Case Study: Middle School Gymnasium

We recently completed a very cool project for a local Middle School.

The school was looking for a state of the art AV system for their new gym which included the following requirements:

  • A sound system capable of music playback and vocal reinforcement
  • Large format motorized screen for ease of visibility throughout the gym and for protection when not in use
  • Bright detailed projector for use with or without the lights on
  • Input plates in the front and rear of the gym for audio and video feed to the system
  • Wireless microphones
  • A lift to retract the projector for protection when not in use and to lower the projector to the floor level for maintenance
  • An audio mixer with remote control ability from a tablet
  • An easy to use control system for operating the equipment

The gym serves as a multi-use facility. Besides sporting events, it hosts meetings, presentations, and performances. This meant a broad range of flexibility was needed.

The biggest challenge for the project was finding the right lift to use for the projector. To lower the projector to a working height at the floor, a drop of 23 feet was required! Future Automation was brought into the project to build this custom lift. When fully retracted it only hangs 4 feet off the ceiling truss allowing plenty of clearance for sporting events, and when it is retracted the projector is fully protected by the metal case. The projector automatically lowers to the correct operating height for the screen with the push of a button! This lift is a quite capable piece of equipment and has a state of the art cable management system, the wires going to the projector will never get tangled or stressed. Did we mention the shipping weight was close to 600 pounds with the packing container? Logistics were key in getting this lift smoothly off the ground!

Since we’re talking about the screen- the one on this project is as about as serious as it gets! This Da-Lite screen has a viewing area of 16 feet wide by 10 feet tall! That’s a 226″ monster! It fully retracts into the case when not in use for protection. The screen was designed with extra drop material so the case could be mounted as high as possible and still lower the screen to an optimum viewing height for the gym.

A cool lift and giant screen are no fun without the right projector! Close attention was paid to that on this project. The projector is an Epson ProL1405, which is an 8,000-lumen laser projector! This projector has the brightness, color, and detail to have a stellar image with the lights on or off in the gym. It easily fills out the large screen and has detail to spare in the picture. We love Epson’s commercial projectors, they put together the best mix of performance, pricing, and dependability which makes them the perfect choice for a project like this!

To complement the amazing picture the proper sound system needed to be designed. We have worked with this client in the past on another gym so we knew what the expectations for sound were. To fill the gym properly the JBL VRX series of speakers were selected. Each array has 2 speaker cabinets and a subwoofer cabinet which allow for very even coverage of the entire gym with outstandingly clear full range sound. The speakers are powered with Crown XTi series amplifiers which are very reliable, flexible, and have a great form factor for use in the rack of equipment. To mix and control all of the audio a PreSonus Studiolive 32-R mixer was selected. This is a 32 channel mixer that mounts remotely in the rack and is controlled completely from a tablet. This allows the client to sit in the listening area and make adjustments very easily to the system without having to take up space with a big mixer and bulky cables draped across the floor. They can easily go from a simple single microphone presentation to a full-blown play or performance without having to reconfigure the equipment!

Seamless video switching is provided by a Liberty/Intelix presentation mixer and auto-switching HDMI/VGA wall plates located both in the front and rear of the gym. This gives the client great flexibility on connecting video sources such as Laptops or PCs, no matter what type of connection they have. The video signals are sent the long distances across the room and up to the projector using HDBaseT technology which is natively built into the video switcher and projector, creating an extremely reliable and robust video distribution system.

To make all the systems come together and be simple to use for any of the end-users, Control 4 was selected to integrate and automate the system. The system can be controlled thru several easy to use and intuitive interfaces. With a single button press, the system can be powered on, screen lowered, lift lowered, and desired video source selected.  On complex systems like this with multiple automated parts, a good control system is critical to keeping the system operation in sync, reliable, and easy for the end user. Control 4 is more than up for the task!

This project was done in a couple of phases as it was built. Multiple trades were coordinated to make it all come together very smoothly and the end result is a superior A/V system that can meet the needs of the client for a long time to come. Take a look thru pictures of the project below and be sure to check out the video of the lift and screen in action!