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News in pictures 4 August 2010

Gesture recognition in a ornithological visitor centre and in a school; neat theatre audio solution; and putting dinosaurs in a good light.

At the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology
in Radolfzell, Germany, a former chicken shed has been turned into a modern visitor centre, through the use of cutting-edge projection and installation equipment.

Infrared camera tracking is used to create a motion-controlled keymask for animated clouds on a projected world map. As they enter the main room, visitors actively brush the projected clouds aside. Every step the visitors take across the map causes the clouds to move a little further away, to reveal detailed bird migration routes.

This impressive effect is created using two coolux Pandoras Box Servers, while four projectors, whose images are imperceptibly blended together, project the interactive world map and the clouds onto the floor of the visitor centre.

Visitors can choose from 16 show themes via any of the ten touchscreens in the walls. Overall, 2000 individual animation files are used, supported by high quality 5.1 surround sound played out through in-ceiling speakers.

Project planning and concept was by Schukat und Reuter GbR München, while media integration and construciton were carried out by VITOLI GmbH.

Picture: VITOLI

The refurbishment of the 1888 opera house in McPherson, Kansas was virtually a complete rebuild. It was completed with the installation of the venue’s new lighting rig, and an audio system featuring Tannoy’s compact, digitally steerable QFlex arrays.

The initial speaker concept was based around a conventional line array system. However, explains Michael Dunn of Sounds Great Music, designer and installer on the project: “We started to look at the lines of sight and the 3D models the architect had, and we realised that more than half of the audience would not be covered by the traditional line array concept, and would have to be covered by additional under balcony fills.”

Overall, the low-profile, self-powered QFlex arrays were a perfect fit for the 550-seat venue’s needs. “Aesthetics were critical; equally as important as the desire for good, natural sound,” Dunn continues. “ In the end QFlex made for both far less visual clutter, as well as substantial gains in terms of coverage and overall clarity.”

The audio installation consists of a QFlex 32 on either side of the proscenium and a pair of QFlex 24 mounted above the proscenium arch – plus two Tannoy Power VS 15BP subwoofers hung from the second floor of the Juliet balconies.

DTS Titan LED wash lights
were used to illuminate several life-size animatronics at the London edition of Dinosaurs Unleashed – the UK’s largest interactive dinosaur encounter – which has now just opened at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC).

The lighting was installed by Ian Austin of Kent-based STL Lighting, who purchased the Titans specially for the exhibition from DTS’s UK distributors, Lightfactor.

Austin designed both interior and exterior lighting schemes for Dinosaurs Unleashed, which ran in London on the Land Securities Parklife site in Oxford Street. The brainchild of Nicky Allison of Progressive Events, the slightly industrial setting made an ideal home for the 24 dinosaurs, one of a number of temporary events that maximised the prime real estate during a break in the process of redeveloping the site.

A new £500,000 centre for kinaesthetic learning – featuring gesture-controlled technology – has been installed at at Farnham Heath End comprehensive school in Surrey. Named the 21C technology block, it is designed to provide “complete immersion in an environment where the children can interact wirelessly on any level,” according to retiring head teacher David Hoggins.

Taking pride of place in the new block is a GestureTek GroundFX interactive floor projection system, installed by Digital Vision AV. GroundFX integrates interactive 2D and 3D visuals with sound.

Paradigm AV, GestureTek’s UK distributor, advised using a Sanyo LCD projector (with 5000 lumens of brightness) with a short zoom lens, firing onto a single mirror rig above, which folds the beam vertically downwards to create a 2.5m x 1.9m floor image.

Another key part of the installation is the wall-based GestureTek Screen Xtreme. This uses an Optoma 2500-lumen ultra-short-throw projector to provide an 80” image over a distance of under 1m. This enables the projector to be kept close to the wall (where the motion detector is recessed) without the user casting a shadow.

The new block will not be the exclusive province of those studying Flash and Web design, but be accessible to the full roll of 880 11-16 year olds. Consideration was also given to special needs teaching but there are many other applications for this sparsely fitted, reconfigurable studio, such as drama and music.