Focus on Technology: Visual Presentation Spaces, Part II Gauging Height, Width and Depth

Designing presentation facilities can be challenging, yet the basic principles are not difficult. In a previous blog post, we looked at how to determine the screen size for a presentation facility, taking into account the 4-6-8 rule that dictates the image height based on the type of content being presented .

The next step in the design process is to look at the space and determine the minimum distance from the floor to the bottom of the image. The most precise method to achieve this is use ray tracing from the furthest viewer using an eye height of approximately three and a half feet above the finished floor and looking over the top of seated heads at four feet above the finished floor. This will indicate how low the bottom of the screen can be without having the person’s head in front of a viewer obstruct the image.

Okay, now for the napkin version: The boardroom ceiling is 10 feet high. We want to start at the bottom of the image/screen at 4 feet above finished floor in order to get over the heads of other viewers. From there we want to make the image as tall as possible, yet keeping it six inches below the ceiling to miss the track lights and sprinkler heads. From that our image height is 10 feet minus 4 feet minus 6 inches or 5 feet- 6 inches. We then look at standard screen sizes and round up to the next biggest size.

The final step is determining the viewing cone or viewing angle that the projected image can cover in the room without creating problems for the viewer. Generally, a 90 degree viewing cone is preferred. To measure, a scaled floor plan should be marked with a straight line from the center of the screen, perpendicular to the screen. Then measure 45 degrees to either side of that center line. Anyone within this cone should see the image well. If seats or viewers are going to be located outside of this area then additional screens should be added to provide coverage. That may mean having two side-by-side images in a wide room or having supplemental displays on the side walls in a deep room.

These basic principles should be applied to any presentation space design. While compromises may be necessary, by following these guides the best choices can be made for everyone involved.

Designing presentation facilities can be challenging, yet the basic principles are not difficult. In a previous blog post, we looked at how to determine the screen size for a presentation facility, taking into account the 4-6-8 rule that dictates the image height based on the type of content being presented . The next step in… Read more »

Focus on Lighting: The Importance of Color

Lighting is often the forgotten design element. Though its effects are powerful, the medium itself is rather intangible. Because lighting can drastically affect atmosphere, and since it generally flies in under most people’s conscious radar, good lighting is an economical and easy way to change and transform the atmosphere of a facility.

Understanding color is crucial to any lighting project. Color is often overlooked because people feel that white light is sufficient- it is what they are used to and comfortable with. But white light is actually a combination of colors. Everyone knows the primary colors of pigment are red, blue and yellow, and when mixed together become black. But the primary colors of light are different, they are red, blue, and green (just like the three colors that make up your television) and the secondary colors of light are cyan (blue and green), magenta (red and blue), and believe it or not yellow (red and green). When red, blue and green light are mixed together, they create white light.

If you light with the same color as the object you are lighting is painted it helps make the object pop out. But in the same way, if you light something from the opposite side of the spectrum it may make the object look unflattering. For example, if a building is yellow and you light it with yellow light it will appear more vibrant. But if you light it with blue light (which is the color opposite from yellow on the lighting spectrum) it will make the building appear dull and lifeless. Of course, keep in mind the mantra “everything in moderation.”

Lighting is a subjective art and understanding color is a good way to start identifying how lighting can affect and improve any project.

Lighting is often the forgotten design element. Though its effects are powerful, the medium itself is rather intangible. Because lighting can drastically affect atmosphere, and since it generally flies in under most people’s conscious radar, good lighting is an economical and easy way to change and transform the atmosphere of a facility. Understanding color is… Read more »

Product Review: Sanyo Short Focus Projector

The latest short-focus projector from Sanyo (PLC-WL2500) combines the limited maintenance features of their traditional models with the benefits of a short-focus projector. An 80-inch wide projection is possible with a mounting position only 34 inches from the screen. This allows the projector to be placed on a desk or be mounted on the ceiling without fear of shining in the presenter’s eyes.

While other models (such as the PLC-XL51) project an 80-inch image from a distance of 3 inches, (yes inches) the PLC-WL2500 benefits from an average 4,000 hour bulb and filter lifespan, requiring less maintenance. The projector also boasts an output of 2,500 lumens and a 10-watt loudspeaker.

 

 

The latest short-focus projector from Sanyo (PLC-WL2500) combines the limited maintenance features of their traditional models with the benefits of a short-focus projector. An 80-inch wide projection is possible with a mounting position only 34 inches from the screen. This allows the projector to be placed on a desk or be mounted on the ceiling… Read more »

Project Profile: NCCU Pearson Cafeteria and Teaching Kitchen

The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Pearson Cafeteria Renovation and Expansion project includes a modern cafeteria with a seating capacity of 1,750 students, dining facilities for staff and various conference rooms. Since the project’s inception in 2003, the project budget grew from $1.3 million to $13 million while the square footage increased from 27,000 sq. ft. to 56,000 sq. ft.

The facility also includes a special Teaching Kitchen. The Project Requirements called for a space designed for classes on cooking and food preparation where a chef/instructor could move freely from one food preparation station to the next and still allow the students to see and hear what was going on from their desks. Additionally, each food preparation station needed to be recorded on video and/or transmitted over a video conferencing system for distance learning.

For incoming distance learning video, a wall mounted flat panel display is located on the central column facing the student seating area. Two motorized video projection screens roll down at the front of the class to the left and right sides of the food prep stations for viewing the lesson/meal in progress.

The following cameras are necessary to cover all of the areas, all controlled remotely. A wall-mounted camera is located on the back wall for a view of the instructor. Ceiling mounted cameras over the food prep tables look down on preparation surfaces for a bird’s eye view. Behind the food prep tables are the various hot cooking surfaces, fryers and soup kettle. Remote cameras are also located under the vent hood over the “hot” preparation area. These cameras are mounted in an air-tight protective housing behind a glass dome in order to keep hot steam and grease from compromising the camera optics and electronics. The instructor chooses which camera feed to display by way of a remote control panel or a push button located near each camera.

A wireless head-worn microphone, kept less than an inch from the instructor’s mouth, picks up their voice. This type of microphone was chosen because of the high level of fan noise coming from the fan hood.

The completed kitchen allows the chef / instructor to teach a large number of students both in the classroom and at distance learning centers.

 

The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Pearson Cafeteria Renovation and Expansion project includes a modern cafeteria with a seating capacity of 1,750 students, dining facilities for staff and various conference rooms. Since the project’s inception in 2003, the project budget grew from $1.3 million to $13 million while the square footage increased from 27,000 sq…. Read more »

Focus on Technology: Visual Presentation Spaces, Part I Understanding the 468 Rule

Designing presentation facilities can be challenging, but the basic principles are not difficult. Each project and venue comes with its own set of variables and limitations that require some analysis to determine how to create the most optimal conditions.

The key visual element in a presentation facility is the screen. The size of the screen is tied to the size of the room, and changes to one can affect the other. In order to understand how the two are related, it’s important to understand some of the standard ratios involved in the creation of a facility.

The 468 Rule is the basic concept in determining image size in a presentation space. It sets the image size based on the furthest viewer from the image. The image height in a room should be at least 1/4, 1/6, or 1/8 the distance to the furthest viewer, depending on the type of content being viewed.

  • 1/8 is for general viewing (i.e. video content with few symbols or text)
  • 1/6 is for detailed viewing (i.e. PowerPoint with many symbols and text)
  • 1/4 is for inspection viewing (i.e. medical images, maps, artwork, etc.)

For example, in a facility where the furthest row of seats are set at 72 feet from the presentation / front wall, a screen being used primarily for general video content should be 1/8 that distance, or 9 feet tall. Detailed viewing requires 1/6 the distance, or 12 feet. Inspection viewing needs 1/4 the distance – in this case, a screen that is 18 feet tall.

Once the image height is determined the width is set by the aspect ratio of the image content. 4:3(1.33) is a traditional computer display but it is becoming more common for content to be provided in a widescreen format such as 16:9(1.78) or 16:10(1.6). By taking these fixed ratios of the projected content and multiplying by the image height the image width is determined. In the example of a 9-foot tall screen, a standard ratio (4:3) would suggest a 12 foot wide screen (4 x 9 = 36, 36 / 3 = 12). A widescreen ratio of 16:9 would suggest a 16-foot wide screen.

Of course the first compromises often start here. Usually the theoretical image size won’t fit a “standard” screen size from one of the projection screen manufacturers so there has to be an adjustment. Manufacturers do make custom size screens but it costs more and takes longer for delivery, so a “standard” size is often preferable if it does not seriously compromise a project.

Now that the properly sized screen has been found as the best fit for the space, it’s time to focus on where to position the screen in relation to the seats. In the next newsletter we will explore the angles and standards used in creating optimal presentation facility viewing.

Click here for Part II

Designing presentation facilities can be challenging, but the basic principles are not difficult. Each project and venue comes with its own set of variables and limitations that require some analysis to determine how to create the most optimal conditions. The key visual element in a presentation facility is the screen. The size of the screen… Read more »

Focus on Acoustics: Trees as Sound Barriers

When we work on a project to mitigate the impact of an environmental noise source (such as a nearby highway or outdoor cooling tower) on a residence or outside use space (such as a playground), someone always asks about putting in a line of trees or shrubs to lessen the offending noise. While there is a very real psycho-acoustical phenomenon that takes place when a sound source is no longer visible, the reality is trees and other plants do little to create sound buffers.

There are many factors that affect how noise travels over distance, such as wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity. However, as a rule of thumb, a sound is reduced by about 21 dB over an open distance of 100 feet. That is if there is an open area of 100 feet between a noise source and a listener the noise will be approximately 21 dB quieter than if the listener were directly adjacent to the noise source.

One would think that a forest of trees or shrubs would help to reduce even more of that sound. However, trees and shrubs do not reflect or diffuse sound like massive and rigid noise barriers do. Instead, they absorb some of that sound energy, and therefore the denser the tree and its foliage is, the more energy will be absorbed.

Consider sound the same as a wave on the ocean approaching a marina. A solid pier or breakwater reflects that wave back into the ocean, leaving areas behind it undisturbed. But a more porous barrier, such as a line of rocks, will only provide partial protection as it breaks up that wave and absorbs some of the wave’s energy. But some of that wave’s energy will still disturb the calm marina water. Trees and foliage act the same way.

Deciduous trees (ones that seasonally lose their leaves) have a greater area between leaves and are less dense, therefore providing a greater space for the sound energy to travel around the object. However, when deciduous trees lose their leaves every autumn, they lose nearly all beneficial noise reducing properties. Conifers (like pine trees) on the other hand, are quite dense in comparison and will trap the sound energy year round. Shrubs and other plants act in the same way as trees; the greater the density, the greater the reduction in decibels they will provide.

Still, the decibels saved might not be worth the effort. On average, 100 feet of dense pine trees will only provide an additional 5 dB of noise reduction. So while there is a helpful advantage to such natural barriers, it often requires a lot of real estate for it to be an effective solution.

When we work on a project to mitigate the impact of an environmental noise source (such as a nearby highway or outdoor cooling tower) on a residence or outside use space (such as a playground), someone always asks about putting in a line of trees or shrubs to lessen the offending noise. While there is… Read more »

Better City, Better Life

By: Steve Thorburn

As the axiom goes, in 1810 the savvy entrepreneur should have gone to London, in 1910 they should have been in New York, and in 2010 they should be in Asia. Having recently returned from Shanghai, China and the World’s Fair (Expo 2010), the saying holds true. And it particularly points to a bright and lucrative future for several types of AV products. The challenge comes in figuring out how to harness the ideas and momentum generated from Expo 2010 and build business from them.

Expo 2010 opened May 1, 2010 and runs for six months on more than 5.28 square kilometers of land, straddling the Huangpu river in Shanghai. Over 120 pavilions are split between those sponsored by different countries and others created by corporations (nearly all of them Chinese). Expo 2010’s theme is “Better City, Better Life,” representing the common goal of improving living conditions in urban environments, with a nod toward sustainable development.

If you have never been to a World’s Fair, this is the one to attend. China has thrown billions of dollars into creating this showcase, and has promoted it ad nauseam across the country. But be prepared to wait. Recently, over 500,000 guests have filed into the site on peak days (“slower” days only play host to about 300,000). Wait times for popular pavilions easily run three to four hours. The U.S. and China pavilions have seen queue times up to six hours. We were there for three days and only saw about half of what we wanted to see. Even with a guide from one of the installation firms (who had the best cut in line pass we could ever hope for), we only could see six pavilions before we were wiped out in the extreme heat and humidity of a normal May day in Shanghai.

Historically, World’s Fairs were a showcase for the latest and greatest in technology, and we did see some trends that you might be able to capitalize from:

LED is here to stay. LED lights permeated the Expo. And beyond. Several of Shanghai’s elevated highways are outfitted with color changing LED lighting beneath the roadway, and many of the skyscrapers downtown feature LED lighting and displays. The Expo seems to have legitimized the use of LED lighting as a decorative element on a scale unseen elsewhere.

People in Asia want to be entertained just as much as Westerners do. With such long waits for shows, most pavilions had some type of outside entertainment. A video-projected preshow was standard, and outdoor ethnic stage performances were everywhere. The technology wasn’t cutting-edge, but it was the quantity that counted. The Expo entertains its guests with thousands of projectors and video displays, and probably tens of thousands of loudspeakers.

“Green” will not succeed without Asia. All of our talk about the greening of our systems and buildings will have very little overall impact on anything unless we can help bring the rest of the world along with us. The Expo is a great example of a major country finding itself on the road to cleaning up its emissions. If this is our goal locally, then we really need to focus on helping the emerging economies at least get to where we are.

While Expo 2010 is only temporary it does point to future opportunities to capitalize off these trends, especially in Asia, but also for future Expos. But how do you do that?

If you haven’t already, start planning now for the 2012 Expo in South Korea and the 2015 Fair in Milan. The best way to get involved is through the design and development teams for the USA, Canada, or other major international or corporate pavilion. This industry relies heavily on referrals, so you need to utilize your existing contacts and partners more than usual. If you are not lucky enough to have the right connections right away, you will need to start working to find an “in” with the local promoters and developers. An excellent resource for learning about the workings of an Expo is to check out theexpobook.com.

This article was originally published in System Contractor News.

By: Steve Thorburn As the axiom goes, in 1810 the savvy entrepreneur should have gone to London, in 1910 they should have been in New York, and in 2010 they should be in Asia. Having recently returned from Shanghai, China and the World’s Fair (Expo 2010), the saying holds true. And it particularly points to… Read more »

Project Profile: The Littoral Warfare Training Center Briefing Room

The Littoral Warfare Training Center Briefing Room at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is undergoing a comprehensive architectural modernization, replacement of the mechanical systems, and an update of the audiovisual technology. The facility is primarily used to train military personnel on coastal landing and combat tactics. The Briefing Room is a large tiered classroom that combines computer presentations, mapping data, and live broadcast video feeds. Video conference applications allow remote field sites to join in with the Center’s personnel.

A key objective was to work within the military base procurement process to develop a design package that could be released with the construction package allowing the general contractor to act as a single point of contact for the whole project. This needed to happen while meeting strict technical system requirements to provide interoperability with existing training center spaces and fit into a tight construction schedule.

TA worked with the owner to perform an analysis of the display requirements early in the project to determine projection angles, screen location and image size to meet objectives that will fit within the constraints of the current facility. This allowed the architectural design to move forward while meeting the Center’s needs.

The old system used dual projection screens at the front of the room along with two rear projection enclosures along each side wall to supplement the main displays. The new design utilizes a single high definition format rear projection screen. In addition, the control room serves as the head end for cable TV system. Twisted pair video solution was implemented to reduce conduit requirements and simplify the cable installation. Lighting and HVAC systems were connected to the AV control system so that touch panels within the room could control these functions remotely.

Special considerations were made for “confidential” briefings by including a cell phone detector which alerts the room operator to any active cell phones within a given radius. In addition, encrypted wireless microphone systems are used within the room when the security level is low enough to allow their use. Presentations requiring higher security use only wired microphones.

 

The Littoral Warfare Training Center Briefing Room at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is undergoing a comprehensive architectural modernization, replacement of the mechanical systems, and an update of the audiovisual technology. The facility is primarily used to train military personnel on coastal landing and combat tactics. The Briefing Room is a large tiered classroom that… Read more »

Product Review: RP Visuals ULTRAFLEX Screen

We came across a new product from RP Visuals (www.rpvisuals.com) that may be the answer to your screen problems. The bendable ULTRAFLEX projection screen ships in a cylinder as small as 40-inches in diameter. Once on-site, it is unrolled, tensioned and installed. The largest installed size available is 96-inches high x 300-inches long.

The small shipping size allows for installation in tight spaces, and the flexible screen works well on curved (concave or convex), contoured (S) and cylindrical applications. The flexible screen is perfect as a replacement for a damaged glass screen that cannot be replaced due to access limitations. The screens are appropriate for both front and rear projection.

We came across a new product from RP Visuals (www.rpvisuals.com) that may be the answer to your screen problems. The bendable ULTRAFLEX projection screen ships in a cylinder as small as 40-inches in diameter. Once on-site, it is unrolled, tensioned and installed. The largest installed size available is 96-inches high x 300-inches long. The small… Read more »

Project Profile: California Science Center

Patrick Gallegos of Gallegos Lighting, now a Thorburn Associates Studio, unveiled his most recent project at the California Science Center on March 25. The museum’s new wing, called Ecosystems, surrounds guests with the sensations of each Ecosystem environment, eliciting an appreciation for different environments on Earth and how humans interact with them.

Nearly ten years in the making, this new permanent exhibit wing allows visitors to experience a blend of live animals and hands-on science experiments in 11 distinct environments. The 140,000 square foot expansion nearly doubles the exhibit space at the Science Center and includes two floors of administrative offices. Unique to science centers in the United States, this facility includes a 2,500 square foot desert zone with a programmed flash flood and an 188,000-gallon living kelp forest among its environments.

Gallegos Lighting worked from concept to completion designing all lighting for the interior architecture, the grand atrium, all dry and wet exhibits, and administrative offices. Key to the success of the project was the close collaboration between Gallegos Lighting, the Science Center creative and operational staff, and the project architect EHDD/ZGF, a joint venture.

“As in most museum-type spaces, lighting plays a key role in how exhibits are perceived. The lighting at the California Science Center allows the guests to experience each unique environment as a new destination,” explains Patrick Gallegos. Sensations of warmth, coolness, humidity and dryness all had to be conveyed and supported through exhibit lighting. The project also included 60,000 square feet of administrative office lighting.

Patrick Gallegos of Gallegos Lighting, now a Thorburn Associates Studio, unveiled his most recent project at the California Science Center on March 25. The museum’s new wing, called Ecosystems, surrounds guests with the sensations of each Ecosystem environment, eliciting an appreciation for different environments on Earth and how humans interact with them. Nearly ten years… Read more »