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James Cook University - A3-3 Collaborative Theatre Case Study

Project Background

Since their establishment in 1970, to help cater to their ever growing enrolments, James Cook University (JCU) expanded into a multicampus institution with their main campuses in Cairns, Singapore and Townsville, and other more remote rural locations. Continuing to expand, the Cairns campus decided to add another large and collaborative theatre to complement the existing Crowther small and large theatres which sit alongside A3-3, one of their main buildings.

The challenge was to create a space that could serve the different needs of a wide group of stakeholders. Like many other institutions, JCU is working towards a shift from the traditional didactic style of teaching delivery to more active learning models and this new facility was expected to deliver in both modes.

The space is located next to the social centre of the campus and is also used as a base for public events, presentations and conferences. The audio visual system had to have the functionality to serve a wide variety needs and be a show case for the campus.

As JCU is a multi campus university the requirement for cross-campus teaching via videoconferencing was also specified. And with Cairns being located some 1600 kilometres from Queensland’s capital city Brisbane, reliability and ease of installation were crucial.

Installation

With the theatre’s audio visual system designed by Design Stage, VIDEOPRO were contacted to provide the product, installation, and support for this new facility. The VIDEOPRO team provided the theatre with dual projection, dual public display panels located in an undercover area outside of the theatre, and fully integrated videoconferencing capabilities, making the theatre ideal as an active learning venue. VIDEOPRO needed to take into account the tiered configuration and curved shape layout with twelve group zones of ten students per zone. The moveable seats allow students to turn around to interact with each other in group mode, and each zone required its own ceiling mounted shotgun microphone, speaker and hard wired digital and analogue input for connection of students’ devices.

Graphically intuitive touch panel designs are also a key feature of the overall system, allowing academic staff to activate student inputs to the main displays. The easy to understand touch panel GUI has been extremely well received by academic staff and has allowed them to confidently use this new system. As well as a fixed touch panel on the work bench, a mobile wireless touch panel is also used by academic staff as they move around the venue, freeing them up from being close to the work bench. The system also features a wireless collaboration system for active learning and an Infra Red hearing assist system.

Within this project, VIDEOPRO was the first to work with the new AMX DGX hardware, which allowed the team to overcome new challenges which hadn’t been experienced before. The final AMX user interface, designed and programmed by VIDEOPRO, and overall audio visual installation in the facility has been so well received that the room has been used to inform and reinforce decision making in relation to new theatre designs.

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