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System Switching, Extron Style, for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

This is the view from the balcony of Courtroom 23,
part of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida.

In the 1990's the judicial system began looking for ways to expedite their workload and gradually turned to the world of high-tech AV equipment for a solution.

Courtroom activities require accurate depiction and reproduction of audio and video data; as a result, courthouses are selectively integrating AV systems into their courtrooms. Some benefits of this transition include the following: evidence quickly viewed by everyone via monitors; remote testimony enabled by videoconferencing; Internet and media feeds for broadcast; and computer-generated demonstrations.

Courtroom 23 was inspired by Courtroom 21, a joint collaboration between the College of William & Mary and the National Center for State Courts. Located at the College of William & Mary, Courtroom 21 is a well-known, continually evolving demonstration of AV technology integrated into a courtroom. Courtroom 23, part of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, is located on the 23rd floor of the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, FL. Applied Legal Technologies designed the AV system, while DOAR Communications and the AV engineers at the Ninth Judicial Court installed the AV system.

DOAR Communications' David Goldenberg, Vice President, Sales, remarked, "Courtroom 23 is perhaps the most significant state courtroom technology project to date. The courtroom provides state of the art technology in a completely integrated format, which works in a very sophisticated way in the architecturally beautiful room. DOAR is proud to be the primary provider of evidence display technologies, videoconferencing, transcript analysis, and information management for this landmark project."

Control and Signal Routing

Court participants control the AV system using a Crestron system with touchscreens. Six PC sources feed an Extron SW 6 VGA Audio switcher. The SW 6 VGA Audio switches computer video and audio inputs from two plaintiff computers, two defense computers, a podium computer, and the judge's computer. (See system diagram at bottom of this page.) The SW 6 VGA Audio's output, a document camera, a VCR, and a videoconferencing system feed an Extron System 4LDxi switcher with built-in line doubler.

Martin Gruen, President of Applied Legal Technologies and design consultant for Courtroom 23, elaborated, "We are using the SW 6 VGA Audio to increase the number of inputs for the system switcher. The SW 6 is an inexpensive and straightforward solution." The SW 6 VGA Audio is a six input, one output, active switcher that switches six computer video and audio sources on 15-pin HD and 3.5 mm captive screw connectors. It provides a choice of auto-switching and normal switching modes; auto-switching allows any input of the switcher to be selected automatically when the switcher detects a sync signal.

"We chose the System 4LDxi because it is a switcher with a line doubler. It's ideal for courthouses—simple to operate, effective, stable. Plus it works with composite, S-video, and RGB video sources," Gruen continued. The System 4LDxi is a four input, one output switcher with built-in line doubler and universal projector control. It provides switching of balanced and unbalanced stereo audio and offers audio breakaway. Audio breakaway enables the audio signal to be separated from the video signal to switch either the video only or the audio only.

The output from the System 4LDxi is sent to the video marker for annotation. The annotated output then goes to a one input, six output, VGA distribution amplifier for routing to various destinations. One output is scan converted down to NTSC video for distribution to a twisted pair (TP) AV transceiver and an automatic, line-level, A-B switcher. The UTP AV transceiver routes NTSC video over unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable to a video printer. (UTP cabling takes up less room in conduit and minimizes floor box size requirements for cable connections.) The A-B switcher connects to a distribution amplifier, which routes the NTSC video signal to a second TP AV transceiver for UTP routing, the Internet, and a media feed for press cameras. The second TP AV transceiver routes its signal to the System 4LDxi for routing of annotated images.

Other destinations of the VGA distribution amplifier—which distributes the System 4LDxi's annotated output—include a TP transmitter for routing to a witness monitor; a two input, two output VGA switcher; and a TP transmission chassis. The switcher sends signals to an RGBHV distribution amplifier for distribution to four gallery plasma monitors. The switcher's other output goes to the TP transmission chassis, which is tied to a second TP transmission chassis. The first chassis distributes AV over UTP cable for distribution to the clerk and judge plasma monitors, as well as two daisy-chained distribution amplifiers, which feed ten jury LCD monitors. The second chassis feeds four attorney plasma monitors.

Future Upgrades

The System 4LDxi will soon be upgraded to the System 7SC. Gruen commented, "The System 7SC has even more capabilities, primarily its scaling abilities." The System 7SC is a seven input, dual output, multi-format switcher with a built-in video scaler, and a universal projector and room control.

Ten LCD monitors are installed
in the jury box.
The System 7SC incorporates Extron's exclusive advanced film mode processing with 3:2 pulldown detection for NTSC and 2:2 film detection for PAL. This helps maximize image detail and sharpness for NTSC and PAL materials that originated from film. Also provided are Extron's exclusive Dynamic Motion Interpolation (DMI™) and Accu-RATE Frame Lock (AFL™) scaling technologies. DMI is an advanced motion prediction and compensation method used to deliver the best aspects of still and motion algorithms. This process results in a superior level of image enhancement capability with no loss of image fidelity. AFL eliminates common frame rate conversion difficulties experienced during scaled motion video.

Courtroom 23's current TP AV transceivers will be replaced by Extron's TP transceivers. "Right now the technical support for those transceivers is located overseas and isn't that accessible, so we hope to use Extron's TP transceivers instead-which also come with Extron's high level of support. We're looking to make that changeover in the upcoming months," remarked Gruen.

The evidence presentation system
is located on a podium.
Extron offers a versatile class of TP transmitters and receivers that enable long-distance transmission of RGB video, component video, S-video, composite video, and stereo audio using Category 5, 5e, or 6 UTP cable. Extron TP solutions are designed to be used the way AV system designers and installers build systems—offering the compact size, connectorization, remote control capability, and mounting configurations needed for architectural integration, plus the level and peaking control needed for high performance.

Feedback regarding Courtroom 23's AV system switching has been favorable. Gruen concluded, "The system works fine and is dependable. As technologies have evolved, we've changed out other components to expand the AV capabilities. But we're keeping Extron's system switcher because it's really flexible. And we're keeping an eye on other technologies to see what can be used a few years down the line to keep Courtroom 23 on the cutting edge in AV technology."

For more information about Courtroom 23's AV technologies, please visit http://www.ninja9.com/courtadmin/mis/courtroom_23.htm

System diagram for Courtroom 23.

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