EQUANS worked closely with the City of Greater Dandenong to establish the Springvale Urban Screen: an outdoor LED screen and PA system. The screen joins the award-winning Urban Screen at Harmony Square, the Drum Theatre and many other Council owned facilities. As part of the council’s 40Gb/s fibre ring main traversing the entire municipality, allowing for real-time exchange of video and audio between locations. This technology facilitates the sharing of content between venues and in public spaces, and has become more valuable with COVID-19 restrictions in place, as it allows different venues to act as an ‘overflow’ venue at a moment’s notice.
EQUANS designed the system in collaboration with Thomas Dawe – Council’s Urban Screen Coordinator, who was responsible for the administration of the IP video production network, and a veteran in the operation of outdoor Urban Screens. The primary goal was to design a system that was capable of remote production, and integrated with Council’s already significant investment in NDI and Dante based systems. Newtek’s IP series video mixing appliances were chosen as the heart of the system, augmented with Australia’s ‘new kids on the block’ – BirdDog NDI encoders/decoders. The use of NDI as the core video transport means content can be shown suburbs away with as little as 1.5 frames delay. Springfield Community Hub also has three NDI enabled Panasonic PTZ cameras that replace traditional camera operators. These cameras can be controlled remotely and provide the ability to monitor events and hardware performance. The pedigree of these cameras, along with Newtek’s NDI KVM function and the open source VNC standard and Crestrons xPanel solution means that the facility can be remotely operated from the Master Control area in the Dandenong Civic Centre, a home office, or the other side of the world. This functionality was seen as a necessity given the hybrid work life requirements the pandemic has ushered in, and offers a budget friendly solution in light of reduced operating funds.
The screen itself is a 2200kg VuePix LED screen, attached via a custom motorised metal frame. The screen was designed and manufactured in partnership with ITE to allow it to swivel to 45 degrees from its closed position. This ‘show’ position allows a larger crowd to have an optimal viewing experience from the surrounding landscaped spaces. This was a challenging task due to the weight of the screen and its ability to be able to respond to weather conditions. Sensors ensure the screen automatically returns to its closed position if pressure or wind is detected above a certain level.
Aside from the weight of the screen, another key requirement was to display content clearly during the day. As natural light interferes with clarity on digital displays by washing out the content and increasing glare and reflections, the choice of screen was important to ensure it would clearly display content on brighter, sunnier days. The custom 6.5m wide by 3m high VuePix ER3 LED screen with a 3.9mm pixel pitch and a stunning 5000nits brightness allows content to be visible during day light. Along with the state-of-the-art Fohhn FMI beam steering PA system with 5.1 surround sound capability, the installed system provides a truly cinematic experience for the Springvale Community Hub. Most pleasingly, this high performing technology does not prevent the building from achieving its ambitious Green Star rating.