7thSense media servers in ever-changing scientific visitor attraction25 June 2012
7thSense Design has supplied core technology to the Daily Planet – an immersive dome experience just opened by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina. The installation shows the company’s ability to customise ts Delta media server to meet the image-manipulation needs of demanding show-control environments,
An 80,000-square foot extension to the museum, the Nature Research Center (NRC) bringw research scientists and their work into the public eye. The centrepiece of the NRC – both physically and conceptually – is the SECU Daily Planet, a hemispherical dome that uses multimedia technology to link the virtual and natural worlds. At regular intervals during the day, the 40ft high, high-definition domed screen is used to present new research and its impact on current issues. This is in contrast to most themed attractions, which offer the same programme day after day.
“The system design is unique,” said Ian Macpherson, Director, 7thSense. “We supplied a single Delta server to drive all six of the Christie projectors for the main display wall, with 2K x 2K uncompressed media resolution and real-time warp-and-blend to make a single, continuous canvas. A second Delta server then feeds another timeline into the live inputs of the first one. This allows the show-control system to drop media in real time onto this server as Timeline B, while Timeline A is playing the primary Delta.
“In effect, this means that both Delta servers can be re-programmed on the fly while the audience is watching the show, depending on the needs of the NRC and without any of the operators requiring any show-programming expertise.”
A seamless transition between the two timelines, known internally as Ambient Mode, is ensured by the provision of luma-key transition movies created by batwin+robin productions – which was responsible for the creative concept and content execution at the Daily Planet. 7thSense worked closely with b+r throughout, with AV systems contractor Electrosonic and show-control provider Smart Monkeys also playing pivotal roles in the realisation of the project.
As well as Ambient Mode, NRC staff can select other modes from the Smart Monkeys GUI, which allows a choice of different mixes of live presentation windows and backgrounds. This allows a flexible use of the display system, moving from randomised playback to a more interactive experience.
Another unusual aspect of the Daily Planet is that its screen can be viewed from any one of three floors within the dome. The creative and technology teams haveused this to their advantage, adding four Barco movable video projectors which move around the thin bands between the floors at the rear of the space, creating a composite video and lighting projection that extends way off thescreen and onto other parts of the Planet’s architecture. Both Barco projectors are driven by a single Delta server, fully synchronised to the main show-control system.
“This exhibit pushes Delta very hard,” added 7thSense’s Macpherson. “We have some 2,700 resources on our timeline, with additional real-time inserted media and up to four live captured inputs on-screen from various live presenters within the dome.
“The randomised and real-time inserted nature of the content means the Delta system has to provide seamless playback, even though it’s transitioning from one server to another, so that the ‘hidden’ server can be queued up for its next topic.
“There is a constant two-way communication between Delta and the Smart Monkeys show controller, and many new features were added to Delta specifically for thisproject.”
“The show programming was accomplished by 7thSense and Smart Monkeys over four weeks of intense on-site activity,” said Gary Barnes, project manager at Electrosonic. “In total the Delta servers are providing six channels of HD video and 16 channels of audio, together with time-accurate commands to trigger lighting and the selection of the next show.
“Since the Daily Planet opened, the systems have performed faultlessly, and we could not have asked for more conscientious and more creative partners than 7thSense Design. Between us we have created a unique experience, which combines the best of immersive multi-image technology with the freshness of a live and spontaneous theatre show. Seeing is believing!”
Picture: © batwin + robin productions