Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium in Auckland, New Zealand is modernising the traditional funeral service. Instead of funeral directors being responsible for manually configuring and managing all of the service’s AV components, as was the case in the past, Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium general manager Clifton Thomson asked local distributor Amber Technology and technology integration firm PowerComs to design a network-driven AV system that would enable seamless remote control of all AV on the 45 acre property.
“I knew instantly that using HDMI would be crucial for this project, and that Gefen offered the most trusted connectivity and signal processing solutions. With multiple screens in various locations on the property, the management and distribution of content is a key consideration. It’s really important that the Purewa Cemetery staff is able to direct a service without the stress and complications of faulty technology,” says Amber Technology’s Murray Wilkinson.
In the past, in order to stream content like photo slideshows during services, funeral directors had to wheel out a large-screen television hooked up to a laptop. During the service, the family of the deceased was asked to operate the slideshow manually.
“There have been a few instances where I had to troubleshoot or fix the technology while the service was underway. It had become very clear that we needed a modern and remotely managed system to avoid these issues,” says Clifton.
To enable remote control, the PowerComs team suggested that the cemetery’s staff operate all AV from a central location within the facility. They integrated a Gefen 4K Ultra HD Extender over One Fibre so that the staff could control the two chapels’ Amber Technology motorised screens, Optoma projectors and high-definition cameras from the same interface. The room now serves as a ‘one stop shop’ for managing AV and appropriately distributing content.
“With this addition, we are able to control the service with a simple button press. We don’t have to run out in the middle of the service to help manually facilitate a slideshow or montage. All we have to do is get the content beforehand, test it, and press a button on our touch screen interface,” says Clifton.
The PowerComs team also installed Gefen EDID detectives to guarantee that compatible audio and video signals are sent to the displays. They used Gefen multi-format processors to handle video scaling and switching, a crucial step between the incoming and outgoing signals. This enables streaming HD-quality content to the projectors and screens within the facility and sends a live stream to the OneRoom online content manager.
“We can now plug and play with virtually no issues. During testing, our celebrants were truly blown away by the quality and clarity of the content. It really does add a personalised element that enhances the experience for everyone involved,” says Clifton.
Clifton and his staff often found that one chapel could not fit all of the guests who came to pay tribute to their loved ones. To accommodate larger-than-average crowds, he needed to guarantee a way in which all guests could experience the service, regardless of size constraints. According to Murray, on-site content distribution was the ideal solution to Clifton’s problems. In addition to the management and control system, the PowerComs team installed a network of Gefen extenders to expand the content to other chapels if needed.
“With ten Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-TXs and four Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-RXs, we were able to create a system that could distribute content with resolutions up to 1080p Full HD. Now, with this new system, we can broadcast the system live to screens in other chapels so everyone can experience it,” says Murray.
To further modernise the experience, Purewa Cemetery added a personalised component for its guests. With two Gefen EXT-HDPVR’s, they are able to capture and record every service by using “OneRoom” live streaming services which broadcasts it in real time online for anyone who could not be there in person. Using the Gefen interface, the cemetery’s staff can change between different camera perspectives to enhance the production.
“Before the service, guests can send an evite to an unlimited number of people that may want to tune into the OneRoom service. Or later on, anyone with evite access can obtain a download link to the recording that is provided in HD quality service,” says Murray.
According to Clifton, the system simplifies the entire experience for staff, while also adding a more intimate touch for celebrants.
“This system is now so efficient that it leaves little room for mistakes,” he said. “We can watch what the funeral directors are doing and what the celebrants are doing. That allows us to ensure that every single service runs smoothly. If we can see better, hear better and monitor better, the service will go better.”
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