Clarkston, MI-based High Resolution Engineering put the versatility of Vista Systems’ Spyder 344 and its new Vista Advanced control software to the test for a major corporation’s recent annual sales meeting in which an array of analog and digital sources fed the onstage big screen.

High Resolution Engineering teamed one of its three Spyders with an Isis 16x16 analog router and a Sierra 16x16 HD-SDI router for the three-day meeting at Nashville’s Opryland that approximately 1,500 people attended. Working with video supplier Video Go of Orlando, FL, the company deployed Spyder to drive a 15’x50’ screen where IMAG, graphic backgrounds, PowerPoint images, and preproduced video roll-ins were displayed for speaker support and information.

"Both routers went into Spyder’s four inputs so, using the hardware at hand, we were able to do a very dynamic show with just four physical inputs," says Greg Byrnes, who is partnered with Mike Taylor in High Resolution Engineering.

Spyder’s ability to handle a mix of analog and digital sources was key to a smooth and easy production. "Spyder is format independent. It accepts analog and digital sources in their native formats without requiring any type of conversion at all," Byrnes explains. "We ran high-resolution computers driving the screen backgrounds digitally, using Spyder’s DVI inputs so there were no inherent issues with having to use analog signals.

"Preproduced HD modules for the open and close–in 1920x1080 resolution formatted for the screen’s aspect ratio–were taken from the video playback machines in HD-SDI into Spyder," he continues. "And Spyder accepted the PowerPoint images, live camera, and other SD video signals too."

High Resolution Engineering also used a pre-release version of Vista Advanced control software, which it had been testing. "It’s a whole new way to control the hardware using a PC," Byrnes says. "With Vista Advanced we can program an entire show with a standard Windows XP PC."

Since all of the programming and hardware manipulation takes place within the Windows environment, Byrnes found Vista Advanced had numerous advantages. For instance, a significant amount of programming can be done before arriving on site.

"Now, armed with the storyboard and screen specs, you can set up your sources and program as much as possible in your office, at home, or on the plane," says Byrnes. "On site you load the program into Spyder and make little changes as needed. It’s a big time saver to be able to program a show when you’re not even connected to the hardware."

Vista Advanced control software "allowed me to present a show that made it look like there was more hardware behind the screen than there was," concludes Byrnes.