Goo Systems forms a screen for the Alliance's existing Sharp portable DLP projector. "We wanted a very good sound system that we could use on our terrace, which would be an extension of the multipurpose room," explains Timon. "We do social events, like the Music Day, Bastille Day, and every time we have over 1,000 people. Half of them are inside, but half of them are outside, so we wanted to be able to play, for instance, the sound inside and outside from bands."
TechnoSystems customized a weatherproof box with multiple inputs and a Crestron C2N-DB12 wall-mounted 12-button touch screen and mounted it on the outside wall of the multipurpose room. "The lines we used were the stuff we use on the ships–marine lines–they're weatherproof," says Stamper. "Being here, you get rain and you get hurricanes, but on ships you get salt, so we're used to dealing with the worse of it."
The Goo Systems paint is specifically made to act as a screen for digital projectors, allowing Alliance Francaise to also show films outdoors. "Miami is a great city to do things outside," says Timon. "And people love it because we [moved] the cafe outside as well. We have a small garden so people can eat and drink wine while watching a movie with excellent quality."
In November 2007, the Alliance Francaise celebrated its opening with a gala that included the French ambassador. According to Stamper, the organization solved budget concerns by financing the project through a leasing company, while TechnoSystems helped by sticking with reputable but inexpensive brands and making sure not to specify beyond what was needed. TechnoSystems continues to work with the Alliance on the control system's ease of use, providing technical support and making various requested adjustments, but both praise its flexibility. "That one-touch screen runs it all," says Stamper. "It's very simple to run and almost anybody can do it."
"We can really do everything, which is great," agrees Timon. "And the sound quality and the picture quality are really top of the range. People are very amazed, so this is very good."
A Soundcraft Spirit Folio FX16 sound board helps control the sound system for concerts, plays, and social gatherings. The Alliance Francaise shows French films in its outdoor cafe. Goo Systems, digital gray reflective paint forms the screen.
Credit: Left Photo: Courtesy Technosystems; Right Photo: Courtesy Wilk Marketing Communications