Visitors to the new Nature Research Center (NRC) wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have the opportunity to explore interactive exhibits and experiences featuring audio-visual systems by Electrosonic.
The Raleigh-based museum is the largest of its kind in the southeast. Its new, 80,000-square-foot Nature Research Center offers state-of-the-art labs, research opportunities, interactive exhibits and live presentations designed to make science a tangible and fun experience that helps visitors understand the practical applications of science in their everyday lives. Small Design Firm was charged with designing the interactives; Batwin & Robin Productions was the content producer.
Electrosonic’s design consulting team was involved throughout the project. “Over the course of five years on the job, there were many changes in the AV world, and the systems themselves evolved,” said Yiannis Cabolis, Electrosonic design consultant. “We interfaced with manufacturers and strategic partners to get a good picture of what we could expect to see by installation time.” Cabolis also worked with exhibit designer Andrew Merriell & Associates and lead designer Rebecca Shreckengast.
During the course of the build, the most challenging aspect for Electrosonic proved to be the SECU Daily Planet, a globe-shaped structure cantilevered onto the building and spanning the three-story wing. The Daily Planet is a multimedia theater with a 40x40-foot high-definition screen, which offers a visual canvas to visitors on all three floors. In its Ambient mode, it presents scenes from nature through a variety of pre-recorded video content and random imagery. In its Presentation mode, it serves as a backdrop to scientists making daily live presentations.
Electrosonic supplied six Christie WU12K-M series 3-chip DLP digital projectors for the Daily Planet’s 40x40-foot HD screen. Four of the projectors provide the blend for the bottom and middle of the screen and two for the upper portion. Four Barco DL3 moving digital light engines paint images on the bands of the screens located between the three floors. All of the projectors operate in Ambient and Presentation modes; Batwin & Robin Productions created the Ambient content.
Four Delta high-resolution uncompressed media servers from 7thSense Design, which were specifically configured for the project, feed the projectors, TV/radio outputs and preview/confidence monitors. The media servers also handle all warping, blending and color balancing. A multi-channel Medialon CobraNet-enabled server, which uses CobraNet-enabled speakers for DSP and delivery, handles audio.
Electrosonic also provided streaming computers to the equipment room and the operator’s control kiosk in the Daily Planet. These computers and a laptop input from the speaker’s podium are routed through live inputs of the Delta servers to the Daily Planet’s main screen in a pre-determined Presentation mode window. The window features one to three occurrences of the same information tiled with a common background to the big screen.
Electrosonic furnished AV solutions for 55 experiential media exhibits in the NRC wing, including “magic tables” for specimen identification via RF tags; visitor-veterinary lab observations; a salt-water tank with touch-activated information; and a weather prediction station with live international links.
Among the principal equipment supplied by Electrosonic for these exhibits were projectiondesign and High End Systems projectors; I-Tech touchscreens; Medialon Manager show control; Innovox, Renkus-Heinz and JBL speakers; QSC and Stewart Audio amps; and Peavey audio processing.
David Weiner Design was the lighting designer for the NRC. At Electrosonic, Gary Barnes was the project manager, Carl Hartzler the project engineer, Yiannis Cabolis the design consultant and Les Hill the sales person.