Challenging integration of DigitalMedia system into traditional French home

Challenging integration of DigitalMedia system into traditional French home

Crestron DigitalMedia

An impressive high-definition AV distribution system in a country villa on the French Riviera has won a top award for AV Synergy in the Crestron Integration Awards 2011. The home automation specialist won the Most Distinctive Digital Media Installation category for their technically-challenging design which allows the owners to take full advantage of their home entertainment equipment; with minimal impact on the rural feel of this beautiful property.

This Provençal-style stone house is located near the world-famous resort of Cannes. The owner had considerable experience of home automation systems and therefore had high expectations for the brief: to provide an integrated digital media system allowing a wide range of audio and video sources to be available throughout the house and controlled through a single interface.

AV Synergy specified a Crestron DigitalMedia™ control system to provide the brains behind the integrated solution.  This allows all digital content to be distributed in high-definition and with flawless reliability, from a centralised rack, to every room.   

One of the initial challenges of the installation was the poor location of the existing indoor AV rack which was badly affected by noise, heat, dust and poor access. As the villa was undergoing a major renovation, during the early stages of the project, the installer took advantage of the building work to move the whole AV and network racking into a purpose-built, sealed, air-conditioned room on the outside of the property. 

The installation of the new racks involved replacing the old equipment, re-routing old cables and re-cabling the property with full Crestron digital media cable.  This was a complex procedure as the client wanted the existing ducting to be used.  Furthermore, as the cable runs were very long, repeaters had to be fitted which then had to be housed in concealed locations.  Throughout the upgrade process, the project was made more difficult by the fact that the system had to be kept running at a basic level, with network and telephone connectivity kept fully operational.  The rack has also been designed with 30% free space to allow for future additional equipment.

The client’s extensive list of over 25 AV sources includes: four Sky HD boxes, two Hotbird satellite boxes, six Kaleidescape movie players with Blu-ray capability, three audio servers, two Crestron FM tuners, a CTTV DVR and a piano.  A Crestron DM 32x32 RPS switcher distributes the sources throughout the house to 11 pre-defined zones and 2 sub-zones. A rack laptop, controlled using a wireless keyboard, is also accessible in several zones.  Another innovative feature of the system is the installation of HDMI games/camera sockets in the two main entertainment zones in the villa, which allow for the re-distribution of HD video to other zones.

To provide simple, uniform control of local media sources, AV Synergy has sited a dedicated Crestron wireless touch screen in each of the 11 zones.  The stylish TPMC8X has an 8.4” screen, featuring 24-bit colour graphics, and an embedded PC engine; providing full computer functionality.  In addition, AV Synergy has created three master panels which have the ability to control any zone within the property, plus the option to allow or deny the use of specific sources in certain zones.

This project threw up numerous technical and logistical challenges throughout its course not least the issue of language when dealing with local tradesmen.  In spite of this, AV Synergy successfully fulfilled the client’s brief and introduced 21st century technology to a very traditional property whilst maintaining the integrity of the décor.