Delaware based integrator and PureLink partner, Riverfront AV, was contracted by the Philadelphia Flyers to engineer a solution for distributing and routing multiple video signals that would be projected onto the ice at the Wells Fargo Center (the Flyers’ home NHL venue).
The ice rink in this newly renovated sports and entertainment arena uses high-powered laser fired projectors flown over the ice to display HD content, motivating the crowd as part of the modern sports fan’s media-rich and increasingly immersive live event experience. A single-fiber transport solution was critical for this design to ensure that the 4K signals from the media server reached the projectors without degradation.
Other design challenges included the long transmission distance between sources and displays, as well as discreet and safe implementation of the wiring throughout the facility where large groups of people would constantly be moving from one area to another. Additionally, as these video presentations were to be played at certain critical junctures during games or between periods, there could be no lag or delays. The content had to run smoothly, without interruption, and in complete synchronization with the accompanying audio. A quality matrix switch would be necessary to ensure consistency and reliability of the signals at these critical moments. Lastly, as with any large-scale system, system manufacturer’s ability to provide effective communication and real-time support to the integrator during the full scope of the installation process would be an important factor.
Before Syncomation took on this project, there was an existing digital signage solution in place at Imerys that was cloud-based, and the monthly fees required to access the service were beginning to balloon out of control. For instance, each time the company added another media player to the system there were more fees to pay for the hardware as well as additional set up costs. In addition, Imerys was already paying monthly license fees for the control software that was being used with the players.
The client began to ask their integrators for a system that would be easier to manage and would allow simple and cost-effective hardware setup and installation. In addition, in-house control and security were also major priorities. There were unique technical requirements in this case as far as control and management of the content. Imerys was looking for the ability to create different corporate IDs within the server. They wanted to be able to manage everything from one central location and restrict each user’s access to certain responsibilities. As a global organization, Imerys valued security and complete control of their information and needed to have a high level of confidence that their intellectual property could not be misappropriated or stolen.
From Syncomation’s perspective, the licensing and other monthly fees were a problem as well. With such a system in place, any time a component was malfunctioning the first question the company was confronted with usually was, “Are you behind in the payments of your monthly dues?” Also, from the integrators point of view, the hardware’s reliability needed improvement, especially since the company planned to expand the use of the system in a phased deployment to different regions and major cities around the country. Syncomation, based in Atlanta, would have to incur significant costs to get to these new sites should an issue arise. Increased costs for travel, lodging and technician work hours had to be factored in every time a piece of equipment failed, so they began to investigate which system would be as trouble free as possible to install.
John Donlevie, VP of Operations at Riverfront AV, was tasked with finding the optimal solution to bring this on-ice video show to life and choosing a supplier that met all their service and technology requirements. “We had worked with PureLink before, and we knew that they understood the realities and critical timelines involved in these types of applications,” stated Donlevie. “In show business, as they say, ‘the show must go on’ and PureLink is a solid manufacturer that understands that; they know that our projects don’t have tomorrow to get it right,” he added. For the Wells Fargo Center, the PM-16X matrix switching system was implemented to feed Ultra HD/4K video to eight Barco UDX-4K32 (30,000 lumen) laser-fired projectors. Featuring a hybrid, cross-platform architecture with built-in “Don’t Blink” Fast Switching Technology, the PM-16X houses a combination of up to 16×16 UHD I/O options, including HDMI, DVI, 3G/HD-SDI, HDBaseT, and Fiber, for distributing analog and digital sources up to 4K. PureMedia offers advanced proprietary technologies including automatic up/down-scaling and frame rate conversion powered by Motore™, delivering smooth motion performance and seamless reproduction on every display. Its flexible mounting options and low-profile design were also key considerations in this application.
PureMedia’s PM Tools™ Control Software was another reason the PM-16X was selected. PM Tools is an application that allows easy configuration and management of any PureMedia™ matrix switcher from a Mac or Windows PC via RS-232 or LAN control. The interface fully mimics the touch-screen panel of the PM chassis, providing real-time feedback and critical system diagnostic functions including I/O port capacity and channel settings as well as signal status, test pattern generation and output resolution scaling. This web UI control, along with the 4K HDMI over fiber element of this solution were among the most important features and functionalities that Riverfront was looking for to get the job done properly. The fiber backbone solution in the arena utilized PureLink’s TotalWire™ TWF2-1000 3mm jacketed multimode duplex fiber optic cables. The advanced optical glass fibers in these cables are much stronger, safer, and faster terminating than other typical fibers, providing superior strength and increased safety in the field. These duplex style cables provide the ultimate durability and bend, with ease of termination. PureLink’s TWF2-1000 fibers are protected at the glass level via their integral polymeric coating, increasing both bend and tensile strength with ultra-low attenuation loss on tight bend radius, making them ideal for the intricate pathways they would have to travel within the arena.