Exceptional by any standard, the Academies of Discovery and the Da Vinci Academy are pioneering schools in Hall County, just northeast of Atlanta, GA.
The commons area features a video wall composed of Samsung’s ultra-thin bezel UD55A HDTV monitors fed via a Crestron DM-MD8x8 DigitalMedia matrix switcher. The Academies of Discovery is dedicated to multicultural and language education, whereas the Da Vinci Academy is dedicated to the arts, technology, and science. The schools occupy opposite sides of the same building and share a common area between them. AV integration firm dB Audio & Video, also of Gainesville, recently helped the schools update their educational technologies. The classrooms now possess innovative instructor and student computer displays, and the common area now possesses theatrical, musical, and distributed audio, broadcast video, control/ automations, a video wall, and multifunctional tabletop connectivity for various laptop and wireless tablet usage. Each component of the renovation has a specific purpose, yet all function within an integrated whole.
At first glance, each classroom looks like any other classroom. However, a closer inspection reveals a 65-inch Samsung ME65B with touch screen overlay and two “input stations,” one for the student and one at the teacher’s desk. These inputs go to the FSR CB-22 ceiling box with both a Pocket Navigator VGA with audio switching device, as well as a HDMI switcher. From these devices, a user can display laptop content and annotate over, save, and recall any document or video from the school’s server.
The commons area is a unique combination of blackbox theater, corporate presentation center, and public transportation hub. Its most obvious attraction is a huge video wall composed of Samsung’s ultra-thin bezel UD55A HDTV monitors. This video wall content is fed from multiple input locations around the wall via the Crestron DM-MD8x8 DigitalMedia matrix switcher. These inputs include multiple HDMI and VGA with audio inputs, as well as the school’s Safari streaming media systems, a Samsung BD-E5700 Blu-ray player, and a mixed camera feed from a Panasonic TV Studio. All the resources are controlled from a Crestron Pro2 via a TPS-6X dockable wireless touch panel. Audio resources include a Tascam CD-200i CD player and iPod dock, two wired microphone inputs, and two Sennheiser wireless microphone systems. A 64-channel Allen & Heath GLD digital mixer comes on line in theatrical mode.
Inputs include multiple HDMI and VGA with audio inputs, as well as the school’s Safari streaming media systems, a Samsung BD-E5700 Blu-ray player, and a mixed camera feed from a Panasonic TV Studio. All the resources are controlled from a Crestron Pro2 via a TPS-6X dockable wireless touch panel. The commons area audio speaker system consists of a single Danley SH-100B full-range loudspeaker for the main content, two Danley SH-100 loudspeakers for fill, and a single Danley TH-112 subwoofer. The unparalleled performance of the Danley boxes delivers tremendous gain before feedback (a must in black box theater performances), as well as unmatched frequency response and phase coherency. The net effect is increased intelligibility in the vocal range and heart-pounding low end. The speaker system is driven by a complement of Crown amplifiers and Biamp Nexia CS DSP. In the theatrical mode, the commons area uses the Allen & Health GLD-80 digital mixer with full automation and scene recall. The ZED mixer and Genelec monitors are used in the TV production studio with their own mix of all the audio inputs and sources.
The all-LED Elation EAR495 theatrical lighting system provides for numerous scenes of display as well as colors, while delivering the school’s request for low power consumption efficiency. Included in this “green” initiative project are also two Design Spot 250P moving lights for programmed lighting effects, as well as spot light positioning for the talent anywhere on the floor. Two options for controlling these LED lights are from either a simple DMX Operator192 light board or a more involved computer-based CompuLive program.
The school’s full HD broadcast television studio rivals many higher education facilities. Primarily a Panasonic project, this system touts two AG-AC160 studio HDSDI cameras and two AW-HE50SN pan/tilt/ zoom cameras with AW-RP50 controller connected via a router to the AWH S50 sub-compact HDSDI live switcher with multi-viewer output. An AJA KI -PRO-Ro provides digital file recording on Apple ProRes 422 format, allowing students to shoot nearly any program, presentation, or theatrical performance, stream it live to the school’s Safari system, and then edit for archival or streaming later. A Clear-Com MS-232 twochannel communications system allows the producer to communicate with the video camera operators and the audio production team. The audio production team uses an Allen & Heath ZED22FX mixing console and two Genelec 8030a studio monitors.
“This has been an incredibly challenging project,” stated Neil Philpott, dB Audio & Video’s Systems Advisor for the entire project. “We spent countless hours discussing the project with Aaron Turpin, Hall County’s technology director, working through construction and infrastructure issues, and determining exactly what functionality would be required to meet the vision of the schools’ and county Administrators’ expectations. All in all, this was a project that raises the bar, not only for dB as a company, but also for the entire state. I believe this is the blueprint for many schools to come.”