Auckland’s Elite Entertainment Destination Uses Extron Fiber Optic & Seamless Switchers

SKYCITY is an entertainment complex in Auckland, New Zealand, which includes a world-famous casino built into the base of the iconic Sky Tower. The SKYCITY Casino is an entertainment mecca that features a wide variety of gaming areas, restaurants, lounges, and sports bars. When the location outgrew its original AV system, they turned to local AV experts Videopro NZ. To replace the existing enterprise-wide system that provided MATV over coaxial cable, the integrator recommended a fiber optic infrastructure using Extron’s FOX Series AV signal switching and distribution products. “Of all of the solutions available, only Extron's FOX Matrix system has the functionality, durability, and scalability required for such a high-profile 24/7 operation,” says Matt Smith, Business Development Manager at Videopro NZ.

Of all of the solutions available, only Extron's FOX Matrix system has the functionality, durability, and scalability required for such a high-profile 24/7 operation.

Matt Smith Business Development Manager at Videopro NZ

Upgrading to a FOX Fiber Optic Design

The two-story 5,000 square meter (53,820 square feet) SKYCITY Casino features 110 gaming tables and more than 1,600 machine games. A third floor includes office space and the complex's networking equipment. The integrator knew that the incredibly high levels of electromagnetic interference coming from the gaming machines and other equipment could disrupt AV signals. Fiber, being inherently secure and immune to outside interference, was the best solution in this challenging environment.

The fiber optic infrastructure connects the equipment in the centralized control and equipment rooms to displays located throughout the facility. Rack-mounted sources such as Sky TV decoders with HDMI output and various other digital AV sources provide a portion of the content, and computers offer supplemental video and other data on demand.

The casino's 103 display devices include high definition projectors from Panasonic and Mitsubishi and a vast array of Panasonic plasma and Sony LCD flat panel displays that range from 42" to 85" in size. Most source signals are routed on a set schedule by location. However, control room operators responsible for monitoring all transmissions also manage live event feeds and individual requests from the restaurants, lounges, and bars for unique content or a specific television channel.

High Performance AV Switching and Distribution

The first fiber optic AV signal switching and distribution system in the casino used the Extron FOX Matrix 7200 modular matrix switcher populated with 8x8 multimode fiber optic I/O boards. Within a year, SKYCITY’s exponential growth rate necessitated installing Extron’s 144x144 matrix switcher for the casino and repurposing the 72x72 model to support the marketing channels. FOX I/O 1616 MM 16x16 boards populate the larger switcher. According to Smith, the proven track record of the first matrix switcher made the FOX Matrix 14400 the obvious choice.

To enable AV signal delivery from the FOX Matrix, the design includes Extron FOXBOX HDMI fiber optic extenders. Smith noted that integration of HDMI-equipped devices was straightforward and easy because of the Extron technologies built into the FOX Series. These include EDID Minder® that provides automatic management of EDID and Key Minder®, which ensure quick and reliable switching of encrypted content.

Scaling and Seamless Switching

SKYCITY also uses two seamless switcher models from Extron: the ISS 506 and the DVS 605 A, an HDCP-compliant scaling switcher. Content in the casino includes an in-house digital marketing channel and a series of daily promotional drawings called Power Winners. A visitor playing a gaming machine is randomly selected to receive an instant prize, and the winning moment is displayed throughout the casino. Integration of the ISS 506 ensures seamless transitions between recorded content and these exciting live events.

The DVS 605 A switchers perform a variety of operations at SKYCITY. For example, one is installed in the SKYCITY Grand Hotel function room to support a high definition projector. The switcher provides video scaling and seamless switching among sources that include satellite TV feeds, a Blu‑ray Disc player, and a computer. Another DVS 605 A is mounted on a cart for use at events held in different venues within the facility. These include AV presentation during quiz nights, charity poker nights, and promotional activities held for any of the three professional sports teams sponsored by SKYCITY.

Ready for the Future

Videopro NZ had the new fiber optic AV switching and distribution system up and running in time for events related to the 2011 Rugby World Cup held in Auckland. The scaling switchers were added shortly after to augment presentation in exclusive spaces. Since its launch, the application based on the FOX Matrix Switchers has continuously driven all AV signals at this world-class entertainment destination. The flexibility of the fiber optic design allows system expansion when a new venue opens, which can happen as frequently as once a month. As an added benefit, Extron's fiber optic products already support ultra-high definition, or UHD, and 4K resolutions, and can remain in place when source and display devices are refreshed. Matt Smith of Videopro NZ says, “The Extron fiber solution at SKYCITY works beautifully, reliably, and simply, and we know that it’s just going to keep on working.”

The FOX Matrix 14400 provides highly reliable, enterprise-wide switching and distribution of fiber optic AV and control signals in this mission-critical environment.

Extron FOXBOX HDMI and DVI Plus receivers are mounted discreetly behind the panels and above the projectors, delivering content throughout the facility.

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