VICOM, Goeppingen, Germany
Seat Systems

© 2016 VICOM, Goeppingen, Germany


242 Old New Brunswick Road
Piscataway, NJ 07754, USA


VICOM SurtitleSeat - a revolutionary libretto system

More than 20 years ago VICOM started to develop and build Surtitle Systems for theatres and opera houses. The text displays – integrated into the seat backs – allow highest comfort. Visitors can choose their own language.

The Concept

VICOM breaks new ground with its new technical concept. Projects can be realised that were impossible up to now.

Speed and directness
Before the performance the complete text and graphics will be uploaded to the displays. Each display has the appropriate memory space. The SurtitlePro program sends short release sequences when the user is forwarding the text. The previous form of transmission of many languages – with partly very large files – takes a long time and is presented time-delayed and thus not synchronised.

Panic function
In case of problems the operator can fade out the projected text in the chair displays anytime, synchronise anew and then fade in the text again. The audience itself will never realise that there was a problem.

Individual text
Every single seat can receive individual text. VIPs from political, cultural or economic areas can thus be greeted personally while sitting in their seat. Additional applications are display allocations, sponsoring or seat sponsorships.

Individual graphics
Company logos on the displays can be shown. A selection program allows it for single seats, a loge or a group of seats in regard to sponsoring or special events.

Direct modus
For special applications the memory recall modus can be turned off (see description above). “Live” information can be transmitted to the displays.


When installing such a system, the components should really be integrated into the theatre and not only installed on the surface. This is possible even in land marked buildings.

In the pictures the displays were integrated into the theatre balustrades, where they do not attract attention. The complete optic matches the historic details of the interior of the theatre. The society for the protection of historic monuments had no objections whatsoever throughout the planning and completion of the installation.

Critical seat positions will be revised individually by viewing angle evaluations.

The Displays

The displays are built into the seat backs on rail mount systems. Thus the position can be adjusted individually for an ideal angle of view.

In certain areas of the theatre, like the periphery or some seats in the middle, two displays have to be built into one seat back, because in the seat row behind two visitors have to read from the same seat in front of them.

CAD engineering simplify communication with the customer very much.

Display integration in a bended brass plate

For a classical chair model a completely different design solution was chosen here. In a bended brass plate the display is built in. For ergonomic reasons the display is adjustable either by hand or by motor.

Sophisticated sensor technologie

Capacitive sensor technique allows for easy selection at the display. Mechanical buttons or switches are not necessary. Should the Surtitle System not be activated, e.g. during a concert, the visitor will not be disturbed by elements in the seat back in front.

Software features

Panic button
In case of a-synchronisms between performance and the surtitles, the text can be faded out with the Panic Button. After re-synchronising, the operator fades in the text again.

25 Languages
Surtitling can be conducted in up to 25 different languages at the same time.

Despite the numerous features, the software and the complete technique are easy to handle.

The text can be entered in MS Word, TextEdit or other programs and will be checked regarding orthography. RTF and TXT formats can be imported directly.

Welcoming text for individuals or groups can be shown on the displays as well as graphics, such as company logos for sponsoring.

Long life
The built-in components were chosen for their long-life qualities. This refers especially to the displays. The colour intensity and illumi-nation stability will not diminish for many years.

On the displays the text can either be faded hard or soft. This can be defined for the complete performance as well as for single dialogues.

Hardware features

No visitor - no text
In case a seat will remain unoccupied during a performance, the VICOM seat system will recognize this and automatically turns off the text display.

As soon as the seat is occupied, the visitor can turn on the text display without any problems.eingeschaltet werden.

Automatic self control program
When installing a seat system, a large number of displays will be used. A special hardware and software development by VICOM enables an automatic self-control. Every single display will be accessed, checked and recorded. At the end the user will receive a control sheet.

Hardware spare set
Into the system a hardware spare set of all player components, which might have to be exchanged, is installed. This is especially relevant for the computer and the electronic power supply unit. In case of malfunctioning, the system can be switched to the hardware spare set and the presentation can continue right away.


The wiring of the seats is a very special task.

First of all the CFC-free (chlorofluorocarbon) cables will be located securely and invisible within the seats. A very important aspect in wiring is the security aspect. Cables cannot be reached by visitors, therefore vandalism will be impossible.

At the same time, however, it is possible to remove the seats for certain events. Thus it is important that the plug-and-sockets connections can be dismantled quickly.back in front.

Installation of cables. Below the stage floor, according to fire protection directives, the cables run in Promat ducts.

Separate chairs and groups of chairs, e.g. in loges, are connected to XLR floor sockets. Thus the chairs can be removed quickly.


Important for a short installation time is the professional preparation of the hardware at the VICOM production facility. All control components will be installed in a 19” rack. Substitution components can be built in beforehand on customer’s wishes. In case of need it is easy to switch to the substitution components.

Ground installation

VICOM also offers special designs and constructions regarding floor tanks; therefore it is no problem to fulfil special customer specifications regarding installation depth, connector panels and design in view of wiring.

Software preparation

The menu is clearly and logically arranged. The user can learn the basics very fast.

  1. Program options like fading times and control instruments.
  2. Documentation of the last up-loads onto the displays.Edit window for live text editing of all languages.
  3. Window can be closed if not needed.
  4. Cue list. All parameters are included for the presentation. The individual cues just need to be executed.


Single seats, loges, seat rows or the complete opera house can be booked individually for sponsoring.

Separated from the “normal” surtitle program the marketing department of the opera house can promote sponsoring. Sponsoring normally is offered for the complete playing season, but of course can also be booked for a shorter or longer period. It is also possible for companies or institutions to book the complete opera house, including surtitle system for an event or presentation.

While visitors take their seats, the infinite loop – shown on the left hand side – can be shown on the displays. Free choice of interval.

In this partial program the operator can address easily indiviual seats, rows, loges, etc. That is the base to send individual text or graphics messages.


For VICOM it is paramount that handling of the surtitle systems is simple and easy.

An operator panel has been developed, which covers all needs of the operator. The design is especially space saving.

Compact assembly enables flexible usage anywhere.

"Next cue" button

Simple but very effective: A pushbutton for “next cue”. It is more convenient than dealing with a keyboard or a mouse.