Sonos in the workplace

Sonos in the workplace

Sonos is the perfect solution for providing music in the workplace, whether you want to liven up your office or are looking to create ambience in a customer-facing environment. As the most advanced multi-room music system in the world, you have the flexibility to play the same music to all of your speakers, or different tracks to groups or individual speakers, each with their own volume controls.

Sonos is ideal for creating a quiet ambience in a restaurant area, or a louder soundtrack in a bar for example. With Sonos, you could distribute sound around a showroom, but play something entirely different in a client reception area. You could also add impact to meeting room presentations with the Playbar and Sub, all of which can be managed from a simple-to-use interface from your Mac or iOS device. Here’s a rundown of why Sonos is awesome in the workplace:

Access to every song available

Controlled from a central app, Sonos has access to more music than any other system available. You can stream from all the major services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tune In, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Amazon Music, Napster and Tidal as well as locally stored music from an iTunes library or shared storage.

The Sonos app lets you create playlists that combine tracks from any of these sources to give you complete flexibility. Because you can add your own locally stored files to the playlists, you can easily add your own custom announcements into the mix. The Sonos Connect even lets you add external sources such as CD players into the mix, or even a public address microphone for announcements. Multiple users can access the app to control their own area, whether that’s via computer, smartphone or tablet, and its password protected so that your students can’t take over.

Simple to set up

Audio is streamed between the app and the speakers over your existing WiFi network meaning that installation and setup is very simple. It’s easily scalable too – you can start with just one Play series speaker and add more as your needs grow. Since every speaker is self-contained with its built in amplifier, there is no need for a separate amp rack or excessive cabling. If you have existing installed ceiling speakers, or want to use external weatherproof speaker to bring sound to an outdoor area, you can add the Sonos Connect Amp to drive these too.

Perfect sound – even in non-ideal conditions

Although the Sonos range is visually attractive, there will be plenty of situations where you’ll want to place your speakers more discreetly. Often, this would result in compromised acoustics but not with Sonos – the free Trueplay app analyses the acoustics of your room and speaker placement and adjusts the speaker response to produce a perfect response even in the most non-ideal conditions. That means you’re free to desk-mount your speakers, or place them on one of the dedicated Flexson floor stands, wall-mounts or ceiling mounts and site them wherever is least obtrusive.

If you want to experience the power of Sonos for yourself, you’re welcome to come to our Golden Square demonstration suite and immerse yourself in top-quality sound.

If you’d like to find out more about Sonos, drop us an email at sales@Jigsaw24.com or call 03332 400 888. For everything else, including the latest news, events and offers, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

Sonos in the home

Sonos in the home

Bring your home to life with music – Sonos allows you to play what you want, where you want. As the most advanced multi-room music system in the world, Sonos gives you the flexibility to play the same music on all of your speakers, or different tracks on groups or individual speakers, each with their own volume controls.

Play one track in the kitchen while the kids listen to something totally different in their rooms (and limit their volumes to avoid annoying the neighbours!) or play the same song throughout the house. Create a full cinema experience in the lounge by combining a Playbar and Sub with a pair of Play 1s or 3s working as a 5.1 setup, and then separate them to put them back in different rooms when you have finished. The possibilities are endless, but why is Sonos so good in the home?

Access to every song available

Controlled from a central app, Sonos has access to more music than any other system available. You can stream from all the major services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tune In, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Amazon Music, Napster and Tidal as well as locally stored music from an iTunes library or shared storage.

The Sonos app lets you create playlists that combine tracks from any of these sources to give you complete flexibility. Because you can add your own locally stored files to the playlists, you can easily add your own custom announcements into the mix. The Sonos Connect even lets you add external sources such as CD players into the mix, or even a public address microphone for announcements. Multiple users can access the app to control their own area, whether that’s via computer, smartphone or tablet, and its password protected so that your students can’t take over.

Simple to set up

Audio is streamed between the app and the speakers over your existing WiFi network meaning that installation and setup is very simple. It’s easily scalable too – you can start with just one Play series speaker and add more as your needs grow. Since every speaker is self-contained with its built in amplifier, there is no need for a separate amp rack or excessive cabling. If you have existing installed ceiling speakers, or want to use external weatherproof speaker to bring sound to an outdoor area, you can add the Sonos Connect Amp to drive these too.

Perfect sound – even in non-ideal conditions

Although the Sonos range is visually attractive, there will be plenty of situations where you’ll want to place your speakers more discreetly. Often, this would result in compromised acoustics but not with Sonos – the free Trueplay app analyses the acoustics of your room and speaker placement and adjusts the speaker response to produce a perfect response even in the most non-ideal conditions. That means you’re free to desk-mount your speakers, or place them on one of the dedicated Flexson floor stands, wall-mounts or ceiling mounts and site them wherever is least obtrusive.

If you want to experience the power of Sonos for yourself, you’re welcome to come to our Golden Square demonstration suite and immerse yourself in top-quality sound.

If you’d like to find out more about Sonos, drop us an email at sales@Jigsaw24.com or call 03332 400 888. For everything else, including the latest news, events and offers, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

What is 12G-SDI? A guide to the standard

What is 12G-SDI? A guide to the standard

While the serial digital interface (SDI) has been the professional standard for AV interfaces since the 90s, with 4K and UHD becoming much more prevalent video formats for broadcasters (and requiring a massive four times the bandwidth of HD), moving it around isn’t as simple as pushing it through your beloved SDI cables. Step in 12G-SDI… 

What is 12G?

12G is an SDI standard developed to support greater resolution, frame rates and colour fidelity. It provides four times the bandwidth of HD, carrying 12Gbps, making it ideal for the 4Kp60 format. It’s not new as such, with 6G/12G being in development since 2012 for UHD, but has not yet been ratified by the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers), the governing body of standards, with the draft name of SMPTE ST-2082.

For a bit of historical perspective, the original SDI standard 259M (introduced way back in 1989) could carry about 270Mbps of data. As broadcasters transitioned from 480i to 480p to 720p to 1080i to 1080P, and from copper to fibre, the SDI specification was updated, with 292 (for 1080i) carrying about 1.5Gbps and 424 upped this to about 3Gbps (for 1080p).

Who’s using it?

12G is available to any manufacturer but not many have stepped in yet to support the unratified SMTPE standard in their products. One manufacturer who has done so is Blackmagic Design. Their DeckLink 4K range of capture and playback cards all support 12G, as well as their Teranex Mini and Teranex Express (the world’s first broadcast convertor to include multi-rate 12G SDI connections).

Simon Westland, director of sales, Blackmagic Design EMEA, said that as a manufacturer they’ve always championed the use of common, open standards and non-proprietary connectivity and codecs. “What a customer wants to do is plug anything into anything and for it to work,” he said. “Fast action production has required the use of high frame rates for many years now, but while HD formats up to 1080p60 are very common, a lack of support for the same high frame rates in Ultra HD has hampered adoption of the format.

“With that in mind, we have been through nearly every aspect of our product range and added 12G-SDI, which supports single cable connectivity for the 2160p60 format. Customers can instantly see the benefits of not only the higher frame rates that 12G-SDI can offer in Ultra HD production, but also the simplicity that single cable connectivity offers. So while other technologies might be able to offer the necessary bandwidth, they will add unnecessary weight and cost, and will increase the overall risk of image degradation and signal dropout.”

Within broadcast and production, facilities are still built on 3G SDI standards, as 6G and 12G will not work over long distances and not many ‘end points’ have 6G or 12G inputs yet. We’ll probably see more 12G-enabled products at the next NAB show, but the more interesting development will be 12G over fibre, as this gives both the distance and the bandwidth to provide 4K and UHD signals around facilities.

Want to know more about 12G and Blackmagic Design video products? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Buyers’ guide 2015: Content delivery

Buyers’ guide 2015: Content delivery

If you’ve seen our earlier articles telling you that your workstation could be better and that your office is disorganised, you might have formed the impression that we’re a mean-spirited bunch. Not so! We’re only cruel to be kind and, now that you’re incredibly organised and powering through projects, it’s time to think about how you want to show your work off.

Option 1: The Oversharer

Apple TV is a great alternative to an old school projector/monitor setup, or manually linking your laptop to a display. You can use it to mirror the screen of any Apple device to a larger display, and when the presentation’s over you can go back to using the screen for other things. (It also means you can play iTunes content on a giant screen in your boardroom, if that’s the sort of small rebellion you enjoy.)

Option 2: The Multitasker

If you want to take things a bit further, you can set up multiple, linked NEC screens and schedule content to play on throughout the day. We recommend using a nifty bit of software called sedna Presenter. This scheduling application is designed to specifically deal with Apple kit and the content produced on it. If you value what our AV consultant calls “the Apple look” – ie very clean, chirp graphics – send Presenter will help you ensure your content retains this on any display.

You’ll need to hook Presenter up to a Mac mini or two in order to manage your screens (don’t worry – we’ll set you up and supply training), but then you’ll be able to schedule content to play across your site from a single, central unit.

Option 3: The Show Off

If you want to add more screens across more sites, or show more than a slideshow of video and images, you’ll need to step things up slightly. Get in touch with our AV team for advice on custom setups including: video walls, interactive signage, using Apple devices as kiosk displays along with custom apps and interfaces (we love a good iPad kiosk), and, most importantly, tech support should anything go wrong.

Alternative delivery methods include…

Livestreaming content to the web or signage

NewTek’s TriCaster range gives you all the tools you need to start livestreaming, with larger models supporting up to eight cameras, VTR feeds, chromakey and on the fly graphics editing. If you’re just getting started, pair the simpler TriCaster Mini with encoding software from Matrox and Telestream Episode Engine to create a universally supported streaming service.

Delivering direct to apps

If you’re looking for something you can do straight from your iMac, we have good news. Adobe DPS is an extension of your Adobe apps that allows you to transform InDesign documents into interactive digital publications and distribute them through the App Store, Amazon Marketplace and Google Play. No muss, no fuss, just interactive content built in nice, familiar InDesign. Easy win.

Printing your project out (in 3D!)

We stock a full range of professional and large format printers, we offer loads of different colour charts and have our very own ink and toner configurator, but what we really want to talk about are 3D printers. We’re not saying you should find an excuse to start 3D printing in-house, but the godlike feeling that comes from watching your creation appear before your very eyes is pretty satisfying. They’re also good for rapid modelling and low cost prototyping.

…and you can speed all this up with MatrixCMS

MatrixCMS is a multi-channel, multi-platform eCommerce solution that supports multiple SKUs, images, pricing and descriptions for different markets and territories. As well as dovetailing neatly with your PIM solution, MatrixCMS is integrated with InDesign, meaning your designers can create and distribute content without having to learn a new programme from the ground up. To find out more, register for a free online demo at their site (you need to scroll down a fair bit).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Jigsaw24 at Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University

Jigsaw24 at Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University

On the 22nd October, we were invited to the official opening of the new Ruskin School of Arts building at Oxford University. Over the past year we’ve been working with them to build a robust infrastructure and AV solution, including building a film screen window display and three new editing suites. Here’s a sneak preview of what happened on their opening night.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton presented the opening ceremony. He introduced us to their brand new multimedia lab, three editing suites, a print room, and wood and metal workshops. We listened to speeches from Alumni Conrad Shawcross and Turner Prize Winner for 2012, Dr Elizabeth Price, and watched a special performance by Hannah Jones.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone at Ruskin School of Art and can’t wait to follow the work they produce in their new editing suites! Keep a look out for our full case study coming soon, and in the meantime take a nosy at our photos from the evening.

2015-10-22 18.08.15 2015-10-22 18.34.56 2015-10-22 17.21.12 2015-10-22 17.21.33

Want to find out more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Innovative presentation solutions for BAE systems

Innovative presentation solutions for BAE systems

When defence, security and aerospace specialists BAE Systems decided to add a demonstration room to their Advanced Technology Centre (ATC), they asked us to help them develop a versatile presentation solution that would support inventive and inspiring pitches. Our consultants helped them build two low-cost, high-impact video walls, along with standalone screens and a projection system.

Developing a presentation system

While the BAE Systems team knew they needed to improve their presentation setup, they didn’t have a clear idea of what was possible in their space and with their budget. They needed to be able to continue giving traditional, projector-led presentations, but also wanted to offer clients more dynamic, compelling visual demonstrations. After discussing a range of different solutions with the BAE Systems team, our consultants recommended a software-driven video wall, coupled with two standalone screens and a high-end projector. This setup would allow BAE Systems to bolster presentations with super widescreen video content as necessary, but would still be relatively simple to operate.

Building a video wall

We installed two sets of four Samsung HD monitors along two walls of the ATC’s presentation room. Though the screens weren’t designed to work together, we were able to use a combination of multi-head Matrox graphics and Scala’s industry-proven content management system to sync each group of four, so a single continuous, vey wide resolution image could play across all of them without being stretched or distorted.

The system was based around high-end Blue Chip PCs. As well as acting as the central control system for the screens and being the place where new content was uploaded and scheduled, the PCs would also be the place where BAE Systems staff put together content. Our design
team produced some initial animated content to show what the screens were capable of, and designed a handful of templates for new content that the BAE Systems team could use to present their own media. We >then provided the BAE Systems team with training so that they could start work on their own video, animations and virtual models.

Finding the right projection solution

Alongside the video walls, we installed a Christie LX-505 projector. This was ideal for a number of reasons – its high lumen count meant it was bright enough to use in a lit office, and its long-life bulb and relatively low maintenance demands meant it had a very low TCO. We fitted unobtrusive Bose Freespace ceiling speakers into the ceiling so that the presenter (and the soundtrack to any screened content) could be heard in high quality at all times without the room appearing cluttered with hardware.

Christie projectors from Jigsaw24

Enabling touchscreen control

As well as ensuring the projection system would be able to accept content from any visitors’ laptops, we set up an AMX-based touchscreen controller that would let the BAE Systems team control their presentation systems from a single, central interface with a user-friendly GUI. This way, there were fewer devices for the tech team to manage and less for any new users to learn. We also provided training on the Scala software and Blue Chip hardware, and integrated two standalone screens that were left over from BAE Systems’ previous system into the new one, so none of their legacy technology went to waste.

touchscreen control at BAE systems

Responses to the new system

“Because we needed a closed display system, we had very different requirements from a typical digital signage setup,” said Chris French, BAE Systems’ Brand and Creative Media Consultant. “But with support from Jigsaw24 we were able to come up with an ideal solution. Their installation team were very good, especially as they were working around building contractors at the time of the install.”

The presentation room has become popular with employees showing new clients BAE Systems facilities and capabilities, and the system’s usability and flexibility have ensured that it has stayed in regular use. BAE Systems have been so pleased with the response from clients and employees alike that they’re now considering rolling out a similar system at other sites, using the Advanced Technology Centre as a blueprint.

“Jigsaw24’s installation team were very good, especially as they were working around building contractors at the time of the install. Whenever a problem cropped up – as they inevitably do on any install – they were quick to get the right kit in and carry on. The training Anthony gave us was just right for getting us started and getting content created for the system.” – Chris French, Brand & Creative Media Consultant
BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre

For more on our presentation solutions, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

New ways to showcase student content at Vision West Notts

New ways to showcase student content at Vision West Notts

As part of their Vision West Notts rebranding exercise, West Nottinghamshire College launched a £5 million refurbishment of their Derby Road site. The new Create centre was designed to help students prepare for careers in broadcast, theatre, dance, radio and more. We set them up with Centrify management tools for their new Macs, and configured and installed a 12-screen software-driven video wall so that staff could showcase students’ work in a more dynamic way.

Managing Mac suites

The college had been a long-term user of Apple hardware, but was having trouble getting their iMacs to work with their state-of-the-art Isilon shared storage system. After discussing their options with our server and storage engineer Tom Holbrook, they decided to use a combination of GroupLogic’s ExtremeZ-IP to smooth out any integration issues and Centrify Suite to secure and manage their machines.

“We did a test with Centrify on about 20 Macs,” said Learning Advisor Tim Warrener, “just to see how easily we could integrate using the Macs on the network with a personal login.” Impressed with Centrify’s ease of use, the college then rolled out the solution across the entire Create building. “It was quite daunting, but the team from Jigsaw24 were fantastic.” Once a management solution had been decided, our engineers wrote custom scripts that would allow Vision West Notts’ team to mount their drives properly.

As well as delivering a smoother, more productive user experience for students and staff, the new management system allows Vision West Notts’ tech team to maintain tighter control over individual workstations, reducing the possibility of failure due to end user interference, and ensures students’ work is saved securely and backed up on the Isilon straight away. Some staff were wary of the new login system this required at first but, as Tim explained, “they’ve warmed up now that they’ve got their own space.”

Showcasing student work

From the beginning of the refurbishment, staff at the college had known they wanted to include a video wall in one of the building’s communal spaces. One of the college’s key aims was to foster links with industry, and they wanted the screen to act as a bold, eye-catching introduction to the building for any visitors, as well as a platform for talented students to share their work. The screen would act as a showcase for multimedia projects, especially those involving video or 3D elements, as the college’s existing display boards couldn’t show this content at its best.

Designing the video wall

After hearing several pitches, the college decided to work with Jigsaw24. The main advantages of the solution Vision West Notts chose were its cost-effectiveness, the flexibility the Scala software offered in terms of what could be displayed, and the fact that, rather than taking a single output and stretching it across all the screens, the system could output a separate 720p image to each screen. This increases the wall’s overall pixel count and reduces the risk of distorting or degrading the original image.

Expanding the solution

During the design process, Vision West Notts managed to free up some extra funding, and decided to expand the video wall from nine to twelve screens. “We weren’t sure what we wanted [from the video wall],” explained Curriculum Manager Steve Gathercole. “There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and one of the things that we were pleased about with Jigsaw24 was that we received a very fast response as we changed the criteria. Everything was put in a way that I could understand – I knew what I was paying for and how I could use it, and there was also an element of future proofing, so we could expand it, enlarge it, build on it, and that was what really made the difference.”

Our team headed over to the college and, despite having to swap out the DUI transmitters for
a newer model with better specs at the last minute, managed to get the whole setup up and running within a day. After a couple of weeks of smooth running, power to two of the screens cut out, but we were able to get them back on their feet in no time at all.

Jigsaw24’s Anthony Hammond also provided a quick training session for key users. “I picked it up quite quickly, due to the fact that I work in a multimedia environment,” said Tim. “It’s very similar to a lot of the software we use.” Our design department then put together an animation based on the Vision West Notts logo, which served as an eyecatching placeholder while the Vision West Notts team created their own content.

Looking forward…

“We’ve had amazing feedback on the video wall – we’re adding new content all the time,” Steve told us. Our design team have also given Vision West Notts some placeholder content based around an animated Vision West Notts logo, which Steve says “has elicited some brilliant responses.”

The next stage of the plan is to load up the screen with students’ creations in time for an upcoming open evening. “We wanted to showcase talent and show how great our students really are, and having this wall really does give that impact,” explained Tim. After opening night, he plans to look into giving other machines on the network the ability to edit content on the wall, so that staff can keep the wall up to date with the latest images and information wherever they are.

For more information about AV and digital signage solutions, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.

 

Creating impressive digital signage at St Paul’s High School

Creating impressive digital signage at St Paul’s High School

St Paul’s Catholic High School wanted to impress with a new digital signage system. We supplied them with all the knowledge, support and equipment they needed, installing a Scala digital signage system and various extras. Since the installation, staff at the school have been able to have great control over the information displayed around the site.

Updating the school environment

St Paul’s is a Specialist Engineering college for 11-16 year olds in Manchester. As part of the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme, St Paul’s is working towards updating its technology and facilities.

The staff at St Paul’s wanted to give the school’s entrance a modern feel by installing a digital signage system. The aim was to place two screens in the visitors’ entrance and one in the pupils’ entrance, with a further two screens in the main hall alongside a new projection system. All of the screens needed to be able to play the same information and be changed individually, so that both general and subject specific content could be displayed.

The projection system in the main hall had to have the capability to be used with a laptop, play DVDs, work as additional digital signage, and be controlled from the main hall and a control room above.

Designing the solution

After an onsite consultation, our digital signage experts suggested a Scala digital signage system, including a template starter pack and training on how to use the new setup. We created and branded five templates for the school, which were easy to update and add videos, images and text to by using a simple web interface.

Creating a complete branded signage system

As the installation of the digital signage system got underway, we also equipped the control room with an AV rack unit containing a DVD player, AMX Control system and a SMART-E CAT5 Matrix. This was integrated with an AMX Touch panel system (school-branded, courtesy of Jigsaw24) in both the control room and the hall.

In addition to this, a VGA wall plate was installed in the hall. This allows a laptop or PC to control the output of the projector and LCD screens from either room. DVDs could be shown on the projector and signage on the screens, or vice versa.

Creating original material

The system suggested and installed by Jigsaw24 more than fulfilled all of the school’s requirements. The digital signage template package was just a starting point and the training went a long way. Once staff were familiar with how to create, update and schedule content, they could manage the entire system themselves with very little effort. Now they create all of the content and scheduling used at St Paul’s.

For more information on our AV and digital signage solutions, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com