From Primitive to Professional

From Primitive to Professional

Since being incorporated in 2001, the City of Aliso Viejo, CA, has recorded its city council meetings using a single microphone and a cassette tape recorder; nothing else. So when the city decided to build an updated council

The audience visuals inside the Aliso Viejo Council Chamber are displayed on two 50-inch Panasonic plasma HDTVs that are suspended on either side of the chamber, using Peerless ceiling mounts. chamber inside its existing office space, the council seized the opportunity to bring their AV system up to professionalstandards.

The result: Thanks to the efforts of systems integrator TV Magic of San Diego, CA, the Aliso Viejo Council Chambers are now equipped with a new full featured AV system that doesn't intrude on the room's aesthetics.

"With the council chamber being built from scratch, we wanted to upgrade our AV facilities to a professional level," says Glenn Yasui, director of administrative services for the City of Aliso Viejo. "But we also wanted the installation implemented as discreetly as possible, so that the AV equipment wouldn't dominate the room's overall look."

To do the installation, the City of Aliso Viejo tendered an RFP for $135,000. The winning bidder was TV Magic. A full-service broadcast and AV integrator, TV Magic's previous clients include the City of Mission Viejo, CA (council chamber); Crystal Cathedral Ministries ("Hour of Power" production studio); and Foothills Christian Church (church AV system).

In theory, the installation should have been easy, because Aliso Viejo was basically "doing new construction inside an existing office building," says Bill Cyree, the TV Magic design engineer in charge of the project. "But, in practice, space was a real issue, because the client didn't want the equipment to be more visible than necessary. In particular, setting up the council's plasma display so that it was visible to them yet invisible to the audience was a real challenge."

"The City wanted this AV system to be as simple to operate as possible, even though it had to be capable of managing inputs from plugged-in laptops at various access points and automatic level balancing between the council's three microphones," he adds. "This is why we chose a Crestron touchscreen system and located the bulk of the AV system next door in a small equipment room."

That's not all: "The system had to be prewired for four video cameras," says Yasui. "We didn't add cameras during the installation, because shooting the meetings is not something that council wanted to do

The seven-position councillors' table is equipped with seven 15-inch LCD monitors; one for each of the six councillor positions plus the mayor. at this time."

The audience visuals inside the Aliso Viejo Council Chamber are displayed on two 50-inch Panasonic TH-50PH10UK plasma HDTVs that are suspended on either side of the chamber, using Peerless PLCM1CP ceiling mounts. Meanwhile, the seven-position councillors' table is equipped with seven HPL1506 15-inch LCD monitors; one for each of the six councillor positions plus the mayor. The entire system is controlled by a Crestron TPS-4000L 10.4- inch touchscreen, flush-mounted at the centrally located mayor's position.

"The councillors' table is basically a big round dais, and the front of the dais is raised about 12 inches above the actual work surface," Cyree says. "It's designed to look like elegant yet simple wooden furniture. From the audience's point of view, the monitors sit just slightly above the wood. You can hardly see them."

The monitor inputs come from the equipment room next door. It is equipped with a Denon DN-C310 professional DVD player, an Extron CrossPoint 300 124HV 12x4 RGBHV/audio switcher, and an Extron DVS304A four-input video and RGB scaler with audio switching. Signals from the three laptop stations - one at the center dais (mayor's position), and one each on the two staff tables facing the dais - are fed into this room, then distributed to the monitors in the chambers.

"Since we had to feed seven monitors on the councillors' dais using a small conduit, we decided to send a single feed into the dais, then amplify/ split the signal at that point using a Kramer VP-15 distribution amplifier," says Cyree. "This allowed us to effectively feed all seven monitors using a single piece of coax cable."

Audio is played through a QSC CX108V 100-watt, 8-channel amplifier located in the equipment room, and fed to JBL Professional Control 26CT ceiling loudspeakers. Each of the councillors has his or her own Shure MX418- S/S gooseneck microphone, and there is one located at each of the two staff tables; providing nine in all. "The audio levels are automatically balanced by the Biamp Nexia CS digital signal processor, which has 10 mic/line inputs and 6 mic/line outputs," Cyree says. "This means that no one has to manually balance the levels; keeping things nice and simple, as the Client requested."

The audio from each meeting is recorded using a Marantz PMD-570 Pro digital recorder. This is a solid state recorder that dubs directly to removable Flash memory cards. After the meeting is over, the card is removed and taken to a clerk. They insert it into the clerk's PC and make a transcription using Windows Media Player. The audio is then dubbed to the city's server, with the Flash card being stored in the city archives.

To provide audio to the hearing impaired, the Council Chambers have been equipped with a Listen LT-800-216 stationary transmitter, LR-400-216 display receiver, and LA-165 wireless headsets.

For $135,000, the City of Aliso Viejo has transformed its city council AV system from primitive to professional. "For what we got, we believe this to have been money well spent," says Yasui.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.