A trio of training spaces that can be used separately and combined effortlessly is the hallmark of an installation at the Auditor-General South Africa’s new building based in Century City, Cape Town. Francois du Plessis, managing director of Cape Town-based systems integrator InchBrook Audio Visual, explains all to David Davies.

“InchBrook Audio Visual has been involved in some landmark projects over the past 12 years, and that trend continues with our most recent work at the new building in Century City, Cape Town, occupied by the Auditor-General of South Africa. For anyone not in the know, the Auditor-General is the supreme audit institution of South Africa and was established to strengthen the country’s democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector.

“As one might expect from a facility of this type of role and prominence, there was an expectation that the AV installation in the building’s new training venue would be of the highest possible quality. Those requirements called for a very exacting process of design and specification.

“The primary aspect of the project as far as specified in the client’s requirement specification was to equip three training rooms with a capacity of about 80 to 100 in each case – two of which could be fused into one when required for larger gatherings. In particular, we needed to be able to combine the projectors in these spaces – not an easy task when there are support pillars on a grid pattern throughout the rooms that created an issue with regard to visibility and, by default, the angle of projection. We addressed this by using a total of three different screens – two in one of the rooms and one in the other.’

Clarity and reliability

Cobus Badenhorst, project manager at InchBrook Audio Visual, adds: “With an installation of this nature, it was evident that we needed projectors that we knew would be reliable and easy to operate. For these and other reasons, we selected Dell 4220 HD DLP Digital Projectors. With 4100 ANSI lumens brightness and high resolution capabilities, you can project ultra-bright, high-quality images in a wide range of lighting conditions. In addition, 4:3 ratio Cyber Series motorised, ceiling-recessed projection screens from Grandview were installed. With a three-metre wide horizontal viewing area the screens are quite large, but they do offer great visibility, which is obviously at a premium given the need to separate and recombine the rooms.

“As a company, InchBrook had used the Dell 4220s on a number of previous projects, with considerable success. In the case of the Auditor General installation, the IT department was familiar with Dell, too, and knew that they offered excellent after-sales service including a three-year next business day swap-out warranty, so it was a pretty straightforward decision.

“For connectivity and content sharing, we opted to use Barco ClickShare. It’s an increasingly popular wireless presentation and collaboration system, and one that we have deployed in a host of recent projects to allow meeting participants to share content on a central meeting room screen. Using ClickShare allows the display of content from laptops, tablets and smartphones at the click of a button.

“From our experience across a wide variety of corporate and public sector installations, we know that there is still demand for legacy VGA connectivity but also a desire to “futureproof’ with HDMI. Therefore, there is a need to make provision for both types of equipment, and in that context ClickShare provides a welcome alternative given that it based around USB-type connectivity. It really blows the whole VGA/HDMI issue out of the water! Add to that the ability to wirelessly connect to the base station with a smart phone or android device and you have all your presentation connectivity angles covered.

“From previous installations – such as the offices of leading wine and spirits producer Distell and Business Connexion Group, a South African based information and communications technology company – we were aware that ClickShare was reliable and would not require us to keep returning to the site for maintenance. So once again, it was a system that essentially selected itself.

“Kramer switching and room control equipment has also found its way onto many of our projects. For the Auditor-General building, we used their VS-44HN fixed and modular 4×4 HDMI matrix switch and PT-571/572 HDMI-over-CAT6 extenders to run signals from the Kramer HDMI matrix switch via aVM-4Hxl HDMI distribution amplifier to the projectors. Room control is via multiple Kramer RC-78R 8 button room controllers, eliminating the need for multiple remote controls to operate the installation.

“The result is a very straightforward installation in terms of usability. Even a novice can operate these venues without instructions. Picture driven buttons clearly divine on/off, combine/separate venues and numbered Barco ClickShare unit to project. It’s also fundamental to our system design ethos – keep them as simple as possible in order to avoid “operator error’! The skill-sets of staff in a venue may vary considerably, and in some cases there may be no background knowledge at all. In addition to making the installations easy to use, we always provide proper user training sessions… we don’t just install and walk away. Plus, we are on quick-response if a problem occurs, so can be on-site within a matter of minutes.’

Clean, concise audio

Francois du Plessis continues: “With speech being the principal requirement here, the onus was on specifying a solution able to deliver concise, highly intelligible audio. To run auxiliary audio via the Barco ClickShare units as well as the wireless microphones, we opted for TOA’s A-2240CE mixer amplifiers; they are simple, robust and do the job.

“Minimising aesthetic impact is always a consideration, and that was one of the factors that led us to select TOA’s F-2352C ceiling speakers. Ceilings in the rooms are relatively low, so there was a definite and real possibility of audio feedback when using the wireless microphones. The TOAs, however, offer a very wide dispersion resulting in extremely wide area coverage and in this instance were used in a 100V line application. Well-balanced sound can be heard uniformly at any location throughout the venues, with no feedback at all. Crucially, by design the TOA F-2352C ceiling speakers are also very effective at preventing ceiling void bleed into adjacent training venues.

“For presenters and contributors, we opted for industry standard Shure PGX 24/58 wireless handheld microphones and Shure BL14T / E/MX53 wireless headset microphones. Again, Shure technology has been an integral part of our projects for years.

“The completed rooms are primarily used for a wide variety of training programmes, including internship training for new and candidate chartered accounts. In addition, the venues will also double up as function venues, especially for occasions such as the television broadcast of the Auditor-General’s report in Parliament.

“The response from the client has been overwhelmingly positive, and I am glad to report that we are already discussing further installations to take place within the same building in Century City. Projects are likely to encompass video-conferencing facilities, digital signage and a principal boardroom set-up as well.’