Chambers Made — AV.technology
A Televic conferencing system the hero of this Pro AV Solutions council install.
Local council proceedings haven’t enjoyed the best reputation. You might suspect that these meetings are Porpoise Spit-style free-for-alls, where storms-in-a-teacup rage among loud-mouthed yocals. In truth, you might have a point. But it’s also true that councils are now far more professionally run and managed. Budgets are huge and accountability is expected.
‘Transparency’ is certainly the watchword for today’s public council meetings. Ratepayers and councillors alike see the value in properly-organised, high-quality public sessions where the public can attend or view professionally produced livestreams.
TALK WHEN PUSHED
Pro AV Solutions’ Queensland office is on bit of a tear with these council projects. It completed the Brisbane City Council in 2020, it’s now finished fitting out the Gold Coast City Council, and Ipswich is up next.
Traditionally, council chambers AV systems would be based on some kind of wired or wireless conferencing microphone system, connected to a DSP to take care of the auto-mixing. ‘Push-to-talk’ has been a dirty word. This is Australia — we are egalitarian and outspoken — so we don’t take kindly to taking a number and getting in line to have our say.
The conferencing video component would be independent and require an operator to do the switching and PTZ’ing.
Although there is still some natural resistance to a more ordered and structured approach to proceedings, the advantages of active mics and queues are compelling.
In the case of these Pro AV Solutions’ designs, Televic has become a hero product. Its Plixus wired system combines all the hardware and software required to build a networked discussion system ideal for council chambers.
The software allows councillors to manage and administer their own meetings — agendas, voting, moderation, queuing of contributors etc. Delegates mediate the info via the 10-inch touch display of Televic’s desktop multimedia unit. The 10-inch screen can also display any one of six HD video sources. Normally that will be the close-up webcam shot of the active speaker but it can be switched to other sources on the Televic network.
As a classy ‘glacé cherry’ on top of the public-facing aspects of the Televic system are e-ink nameplates for the desktop multimedia units.
‘Push-to-talk’ has been a dirty word. This is Australia — we are egalitarian and outspoken — so we don’t take kindly to taking a number and getting in line to have our say
MORE THAN AUDIO
Capturing, streaming and reinforcing high-quality audio remains priority No. 1 for the success of a council session. Increasingly, though, contextual video is of real importance for nuance, meaning, and face-to-name recognition. Televic recognises the two belong together — lip sync’ed and accurate.
The Televic T-Cam system uses PTZ cameras to track presenters with video. The idea is that every delegate is covered by two camera options, such that there’s no risk of wildly panning transition shots. No need for an operator, controller or AI-style video-follow-audio smarts: the positions of the benchtop units are known, as are the presenters, so it’s a case of programming the preset positions, which are automatically switched with the audio during the proceedings.
Four PTZ cameras are strategically placed to do the heavy lifting. They’re a familiar unit. Televic uses Lumens as its OEM partner for the T-Cam system. A fifth Panasonic PTZ camera presides over a wide shot at the front of the room with its 110° lens.
Maintaining control of the conferencing AV routing and DSP is the Televic Plixus MME central processing unit. The Gold Coast council chambers have a spare. Pro AV Solutions has chosen to invest in a full redundancy package. Pro AV Solutions has an SLA that means it maintains the system and provides a ‘turndown’ service for each of the Gold Coast City Council meetings — where a Pro AV deputy sparks everything up and ensures it’s good to go, and is onsite for the duration of the meeting.
Packing some hardware spares is only the beginning. There are a number of other redundancy measures that Pro AV Solutions has employed — most of which is made possible thanks to some nifty Televic network design possibilities. Televic ‘network extenders’ provide four network ins and outs for expanding/scaling the Plixus system to involve more delegates and desktop units. By configuring the network extenders such that they loop back to the processor and each other, there’s almost always another path for the system to stay up.
- Televic Plixus Multimedia System
- Televic Tabletop 10-inch with E-Ink Nameplate
- Televic T-Cam Tracking
- Crestron 3-Series Control
- Crestron NVX AV-over-IP Media Transport
- Bose Loudspeakers
- Lumens LC200 Lecture Capture/Streaming Device
- QSC Q-Sys 110f Core
- Magewell Capture Card
- Barco XT-E LED Displays
- Barco ClickShare
- Lumens PTZ Cameras
BESPOKE & WHEEL
The beauty of the Televic Plixus setup is the fact it’s a tailor-made audio, video and voting/admin system designed for just such an application as conducting a council chambers meeting. But the Gold Coast City Council job involved some additional demands.
Pro AV Solutions QLD senior account manager, Gavin Bunn, worked with the client on understanding their workflow and requirements.
The video output of the Televic Plixus system is the active presenter video feed — with the name of the presenter as a lower third if you so choose. Pro AV runs that feed to a Lumens LC200 ‘lecture capture’ device, which does some additional window processing to the streaming output — three tiled video feeds, such that a wide chambers view is always streamed, as is the Mayor’s bench along with the active speaker. It’s a useful touch for the ‘broadcast’. The LC200 takes care of the streaming to YouTube and can log archive the video. In this case, the council uses YouTube’s servers as the archive of the meeting.
Casting and presentation is now a big part of any meeting space’s function and Pro AV Solutions specified Barco ClickShare for this purpose. More luxuriously, is the inclusion of two 138-inch Barco XT-E hi-def LED displays to cast to! When not mirroring/casting, the screens also displays an IMAG video feed to assist the public gallery. It’s plenty of screen real estate and more than enough brightness to cut through in daylight.
Rounding out the AV is the Bose FreeSpace in-ceiling and Panaray surfacemount loudspeaker systems for the public gallery and overflow area. A Samsung 65-inch commercial panel displays the video.
Outside of the Televic ecosystem, Crestron NVX AV-over-IP transceivers take care of the media transport and a Q-Sys Core 110f provides the audio DSP.
All up, the Pro AV Solutions integration sits in a proverbial network Faraday cage, separate from the enterprise network. “The only point where our network touches a customer network,” explains Pro AV Solutions Gavin Bunn, “is at the Lumens LC200 streaming appliance, where we give the council the YouTube stream. Everything upstream of that is a Pro AV network. It’s good for IT security and, for our purposes, we’re in charge of our own network destiny, so to speak.”
Pro AV Solutions’ Crestron programming provides the final, elegant overlay of control — one touch panel, one interface, one operator, one beautifully integrated audiovisual system.