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Installation Profile: Sound Harbor

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Story by Trevor Boyer
Photos by Eddie Arrossi

Electrosonic designs and integrates AV and control systems for Maryland’s National Harbor.


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Electrosonic integrated two different lighting systems at 
National Harbor: stage lighting and area lighting. Area lighting is controlled by a sophisticated DMX system. For stage lighting, Electrosonic integrated 20 Altman Lighting Wet Location PAR cans and 16 Wybron Mariner color changers.

Electrosonic integrated two different lighting systems at National Harbor: stage lighting and area lighting. Area lighting is controlled by a sophisticated DMX system. For stage lighting, Electrosonic integrated 20 Altman Lighting Wet Location PAR cans and 16 Wybron Mariner color changers.

Cabolis says that the biggest advantage to designing a system that distributes the audio over an IP network is that it is relatively easy to preprogram the whole thing in the shop of an integration firm.

“You can set your switches on top of a table and then, just by standard Cat-5 network extensions, connect every speaker if you wanted, or just do a bank at a time,” he says. “You can do basically the most painful part that comes from the commissioning of systems like that — walking around, things not being connected, things not working, amplifiers being off.”

The labor savings that potentially results from this preprogramming could allow integration firms to lower their quotes on projects, Cabolis says.

VIDEO AND LIGHTING

As mentioned, Electrosonic integrated a sophisticated DMX lighting system at the National Harbor. To serve movie showings and other events that require video, Electrosonic also designed and integrated a video system for the harbor plaza. A Christie Roadie HD+30K 3DLP projector uses its 30,000 lumens of brightness to throw a 2K-resolution image at a 40ft. sail-like projection screen that's rigged at the back of the stage. The Medialon show control unit also handles scheduling for the video system.

This projection system displays content sent from two Adtec Digital edje 4111 HD MPEG-2 players with 80GB hard drives. In this case, the design group chose the edjes over Electrosonic's own 9500 player.

“The design group is really good about that,” Barnes says. “They go with the gear that they think is going to be the best for the given project.”

There are two different lighting systems at National Harbor: stage lighting and area lighting. For area lighting, Electrosonic handled everything related to DMX control.

“The electrical contractors got us the right cable to our DMX path ports,” Barnes says, “and we did all the terminations.” Originating as network data when they're sent by an MA Lighting GrandMA console, these DMX signals are converted to analog by Pathway Connectivity Pathport D converters.

For stage lighting, Electrosonic integrated 20 Altman Lighting Wet Location PAR cans and 16 Wybron Mariner CXI IT color changers. An ETC Sensor SR48AFN dimming system will control these lights.

Straddling the border between lighting and video is a piece of gear called a Green Hippo Hippotizer. This video server/player allows layers of video and graphics to be manipulated in realtime for VJ-style control. The output of the Hippotizer, which also has a hard drive for clip storage and for preview monitoring, can be standard video that's sent to the Christie projector.

Or the Hippotizer can convert the video in order to output it via ArtNet, a version of DMX. “You can send that data to LED displays and then address lights to perform as pixels,” Cabolis says. He adds that along American Way, Christmas-style LED lights hang in trees.

“The way they're spaced out in these large trees, from a distance you can make the images dance — say, you can make waves crash, so a blue color in the top turns to white and then you can make those waves move up and down,” Cabolis says. Instead of programming the lights painstakingly via DMX, lighting designers can load video clips onto the Hippotizer and let it convert the footage.

At press time, Electrosonic was still working on certain aspects of the project. As noted, Renkus-Heinz is still in the process of upgrading the line-array components.

“The schedule was delayed a bit due to construction delays,” Barnes says. “There are still some punch-list items that we have to complete.”

At press time, Electrosonic had not yet commissioned, for instance, the ETC dimmer rack system. The LEDs are still being hung in trees along American Way. Despite these minor gaps, National Harbor — the development that sprang from the banks of the Potomac largely in one lurch — now has a functioning, flexible networked audio, video, and lighting system.



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