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Installation Profile: Shedding Light on Franklin

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

Sophisticated networked systems illuminate museum's rotunda.

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Shedding Light on Franklin

The scaling switcher is one of the few elements of the AVL system that is not networked via Cat-5. McCann Systems chose an Extron IN1508 8×8 scaling switcher owing to its sturdiness. Because the switcher is addressable only via RS-232, McCann also installed a Moxa Nport 5610-8 eight-input server that converts IP commands to RS-232 so that the scaling switcher can be controlled via Medialon.


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The rotunda can hold a few hundred guests for a sit-down dinner or more than 1,000 for dancing and cocktails. Since opening, the rotunda has been booked for about five private events per week — a surge over previous booking levels and a significant increase in the museum's revenue stream.

Mountjoy has been pleased with the system and the attention that McCann Systems has paid to the Franklin Institute since the installation. For instance, one of the HD8K projectors had a manufacturer's defect; McCann replaced the unit the same day. McCann also trained the museum's AV staff and has supplied new programming. When the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, the institute wanted to bathe the room in red light to match the team's color. That wasn't a preset, so McCann Systems emailed Mountjoy a text file so that preset could be added to the lighting server.

Since the overhaul to the AV systems, the rotunda has become a popular spot for weddings. Mountjoy cites the room's easy IMAG capabilities and the level of control that clients have over still-image display and lighting choices — letting wedding parties change their minds (about images and light, that is) up to the beginning of the ceremony.

For corporate clients, the fact that the room is ready to go is a huge selling point. “Previously, if someone wanted to do a presentation, they had to bring in some sort of PA system,” Mountjoy says. Now, they can plug a mic into one of the audio ports, switch it on, and adjust the volume via the wireless touchscreen PC. Before, as noted, if a client wanted special lighting, Mountjoy would have to spend hours sourcing, securing, and installing a rental system.

Some clients that have rented out the updated rotunda include a New Jersey paper company, the World Affairs Council, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers — for which Mountjoy drove a Martin Mac 2000 to light different areas of the party with different colors.

Mountjoy has been doing theater-lighting design since he was a teenager, but he says he's happy to now put his trust in the new system's presets.

“We can change the colors in 3 seconds,” he says. “Clients feel more comfortable because of the flexibility the system gives them. This is a professional environment. It's ready. We don't have to talk about what we could do.”

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