Angles Of View
When this series began (sometime towards the end of the last century) discussing and describing the attributes of visual displays, both its author and its readers understood exactly in what sort of environment pro A/V systems were likely to appear. The venue for this sort of equipment - video projectors and projection screens-was limited to the board and training rooms of corporations and to university classrooms and lecture halls. Only rarely did one encounter a "systems" application which could succeed in a setting other than those. Today, however, all that is changed and the enormous advancements in display technology have accelerated the evolution of several
Special Venues - Other MarketsBefore looking into what attributes and conditions might be peculiar to special venues, let's make sure we recognize what are the properties which make our regular venue regular. What similarities are there between all of the thousands of "rooms" into which our industry has installed a pro A/V system?
Here, in no particular priority, are what we suggest are some of any such room's common denominators.
1. It's inside.
a. It is comprised of an enclosed internal space which, although it certainly may contain windows to the outside, is nevertheless a controlled (if not always completely controllable) environment.
2. Its functional purpose is to serve multiple viewers simultaneously.
a. Its audience, then, is a group whose members have been assembled so that they all will perform the same visual task at the same time.
b. The only way, therefore, in which one member of the audience may be distinguished from any other is according to viewing distance and angle .
3. The venue will always be illuminated by light sources other than and in addition to the projector.
4. The material being presented has come to be primarily computer generated.
5. That material is now almost invariably information which its audience is expected to read.
6. Because of 4 and 5, the projected imagery in commercial venues is, typically, static.
a. Its resolution, however, can be extremely high.
b. It has no "real time" component and, theoretically, is completely repeatable.
7. When the imagery is kinetic, its source is either video tape or video conferencing.
a. Its resolution is typically low.
8. The aspect ratio of the displayed imagery is constant.
9. With only rare exceptions, the importance of accurate color rendition within a presentation is unimportant.
10. The size and placement of the projection screen are dependent on that segment of its audience which is farthest away from it.
While that list may not be complete, we will still hazard that some majority of its ten conditions surrounds at least 90% of the systems our industry has installed during the past decade. In a certain way, there is nothing remarkable about this. Of course groups of people have meetings inside inside rooms. Of course they want or need to leave the lights on. Of course they want their principal business tool, their computer, to integrate with the presentation hardware and software. Of course.
On the other hand, the list may seem so obvious because many of us in the "systems" end of the business believe its assumptions to be so true that, well, they hardly bear repeating. But that, of course, would not be true.
There are, in fact, other venues and other rooms in which just possibly few, if any of those ten parameters are valid or make any sense. Yet because these venues are burgeoning new markets in addition, perhaps, to being new design challenges, they merit our industry's close and respectful attention.
The foremost of them, unsurprisingly, is the Home Theater market. Once a kind of neglected stepchild of the A/V business, Home Theater has turned into a veritable Cinderella whose attractions promise not merely to equal our own but possibly even to exceed them. And, although once Home Theater systems and installations were the province of a group of specialists whose backgrounds were primarily in high-end audio, the confluence of projector and display technologies that has occurred over the past several years has effectively blurred any sharp distinction between the two industries.
It should also be noted that endemic to the enduser population for Home Theater systems is a passion for technical sophistication and excellence which in some ways exceeds anything to be found in the professional commercial marketplace. One of the important areas this series intends to discover in its forthcoming issues is what exactly are the design requirements of a high quality visual display within this venue. It may be supposed that the answers will vary considerably from many of the assumptions and rules of thumb which are listed above.
A second venue that is evidencing explosive growth is the church market. Worship centers all across America are rapidly coming to believe that the inclusion of often quite sophisticated audio visual systems within their venue can greatly enhance its desirability. Some of the reasons that this is so are interestingly (and entertainingly) described by Gary Kayye in the December issue of Da-Lite's Reflections series: The New Age Church: Attracting Generation X .
Certainly churches comprise a venue which, if only because of its size, differs greatly from the more industrial applications with which most of our business is familiar. Recognizing this, several of the nation's largest systems dealers are establishing separate and individualized sales and marketing teams whose missions will be to specialize in the Worship market exclusively. The details and circumstances justifying that specialization will also be the subjects of several of this series' upcoming articles.
The third special venue which merits attention is the one called Command-and-Control. As that title implies, the genesis of this application was military.
Imagine, for example, some sort of military border monitoring operation where the strip of geography separating two politically restive nations is lengthy. An efficient and reliable way to keep close tabs on such a frontier is to divide it up into a number of much smaller pieces each of which can, therefore, be kept under continuous electronic surveillance by watchers who themselves may be stationed far, far away from it. Assembled in a single, large room, each of these watchers typically is assigned the task of detecting unexpected or untoward activity anywhere within or along whatever sector of the frontier that is displayed on the screen before him.
In the beginning, of course, only the military would have had the resources (satellites, etc.) to carry out such a job effectively. But, over the years, the proliferation of elaborate commercial communications networks (satellites, etc.) has enabled the Command-and-Control function to migrate into all sorts of private enterprises and non-governmental activities. In addition, then, to the purely military facilities, there are now "Command & Process Control" facilities that, for instance, allocate and shift the resources of a municipal utility company. Also, there are Network Operations Centers (NOCs) which superintend various sorts of large communications facilities such as long distance telephone carriers. And, lastly, there are Trading Floors like the stock exchanges, which need to process, update, and display vast amounts of rapidly changing information in real, or nearly real time.
All of these applications will utilize what at Da-Lite we call matrix displays. These are an aggregation of many individual screens which, though installed in close proximity to one another, nevertheless will each display a dedicated and quite specific subset of the total information being output by the centralized computing system.
At its inception, this venue was cultivated by a small number of highly sophisticated A/V companies who specialized in it almost exclusively. As its technology became less rarefied, however, numerous other commercial entities are vigorously pursuing its opportunities. Prominent among these is Da-Lite's newest U.S. acquisition, Visual Structures, Inc. (http://www.vsitrooper.com), whose TrooperŽ product line has long been at the forefront of Command Center display technology. What special design and display requirements are unique to this venue will also be presented in some articles to follow. By looking carefully at each of these alternative venues, we hope to extend our angles of view in all of them.