Issue 26
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Sony Signs on at the Opera House

‘The House’ gets a revamp in Front Of House.


16 October 2009

Text:/ Andy Ciddor

In April of this year, Sony Australia signed a multi-year deal with Sydney Opera House to become a Major Partner and the exclusive entertainment technology partner. As part of that collaboration, Sony has become a participant in the Accessibility and Western Foyers Project, the largest building project undertaken since the building’s original architect, the late Jørn Utzon was re-engaged as Sydney Opera House architect in 1999. 

With that project now reaching completion, less-mobile visitors, people with a disability and families with prams can finally travel undercover to the western foyer and to all levels via a new lift that connects the lower and ground levels to the main box office level. 

Visitors can enter the lift via an underground corridor near the Opera House Shop on the lower level and also at a corridor on the ground level at the top of the escalators. New escalators connect the upper level to the Opera Theatre and Concert Hall southern foyers.

The Western Foyer, a new Utzon-designed space which unifies the foyers of the Playhouse, The Studio and Drama Theatre is now open for public use. Additional amenities provided in this space include new ticketing, toilet and cloaking facilities, food and beverage outlets, a complimentary taxi phone service and more public seating.

Sony’s contribution to this project includes the supply and installation of 29 of its public display screens for a range of digital signage applications. The complement includes 15 of its 42-inch FWDS42H1 LCD panels in the Western Foyer, three 50-inch FWD50PX3 panels in the box office area in the southern foyer, eight of its 52-inch GXDL52H1 LCD panels to line the audience entrance tunnel plus two of its new 65-inch GXDL65H1 LCD panels in the entrance way to the corridor. The IP54-rated 65-inch GXDL65H1 units have a sturdy aluminium frame with protective tempered glass and employ a sealed internal heat exchange system to keep the electronics cool without any air exchange with the outside environment. This makes these displays ideal for their semi-external location by a busy dusty roadway. 


Sony’s partnership with the Sydney Opera House extends much further than supplying displays for this building project


However, Sony’s partnership with the Sydney Opera House extends much further than supplying displays for this building project, as they have also supplied a digital signage system to cover every public display in The House. Developed in the UK at Sony’s Basingstoke R&D centre, Ziris is a highly scalable signage creation, scheduling, management and replay system. Already in use in sites throughout Europe, its largest current rollout is a 4000-screen system for La Poste, the French post office. Operating as a web-based service, Ziris allows users to create and deliver content then monitor and manage the digital signage network via a web browser.

The Ziris Create package is used to build pages up to 10 layers deep from text, HTML, still images, Flash, slide shows, video files or live streams, then schedule their replay on a screen-by-screen basis. Ziris View acts as a centralised playout system, directly delivering the contents to each screen across a TCP/IP network. Meanwhile, the Ziris Manage tool provides automatic and remote status monitoring of every display device, together with remote control for non play-out operations, including switching display devices on and off, changing volume levels, and switching their video inputs.

The Ziris system was installed and configured by Sony specialists who worked with Opera House staff to set up standard content templates. It has now been running for several months and after training of the IT, technical, promotions and graphic design staff, has been handed over for full in-House operation.

“Since installing the Ziris system and the Professional Displays by Sony, we have gained the potential to engage and entertain our audiences with the best technology available,” said Sydney Opera House Technical Manager, David Claringbold, “It is this cohesive content management system that makes it easier to manage one of the world’s premier entertainment venues.”


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Issue 26