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Alcorn Mc Bride Provides Audio and Control at Franklin Institute’s “Your Brain” Exhibition


Located in the heart of Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute, Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, is a renowned leader in science and technology learning.

The Institute recently opened “Your Brain”, a permanent, high-profile exhibition housed in the new 53, 000-square foot, $41 million Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, named for its main donors.

Alcorn McBride’s Pro TraXX and VCore controller played key roles in the exhibition, the largest in the country and dedicated to the body’s most complicated organ. Entertainment Lighting Services (ELS), a leading integrator and supplier of lighting and staging equipment and range of production services, provided the gear.

Design firm Available Light brought in ELS to furnish audio and lighting integration.for elements of the exhibition – namely the Street Scene area, where visitors travel through a scenes of everyday life filled with multi-sensory information, and the Neural Climb a two-story climbing structure that simulates a neural network with dynamic lighting and sound effects triggered by footsteps.

Explaining the selection of Alcorn McBride equipment  Steve Prado, Senior Project Manager at ELS, who has specified Alcorn products frequently, commented:

“From a show control trigger and front-end perspective Alcorn is always my first choice. They have great equipment and clearly have been through everything, so I know they’ll be familiar with anything I do.  That was validated by The Franklin Institute’s tech crew: When they saw our rack they recognized Alcorn McBride and thought it was perfect.  That was great from a maintenance service standpoint – I wasn’t bringing in an unknown manufacturer.”

He added,  “The lighting and sound effects incorporated into the Neural Climb immerse the visitor and reinforce the concept that the brain is a very active place. It demonstrates the complexities of what goes on in your brain.

“The space is like a voyage inside the brain, walking through and seeing synapses trigger and fire.  There are five glass disks mounted on the floor and when you stand on them your footsteps trigger a series of lighting and audio cues.  By using a VCore controller we can shuffle the cues randomly.  When you stand on a trigger it’s not specific to the location, it’s random. The intent was to create a non-repetitive perception of the fact that nothing ever happens twice – and it’s been very successful in its implementation.”

The Street Scene area simulates a small-town Main Street where visitors see and hear typical sights and sounds as they walk.

“Alcorn McBride’s ProTraXX supplies audio effects playback on a loop that the sound designer Karin Graybash and ELS tech Chuck Schoon worked through and programmed, ” explains Prado.

“It’s a pretty straightforward application for the compact, solid-state MP3 playback unit.”

Prado states that the system is working perfectly.

“Alcorn McBride really is the gold standard.  And the company is spot on in terms of customer service. They are always responsive and understand the kind of deadlines and last-minute decisions that get made.  Alcorn McBride is one of my go-to manufacturers.”

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