The above picture may just look like colored tape but it is one of our owner’s @ryandrby favorite tools of trade. We call it spike tape. Spike tape is thin strips of Gaffers tape in bright reflective colors.
You might remember Gaffers tape from a previous article we did last year. It's commonly used on stages for taping down cables as it does not leave a residue and tears easily like light fabric. Spike tape is named differently because it is used to “spike” or mark a position or item and stand out rather than blend in like black gaffers tape. It’s especially useful for marking the edges of stairs in dark areas, mic stand positions on stage as well as labeling items like control surfaces and cables. It stands out, is easy to work with and easy to write on with a marker or sharpie.
Pick yourself up some to throw in your kit of day to day tech resources. We love to pick up the multi packs on amazon that come with 4 bright colors from our friends at Tape Ninja!
A few articles ago we talked about HDMI cables and the drawback of only being able to run them 25ft or so. We also talked about how you can use SDI to get HD video signal over a long distance. But that isn’t all we have to tell you! There is a third option for you to consider!
This signal is a new comer on the video scene and is called HDBaseT. This signal was first created in 2010 and can be used for the transmission of ultra-high-definition video, audio, Ethernet, control, USB and even up to 100W of power! All of this is over a single cable! It’s the Mary Poppins of cables!
HDBaseT uses Cat6a cable, but because of all the different functions it can be used for, it uses specialized connectors. These look identical to a standard RJ45 connector but be warned! Because HDBaseT carries power as well, if you plug it into a standard RJ45 jack you can severely damage that piece of equipment! If you are unsure, its always better to ask rather than risk your equipment.
HDBaseT can be run up to 328ft giving far more flexibility in running video signal. This cable is also extreamly convenient in instances when paired with a piece of HDBaseT equipped gear. The PTZ camera, for instance, would usually require up to 3-4 cables for signal, power, and control, but with an HDBaseT connection you only need one! Think about all the money that could be saved by only running one wire connection. Not to mention the amount of time running cable through walls and ceilings. If you have a hard to reach place or a tangle of cables attached to that old equipment, it could be worth your time and money looking for an HDBaseT piece of equipment as a replacement and running one cable instead.
We talked briefly about the IDEA screen from Da-lite last week. This is a fun piece to add to your AV system including conference rooms, classrooms and meeting spaces. This interactive screen can be used as a whiteboard with dry-erase markers as well as a projection surface. The special finish minimizes “hot spots” projection onto a regular board would cause. You can now easily project work sheets and use the markers to fill and mark the projection without creating multiple slides to show. It can be a creative, workable, changing surface to inspire the creativity your team needs in the moment! All IDEA screens are also magnetic allowing for expanded creativity. This is an easy, fun dynamic to change up your meeting space and provide the clear projection and versatility you need for any occasion.
If you missed last week's article, check it out for a recent install where we used the IDEA screen.
AAFCU Case Study
Meeting rooms in recent years have made a major transition in space needs. Gone are the days of a central computer at a podium or lectern in the corner or a large rack of automation equipment. The purpose is no longer for a single executive to speak to a room of employees. Meeting rooms today are dynamic environments with a number of people presenting in a live and cooperative environment.
This is where we began with AAFCU a local credit union in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their IT staff came to us with the challenge of cleaning up an aging mess of wires and updating technology to turn an often-used board room space into an environment for creativity and corporate inspiration.
The first goals set were to clean up the existing hardware that had been ad hoc over the years for conferencing. Next they wanted to update viewability around the conference table for better engagement of all employees. The staff at Lambda Audio Visual set out to understand the problems of the conference room and it's designated uses and put together a solution to make the room usable for a new generation of meetings.
Meetings in the proposed room contain anywhere from 5 to 25 people and with the configuration of chairs around an circular table, clear visibility of the screen was not always possible. The projection at the front was underpowered and the screen small, so that those at the front of the room were unable to see the screen at all. We were able to solve this in two ways: first by improving quality of projection at the front of the room with a new 1080P resolution, 5000 lumen Sony laser projector. This easily doubled the brightness and clarity at the front of the room. Second, coupled with a new IDEEA screen from Da-Lite it also allowed the space to be used as a white board. This white board has a matte finish creating a surface that minimizes projection hot spots and creates a great writing surface all at the same time. At the back of the room we added a 75” Television from Samsung mirroring the projection feed and allowing for everyone around the table to get a great view of the presentation without putting a kink in their necks.
Conference calling, important in many conference rooms was not left out in this space. The staff at AAFCU had a high need for this capability to be easy to use and clean. With board members across the country and goals of working with other businesses across the community, conference calling is a capability they used often and hoped to make simple for quick use.
We chose to implement a ceiling-based system for cleanliness. Adding boundary microphones from Shure into the ceiling created even coverage of the room to pick up quiet voices and adding inset speakers from SoundTube to present clear call audio back to the room. To tie it all together we brought in a top of the line audio processor from Symetrix. Symetrix allowed us to do several fun things simplifying the calling experience for the staff. The audio processor includes auto mixing functionalities to balance the audio coming from the room microphones without needing to adjust anything manually. It also includes an auto echo canceling to filter audio coming from the speakers so that it will not echo back in the call. The Symetrix processor also included the ability to add a VOIP card compatible with AAFCU’s Cisco phone calling system and an easy sheet to help the IT staff in tying it into their systems.
With all of this great technology in the room we then needed a system to make it easy to use for the average staff member and to allow ease of use with a variety of different laptops, phones, and tablets. Enter the Atlona Velocity system! We have talked about Atlona before and we loved how it turned out here! Our team couldn’t be more impressed with how easy to configure and affordable this “Automation” system is. In previous years, meeting room automation technology was bulky, expensive, and required expensive programmers to make modifications. It was not easy to explain or use. The Velocity system is web based, extremely affordable and scalable! It was easy for our team to add each device and have workflows automatically created on a touchscreen for easily turning the room technology on and off and dialing a call.
If you have meeting space with issues, outdated technology, or one that you are looking to increase usability in, give us a call or drop us a line on social media and let us make your meeting space a space of engagement and collaboration with people and technology. We want to help you to feel inspired and productive every time you sit down to meet.
Continueing our series of articles on cableing, this week we are talking about Serial Digital Interface (SDI). SDI is a video signal used to send uncompressed, un-encrypted digital video signals. It can also include embedded audio. SDI signal was first standardized in 1989. Since then the standard SDI signal has upgraded to HD-SDI (1080i/720p), 3G SDI (1080p), 6G SDI (4k @30hz), and 12G SDI (4k @60hz).
The longer distance you are trying to run the signal or the higher the quality signal you are trying to achieve, will require a higher specification of cable and BNC connector. Now, just upgrading the cabling in your system will not necessarily give you a higher SDI signal! An important thing to keep in mind is that to be able to produce a signal such as 12G SDI video, every single component in that system must support that as well! So, you may have the right camera and cable, but if your video switcher can only receive HD-SDI, that will be the highest quality you will be able to use.
We recommend, especially when building a new system or revamping an old system, to make sure the core components, like a switcher or a video router, is at the final desired SDI signal level. Then you can begin to upgrade the components going in and out of the system as your budget allows. If you aren't sure about your system's SDI ability, don't hesitate to ask! That's what we're here for!
In the video world over the past 20 years there have been many, many different types of cables and connections used to pass signal from one medium to another. From composite video to VGA and DVI, and now to SDI and HDMI. But while we have heard of these cables, you may wonder what are they? And what do they do? Today we’re going to talk about HDMI and SDI. In future articles we will talk more about passing video signal over Cat6a cable using HDBaseT. If you are wondering what that even means, just keep a lookout for the upcoming article to learn all about it. ;)
Let's start with HDMI cables! HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and is the most frequently used HD signal for transferring both high definition video and audio over a single cable. Really, it's pretty amazing! HDMI is typically used for connecting devices such as TV’s, wireless presentation devices like an AppleTV or huddle space integrator like Klik Boks, and is generally considered a consumer level video cable. It's easy to find HDMI or mini HDMI in an average home today on computers, tv's projectors, etc. One of the big advantages with HDMI at the homeowner level is simply that it is a single cable solution for combining both video and audio. It has replaced many of the analogue solutions which required separate video and audio cables creating a tangle of confusing wires in spaces that were supposed to be easy and uncomplicated for the average person to use. One of the big disadvantages to HDMI cable is that you can only run most HDMI cables up to 25’. Though this isn't generally a problem for the consumer, it can create difficulties in other areas.
Our other popular Video Cable option is SDI. SDI stand for Serial Digital Interface. What does that mean? SDI is a standard video signal used by professional, broadcast grade cameras. SDI cable has the ability to transmit HD video signal over a much farther distance than HDMI. SDI also has the ability to pass audio as well. SDI cables are made up of two components, 75ohm coaxial cable and BNC connectors. Now, not all SDI cables are the same. Different cables can carry different quality signals over specified distances. Just because one cable fits or is long enough, doesn’t mean it will work at all, or even that it will work properly! The higher the quality of the video signal you are sending, may require you to either go a shorter distance with your cable or you may need to use a higher grade cable. In a later article we are going to discuss SDI video signal, the different quality, and some of the solutions that SDI offers.
Video cabling can be more complex than audio cabling and it's important to have your expensive and sometimes sensitive equipment connected properly. If it's not, it can cause you all kinds of problems and glitches or produce a poor quality video. Cable is cheap in comparison to video equipment, so take the time to see if your problem can be fixed with an easy cable switch before giving up on your gear. We hope you are learning more about cables! If you have specific questions you'd like to see answered, email or find us on social media!
Here’s something new for you to check out! The Superlux IS-103 is a complete wired intercom system that provides clean, clear communication for video, film, broadcasts, house of worship and schools! This Superlux is a great low cost solution for auditorium and church staff communication between positions. It uses simple XLR mic cable and can support up to ten belt packs so you can keep everyone in the loop!
Comfortable, lightweight and easy to use, this could make communication seamless for everyone involved in your project. We love finding and providing affordable options for our clients for all your needs. If you are looking for something in particular, don’t hesitate to ask!
This week we are excited to take a look into the second part of our cable series!
Now like XLR mic cables, instrument cables also have a doppelganger. That is, the speaker cable. These two look the same, but are used for different purposes. An instrument cable is low power and high impedance. On the other hand, a speaker cable is the opposite, high power and low impedance. Speaker cable is built to carry a strong signal from your amp to your speakers, a signal with a relatively high AC current and voltage. Because of this difference, speaker cables require a higher gauge wire.
So, always make sure you’re using the correct cable for its intended purpose. Good news is it's an easy fix if you know what to look for!
It's time to check out a few different cables and exactly how they can effect your AV systems performance. There are so many different cables and making sure you know the difference and know which fiber to use could make the change you've been looking for.
Let's start with Mic cables! These are one of the two cables that you will come across on a regular basis if you work with audio. Now, mic lines actually consist of two components. The mic cable and the connector. The connector is an XLR connector. The reason this is an important distinction to note is because the XLR connector can be used for different connections, specifically 3-pin DMX. This can become confusing as on many stages you will see both mic lines and DMX cable. Now while these two cables look the same they are doing two completely different jobs. While mic line passes audio signal, DMX passes data and requires a much higher specification cable to perform that task. Because of that you can use a DMX as a mic line, but you should not use an mic cable as a DMX line. If you are in a situation where both mic and DMX 3pin cables are being used close to each other, it’s a good idea to mark or label each cable to ensure you or your volunteers don’t mix them up!
The reason XLR connectors are used on the end of mic lines to pass audio signal is that they allow you to pass shielded, balanced audio. I’m sure if you’ve spent any time in the audio world you hear the terms balanced and unbalanced audio. So, what is balanced audio? Mic line consists of a positive, negative and ground cables. The ground pin allows the signal to be shielded, cutting down on the amount of noise that can be introduced. The positive pin carries the signal and the negative pin carries the same signal with the polarity inversed. When the signal is combined at the other end of the cable anything that is not native to the audio signal will get canceled out. Because of this the final audio signal will have almost no unwanted noise from outside electrical interference. This preserves the original audio signal and gives you the ability to pass audio signal over very long distances.
Pretty neat, right? Cabling may seem insignificant, but it can really effect the quality of your production in the end. Make sure you have the right cables for your equipment and the right connections to create a flawless performance! Stay tuned for more info on other cabling coming up!