After a £14m collaboration between BBC Scotland, Glasgow Cultural Enterprises and the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow's City Hall has re-emerged as a hugely attractive, state-of-the art complex.
Scottish Symphony Orchestra uses the Grand Hall, which seats over 1000 people, for rehearsals, broadcasts, recordings and concerts. Formed in 1935, the Orchestra has won major awards including the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society prize and two Gramophone Awards. The venue has also emerged as a key visitor attraction within Glasgow, attracting thousands of visitors since its relaunch.
As part of the refurbishment, Dave Hunt, BBC Special Projects Manager, was looking to install dynamic displays throughout the City Hall, designed to entertain, educate and inform the public. Dave chose to work with Wave Integrated Systems, a division of the Eastlake Group, who are specialists in the design, supply and installation of audio visual solutions and an accredited reseller of the Net-Top-Box from ONELAN, an extremely flexible digital signage product.
Ewan Grimes, Head of Wave Integrated Systems explains the issues that Dave wanted addressing. "The installation requirements were complex, with 16 different areas within City Hall each having its own communication objectives. For example, there are pavement facing areas, which are ideal advertising spots to capture the attention of the public passing the building. Then there are reception areas, where there was a requirement for up to date scheduling information. A children's area required interactive displays to be installed at low level and is used for encouraging the kids' interest in music.
We were also asked to address the issue of customers who arrive late and aren't allowed access to the hall until the intermission. Was there a way that we could let them view the performance in the bar areas whilst they were waiting?"
The solution was an integrated installation, with display devices ranging from 40" LCD panels to touch screens to 50" plasma screens and five glass holoscreens. Wave introduced a product called Turning Heads, which converts any surface into audio speaker, and used this to turn the glass windows at the front of the hall into speakers, so that passers by could not only see previous performances on the screens but hear them too! Five broadcast cameras in the auditorium film the performance and allow it to be shown in real time on displays in the bar areas for those latecomers who have missed the start of the show.
One overriding requirement was the simple control of the varied content on all of the different displays and Wave recommended the ONELAN Net-Top-Box as an ideal solution, having used the product very successfully in other installations with similar requirements. Dave had evaluated several competitive hardware and software products but was impressed with the flexibility that the Net-Top-Box offered, and the cost effectiveness of the product. The chosen solution was that the content of the displays would be driven by six Net-Top-Boxes which control the different information into different areas and allow content to be scheduled at relevant times.
Six months after the installation was completed, the City Hall feels all their objectives were met. "Working with Wave has a great decision and one of the key reasons we chose them was their integration skills and their ability to suggest innovative products within the overall solution. We are particularly pleased with the Net-Top-Boxes, which give us the flexibility to show different media on different displays easily. These products contribute to the re-emergence of City Hall as a first class venue for the city of Glasgow."