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A Unique Dual-Purpose Integration: Mobile & Fixed

The most recent integration project started with a phone call from a local producer who planned to build a portable HD control room for Harvard’s School of Public Health. As initially conceived, this would involve a switching flypack that would move between 2 separate spaces in one building and provide all the control gear to turn a conference room or large performance space into a remote camera production studio.  We were familiar with the construction of a portable flypack and the installation of remote cameras but putting these functions together presented some interesting challenges.  For example, where was the line between the portable and the installed equipment?  How do we connect the 2 systems so they’ll work well together and separate easily?  These questions made the project unique, and we were definitely up for the challenge. Once we started working on the portable production aspect, the architects who were overhauling the conference room suggested we design and build the audio/visual portion in that space.  Consistency was the main objective.  By building the mobile flypack first, once in the conference room, it had to work in tandem with the audio visual components (e.g., teleconference, boundary microphones, resident computers, a VERY large display, etc.) in this more permanent space. It was the right way to handle this type of design, and as we moved through this particular phase, we became increasingly aware of the relationship between both aspects of the project. Overall, whether the production equipment is mobile or in the control room, the objective was to produce the highest quality HD material for both live streaming over the web and broadcast feeds to a variety of news outlets.  Because both systems would overlap in some of their hardware, it meant that much of the equipment in the conference room would conform to very high specifications.  For example, it’s not common to use a high-end HDSDI signal to feed a teleconferencing system.  It’s also not common to use Lite Panels (production lighting) on the speaker in a conference room setting.  The dual purpose for this space made the high-end choices budgetarily necessary. After wrapping up the design phase, and then preassembling and testing the gear in our shop, construction is finished and we’re now moving the gear on site in order to have the entire room tested and ready for production early next month. At this particular point in the project, it strikes me that despite all the overlap within these 2 co-existing systems (and no matter what the final purpose of the room) — video is still video and audio is still audio! Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services