Roland AV Switcher Is Perfect Fit For Wisconsin Arts Center

Brian Anderson

MADISON, WIS.—Overture Center for the Arts is a historical landmark in the heart of a thriving cultural arts district in Madison. It offers a variety of spaces for concerts, theatrical performances, corporate meetings, weddings, banquets and receptions.

It’s home to 10 resident organizations that present more than 200 performances, art exhibitions and educational and community events each year. There are seven performance venues, ranging from a 2,250 seat theater to a 1,000 seat theater, a 350- seat thrust stage theater and a number of smaller rooms set up for rehearsals, recitals, meetings and banquets.

Due to the diversity of video requirements associated with the events hosted each year, we needed a production switcher with both audio and video flexibility. We own two Roland V-40HD video switchers and are thrilled with their capabilities, but we sought something with more audio functionality to handle the corporate productions we do every month.

We found this in Roland’s VR-50HD product, which includes a digital audio mixer, video mixer, preview monitor, USB output for streaming or recording. These features, plus the multiformat flexibility, makes it the perfect system for our application.

Our first use of the VR- 50HD was in connection with a corporate event that required the mixing of a couple of computer Power- Point inputs with embedded audio and video and two lavaliere microphones. The mixed video output was sent to LCD screens and an HD projector and the audio was fed to the house PA system. It was very nice to use only a single switching/mixing device to produce this event. The Roland’s built-in preview monitors eliminated the need for a lot of extraneous gear; however, the flexibility to use external video monitors in some applications is a real plus.

The audio capabilities are equally good, giving us the ability to mix external microphones, line-level music sources and audio from HDMI or SDI sources. The switcher’s audio-follow-video function is especially useful for video being played from a DVD player or media server and having the ability to add delay to the audio channels lets us match things up for perfect lip sync.

When we do production in the theaters, we run video to the projectors via SDI as this allows us to provide the highest 1080p picture quality, along with the ability to haul video long distances to the projectors. (In our smaller venues we use the VR-50HD’s HDMI output and convert it so we can use CAT-5e cable to reach the projectors.

We love using the VR-50HD for some National Geographic Live events that we’re producing, as it has multiple video output settings from 480p up to 1080p, with scaling on each input and output channel that allows us to correctly format both PowerPoint presentations and the various video formats.

As the VR-50HD has multiple output ports, we also send a second HDMI output to a CAT-5e converter as a backup signal for the projector, something that’s especially important for mission-critical events. We’ve found that the VR-50HD provides the flexibility, mobility and the power needed to produce most any event here at the Overture Center for the Arts.

Brian Anderson is the technical associate responsible for audio and video production for the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wis. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Roland Systems Group at 800-380-2580 or