The Town of Niagara-On-The-Lake was in need of an audio visual design and integration to support meetings in the town’s council chambers. The desire to expand upon a typical chair and delegate microphone conferencing system with additional video support added to the scope of the design. The real challenge presented in the automation of the video camera switching. Soundbox’s David Dumais rose to the challenge and designed a fantastic system that has served them well and even garnered attention from surrounding area Town Councils.

The concept of the design, while fairly simply on the front end, has a pretty complex backend.

What’s the concept of the design?

The concept of the design, while fairly simply on the front end, has a pretty complex backend. Without giving away Grandma’s cookie recipe, the concept lies in the marriage of the control system, the audio conferencing brain and the video switcher, all working together to provide an automated and synchronized audio video system. The video switcher tracks which microphones are live and captures that zone with the 1080p stationary cameras.

Both audio and video are broadcast in the chambers with additional support of the gallery. Control for the system is provided to the Clerk position via tabletop touch screens.

Were there any further challenges in the design?

Further to the challenge of a fully automated audio and video switching system with no operator involved, the Town also live streams the meetings in order to support the local community. Not a tall task in and of itself, however, in addition to the camera visual, plans and reports are often presented and shared within the chambers. In the initial design, the in-house video support switched to the support content when it was being presented, however the live camera feed was maintained for lives streams. This was not ideal as the livestream viewers could not see the content being discussed, and the challenge arose when the city wanted to maintain some image of the presenter along with the presenter’s content.

We were however, able to quickly find a solution, and now the system is programmed to switch to a picture-in-picture frame, keeping the presenter in an inset smaller frame for reference and the content in a larger window, so the viewers online can stay engaged.

Finer details of the system

All in all, the system isn’t comprised of many parts, simply the parts required to do the job. We looked to AMX to provide control of the system. A Sennheiser ADN conferencing system was a natural selection as it’s essentially a plug and play solution. RGB Spectrum and Kramer electronics handle the video switching with Biamp handling the audio processing. While there have been some updates to the system since it’s installation, the programming and design have proven to be quite robust, requiring very little support and experiencing minimal downtime throughout it’s history.

The concept has drawn attention from many other municipalities all over the Ontario, and from as far as Halifax! We’re extremely proud of the ingenuity and design put into this solution and hope to be able to implement it for many other municipalities. Of course it can be custom tailored to suit the needs of any customer.

For more on systems design and installations of audio, video and lighting, visit our Design and Installation page.