The Interactivity Behind the Lincoln Heritage Museum, Part 2
May 15, 2014 9:22 AM, With Bennett Liles
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The story of the life of Abraham Lincoln comes to life in the Lincoln Heritage Museum, and Alan Eidson of Eidson Studios was brought in to install all of the interactive sound and video. Alan’s here to finish up his talk about how he used proximity sensors and turned walls into subwoofers to wow the museum’s visitors. That’s right here on the SVC Podcast.
Alan Eidson of Eidson Studios in Little Rock, Ark.; and we were talking about, in part one, the Lincoln Heritage Museum on the campus of Lincoln College in where else but Lincoln, Illinois. The museum experts at Taylor Studios in Rantoul, Illinois brought you in for all of the interactive audio and video that helps tell the story of our 16th president. You used a lot of Alcorn-McBride hardware for it and a big part of that was the ProTraxx 16-channel audio player.
Yeah, the ProTraxx. That was a surprising unit to me. It had much more capability than I thought at first, when I first looked at it. It has 16 tracks. You can do eight tracks of stereo or 16 mono, and we had one stereo audio and then the rest of the audio was mono incorporated into some surround sound too, so that’s with a different unit. But the ProTraxx is very diversified. You can load hundreds of audio samples in there, or audio stories in our case, and it’s a nice unit. The show controller instructs the ProTraxx to play a particular audio track through a particular audio output, so the audio files that you have in there, they’re not strictly just to one output. You can send it to any output or you can send them to all outputs. It really was more of a machine than I thought at the beginning. It’s a nice machine. [Timestamp: 2:08]
Sounds like you can get pretty creative with it. The machine is pretty well proven and you know it’s going to work but on this project there were a lot of triggered events to coordinate and connect. People are within an arm’s reach of all these exhibits so how did you hide all of the wiring that’s involved? I’m sure that can require sort of a creative approach, too.
Oh, of course. You don’t want wires to be showing and we’re all about wires, so there’s plenty of wires.
And this is a period exhibit so any kind of wires, connectors and stuff would really sort of destroy the atmosphere you try to create.
Of course, of course; you drill through desks. And one of the neatest things that we ended up doing – and actually one of the fellows at Taylor Studios did this – we had one of our touch points as a fan, one of those old-style, accordion-out type of fans that a lady might use, and that was our touch point. So we had to get something that was magnetic into that area and just routing the wires, you get shrink wrap and run it down posts and stuff like that is how that one worked out. So it was really – it was really nice. There’s a lot of time involved in hiding the wiring, but it was all dark and so sometimes you can just have black wires, which helped too. [Timestamp: 3:27]
And where does all the wiring lead? Where’s the rack where all of the control and playback equipment is installed?
We try to put all the control racks in a central location, and this one in particular we had two 52u racks centrally located in one of the rear projection spaces. So it handled all the amplification and all of the control and all of the media processors. [Timestamp: 3:50]
One of the more often-used items in the tech side of this is the Digital Binloop. How do you use that to create the period environment and sort of set the mood for the exhibits?
Well, the Digital Binloop, Alcorn has two different Binloop configurations that we use. One is a high-definition processor and one is a standard-definition processor. What makes these work really well is we use surround sound just to give it more ambiance; voices and train sounds and crowd sounds, just – you’re just enveloped into the sound. And so these units handle your surround sound very well, as well as the video processing. Basically it’s a three-rack unit and you have reproducer cards which are the video and audio processors, then you slide those in there. You can put in eight high-definition ones or 16 standard-definition ones depending on the unit. So a lot of those standard-definition ones that we used, we didn’t use the video at all. We were just using it for the surround sound audio. [Timestamp: 5:01]
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