The Boston Globe is one of the oldest and most read newspapers — an accomplishment in the Internet Age. The 26-time Pulitzer Prize-winning news outlet recently moved headquarters into downtown Boston, which presented the ideal opportunity to modernize AV technology throughout the new newsroom, administrative areas, and shared meeting spaces.
Working with the Boston team from ACT Associates, an AV consulting firm based in Storrs, Conn., the news organization determined it needed a well-designed, ultra-reliable, Ultra HD over IP video distribution system that would drive and support real-time access and switching of current video news to nearly 80 ceiling-mounted displays around their two-floor office space.
Next: a wireless collaboration solution to be used internally within their conference and collaboration spaces.
ACT leaned on the expertise of personnel at BTX Technologies — a 50-year-old distributor and manufacturer of emerging technologies, room scheduling systems, signal processing products, integration essentials, and a multitude of related services — to select and supply the right solutions for the job.
Ultra HD over IP Suits the System Needs
Needing to arm the news organization with system flexibility that would allow them to add screens and support evolving formats in the future, Marc Happes, MSEE, CTS-D senior engineer of ACT Associates, decided the best option would be a video-over-IP solution that leverages The Boston Globe IP infrastructure.
Ultra HD over IP would provide the ultimate capabilities and cost efficiencies for AV distribution over a standard matrix switcher.
Just Add Power (J+P) was selected as it would allow Happes to provide the exact number of inputs and outputs required for the project using Luxul AV-optimized managed network switches and standard cabling infrastructure.
Network switches were installed within IDFs around the facility, connected by fiber interconnects. Using the standard cabling, all the infrastructure cabling was completed by the low-voltage contractors. Maverick Integration, based in Nashua, N.H., handled the installation.
“In comparison to standard large-format HDBaseT matrix switching platforms, the cost of the equipment and deployment for an Ultra HD over IP solution was about a fraction of the price.
“In addition, Just Add Power goes beyond the standard AV-over-IP solutions and provides transmitter and receiver models with different tiers of connectivity and features,” says Happes.
“For example, if a project requires basic video transport, the client is not stuck buying a transmitter and receiver that also includes USB, audio extraction, CEC control, and other features that are not required for their system. All J+P’s transmitters and receivers are compatible, so a designer can mix and match models based upon system requirements. This is a real advantage as screens need to be upgraded to meet forthcoming format demands.”
The focal point of the distributed video system was the News Hub, where Maverick Integration executed ACT Associates’ design that included four displays in a vertical orientation used for internal analytics, nine 49-inch displays around a perimeter soffit, and a three-sided ceiling-mounted video wall dubbed the “jumbotron.”
Each of the three sides of the jumbotron consists of a 2×2 video array of 55-inch LCDs.
Installation, Content Selection Flexibility
With J+P’s 4K receivers, the sources can be oriented vertically or horizontally to fit the requirements of the installed displays.
In the case of the 2×2 video array, the system provides a variety of presentation options including individual source feeds to each of the four displays, displaying four video sources at once, or when in a video wall configuration, one large image scaled seamlessly across the display.
Also within the jumbotron outfit is three speakers for Boston Globe personnel to hear breaking news stories. Because the platform also supports lossless audio, signals can be switched to the speakers when required, ensuring breaking news stories can be heard.
“We were initially skeptical that Ultra HD over IP technology had reached a maturity where it would be useful in larger scale video distribution installs. J+P turned us around completely,” says Maverick Integration’s John Bray.
“The solution managed the video infrastructure needs of the install seamlessly, with the added simplicity of the system being managed via Luxul switches.
“We’ve been so impressed with the ease J+P handles 4K sources that we’ve begun deploying it in other installs, residential and commercial.”
The Ultra HD over IP system was segmented into eight different zones based upon each news division’s requirements.
Through a Crestron XPanel running on assigned desktops within each news division and supported by the J+P platform, division members can control their own monitors and source selection. This allows personnel to switch between sources on the fly and turn individual displays on and off using CEC control and RS-232 in the news hub there was also a master control interface that can be operated by help desk support.
Sources include 16 TV tuners, a Mac Mini, and a 4K BrightSign digital signage player. Additional inputs and outputs can easily be added by The Boston Globe as needs arise, thanks to the scalability of the system.
Additionally, Mersive Solstice Pods were installed in over 20 meeting areas. This collaboration platform wirelessly connects meeting participants simultaneously to a display from various devices over the Boston Globe network.
Users can share content from any source accessible by a laptop or mobile device, creating much more interactive and effective meetings. The Solstice Dashboard provides a centralized IT management tool, to administer enterprise display infrastructure.
Upon completion, the final system featured over 100 end points of IP distributed video and 20 conference rooms and executive offices equipped with in-room, wireless collaboration.
Boston Globe news personnel can easily select the source they need and quickly put it up on the desired display, switch sources, or tile up to four channels or video sources on the video wall or scale it to provide a larger video screen for everyone to watch.
This enables them to have a critical eye on the breaking news they need most with virtually no lag between source selection and display.
“J+P’s flexible and robust AV/IP platform was a perfect fit for The Boston Globe’s video distribution needs,” said Happes. “What’s more, they can continue to add sources and displays as its newsroom and technology requirements evolve.”