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Installation Profile: Intelligent Design

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney

How technology helps realize a thoroughly modern vision for the new home of one of our nation’s oldest museums.


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Sennheiser was chosen for its reliability and user-friendliness. “Golden Gate Park is a notoriously crowded RF environment, and we made a decision to recommend Sennheiser wireless throughout the museum based on the number of simultaneous channels they could support. That's a project standard,” Roos says.

WATER PLANET

Downstairs is the aquarium, where the largest attraction is the Water Planet show — a 10-screen, edge-blended display running on Delta media servers from United Kingdom-based 7thSense and viewed via 10 ceiling-mounted projectiondesign F20 video/data projectors. To complicate matters, the show is viewed on a series of four wave-shaped fiberglass walls that are embedded with fish tanks.

The show runs every 30 minutes and is controlled by BBI's proprietary MSC-4MP3 show controller — which handles timing, room lighting, and audio in addition to triggering the projection system. Then it returns the room to its normal ambient condition between shows. Program audio is an 8-channel immersive system using Meyer Sound UPM-1P self-powered loudspeakers and UMS-1P subwoofers.

Precise control of lights and projectors was critical because deep-water fish living inside the tanks could be adversely affected by the show. Masks to prevent projections from shining into the tank were created on the 7thSense Delta media servers. Between shows, the projectors are used for exhibit annotation and wall washes. The digital ID signs next to each fish tank are also dimmed during shows and returned to normal afterward.

The Water Planet area also houses several interactive exhibits called Imagers. Visitors interact with the exhibit by waving a hand over parts of the tabletop surface. The shadow of the hand wipes away the image to reveal new content. To create this scenario, BBI lit the exhibits with infrared, and then the company added an infrared filter to an overhead camera. The camera feeds are analyzed by vision software developed by BBI that communicates to Adobe Flash software. The resulting content is displayed on the exhibit from projectiondesign F10 projectors.

Another attraction is a series of radio-frequency identification (RFID)-based interactive exhibits called Divestations. For these, actual museum specimens were encased in acrylic tubes. When placed into appropriately sized indentations on the display surface, the embedded RFID tag triggers new content that is specific to the exhibit theme and specimen in Flash using ASPX's RW-210 RFID readers.

THE AUDITORIUM

For AV fanatics, one of the big attractions is the auditorium, a large room that is split into two spaces. The east room houses a 3D movie experience with seating for about 200. The cinema video projector is a Barco DP-2000 3D projector equipped for Dolby 3D Digital Cinema by Bay Area Cinema Products. The projector shoots onto a retractable Stewart Filmscreen Model B Electriscreen that is ceiling-mounted in front of the dividing wall. And yes, viewers of the 3D show get to wear those cool filtered glasses. For more standard presentation programming, digital sources — including computers and a Denon DVD-2500 Blu-ray player — are played through a digitalprojection Titan 1080p-600M projector.

Surround sound for theater mode is provided from the Dolby Show Player as AES/EBU and from the Blu-ray player via a Denon DN-A7100 decoder. Both are routed via a MediaMatrix Nion to a Meyer Sound system. Front left and right loudspeakers are the UPQ-1Ps, a wide-coverage design with full-range response, mounted high on the sidewalls. The center dialogue loudspeaker is a UPJ-1P mounted in the ceiling above the screen. All surround loudspeakers are Meyer Sound UPJuniors, with four each mounted on the left, right, and rear walls. Low frequencies are provided through two Meyer Sound 750-P subwoofers.

In the west room, a second Stewart Filmscreen Model B Electiscreen is located on the far wall, flanked by another pair of Meyer Sound UPQ-1Ps. Presentations are delivered via another Titan 1080p-600M projector, and a Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray DVD player is available. In full-room configuration, the center wall slides away and its screen retracts. In this mode, the UPQ-1Ps (left-right in the 3D theater mode) become delay loudspeakers for the back half of the auditorium.





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