No More Dropouts: A Case for Fibre
Cleerline SSF fibre solves problems and creates new opportunities for a busy venue.
Located just to the south of Brisbane and north of the Gold Coast, Logan City is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the country. Serving a population of 350,000, the Logan Entertainment Centre (LEC) is a busy, multi-purpose venue where a typical week can include everything from a Wiggles concert to a Ballet recital, and from an Awards dinner to a touring rock band.
With most events choosing to use in-house PA, projection and lighting, rock solid infrastructure is key to keeping up with the daily operational demands and fast turnarounds needed.
A recent upgrade saw Cleerline SSF advanced optical glass fibres replace the crucial video and DMX data links between the control room and backstage racks. At a stroke, the new 100m-long fibre optic cable has eliminated the dropouts and reliability issues that plagued the previous long runs of coaxial SDI, as well as opening new possibilities for the technical crew.
PROBLEMS IN THE LONG RUN
“Problems kept occurring on the link between our bio box and the back of house corridor racks,” explained David Ritchie, head of audio for the LEC. “That line is extremely long for an SDI run. If we extended it any further than the wall points at side stage, it would start cutting in and out. So we needed a solution that stops dropouts and allows us to run a laptop from the stage via SDI all the way to our switcher and likewise run vision foldback or other SDI returns back to stage at the same time.”
Fibre optic transmission was clearly the best option for extended transmission distances so the LEC technical team set about finding the best solution. Having seen Cleerline SSF fibre optic cable demonstrated at tradeshows by Audio Visual Distributors (AVD), the team was impressed that the SSF Cable met all IEEE standards while having the flexibility to be terminated cost effectively in the field.
For the Centre’s application, AVD recommended Cleerline SSF 12-strand single mode Micro Distribution Cable as the perfect choice. The 12 available fibres meant that the existing requirements for SDI video tie lines could easily be accommodated with plenty of scope for expansion if extra video, data or audio connections were needed.
LEC also purchased spare connectors, fan-out kits, and an entry level Cleerline Fiber Termination Kit which contained everything they needed for safe and easy on-site fitting of connectors, for repairs, and future expansion of their fibre links. A technician from AVD came onsite to train the team on termination techniques.
“I have no background in fibre but I’ve terminated XLR and SDI,” noted David Ritchie. “So it’s a bit of a different thing, but it’s not super difficult. It is definitely something you can pick up as soon as someone explains how to do it.”
MORE WAYS TO ADD FIBRE
Adapting to and from SDI to fibre proved easy. Using an inexpensive Blackmagic Mini Converter at each end of the fibre trunk allowed the required “rock solid” two-way SDI link between stage and ops, eliminating the video issues immediately. But that’s not all.
When issues started to arise with the legacy DMX distribution and isolation system between the lighting console and the back of house dimmers, the team found another way to make use of their fibre investment. Using a simple 8-port switch at each end, they connected the Cat-5 ArtNet port on the console to the switch, then connected to the Cleerline fibre via the SFP port on the Switch. Connecting the other end of the fibre to another switch at back of house provided an isolated ArtNet signal right where it was needed.
“That’s the fibre doing its job, which is future proofing,” declares David. “The next issue we had, we could fix straight away with a spare fibre pair and we didn’t have to install any more cable. We’d definitely use fibre again.”
Logan Entertainment Centre: www.loganarts.com.au/venue/logan-entertainment-centre
Audio Visual Distributors: www.avdistributors.com.au