A Serious AV Challenge
Being a company that enjoys an AV challenge we were approached by Manchester Storm Ice Hockey club with a problem. The storm were keen to provide their fans with a better viewing and game night experience and so they challenged us to come up with a ‘Jumbotron’ idea on a budget. So basically to hook up some large screens, raised above centre ice, allowing them to provide live game footage and advertising on game nights.
We are not ones to say no to a good challenge and as we have a good relationship with the storm management, we decided we should give it a go.
In planning the system we knew that the key importance was having a solid video wall distribution system which would not fail. As this was on a budget we needed to concentrate our resources on fixings and infrastructure. To balance this we realised that due to the viewing distance we could reduce the screen specifications to stay within budget. We also need to rely on video-wall technology rather than fitting three complete large screens.
After much planning and prototyping different ideas we decided on Blustream video wall matrix units sealed in environmental boxes behind each video wall. We also used B-Tech brackets, designed for lighting rigs, to secure the walls to the existing rig.
We were lucky in that the rink could lower the lighting rig to allow fixing of the whole unit. We also had the use of a cherry picker for fine tuning the system. All in all it took us three nights to complete the installation… in a very cold ice rink!
We also had some help from Nairnbrook, large format printers, in Glasgow who created the vinyls to fill the spaces between screen walls. This was fully branded with Manchester Storm branding to create the impression of one structure, rather than three walls of screens.
Finally we have everything running back to a branded Manchester Storm wall plate in the media box which means that the system is kept as simple as possible. So plug one laptop in via an HDMI and the footage appears on all three video walls. As simple as that.
The Storm now have a system which can show half time adverts and score boards as well as the live streams showing the game as it happens to the home crowd. This also provides the added benefit of replays.
We had a couple of teething problems, which is only to be expected for this type of endeavour. The screens had a sneaky secondary 2 hour environmental timed switch off, which is not the best for a four hour game! We also had a power cable failure, which led us around the houses, trying to figure out what was going wrong. All in all quite simple fixes, however not when it involves working at height above centre-ice when trying to find and fix them.
All in all the system now works and looks impressive.
What struck us most was the amazing team effort from everyone involved including arena staff, storm management and kit crew.