The Open University's Michael Young Building consists of four small teaching rooms, named MYB 1-4, which are separated by three collapsible partitions. The space can be used as four independent rooms or a single large teaching area, along with several options for use as two or three rooms.
Before our installation, the MYB's inherent flexibility was hampered by aged equipment and poor AV controls. All equipment, audio, and tie line connectivity was controlled through MYB 1. This was not only counter-intuitive to the room's purpose – it also required a great deal of hands-on supervision and was almost impossible for visitors and newcomers to use without prior knowledge of its quirks.
Pacific won the tender to upgrade the rooms to a more current spec, with instruction to bring the rooms as close to self-sufficiency as possible while increasing their capabilities, flexibility, reliability, and ease of use. Sightlines were a key requirement of the brief, along with video conferencing capabilities to make the MYB suitable for professional presentations as well as external communications.
Design and Equipment
After taking stock of the full brief, we designed a complete AV over IP solution which would meet or exceed the project requirements while also reducing the University's overall spend and power consumption. New 80” displays were fitted in each of the four rooms, eliminating sightline issues entirely and vastly improving visibility.
Using our IT pedigree, we selected an AMX SVSI solution along with AMX RMS monitoring software, while front-end controls were provided through an AMX touch panel control system. For audio requirements, we designed a BSS system from scratch, which included a variety of BSS capabilities to cater for the required inputs and outputs, feeding into a Crown CDI 4 BL 4-channel amplifier. Meanwhile, all signals were routed using a Soundweb control with a Sennheiser IT system providing induction loop capability.
To facilitate video conferencing, each of the four rooms was fitted with a VC setup from Lifesize encompassing a HD camera, omnidirectional ceiling microphone and AT lapel microphones, and full Skype functionality with cloud license. Video feeds are outputted to an Extron SMP352 streamer, allowing live video and pre-loaded content to be streamed to the web and simultaneously saved to local storage. As much of the University's student body uses distance learning, this was a particularly crucial aspect of the installation, which informed our decision to use a robust Lifesize/Extron solution.
Finally, each room was fitted with a TopTec Explorer lectern housing various presentation sources including a built-in PC (supplied by the University), local HDMI and VGA laptop connectivity, and Freeview TV direct from a box housed within the Comms rooms two floors away.
One of Pacific's longest-standing clients, Perrys Motor Sales is a nationwide chain of car dealerships with over 55 branches across the country.
Our relationship with Perrys has been going strong for over 15 years, and throughout this time our installations have increased in scope and modernity to meet the needs of the company's growth - from full provision of PC hardware, AV equipment, and infrastructure to remote and on-site repairs, along with consultancy services for server virtualisation via cloud videoconferencing and to-desk PC configuration and licensing.
Pacific have supported Perrys' email solution since 2000. Firstly, we implemented a clustered solution based on Exchange 2000, providing real-time failover for the 800 accounts – giving Perrys the benefits of virtualisation that are now taken for granted while that technology was only in its infancy. This solution served the Perrys workforce well for many years, with Pacific providing real-time support and helping Perrys’ own IT support team with any issues and upgrades.
The next stage of the customer life cycle began when this system was migrated to a virtualised Exchange 2010 solution without any user downtime – a challenging task in a 7-day retail operation. Moving forward from this, the entire solution was moved off-site to external servers.
More recently, we brought a major advancement to the company's communications with the deployment of cloud videoconferencing. We presented a variety of available approaches, demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of each package and consulting on how its deployment would take place – even performing live conferences across multiple sites to allow users to test out each option.
After reviewing each solution, Perrys selected the ClearOne Spontania product to host their conferences, whose emphasis on BYOD would allow the Perrys team to join in from a variety of places and on a variety of devices, while always maintaining a consistently high-quality experience.
Lastly, our most recent large-scale project with Perrys was the brand new Business Development Centre – a sizeable call centre environment housing over 50 workstations, each requiring PC equipment, IT networking and telephony. We consulted extensively with the Perrys team on their audiovisual and IT needs as well as exactly what they wanted the space to achieve for their workforce.
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In late 2007 Pacific Computers longest standing customer, Howden Joinery Ltd, asked us to set up and operate an ITIL aligned service desk. The desk was to support a user base of around 6000 users covering 450 nationally located stores along with two factory sites and 3 head office locations. Pacific gladly took up this challenge and went about setting the desk up for a go live date of the 1st of April. To date the Service Desk now provide support to over 600 depots and are the first point of contact for a user base of over 10,000 employees.
Interviews for the 4 technicians and 1 team leader started in earnest and by the 3rd of March a team was assembled and standing in the reception of Pacific Computers, eager to get started. As Howdens grew the requirement of technicians on the desk increased, as a result there are now 7 Service Desk Technicians, 1 Senior Technician and 1 Service Desk Leader.
The lead up to the go live date consisted of training conducted by members of Howdens service delivery team, 2nd line support teams and consultants. This was wide ranging and covered training on Howdens bespoke systems, the tools we would use to support the user base such as remote control, the call logging system and the basic reset tools. We also discussed with the 2nd line teams the information they would need to fix any calls we were unable to.
After completing all training and tests we were all very eager to go live and put our training into practice and become the new Howdens Service Desk. The day finally arrived and everyone was gathered around in anticipation of our first live call and who would take it. That honour fell to Damon Hope and I think he would admit that he was a bag of nerves during that call. Fast forward 9 years and although the size of the Howdens’ company has substantially increased, we’re still offering a great managed service... just with a slightly bigger Service Desk.
In 2015, the University of Bedfordshire created a tender for the supply of audio visual and digital signage for their new library building. This project included a requirement for a show-stopping display for the reception area, which would be used as an information platform to display key university statistics and opening times. Following a thorough tender process, AV and IT providers Pacific, were awarded the project and began working with the University of Bedfordshire to deliver against the requirements.
Pacific and the University of Bedfordshire reviewed numerous technologies to incorporate into the reception display and work alongside the specified Onelan digital signage system. In September 2015, Pacific hosted their annual Technology Event where PSCo, technical distributor of display technologies, showcased Absen’s narrow pixel pitch LED. The University attended the event as guests, and after seeing the LED display, decided that this technology would be an ideal fit for the reception display brief. As the display is truly seamless, it would not disrupt the content being showcased, and its extreme brightness, would allow information to be clearly seen even in the high ambient light environment.
What We Did
In order to choose the most suitable LED display product for the application, Pacific brought the University to the PSCo Assessment Centre. Here they had the chance to compare pixel pitches, see the performance and quality of the LED displays, and discuss project restrictions such as mounting. Following this assessment, the Absen N4, 4mm LED was selected for the project. The display was composed of 18 panels in a 6 x 3 formation, forming an impressive 6.91 x 0.86m display.
PSCo worked with specialist mounting provider Boldman to provide a bespoke mounting solution. It would need to be mounted to an existing structure above the reception, so a full safety checked would be required to ensure it would be structurally safe and sound. The display also needed to be covered at the rear to ensure the product was enclosed, whilst still ensuring adequate ventilation. The chosen solution was an aesthetically pleasing mesh rear which delivered on all of these points. The project was successfully installed utilising PSCo Technical Assistance services to support with the set-up of the Absen N4 LED display in time for the library launch.
Graham Pow, LED Sales Specialist, comments on the benefit of visiting the Assessment Centre. "The University of Bedfordshire had already seen Absen’s LED at the Pacific Technology Event but by visiting the PSCo Assessment Centre it gave them a chance to see the LED in more detail. We were able to show them a variety of pixel pitches, a selection of content, and discuss mounting options available. This was massively beneficial for all as it meant we could really get to know the customer and their requirements to ensure we found the best product for them!"
We recently completed a number of installations within the University of Leicester as part of an extensive refurbishment.
Founded as a memorial to those lost in the First World War, the University has been active since 1921 and today ranks among the top 1% of universities worldwide. With around 20,000 students currently in attendance, the University of Leicester is renowned for its contributions to space research, the discovery of DNA fingerprinting, and the recovery of the remains of King Richard III, among many other achievements.
Over the summer of 2016, the University carried out a full refurbishment of six of their lecture rooms, primarily within the Bennett Building. Although they slightly differed in their layouts, each room was similarly dated and in need of upgraded teaching equipment.
Working with the University's Estates department and AV specialists, along with the builders working on-site, Pacific sourced and implemented a modern and consistent AV solution throughout the refurbished lecture rooms. Old projectors, screens, lecterns, and whiteboards were stripped out ready for the installation of new equipment.
Of the six rooms, the four largest – including the Astley Clarke Lecture Theatre - received similar large-scale equipment to allow maximum visibility for larger classes. Two full-HD Sony projectors were installed - each projecting 16:9 images onto a flat teaching wall – and can be used to project one large image or two individual pictures, allowing for versatile teaching. These projectors are controlled via a touch-screen panel located on the main teaching lectern, which acts both as the lecturer's workstation and as an equipment cabinet housing a touch-screen PC with Blu-ray functionality and BYOD connections, as well as a borderless writing surface with top-mounted visualisers, allowing freehand writing to be displayed via the projectors.
The touch panel provides full control over both projectors - either separately or as a pair - along with options to control audio levels, lighting, and blinds. Voice amplification is provided through a boundary microphone within the lectern and two wireless digital lapel microphones, with voice audio delivered through four wall-mounted speakers. Media audio is directed through two powerful speakers mounted on the teaching wall.
Meanwhile, the two smaller rooms utilise a single wall-mounted 80” LED screen controlled through a similar lectern housing the same range of hardware and connectivity as the larger rooms. One of the two rooms also boasts three 43” repeater screens, which can mirror the image on the main screen or be used independently. Media audio is provided through wall speakers mounted either side of the LED screen.
Each room is also outfitted for lecture capture, with the larger rooms using ceiling-mounted SDI PTZ cameras and each smaller room equipped with a USB webcam connected to the lectern. Network cameras also allow remote monitoring by on-site AV support teams. Finally, each room is equipped with a hard of hearing loop – and, of course, traditional whiteboard writing surfaces.
Sea Life London Aquarium is a popular attraction in central London. Since Merlin Entertainments bought and extensively refurbished the aquarium in 2007, it has delighted visitors of all ages with a huge variety of fascinating sea creatures and become a firm favourite with tourists.
In 2016, Merlin Entertainments approached us with a themebook for a new arm to the attraction named Ocean Invaders. This new section would bring visitors into the world of jellyfish, with distinct theming and lighting setting it apart from the rest of the aquarium in an immersive, informative, interactive, and mesmerising experience. Putting our expertise to use, Pacific worked with the Merlin team to execute the plan to the highest standards possible.
The Ocean Invaders experience is divided into three zones: "Discover Jellies", "Understand Jellies", and "Wowed By Jellies". Each zone has its own unique features but maintains similar colours and lighting levels along with an ambient electronic soundtrack to mirror the hypnotic movement of the jellyfish.
Zone 1 focuses on introducing visitors to the basics of jellyfish: their life cycle, their needs and role in the ocean, and how they are bred and looked after at Sea Life. At the entrance, we installed a horizontal mister to produce a constant 1.2m-high stream of mist which acts as a moving screen for an Infocus short throw projector, creating a ghostly mid-air effect of jellyfish swimming across the archway.
The first area features a number of Samsung displays, playing video and audio content via Brightsign media players to accompany the live jellyfish tanks, which are illuminated with coloured light using LED RGB strips and diffusers. One particular tank is equipped with a transparent LG display to educate visitors about the life cycle of the jellyfish alongside the animals themselves. All displays and tanks are built into the walls to allow ease of movement within the attraction.
Overhead, three coloured lighting effects evoking jellyfish tentacles are achieved using LED tape and diffusers. This section closes with a massive moving image of the giant lion's mane jellyfish, produced by an Optoma ultra short throw projector, which dominates the facing wall.
Zone 2 heavily features interactive exhibits to stimulate visitors' imaginations, ranging from a relatively simple colour-changing jellyfish tank controlled by a touch screen, all the way up to a giant video game for up to eight players. The game allows players to create a swarm of jellyfish via eight Iiyama touch screen displays set into themed desks. The action takes place on a huge 7m-wide display projected by two high-end Optoma projectors, using edge blending to create a seamless image.
Elsewhere in Zone 2, an interactive Hitachi projector allows visitors to access information using hand gestures. Nearby, the infamous jellyfish sting is simulated – visitors are encouraged to poke their hand through a hole in the wall to touch a plastic tentacle, when a CF IV audio player plays an electric shock sound and an accompanying bass shaker thrills the user with rumbling movement.
Since Pacific Computers began working with Madame Tussaud’s London, we’ve helped them develop a number of innovative experiences – each more impressive and engrossing than the last.
As part of the Fashion Week display, we installed a large video wall providing a rotating high-energy backdrop for guests to strut their stuff on the catwalk alongside Cara Delevingne.
This video wall is built from 6 vertical Samsung displays running in a daisy chain pattern from a 4K Onelan Digital signage player, facilitating a high resolution whilst also keeping the costs and maintenance to a minimum. All content can be loaded and changed remotely via the network and changed on command.
Alongside the main screen, another multi-screen display outside the attraction shows six separate loops of exciting fashion footage. Themed as stylish frames, these screens set the tone of the Fashion Week display and prime guests for a glamourous experience.
Most recently, we were heavily involved with the realisation of the Justin Bieber experience. This temporary attraction was briefed to us at very short notice - Madame Tussaud’s had managed to secure the loan of the Bieber waxwork from Las Vegas and only had limited time to install an all-new experience around it in time for the October half term holiday.
To help Madame Tussaud’s recreate the finale of the recent Justin Bieber world tour, we first installed a large multi-screen display to act as a backdrop, displaying imagery taken from the singer’s hit video "Sorry". To enhance this watery imagery and the waxwork’s distinctive wet look, we added a rain curtain which can be activated in sequence to complement the other features.
This sensory array truly brought the half-hourly dance show to life, but also presented its fair share of challenges. As the stage area was already defined, we had to work within fairly tight confines while adhering to health and safety rules.
This was particularly challenging when installing the drainage trough, which was required to eliminate splashback while keeping weight evenly distributed throughout the stage area.
The final installation made for a dazzling addition to the Madame Tussaud’s experience which enthralled visitors throughout its run!
The University of Portsmouth contacted us to provide them with a solution to enhance the teaching and learning experience they could offer in their new Business Simulation Suite.
The critical element of this project was to ensure that the installed audio-visual technology did not interfere with the intended purpose of the suite, which was to simulate a real-life business environment; whilst also providing the ability to record everything that happened in the suite and make that content instantly available for playback throughout the suite, as needed, to allow group or individual discussion regarding a range of business practices and activities.
Furthermore, the suite needed to be capable of sub-dividing into core areas to allow students to be split into groups which could then undertake set tasks.
Pacific worked in partnership with the University to enhance their original concept, by designing the location of display devices to ensure sight lines were preserved from any point in the suite which meant students could see any displayed material from anywhere in the suite.
Furthermore, the Pacific design team created a space where the technology access was completely wireless allowing teaching staff and students to share and collaborate on any material from any point with any display device anywhere in the suite. The suite was delivered on time and to budget after quite a rapid build the physical installation was fast and highly competent with additional changes to the control system interface being made quickly and efficiently.
Merlin's Magic Wand is a unique charitable organisation which was set up in 2008 by Merlin Entertainments to deliver magical experiences to seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged children across the world.
Some children, due to the nature of their illness or disability, are physically unable to visit Merlin attractions, this is why they invest in taking the magic to the Children.
They want to ensure that local children who are prevented from visiting their attractions due to severe illness, physical disability or other exceptional circumstances still have the opportunity to experience the unique magic of Merlin
VIDEO: The innovative sensory changing rooms that will help disabled children prepare for the swimming pool.
Bournemouth Daily Echo
By far our largest installation at Madame Tussaud’s is the Star Wars experience. Covering 16 distinct spaces and overseen by Disney and Lucasfilm, this attraction required us to help recreate several beloved movie moments and setpieces as authentically as possible.
To bring each area to life, we used our AV experience to devise a central audio system controlled by an Alcorn McBride Protraxx digital sound processor which allows the soundtracks in each zone to be controlled from a single point. This allowed us to channel in both background and area-specific audio via a combination of microdot speakers, Ottocanali multi-zone amplifiers, and localised sound showers.
Highlights of the installation include the Duel of the Fates, which features Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul engaged in a lightsabre battle. Each character has their own microdot speaker projecting battle sounds and dialogue, with each lightsabre lit up with screen-accurate LED lighting. This is accompanied by an enormous vertical glass tube lit up by 1600 fibre optic strands with a pre-programmed flashing sequence.
Later in the experience, the Dagobah scene features the waxwork Yoda in a dimly-lit swamp area. This is brought to life by creeping background audio and a Gem Glaciator fog machine, allowing the fog to stay close to the floor creating a lifelike swamp environment. Yoda has a sound shower directly in front of him which plays a loop of ten of his most famous sayings.
To recreate the famous "I am your father” scene, the imposing 6’7” figure of Darth Vader stands on a balcony above a small pit. When visitors approach the opposing glass cylinder, a motion sensor triggers two giant DMX theatre fans to create an upward gust of wind from below - and a directional sound shower delivers the famous line.
Another highlight is Jabba’s Palace, which features a local speaker playing Jabba’s booming phrases from behind the characters of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. Underfoot, bass shakers and localised audio recreate the movement of the fearsome Rancor beneath.
Further on, Anakin Skywalker stands on a small raft in a river of burning lava. Four Dimplex water effect fires create the appearance of lava using water, lights, and mist, accompanied by a fog machine. Beneath the raft RGB LED strips flicker in a controlled sequence, and the rear walls are augmented with PTZ projections from two Rosco projectors to create the illusion of movement along the lava flow. Finally, a ScentAir machine creates the smell of fire to complete this immersive scene.
But by far the centrepiece of the experience is the Millennium Falcon cockpit - the most complex and most interactive feature of the attraction. Visitors take a seat alongside Chewbacca for a multi-faceted sequence simulating the jump to hyperspace.
The visual effect of the hyperspace jump was achieved by playing six different video sequences through Brightsign HD 220 media players and rear-projecting the image through six ultra-short throw Optoma projectors onto ultra-black projection film on the outside of the cockpit. Bass shakers underneath the seat and in the side wall create an intense rumbling sensation.
The sequence is triggered by a giant red button which uses Extron transmitters and receivers with CAT5 cable to run the signal to the projectors. The overall effect is breathtaking and has proved immensely popular – in fact, the sequence had to be shortened as the attraction’s popularity would cause huge queues to form!
As a final touch, we also installed a unique feature for the Madame Tussaud’s staff to enjoy behind the scenes! A central stairwell is surrounded by star cloth and fifteen lightsabres hang from the ceiling, creating a one-of-a-kind lighting setup. suspended at varying heights, the sabres hang from a raft and use a DMX controller to light up in sequence. This was entirely designed, hung, programmed, and cabled by Pacific and is the only one of its kind in the world.
The entire gift shop is outfitted with background audio and features two motion-activated sound showers – one in the entrance playing R2-D2’s distinctive sound effects, and another playing all of the featured characters’ dialogue in rotation.
This is positioned in front of a mirrored screen which displays character images to create another immersive moment.