Federation Hall goes digital with AMX
AUSTRALIA: Over the last two years, Parity Technology Consulting and integrators Soundcorp, have been working together to completely replace the back of house control and distribution infrastructure in Melbourne’s Federation Hall, refurbishing its ailing all-analogue backbone to a fully integrated, high-definition venue fully controlled via AMX Modero touchscreens.
‘The project started off with renewing the lectern and replacing the existing AMX control system,’ recalled Pasquale Valpied, Partner at Parity Technology Consulting. ‘Then it grew as we incorporated stage lighting and screen operation control via AMX. There’s now centralised control for the screen masking, all audio and video input sources, curtains, screen automation, stage and house lighting, presentation and cinema projectors, Dolby processor and even the slide projectors, all from an AMX NI3100.’
Control of the system is via two AMX Modero touchscreens, one mounted in the on-stage lectern and another in the bio box. ‘The MXD700 in the lectern has specific user settings, set out according to the University of Melbourne’s standard template for its lecturers,’ explained Sam Moore, sales manager at Soundcorp. ‘It’s got more pages, more control over the lighting and more functions to control the four projectors, the surround system and the microphones.’
At the heart of the complex video switching and distribution system is Extron’s new XTP platform. Accepting all forms of video input from HDMI to component analogue, and distributing signal via Cat-6, the XTP was vital to the functionality of the space. ‘XTP worked a treat,’ Mr Valpied elaborated. ‘It’s a good application for this space as we have limited video outputs, but a lot of different inputs, from standard to high definition, Betacam players and 35 mm film projectors. We can have a lot of control over the resolution and get our video and audio control articulated over Cat-6 cabling down to the stage.’
Integrating control of the XTP system to the AMX NI3000 enabled Soundcorp’s AMX programming master Martin Smith to achieve a lot of control with a minimum of cabling. As the venue is constantly in use and difficult to run new cabling from rack to stage, one of the solutions engineered for DVD and BluRay control was carried out with ported infra-red codes. On activating the lectern’s DVD play button, the NI3000 sends an IR command over IP to the Extron, which ports it down a Cat-6 cable to the stage, before adapting into an IR dongle on the front of the DVD player. Not only was this a handy workaround for cabling, it also saved control ports on the AMX.
While vision was key to the installation, one of the trickiest aspects of the job was audio integration. The space must not only be able to run operator-free orchestral performances, presentations or cinema easily, but also switch quickly to control by engineers from desks. All sources and mixes not only feed the house, but also the hearing assistance loop and Lectopia Echo360 lecture capture system.
Along with wireless and wired microphones patched to the existing Mackie analogue sound desk, a QSC DCP100 7.1 surround processor feeds QSC amps with decoded audio from the Extron XTP. To enable control and switching of sources, an Extron DMP128 12X8 digital matrix processor was also installed, enabling any source to be sent to any speaker in the auditorium, including the Krix surround system and FOH Bose Panarays.
Scott Morrison is proud to have taken part in such a complex refurbishment, and praised his partners. ‘It’s been a good positive relationship between the three parties,’ he said. ‘Because of the complexities of the space, there’s been a lot of positive discourse and collaboration around schematics and ideas. The workflow between client, contractor and consultant has been really good.’
Soundcorp’s Sam Moore is pleased to have overseen a long but successful project. 'Parity has done a great job of keeping up with new technology as the stages have been implemented. It’s taken the system from analogue to full HD digital. It’s been quite a journey. Working with Parity and the University of Melbourne, along with AMX and Extron, we’ve solved all of the issues that have come up and given a unique space a new lease on life.'