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Established in 1850, Bradfield College is one of the country’s leading co-educational independent schools, and welcomes over 800 pupils from the UK and overseas. In addition to academic excellence, its pupils enjoy a range of co-curricular activities including sport, drama, music and CCF among others, all an essential part of helping Bradfieldians to become well-rounded individuals.
In December 2021 the College joined forces with nearby St Andrew’s Preparatory School to form The Bradfield Group, a partnership that offers opportunities for sharing strategic thinking and developments in teaching and learning, for enhanced curriculum and professional development, for the improvement and better use of facilities, and for delivering cost efficiencies through economies of scale.
Bradfield is an established client of Autograph’s, having previously taken delivery of a complete suite of professional sound equipment to facilitate events, concerts, musical theatre productions, plays, lectures and presentations from their own resources. On this occasion, we were invited to advise the College on how they might extend the use of their Music Hall with the installation of a large screen that could be used for various activities. Although the venue is a central part of the Music Department, its capacity makes it ideal for many other uses including assemblies, parents’ evenings, presentations to prospective parents and even for hiring to external clients.
The design process began following a site visit during the first COVID lockdown after which we undertook extensive preliminary design work, subsequently being appointed the main AV contractor – this early work was later to prove invaluable to the main contractor who liaised closely with us throughout. The result is a striking 3.66m wide by 2m high multi-applicational LED screen that sits flush with the interior wall and when not in use is almost invisible.
Adam Broom was the Project Manager and he comments, “The College wanted a very large, high-resolution screen in the Music Hall that could handle numerous applications and help extend the usefulness of the space. Its look and performance also had to meet their core quality ethos and be suitable for a leading independent school.
“Because of the strong ambient light and the image quality required, we dismissed the concept of a projector and screen early on. We subsequently chose an Absen A2719 video wall, a modular design comprising 36 individual panels but which looks like a single screen. Even in strong ambient light the superior contrast ratio means it is always perfectly visible – we went through a lengthy process to determine the correct pixel pitch relative to the distance between the nearest and furthest viewers, and the resolution remains perfect regardless of where one stands in the room. It also looks much cleaner and tidier than a ceiling-mounted projector and demountable screen.”
The room is also equipped with a presenter lectern, fitted with a custom-configured touchscreen providing one-touch preset recall via the central control processor, a QSC Q-SYS Core 8 Flex which handles all the audio and video processing. The lectern also features an integrated microphone and video inputs so that various visual media sources can be easily connected.
A dedicated audio system was also installed to complement the new screen, featuring a pair of d&b audiotechnik 12S loudspeakers driven by a single d&b 10D DSP amplifier, in addition to a complete Shure SLXD digital wireless microphone setup.
Bradfield’s IT Project Manager was Paul Lock and he comments, “Working with Autograph on this exciting opportunity was a great privilege, Adam and the team were extremely easy to work with and provided us with significant expertise and experience in this area. The final solution was delivered exactly as was scoped and to the highest of standards.”
Adam concludes, “The project really highlights the value of getting us involved as the AV contractor at an early stage. This allows us to begin working closely with building contractors during the initial design phase which really streamlines the whole process and ultimately helps keep costs down too. Both we and the builders knew precisely what the end result needed to be, the designs were signed off and in hand well before works commenced and close cooperation throughout allowed us to jointly deliver exactly what the school wanted.”