Case Study: ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, Australia

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Rountable seating at ASEAN-Australia Special Summit

Hurrairah bin Sohail talks to Congress Rental about the challenges faced when providing equipment for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to enable a conducive environment for world leaders to discuss international relations.

The first ASEAN-Australia Special Summit was held in Sydney, Australia from March 16 to 18, 2018. Leaders from ASEAN member countries and Australia gathered to discuss issues impacting the Asia-Pacific region which included topics such as free trade, cybersecurity and counter terrorism.

Congress Rental was chosen to provide the equipment for the summit. Jeremy Ducklin, managing director for Congress Rental, explains his involvement: “This was a rental solution for an event and the event was a special ASEAN- Australia Leader’s Summit in Sydney where the leaders, ministers and business people from the ASEAN countries came to Sydney for a series of events. Our role was to provide the conference microphones, interpretation equipment, integrated dome camera solutions as well as sound and vision distribution for multiple meetings across three venues.”

Meetings took place at the Sydney International Convention Centre (ICC) and the Admiralty House. The Sydney Intercontinental Hotel was reserved as a backup venue.

The Leader’s Plenary

The Leader’s Plenary was the main event at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. The Plenary was laid out in a circular shape, with an oval table in the middle hosting the attendees.

Ducklin explains: “This was the main room for the event. It was an oval table on a false floor with rigging and truss above the table to provide lighting, radiators for infrared simultaneous interpretation, dome cameras and also large LCD screens. The room had a false wall surround that the branding and logos were attached to. The booths and interpretation were in a room next door, along with all the supporting equipment and technicians. Vision distribution was done by ICC through its IPTV network and the audio language distribution was done by Congress Rental to five listening and viewing rooms.”

Each leader was given a Bosch Multimedia microphone which enabled them to listen to an interpretation feed based on their chosen language preference. The other leaders in attendance were stationed at tables in rings around the outside of the oval table, with Bosch Integrus receivers and headphones so they could receive the interpretation for their language of choice.

In a large room parallel to the main meeting, Congress Rental installed ten three-person Audipack interpreter booths. Each interpreter spoke into a Bosch idesk that was connected to a Bosch Integrus system for language distribution to the appropriate channels. Languages interpreted were English, Bahasa Indonesian, Lao, Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese.

Congress Rental had to toe a fine line when it came to audio and interpretation. Ducklin explains: “The ICC audio technician mixed the audio from the microphones provided by Congress Rental and provided this audio at a low level in the room. This was to ensure that the room had some fill and did not feel dead. The room needed to be at a low level since there was interpretation of all the languages and leaders and delegates in the room wore headphones.

“These languages were then distributed using the Bosch infrared transmitters and radiators back to the meeting room and to five listening and viewing rooms throughout the building. This same audio is then input to the microphone system using the Omneo interfaces, so that the audio is provided back to the leaders through their conference microphone. Doing this ensures that there is no feedback from the headphones of the leader back to their microphone.”

Interpreters were also given a video feed of the current speaker on LCD screens placed in front of the interpreter booths. The video feed was captured via Bosch dome cameras that Congress Rental hung from the ceiling above the plenary. Each time one of the leaders activated their microphone to speak, one of the four 360-degree Bosch dome cameras would move to automatically focus on the speaker.

Ducklin says: “The Bosch system allows us to integrate the dome camera switching with the microphones, so the dome camera automatically rotates to the pre-programmed position of the microphone. One Marshall CV502-MB provided the wide screen shot.”

He continues: “Kramer MV6 switcher and scaler was used to support the switching between the four cameras. The ICC vision technicians were also involved in processing the vision for use in the room and also for distributing it throughout the venue on their IPTV network. Output for the interpreters was on 22-in Samsung monitors which showed the head and shoulder shot and six 55-in Samsung LCDs to show the wide shot.”

Counter-terrorism conference

The Counter-terrorism conference was held a day before the Leader’s Plenary. The room where the conference was held had dome cameras built-in to the centrepiece.

The speaker’s tables were constructed in a u-shaped configuration, with a wired Bosch Dicentis microphone installed for every speaker. Two 360-degree Bosch dome cameras were built into the centrepiece to provide a visual display on the projector as they activated their microphones.

Ducklin says: “The Bosch Dicentis microphones were ideal in this application as they have the language facilities built into the microphone itself and delegates just select their language of choice using the touch screen. The interpreter booths were in a room next door and the dome cameras provided a head and shoulders shot for the interpreters. A small HDSDI output fixed camera provided the wide angle shot.”

Ducklin also talks about the importance of providing quality video for interpretation: “The Bosch dome cameras provided a HD video feed of each speaker so that the interpreters could read the speaker’s body language for accurate interpretation.”

Similar to the Leader’s Plenary, Congress Rental set up a room parallel to the conference for the simultaneous interpretation. Seven soundproof Audipack interpreter booths were installed, facing a projector screen that displayed the conference. Languages interpreted were English, Bahasa Indonesian, Lao, Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese.

Eight 23-in Samsung monitors were provided to the interpreters to observe proceedings. Blackmagic Design HD-SDI splitters and a Blackmagic Design HD-SDI to HDMI convertor were also employed.

CEO Forum

The CEO Forum was a component of the ASEAN-Australia Business Summit where prominent business leaders were invited to join ASEAN members and Australian politicians to help strengthen the trade and investment links between ASEAN and Australia.

Congress Rental assisted in both the roundtable and lunch component of the Business Summit, supplying a range of equipment for both events inside the ICC.

At the CEO Forum Roundtable, delegates sat around a large hollow square table and used the Bosch conference microphones supplied by Congress Rental for their discussion.

Congress Rental set up one sound-proof Audipack booth at the back of the room for two Indonesian interpreters. Each delegate was given a Bosch headset to listen to the English interpretation of the President of Indonesia’s speech. Each receiver was pre-programmed by the Congress Rental team to match each delegate’s language preference. Congress Rental also supplied interpreter audio feeds, and vision feeds via a Bosch HD dome camera to the media centre.

The Leader’s Retreat

The Leader’s Retreat was the final meeting for the Summit and it provided a chance for attendees to discuss further issues. The meeting took place at Admiralty House, a heritage building. Admiralty House is the current residence of the governor general which meant that Congress Rental was facing a time crunch to install the relevant equipment, being allotted just a single day for its work.

Three rooms were set up for the event; the meeting room for the leaders, the viewing room and the interpreter room. The meeting room housed 24 of the top leaders from ASEAN and Australia. Each leader had a Bosch Dicentis wireless microphone with a Bosch headset to listen to their language preference.

Wireless microphones were chosen to avoid taping cables, as no tape was allowed in the building for preservation reasons.

A total of seven interpreter booths were installed to support the interpretation for the event. Again, the interpreters were supplied with a visual of the meeting via a Bosch HD dome camera to ensure accurate interpretation. The interpretation feeds were transmitted the language feeds accordingly.

Ducklin talks about some unique challenges faced due to the selection of the Admiralty House as the venue: “Due to the historic nature of the building, there was no air conditioning at the venue. This would have made interpreting very difficult for the interpreters, as it was one of the hottest days in March. Fortunately, we installed new air conditioners into the booths to ensure the interpreters were comfortable and cool.”

Looking back at the project, Ducklin details what Congress Rental learned: “We had a container of equipment coming from Congress Rental Singapore. We had planned to send it just before Chinese New Year. But our shipper let us down in picking it up prior to Chinese New Year, so we missed the boat literally. We had a choice; put the equipment on a boat and risk being late and not getting the booths on time or go with air freight with its huge expense. We opted to air freight 4,500kg of booths and equipment because the risk was too high and failure is not an option. In retrospect, I would be more cautious of Chinese New Year and send the equipment for the Summit earlier.”