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3D History: AV installation at the Historic Philadelphia Center, Part 2

Feb 22, 2011 10:27 AM, with Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Liberty 360, a 3D video tour, in the Historic Philadelphia Center is the site of a unique 360-degree video experience installed and programmed by the show control firm Smart Monkeys and Stephan Villet is going to give us more technical details on the project next up on the SVC podcast. Stephan thanks for being back with me on the SVC podcast from Smart Monkeys, the outfit that installed show control for Liberty 360 at the Historic Philadelphia Center. In that show you’re totally wrapped up in a 360-degree 3D video experience and you set up a Medialon Showmaster Pro to run all of this. And so how does that system work?
Well the Showmaster Pro really is an embedded show controller that basically provides all the feature of the well-known Medialon Editor Pro software. In the fully dedicated back box there is no screen, no access to the operating system and its rock solid so that’s really what drives us to use this product. Medialon is really well known for this software-based products—I guess they are the leader in the market right now. They have the preeminence hold on the Ethernet world which is really important now and also the products are really good at timeline stuff and everything so a very good choice in here. In this system particularly all of the manual operations are entered through the graphical interface residing in the touch panels but the entire control process and show elements are inside the Showmaster Pro and all the control is centrally located in that box and distributed for most of it through the network. Only the lighting system is controlled over DMX and the background music player over serial communication. [Timestamp: 2:16]

And I think you said in Part One that there are three Niles Creative Group. David Niles is a big name in exhibits like this and he called on Smart Monkeys to come in and take all the various elements of a show that he created and put them all together and make it all work.
Well we have a very interesting relation with David. The real thing is when we started the company we were used to work with integrator because show control programming is usually seen as something that should be provided by the integrator and when we started working with David Niles which is not a integrator, he’s a designer, so his designing the system and then he asked for an integrator to actually do the cabling and put the equipment and everything. Well the interesting thing is that in his mind show control is something that should be taken care of right from the start and that’s what we think about. Meaning that acting in the very beginning of the design we know exactly what the entire system will be able to perform and we’re not just getting here when everything has been chosen and then we have to deal with it. We know exactly what to choose before and we can work a long time before. And I guess that’s what makes the experience on the creation but also on the user level working that well. [Timestamp: 5:44]

You mentioned the backup capability of the touch panels for control, is there any sort of backup power capability for this system?
Well there is a second Showmaster Pro unit fully loaded and ready to go as a spare. It is not a hot-swap system but the reliability of the system gave us enough confidence to choose this solution and in case of a controller failure the show has to stop but…and the theater has to be cleared and then we just disregard the main controller to turn to the spare for the next show. [Timestamp: 6:14]

And you got all of the software going for the show control. What other features does the control system programming provide for the operator?
Well on top of the show itself you have multiple pages and feature to actually be able to control every single pieces of the system. So in the event where the owner of the place wants to actually do something else like a special event or whatever he wants he has the ability to actually take control of every single pieces there. So he can set up the lighting as he wish to, he can actually drop new content there and everything can be controllable. Honestly you don’t have the automation parts prepared for that but still if they want to operate the place differently that they usually do they are able to control everything from a single point. [Timestamp: 7:07]

Was there any sort of timeline pressure on the installation? How long did it take you to get it all in and get tested and ready to go?
Well that’s the good part with being involved with the design and everything, again being involved at the very beginning allow us to actually prepare everything and to preprogram off site and we had access to a lot of equipment because everything was chosen and so when the place was ready for us to go we had maybe like 90 percent of the job done already. And when I say done, it was written in terms of code but also tested in terms of communication and equipment behavior. So once on site, it was really more of adjustment and realization that this part would be better doing another way but on site it was really fast, quick, and efficient. [Timestamp: 8:05]

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