Council Chambers – 2008

A Southern Ontario regional council commissions a modernization of their existing council chambers.

The Challenge

Software architect and program the automation system for a regional council chambers in Southern Ontario.


Working with us, the A/V contractor had largely concluded that many independent and costly systems could be replaced by software and centralized DSP. Where a typical A/V automation processor normally deals with straightforward control of audio, video, and lighting, it was now being tasked with complex algorithmic functions normally associated with external standalone hardware.


R.T.S. – (Request to Speak) The chairperson has full control over who is allowed to speak and when, as each request first appears in one of two fully managed on-screen queue lists before being granted the floor. The software is responsible for maintaining a fully-editable database of chamber members and their seated positions, stored on the processor D.O.C. (Disc On Chip) for simple data backup and recovery.

N.O.M. – (Number of Open Mics) control of 40 chamber microphones. Because the microphone system is managed both by the individual speaker and by chairperson control of the RTS, N.O.M. had to be implemented externally in the control system software. Each microphone was assigned a priority level and entered into a software queue upon request from the user. The number of microphones allowed to be on at any given time is thus limited to the queue size, limiting overall system gain before feedback.

SECURITY – Multi-user account interface security with administrator-programmable function access for each account. Interfaces did not have dedicated or ‘hard-coded’ functionality, but instead assumed the functionality assigned to the individual user account, the common approach used in most desktop PC systems. This topology also ensured that system hailing or messaging between users is always delivered to the correct login account holder rather than a specific interface. All security information stored on the processor D.O.C. for simple data backup and recovery.

VOTING – Complete voting system implemented. 2/3 or 50+1 selectable vote rules. Attendance taking, re- assignable chairperson seating, and tie break via chair vote. Vote results can be printed directly from the control system via Symphony Interactive’s own siCalc PC software. A feed-forward single step touch panel vote procedure prevents the operator from inadvertently disturbing the vote process once initiated.

PRESETS – Rather than automating A/V tasks via hard coding, two drop-down preset menus were provided at the top of each control interface. Each of the 20 included presets are programmable by the administrator to include any combination of functions from the current system state and be assigned preset names as desired. All preset information is stored on the processor D.O.C. for data backup and recall.

RECURSION TREE VIDEO FOLLOW – In order to easily manage the 24 video outputs that sources could be routed to, each video destination could be dynamically programmed to follow any other, resulting in a ‘tree’ of linked destinations. This permits the operator to route a source to a destination and simultaneously cascade that source to all linked destinations with a single button push. A recursion tree algorithm requiring only a few lines of code was implemented to solve this. (programmer’s note: the chosen processor’s internal stack size limited recursion to 50 nested levels, more than enough to handle the system’s 24 video outputs in the unlikely event that every destination was linked to another in succession).


Exhaustive ergonomic and operational studies prior to inception were key to the success of this multi- facted project. End user experience can make or break an otherwise successful project, so it was imperative that professionally rendered user interface graphics reflect the physical room layout and permit functionality in the most intuitive manner possible.

Client dialogue is absolutely critical to the successful end-user operation of any integration project, however this dialogue often breaks down after the hardware requirements have been met. As most consultants will note, it is often too logistically difficult during the design phase to gain one-on-one feedback from the individuals who will ultimately become the end user.

Key to the success of this project was seeding system functionality dialogue among the employees at the earliest stages. By mass emailing out a preliminary framework document that described how each user interface should be navigated, how each individual function should operate, and then inviting unrestricted commentary, we opened a floodgate of feedback that was absolutely instrumental to the project’s ultimate success.

Nuit Blanche 2008 – Fujiwara Takahiro – Into The Blue – Suspension Motor

Nuit Blanche – Fujiwara Takahiro – Into The Blue

Fujiwara’s “Into the Blue” exhibit for the 2008 Nuit Blanche festival in Toronto consisted of seven concentric and stacked blue acrylic fabric tori of decreasing diameter. This pyramidal stack of rings would be suspended from the roof structure of the Toronto Eaton Centre, where it would revolve 12ft. overhead in a sea of direct lighting.

The Challenge

Design, deliver and supervise the installation of a 120VAC suspension motor capable of rotating 300lbs. of air and helium filled acrylic fabric at 2.4 RPM beneath the interior roof of the Toronto Eaton’s Centre at Albert’s Way.

Features (Fixtures)

  • 10x Safety Factor – City engineers requested a 3,000lb. ultimate load capacity. Engineering analysis and approvals courtesy of Domson Engineering in Brampton, Ontario.
  • C.S.A. Approved
  • Fully enclosed, cylindrical 6061 aluminum construction
  • Forward/Stop/Reverse operation


In order to maintain the visual symmetry of Fujiwara’s breathtaking art installation from the enormous 30ft. diameter rings at the bottom to the suspension motor at the apex above, the motor needed to be of a cylindrical construction. To keep the visual impact as minimal as possible, we used 6″ diameter 1/8″ aluminum tube as the outer shell, sandwiching the shell and internals between the top fly plate and the thrust-bearing bottom plate with (8) load-bearing 5/16″ threaded rods. A mid-plate held the sealed motor assembly, and wicked heat out to the external shell. “3D CAD models of component parts were emailed to one of our fabrication partners who turned them around in a single day.


Fujiwara Takahiro - Into The Blue - Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche 2010 – Later That Night At The Drive-In – 40′ x 32′ Suspended Mirror

Later That Night At The Drive In

Nathan Phillips Square is transformed into an oasis of sound and vision. Daniel Lanois prepares, produces and performs the soundtrack to a multi-channel, multi-screen media experience, nestled comfortably into the centre of the night.  Working with a field of sound-projectors, original scored videowork by contributing artists including Jennifer West and Nicholas Provost, and performances by special guest artists including Trixie Whitley (Black Dub) and Carolina Cerisola (salsa dancer), the space is designed to expand collective experience, opening up multiple perceptions and realities. Introducing diverse elements in sound, music, light, film and video, the atmosphere is guided from a central studio location, a hub of creation that reflects into a sea of possibilities.

Daniel Lanois – Later That Night At The Drive-in

The Challenge

Provide design, fabrication and logistics to the delivery and assembly of a 40’x32′ mirror that would be suspended above Nathan Philip’s Square at an angle sufficient enough to reflect the image of the performers below it to the surrounding crowd.

It was clear right from the beginning that suspending tons of glass, no matter what safety treatments were applied to it, was out of the question. Researching lightweight reflective materials, we were able to come up with a design utilizing 40 lightweight acrylic mirror panels. These 4’x8′ mirror panels were designed utilizing aluminum T-slot to create a rectangular frame that was then adhered to 1/8″ acrylic mirror. This resulted in an extremely rigid 4’x8′ panel that was lighter than a sheet of 1/2″ plywood.

A pipe & clamp attachment system we devised for attaching the panels to a box truss supporting structure gave us fine X-Y adjustment of each panel, allowing us to achieve an almost seamless finished look.


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