The London-based integrator helps the university enhance student learning with audio and video solutions.
The University of the Arts London (UAL) is one of the top two universities in the world for art and design education. Boasting a star-studded alumnus, UAL recently sought to update its audio-visual systems in classrooms at three key campuses.
London-based integrator, Tateside, was approached directly to work on the project.
“The project encompassed classroom refurbishment works at South London- based campuses and a full installation at a further campus in High Holborn”, explains Joby Morris, Audio Visual and Networks Specialist at Tateside.
We selected Tateside because it was clear from the start that they really understood our vision for using NDI and Dante to create learning environments that had the flexibility of AVoIP without the vendor lock-in of other protocols. Also, as a London-based university, working with a London-based AV Integrator is super valuable and quite rare, explains Tom Lynch, Technical Manager at UAL.
The most significant part of the project was at UAL’s High Holborn site, part of the university’s Creative Computing Institute. Here, two newly refurbished classroom spaces required AV integration to improve the learning experience for both in-person and remote students. “The team at UAL are NDI visionaries and their campus systems are based around this flexible protocol”, confirms Jack Cornish, Technical Director at Tateside. “They were also keen on using BirdDog technology, so we also incorporated this into the solution too”.
In the larger of the two classrooms, the main display comprises a pair of Panasonic PT-VMZ71 Series projectors with Supernova Core 120” projection screens. A custom lectern from Top-Tec is equipped with a Q-Sys touchscreen and computer screen that allows the lecturer overall control of content.
Lessons can be recorded or streamed via a BirdDog 1080p full NDI camera, whilst speech pick-up is through a Sennheiser Bodypack microphone. Dante signal flow ensures high-quality audio reproduction. For interactive Q&A sessions with student involvement, a UAL-branded Catchbox mic, which can be thrown out into the audience, was also provided. To ensure full visibility two 65” Samsung screens are installed at staggered intervals along the length of the space. Six Genelec 4040A loudspeakers in black are positioned on ceiling brackets.
The second classroom followed the same overall system layout, but instead of projectors, we opted for two 85” Samsung screens for the main display. Throughout the entire High Holborn campus, Q-Sys manages the source, endpoint and audio control and provides an easy-to-use UI for speakers at the lecterns. Video is distributed via a Blustream HDBaseT Splitter and all content is encoded and decoded with BirdDog NDI endpoints, continues Cornish.
At UAL’s South London campuses, a different approach was required. “At the Peckham Road and Greencoat sites, the idea was to improve the system and integrate new equipment to cater for the newly expanded teaching space following building works”, explains Morris. “The Peckham Road classroom mainly involved some Crestron re-programming and bringing the university’s NDI standard to these rooms. We also made generic system improvements and bug fixes, alongside the integration of additional microphones. Our in-house Creston programmer was able to get this room running smoothly”.
At the nearby Greencoat campus, a newly expanded classroom required distributed audio, plus additional microphones and screens to ensure a consistent learning experience from front to back of the new long and narrow room. “Using DISCAS, we calculated that the room required a 110” display for the farthest viewer to be able to see the on-screen visuals”, continues Morris. “Four Samsung 55” repeater monitors were staggered down the room to reinforce the learning experience, alongside four Genelec 8020D wall-mounted speakers in white, to match the rooms aesthetic”. Additional microphones were also integrated into the existing Shure ecosystem.
As with the High Holborn site, everything is network-based, with all audio passed over a Dante network and video distributed via a Blustream HDBaseT Splitter. The rooms at Peckham Road and Greencoat are controlled via Crestron, with touchscreens installed into each room’s custom control panel housing from Top-Tec. The addition of a monitor atop each lectern improves class engagement, allowing the teacher to face students rather than turning around to look at the screen during lectures.
Tateside were able to flex around building delays and shifting manufacturer deadlines to make sure we had working spaces for the start of the term. The project team met us where we were and intelligently made suggestions with their experience to create fantastic spaces that are not limited to one purpose, reflects Lynch.