Extron Products Support the 2002 Winter Olympics

Producing the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, UT, earlier this year, was a massive undertaking that required a substantial amount of AV equipment. For Hi-Tech Rentals, Inc., a full-service AV rental company out of Atlanta, GA, the stakes were high as they were handed the torch by Compass Collective, an exhibit design and fabrication company also out of Atlanta, to supply and install all the audio-visual equipment for two Coca-Cola® sponsorship tents located in Park City and Salt Lake City. Over the course of 16 days, approximately one million visitors came through these facilities to catch interviews with the athletes and celebrities, watch cable feeds of the events, trade pins, purchase souvenirs, and take in a variety of shows and festivities.

Let the Games Begin

As the Official Soft Drink of the 2002 Winter Games, it was imperative that Coca- Cola, now in their 74th year as a major sponsor of the Olympics, maintain a high and distinguished profile in every aspect of their presence. Trew Rickers, Sales Manager of Hi- Tech Rentals, acknowledged the scope and obstacles he and his team of 16 technicians and installers faced. "The project was a challenge logistically since the venues consisted of temporary structures outdoors," he said. "The heightened level of security made it very difficult to get equipment and personnel in and out of the work areas. All the trucks and all the people who came and went through the Salt Lake Olympic Square had to go through full security check points where they checked all the cargo and x-rayed handbags and boxes. Workers would even have to open up their lunch to be inspected. This created such a time drag when we were trying to get crews in. We worked a solid eight days just getting everything in place." Within the Salt Lake City tent, the bigger and more populated of the two, the Hi-Tech staff installed 22 television monitors throughout, as well two DLP projectors set up at the live performance theater known as Coca-Cola Live! Input sources included a camera for live interviews, a Beta SP player for pre-recorded footage, a VCR for sponsor driven infomercials, and three PCs for MS PowerPoint® presentations, computer generated graphics, and Internet updates.

Going the Distance

Eleven cable feeds provided by the Olympic Committee featured live action from the surrounding areas of various events. The cable feeds were run through 11 VCR/tuners, offering technicians the option of changing the channel, as well as running VHS tapes if the need presented itself. Long-distance signals running to the television monitors and projectors were distributed using the Extron ADA 6 300 MX HV, a one input, six output distribution amplifier capable of outputting composite video signals, as well as RGBHV, RGBS, RGsB, RsGsBs, component video, and S-video (Note: this DA has recently been replaced by the Extron DA6 RGBHV , also a one input, six output distribution amplifier that accepts and distributes RGBHV, RGBS, RGsB, RsGsBs, component video, S-video, and composite video signals). With cable runs routinely reaching lengths of 200 feet and more, the ADA 6 300 MX HVs were perfect for maintaining optimum signal quality throughout the tent, as well as to the monitors located around the perimeter of the area.

The PC video signals were integrated with the Extron RGB 109xi , a dedicated computer-video interface with a 15-130 kHz scanning range, 300 MHz (-3dB) of RGB video bandwidth, and a 15-pin HD connector. Rickers explained that all of the RGB signals from the PCs were scan converted down to NTSC. This made controlling the system much easier.

At the heart of the whole set-up was the Extron MAV 1616 composite video and stereo audio matrix switcher. "We ran everything into the MAV 1616," Rickers noted. "It enabled us to take any signal to any monitor."

The MAV 1616 matrix switcher is equipped with 16 inputs and 16 outputs, and is capable of switching NTSC 3.58, NTSC 4.43, PAL, and SECAM video, as well as balanced and unbalanced stereo audio. Features such as video genlock and vertical interval switching were important in making the numerous transitions between all the sources smooth and seamless.

The complexity of the job demanded the ease of operation the MAV 1616 offers. The MAV includes several different control options, including RS-232 and IP control (24x12 to 32x32 sizes only) as well as optional remote controls such as the MCP 1000 control panel and MKP 1000 control keypad. Hi-Tech Rentals maintained an eight man crew on the premises each day of the games, making it possible for one person to handle the switching via the front panel. With Extron's QuickSwitch Front Panel Controller (QS-FPC™), touch-of-a-button input and output selection along with the LED input switch indicator, system control was a breeze. "If we wanted to show ice skating on the outdoor monitors or a PowerPoint on all monitors, the MAV enabled us to easily manipulate the entire process," Rickers said.

Closing Ceremonies

Just a few hours after a number of entertainers, dancers, and ice skaters brought down the house for the closing ceremonies, Compass Collective and Hi-Tech Rentals conducted a closing ceremony of their own. Tearing down the temporary facilities took two days. Rickers happily noted that all of the AV equipment operated without a hitch. "From a system standpoint, everything ran very well, even with our early concerns about the elements—how the equipment would react to getting very cold at night, and then the potentially warm weather during the day. Everything performed without failure." Citing the reliability of the MAV 1616, the ADA 6 300MX HV, and the RGB 109xi, Rickers was impressed with the outcome. "Even though the venues ran 16 hours a day for 16 days and the equipment was subjected to cold weather and moderate moisture, the Extron products performed effortlessly. Our content sources and signal switching systems were stable throughout the entire project."

This application diagram shows the vast number of sources and displays used in one of the Coca-Cola tents.

For more information on Compass Collective, visit http://www.compasscollective.com .