University of Mainz acquires new interpreting equipment

20. February 2020
universität-germersheim-dolmetscherkabine ©SALZBRENNER media

Mainz / Germersheim, February 2020: People wishing to pursue a career as an interpreter need to be well trained for their future professional challenges. The Fachbereich Translations-, Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft (FTSK) – department of translation research, linguistics and cultural studies – of the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, located in Germersheim, is one of the world’s largest and best known training centres for interpreting and translation. The conference rooms, now equipped with cutting-edge audio, video and media technology from SALZBRENNER media, offer the approximately 1.200 students (especially those studying for a master’s degree in conference interpreting) ideal conditions for their studies and a perfect environment for practicing their skills in various conference situations.

Installation during semester break

The 30-year-old installation was to be brought up to the latest state-of-the-art. However, the real challenge was the tight time-schedule as the semester break was the only time available for major renovations. Since no planning office was involved it was the sole responsibility of Franconian full-service provider SALZBRENNER media to manage the whole project from A to Z on schedule. Constant communication between the FTSK and SALZBRENNER project teams ensured dynamic development of appropriate solutions for the unique requirements. There was a strong focus on expandability, so that in the future further rooms could be connected to the main conference room.

Interpreting system with 3 conference scenarios

There are five independent interpreting rooms. Two of these five rooms, with a total of 24 interpreter’s booths with two communications stations each, were renewed. Teaching units and examinations are held here as well as weekly conferences. For this purpose, both rooms are equipped with additional communication stations making it possible to use the rooms stand-alone for teaching situations as well as interconnected for conferences and discussions. In the first case the system is operated entirely by the lecturers via a media control system. But it is also possible to access all audio parameters from the control room via a full-fledged mixing console with a workstation for each room. Both rooms can be controlled from here from individual work spaces. In conference mode the rooms are interconnected and the conference can be controlled fully from both mixing positions. Recording and subsequent analysis of interpretation from the individual booths is an integral part of the interpreter training which is facilitated by various recording systems (multitrack, stereo and streaming). In teaching mode, lecturers can listen in to the individual booths during interpretation or play the signals out via the installed loudspeaker system if desired. All booths are constantly recorded for analysis in plenary session at a later time.

POLARIS evolution, a user-friendly solution

It was important for the lecturers that operation of the media technology is as accessible and intuitive as possible, even for technically unskilled people, and that the total of 98 channels can be accessed without the assistance of technical personnel. The lecturers also have the option of selecting from various playback sources and adjusting the playback levels, booth recordings, microphones and “live-booth-signals.” Video recordings for analysing students´ body language, as well as the booth signals (original and interpreted), need to be transmitted to the auditorium as an essential teaching aid. For Friday conferences a streaming function is required at the touch of a button as well as AV-signal transmission from the two large conference rooms to and from each other in order to simulate virtual conferences. And last but not least in examination situations any interpretation desk must be selectable while the rest are muted, in order to evaluate each individual student in isolation.

At the heart of the Dante audio network is a SALZBRENNER media POLARIS evolution mixing console system (128 inputs, 128 outputs, 64 buses). POLARIS evolution features multi work space functionality making it possible to control both rooms independently from a single mixing console system. Corresponding channels and mixes are assigned to the work spaces via individual assignments of the respective mixer control surface. POLARIS evolution´s unique automation features provide separate automation groups for each work space which recall the necessary settings for the current scenario for each room (training, examinations in simultaneous interpreting, examinations in consecutive interpreting, conferences). This is achieved via the media control system from the lecturer´s control panel. Presets can be recalled separately for each room. With POLARIS evolution the media control system has access to any desired parameter of the system. Faders, Mutes, VCA-groups, M/S groups, Mixes and Cues are controlled via the media control system in order to facilitate user friendly operation from the lecturers´ tablet controls. Routing changes in the Dante-network are necessitated when rooms are interconnected in conference, which are also undertaken by POLARIS evolution via attached routing presets. The same applies to Dante routings which do not connect directly to or from the mixing consoles. Loading Dante presets in Dante Controller is eliminated completely, all routings are handled by the mixing console system.

The customer is very happy with the current solution: “We were aware of the complexity of our requirements right from the start “, says Dr. Lena Skalweit, FTSK Germersheim project manager. Competent advice, a flexible concept and trouble-free installation and service were crucial for the excellent realisation of the project. “SALZBRENNER met the ambitious time schedule and since the start of the semester we have a modern, flexible high-quality system at our disposal which meets our technical requirements entirely “, Dr. Skalweit continues. Lecturers, students and technical staff are completely satisfied.

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