It's every Trekker's dream: Star Trek: The Adventure, an exhibition currently running in London's Hyde Park that celebrates nearly five decades of the ever-popular science fiction series and boasts nearly $40 million in sets and memorabilia. The linear walk-through exhibition takes visitors through nine zones of specially recreated sets, props, costumes, and interactive demonstrations, including the Transporter Room from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Originally a touring exhibition in the 1990s, the entire collection had been mothballed at Hamburg docks in 138 sea containers. Los Angeles-based company Special Entertainment Events (SEE) bought the entire exhibition, sight unseen, and shipped it to the former RAF base at Finningley near Doncaster. Only then did SEE find out what it had bought.
On opening the containers it quickly emerged that many parts of the collection were in need of upgrading, repairing, servicing, or replacing to rebuild the show in its Next Generation format and make it suitable for a new static exhibition.
Part of the project required a replica of the bridge of the original USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, where Captain James T. Kirk ruled supreme over the likes of Scotty, Mr. Spock, and that poor ensign who always got killed in every episode. SEE called in Stage One Creative Services to construct the bridge. SEE provided Stage One with original drawings and photographs that had been used in the set construction of the first Star Trek series. Using these, Stage One took a modular approach, breaking larger components into individual units and then, using sophisticated CAD and CNC manufacturing techniques, the various pieces of Captain Kirk's bridge came into being. The modules were then assembled to form the complete entity. The viewing gallery, which was originally a camera platform, was constructed using tiered staging and handrails.
XL Video UK supplied and installed all the new AV equipment utilized for the exhibit. XL was also involved in an intensive three-month preproduction period prior to opening, during which time they wrote the new show control software now running the entire exhibition's audio, lighting, AV, mechanical, and automation cues.
XL first became involved in the project in September 2002, after SEE bought the exhibit and opened the containers. The XL Video team of Stuart Heaney and Quinton Willison assessed each piece of AV technology as it emerged. They discovered that the existing gear was well-built but low-tech, consisting of some spectacular relics from the early digital video projection. XL converted all the show's video, plus the control system — from start to finish — to SDI digital.
On the hardware side, XL replaced all the old composite video devices — the majority of which were Sony (karaoke-type) laser disks — with MPEG-2 players, supplying a total of 29 new Blade Pro 2 DVS machines for the job.
During the rebuild in Doncaster, XL's Quentin Willison wrote the new show control software. This is still based on the original AMX controller, but is specific to the new, more complex and sophisticated technical demands of the current exhibition.
Orbital Sound was brought in to revamp all the audio elements, and UKE Media did the same with the lighting. Once all technical disciplines were recreated or revitalized to the latest specifications, the show was derigged in Doncaster and teleported to Hyde Park by McGuiness Teleporters. It was reinstalled into the Hyde Park tent, ready for opening just before Christmas. LSD was contracted to architecturally light the venue.
On-site, XL has also supplied two Barco ELM projectors, seven Barco SLM projectors, a Barco 6400 projector, plus 22 Pioneer plasma screens. XL also created six touch screen interactive exhibits, and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the show while in Hyde Park until the end of April. Barco 701 CRT projectors are in each of the four flight simulators.
The lighting component, supplied by LSD Fourth Phase via Acutek, features the new LSC ePRO e1220 dimmers, distributed in the UK by Stagetec. LSD had been looking for new dimming systems to replace old stock. They wanted a simple-to-use, high-spec 12-channel module for this project, usable either in stand-alone mode complete with its own control electronics or able to be incorporated into a rack system. They also were looking for special enhancements, including 20A per channel, phase and neutral protection as standard on each channel, load neons in addition to the standard mimic neons, plus plenty of “marking-up” space. The result was the ePRO e1220 module — a module that moves enough heat, stays very quiet, and still resides in a shallow 3U rack space.
The ePRO system designed by Acutek for LSD also includes a Wieland patch bay with four sockets per channel allowing direct access to fully load the system with four lamps per channel, hot power for moving lights, DMX distribution, and MCCB protection with a switchable RCD to each module (30mA, 300mA, and off settings). It also provides a Power Monitoring System bar chart for immediate, independent display of phase voltages and currents, neutral current, and a visual for earth leakage, particularly handy when the RCD is turned off.
Technology solution provider Live Business International (LBI) was brought in by promoter Triple A Entertainments to provide a public address and voice alarm infrastructure for the large 490'×165' tent and used a pair of Soundweb 9088 digital matrix devices, configured mic/line, as the digital hub. Four control inputs on the units are currently being employed, as well as all eight logic outputs — the line inputs assigned to the sound store and the mic to route the push-to-talk mics.
“We were contacted because of our experience in providing sophisticated voice public address solutions for unusual environments,” says LBI technical director Roland Hemming. “In this instance, we had to deal with specific problems such as the weight limit, which precluded the use of a conventional public address system, and also the integration with the production sound. And because it's not built like an underground station or shopping center, where a PA/VA system would typically be found, there is a separate level of risk assessment. But we managed to integrate public address with the show control really well.”
A row of 10 Turbosound TCS-40 loudspeakers, five per side, has all of its respective delay settings programmed into Soundweb, while further feeds are sent to the enclosed loudspeakers on the bridge and at the entrance to the attraction.
“Because there can be no single point of failure in a voice alarm system of this nature, everything has a degree of redundancy built in,” explains Hemming. “Thus we needed a pair of Soundwebs, both talking to each other, so that everything could be backed up in the second unit. Soundweb fulfills a range of duties, from sending test signals to the equipment to routing the push-to-talk mics.”
After premiering in London, Star Trek: The Adventure will begin a world tour later in 2003. SEE intends to teleport the entire exhibition around the world for the next five years.