Non-Technical AV Presentation Issues Solved


when-youre-giving-a-presentation-and-you-click-on-the-2895876Have you ever launched full-swing into a great multimedia presentation, only to have the technology fail in the middle of your talk? Have you been left wondering, “Why won’t my video play?” or “Why won’t my file open properly on this computer?” We know we can’t always be there to help, so we’ve developed this guide with our best tips to help you make sure your own presentations go off without a hitch.

You’re prepared for your big presentation, with backups in hand, but what do you do if you encounter problems at setup, and don’t know how to fix them?

The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that everything will work just the way you expect it to. Computers are fickle. Our number one tip is to test all the technology you’ll be using in the venue in the exact configuration you’ll be using it at the event. This “dress rehearsal” will help you find any technical bugs, and will help you feel confident that your event will go as planned. After rehearsing, you can focus on giving a killer presentation and feel confident that all your technology will work as planned.

Here are our top tech tips for presentation problem solving:

Before you leave the office

  • If you are sending your slides ahead by email, bcc your personal email address to make sure the attachment comes through ok.
  • If bringing your slides on a USB disk, use a USB drive that has nothing else on it. You don’t want the AV tech to go through all your personal files looking for the right presentation.
  • Always have a backup copy of your presentation in Dropbox or another cloud storage sites, and/or in your email, just in case your USB drive gets lost or corrupted.
  • Bring your own computer and any adapters you will need in case the conference-provided computer will not work. Make sure you have adapters to VGA, DVI, and HDMI, as different venues may require different connections.
  • If your presentations have audio, verify with conference organizers that an audio connection will be available for your presentation room – often that will not be hooked up unless you ask for it specifically.
  • Avoid relying on online content. If you really need an Internet connection for your presentation, make sure you specifically request it on the presentation computer. Try to bring offline copies of any material you need.
  • If live Web content is critical to your presentation, and you cannot bring an offline backup, bring a mobile hotspot, or a cell phone with tethering enabled, just in case.
  • When you communicate with event organizers, specify if you need Presentation View (with your notes) or if you need a Mirrored desktop. Most computers can be set up either way, but the event’s AV team will need to know in advance to set that up.
  • If you have complex graphs in your presentation, save them as static images (.jpg or .png), in case the presentation computer does not render them correctly.
  • If you are using a Mac to create your PowerPoint slides, make sure you test your slides on a PC before you leave the office. Pay special attention to transitions, graphs and media files. You may not have the option to use a Mac onsite.
  • If you are using Keynote to make your slides, make sure that the organizers know you will need a Mac with that software to give your presentation. Make a backup of your slides as both a PDF and a PPT just in case. Test both on a PC before you arrive.

Dealing with Embedded Media

  • Videos and embedded media are involved in 90% of the presentation problems we deal with at events.
  • Make sure if you create a presentation with video or audio in PowerPoint, that you embed the files into the .pptx file, and don’t just link them to a file on your computer. That said, ALWAYS bring a backup copy of any embedded media, just in case it didn’t embed properly.
  • Make sure you have your video as an external file in more than one format. If it’s a .mov file it will most likely NOT play in PowerPoint on a PC and if it’s .wmv it will NOT play on a Mac.
  • If you are presenting on PowerPoint 2010 or 2011, make sure you have the media in Windows Media format for a PC or Quicktime format for a Mac.
  • If you are presenting on Microsoft Office 2013 or Office 365, bring the files in .mp4 format with H.264 encoding for best cross platform compatibility, but make sure to bring backups.
    • Copy the presentation and all its associated media onto the presentation computer – do not run it off a USB drive. If that comes unplugged or your drive fails, your media will not play.

Onsite

  • Load your slides at least two breaks before your talk. Do not expect to plug in your USB drive as you’re being introduced. TEST your presentation when you load your slides into their final destination.
  • If you have embedded media, load the slideshow and all associated media into its final location on the presentation PC before you test it. And once you test it, do not move it to another folder on the computer. The files may become unlinked.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth 10,000 embedded videos. Or something like that…

For AV hardware or integrated solutions contact us at SpaceCoast AV Communications

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Getting Ready for the Big Game: A 3-Step Plan Are


football-game-1Are you ready for the Big Game? Ready to take in all its glory as if you were in the stands sitting on the edge of your seat immersed in the action? Ready to impress family and friends with a jaw-dropping experience that leaves them, well…jealous?

And, no, we’re not talking about your awesome Kegerator or those hot, tangy, succulent wings everyone loves. We’re talking about a killer audio/video setup that not only “transports” you to the stadium but puts you on the field. A setup that let’s you feel the action – the bone-crunching thuds of a goal-to-go pileup, the brutal kidney-punch of a sideline takedown, the roar of the crowd when the announcer shouts “touchdown!”

The best of today’s home entertainment technology can get you closer to the game than ever before. And in some ways, a topnotch AV system can deliver an experience that’s better than being there. So if you’re tired of the small screen and tinny sound, it’s time to time to take things to the next level with an AV setup that will serve not only sports but also movies, music, and TV.

Here’s our three-step plan for upping your AV game.

1. TAKE A TOUR OF AV-LAND.

If it’s been a while since you’ve bought a TV or sound system, you might want to talk with one of our experts or pick up a magazine like Sound & Vision to get a feel for what’s new in AV. You’ll quickly see that a lot is going on.

If you’re serious about taking your AV game to the next level, find a home technology professional in your area and have him walk you through options in your price range. A pro will guide you through the maze of AV gear and present ideas on how to integrate it into your room – or hide it away.

2. GO FOR A BIG SCREEN.

And not just any screen but the biggest screen you can afford (as long as it’s not too big for the room you have in mind). Take a close look at the new 4K/Ultra HD sets, the best of which deliver stunning pictures at prices that are getting lower every day. OLED TVs – known for their vibrant, lifelike color – are also worth a serious look, but there are fewer options and they tend to be quite a bit more expensive.

If you have the physical space and budget to go bigger than, say, 70 inches, consider a theater-like projection setup where screen sizes start at 100 inches. There’s no better way to get in the game.

3. DON’T SKIMP ON THE SOUND.

Forget soundbars and cheap home-theater-in-a-box systems. Go for a bona fide surround-sound audio system with a full complement of speakers and a real subwoofer. For the best experience, you’ll want a 5.1 system, which means three front speakers – left, center, right – two rear surround speakers and a standalone subwoofer.

Speakers come in a wide variety of types and sizes, including models that can be mounted in (or on) the walls and ceiling for a stealth look. Professional guidance will go a long way here.

Following these few simple steps will put you on the path to an at-home game experience that you might not have imagined possible.

To learn more about home entertainment technology and options, consult a SpaceCoast AV professional today.

Cleaning Your Home AV Systems


home-theater-spring-cleaning-1If you own a Home Theater system you should have some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to this invested area of your home.

Screens – there are many types out there and of course that means many ways of cleaning them, the number one word of advice we can give you is Windex is a big no and secondly refer to the manufacture website as to what can be used to clean these screens.

Projectors – they do get dusty and the lamps from time to time can dim…Canned Air should not be used to clean the dust out; the cold air can freeze components of the projector and create a costly mistake.  A dry dust rag is all you should use to take the dust off your projector and regular maintenance from your technician will assist with keeping the light brilliant from your projection system.

Equipment Rack – The more dust that collects on this costly equipment the harder it has to work to keep from overheating.  Customers commonly ask if vacuums are ok to suck the dust out, while most home vacuums do have the odd soft brush attachment for the hose it can be a little intrusive and end up sending dust into the equipment instead of removal.  Dust feathers and/or a Swiffter® without any oils will do an “ok” job of keeping the dust off, but you may want to keep away from moving your equipment around, as this could put strain on your wires and loose connection.

Sound Proof walls , Furniture & Curtains – these all can be done with typical home vacuum, but if any spills occur contact a professional cleaner to come assess the situation.  Most home theaters have special carpet and curtains to assist with acoustics and typical carpet/drape cleaning solutions can bleach out or burn the fabrics.

The basic components of any home theater need regular love and attention on a quarterly basis…and should have dedicated time and attention.

A cost efficient solution is to ensure your system has a maintenance contract. Just imagine using your home theatre the way you intended it to…a way to lock yourself in for “clean” entertainment

Trust–Don’t let it cost you.


Puma_Thinkstock_HomeRemember that big home project you were doing that turned out to be a disaster? Remember, the always faithful and trust worthy, “trusted advisor”? Was it the friend…mom…dad…or maybe the neighbor? It’s OK we’ve all done it and experienced the result.  If you don’t know much about cars, you ask a friend who does know a lot what his opinion is after you hear from the mechanic. It’s smart to get second opinions from people you trust, and it happens to us all of the time.

Miscommunication between you and the contractor can spell disaster for your home AV project. It usually surfaces late in the project where the client gets an idea or input from their “trusted advisor” and then presents it to the contractor. While a client may ask for a second opinion from a trusted advisor, SpaceCoast AV knows the products and processes better than anyone else and so, we assert and leverage our knowledge and expertise on your behalf.

A few great examples might look something like this:

You might insist on using some Amazon deal speaker your brother-in-law insists in the best thing since sliced bread, but when paired with the amp you’ve carefully selected and calibrated, it sounds like crap (maybe because it’s a crap speaker or maybe because it doesn’t pair well with the rest of the equipment). or you could purchase your own AVR, but it doesn’t play well with the HDBaseT extender you plan to use and a reliable signal becomes an issue. Maybe the neighbor has a Harmony remote and is ridiculing you for spending thousands on a universal remote, so now you’re insisting on a Harmony, with all of the risks of reliability and lack of discrete control that entails. Or the client is adamant about using an Apple Airport Extreme as their router. There goes the managed network and  remote access to troubleshoot. In the short term any of these things could save you a lot of money, but in the long run, it will cost you in service calls that didn’t need to happen.

SpaceCoast AV has been a trusted, knowledgeable and professional Audio Visual for residents, businesses and houses of worship in Brevard since 2008. When it comes to your money and time, turn to the AV integration company who knows the products and processes better than anyone else and leverage our knowledge and expertise for your next AV project.

Tips for Setting up Church, Classroom and Ministry Room Projectors, Part 4 of 4


Other Key Considerations

From 4K/Ultra High Definition (UHD), which is four times the projectortable380resolution of full HD, to XGA, there are quite a few resolutions to choose from.  A key consideration is how much HD video content you plan to show.

Remote management is helpful in a classroom environment, especially if there are several classrooms. With remote management, lamp-based projectors can be powered off using a program timer built into the control software in order to conserve bulb life.

Video picture quality varies a lot depending on make and model of the projector.  That is because scalar chips and video processors in the projectors are not created equally.  This is important because audience expectations are getting higher due to the amount of HD content available.

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Don’t try to get by with a “floating” projector that goes from room to room
  2. Don’t plan on turning out the lights. Dimly lit rooms, at times, reduce the audience’s attention.  The brightness of the projector needs to be high enough to overcome lighting
  3. Don’t worry about LCD versus DLP vs. laser phosphor vs. LED light engines – they all perform well
  4. Do assess whatever multimedia sources and computer sources your presenters will want to connect to the projectors, and map that to available connectors before buying a specific projector model
  5. Do talk to presenters about how they can integrate more multimedia to get them thinking about improving classroom techniques
  6. Do look for models with “eco-mode” that will conserve power and bulb life for lamp-based projectors
  7. Do select projectors that have the compatibility with newer video signal protocols and higher brightness to suit your evolving needs over time
  8. Do examine your mounting challenges prior to buying mounts and projectors
  9. Go with a good brand name – it will generally equate to longer product life and better product reliability
  10. Do ask an expert for advice about your unique circumstances

A Better Facility

Projectors have a big impact on the image your organization sends.  You want to make presentations a memorable experience for parishioners, guests and administrators.  There are many different options out there for hardware, and up-front planning is the best way to ensure you are happy with your selection.  If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to a noticeably better facility.

Tips for Setting up Church, Classroom and Ministry Room Projectors


Choosing a projector model to suit your needs can be overwhelming; here are some key points to take into consideration as you make this important purchase.

Consider how far the screen will be from the projector, relative to the size of the screen.  In some cases, it makes sense to select a projector projectortable380with interchangeable zoom lenses (optional) for proper projector placement. Interchangeable lenses also affect image size from a particular throw distance.  The size and shape of the meeting room will help you decide.  Most manufacturers will state the image size range at specific “throw” distances to the wall, and that information is helpful as you plan.

Not all projectors are installed on a ceiling or wall. There are many users that place them on a cart to move them from room to room. Advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to design brighter projectors in a small cabinet size which makes this type of usage more favorable. For most customers, however, fixed mounting is much more preferable – for product security, less audible noise, and other logistical reasons.

In addition, ministry leaders change their entire approaches to presentations when projectors are always available to them in a fixed-mount configuration.  They can access materials, the Web and apps, annotate using interactive projectors/whiteboards, and capture images for later use.  The availability of affordable interactive technologies and apps are breathing new life into the ways that ministry leaders can share and highlight important information.  For example, DisplayNote Software, used in conjunction with an interactive projector, lets instructors, students and others present and share content across any device creating the ultimate collaborative environment; multiple people can annotate at the board or from a device, while sharing and saving for all those in attendance.

These techniques create a much more dynamic environment, keeping those attending services, classes or special events much more engaged.

Image and Screen Size

In many small to medium sized rooms, image sizes will fall into the range of 60 inches to 90 inches.  Medium to large sized rooms typically have screen sizes of 90 inches to 120 inches.

Generally, you can calculate optimal screen size by measuring the distance from the screen to the person furthest away.  That should be a ratio of no more than 4:1 – for example, if the furthest seat is 32 feet away, you would select an 8-foot viewable screen.

Connecting Video/Data Sources

You may have video/data sources that you want to show on the projector such as DVD players, laptops, tablets and other smart devices.  Common signal source connections can include composite video, s-video, component video, HDBaseT, DisplayPort, and HDMI with HDCP.

An established practice today is transferring data from a source to a projector using a network.  Some sources, such as HD video, are best sent via a cable because the bandwidth on wireless connections isn’t usually fast enough for good video quality.  But laptop images may work well via wireless and offer more ease-of-setup for the instructor.

 

Are You Ready for Some Football–2014 Best TV’s for Sports


We love our sports. We spend thousands of dollars a year supporting our sundry sports passions, be it through ticket sales, jerseys, or regretful bar tabs. Even gambling debts might fall under the category of “sports tax,” depending on your point of view.

best-sports

But there’s no doubt that televisions are a vital purchase for any sports fan.

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that a “good-for-sports TV” is generally synonymous with a “good-for-_everything_ TV.” From a picture quality standpoint, the requirements for displaying the best possible football game is all but identical for the best possible Star Wars marathon.

However, some TVs do possess qualities beyond simple processing power that might make them better for sports than others. Let’s take a lap around the field.

Screen Size

The number one consideration for buying a TV, aside from price, is screen size. If you can’t see the puck whipping across the ice, what’s the point? You might as well be listening to the radio

Contrary to popular opinion, there is such a thing as “too big.” At some point you’ll be able to see the individual pixels and the illusion of a smooth, uniform picture will vanish.

There’s an actual formula to calculate the ideal size, but you certainly don’t need to break out a scientific calculator to shop for a TV. The rough estimate is simple:

formula2.jpg

That means you can measure the distance from your couch to the TV, then divide by 2.5. There you have it, your ideal screen size. So if you sit 7 feet (84 inches) from your TV, you want a TV with a diagonal screen size of about 2.8 feet, or 34 inches. It’s a very rough calculation, but at least it’s a place to start.

Plasma Vs. LCD and LED

Ah, the old debate. We’ve covered it many times in many forms, but here’s the difference in a nutshell: Plasma TVs tend to run a little larger in screen size (50 inches and up). They have a wider viewing angle, which makes them good for hosting a party for the Superbowl or NBA finals.

LCD TVs (and LED TVs by extension), on the other hand, have a wide range of screen sizes (26 inches up to 80+ inches), but the larger screen sizes will probably be more expensive than an equivalently-sized plasma. More importantly, LCD screens can get a lot brighter than plasma, which might make them easier to see in a sunny room.

There’s a heap of misinformation and half-truths about performance differences between plasmas and LCDs, much of it based on outdated information. Suffice it to say that both offer smooth motion and great contrast ratio.

3D TVs

There’s no doubt that 3D TVs are becoming more common, though their actual usage rates are probably not rising commensurately. The problem is that 3D broadcasting is just not up to speed yet. A 3D signal takes up a lot more bandwidth than a regular signal, so cable providers are probably slow to support it widely.

TVs are rapidly becoming more like tablets and smart phones, with lots of apps to satisfy lots of small customer bases. The worst apps try to make the TV something it’s not—like a gaming system or web browser. The best apps play to the strength of the TV as a passive entertainment device. After all, most people just want to lie back on the couch and watch something fun or exciting.

There are lots of apps for sports fans. To date, the best come from the leagues themselves, with MLB.tv as the hands-down winner. With all the complex licensing and broadcast rights, it’s impossible to get an app that offers everything you wantwhenever you want. Most apps, for instance, black out live games in your current location. In Boston, for example, you can’t watch Red Sox games live on MLB.tv.

For scores, stats, news, and clips, there are no shortage of third-party apps including Yahoo, ESPN, Hulu, and many more.

To watch the games themselves, you should always check if your local cable provider offers a sports package. Also, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, and other set-top boxes may have better packages than your smart TV’s app selection. NFL RedZone and NBA League Pass are currently unavailable as standalone TV apps. However, both are accessible through your computer and mobile devices. We can only hope that as smart TVs become more popular, the leagues will embrace the platform, but they’ve been slow to do so.

The specs that count for a sports TV

Brightness: Many broadcasts occur during daylight hours, so you’ll want a model that’s bright enough to produce a “in-your-face” picture in a room with high ambient light.

High refresh rate: You should also be looking at sets that can display content with fast-paced action without turning the picture into a blurry mess. Plasma models excel at making sports look crisp, while most LCD models with a 120 Hz and higher refresh rate have processing modes to help reduce motion blur.

Large screen size: Finally, you’ll want to watch on a screen that’s sufficiently large—we recommend 55 inches at minimum.

The Winner’s Circle

We’ve taken our own reviews and compiled a Best in Class for Value and Quality comparison which you can get here.  Are You Ready for Some Football!