Lancaster University - Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre


Crestron NVX AVoIP

Dante Audio

Netgear M4300 Switches

TK Team Column Boards

Biamp Speaker System

Panasonic Projectors

The brand new 400 seat Margaret Fell Lecture Theatre is the flagship lecture theatre on campus. As well as teaching, the lecture theatre is also used for conferencing and events with multiple presenters, panel sessions and performances.

Due to the many different requirements for the space and the multiple video/audio sources available from not only the lectern and AV booth but various auxiliary connection positions around the room, a Crestron NVX AV over IP solution was selected for all of the video transmission and switching and Dante was selected for the audio. Netgear M4300 managed switches were installed to handle all video, audio and control traffic over a dedicated AV network.

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A flagship lecture theatre

The room itself was fitted with a pair of 4.2 metre wide 16:10 electric projection screens mounted at high level above a pair of TK Team column boards. Alongside each of the projection screens, GVAV installed an array of three Biamp Community ENT-FR column array speakers, combining to make a 3.3m single column array at each side. For the low frequencies, located on the floor below, a pair of Biamp Community IS6-115 subwoofers were implemented. The ENT-FR’s are a modular directional speaker and longer arrays minimise sound reflections for full room coverage. This meant that there was no need for additional delay speakers or even ceiling speakers for voice reinforcement.

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High quality acoustics

Biamp assisted in the configuration and setup of the audio reproduction system. Several acoustic readings were taken in the space prior to and during commissioning to ensure that the digital signal processors built into the ALC amplifiers were configured accordingly. The overall sound in the room is warm and constant across the space and works well with speech, program audio and live music.

A pair of Panasonic PT-RZ970 9,400 ANSI lumen DLP laser projectors were installed on Screen International SI-H500 projector lifts. In addition to a pair of 50” Iiyama displays mounted at the front of the seating area, with a pair of foldback monitors for the presenter’s confidence system.

Two Panasonic AW-UE70 4K PTZ cameras mounted to the ceiling located at the front and rear of the auditorium were installed for use with the video conferencing, recording and presentation systems. Full control of these cameras along with all other control was via the 7” AMX touch panel on the lectern or the 10” AMX touch panel in the booth. A third camera was also installed centrally to the projectors for dedicated whiteboard capture.

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Leading lectern

A TeamMate Educator 3 lectern needed to be able to be positioned in three different locations as well as being able to be completely removed from the room. To achieve this, minimal equipment was supplied within the lectern, with the bulk of the AV hardware instead being installed in a large equipment rack in the AV booth overlooking the theatre. Mounted to the top of the lectern was a 24” Iiyama interactive display, a Wolfvision VZ-9.4 document camera, Audio Technica gooseneck microphone, a Costin Electronics bespoke input plate with connections for HDMI, audio, USB-A for content, USB-B for control of the room peripherals, (cameras and microphones etc for video conferencing purposes) and a 7” AMX touch panel controller.

Installed in the lecterns’ built in equipment rack was a Crestron DMF-CI-8 NVX card chassis loaded with a number of encoders and a decoder for the lectern confidence monitor. An Extron DMP64 Plus C AT digital signal processor was installed for the audio and a professional Blu-Ray player was also included. All of the video, audio and control systems were connected to a Netgear M4300-28G network switch.

A single 10gb uplink was used to connect the lectern switch to the Netgear M4300-52G-PoE switch located in the booth rack. There were three uplinks installed giving the lectern three possible positions within the room. The idea of having a single connection for the lectern as opposed to several different audio, video and control cables makes the lectern simple to move position with no confusion as to where the cables connect to as we fitted Ethercon connectors instead of standard Cat6 connectors both on the lectern fly lead and in the three floorboxes.

The remaining hardware was installed in a 42U equipment rack in the booth. As well as the network switch, this rack also housed the two main Extron audio digital signal processors, Biamp Community ALC amplifiers and an Ampetronic MLD9 phased array induction loop driver. We installed a Mersive Solstice Pod for wireless connectivity to the main system for video presentation.

For whiteboard capture, a Sony Edge Analytics Appliance was implemented, connected to the third Panasonic camera.

The REA-C1000 Edge Analytics Appliance uses real time video processing technology to extract the handwriting on the whiteboard and places the image of the handwriting over the image of the speaker. This ensures that anything written on the board remains in full view of the audience.

The system is configured so that the output of the Edge Analytics unit can be used as a presentation source on either one or both of the screens as well as for lecture capture recording. It is also available as an HDMI feed, directly from the patch panel in the booth.

The installation of the Sony Edge Analytics Appliance was a first for both Lancaster University and GVAV. It was also one of the first installations of its kind in the country.

Along with the hardware, we also installed a large connection panel in the rack. This gives several auxiliary inputs and outputs for the system as well as acting as a patch bay for a number of auxiliary input plates located around the room. The connection panel has several HDMI ports for video, SDI for connection to the cameras, a number of line level and microphone inputs and outputs, Cat6 patches for a pair of wall mounted lighting bars and other room panels.

There are also a number of Sennheiser Speechline digital wireless microphones and two Lancaster University branded Catchbox microphones.

In total there were 29 Crestron NVX endpoints, so we installed a Crestron RMC3 room controller and as the system needed to be controlled with AMX and have the ability to report back to the University’s AMX RMS (Resource Management Suite) server, we also installed an AMX NX-2200 control processor.

Chris Cottam did a fantastic job with the GUI (graphical user interface) designs and the almost never-ending permutations and possibilities for switching the video and audio as well as controlling the audio levels, room lighting and Sony Edge Analytics whiteboard capture system. Controlling the Edge Analytics refresh from a third-party control system was the first time that this had been achieved according to Sony in the UK.

Although all of the equipment is controlled by the Crestron RMC3, the system was required to communicate with the university's existing AMX RMS server and utilise AMX touch panels for user familiarity. Chris was able to create custom Crestron/AMX bridging code to allow the two systems to communicate via the AMX processor seamlessly

As this was a new build project, our engineers were involved from an early stage. One of the challenges we faced were the Covid 19 restrictions and distancing, so the project took longer than expected but the team worked together, and the final outcome looked and sounded fantastic.

Unfortunately, due to Covid 19, it took a while for the theatre to be used to its full capability but now it is being used daily with all users seemingly really impressed with the system and the space both visually and audibly.

“Due to the global pandemic this turned out to be a much more challenging project than anticipated but GVAV worked well with the University and the building contractor to ensure that completion dates were met. The new lecture theatre had been eagerly awaited by the University and it’s great to have it in use now. Everyone is impressed with the space and the functionality on offer from the equipment. Support call outs have been very rare which is due to the high quality of the installation by GVAV.”

David Neal

Teaching Spaces Co-Ordinator, Lancaster University