3 cheap ways to amp up campus A/V

Campus A/V officials are striving to justify needed upgrades to campus auditoriums, stadiums, classrooms, and theaters.


Campus technologists say that college and university finances have largely recovered from the thin times after the 2008 economic collapse, though the purchasing of A/V equipment remains an expenditure that many campus decision makers are loathe to discuss.

Budgets for A/V equipment aren’t falling, campus officials say, but they’re not rising either. It’s that budgetary stagnation that leaves many in higher education at a loss for how to approach A/V upgrades that modernize school facilities and make the college or university more appealing to prospective students.

Up-to-date — or even cutting edge — A/V systems can be a powerful recruitment tool as prospective students tour campuses before making their final decisions. In other words, good audio and video can be an effective money maker for colleges and universities of every size.

Making wise A/V investments that will save money in the long run is something that came up time and again in interviews with campus A/V experts who had recently switched to Sony’s 3LCD laser projector.

“Anyone with a good grasp of finance can wrap their head around this,” said Robb Mann, manager of classroom operations and special events at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Wilmington since 2003. “It’s simple math, really, especially when you trust the technology so much.”

Beyond the dollars and cents of upgrading campus A/V infrastructure, there’s the impact on teaching and learning that sometimes goes unmentioned in discussions about budgeting for new audio and video products.

“This is something that directly affects students, and that made it relatively easy to make a really compelling argument,” Mann said. “You don’t want the newest and greatest just because it’s the newest and greatest. … You want it because it will make a difference in the way educators teach and students learn that material. That’s what we have here. This model really is a generational leap in educational technology.”

(Next page: The most innovative new A/V/ products for higher ed)

ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K from Blackmagic Design: ATEM Production Studio 4K has features a college would need for the most innovative live concerts, sporting events, theater productions, and conferences on campus. When a school is doing live events with super large high resolution screens, simply switch your ATEM Production Studio 4K to Ultra HD brings incredible quality to the event, according to higher-ed customers. ATEM includes features such as a chroma key, creative transitions, media pool, downstream keyers, and audio mixer.

HuddleVU Collaboration Tables from FSR: This was among the many FSR releases at this year’s InfoComm conference in Las Vegas. The  new  HuddleVU  Dugout seats  up  to  12  users  who  can  share  their  information  on  one  or  two  large  monitor  screens. The  dual  height  tables  seat  the  users  at  two  viewing  levels  to  maximize  space,  reduce  visual  obstructions  and  provide  seating  comfort. Two  additional  seating  areas  can  be  utilized  for  handicapped  seating  as  required. The  inner  table  boxes  furnish  AC  Power,  Device  charging,  AV  Connectivity  and  Control  while  the  outer  table  has  AC  power  and  device  charging. There  are  a  variety  of  table  finishes  available  as  well  as  upholstery  styles  to  match  existing  decor.

Constellation by Meyer Sound Laboratories: Constellation has been described as a breakthrough in acoustical science providing an effective solution to the complex challenge of attaining optimal, yet flexible acoustics in building design. With Constellation, colleges and universities have the ability to design state-of-the-art multi-purpose venues without the constraints or expense of traditional materials and room shape. The acoustical effectiveness, ease of control, and invisibility of Constellation will enhance the success of your venue. “The key to the versatility of the [campus auditorium] is the Constellation system, which allows us to instantaneously reset the acoustics of the room, tailoring it to any kind of music,” said Peter Otto, director of music technology at the University of California San Diego Department of Music. “Constellation gives us the versatility of a multipurpose room without the usual compromises in acoustics. Prior to the opening of our music center we had many unhappy experiences with multipurpose rooms.”