Minnesota Supreme Court
St. Paul, MN
Vaddio PTZ Cameras & Switcher
Biamp DSP System
Audio Technia Microphones
Crestron Rooom Controls
As the highest judicial body in Minnesota, the Supreme Court is held to the highest standard for providing efficient technology for its citizens. When the Supreme Court decided to upgrade their courtrooms and boardrooms, they looked to MSpace to provide the expert design and advanced technologies needed to provide a quality experience for both court participants and all of Minnesota.
MSpace took a holistic approach to the design of this project. The MN Supreme Court was faced with out of date equipment in their three courtrooms and main boardroom along with low usage of the equipment because of system issues and a control interface that was not user friendly. Having adapted to technology in the past, the court had existing equipment which they wanted to integratein their new projects to get the most out of their previous investment. MSpace engineers provided an integrated solution that incorporated existing equipment with the necessary upgrades to allow for a system that fit their needs.
The courts stream video of their sessions to the internet and to a local TV station. The courtrooms had stationary cameras and they often dealt with people talking who were not on camera. They also had very low quality audio and it was difficult to hear what was being said. The solution the Supreme Court was looking for was to update the quality of their audio and video. The court was also looking for a way to upgrade their timer systems in order to make it easier for the Chief Justice and Marshall to keep arguments within time limits.
The biggest challenges with these rooms were dealing with the old architecture, dealing with existing equipment, and coordinating the wiring of the equipment. Long cable runs through conduits which had between five and six 90 degree angles in them made it very difficult to pull wiring. The old equipment was not labled properly and there were three equpment rooms with no indications of which equipment was controlling which courtroom. Documentation on the existing system was extremely limited.
MSpace upgraded the court’s video system to include a Vaddio ProductionVIEW FX switcher, three Vaddio WallView PRO 300 PTZ cameras, and distribution. Also added was a Biamp Nexia audio DSP system with Audio Technica RFI shielded microphones. The high quality audio and video system was a voice activated, hands-free, operatorless system. The camera presets ensure that the person talking is also the person on screen. Finally, MSpace installed DSan’s Limitimer system. The Limitimers gives the chief justice or court marshal the ability to time sessions and keep court proceedings on schedule.
The MSpace team approached some of these unique challenges by going back to the basics. During a couple particularly stubborn cable pulls, the technical team reverted to an old trick of tying a plastic bag to the end of the wire and using a vacuum to pull the wiring. With their experience and expertise, the technical team was able to ensure the system was set up and wired correctly.
Working with the three different equipment rooms, it took coordination between MSpace, the TV station, and Supreme Court staff to verify the necessary equipment. Extensive diagrams and labeling will provide accurate information for the courts and MSpace technicians in the future as maintenance and upgrades are required.
In the past, the Supreme Court dealt constantly with poor audio and difficult facility operation which led to low usage of the boardroom. This room now serves multiple users with unique requirements. In one scenario it is a videoconferencing room for the Justices. In another it is a training room requiring recording for future viewers. The original system had many of these components but the control and switching of these devices was not handled in a ‘user friendly’ way.
MSpace’s master programmer re-wrote the Crestron AV2 program making it user friendly. With input from the users, the page layouts were redesigned to create a smooth, logical User Interface for the end users. MSpace upgraded to an Extron Hi-Res Switcher, and added a Tandberg MXP3000 HD videoconferencing codec and camera. Audio conferencing was upgraded with a Biamp Audia system and a combination of ceiling, gooseneck, and wireless boundary microphones. After MSpace coordinated a meeting with the phone company to discuss possible issues, technicians came to the conclusion that the key audio issues were that the phone line running into the boardroom was an analog line outside of their court’s standard phone system. After identifying these challenges, MSpace was able to fix the problem.
To control costs, all of the other equipment in the room was tested and reused. Reused equipment included the rear screen projection system, custom lectern, document camera, multiple laptop & PC inputs, a lectern mounted Crestron TPS-4500L, a table mounted TP4500, HDD & DVD recorder, scalers, hearing impaired system, and RF modulator for internal broadcasts.