Law Practice Perfects Video Art

Dec. 22, 2009

Command Information Center gives attorneys enormous reach during depositions

Lawyers who play for high stakes also have a penchant for raising them. So it is with Las Colinas, TX-based Nix, Patterson & Roach (NPR), perhaps the most technologically advanced practice known to law.

NPR’s office spaces, located in an 18-story high rise, assert the firm’s technological prowess and ambitions, as evinced by a translucent globe perched upon a pedestal in its circular lobby. Capable of displaying satellite imagery, the 4-foot-diameter globe is prelude to a lobby “apparition” known as the Megasphere, which creates the illusion of a 240-foot-diameter orb.

It’s a fitting approach for a practice that has come to specialize in intellectual property and advanced technology. “In contrast to leather and mahogany, the client wanted its office to scream, ‘We get it! This is a company that gets technology!’ ” says Craig Taylor, account executive with Dallas-based systems integrator The Whitlock Group.

This feast for the eyes includes spaces awash in colored LED displays, a sweeping stone reception desk, and steel doors embossed with rippled patterns derived from algorithms.

Project architect Leo A Daly in Dallas worked in close collaboration with an army of lighting, telecom, and AV consultants. In particular, Daly worked hand in hand with Whitlock to integrate architectural and AV solutions into a seemingly effortless whole.

“The globe was a challenge because the eye immediately seizes upon it,” recalls Taylor, who says architect and integrator concealed a three-chip, 12,000-lumen projector in the globe’s pedestal. The projector directs Internet-generated imagery upward, where a mirror catches it and directs it to a fish-eye lens. From there, imagery is projected directly onto the globe.

The globe consists of acrylic, the same material as a rear-projection screen, and was fabricated as a pair of hemispheres. The pedestal is constructed of laminated plywood and fitted with fans and apertures to avoid overheating. An acoustical lining absorbs equipment noise.

The grander Megasphere called for an even greater sleight of hand. The sphere derives from a simple, ceiling-mounted front projector that casts imagery on a 10- by 10-foot screen located within a multi-sided, mirrored enclosure. Mirrors cant inward, resolving as a surface several times the size of the original image, an effect Taylor likens to a “hall of mirrors.”

LED arrays located overhead fill lobby spaces with seemingly infinite combinations of color. The linear pixels are perched above a frosted plexiglass fixture ringing the lobby. In addition to concealing the LEDs, the fixture diffuses their light, which is regulated by software on the receptionist’s PC.

Such smoke and mirrors are absent from NPR’s Command Information Center, home to what the firm’s attorneys call “The System.” This assemblage of systems – including video, audio streaming, instant messaging, video teleconferencing, and high-definition video displays – assists attorneys with peerless depositions.

Imagine this: An NPR attorney enters a New York conference room filled with opposing counsel. He opens his laptop, connects to a video camera, signs on to the Internet, and, suddenly, a host of attorneys in Las Colinas are not only plugged in, but also assisting in the ensuing deposition. On as many as eight screens, they can watch depositions occurring simultaneously in other locations, then instant message (IM) information to the New York attorney. In turn, the deposing attorney can IM his colleagues and request additional information.

Real-time transcripting allows attorneys to monitor every word spoken by the deposing attorney and witness, ensuring that questions and answers are correctly recorded. A real-time video feed allows them to evaluate the potential effectiveness of the witness in a courtroom.

The system required the construction of a video display wall comprised of eight 70-inch-high, high-definition projection displays. In addition to

IMs, audio/video, and transcripting, each of the streaming video windows can display case-specific database information.

John Gregerson is a contributing editor living in Chicago.

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