The Role Of An Audiovisual Consultant
As institutions seek to build new learning and meeting facilities, and to renovate existing ones, often times extensive architectural design and construction is required. These building projects require a team of professionals to design, create construction documents, and oversee construction. Chief among them is an architect, who serves as the design and coordination leader.
There are, in addition, numerous other specialty consultants who work under the architect to tackle specific design issues, structural, mechanical (HVAC), electrical, plumbing among them. No significant architectural construction undertaking can succeed unless these design disciplines participate.
The design of learning facilities often times require additional expertise, including lighting, acoustics, and audiovisual systems and facilities design. Audiovisual systems which are built into classrooms must be integrated into an architecture environment which is hospitable to them. This is true both for practical and aesthetic reasons.
It is in this area where the skills and experience of an AV Consultant become critical, to support the overall efforts of the design team, and at all times be the advocate for and adviser on issues that relate to multimedia systems.
Consider the complexity of designing a building. Thousands of details must be considered and coordinated. Audiovisually, there are dozens of critical issues to work out:
· Room size and geometry are critical to good viewing angles
· Ceiling heights must be sufficient to accommodate properly sized and located project screens
· Appropriate power and connectivity must be designed to accommodate equipment which may be located in various places around a room.
· Location of video projectors, audio speakers, and control panels must be identified
And, the list obvious goes on. After room design is substantially complete, systems equipment must be identified, engineered to work together, specified, and installed.
The participation of an audiovisual consultant, therefore, can be a critically important aspect of building successful classrooms.
The tasks usually completed by an AV Consultant usually include the following.
Analysis: Through interviews with users, determining what sort of capabilities will be required. This typically culminates in a report summarizing capabilities needed, alternative scenarios to be considered, and preliminary estimated budgets. The more sophisticated consultants can distinguish between capabilities that should be initially installed, and those for which only infrastructure provision should be made.
Design: Working with other design team members, developing sketches followed by final drawings showing equipment locations, power and conduit requirements, needs for specialized fixtures (to support the video projector, for example) ceiling speakers, projection screen locations, etc.
Design: Based on user requirements, the identification of specific equipment items, by make and model number, and technical engineered drawings showing how the devices interrelate and how signals flow among them. Typically a specification document package is developed such that potential audiovisual integrators can compete to acquire and install the equipment.
In almost all cases, a pure AV Consultant does not sell or install equipment. This is in contrast to a so called design/build consultant who provides both systems design services, as well as sells and installs equipment. The relative benefits of one over the other will be discussed in a future article.
Implementation: This is the process whereby the AV Consultant provides contract administration of the successful integrator's installation efforts, resolves field construction issues, and ultimately tests the systems and accepts it upon behalf of the Client.
There are a number of nationally known AV Consultants. Shen Milsom & Wilke, located in a number of major cities across the US is perhaps the oldest, largest and best known of these firms. Others that should be considered include Cerami & Associates, Vantage Technology Consulting Group, and The Sextant Group.