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A Spherical Videowall

When defense contractor Lockheed Martin wanted to wow visitors to a new facility, it turned flat-screen TVs into virtual continents.

"The video had to be chopped up and sync rolled," Hall says. "Shows can play on one or 10 monitors—or on all of them. Many images were designed to run from one monitor to another."

The content, which includes everything from high-resolution images to videos from Lockheed Martin's archives, was custom developed for the globe, in part because of the unique configuration of the monitors. "South America gets pretty skinny at the bottom," Thatcher says. "We had to produce content that would look fantastic on the videowalls that formed each continent."

Wiring the Globe

But the biggest challenge may have been wiring the globe, says Emile Wolsky, executive producer at Inter-tain Productions. The video globe would certainly lose its impact if there were visible cables. A 54-channel snake had to be custom fabricated (51 channels for the globe, three for the wall-mounted displays), then run 70 feet inside half-inch conduit from the head-end closet to the globe itself. To fit all the strands into the conduit, integrators used ultrathin Belden DT 179 fiber cable, which also required using special crimping tools for the BNC terminations. The cable enters the globe from below and then the strands for each quadrant of the globe's interior are routed to each video continent through the hollowed vertical spars that make up the globe's exoskeleton. Power for each display is routed the same way.

Philips ColorBurst LED lights were installed at the base of the globe, as well as overhead, to enhance its appearance. An Alcorn McBride LightCue DMX recorder, also triggered by the V16 Pro, synchronizes lighting effects with the globe's sound system. The LightCue records the output of any lighting board and a single rack records 512 DMX channels in real-time and stores preset looks.

The globe's sound system comprises Meyer Sound Stella-8C 8-inch coaxial speakers that are are ceiling mounted, as well as two Tannoy 110TB-X 10-inch low-impedance passive down-firing subwoofers. The audio feeds come from the Binloops. Halls says that the audio was mixed on site using an Avid Pro Tools system to tailor sound effects to the imagery.

"There are aircraft sounds and a missile launch and we got them tightly locked to the video," Hall explains. "The subs add to the punch."

In fact, the combination of sound, video, and lighting has created a powerful icon that stops visitors in their tracks. And no one seems to mind that the video "continents" are abstract approximations, even after the design/build team consulted with a professor of geography during construction. "Texas is kind of a defining feature for the map of North America," says Thatcher. "The only way we could make it fit was to pretty much wipe out Oklahoma. We felt bad about that."

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