Blackmagic Design today announced that the ASTROLab, an astronomy activity center located at the Mont-Mégantic National Park in southern Québec, has built a new 12G-SDI AV and streaming workflow around Blackmagic Design products, including an ATEM Production Studio 4K, Blackmagic eGPU and Blackmagic Web Presenter. The new workflow powers ASTROLab’s daily science presentations in its interactive theater, allowing them to live stream the presentations to audiences around the world.
The custom 4K installation was specifically designed by Solotech, a systems integrator internationally recognized for its expertise in systems integration and live productions, and well known for its work with Céline Dion, Justin Timberlake, Cirque du Soleil, Centre Vidéotron, Staples Center, Bridgestone Arena and more.
Located in the world’s first protected IDA Dark Sky Reserve, designated for its exceptional quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment, the ASTROLab is a 95 seat auditorium and astronomy activity center devoted to making science accessible for all visitors. Presentations are projected on a 27’ by 18’ screen and cover a range of topics such as cosmology, space exploration, light pollution and more. To support these, the ASTROLab uses ATEM Production Studio 4K, Smart Videohub 12G 40x40, HyperDeck Studio 12G, Blackmagic Web Presenter, two Blackmagic eGPUs and 16 Teranex Mini converters.
To make the presentations as dynamic and interactive as possible, the ASTROLab requires two presenters on stage at the same time. The main presenter walks the audience through the given topic, while the second operates a panel powered by an ATEM Production Studio 4K, Smart Videohub 12G 40x40, HyperDeck Studio 12G and Blackmagic eGPUs that control all the lighting, sound and video projections in real time.
“The system we have in place with Blackmagic Design makes transitioning between images and videos during a presentation completely seamless. While the presentations are scripted, we encourage audience participation and questions. With the ATEM Production Studio 4K and Smart Videohub 12G 40x40, we’re able to instantly adjust the images to reflect impromptu conversation within a matter of seconds, just by clicking a button,” said Guillaume Poulin, one of the ASTROLab’s senior presenters.
He continued, “Switching from one HDMI signal to another would take a lot more time and the result wouldn’t be as smooth. Having the Smart Videohub 12G 40x40 at the SDI level allows us to operate the theater even faster.”
Since the images and video are projected on such a large screen, it’s critical for the ASTROLab’s content to run at 12G-SDI 4K at 60 frames per second for a smooth and comfortable viewing experience for the audience. To achieve this, the ASTROLab team incorporated two Blackmagic eGPUs into the theater control panel, one for each computer, to output two signals in 4K at 60 frames per second. Additionally, the Blackmagic eGPUs improve graphics performance and accelerate computational tasks, which is beneficial for maintaining instant seamless transitions between images and videos. Separately, all video inputs get converted to 12G-SDI with the Teranex Minis.
Poulin explained, “Prior to implementing Blackmagic Design, our real technical challenge was getting content projected on the screen in 4K at 60 frames per second. This is particularly important for astronomy footage like a galactic fly through because at 24 or 30 frames per second, the image will skip. On a screen that size, this effect is amplified and can create an unpleasant sensation for viewers. Attempting to achieve this with any other gear was a strain both technically and financially.”
According to Ghislain Veronneau, technical project manager, Solotech, “One of the biggest challenges we faced was projecting multiple video sources in 12G-SDI 4K at 60 FPS. We also needed to facilitate completely fluid cross fades on demand on a massive screen. In addition to these technical parameters, it was imperative to maintain a budget that the client was comfortable with. With the 12G-SDI 4K technology from Blackmagic Design, we were able to deliver a custom budget conscious solution of incredible quality for ASTROLab. The final on screen rendering that we were able to achieve is remarkable.”
Further expanding their reach, the ASTROLab leverages a Blackmagic Web Presenter to bring live presentations into classrooms around the world via video conference.
“The Blackmagic Web Presenter allows us to share our presentations anywhere in the world in real time. To enhance the remote viewing experience, the ATEM Production Studio 4K’s picture in picture viewing allows us to show the presenter talking in the upper corner while the image currently being shown in the auditorium can be viewed full screen by the students,” said Poulin.
In addition to delivering a budget conscious 12G-SDI 4K workflow to Mont Mégantic National Park’s ASTROLab, Blackmagic Design’s intuitive solutions make it easy for new presenters to come up to speed quickly.
Poulin concluded, “Though we have some senior staff, we also have summer students who come and work for us for two or three months. Since they’re here for such a short period of time, they don’t have time to master all of the tiny details of how the theater technology works. The Blackmagic Design workflow and user experience has proven to be very simple and manageable for everyone.”
Founded over 40 years ago, Solotech is a world leader in audiovisual and entertainment technology with 13 strategic locations in Canada, the United States and Europe. Thanks to an inventory encompassing over 300 renowned manufacturers, Solotech is the single source for audio, video, lighting, rigging, soft goods, control and collaboration solutions and services. The company is internationally recognized for its expertise in Live Productions and Systems Integration in various markets, namely music, sports, business, culture and education. Solotech employs 1,200 professionals in its offices located in Montreal, Quebec City, Saguenay, Ottawa, Toronto, Las Vegas, Nashville, DeKalb, Los Angeles, Heywood, London and Redditch. Find out more at: www.solotech.com.
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.