Mad Systems Dives Into Theater With Water Show

LAWERENCEVILLE, GA-Water is the primary subject of the new Gwinnett County Environmental & Heritage Center opening near Atlanta this fall. Audiovisual systems specialist Mad Systems of Orange, CA was brought onto the creative team to engineer and install Gwinnett's Blue Planet Theater using the best of modern water-show technology. For the Gwinnett project, Mad Systems worked alongside exhibit designer Van Sickle & Rolleri (Medford, NJ); fabricator Exhibit Concepts (Vandalia, OH), and architect Lord, Aeck & Sargent (Atlanta).

The circular Blue Planet Theater occupies one end of a 61-foot by 64-foot, accessible multi-purpose room. The focal point is a round, black infinity pool of water, nine feet in diameter and mounted about 18 inches above the floor. Water flows continuously over its edges and fog rolls out over its surface. Flanking the pool are two front-projection HD video screens.

Simulated rain falls from jets over the pool and forms into a center screen 12-feet high and seven-feet wide called a "waterscrim," which is used as a video projection surface. A light fog haze floats near the top of the set and catches beams of light. The waterscrim is turned off, and subsequent images are projected onto an eight-foot-diameter topographic map of north Georgia that rises from the pool via a hidden underwater mechanism. During the 12-minute show, lively incidental effects are provided by the seats themselves, which conceal ButtKicker transducers.