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News in pics 23 June 2010

Lighthouse's record-breaking LED screen for Italian TV; Victorian Pennines farmhouse gets hi-tech makeover; Turning Grade I listed Welsh National Assembly building into multi functional space; Anolis and Robe light Fusion venue

One of the most popular Italian TV formats in recent months has been song contests for very young talent and one of those, Io Canto, produced by RTI and directed by Roberto Cenci for Mediaset channel Canale 5, chalked up some really impressive figures: as well as a live audience of about 500 spectators, the show reached a peak audience of almost seven million viewers.

The show’s impressive set, designed by Marco Calzavara from EVR, occupied a third of Studio 20, one of the country’s largest TV studios located at the Mediaset production centre on the outskirts of Milan, and featured a huge curved Lighthouse screen, which was reputedly the screen with the highest resolution ever mounted in a TV studio and fed with a single signal.

Video and lighting contractor EVR Media of Udine installed a Lighthouse LED screen made up of 698pcs R10 SMD 10mm panels with a configuration of 7680 pixels (horizontal) by 576 (vertical). The screen was flown from a custom-built structure forming a sort of semicircular shell round the band and the performers and positioned in such as way as to enable a camera to run along below it for eye-catching upstage coverage.

The high resolution was possible thanks to the generation of graphic signals, realized by specialist firm Clonwerk and processed by the EVR Media team with two Vista Spyder, 344 video processors and 22 Lighthouse Interface Processors, suitably calibrated and fined tuned as far as size, colour metrics and brightness were concerned.

Prataviera explains the brief received: “The director specified that he wanted the content on the LED screen to be a single signal feed from the control room, consisting of graphics with windows of pre-recorded and live in-studio shots. The director of photography, on the other hand, insisted on coordination and absolute precision as far as the LED’s colour and brightness were concerned. A total workforce of over 40 was involved in the video project, including those responsible for hardware and control.”

A remote stone farmhouse on the West Pennine Moors has been given a hi-tech makeover by home automation installer Morban, featuring Cytech Europe’s Comfort Intelligent Home System.

The traditional farmhouse, built in 1870, was modernised and extended as his family home by owner, Nigel – a property investor and developer. The family – wife Ashley and two children, a girl of 6 and a boy aged 4, love the ease and simplicity of their home automation system that they can all operate. “It’s really great. You can control the gates, view all the CCTV cameras, distribute video and TV throughout the house to the 12 flat screen TVs and much more”, said Nigel.

 “We worked on this project over quite a long period, about five months, whilst the house was being restored,” commented Geoff Banks, director at Morban. “The key factor was a need for high security in this very rural and iconic location. The owner also needed easy to use remote access to all the home controls – and no visible wires.”

The Comfort Intelligent Home System was installed to interface with control technology for the two gates, three garages in their own block, the Systemline audio control, three touch control panels and the Velux windows throughout the house. Additional technology installed by Morban includes the 12 flatscreen TVs, HD video distribution system for TV and the CCTV cameras, multi-room audio and video, an AV server storing music and films, and the CCTV cameras visible from screens anywhere in the house and over the internet.

Llanelli based Vaughan Sound Installations (VSI), part of the PAI Group, has installed and integrated new sound, lighting, video and control elements for The Pierhead in Cardiff Bay, transforming the main room of the Grade One listed building of the National Assembly for Wales into a multi functional space.

It is one of the city of Cardiff’s most familiar landmarks, originally built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company.

The stunning venue’s main hall can now be run as an interactive visitor attraction or used for numerous events and functions. VSI worked to a technical specification originated by theatre consultant Paul Covell, adding its own expertise and specialist knowledge.

The new installation includes a projection system that 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.

The project was led for VSI by Keith Fish, who 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.

The Panasonic projectors are neatly ensconced in the complex cosmetic and structural detail of the ceiling. 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.

The History Show is fully automated. The content 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 preset 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.

The control equipment is neatly tucked away in an adjacent anteroom, and includes Kramer switchers and networking and a Tascam DVD player.

Sound is delivered through a Martin Audio system selected for its quality and value. The four white Martin AQ8 white speakers are 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 controller. A selection of microphones and stands completed the audio picture, 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.

Fusion is the latest all-in-one restaurant/bar/club venue to open in Northampton, UK, and has been an instant success with its blend of accessible international cuisine, elegant interior design and cool energy-efficient lighting.

Owners Rochmills initially approached the UK office of leading LED brand Anolis when they were looking for environmentally friendly, low maintenance interior and exterior lighting schemes for this new-build project. Anolis had come highly recommended to them, and, explains Anolis’s Scott Callis, “They in turn have the foresight to consider green issues and be prepared to invest money now to save in the long term”. 

The brief then expanded to include lighting for the downstairs VIP lounge and after-party area, which was designed by Nathan Wan of Robe UK.

This was the first area to be lit. The building is situated on Northampton’s busy downtown artery of Wellingborough Road, right in the middle of the action for anyone heading into town for a night out. A basic scheme had already been suggested for the outdoor elements, so that was followed through with 50 Anolis ArcLine Optic K2s that are tucked underneath the soffits running around the outer edge of the building.

These smoothly downwash the walls creating a rich colour-changing, beacon-like effect, marking the building out from all others in the street, where it is the only one imaginatively lit.

Lounge bar/club
The latest technology was requested in here, to help create a fabulous champagne bar vibe explains Nathan Wan, who duly spec’ified six of Robe’s new Robin 300 plasma spots. These are eco-friendly and have a lamp life in excess of 10,000 hours. They are also extremely compact, so ideal for the intimate nature of the space.

One of the visual ideas is that these can produce dynamic, changing and gently undulating breakup effects around the walls and across the ceiling, bathing the room in “subtlety and sophistication” when the space is in lounge mode. However they can also come to life when the mood is right and the dancefloor is packed, complete with a full selection of chases and exciting colour mixing effects.

Robe’s package for this area also offered a Media Fusion server system and an integrated video control solution to run content for all the plasmas screens dotted around the room and an LCD projector. Wan specified Anolis RGBA ArcLink4 strips to trim the front of the bar, and inside a ceiling feature above the bar are non optic ArcLine 36s making a highly effective light box look. Additional ArcLinks skim around the front of the DJ console.

The room has two large steel structural columns going through it, which have been made into bar tables. Above each of these are four Anolis ArcSource6 Warm Whites, adding ambient downlighting.

The karaoke booth to the side of the dancefloor is glammed up with eight ArcSource 3s ensconced in the ceiling.
All the lighting is controlled via a Jands Vista PC with touchscreen control, and Robe also supplied one of their Haze 400 FT fog machines.

Fusion has two large dining areas on the first and second floors. Lighting for these plus their associated serveries, corridors and toilets was co-ordinated by Scott Callis.

Between them, the two restaurant areas contain nearly 300 Anolis fixtures – primarily a mix of ArcSource 12 Warm and Cool Whites in recessed fittings and ArcSource 3 Cool Whites. They are divided into five zones.

The Warm Whites are installed in the ceiling areas throughout the dining rooms providing soft downlight on the tabletops and food. The ArcSource 12 is a bi-directional fitting and a direct replacement for the standard AR111 lightsource. Specifying these also gives in-built contingency for the tables to remain properly lit even if they are moved into different configurations for functions, etc. The corridors, toilets and buffet areas are all lit with Cool White units.

The Anolis fittings are all powered by ArcPower SmartWhite drivers with an ArcControl 1024 fully programmable DMX controller on each floor that gives separate control over the different zones and a master dimmer to tweak levels at any time.