AV-Over-IP Brings New Life to NZ Cemetery
It’s not uncommon for a funeral service to feature media items such as photo montages, remembrance videos and music playback. The responsibility of manually configuring and managing all these AV components usually falls to the funeral director.
To enhance how funeral services are conducted and experienced, the Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium in Auckland, NZ, asked Amber Technology and integration firm PowerComs to design a network-driven AV system that would enable remote control of all AV on the 45-acre property. Gefen signal distribution equipment was selected to serve as the connective backbone for the whole system.
“With multiple screens in various locations on the property, the management and distribution of content is a key consideration,” says Murray Wilkinson of Amber Technology. “It’s really important that the Purewa Cemetery staff are able to direct a service without the stress and complications of faulty technology.”
To enable remote control, the PowerComs team suggested central operation of all AV within the facility. A Gefen 4K Ultra HD Extender was integrated over One Fiber so the staff could control the two chapels’ motorised screens, Optoma projectors and HD cameras from the same interface, located in a single room.
Gefen EDID detectives were installed to guarantee that compatible audio and video signals are sent to the displays. Gefen Multi Format Processors handle video scaling and switching. “We can now plug and play with virtually no issues,” said Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium General Manager, Clifton Thomson. “During testing, our celebrants were truly blown away by the quality and clarity of the content. It really does add a personalised element that enhances the experience for everyone involved.”
At Purewa Cemetery, funerals often saw a chapel’s capacity exceeded by the number of guests attending. Wilkinson pitched on-site distribution as the solution to this problem. The PowerComs team installed a network of Gefen extenders to expand the content to other chapels if needed. “With 10 Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-TXs and four Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-RX’s, we were able to create a system that could distribute content with resolutions up to 1080p full HD,” Wilkinson added. “Now, with this new system, we can broadcast the system live to screens in other chapels so everyone can experience it.”
To further modernise the experience, Purewa Cemetery also added a personalised component for its guests — the ability to capture and record every service using two Gefen EXT-HDPVRs. OneRoom live streaming services broadcasts it in real-time online for those who cannot be there in person. Using the Gefen interface, the cemetery’s staff can change between different camera perspectives to enhance the production. “Before the service, guests can send an e-vite to an unlimited number of people that may want to tune into the OneRoom service,” Wilkinson explained. “Or later on, anyone with e-vite access can download a link to the recording that is provided in HD quality service.”
According to Thomson, the system simplifies the entire experience for staff, while also adding a more intimate touch for celebrants. “This system is now so efficient that it leaves little room for mistakes,” he said. “We can watch what the funeral directors are doing and what the celebrants are doing. That allows us to ensure that every single service runs smoothly. If we can see better, hear better and monitor better, the service will go better.”
Best Application of AV in a Commercial or Government Installation with a budget up to $100,000
Powercoms, for the AV upgrade of the Purewa, NZ cemetery.
Judges’ Comments: This modestly-budgeted project delighted the judges with its impressive application of ingenuity and innovative thinking to produce results that exceeded any reasonable expectations of its capabilities. This project is seen by the judges as a shining example of the clever application of AV technology to deliver a project without necessarily reaching for the shiniest solution on the shelf.
Powercoms Director Peter Mason tells his story:
The original scope was simple, Purewa asked us to provide a video link between buildings within their large facility to help coordinate funeral services.
We were asked to use existing infrastructure, which was an older unused fibreoptic cable system, and an existing Axis CCTV system, and provide a platform that could enable staff at multiple locations to monitor services.
Once we selected the Gefen video distribution platform we were able to quickly expand the original scope to include a control system, an automated overflow option to combine multiple chapels for simultaneous use, the ability to record and broadcast services live to the web in full HD, an audio upgrade, the opportunity to simplify and incorporate virtually any media a family may wish, into a funeral service, without the need for a technician on site, and all for a budget of around $50,000.
What initially seemed pretty straight forward soon presented us with some significant challenges. File types, frame rates and resolution aren’t necessarily compatible between CCTV, AV distribution gear, projectors, computers, recorders and broadcast/streaming services. We needed a strong backbone and an even stronger control system.
We chose Q-Sys Core Processor as an audio processor and control platform. We opted for large PC-based touchscreens to provide a single level of control to all components across the entire site. The ability of this system to have a customised GUI enabled a simplified screen layout to assist the operators, without looking complicated.
Behind the scenes there were numerous scalers/converters/extenders but we were able to control everything from the touchscreens.
The video distribution was provided by Gefen, using a host of HDMI matrixes, HDBaseT extenders, splitters and importantly their new video-over-IP products that we could use to send HD video and audio throughout the facility using an IT network.
We chose Gefen multi-format-processors to scale and inject audio into the HDMI stream from the Axis CCTV and local audio systems.
We incorporated a solid state recording system and provided a feed from the CCTV network to an online streaming service (OneRoom).