Doing the Little Things Right Equal Big Success for Electrosonic

Electronic wins the 2016 Integration Award in the museum category for its work at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

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Naturally, you’d assume it was the 360-degree Indigenous Perspectives Theater that posed the biggest challenge for Electrosonic when tackling a wide-ranging integration project at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Indeed, the acoustically unique room did raise some obstacles for the integration firm.

However, museum projects are rarely about one big challenge. Instead, they provide a seemingly endless array of little challenges ultimately narrowing down the number of integration firms with the processes and patience to be successful serving museum customers.

Start with the fact that Electronic coordinated relationships with 11 media partners that were involved in the build-out of the museum. There were also challenges related to the building’s unique architectural profile, which was designed by U.S. architect Antoine Predock working with Winnipeg’s Architecture 49.

Photos: Inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

And, oh yeah — the project took place during Winnipeg’s coldest winter in 35 years!

The good news is Electrosonic was able to spend a lot of time with the owners and architects during the two years leading up to the project, but much redesign was required during implementation as the customer’s requirements evolved.

Electrosonic was contracted to do the audio-visual design of the museum’s 11 galleries. Then the global integration firm directed the AV equipment installation working with local partner Advance-Pro. One reason for the outsourcing is that the project took place in Canada, so Burbank, Calif.-based Electrosonic used with local labor with all equipment supplied via local vendor.

Integrator Takeaways:
1. Challenges posed by the unique architecture were overcome with compact linear speaker arrays and 2-D focusing ceiling arrays.
2. Instead of firing sound across a theater, speakers were aimed down at the audience.
3. Compact power pipe subwoofers were used under the theater seats.

End User Takeaways:
1. For large projects with multiple vendors, look for an integration firm with excellent project management.
2. Consider architectural challenges of your venue and lead room for the integrator to troubleshoot solutions.
3. Consider that coordinating with 11 media partners is tough for even the most adept firm.

Equipment Highlights:
Projection solution from Barco and Dataton, Speakers by Tannoy, Innovox, Brown Innovations and Renkus Heinz, Subwoofers by James Loudspeaker

Despite an aggressive schedule that had to speed up considerably down the stretch, Electrosonic managed to stay on budget.

The museum features theaters, interactive touchscreen stations, projections on a digital canvas and hundreds of video clips. In addition, Electrosonic handled show control programming, projector alignment and media partner technical coordination.

The architectural profile of the space is designed to move visitors onward and upward through the museum, which includes alabaster ramps and stone-clad bridges crisscrossing a 170-foot atrium.

Theaters are scattered throughout the museum. The first one visitors encounter is in the gallery defining human rights. The open-air theater format, with bench seating, features a three-projector edge blend on scrim; sculptures behind the scrim form part of the story. Three Barco HDX-W20 FLEX projectors are ceiling mounted; a Dataton WATCHOUT system handles edge blending.

To address some of the challenges posed by the unique architecture, Electrosonic deployed Brown Innovations compact linear speaker arrays and 2-D focusing ceiling arrays, Renkus Heinz speakers and Tannoy bookshelf speakers to enhance the immersive feeling in the theaters.

In the Examining the Holocaust and Breaking the Silence theaters, custom-shaped Innovox speakers embedded in the bench seating are used. The long, shallow speakers fire sound to the people sitting in the row behind and are time-delayed to combine with the front speakers to localize sound to the screen.

As for the obstacles posed by the 360-degree Indigenous Perspectives Theater, understand that it has benches around the perimeter for viewing the screens and a central area for guest artists to perform in. That proved to be a particular challenge.

Instead of firing sound across the room, Tannoy speakers were placed behind the screens aimed down at the audience. To keep the space wide and exciting, a fabricated and undulating wooden wall creates perfect diffusion in the circular room and offers another visually unique design element. Compact power pipe subwoofers from James Loudspeaker were placed under the bench seating.

The great thing about museum projects, of course, is that although the challenges can be great so can be the benefits. Not only does the technology assume a high-profile role, but the integration firm has a hand in delivering in this case an important message to visitors about human rights.

Meet all of the 2016 Integration Award Winners here.