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Alcorn McBride show control for fracking exhibit

Paddy Baker 29 April 2013
Alcorn McBride show control for fracking exhibit

 ‘Shale Voyager’, a 4D theatre experience that explains the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is being controlled by an Alcorn McBride V4 Pro show controller and 8-channel Digital Binloop HD player.

The new Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, is a hands-on destination for discovery featuring five floors of public space with 11 permanent exhibit halls. ‘Shale Voyager’ is a small theatre in the Tom Hunt Energy Hall (funded by a gift from Hunt Petroleum Corporation), which provides a virtual experience that educates participants about the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Video and motion chairs give visitors the sense of what it would be like to shrink to the size of a grape, travel vertically down a 6,500-foot borehole, come out horizontally through the black rock of North Texas’s Barnett Shale and whoosh back to the surface when the gas is released.

The theatre was designed, built and programmed the theatre by Paul Bernhard of Paul Bernhard Exhibit Design and Consulting. “Shale Voyager was designed as a cylindrical theatre with a spherical top,” he explained. “Three platforms hold seven people each in a semi-circle. Six screens are in the ceiling; three represent portholes. Another screen is in the floor. The screens show visitors what they’re seeing on their virtual voyage to the Barnett Shale.”

Bernhard chose Alcorn McBride’s Digital Binloop HD to play the show’s video and the V4 Pro to control the show, including the doors and seats. The Digital Binloop HD provides up to eight channels of HD video in a compact, economical and reliable package designed for continuous daily use with no maintenance. Video clips are stored on Compact Flash media so there are no moving parts to wear out; each card can hold hours of media.

The V4 Pro is a versatile, frame-accurate controller for serial and network devices. It features 16 optically isolated inputs, 16 discrete outputs with self-restoring fuses, video frame sync and a real-time clock/calendar. It’s capable of running every day for years, without ever requiring reboots, software updates or maintenance of any kind.

“Everything is working very nicely; the synchronisation is great,” Bernhard added. “Alcorn McBride has a reputation as the go-to company for complex show control – they’re one of the leaders. Our set-up has been very reliable, and visitors are really enjoying the show.”

The $185 million Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened to the public on 1 December 2012.

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