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Archive by David Steinberg

Electrosonic Upgrades Audio and Video Systems in Texas Spirit Theater Prior to Debut of “Shipwrecked” Film This Fall

The Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin recently contracted Electrosonic for a complete audio and video systems upgrade and reprogramming of its 190-seat 4D Texas Spirit Theater. The upgrade prepares the theater for the November premiere of the short film “Shipwrecked,” which will support a new exhibition on the excavation of the barque La Belle, which sank off the Texas coast in 1686.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum, which opened in 2001, invites visitors to interpret for themselves the story of Texas history. The multimedia Texas Spirit Theater is auditorium style with a standard proscenium stage plus two flanking openings. Three flat projection screens provide an immersive experience for audiences when a single image fills all the screens; the side screens can also display different images to support the narrative. A complement of 4D effects enhances productions with atmospherics and movement.

The theater currently hosts two shows in rotation. “Star of Destiny,” produced by BRC Imagination Arts, looks at the epic history of Texas through stories of perseverance: the devastating Galveston hurricane of 1900, East Texas oil gushers, and the takeoff of a Saturn V rocket seen from the Johnson Space Center. “Wild Texas Weather” enables audiences to feel the wrath of Mother Nature in 22 minutes of footage showing wicked weather conditions: hurricanes, thunderstorms, droughts and flash floods, all accompanied by an original score featuring artists from Austin’s vibrant music scene.

The Texas Spirit Theater is also available to the public for screenings, presentations and conferences. It’s a favorite venue for Austin’s thriving independent filmmaking community. “The theater is very busy. In fact, that made it difficult to do the systems upgrades – we had to sneak in after hours and work as quickly as possible,” says Electrosonic project engineer Dan Lauf.

Electrosonic had provided the theater’s original audio and video systems, which had continued to function well but were a dozen years into their life cycle. “The upcoming ‘Shipwrecked’ film offered a good opportunity to upgrade the equipment and provide a clean slate for programming the new show,” Lauf points out.

Told through the eyes of a young crew member, “Shipwrecked,” from Cortina Productions, supports the upcoming exhibition about the La Belle, one of Robert de La Salle’s four ships that set out to explore the Gulf of Mexico in 1685. The remains of the hull will be on display along with over a million recovered artifacts. The theater’s 4D effects will permit audiences to feel the power of the storm that resulted in the sinking of the ship.

Electrosonic replaced the existing show control system with an Alcorn McBride V16 Pro show controller and swapped out HD-MPEG video players in favor of a Dataton WATCHOUT video playback system. Electrosonic ensured that the programming for “Star of Destiny” and “Wild Texas Weather” translated smoothly to the new gear and that programming for “Shipwrecked” got underway efficiently.

“The new WATCHOUT system gives the theater technicians a greater ability to run shows easily every day and play alternate content easily when the venue is used for other events,” Lauf says. “We didn’t just install the new equipment – we provided training for it, including a two-day session with visiting Alcorn McBride personnel. A lot of our focus for this project was getting the theater techs ready to fully service and operate the space in all ways.”

On the audio side, Electrosonic upgraded the audio systems with a QSC Q-Sys DSP engine featuring SSD multi-track audio playback. “The Texas Spirit Theater is a full surround theater. The new system allows full 5.1 surround playback for regular film presentations and expandability to the 15 separate audio tracks required for the 4D shows,” Lauf explains.

The Museum’s Director of Theaters, John Lewis, concluded, “Electrosonic has been a great partner to the Bullock Museum, providing top-notch technical design, support and guidance since the museum opened in 2001. The recently upgraded theater system has breathed new life into the Texas Spirit Theater by increasing programming capabilities, streamlining operations, and preserving the theater’s tradition of providing a superior immersive theater experience to generations of Texans and visitors to Texas for years to come.”

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is an international audio-visual company that creates tailored, state-of-the-art solutions for a wide range of markets including theme parks, museums, control rooms, and corporate meeting rooms. Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has built a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic provides a comprehensive scope of services including technical design, projector lamp sales, maintenance and operational support.

Learn more about Electrosonic. Visit http://www.electrosonic.com

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High Resolution Systems’ UDC Raptor Offers the Ultimate in Control at Thurman’s 34 Rush Sports Bar at Batavia Downs Casino

Rochester, New York-based AAVS is on a roll with High Resolution Systems’ UDC Pro ECS-Raptor, a UDC Pro Embedded Control Server, the ultimate in customer control for the nine-cube videowall at Thurman’s 34 Rush Sports Bar at the Batavia Downs Casino in Batavia, New York. Name for Thurman Thomas, the Hall of Fame running back for the Buffalo Bills who wore No. 34, the Sports Bar is part of the facility’s $28 million expansion. It boasts 30 TVs, a projector and videowall plus small stage. Two more videowalls occupy the casino area.

AAVS designs and integrates audio, video, lighting, communications, surveillance and control equipment in new and existing construction. It is the leading AV integrator and rental company in upstate New York.

“With UDC Raptor and its Apple iPad interface, the client can control all the displays and sources that go into the videowall changing from DirecTV to a network simulcast to digital signage,” says Graeme T. Poluch, vice president of sales at AAVS. “If someone wants to watch a horse race, the bartender can walk to the iPad, select the TV input and display the telecast the customer wants. Every input can be changed. All the sound can be controlled. All through IP with no serial connections or IR commands at all.”

The same functionality is offered for the two videowalls on the casino floor. “A player playing slots can ask one of the attendants to change any TV from the iPad,” Poluch continues. “The whole thing is on a continuous network making control simple.”

AAVS became aware of UDC at InfoComm when it was looking for an IP-based control system. “As soon as we saw the cool stuff from High Resolution Systems we left our current manufacturer and immediately went to UDC,” recalls Poluch. “It’s much easier to use and has a very cool interface. It’s easy to configure, easy for the customer to use and completely customizable. There’s really nothing this product can’t do. It can handle all the things the larger control companies do at a much larger price tag and not as elegantly!”

According to Poluch Thurman’s is “thrilled” with UDC Raptor and additional projects may lie ahead.

About HRS Control

High Resolution Systems known as HRS Control is a company with a strong systems engineering and applications background. Its founders have decades of experience in the audio visual rental and staging industry, broadcast applications, A/V installations and system design. This combined experience allows them to provide the highest possible quality solutions to its customers in the most efficient manner. For more information, visit www.HRScontrol.com.

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Lincoln Heritage Museum’s New Facility at Lincoln College Selects Alcorn McBride for Complete Package of Playback and Control Equipment

The life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln will come alive in the new home of the Lincoln Heritage Museum on the campus of Lincoln College when it reopens in April 2014 in Lincoln, Illinois. The museum will use Alcorn McBride’s Digital Binloop, A/V Binloop HD, ProTraXX, DMX Machines and V16 Pro to interpret the world in which the 16th president lived, particularly as it pertained to Illinois.

Groundbreaking for the first building on campus took place on Lincoln’s last living birthday in 1865. The Lincoln Heritage Museum began in 1942 with the bequest of a vast Lincoln and Logan County history collection with the stipulation that a museum be established. The holdings have continued to grow, prompting the museum’s move to the new Lincoln Center on the north side of the campus.

“The new facility is really designed as a whole experience,” says Alan Eidson of Eidson Studios, which performed the AV design and installation. Taylor Studios, Inc. of Rantoul, Illinois is the exhibit design, fabrication and lighting firm for the entire project. “There are multiple rooms with multiple presentations within each room. Visitors interact with 53 audio and video programs by 35 motion and touch-points. The touch-points are controlled by proximity sensors from Technovision and include objects such as a plow, rose, quilt, books, maps and even a coffin.

“Many of the presentations have rear projection, and there are six video and audio programs. For one of the presentations, visitors look through a wall in the box at Ford’s Theater to witness a reenactment video of Lincoln’s assassination then look through another wall to see a video of the house where the mortally wounded president died. Between those presentations a multimedia review of Lincoln’s life is shown.”

Eidson says Alcorn McBride gear was selected because the company “had all the components we needed for a complete package.” A Digital Binloop carries the surround sound audio; an A/V Binloop HD provides synchronized video playback. Two DMX Machines control about 400 lights in the facility. A ProTraXX 16-channel audio player is used for other programs; and a V16 Pro serves as the show controller.

“I like the Binloop set up in one rack unit,” Eidson says. “They have it all in one package and make it very easy – they were the best choice for reproduction of the media. Then I learned more about ProTraXX and the awesome DMX Machines – I have used them for many years. Both Taylor and I were very familiar with Alcorn and its programming, so it was a no-brainer to choose the V16 Pro show controller.”

Eidson reports that all of the products are “stable and integrate easily” with other equipment. He also hails Alcorn McBride support. “They’ve been just great. Any time we have any issues or questions they are very accommodating.”

About Alcorn McBride:
Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit www.alcorn.com.

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GDS Pro Range ArcSystem LED Fixtures Meet the Needs of Fellowship Center at the First Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas

When First Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas decided it was time to install a new lighting system in its Fellowship Center, a GDS Pro Range ArcSystem met the challenge of illuminating the space. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of GDS fixtures in North America.

“The house lighting for the room originally had dimmable metal halide pendant lights and high sconces in the ceiling of the Fellowship Center. Unfortunately the room was dark – just 12 to 30 footcandles – and had an extreme color temperature of 5620 Kelvin and terrible color. Everyone looked pale green,” says Keith Buresh, a consultant and lighting designer who specified the new GDS fixtures. “The church had investigated replacing the house lighting with incandescent fixtures, but they didn’t cover the space, added heat and they would have required extensive ceiling renovations. LED house-lighting fixtures were right on the edge of being usable, though. GDS had just come out with some new lights, and Jeff Mabray, a Specification Sales rep with Edwin Jones Company, and I worked with A.C.T to bring in one of the first ArcSystem prototypes to Dallas to test”.

“We sampled the GDS ArcSystem units with dimmers, and the dimming curve was really solid,” Buresh reports. “We also liked that the LED lighting module was recessed deep within the reflector, which reduced the glare factor – a real problem with numerous LED products. And its color rendering and output were great for this application.”

The First Baptist Church acquired (16) 8-cell Pro Range ArcSystem 4000 Kelvin/37degree fixtures tailored for wide areas and high bay installations. They are finished in white to complement the building’s architecture and were supplied by Barbizon Dallas.

ArcSystem LED auditorium lighting fixtures are designed in the UK for environments where dimming, quality of light and ease of installation are paramount. They are available in single-cell to multi-cell units with a range of beam angles incorporating high-efficiency optics and LEDs. ArcSystem is able to produce a rich, warm light with a CRI in excess of 90. A wide range of color temperatures is available to suit any environment.

All of the fixtures at the First Baptist Church are controlled wirelessly using ArcMesh, GDS’s proprietary mesh networking protocol that allowed the product to be installed and commissioned without installing control wiring to each fixture. “That reduced costs,” Buresh says. “All we had to do was pop in a junction box with a power receptacle to each unit; that’s very handy and simple for any sort of maintenance issues. And the wireless control unit is very easy to monitor. Any problems can be resolved quickly and easily.”

The ArcMesh transmitter receives DMX instructions from an ETC Paradigm Architectural Control Processor system, allowing a completely integrated single control mechanism for all architectural lighting. Part of the renovation included a new architectural control system, dimmers, light board and six wall control stations to allow users to activate lighting looks from numerous entrances into the room.

“We ended up changing over the entire house lighting for the room, including can lights, high sconces and wall sconces. So, at this point the entire Fellowship Center and overflow space have dimmable LED lamps in the fixtures. It took some trial and error but we were able to find A-bulbs and BR40 lamps that had appropriate Kelvin, Color Rendering Index values and dimmable curves that used the existing fixtures. We saved a lot by not having to retrofit fixtures.” Buresh says.

“The GDS fixtures are a great fit for the application, we’ve been really impressed with them. Configuration and integration into the Paradigm system was a breeze, one of the smoothest that I’ve seen,” reports Chris Leffel, the installer and project manager with Barbizon Dallas.

The overall light level with the new fixtures reaches up to 90FC in places, an increase of almost four times the level of the previous installation.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” says Buresh. “GDS was very helpful in getting the installation up and running for us, and A.C.T and GDS have been very open to suggestions and problem-solving.”

Tim Zednick is the technical director at the First Baptist Church, and has been very involved in the process and totally on board with programming the control system to work smoothly with the GDS ArcSystem software and units.

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Electrosonic Provides AV Systems Integration for Refurbished Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, has reopened after a three-year refurbishing of the building which FDR gave to the nation through the National Archives. It not only includes his extensive presidential papers but also Roosevelt’s collections of ship models, rare books, coins and diplomatic gifts received from other governments. AV systems integration by Electrosonic, working under exhibit fabricator Explus, supports the museum’s narrative and helps visitors interpret a large array of exhibits.

Electrosonic’s wide scope of work includes audio, video and multimedia programs, plus interactive touchscreen exhibits.

A large portrait of FDR, hung between a pair of 55-inch Samsung LCD screens showing film footage of the president, dominates the entrance to the museum. The first galleries set the scene of his presidency with an exhibit on the Great Depression and a theater presentation, “The World in Crisis.”

The theater space is surrounded by a jagged collage of graphic images depicting the sufferings of the early 1930s. The content is displayed on a large screen by a projectiondesign F32 video projector and accompanied by 5.1 surround sound; it features newsreel footage documenting the economic crisis at home and abroad and how, in some cases, it led to the emergence of extremist politics.

Nearby, the “Promise of Change” exhibit includes an interactive display about the causes of the Depression; “Foundations of a Public Life,” features personal mementos and an interactive table based on a 46-inch Primeview Quad Touch monitor, which operates as a giant scrapbook detailing the Roosevelts’ privileged upbringings and lives of public service. A 55-inch Samsung LCD with stereo audio describes the turning point in FDR’s life in the “Polio Theater” and how he was able to conceal his condition, in large part, from the public.

A pair of exhibits demonstrates how FDR became the first president to understand the importance of radio communication with the nation. One recreates the experience of listening to his Fireside Chat broadcasts with vignettes of a suburban kitchen and dining room; visitors select recordings of FDR’s informal chats and hear them through radio sets of the era. Questions and responses from the public are heard through overhead loudspeakers.

A major exhibit on the New Deal and FDR’s second term is followed by a view of the president’s private study and a gallery devoted to World War II. The wartime exhibit includes “FDR’s Secret Map Room” with image projections on the wall from a projectiondesign F22 video projector, plus three multi-user map tables each equipped with a Primeview multi-touch touchscreen showing maps and two 1940s telephones.

Next, visitors descend to the basement where they view the president’s Oval Office desk and its amazing collection of objects, interpreted by a touchscreen display; FDR’s Ford automobile, modified with hand controls so he could drive; representative exhibits from his collections of ship models, paintings, sculptures and furniture; a portion of the presidential archives; and a gallery devoted to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

The “Legacy Theater” presents an assessment of FDR’s achievements. Additional theaters, which feature 55 or 70-inch Samsung LCD screens or projectiondesign F22 and F32 projection systems, are scattered throughout the museum and address “The Enduring New Deal,” “Pearl Harbor” and “Newsreel” topics.

Electrosonic standardized the equipment as much as possible in the refurbished museum to minimize the amount of different gear and to promote easy operation and maintenance. A control room in the basement behind the theater houses source equipment for the exhibits. All linear video is run at 1080p from BrightSign HD1020 players. Displays are largely fed using CAT-6 cables and Extron DTP DVI 301 extenders.

Totevision 15 and 19-inch LCDs are featured in the exhibits; many 22-inch touchscreens are all-in-one Elo E531206 units with built-in computers.

All show audio is processed through a Peavey MediaMatrix DSP system and Crown 8-channel amplifiers, and shared across exhibits as appropriate; smaller exhibits have their own amps.

Ambient audio-only exhibits feature Technovision TecMP3 audio servers as sources. The Fireside Chats exhibits use Gilderfluke Sd-50/8 industrial MP3 players. Loudspeakers are mainly from the JBL Control range; several exhibits use NXT flat-panel technology based on Dayton Audio DAEXSFH exciters. Two theaters feature Dakota focused arrays to confine the sound to the listening area.

Lynn Bassanese, Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, commented, “The audio, video and multimedia programs and the innovative interactives in the new FDR Museum give our visitors a fresh insight into the lives and careers of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. They truly help us bring the new deal to a new generation.”

All exhibit AV equipment is centrally controlled with Medialon Manager. Theater shows are started by proximity sensors, and docents can select individual exhibits via Apple’s iPad.

“The renovation of the audio-visual technology at the FDR library significantly enhances the visitor experience with the modern delivery of media and information. The migration from 3-ring binder paper flip books to digital touch screen flip books is a classic example of this,” concluded Bryan Abelowitz, Electrosonic’s Senior Systems Consultant.

The new museum displays were designed by Gallagher & Associates with exhibit fabrication and fit out by Explus. AV content was created by Cortina Productions with linear AV content by Monadnock Media. David Rome was the AV consultant.

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Rose.Rabbit.Lie. Establishes a New Paradigm in Las Vegas With Clay Paky Lighting and grandMA2 Lighting Control Supporting Unique Venue

Photo: © Erik Kabik/ Retna

Described as a venue that blurs the lines between restaurant, bar, club and show, Rose.Rabbit.Lie. at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the city’s most talked about new “social club.” Clay Paky lighting and MA lighting control play key roles in the unique venue, which represents a partnership of The Cosmopolitan, Coastal Luxury Management (food and beverages) and Spiegelworld (entertainment). Clay Paky and MA are exclusively distributed in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc.

Guests at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. can dine on a small-plate menu in the library area, have drinks at the bar and in the study, and catch the “Vegas Nocturne” ticketed show that plays three times throughout the night; the theater transforms into a club following the last show and performers turn up everywhere to entertain guests. Walls move up and down to reconfigure the space, and guests move from room to room as they choreograph their evening and enjoy a customized experience.

Justin Spangler and PSX Audiovisual Technologies in Covington, Louisiana, supplied the Clay Paky fixtures and grandMA2 gear and were also the integrator on the project.

Lighting designer Nick Whitehouse came on board at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. at the behest of Spiegelworld. He was tasked with creating theatrical lighting schemes for all nine rooms to enable every bit of the venue to act as a performance space.

“It was a large-scale project, the idea being that theatrical elements play around the whole venue,” says Whitehouse. “So we really had to design the lighting to make performance possible anywhere – and have the performers lit properly anywhere. I needed to design a rig that could cope with anything without being just everywhere.”

One of the biggest challenges was trim height since the overall trim of the venue was about 15 feet and some of the performers are high-wire and aerial acts, which come close to the lighting rig. “Many of these acts need to have consistent and very specific lighting for safety reasons, so I had to design a rig with proper lighting, safety and limited trim height in mind,” Whitehouse says.

“I also had to be able to have up to three acts going on at the same time in different rooms and, since the show is constantly changing, make the rig adaptable to fast changes that happen pretty much all the time.”

Whitehouse chose Clay Paky Alpha Spot QWO 800s as the spot fixtures throughout the venue. “They do the majority of work in the space. They light all the performances and provide the main key lighting,” he explains. “Because the space is essentially in the round and performers use every part of the rooms, the fact that we had a fully-automated rig meant that we could reduce the number of fixtures as they could all do multiple jobs. The QWO 800 spots have amazing optics, high brightness and, most importantly, small size and weight. We use 64 throughout the space with the main concentration in the theater where the main show and nightclub are centered.”

Whitehouse also selected 53 Clay Paky Sharpy Wash 330s as the main theatrical wash in the theater; he likes the fixture’s size, speed and variable zoom and frost features. “The spots and washes provide some great effects lighting as needed for the more up-tempo numbers with some really nice looking gobo and beam looks from the spots,” he says. “They immediately transition into effects lighting for the nightclub, which opens after the 12 am show finishes.”

Whitehouse had previously auditioned the QWO 800s for another project and has used the Sharpy Washes extensively. “I knew what they were capable of and that they would be perfect for this venue,” he says. “I looked at other fixtures in the same size and power range but felt that none had the same quality of light.”

He reports that the lights “work great – they’re very reliable despite being pushed hard for 14 to 16 hours a day. They’re doing everything I asked of them in the programming I did. I’m very happy with them.”

Whitehouse runs the show on a grandMA2 light with an onPC system with both command wing and fader wing as the second operator position and back up. He also has an in-line NPU.

“A.C.T Lighting provided its usual high standard of support and stepped in to help with a full-size grandMA2 for me to program on,” he notes. “We removed this system as soon as the heavy programming was finished.”

Whitehouse is a “big fan” of the grandMA2. “It’s such a stable, flexible console so it was the natural choice for this kind of show,” he says. “The ability to have multiple users and operators and to quickly be able to change large parts of the programming are just a few of the reasons I chose grandMA2. In addition, the support of MA Lighting in Germany and A.C.T in the US are second to none, so I really wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Whitehouse took advantage of grandMA2′s timecode for a number of acts that needed to be well synchronized to their music tracks. “We also use the VyV tracking system in the MA 3D environment. We use it to track late-night bottle service in some quite cool ways: The tracking chip follows high-priced bottles to their tables in a very unique way for Vegas!”

Whitehouse programmed the main show in the theater and oversaw the programming as a whole; David Schulman and Michelle Harvey programmed the other rooms at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. “Bobby Brooks did an exceptional job with the nightclub programming and late-night acts and with generally cleaning up the show files since a lot of fixtures are run from the grandMA2, including all the house lights,” says Whitehouse. Brooks is currently the operator for the main show, which runs on the grandMA2 light. Harvey runs the shows in the other rooms from the onPC set up.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with Nick on his projects,” comments George Masek, A.C.T Lighting Vice President of Automated Lighting. “No matter the act or venue, Nick always finds creative, interesting and ground-breaking solutions. A.C.T and our partners are proud to be a part of his work.”

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HRS Control’s UDC Pro ECS-Raptor Makes Holiday Debut at Detroit’s Campus Martius Park’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Christmas was especially dazzling in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park where High Resolution Systems’ UDC Pro ECS-Raptor, a UDC Pro Embedded Control Server for permanent AV installs, played in a key role in the holiday festivities. Raptor was a new addition to a systems upgrade to the park performed by Advanced Lighting & Sound.

Campus Martius Park is a 2.5-acre public square and year-round entertainment venue at the crossroads of downtown Detroit. This Christmas the park was significantly brighter than in past holidays with more than 19,000 multicolored LED lights on the city’s official Christmas tree and 142,000 more LED twinkle lights on 80 trees throughout the park.

The “Light Up the Season” ceremony marked the tenth anniversary of Christmas tree lighting in the park and the kick off to Detroit’s holiday season. The 60-foot Norway spruce sat atop the park’s beautiful fountain; live music and skating performances on the rink adjacent to the tree entertained the festive crowd. The Ikea D-Light! Presentation was a five-minute, show-stopping track of legendary Detroit artists performing classic holiday songs synchronized to the Christmas tree’s blinking, dancing and sparkling LEDs; it played at scheduled times throughout the holiday season.

Troy, Michigan-based Advanced Lighting & Sound performed the initial AV install in the park in 2005 and returned to upgrade the space last year as the park expanded into the adjacent Cadillac Square. “The original control system utilized Flash as the programming language and ran fine in a PC environment but didn’t play well with iOS devices,” explains Bob Sullivan at Advanced Lighting & Sound. “With the park expansion we needed to add more control functionality. Since we were going to completely reprogram the system we decided to find a controller that would play nice with all the devices and be easily updatable as things changed in the park.”

The client expected a seamless transition to the new control system, too, Sullivan notes. “They wanted to see basically the same control screens because all of the staff had become very familiar with it. They wanted to be able to use a variety of devices to control the system and have the flexibility to add control points as needed. So we installed a Raptor control processor along with a variety of Global Cache devices to interface with the other equipment in place.”

A Linux-embedded server that significantly lowers costs to users over full-blown Windows servers, High Resolution Systems’ popular Raptor comes with an Ethernet connection to the device network, has a built in web server and natively supports a wide variety of AV equipment and advanced control system functions. It occupies 1RU in height and one-half of a rack in width and ships with an optional rack shelf for space-saving rack mounting. Raptor supports the same user interface designs as UDC software: iPad touch control with the HRS Control Pro iOS app available in Apple’s App Store; the HRS Control Pro app for any Windows tablet; in-wall mount touchscreen and button solutions; Android tablets; and web servers. Any device with a browser can act as a controller.

“Raptor is the heart of the park,” Sullivan declares. “The folks from High Resolution Systems were able to add an Astronomical Clock function to their unit that automatically drives a variety of events in the park based around sunrise and sunset. Their ability to make these changes in the software in days instead of weeks or months made the change possible.”

Sullivan says he’s using an array of contact closures to control a Square D lighting panel controlling the park’s lights. “We also control a few cable boxes through IR, which allows for music playback and channel selection for a pair of flat-screen TVs in the restaurant window. All video control falls under a Kramer serial router.”

The main audio processing system, which was also upgraded, is managed by a Biamp AudiaFLEX system. “Raptor recalls presets and adjusts volumes for all the sources and speakers through serial control,” Sullivan explains. “Raptor serial control is also used for the lighting system controlled by Martin LightJockey software.”

He reports that Raptor meets all the current needs of the Campus Martius Park and allows easy growth and changes. “With the old system you had to be knowledgeable in Flash programming, and that’s not easy nor in wide demand today,” Sullivan notes. “We wanted to choose a new system with a simple user interface that allowed us to make changes if needed. After just 30 minutes on the software I was able to create new pages and functions, which is huge.”

The Raptor has been “working great” since its Christmas debut, and “the feedback from the operations staff and owner has been very positive,” says Sullivan. “Everything looks familiar to them and functions as they wanted.”

The Campus Martius Park installation is Advanced Lighting & Sound’s first project with High Resolution Systems. “It’s been nice working with another Michigan-based company – we’re located about 10 miles from each other,” Sullivan notes. “Their attention to even this small project was great, and we look forward to other applications for their products and services.”

About HRS Control

High Resolution Systems known as HRS Control is a company with a strong systems engineering and applications background. Its founders have decades of experience in the audio visual rental and staging industry, broadcast applications, A/V installations and system design. This combined experience allows them to provide the highest possible quality solutions to its customers in the most efficient manner. For more information, visit www.HRScontrol.com.

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Chooses Vista Systems’ Spyder Image Processor for Videowall in New Headquarters’ Welcome Center

Visitors to Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts get an immediate sense of the biotechnology company when they spot the impressive 2×8 videowall, comprised of 55-inch Primeview Ultra Narrow Bezel monitors, in the ninth floor Welcome Center. The videowall’s content is supported by a Spyder X20 0808 image processor from Vista Systems.

“We wanted to offer an immersive experience for guests that would give a sense of our corporate brand in a short amount of time,” says Theron Wallis at Vertex. “A couple of monitors would have been good – an array of 16 would be immersive. So we decided where to position the wall and began laying out the space.”

Vertex brought on ACT Associates as its AV consultant for the new campus. The videowall was positioned behind reception in the Welcome Center, whose floor also features a training room and conference rooms. The wall is designed to display branding information, company culture, company history, product news and science videos in a changing visual panorama that captures and holds visitors’ attention.

ACT Associates designed the system around Primeview Eco Line Ultra Narrow displays, their preferred videowall solution. “Our videowalls are unique because they are HDBaseT embedded and can carry all connectivity over a singe CAT5 or CAT6 cable. We’re the only manufacturer that does that,” explains Primeview’s Chanan Averbuch. “Since we are project based, our units come color-calibrated out of the box and have substantially better color fidelity than other brands. They are also virtually seamless, with the only bezel where the glass meets the glass.”

The Vertex videowall is configured with 16 Primeview monitors divided into four 2×2 arrays with a total of 8 inputs. Each 2×2 array comprises one signal. There are seven computer inputs and one digital signage input, the latter via a Visix media player. Four outputs are currently in use, so the system has room to grow.

Averbuch recommended Vista Systems’ Spyder for image processing. “It’s the best and most reliable solution in the industry,” he declares. “There are so many options out there, but cheaper solutions typically end up being more expensive in the long run.”

Peter Thompson of ACT Associates arranged a demo of the Spyder X20 while the Vertex HQ was still in the early stages of construction. Mark Pawelcyzk and Brian Macauto of Vista Systems led the demo, which was conducted with a Primeview display; the completed installation marks the first project on which Vista Systems and Primeview have collaborated.

Spyder “is very well known and well regarded in the industry,” says Thompson. “The product has a great track record for reliability, ease of set up and ease of use. And their customer support is great. The client loved Spyder when we pitched it to them, as well.”

“Spyder came out on top because we were shown how customizable it is,” notes Wallis. “We were convinced that we could manage it inhouse and update it as we see fit. Vista has been very helpful. We’re working with the company to see how we can optimize the system and get the most out of it.”

The completed videowall in the new Vertex HQ is “very impressive,” says Wallis. “It’s been very well received,” agrees Thompson. “It’s one of the better videowalls we’ve seen in a long time. Vista and Primeview combine for a great solution.”

“The install looks great,” reports Pawelcyzk. “It’s the best-looking total solution I’ve seen in quite a while.”

“When you all trust each other and respect each other’s solutions you get dynamic results,” concludes Averbuch.

George Bing at HB Communications was the integrator for the project.

About Vista Systems
Vista Systems’ switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching with real-time windowing and composition. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.

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Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Features Projection Support from WorldStage

Photo: Es Devlin

The inaugural production of Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), a non-profit theatre that produces Shakespeare along side other major authors in its new home at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn could hardly have been more ambitious: director Julie Taymor’s innovative staging of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” featuring extensive video projections designed by Sven Ortel. WorldStage provided seven Christie video projectors coupled with a content handling system centered on the d3 Technologies d3 media server to meet the complex needs of Ortel and the multiple, moving projection surfaces, which help create the enchanted atmosphere critics and theatregoers are raving about.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened in The Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, a 299-seat uniquely flexible space inspired by the Cottesloe Theatre on London’s Royal National Theatre. The Scripps merges an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with a modern black box. It has seven configurations and is 35 foot high from floor to grid, nearly twice the height of a typical Off Broadway theatre.

Taymor and her set designer, Es Devlin, devised a deep thrust configuration that reduced seating to 284. The deep thrust enabled the audience to get close to the stage and the performers and immerse themselves in The Bard’s magical comedy. During the show, expansive moving pieces of fabric serve as multi-functional projection surfaces: They act as the sky, a wedding canopy and bower; performers on flying rigs slide down the fabric and are raised and lowered on it. Fabric sometimes becomes a ground cloth that later disappears down a trap. Fabric tumbles out of the back wall. All of it is mapped with projections to set the scene for weddings, woods and fairies galore.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that the support of WorldStage was one of the essential elements that made this production possible,” says Jeffrey Horowitz, founding artistic director of TFANA. “This show is on a completely different scale for TFNA than any other of our productions in our 34 year history. The audience wrapped around the thrust on three levels. I’ve worked with projections before but never at this level of complexity. It was an incredible feat for WorldStage to configure the projectors and focus them to map the images precisely to the huge canopies of fabric. The staging appears to have the lightness and playfulness of a dream.”

Sven Ortel designed projections that feature a lot of naturalistic and woodsy elements, layered clouds with evocative colors and a number of fairy elements, including slow-motion footage of moths in various sizes and intensities, which represents the fairy kingdom. Animated cut-out silhouettes also create “a bit of mystery in a scary, fairy-tale way,” he adds.

WorldStage’s Lars Pedersen notes that, “the rectangular shape of the black-box theatre itself, the shapes of the projection surfaces and the fact that the fabric moves – it raises, it lowers, it billows, it vanishes down the trap at times – posed significant challenges for us. The projector configuration was unusual to the extreme with many of the projectors having to be placed in close proximity to the audience seating. Beyond the nonconforming projection angles, we also had to account for noise abatement when considering projector placement.”

Different types of fabric were tested to make sure the imagery would read well on the material and the fabric would “recede into nothing when it’s not acting as a projection surface,” Ortel explains. “We found a sheer, quite translucent fabric that looks quite magical.”

Ortel calls “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” “one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done from an installation point of view. I contacted Lars and (WorldStage president) Josh (Weisberg) very early on. They came on board with all they had to help us pull it off. They gave us a lot of confidence no matter what bold, challenging ideas Julie (Taymor) or I came up with.”

Ortel selected seven Christie projectors, which are mounted in the grid, low to the floor and on the back tiers of the theatre. Two Christie Roadster S+20K projectors provide top floor projection; an M Series DS+10KM near front projection; an M Series HD-14K-M video projector far front projection; one M Series DS+10KM back projection (flown) and four more M Series units to handle canopy projection.

“The projectors had to be positioned where they wouldn’t be in the way of the performers and still fulfill the function of covering certain surfaces,” notes Ortel. “Lars and his team helped me make it work – they wouldn’t go home until the job was done and that took quite some time with various iterations and changes.” Since the theatre had to act as a rehearsal venue during the day, time on site for WorldStage was limited to evenings and late nights.

The Christie projectors were chosen primarily for their low-noise, small footprint, and 110v operation. “In addition, the ChristieNET control software allowed the operators to quickly and effortlessly monitor and modify projector status throughout the run of the show.”

“We opted to go with the d3 server platform on this job due its inherent ability to facilitate image mapping along with a myriad of other incredibly useful features. We immediately recognized the difficulties we were up against given the amorphous form of the projection surfaces. Not only were we concerned about the indeterminate shapes of the fabric, but we also had to account for the fact that the fabric would reside in various stage positions. In order to create the requisite d3 mesh objects we employed a very sophisticated laser instrument to measure and record the vital information of the various shapes and positions of the fabric within the 3D space of the venue. We then used a brand new feature in d3 called Mesh Animation. This feature allowed us to seamlessly transition imagery and mapping information from one fabric shape and position to another in real time.”

Jeffrey Horowitz notes that TFANA’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has received “spectacular reviews and audiences are having a wonderful time. The imagery and production are fresh – Shakespeare wrote images, and this all comes from what he wrote. But it’s not duplicative of Shakespeare, it’s additive. You can sense its aliveness.”

“The show has been a big success for everyone involved,” says Ortel. “It’s been everything that we’ve hoped for – it’s really unlike anything anyone has seen before. What has been particularly exciting for me is to get email and Tweets from young projection designers who have been inspired by what they’ve seen. That’s a compliment to all of us, including WorldStage.”

“It’s unbelievable what WorldStage did for us,” Horowitz concludes. “A theatre only opens once. This production was the fireworks we hoped it would be, and WorldStage was a big part of the gunpowder!”

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.

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Clay Paky Lighting Fixtures, grandMA Consoles and MDG Fog and Haze Generators Make Luke Bryan’s Night on Country Artist’s New Tour

Luke Bryan has rolled out his That’s My Kind of Night Tour, and Elite Multimedia Productions in Nashville is providing Clay Paky A.LEDA, Sharpy and Sharpy Wash lighting fixtures; grandMA2 consoles; and MDG’s theONE fog/haze atmospheric generators as Bryan once again takes to the road. The popular country artist’s new tour is named after his latest single, which has catapulted to # 1 in the country charts. A.C.T Lighting Inc. is the exclusive distributor for Clay Paky, MA Lighting and MDG in North America.

“We just concluded the Dirt Road Diaries Tour with Luke; his new tour will run from January 2014 to the end of October,” says Tom Wilson, vice president of event productions at Elite Multimedia Productions. “For this tour they’ve doubled the number of Sharpys and added Sharpy Washes. They’ve been really thrilled with the Clay Paky fixtures, which have been very durable with a really low failure rate. In 10 months on the road, there have been almost no failures. The only light we lost was due to a guitar player accidentally kicking it into the audience!”

Lighting designer Justin Kitchenman of Fade Up Design Group points out that Bryan “wants all of his productions to be big, ambitious and with lots of bells and whistles. When someone walks into this show they’re walking into a party.”

Bryan is at the center of the action figuratively and literally. “We designed a 42-foot wide circle stage that sits at the end of the thrust giving the entire audience a 360º view of Luke for the majority of the show,” says Kitchenman. “Having a lighting rig that can light the entire room and have lots of punch was essential.”

Kitchenman was challenged to keep the sight lines clean and offer the entire audience “the full concert experience. We don’t want the people off to the sides or way up top to ever feel like they are missing out on elements of the show.”

Kitchenman’s Clay Paky complement consists of 46 Sharpy Beams, 20 Sharpy Washes and 12 A.LEDA Wash K10 and 32 A.LEDA Wash K5 LEDs, which are positioned “all over” forming “the teeth of this lighting rig,” he says.

“I chose Clay Paky based on the reputation of the manufacturer as well as the unparalleled support provided by A.C.T Lighting,” Kitchenman reports. “After a full year of touring with the same type of fixtures last year, there was very little down time. I’ve found all of the Clay Paky fixtures to be extremely rugged and reliable. There wasn’t a single reason why I should have been looking for alternatives this year.”

Kitchenman has been using grandMA and grandMA2 consoles almost exclusively for the last seven years. “MA consoles are by far the most user-friendly on the market today,” he says. For Bryan’s new tour he’s running two full-size grandMA2s at FOH and a grandMA2 light at dimmers for tech and emergency back up.

He programmed the majority of the show himself but brought in programmer Johnny Caudill for rehearsals; he plans to call on Caudill throughout the year for larger-scale productions that may need advance overnight programming.

Kitchenman admits that he’s become so accustomed to all of the features of the grandMA2 that he sometimes forgets “that they are unique.” He cites “the ease of MA net for data distribution on such a large production, which is huge for me” and the dedicated Art-Net output for running media servers. “The physical size of the console and number of playback faders and buttons give me the ability to operate the show with comfort and ease,” he adds.

MDG products round out the tour with Kitchenman deploying two MDG theOne fog/haze generators, a pair of MDG Atmosphere hazers and an MDG ICE Low Fogger. He selected them, as he did the Clay Paky fixtures, for the reputation of the manufacturer and A.C.T’s high level of support. Kitchenman also points to the devices’ high output and limited residue as “major contributors” to his choice.

“We use the low fogger to create a bit more of a dramatic scene during one of Luke’s new songs,” he says, “and the hazers just ensure that we have plenty of haze in the air for all of those Sharpys!”

Having come full circle to the Sharpys, Elite’s Wilson chimes in that the “Clay Paky fixtures are great performing lights that hold up well” during tours. “As a company owner, that’s a big one for me.”

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.

For more information call 818-707-0884.

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