AV systems of note – Downstream’s Vmware

Written by: Adrian Magno

It was 11:30pm on a Friday night as my girlfriend (now wife) messaged me for the 6th time asking when I’d finish work.

2014, I was a lowly Technical Support Engineer working on the biggest AV project I’d ever laid eyes on and the lead designer from Portland Oregon, was personally overseeing the integration of it. I didn’t want to miss a second of being able to pick his brain as we did firmware upgrades in the darkness of the night. Whilst my phone continued to vibrate in my pocket, and my head throbbed as I was rounding out hour 16 of the last day of the week, I wouldn’t dare leave. Nothing bonds engineers quite like a graveyard shift.

I remember watching Trent in awe as he moved through the server rooms with such haste, his laptop lay open in his arm balancing it like a waiter holding too many plates at once.

Ever since I’ve always been a fan of his work, looking up his LinkedIn profile and website every couple of weeks to see what next piece of art he was conjuring up on the other side of the planet.

Downstream’s project with Vmware in Silicon Valley is another stone in the infinity gauntlet of projects continuing to raise the bar for the sometimes unimaginative AV industry. Signage solutions are increasingly becoming “how big a video wall do you want it to be?” or rather mode dictated by the newest tech that has come to market ie. transparent displays or curved video walls. The AV systems that downstream consistently put out into the world however, use a mix of old and new techniques to integrate with architecture and produce bespoke content in a way many of us have never fathomed to venture. One such example is the projection mapped globe to display real time data of Vmware feeds mapped to regions on the globe.

I know many consultants, myself included, who when provided the outlandish request from the client would simply revert to the safe, “video wall.” Despite the understanding that the first rule of “beautiful AV” is to do everything to make the AV invisible. Vivid Sydney is a showcase of such misdirect having the projectors for the opera house on the other side of Circular Quay.

THE FIRST RULE OF “BEAUTIFUL AV” IS TO DO EVERYTHING TO MAKE THE AV INVISIBLE

Here we have technology that makes the art work look like its moving. It’s a subtle optical illusion that makes you double take as you walk past, stopping in your tracks to turn your head to make sure you had seen correctly. Isn’t that what effective signage is? AV that doesn’t scream like you’ve entered an arcade, powerful because it is different.

Next up we have the possibility wall. I know, the name sounds like your standard corporate directive like ‘the journey room’ or ‘konnecthub.’ Despite it’s cringe name what makes it compelling AV is what makes most of downstream’s designs world class. Their unique content creation that goes hand in hand with the AV. The possibility wall initiates the content the minute you walk by, not in a tacky way like the many museums we visited as kids, but in a way that matches VMware’s culture, branding and themes whilst also making you stop and want to do more. There’s a storytelling to the AV here. Much of it starts without you doing anything, but proceeds to get you to want to continue through the content simply because it looks, for lack of a better term, so damn cool. We always harp on about why AV needs to work hand in hand with the interior architecture design, yet we fail to realise it also needs to do the same with the content

WE ALWAYS HARP ON ABOUT WHY AV NEEDS TO WORK HAND IN HAND WITH THE INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE DESIGN, YET WE FAIL TO REALISE IT ALSO NEEDS TO DO THE SAME WITH THE CONTENT ON THE SCREENS

Downstream boast an internal team that create the content going onto the AV so that the solution works together seamlessly. Both team get a say in how it should look.

In our day and age, social media continues to make us constantly see the successes of others; and whilst it can be the cause of sadness and depression when looking at the disparity in skill in comparison, for me it only ignites me to work harder.

There is another level to AV than the standard “video wall”

That at a certain point, this isn’t AV anymore. This is art.

Please note: All images do not belong to me, this is strictly the work of others in which I am fortunate enough to provide comment on.

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