Medialon Manager was selected by Bowen Technovation for system control at the new Medal of Honor Museum, part of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. More than 40 recipients of the Medal of Honor, which has become synonymous with bravery and heroism, helped cut the ribbon for the museum located on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was the emcee for the gala opening; his newscast originated from Patriots Point.
“Medialon Manager was the perfect solution for this project,” notes Mike Grznar who, with Dan Ritchie, programmed the system for Bowen Technovation. “Medialon Manager allowed us to integrate many different pieces of hardware and different types of control into one easy-to-use interface,” he continues. “Programming was easy and straightforward. As exhibits came online, we could test out functionality and make any needed changes quickly. Overall programming was very easy: Medialon allows you to actually focus on the act of getting systems integrated and working instead of worrying about the particulars of the program itself..”
Grznar notes that “most of the time the Medialon system simply begins operating at the beginning of the day then shuts down at the end of the day. If there is an evening event that requires the museum to stay open, operators only need to hit one button and the system is good to go for the night. Nobody needs to ‘babysit’ it. The ability of Medialon to work with a variety of different technologies made this possible.”
From a logistical standpoint, “the most unique aspect of the installation was taking seven or eight distinct exhibits and operating them in such an automated way so that none were affected by the other, but all could still all be manually controlled within a simple interface as needed by museum personnel,” explains Grznar. “Ideally, the staff should not have to touch the control system at all; if they do, it should be only to check the status of a particular exhibit.”
The Medal of Honor Museum “required a very high degree of installation elegance with a great flexibility in programming onsite” which Medialon facilitated, echoes Bowen Technovation director, Jeff Bowen. Exhibit design by DJS Design features a number of motion-sensor triggers controlling lighting, audio clips, video playback, and more.
“One of the more interesting exhibits is a set of beautiful opaque glass towers,” notes Bowen. “When a visitor touches one of three backlit buttons to play back a video clip, a Privalite screen receives an electrical charge which turns the screen transparent. This reveals a 32-inch flat-panel screen with a video bio of the Medal of Honor recipient created by Boston Productions. Audio is delivered by overhead DSP focused arrays since the space is very acoustically live. These focused arrays are very effective at drawing the visitor into the story while screening out distracting crowd noise.”
The Combat Tunnel exhibit utilizes various control techniques, including switch closures, motion sensors, serial and DMX, all managed by Medialon. “The visitor enters at one end of the tunnel, and as they pass in front of one of four motion sensors they trigger sound and lighting playback from different periods of warfare,” Grznar explains. “Each ‘section’ runs about 15-20 seconds and literally draws the visitor forward through the tunnel via sound and lighting effects.”
Bowen project manager Jeff Norris says initially only one motion sensor was planned for the beginning of the tunnel. “Our concern with this approach was that if one visitor walked quickly through the tunnel, they would literally walk ahead of the sound and lighting effects in each section. Or, if someone moved through the tunnel slowly, the sound and lighting effects would move ahead of them and they’d miss out on the experience. By utilizing a sensor in each of the four eight-foot sections, the visitor controls the pace of the playback in the exhibit.”
Grznar emphasizes that “the fact that Medialon Manager is so easily able to communicate and work with so many technologies, we were able to use hardware that made issues such as small exhibit spaces easy to work with. Because we weren't tied to any one particular hardware solution, it gave us great flexibility in designing this or any other system.”
Key to Medialon’s success for Bowen and the museum staff is the “user-friendly architecture of the program,” he reiterates. “Programming before getting to site was much easier to do and any tweaking that had to be done onsite was very easy. For example, in the Combat Tunnel we were able to tweak the timings of the various effects on the fly in a very short timeframe. This saved time and effort not just on our end but for the exhibit designers as well: They didn't have to spend a whole day waiting for a program to be recompiled and code to be rewritten. Two clicks of a mouse and we were on to the next effect.”
The Medal of Honor Museum exhibit design lead was Roger Motiska of DJS Design. Exhibit fabrication was provided by Exhibit Concepts, Inc.