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SVG Sit Down: Upfront Coordination of Systems Integration, Architecture, Audio Is Key to Successful Control-Room Design


SVG Sit Down: Upfront Coordination of Systems Integration, Architecture, Audio Is Key to Successful Control-Room Design Representatives of the three disciplines explain how that works By Karen Hogan Ketchum, Director of Production

Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 10:42 am

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As video-control rooms expand in both size and scope, the amount of coordination and coordinated effort required increases in both importance and complexity. Whether it's a new control room or renovation of an existing space, everyone involved in the project - from the client to the architect and systems integrator to the acoustics supervisor and engineer - must be on the same page from beginning to end of the project. Of course, with so many moving parts and people involved, this is easier said than done.

SVG sat down with three industry leaders representing three of the most vital roles in control-room design and construction: Kevin Henneman, owner, KMH AV Integration, spoke to the systems-integrator perspective; Neil Tucker, principal, Design Republic, offered the architect's point of view; and Ron Eligator, VP/project principal, Acoustic Distinctions, weighed in on the role of acoustics.

They shared how their disciplines currently work together and with the client throughout the design and build, what happens when a breakdown in communication occurs, and how coordinated effort at the beginning of the project results in satisfied customers at the end.

Kevin Henneman

Let's start with the importance of a coordinated effort in designing a video-control room. What happens when that coordinated effort is missing?

Kevin Henneman: The amount of coordination and, specifically, the amount of coordinated effort that needs to happen to make sure that all the components of either building a brand-new control room or modifying an existing control room to meet new workflows and requests is so important. If it's not done properly, you [can] look at all the drawings and go through all the requirements and talk through everything for months and yet end up with a camera position that's 6 ft. too low, a camera position that has a girder blocking it, or conduits that are not big enough to get the connectivity. All these little different components, if they're not coordinated, will [result] in a product that the customer's not happy with. Between Ron, Neal, Arthur [Metzger, managing principal of AMA Consulting Engineers, who was unable to join the conversation], and me, we've built lots of control rooms and lots of facilities. And we've been through the ringer on what happens when it isn't coordinated. [What we want to do is] emphasize what needs to go into the planning and where our overlap points are [in delivering] a proper, professional finished product.

Control rooms, especially in a stadium or arena, used to be thought of as simply replay-control rooms. How much do you need to care about audio when you're just putting images up on videoboards? I think those days are over, and, [for] every room we're involved with now, we're being asked to modify or adapt or turn it into something that can be used not only for replay but for broadcast. If you're going to capture audio and video content, you should be planning that space to deliver to all the possible places it can be delivered to, budget and timeframe allowing. The replay-control room is becoming a broadcast center, and I think the four of us can offer some insight into how that gets done the proper way.

Neil Tucker

Neil Tucker: Ron, Arthur, and I participated in a panel at the NAB Show in 2011 where we represented the key consultants that should be considered at the start of a project. There was a lot of interest in it because you have a lot of folks responsible for either maintaining or developing and redeveloping facilities - whether a control room or a series of control rooms, audio-control room, mix room, or even studios. [We covered] what they should be thinking about even before they start down the path to matching real construction with integration, because a lot of their expertise might be in the integration end of things but not in the shaping of a room that has to perform acoustically, technically, and with a level of flexibility that's going to serve them for years.

We talked about the steps of design from what we call programming through schematic design, design development, construction documents, [and more]. The very close work should be happening where we're in lock step: with broadcast-systems integration at the same time we're shaping spaces and rooms, first on paper and then in three dimensions, and then ultimately into construction. That coordination between broadcast-systems integration, architecture, engineering, and acoustical needs to be tight.

Ron Eligator

Ron Eligator: The benefit of something like this is to help people understand all the issues before they start thinking about integration. The planning - and from my point of view, we're talking about acoustics - and the issues are fairly straightforward. There's the background sound well, there's the room acoustics, there's noise control from air-distribution systems, and there may be some related vibration issues. There's equipment sound levels, and, in these larger control rooms, you get into questions of what is each person in the room listening to. There's the use of headphones and what signal are they listening to, what is the quality of that supposed to be, how do you keep multiple audio monitors from interfering with each other in a room, is everybody listening to the same audio channel or not, and how is that controlled?

Kevin talked about how replay rooms are becoming broadcast centers and what does that mean. From my point of view, it's a question of what
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