The annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) conference is the world’s largest educational meeting specializing in interventional vascular medicine. TCTischanging the world of medicine for the better, but not “one doctor and one patient at a time,” as in the old days. TCT uses advanced A/V technologies that go hand-in-hand with breakthroughs in medical technologies. Symbiosis at its best. The TCT worldwide meeting could be summarized as a meaningful and inspiring series of programs that leap across time zones.
Over the course of the five-day convention, approximately 10,000 cardiovascular specialists attended from countries far and wide to watch on a huge 160-foot screen in the main theatre real-time operations being performed by TCT medical teams in 22 surgical hospitals around the globe. This was made possible by bi-directional,high-resolution video links,supported by multi-dimensional audio capabilities.Two “smaller” theatres with 80-footscreens served special interest groups, along with 20 breakout rooms.
Picture an immense stage platform below the 160-foot screen with a seated panel of medical experts whose task was to describe to the audience exactly what was taking place on the screen (the remote surgeon needed, of course, to concentrate on his/her work).
Audience members could ask questions, which then would be responded to by the surgical experts on the panel. At the appropriate time during the procedure, the remote medical team would have a chance to comment. While all this was taking place, the huge screen, segmented into views that included the remote operating room, the local panel members, and various other informative windows, carried the live feed of a catheter camera that was inside the living patient’s heart. Serious stuff.
While intercontinental real-time satellite communication made all this possible, that technology refers only to the delivery conduit.Without the superbly designed and implemented audio and video systems in the convention center, content could not be properly managed and nothing would have really worked.
To manage the large number of audio feeds and sends, system designer Steve Kuitheuseda leading-edge approach to controlling, routing, and optimizing audio signals. His company’s proprietary mixing consoles are based on the SAC engine (Software Audio Console) developed by Bob Lentini. SAC is a whole new way of working with audio and Kuithe’s SAC consoles do things that ordinary consoles can’t, including the provision of 25 virtual mixes, which greatly aids in how the many signal feeds are handled. Moreover, Steve told us, if the audio quality wasn’t superior to off-the shelf mixing consoles, he would not have put the time and money into developing a SAC system that can fully meet his needs for events such as TCT. Audio quality first, signal routing capabilities just a hair’s breadth behind.
Kuithe’s design of the loudspeaker system for the main theatre,and the two other large theatres that ran simultaneously with the main room, were a key element in making the convention a success. Using L’Acoustic Line arrays, strategically placed, intelligibility was 100 percent, which was exactly what was needed. The principal loudspeakers were JBL Vertec 4889 Line Arrays in the main theatre, and JBL Vertec 4888 Line Arrays in the two smaller (but still very large theatres). Additional JBL 4887 Line Arrays were used to augment the larger main systems. These were all flown from ceiling supports. JBL VT4880 Subwoofers were placed on the floor behind the large screen in the main theatre to provide bass augmentation for track playback.Though musical lead-ins and play-offs were present, this was not a rock concert. Intelligibility is what it’s all about.
In addition to the audio and video within the convention center, the 22 remote hospitals also needed access to the many programs taking place during the periods in which each hospital was not in the spotlight. That requirement raised the A/V complexity by at least an order of magnitude.
This gigantic yearly undertaking is organized and executed by PSAV Presentation Services, a company that’s provided overall A/V management for TCT for many years. PSAV supplies the huge video screens and projectors, the massive amount of drape, the complex rigging, the elaborate staging, and most of all, the expertise to bring it all together.
The result of the whole affair is a far faster path for the attending doctors to develop a mastery of the complex medical technology — and the result of that is the benefit to the patients who see this great value of distance learning. The next TCT conference is in Miami in October 2012.
Ken DeLoria is senior technical editor for Live Sound International and has had a diverse career in pro audio over more than 30 years, including being the founder and owner of Apogee Sound.