in March 2007
The Ultimate in Entertainment
By R. David Read
AV-equipped FunCity lives up to its name.
|FunCity in Burlington IA is constantly making changes to keep its attractions fresh.
Guy-Tek, Inc., a Redondo Beach CA design/build AV systems integration company, is in the process of completing yet another phase of FunCity in Burlington IA. A renovated 200-plus room hotel, along with an indoor recreation center, opened during the past year. Added attractions include an indoor and outdoor water park, an indoor NASCAR simulator, an indoor go-kart track, a 24-lane bowling center, a themed laser-tag arena and a 3D extreme theater.
Adding to the entertainment spaces are two restaurants, three banquet rooms, a video arcade, a sports bar with Brunswick billiards and a dance club. If that is not enough to keep the family entertained, an indoor simulated golf course lets dad and mom play 18 holes when the adjacent outdoor golf course is blocked from play by the Winter weather. The attached hotel complex, which is supported by the described system, also provides additional conference facilities and some dining options.
More to Come in 2008
The still-under-construction portion of the complex, slated to open in early 2008, will add a sizable quantity of square footage for casino-style gaming. Included in the planning are a 2000-seat cinema/multipurpose auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater for Summer concert performances. It appears that Guy-Tek’s designers and installation crews will be actively engaged for the foreseeable future.
Guy-Tek is spearheading the AV, show control, lighting design and installation for this multi-faceted facility. Thus far, the initial AV systems have involved the installation of more than $2 million in components (without the added casino or theaters). Equipment includes 61-inch high-definition plasma screens for the bowling area lounge, large-screen LCD projection over each pair of the bowling center’s 24 lanes, 32 43-inch plasma screens and 24 30-inch LCD screens. To date, more than 230 loudspeakers are being used to pipe entertainment audio throughout the facility. And, a well-equipped sound reinforcement/playback system is in place to entertain visitors that frequent the complex’s Dance Club venue.
Guy O’Hazza, president of Guy-Tek, emphasized, “It’s an extremely advanced, centralized, digitally based audio and video system.” Owner’s representative Rob Higgins added, “The audio and visual [systems] in the entire complex are spectacular.”
The owner/operator of the facility is local businessman and Burlington IA native Randy Winegard. If his name rings a bell, it is probably because he is president/CEO of Winegard Company, manufacturer of Winegard TV antennas. The fact that Burlington IA also is the corporate headquarters for Winegard undoubtedly had some bearing on the site selection.
The Winegard family long had operated a hotel and popular local eating establishment on the property. However, it was decided that a renovation was in order and that some added pizzazz was necessary. Because some surrounding properties were vacant, sufficient land was acquired to enable a major expansion.
From the expansion’s inception, plans called for one of the major attractions to be a bowling center. Consequently, negotiations commenced with supplier Brunswick. Guy-Tek had performed a number of AV installations for other Brunswick customers and, when the question was raised about a suitable AV design/build contractor, Brunswick was quick to recommend Guy-Tek. With conceptual schematics in hand and a contract signed, the design/concept phase for the development commenced. This definitely was going to be much more than just a bowling alley, and the developer made it abundantly clear that FunCity would be comprised of a variety of attractions that would find favor with all ages in a family-friendly environment.
In earlier facilities of this nature, and in the theme park attraction business as a whole, each of the various attractions generally has been designed as a standalone entity as far as the AV, lighting and control systems are concerned. However, in this design and installation, that concept was abandoned in favor of a more central control system approach.
Aided by the fact that the complex is, by-and-large, housed under one roof, a centralized “control systems concept approach” was adopted. Bending to this approach, Guy-Tek’s design concentrated on grouping the control elements in one centralized location. This facilitated the control of the various local elements, whereby the control functions are interconnected to their dispersed local components that, correspondingly, take their cues from a centralized control point. Figure 1 illustrates the interrelationship of the control and controlled functions. As indicated, a lot of activities are taking place simultaneously in the FunCity installation.
Consider, if you will, that such unrelated functions as bowling lane scoring and “over-the-lane” video display; golf simulation real-time video analysis/viewing; go-kart positioning and subsequent cueing of environmental conditions (i.e., fog, smoke, crowd and ambient noise, lighting, etc.); and similar effects that form a backdrop to the water-park activities are commingled with security and ambient paging/music playback. Then, to use a rather hackneyed phrase, “The whole becomes much greater than the sum of its individual parts.”
To accommodate the broadband requirements of several diverse signaling channels, this necessitated the design and installation of a backbone cabling infrastructure that relied heavily on Cat5e. To further hammer home the theme of centralized control, this type of installation required a firm understanding of the requirements, and limitations, inherent in transmitting many diverse signals over a common bandwidth. Guy-Tek’s designers and installation crew had to face these realities and proceed accordingly.
This illustrates just one more element of how technology has raised the bar from the days of merely pulling cables through a conduit. Sweep radius concerns and cable-fill considerations are infinitely more complex than just yanking THNN through a one-inch pipe.
Once the designs had been approved, Guy-Tek began fabricating the systems at its Redondo Beach CA facility. The “head-end” and control system components were designed and simulated remote system components then were introduced and “mocked-up” for testing. As each of the systems was deemed satisfactory, its properties were documented and the assemblies were shipped to the jobsite for final installation and connection.
O’Hazza emphasized, “Our work-shop personnel took very precise measurement of the mocked-up system parameters, measurements that took into consideration the losses and degradation of the anticipated transmission lines. When the equipment arrived onsite, our installation and commissioning personnel had a firm set of guidelines as to the anticipated performance; hence, troubleshooting was simplified infinitely.”
Included in the procedure was the installation of an area-wide Wi-Fi network that would permit adjustment of system parameters by onsite personnel, and the accommodation for monitoring performance at Guy-Tek’s headquarters. As O’Hazza explained, “The system is password protected. Local personnel can control select essential operations; however, more critical elements of control and adjustment are vested with our technical staff located here in California.” And, he noted, “Thus far, this approach [to monitoring and control adjustment] has worked out extremely well.”
Using the Wi-Fi system, local personnel can move freely about the premises and adjust audio parameters, lighting intensities and show control timing as operating conditions dictate. The same system permits technical personnel in faraway Redondo Beach to remotely monitor and control levels, clarity, lamp aging, fog-tank levels, etc., and further “fine-tune” adjustments to ensure and maintain proper performance.
A good deal of planning was given to isolating the various attractions from interfering with adjacent spaces. O’Hazza commented, “The architectural elements were carefully designed and constructed to minimize acoustical interference and [Guy-Tek] exercised a great deal of care to ensure that visitors’ transitional movements were accomplished with a minimum of bleeding between adjacent spaces.”
In most cases, control, and reduction, of ambient noise is a prime consideration. When it came to the NASCAR (go-kart) area, precisely the opposite case arose. The race vehicles in this area are electrically powered; hence, there is no vehicle noise. To add realism to the attraction, it was deemed necessary to introduce some ambient noise appropriate to such a situation. Audio tracks of engines running at full-bore and attendant crowd noises were produced. These playback audio tracks, in conjunction with specialty lighting effects and fogging/hazing equipment, transform this space into a realistic simulation of real-world conditions.
Under normal circumstances, this portion of the complex would have constituted a major undertaking in its own right. The intent was to produce a facility that would incorporate all the AV and lighting elements that one might associate with such an “up-scale”-type environment. This writer hates the term “state-of-the-art,” but this facility includes the best equipment money can buy.
Patrons have commented that the system is “punchy, tight, with good LF definition.” The integrated lighting and visual effects provide an ambience that pleases the customers—and isn’t that what it’s all about?
|Lighting and other special effects supplement typical AV elements at FunCity
In addition to the entertainment aspects of this multi-faceted attraction, Guy-Tek also designed and installed a comprehensive security system to keep a watchful eye on participants using the various indoor and outdoor fun areas. Particular attention was paid to those attractions that include water-based fun zones.
Although not security-specific, several motion sensors were installed in various locations, to sense and subsequently trigger audio, lighting and hydraulic special effects.
Based on what has been described thus far, it is evident that this installation is a prime example of how audio, video, lighting, show control, environmental conditioning and security, all under control of centralized programming, increasingly are becoming the “norm” for these types of installations. Hitherto “foreign” concepts, and the necessity for understanding the functions and operations of elements (such as lighting and show control), previously were beyond the scope of most AV integrators. Obviously, this is no longer the case.
When circumstances dictate that the systems integrator confront situations that require the incorporation of all these elements, it is essential that his workforce has a firm grasp on how these functions interrelate. And, they must possess the necessary design and installation skills to deliver a coordinated system that produces the specified performance criteria and meets the client’s expectations.
Introduction of Computer Programming
The introduction of computer programming and digital transmission technology has advanced technology materially in this regard. The lesson herein may well be that others might have to take note and start “thinking outside the box.” An understanding of the elementary functions of each of the disciplines (i.e., audio, video, lighting, control system technology, etc.) is essential; but, a more systems-oriented viewpoint necessitates further consideration and attention in order that a systems concept can be maintained.
As Guy-Tek has demonstrated in this installation, the next level of convergence requires that systems integrators be cognizant of the procedures wherein these once distinctly separate disciplines can be incorporated from isolated elements into a comprehensive “whole.”
As illustrated here, it appears essential that the systems integrator be familiar with control concepts such as those provided by AMX. Whether one relies on the programming service of the supplier, a third-party provider or one’s own internal programming staff is dependent on the skill sets available to each particular systems integrator. But, an understanding of the programming required is essential if the installed system ultimately is to meet the client’s expectations.
According to Randy Winegard, the facility has proven extremely popular with both the local population and out-of-town visitors. He noted, “Our numbers are up and somewhat in excess of our expectations.” With regard to operations, Winegard offered, “The systems provided by Guy-Tek have proven to be pretty much fault-free, and we feel that this type of system is indicative of where such attractions are headed in the future.”
Guy-Tek, Inc., is a media systems integrator specializing in the design, engineering and installation of video, audio, showroom sound and lighting solutions using the latest and most forward-thinking technology available. The company states that its mission is to provide the highest quality, user friendly, dependable systems, on time and on budget.
Founder Guy O’Hazza, with some three decades of experience cultivating award-winning technological environments worldwide, formed Guy-Tek, Inc., to revolutionize the approach to audio, visual and lighting solutions. O’Hazza has been involved in the design and delivery of systems for major, high-profile projects, including The Tiger Woods Center at Nike Headquarters in Portland OR, four Niketown locations, numerous Dave & Buster’s retail entertainment stores nationwide, FunCity in Burlington IA, and more than a thousand nightclubs, bars, restaurants and amusement parks worldwide.
Guy-Tek has designed systems from ideas, working to apply imagination to practical application; conversely, Guy-Tek has proven its ability to work with systems currently in place. O’Hazza and his staff believe that the combined knowledge, skills and experience of a talented team that knows how to design, fabricate, install, maintain and service the technical systems for its clients is what keeps the company on the cutting edge.
Clean Room AV Head-end
8 Alcorn McBride AM4 dual audio machine
1 Alcorn McBride dmx water lighting control
4 Alcorn McBride RMAM42U dual audio machine
2 Alcorn McBride V4 show controller
1 AVED 12-CH 12-channel audio/video server
1 AVED Rock-Ola network, video juke box
1 AVED Rock-Ola network, video Wallette juke box
2 Biamp AudiaSOLO DSP processing
3 Denon DVD/VHS DVD/VHS player
6 Middle Atlantic MRK 4431 44 77"x31" deep gang-able racks, w/accessories
Middle Atlantic CBS MRK31 skirted seismic base
57 Middle Atlantic M-20IG 20 amp/isolated ground
18 Middle Atlantic MPR raceways
2 QSC CX1202 2-channel 70V power amps
3 QSC CX-168 8-channel power amps
2 QSC CX-302V 2-channel 70V amps
1 QSC PL 6.0II power amp sub-woofer
3 QSC RMX1850HD 2-channel power amps
3 RDL RU-DA4D audio distribution amps
18 RDL TX-2J unbalanced to balanced transformers
4 Shure SLX24/SM58 dual VHF wireless systems
3 Sound Dog ISSS2 8-way wireless speaker packages
3 Sound Dog SSTS2 8-way sports select packages
2 Tripp Lite UPS Systems, external battery UPS systems
Dance Club, Bowling Center Head-end
1 AutoPatch 24x48 digital video switcher
1 AutoPatch 32x32 digital video switcher
1 AutoPatch 8x24 digital video switcher
1 AVED 12 channel audio/video server
2 Biamp AudiaSolo 4x12 DSP audio processing
2 Biamp Audia EXPI 8 mic/line analog inputs to CobraNet output,
1 Biamp Audia Logicbox paging interface
2 Biamp AudiaFLEX CM processor
24 Biamp AudiaFLEX input, output cards
12 Buttkicker BKA-1000-4A power amps
1 GTI configuration computer
16 Hughes DSS, HD-DSS DirecTV DSS Receivers
5 Middle Atlantic MRK 4431 44 77"x31" deep gangable racks
NetGear 802.11 g Wi-Fi network repeaters, switches
2 QSC CX-1202V 2-channel 70V power amps
2 QSC CX-204V 4 channel 70V power amps
2 QSC CX-302V 2-channel 70V power amps
3 QSC CX404 power amps
2 QSC CX602 power amps
2 QSC CX-602V 2-channel 70V power amps
3 QSC PL1602 power amps
2 QSC PLX3402 power amps
3 QSC RMX1850 power amps
1 QSC RMX4050 HD power amp
6 Shure SLX24/58 wireless mics
1 Sony DVP-NC87SV back-up player
1 Spaun SMS51602NF 5x16 duo-satellite multi-switches
1 TOA 1216 rack-mount audio monitor
1 Winegard HD antenna
Overall Control Network
1 AMX 15" Modero NXT-1500VG VG Series tabletop touchpanel
1 AMX 12" Modero NXT-CA12 tabletop touchpanel
1 AMX 8.4" Modero MVP-8400 ViewPoint touchpanel
1 AMX 7" Modero NXT-CV7 tabletop touchpanel
2 AMX 6" Color AXD-CV6 active video wall/flush-mount touchpanels
1 AMX NetLinx NI-4000 integrated controller
5 AMX NetLinx NXF CardFrames
1 AMX NetLinx NXF- MINI Mini CardFrame
1 AMX NXS-MHS master/hub module shell
40 AMX NXS-NMS NetModule shells
66 AMX NXC-COM2 dual COM port cards, 2 RS232/422/485
30 AMX NXC-IRS4 4-port IR/S cards, 4 IR/S, 4 inputs
5 AMX NetLinx NXC-HE ICSHub expander cards
2 AMX NetLinx NXC-NH ICSNet hub cards
5 Xantech 282M10P IR mouse emitter (10PK)
Public Space Paging
12 EAW CIS300 70V flush-mount, 4" speaker systems
88 EAW CIS400 70V ceiling-mount, 5" speaker systems
8 EAW SMS4 70V surface-mount speakers
24 EAW SMS5 70V surface-mount, 5" speaker systems
6 EAW VRS12 subwoofers
3 System Devices PM-10-3 paging mics
2 Chyron CTV-102 character generators
1 Draper 112178 161" diagonal electric front-projection screen 16X9 HD hi-def
19 HoloDisplays custom rear-projection screens
4 LG L2300AK 23" LCD screens
26 LG L3200AK 32" LCD screens
1 Pioneer PDP-614CMX Elite 61" pro plasma display
44 Pioneer PDP-434-CMX 42" pro plasma displays
33 Premier Mounts Clevis plasma wall mounts
38 Premier Mounts Clevis 2 LCD wall mounts
22 Premier Mounts PVC-591 projector mounting brackets
1 RGB Spectrum Spectrum DualviewXL dual-screen splitter
4 Sony KDE6060XBR950 60" Wega LCD screens
4 Sony KDE7070XBR950 70" Wega LCD screens
22 ViewSonic PJ1165 3500 lumen HD-compatible rear-screen projectors
24 Buttkicker LFE seat-mounted bass shakers
14 EAW VR-61 high SPL ceiling speakers
6 EAW VRS-18 ceiling subwoofers
8 EAW CIS-400 70V ceiling mount, 5" speaker systems
4 Elektralite Z24/7 Turbo Fog System 1.5kw
5 Elektralite MY250 4-fixtures with controller
4 Elektralite MY150 4-fixtures W/O controller
6 JEM Pro Hazers
1 Shure SLX24/758 dual VHF wireless systems
6 Sony PTZ pan/tilt cameras w/dual controller
24 Stewart Filmscreen 16x9 122" HDTV screens
24 ViewSonic PJ-1165 3500 lumen video projectors
Race Track Audio, Lighting
10 EAW SMS-5 environmental loudspeakers
2 EAW PH-30 announcement horns
6 EAW DC-6 speakers
1 EAW VCS-8 subwoofer
1 Elektralite MY250 4-fixtures with controller
3 Elektralite MY-150 4-fixtures w/o controller
1 Elektralite 512CH controller
1 JEM low frozen fog system
Banquet Room Audio
22 EAW CIS-400 70V flush mount, 6½" speaker systems
6 Bosch LTC-1464/200 FlexiDome cameras, w/VF lens
16 Bosch LTC-1464/20 camera mounts
6 Bosch UPN-PCH28 camera in housing w/indoor mount
42 Bosch VCC6574-A outdoor cameras
26 Bosch TGHZ2813 1/3" Varifocal lens
14 Bosch VCC6574-A color cameras
3 Dedicated Micros DVIP16/600 16-channel digital video recorders
46 Pelco mounting brackets
6 Pelco outdoor housings
2 Silent Witness V29ACHT camera/housing/lens assembly
Huck’s Playground Audio
24 EAW CLA6 column speakers
3 EAW PH-30 announcement horns
24 OWI M5CX 5¼" effects speakers
16 Peerless Mounts CAP tracking sensors
12 SoundTube AS600 speakers
1 System Devices PM-10-3-GO paging mic
List is edited from information supplied by Guy-Tek, Inc.
Sound & Communications Contributing Editor R. David Read reports frequently about theme park installations.