Chester Zoo

19 Nov

Pure AV engineers install audio visual backdrop for an immersive School House experience at Chester Zoo.

Precision installation required to deliver 360 degree projection display.

Chester Zoo’s Head of IT, Martin King, turned to Pure AV to install the projection and audio equipment to deliver an immersive educational experience in an exciting new education centre.

Sumba School is part of the ground breaking £40million Islands development at Chester Zoo. Home to the Zoo’s education team, the building hosts a varied programme of educational activity including workshops for local schools and colleges, curator style talks and animated story telling for younger audiences.

Made possible through the support of a significant grant from the Wolfson Foundation, Sumba School is no ordinary classroom space. The use of a sophisticated 360O projection and audio system designed by consultant and show systems programmer Dave Lascaut creates a truly immersive learning environment.

During a normal day the screen displays authentic 360O video content commissioned by the Zoo and captured in Sumatra, but at the press of a button can display independent presentation content on each of the individual wall spaces.

The flexibility and impact of the system has been a massive hit with the education team. Ed Boyd education officer at Chester Zoo explains, “The 360 degree display allows us to create a real impact as students enter the space and the ability to display different content on the walls enables us to get participants up and on their feet and engaging with content in new and exciting ways”.

The specification created by Lascaut required the installation and blending of 8 x EH 503 Optoma HD projectors to create a seamless image that would wrap around the four walls of the building. A quad surround system then complements the images and completes the immersive experience. Dataton’s Watchout software manages the content and allows for live inputs from Power Point presentations, DVD players and Apple TV.

One of the biggest challenges with Sumba School as Martin King explains was the delivery of 360O projection in a square room. “Accurate installation was crucial, the integrator would be working to the tightest of margins, as little as an eighth of an inch out, and a clean edge blend would not be possible. Having worked with Pure AV on projects in the past, I was confident that they would be able to deliver to the exacting requirements of the specification”.

On surveying the space it was clear to the Pure AV design team that the ability for micro-adjustment of the projectors position would be crucial in delivering a seamless image and therefore a bespoke Unicol bracket was selected.

The rack containing the Video Servers, Line Drivers, Control System and Audio Processing equipment to drive the system was built and configured by the Pure AV team off-site and delivered ready to go.

In addition to the installation work, Martin King is also positive about the contribution made by Pure AV’s pre-sales technical director Tony Crossley to the technical conversations about the system. “The experience Pure AV brought to the project was instrumental in bringing together the vision with the reality of the building’s environment”. Conversation between King, Lascaut and Pure resulted in some tweaks in specification. The original long DVI cables were replaced with HD Base T twisted pair interfaces to ensure that there was no signal drop out, leading to a more reliable system.

With regard to the installation itself, King couldn’t be happier. “The engineers came in and did a great job; the rack was configured perfectly off site, labelled and built as per specification, the work was neat and tidy. Checking in daily I didn’t have to do a great deal, it was just a case of letting them crack on.”

King concludes, “The Pure AV team had an important part to play in the delivery of Sumba School and thanks to their work and that of consultant Dave Lascaut we have created a really impactful space that our Education Team and visitors can engage with and truly enjoy”.

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