DDS-AV Takes GUI-First Approach to Control at University of Texas San Antonio

The University of Texas San Antonio told DDS-AV they needed an incredibly flexible auditorium with two conflicting presets working harmoniously.

Texas schools are noted for their large video boards in sporting areas — but at the University of Texas San Antonio, the main concern was their outdated Retama Auditorium. The school brought in DDS-AV (Digital Display Solutions) to update the look and feel of the space and outfit it with multifaceted lighting control.

Renovations for the 300-seat space included a new ceiling, flooring, seating, lighting, and AV. This required tremendous coordination between DDS-AV and the architect, general contractor, lighting consultant and the school itself.

As is often the case with school reconstructions, the integrator had to navigate a tight timeline.

Mandates from the University of Texas San Antonio

The auditorium’s AV had to accommodate use from both lecturers and theatrical productions with minimum transition between the two modes. As a true “showplace” for students and faculty to enjoy performances and movies, the space mandated intuitive, frictionless control.

Environmental and theatrical lighting requirements varied greatly depending on the room mode, so the DDS-AV says there was much discussion regarding programming lighting scenes, pre-sets and re-calls via the control system.

A Dante network was needed in order to patch in a mixing console and stage mics during live performances.

Training University of Texas San Antonio staff on the new systems was critical to the school. Several training sessions ensured the staff was comfortable setting up the room in all configurations.

GUI-First, University of Texas San Antonio, DDS-AV
DDS-AV Takes GUI-First Approach

The room’s requirements were so variable that the integrator felt it best to design the control GUI and work backward.

“This allowed us to engineer and install the lighting systems to match the expected functionality of the control system,” says a company statement on the project.

The ability to patch in a mixing console for live events, yet have automated audio control via the control system, plus the need for 200 presets programmed for theatrical lighting, demanded plenty of time devoted just to programming.

Challenges to the Integrator

There’s a veritable laundry list of challenges that DDS-AV had to overcome, including (but not limited to):

  • A new sloped hard-lid ceiling with acoustically-challenging properties (which was also a late decision, changing the acoustic footprint last-minute)
  • A damaged motorized projector lift that DDS-AV had to immediately replace
  • The requirement to use the room in manual and automated modes at the same time, including ability to use a mixing console and stage mics for live performances while maintaining automated audio via the control system
  • Creation of multiple lighting buttons for re-calling stored presets

Despite these challenges, DDS reports that the school remains very pleased with the installation. Very few call-backs for service have come in, despite daily and nightly use almost year-round.

Equipment Highlights
  • Biamp Tesira Server IO
  • Studio-Tech Mic/Line to Dante Interface
  • Extron DTP CrossPoint 108 4K IPCP SA
  • Panasonic PT-DZ8700 10,600 lumen 1920×1200 projector