A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

Archive by David Steinberg

Atomic Design Partners with WorldStage On Turner Entertainment Networks’ Upfront at Madison Square Garden

ATOMIC and WorldStage once again partnered on the upfront for Turner Entertainment Networks’ TBS and TNT, which returned to The Theatre at Madison Square Garden with a bang. Or maybe it was a “Boom” as TNT launched a new, edgier tagline for its drama programming, which includes the new “The Last Ship” from Michael Bay and “Murder in the First” from Steven Bochco.

ATOMIC has been producing Turner Upfronts for more than a decade and was responsible for the lighting, rigging, production design, staging and set fabrication for this latest presentation to marketers and advertisers. For many of those years WorldStage has worked alongside ATOMIC supplying critical video support to various New York City venues.

“We’ve been an incredible team of partners for a long time,” says ATOMIC CEO and event executive producer Soren West. “We were together at the Garden with evening upfronts that featured The Eagles and Lenny Kravitz and at The Armory with Sting. Then we moved to the Hammerstein Ballroom and now we’re back at the Garden, which can accommodate the increased attendance for the Turner upfront.”

ATOMIC was tasked with “creating an environment through scenic, video, lighting and audio that could be transformed from one brand to the other, from one message to the other,” as the comedy and drama networks introduced new and returning shows and their stars.

The stage at Madison Square Garden featured a single big rear-projection screen, which featured informational content about the networks’ upcoming seasons. ATOMIC entertained the idea of using an LED screen but opted for a “high-quality rear projection solution with lots of lumens” to deliver the content.

Surrounding the screen was a band shell-style series of concentric aluminum arches, clad with neutral gray fabric, onto which WorldStage warped decorative video elements.

“The band shell was designed by Mike Rhoads, our production designer, who has done the upfront for at least eight years,” notes West. “The arches were quite complicated to draw and fabricate with those compound curves. I had serious concerns about the shape and the ability to cover it with projections and not create dead zones on the stage where people couldn’t stand. But WorldStage and screen producer Laura Frank of Luminous FX assured us that warping content onto the arches was totally within the realm of do-ability. We trusted them implicitly, and they delivered.”

WorldStage project manager TJ Donoghue, who has worked on the last three Turner Upfronts, says “the shape of the band shell surface with their compound curvature made alignment and warping of overlaps rather challenging.” In addition, “there were limited options for the projectors’ locations. But thanks to a great team effort by media server programmer Alex Bright, media server technician Shawn Duan, and projectionists Juan Mateo and Sean Kelly the warping and blending worked very well.”

A Pandoras Box media server drove Christie Roadster HD20K-J and 10K-M projectors. The HD10Ks were embedded in the show deck and pointed straight up at the arches, one of the more unusual projector placements for a one-time event.

WorldStage provided six Sony HD cameras, which fed a Ross 4 ME switcher for IMAG and capturing the upfront for a live-streamed webcast and a simulcast on tape delay targeted to advertisers and agencies in Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta. A final cut of the event was made for archiving and for distribution to Turner’s sales and marketing groups.

WorldStage also provided a full editing suite so the editing team had on-site capabilities at the Garden. “Delivery dates for content get later and later every year,” says West. “Having editorial on site enabled us and Turner Entertainment to fine tune the presentation and tweak the animation, graphics and video clips closer to show time. We could also ingest any new material quite late in the game.”

West notes that “One of the great things about this project is that Turner Entertainment recognizes the value of preparation, so we were able to involve WorldStage earlier than we typically would on other projects – about three or four months out. Then things got really involved about one month out.

“Part of our success over the years is due to the time we and WorldStage spend with the client in Atlanta,” he continues. “Two to three weeks out we do a table read there, the executives rehearse their speeches and we review the video content created thus far. So we get a good sense of how things are coming together and where the tricky transitions are from a technical and a stagecraft perspective.”

Subsequently, everyone reunited at ATOMIC’s headquarters in Lititz, Pennsylvania where they did a previs of the show in Pandoras Box, the lighting and video teams preprogrammed cues, and show management rehearsed the principals. “This really is the right way to work,” West says. “By the time we got to the Garden everyone knew the show.”

With another successful upfront concluded, West says, “WorldStage has been a strong partner of ours for many years. We’ve been through a lot of challenges together and are still making it happen as a team. It’s always great to work with them!”

“Everything went very smoothly,” agrees Donoghue. “It was great to be back in the Garden with ATOMIC, and the crew there was fabulous. We’re so pleased that everything went so well.”

At WorldStage Dennis Menard was also a project manager, Mike Alboher EIC and Encore operator, Pete Cerreta playback operator, August Yuson camera EIC, Alex Donaldson projectionist, John Denion APM and Ryan Eysner, Shannon Robinson and Pete Sokov utilities. In addition, camera operators were provided by Slate.TV, LLC and Locals One and 306 furnished crew.

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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“The Today Show” Summer Concert Series Launches with Clay Paky B-EYE Fixtures Lighting Top Performers in Rockefeller Plaza

The Summer Concert Series has launched on NBC’s “The Today Show” and Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 LED-based moving lights are being deployed on the live music segments, which air at least once a week on the iconic morning show.

The concert series is a popular feature on “The Today Show” every Friday from late spring through the summer; performances are sometimes staged during the week, as well. The concerts launched with Mariah Carey and have showcased Tim McGraw, Cher Lloyd, Rascal Flatts, Sara Bareilles, Train, Little Mix, Fallout Boy and Phillip Phillips.

The night prior to a concert a mobile stage rolls onto Rockefeller Plaza outside “The Today Show’s” picture windows. Lighting is rigged and programmed overnight so a rehearsal can be scheduled for 6:30 am. The concert begins with the first of a three-song set around 8:25 am; two more songs wrap up the show from 8:45 to 8:55. When the program concludes the stage is dismantled.

Peter Greenbaum, who became lighting director of “The Today Show” when the program implemented its new set and look last fall, is working on his first Summer Concert Series. He implements up to 20 B-EYE K20s, supplied by WorldStage, in the lighting rig on the mobile stage.

Greenbaum was introduced to the B-EYEs by programmer and assistant lighting director Brian S. Davis. “I had never used them before, but when we found out that WorldStage was carrying them and that they were able to make them fit into our budget we jumped on them,” says Greenbaum. “The B-EYEs are perfect for a concert rig. We really like them a lot.”

The early-morning outdoor concerts pose several challenges. “We need to keep the video level on the talent from the front while masking the sunlight coming from behind and the buildings around them. We also want to keep the talent kind of even with the audience in the canyon of Rockefeller Plaza. Plus, there’s a roof on the stage,” Greenbaum reports. “My outside lighting director, Phil Grosso, and I do our best to help video engineer Mike Ruiz make great pictures.”

His base package of B-EYEs features 10 fixtures rigged on an arched upstage truss to light the talent and four on a downstage truss for audience lighting and eye candy. If a larger lighting package is required Greenbaum also places B-EYEs on the stage floor, the downstage truss supports and the lip of the stage. “Every concert has a different stage plot to deal with,” he notes. “We try to make it exciting for every band.”

Greenbaum says, “I love everything about the B-EYEs: the flexibility of going from spots to floods, all the colors, the rotating functions, and all the eye candy that comes with the unit – you can go from eye candy to a great video level with the push of a button.”

One of his favorite B-EYE features is daylight color. “We do a lot of interviews with the talent on stage and ‘The Today Show’ hosts with their backs to the audience,” Greenbaum explains. “We go daylight in the B-EYEs and get a beautiful video level so there’s no need for HMIs. Their color temperature is pretty amazing.”

The lighting director is a long-time Clay Paky user. “I remember their moving mirror lights in clubs in the city and Europe,” he says. “Now I’m regularly using Sharpys and Sharpy washes and am delighted to add B-EYEs to my repertoire.”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “The B-EYE is perfectly suited for daylight situations because of the light is bright and the fixture looks so good on camera. It’s great to see it put to such good use on the Today Show.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.

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Clay Paky Rocks Third Eye Blind Festival Tour

American alternative rock band Third Eye Blind (3eb) is taking its Festival Tour to venues across America, and Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 LED-based moving lights are hitting the road with them.

3eb’s production and lighting designer Mitchell Schellenger, of I Like Lights in Denver, created a look for the band that echoes the sunset set times of some of their gigs. “The band doesn’t always have a headline slot, and when that happens they don’t have the luxury of performing in complete darkness,” Schellenger explains. “So we decided to mimic the look of sunset with warm pretty light on stage. To do that we needed really bright fixtures.”

Enter Clay Paky B-EYEs, which Schellenger had read about and seen in video clips. “I wanted to get my hands on them – they looked really awesome,” he recalls. 4Wall Entertainment Lighting’s Nashville office supplied five fixtures, and Schellenger proceeded to design a rig that would be “universally speedy” getting on stage and off, a critical factor when the band wasn’t headlining.

His solution was to build carts comprised of Chauvet Nexus 4×4 LED panels with four B-EYEs arched above them. The fifth was positioned on a center line upstage to pop behind the lead singer.

“The B-EYEs have a nice big head so their look is perfect for our sunset theme,” Schellenger says. “The show color scheme starts more bright CTO Amber and works its way toward a deeper orange. The B-EYEs’ awesome effects give the show the ability to progress visually through that minimal color scheme.”

On the Festival Tour he’s doing quite a lot of bit mapping across the Nexus panels, the B-EYEs and a complement of other lights. He also deploys a number of macros, which enable 3eb to get on and off the stage quickly. “A start show macro makes us immediately ready for quick focuses,” Schellenger explains. “We have song macros, too, and an end show macro for a speedy finish.”

The lighting designer says that he and his assistant and crew chief, Cort Lawrence, have been pleased with the “stunning results” produced by the B-EYEs. “We’ve had a ton of feedback from the promoters, the band and fans on social media. Everybody has responded really well to them!”

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “The Third Eye Blind tour is using out B-EYEs jus the way we intended them to be used and they look great on the stage. We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.

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MA 2Port Nodes for grandMA2 Make Their Debut from MA Lighting

The popular grandMA2 console has introduced MA 2Port Nodes for Gigabit networks, which have been optimized for touring and installations with a rugged steel housing designed to withstand harsh conditions. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor for MA in North America.

The grandMA2 is already known for its lighting network stability. Its 1 Gigabit MA 4Port and 8Port Nodes are ideal for networks that require large quantities of frame-synchronous DMX to be distributed.

Now, a matching 1 Gigabit 2Port Node range is making its debut. It fits perfectly into the system and ensures maximum performance via the MA-Net2 protocol.

“MA Lighting has expanded capabilities for networks of all sizes improving performance across the customer base,” says Ben Saltzman at A.C.T Lighting. “The small but powerful new MA 2Port Node series is the kind of key upgrade we have come to expect from MA Lighting.”

MA 2Port Nodes are available with and without control parameters and are fully configurable from the grandMA2 consoles or from grandMA2 onPC software. Each DMX port can be individually configured as DMX in or DMX out for maximum flexibility.

The MA 2Port Nodes are available in 1,024- and 2,048-parameter versions for stand-alone use or combined with the MA onPC command wing and MA onPC fader wing for parameter expansion.

“With today’s fast-reacting technology, it’s nice to know that the MA-Net frame synchronous DMX output will ensure that everything responds simultaneously regardless the size of the network,” says Will Murphy, director of software support and development at A.C.T Lighting.

“Thanks to seamless integration with the MA2 software it’s great to trust the versatility of the nodes to allow quick changes and make troubleshooting a breeze.”

The robust MA 2Port Nodes feature a front panel with a 2-inch color screen and current-status LEDs. The mains switch and all connectors are located on the rear.

A range of accessories is available to facilitate front or rear connections and all rack mounting and truss rigging combinations. Later this year specific 2/4Port Node Power over Ethernet installation versions are expected to be available.

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WorldStage Marks Tenth Year Supporting High-Profile Milken Institute Global Conference

WorldStage marked its tenth year providing the Milken Institute Global Conference with audio, video and lighting support as more than 3,500 movers and shakers challenged each other to find solutions and implement change for topics ranging from income inequality to a wide array of environmental issues.

The 17th annual Milken Institute Global Conference brought executives, billionaires, philanthropists, scientists and celebrities to the Beverly Hilton Hotel for a gathering that has come to rival the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More than 160 panels were grouped into 11 topic tracks; guest speaker included California Governor Jerry Brown, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

Every year the conference has grown, become more complex and challenged the capabilities of all the support vendors and 2014 was no different. “The technology support for this conference has grown significantly over the past ten years,” says WorldStage Vice-president Richard Bevan. “Compared to what it was a decade ago, it’s almost a different show. The Milken Institute demands the best and wants everything to be first class. To deliver on that we push the envelope everywhere on site – not just in the main rooms but in the smaller venues as well. In fact the systems complement in the smaller rooms and the people we have operating would be appropriate for a general session room. It takes a lot of gear, preparation and resources to make that happen.”

As a testament to that, more than 130 WorldStage technicians were on site to ensure the success of the event during its four-day run, and a total of 33 HD cameras were supplied.

“The number of moving parts swirling around this conference is always a challenge,” Bevan continued. “With fourteen event spaces and more than 600 presenters requiring support in a very tight schedule, we plan everything down to the last minute. That includes the process of recording hundreds of sessions in HD and then transferring and distributing it. In some ways, that’s the biggest challenge. We work hand in glove with Producer Josh Lesser and his Vision Matrix team, who were responsible for collecting the media and getting it transferred to large RAID drives for webcast.”

To keep the tight schedule on track, the conference relies on a centralized IT structure provided by Vision Matrix that collects and distributes all the speaker support presentations directly from the speaker ready-room. “Typically, there was a moderator with a PowerPoint presentation and a panel discussion. All of the PowerPoint decks were collected in the speaker-ready room, and their content was pushed out to their respective rooms by the Vision Matrix IT team,” he explains.

Along with the video support, WorldStage also furnished extensive audio and lighting facilities that included a large complement of audio speakers, wired and wireless mics, digital audio consoles and intercom systems, as well as a package of conventional and LED lighting for 11 rooms. Additional lighting was provided for music and comedy performances by Babyface, David Foster and Chris Tucker in the Beverly Hills Room.

“The logistics of the Milken Global Conference are pretty staggering, but after 10 years we’ve definitely found our rhythm!” says Bevan.

Lawrence Lesser, senior vice president of The Milken Foundation’s Creative Services department, was the executive producer of all of the events. Josh Lesser from Vision Matrix was the overall producer of the events with his team supporting various functions like reader boards etc…

At WorldStage Sean Glenn, Gary Kajikawa, Lonnie Hamilton, Dave Morris and Tom Mathis were the project managers; James Sarro equipment manager; Nicole Walter labor coordinator; Robin Gray lighting designer; and Heidi McGuire director in the Stardust Room.

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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New Tobin Center for the Performing Arts Chooses Robert Juliat Followspots

When San Antonio’s Tobin Center for the Performing Arts opens in September, its H-E-B Performance Hall and Alvarez Family Studio Theater will boast Robert Juliat Cyrano and Buxie followspots, respectively.

The new Tobin Center rises behind the façade of the former San Antonio Municipal Auditorium along the famed River Walk downtown. The 1,750-seat multi-purpose house will be the home of the San Antonio Symphony and other resident companies; its inaugural 2014-15 season will feature such diverse performers as comedy legend Bill Cosby, radio icon Garrison Keillor and “The Prairie Home Companion” and the Scottish Ballet’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The four-level H-E-B Performance Hall is the largest of the Tobin Center’s performance spaces; it has installed four Cyrano 2500W HMI followspots whose narrow beam angle makes them the perfect fixture for long throw distances. The Alvarez Family Studio Theater is a black box-style space with multiple seating arrangements; it has acquired a pair of Buxie 575W MSD ultra-compact followspots, which deliver a powerful punch in a small package.

Technical Director Stefan De Wilde was familiar with Robert Juliat followspots from his tenures with Disney and Cirque du Soleil. DeWilde confidently selected the followspots, stating that Robert Juliat followspots “were the industry standard for top-of-the-line fixtures,” he says. “They were the most flexible, light-weight units with high output and extremely high quality. The Tobin Center is booked through 2017 so these lights will get a lot of use. We need products that will hold up under a lot of use and still provide a beautiful, powerful output of light.”

The Cyranos were an ideal choice for the large H-E-B Performance Hall. “We needed a long throw, flicker-free unit since we will accommodate broadcast level television production,” notes De Wilde. “The design was also important. The Cyrano’s color changer is mounted on the center of the fixture, which is more ergonomic for the operator, and the fixture is balanced.”

Likewise, the compact Buxies were a good fit for the Alvarez Family Studio Theater because of their “small footprint, great output and quiet operation,” he reports. “This is a small theater. I can mount the Buxies on a tripod, put them in a spot tower or clamp them to the catwalk railing. They have beautiful optics and will last a long time thanks to their high-quality construction.”

The Robert Juliat followspots were obtained from the Texas Scenic Co.

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Third Eye Blind Rocks with Clay Paky and grandMA2 on Festival Tour

American alternative rock band Third Eye Blind (3eb) is taking its Festival Tour to venues across America, and Clay Paky’s A.leda B-EYE K20 LED-based moving lights and a grandMA2 light console are hitting the road with them. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of both brands in North America.

3eb’s production and lighting designer Mitchell Schellenger, of I Like Lights in Denver, created a look for the band that echoes the sunset set times of some of their gigs. “The band doesn’t always have a headline slot, and when that happens they don’t have the luxury of performing in complete darkness,” Schellenger explains. “So we decided to mimic the look of sunset with warm pretty light on stage. To do that we needed really bright fixtures.”

Enter Clay Paky B-EYEs, which Schellenger had read about and seen in video clips. “I wanted to get my hands on them – they looked really awesome,” he recalls. 4Wall Entertainment Lighting’s Nashville office supplied five fixtures, and Schellenger proceeded to design a rig that would be “universally speedy” getting on stage and off, a critical factor when the band wasn’t headlining.

His solution was to build carts comprised of Chauvet Nexus 4×4 LED panels with four B-EYEs arched above them. The fifth was positioned on a center line upstage to pop behind the lead singer.

“The B-EYEs have a nice big head so their look is perfect for our sunset theme,” Schellenger says. “The show color scheme starts more bright CTO Amber and works its way toward a deeper orange. The B-EYEs’ awesome effects give the show the ability to progress visually through that minimal color scheme.”

Schellenger, who also programs the band’s lighting, uses a grandMA2 light for lighting control and has an onPC command wing for back up and two NPUs in the racks. He migrated to grandMA2 about 18 months ago.

“Now I can’t stand going back to anything else!” he declares. “grandMA2′s too powerful. It does everything I want to do and easily achieves the looks I’m going for. Although I’ve used the full-size grandMA2 many times, the grandMA2 light is the perfect size for touring.”

On the Festival Tour he’s doing quite a lot of bit mapping across the Nexus panels, the B-EYEs and a complement of Martin MAC Auras. He also deploys a number of macros, which enable 3eb to get on and off the stage quickly. “A start show macro makes us immediately ready for quick focuses,” Schellenger explains. “We have song macros, too, and an end show macro for a speedy finish.”

The lighting designer says that he and his assistant and crew chief, Cort Lawrence, have been pleased with the “stunning results” produced by the B-EYEs. “We’ve had a ton of feedback from the promoters, the band and fans on social media. Everybody has responded really well to them!”

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Vista Phoenix Management System Installed at Traffic Management Center of Mississippi Department of Transportation

The Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Program has installed a Vista Phoenix for its traffic management center. Vista Phoenix’s network-distributed open content management system for the simultaneous encoding, decoding and display of audio-visual data is deployed on the Christie MicroTile wall that monitors traffic cameras.

‘We converted from analog to digital a while back, and our previous equipment was not compatible with an end-to-end digital solution,” says John Gilligan with the Mississippi Department of Transportation. “Vista Phoenix looked to be a very efficient addition for us.”

Vista Phoenix provides seamless access and control of AV data, regardless of the user’s location. Whether used by multiple parallel participants, single offices or in the field through mobile technology, Vista Phoenix connects them all. AV distribution and monitoring are no longer contained to a single location – Vista Phoenix breaks through physical walls to encompass a global workplace.

The simple but powerful system consists of one or many Vista Phoenix hardware nodes as well as web-based management software connected through an Ethernet network. It’s scalable with one or hundreds of nodes, multiple display walls comprising up to 128 screens, multiple desktops and users. Comprehensive tools allow one or thousands of users to simultaneously view, listen to and interact with any source of information found in a multimedia environment from virtually anywhere through a single, robust system.

Vista Phoenix offers support for HDCP, H.264 encryption throughout with drag-and-drop simplicity. The system permits users in public utilities, government, security and surveillance, transportation and telecommunications to confidently make faster and more accurate life critical decisions, even in the most challenging environments.

“Vista Phoenix distributes media to the Christie MicroTile wall, which has a 10×4 configuration,” says Gilligan. “Vista Phoenix handles all the switching, most of which is automated. We’ve programmed the system to have some preset modes. And we broke it down regionally so we can view different regions of the state.”

While Vista Phoenix is already working “great – very efficiently,” Gilligan is looking forward to exploring more of the system’s offerings. “We plan to capitalize on some future capabilities, such as monitoring via the Internet.”

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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Alcorn McBride Supports Three New Powerhouse Exhibits at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Three large, new headline-making exhibits at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis are using an array of Alcorn McBride equipment for show control, lighting control, and audio and video playback.

Known as the world’s biggest and best museum for children and families, the venue’s mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. The nearly 500,000-square-foot museum boasts almost 120,000 artifacts and draws 1.25 million visitors annually.

“It’s important to understand that this is a place for children and families where they can learn together and share interactive experiences brought to life through sound and light shows that are made more authentic utilizing tools such as the Alcorn McBride equipment. We find those kinds of details make our visitors feel as if they’re in the actual place depicted in the exhibit,” says Kimberly Harms, Director of Media and Public Relations.

Chief Technical Officer David Donaldson notes that, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ exhibits are strategically designed to encourage family interaction and intergenerational learning vis-à-vis a number of touch points. “High-quality sound and light shows stimulate the senses and help create a feeling in which children and families experience what it would be like to wander around another time or place via high definition video and sound recreations,” he explains. “These immersive experiences make it seem as though you really are in China or traveling the earth 77 million years ago.”

“Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur” opened at the museum in March. “We have a permanent exhibit called Dinosphere that is housed in a former CineDome, a large-format theater. It has about 150 programmable lights and artifacts,” says Donaldson. “In part of Dinosphere is Leonardo, the largest intact dinosaur ever discovered and one of only four mummified dinosaurs in the world. He’s about 20 feet long and 77 million years old.” Leonardo is a juvenile Hadrosaur, or plant-eating “duckbill” dinosaur. He was unearthed in Montana in 2001.

“Leonardo is in a special glass case with a sound and light show that tells his story,” Donaldson explains. “He’s already one of our most popular exhibits.”

Alcorn McBride equipment plays a key role in the Dinosphere and the Leonardo exhibits. At the heart of the Dinosphere is a V16 Pro show controller. An A/V Binloop HD handles video playback on monitors throughout Dinosphere. Two Lightcue DMX recorder/players are on hand, one for Dinosphere and one that manages 15 separate lights above the Leonardo exhibit. A single-channel AM4 MP3 and WAV player runs Leonardo’s soundtrack in synch with his lighting. When Leonardo’s seven-minute show is not running a Digital Video Machine HD 8400 plays back animated loops on a 90-inch flat panel display.

“Everything works very well,” Donaldson says. “We have been very happy with the Alcorn McBride gear we use as it has been very reliable and is solid state.”

Two new exhibits opened in May. “Take Me There:(r) China” is the second exhibition to explore modern life in a single culture. Take Me There:(r) Egypt was the first. To get visitors in the mood to travel, they board an airplane fuselage where two video monitors are mounted on the front wall of the cabin and two overhead. Five rows of seats are offered, and windows line the sides. Three slots in an AV Binloop HD play back trip content: a video of flight attendants talking about the journey and views outside the windows. The Binloop triggers buttkickers underneath the seats, which simulate air turbulence.

Elsewhere in “Take Me There:(r) China” an AM4 plays ambient music and street noise in the market place, calligraphy shop, medicine shop and tea house. In a bullet train experience, visitors sit in two rows of seats facing each other with a window in between on which a Digital Video Machine HD 8400 plays back footage shot on the super-speedy bullet train. An additional AM4 is available in a performance space. Staff can press wall buttons to access a series of audio clips programmed directly into the system.

Also in the China gallery is “Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army,” the first children’s museum appearance by the famed tomb statuary since they were excavated near Xian, China in 1974. Fifty visitors at a time are brought into the entry theater’s cue line where they watch a video run off a Digital Video Machine HD 8400. Then they walk into the dimly lit gallery where all of the sound in the 15,000-square-foot space emanates from an AM4. A concluding theater experience features two video walls running a loop from an Alcorn McBride Binloop.

The museum’s Playscape permanent exhibit also features an A/V Binloop HD for its cue line. Playscape incorporates new brain research to create an authentic, physical space to help young families explore some of the most important developmental touchstones of children’s lives. The Binloop runs video in synch for families waiting to enter the space.

“Alcorn McBride equipment has become a standard for us and a very good investment,” says Donaldson. “It’s very reliable, all solid state. When you have families involved, reliability is of the essence. We have a very low threshold for things that don’t work!”

Donaldson also gives kudos to Alcorn McBride’s staff, whom he calls “very responsive. I can always reach someone if I need something – it’s like they’re working right along with us.”

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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Lausanne’s Olympic Museum Reopens with AV System Design, Engineering and Integration by Electrosonic

When The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, reopened recently after a two-year renovation, it made extensive use of audio-visual and interactive techniques that take visitors on what’s been called “a multidimensional journey across the Olympic Universe.” Electrosonic designed the AV system, which is simple for visitors to use and offers maximum flexibility for the museum, under subcontract with media producer Centre Screen Productions of Manchester, England. Electrosonic handled the system engineering and integration under a separate subcontract with Paragon Creative of York, England.

Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, The Olympic Museum is now a greatly expanded, four-level venue spanning more than 32,000 square feet and featuring over 1,000 objects and 150 screens, which deliver an informative and immersive experience to Olympic fans and the curious from around the world. Visitors can tailor their tours to capture a broad view of the games or engage in an in-depth Olympic experience. The augmented reality created by the museum allows each person to seek the information and emotion they’re looking for and perhaps return home with some unexpected knowledge.

Ghostly images of the torch relay, projected onto a curtain of flexible, vertical silicone rubber rods, greet visitors as they walk up the ramp to the uppermost exhibit area, Level 1. The impressive, panoramic “Welcome to Olympia” display shows the origins of the games in ancient Greece. Created by three edge-blended Panasonic projectors, it’s the first of several panoramas visitors encounter. All of them feature multi-channel sound with Tannoy speakers.

The figures of athletes on ancient Greek vases come alive in an engaging interactive table display. The figures on the pottery are animated and displayed directly onto the table surface by projectiondesign projectors. LCDs provide information about the sports shown.

Also making a hit with visitors on Level 1 are the “Olympic Torch” exhibit and the “Historical Timeline.” The torch display includes an array of torches interpreted by six 22-inch Iiyama touch screens, a Panasonic projection of the lighting of the Olympic flame on a screen that can be viewed from front or back, and a stylized projection of flames dancing on the floor, which is part of the exhibit lighting.

The timeline uses five Panasonic projectors to produce one very long image of a “library” whose volumes relate to specific Olympic games. Five small interactive podiums enable visitors to open up a volume of their choice and see a compilation of images from that year’s games play out across parts of the timeline.

Another Panasonic three-projector panorama, this one dedicated to “The Best of Opening Ceremonies” from the games, completes the tour of Level 1.

Level 0, where the stories of the Summer Games, Winter Games, Paralympics and Youth Olympics are told, features a number of surround screens with multi-image content. Interactive displays in each area are based on 7thSense Delta server architecture for remote updating of content as needed. The panoramic “Inside the Race,” with five edge-blended Panasonic projectors, envelops visitors with highlights from the games and close-up looks at the athletes’ grit and determination to succeed.

The lowest exhibition level, Level -1, is devoted to the theme of “The Olympic Spirit.” The International Plaza has a three-screen display as well as three stacks of 55-inch, narrow-bezel Panasonic LCDs. Another three projector display acts as a backdrop to an exhibit of Olympic medals.

The “Words of Olympians” exhibit enables visitors to learn about athletes and hear their own accounts of participating in the games. Twenty AV stations, featuring 22-inch Iiyama LCDs, play looped programs. Stop and Listen Gorilla handsets deliver the audio.

The great number of screens throughout The Olympic Museum challenged Electrosonic to develop a consistent approach to the overall systems design. That approach is based on carrying all the video, audio and control signals on standard CAT-6 cabling; housing all computers and servers in racks in dedicated control rooms near the exhibits they serve; and minimizing variations in practicable equipment.

Four control rooms on the three different levels are outfitted with 19 equipment racks. The racks in each control room represent a sub-system under the control of a Medialon system controller. One of the Level 1 control rooms has been designated the Master control room for overall system control and linking to the museum’s Building Management System for automatic scheduled operation.

Electrosonic also specified a standard OEM computer for the interactive exhibits to ensure consistency of performance and to simplify maintenance. Delays due to compatibility problems that might not have been discovered until equipment arrived on site were eliminated by test-running the content on the standard computer prior to delivery.

Mark Pyrah, CEO of Paragon Creative Ltd said, “As turnkey fit out contractor we worked closely with fellow British companies Centre Screen and Electrosonic to create seamless immersive environments that entertain, thrill and motivate in an entertaining and memorable way. We are delighted to say that the project was completed to both schedule and budget. We are immensely proud to have been involved in this stunning project.”
“Electrosonic put together a first class team, and from the kickoff meeting in Lausanne to the final installation 18 months later, the whole team performed superbly,” said Dave Postlethwaite, CEO of Centre Screen Production. “As a software producer you need a hardware company that is experienced, flexible, rigorous in their methodology and systems and, very importantly, has a team with boundless enthusiasm; Electrosonic had it all!”
Concluded David Rodriguez, Project Manager for the Technology and Information Department at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “Electrosonic worked with the content manager, the integrator and the IOC, taking into account the needs of each and proposing technical solutions complying with the technical and energy-saving standards of the country. All of the interactive terminals, 98 projectors and 30 large-screen monitors and respective PCs were installed within very tightly imposed deadlines. After six months of operation, there have been very few problems. This shows the quality of the work Electrosonic did for The Olympic Museum. We are very pleased to have been able to work on this project with them.”

London-based Metaphor was the creative advisor throughout the museum rebuild. Paragon Creative appointed Mather and Company to handle exhibition design and Sutton Vane Associates lighting design. Centre Screen named Peter Key as audio consultant.

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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