There’s an Ocean Commotion going on at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay where a newly renovated gallery of that name offers visitors a close encounter with some of the most amazing creatures found in the sea.
Electrosonic, Inc. upgraded audio and video equipment in the gallery to enhance the visitors’ experience as they connect with sea creatures in a new and different way. Now, as visitors progress from tank to tank, fun animated content follows them. In a series of character animations, Raldo, the intrepid shark reporter, interviews six nominees for the Golden Gill Award: a mandarin fish, spider crab, clown fish, octopus, rhinopias, and mantis shrimp, each is a real creature in his own exhibit.
"Visitors get a sense of the characteristics of each creature through their animated counterparts, " explains director of exhibits Pete Colangelo. "That’s what makes the gallery unique." At the conclusion of the exhibit visitors have an opportunity to vote for their favorite nominee.
Electrosonic provided the tanks with 24- and 32" Samsung LCD monitors to display the animated content. The video is fed from an equipment rack using Technovision DD66 Flash video players as servers. Each tank location features Sound Tube full-range single cone speakers which push the audio down to those standing in front of the monitor.
JBL Control 23 ceiling-mounted speakers play background music throughout the gallery. Five additional 24" Viewsonic LCDs are scattered at key points in the gallery where they display visitor-made, YouTube-style videos recounting their ocean experiences.
Fogscreens (from Fogscreen, Inc.) bookend Ocean Commotion and serve as projection surfaces for content which introduces the Golden Gill nominees and sums up the competition. Electrosonic furnished two Christie DS+305 rear-screen projectors, one for each Fogscreen.
At " Plankton in Space, " 19" Samsung LCD monitors display a fun music video of living ocean plankton.
Additionally, Electrosonic furnished three more DS+305s, which project all-animated content for the Virtual Aquarium interactive display prior to exiting the gallery. Infrared technology from Alpharetta, Georgia-based Playmotion enables visitors to use their hands to touch the animated creatures in the underwater display triggering informational pop-ups and prompting various real-world behaviors: A dolphin comes when called then solicits a belly rub, spins and chatters; Christmas Tree worms hide in rocks when approached then peek out when visitors retreat.
The Red Submarine in Shark Bay boasts a large viewing window and bench seating looking into a tank where sharks, a huge goliath grouper, a sea turtle, and jacks interact with divers during daily hosted shows. Electrosonic installed video monitors flanking the tank which provide information about the inhabitants of the tank, count down the time to the next scheduled show, and display video content during the show. The monitors can also display movies on DVD when kids participate in aquarium sleepovers.
Electrosonic also installed and programmed an AMX control system which starts the show, triggers the video, cues lighting to spotlight the host and illuminate the tank, and shuts down the attraction at the end of the day.
All of the galleries are Wi-Fi-ready so visitors carrying smart phones and other devices can get additional information on exhibits. "This is new to the venue but something we’ll see more of in the museum and science-center community, " notes Colangelo.
Tim Wilson was Electrosonic’s project manager for the job with Toni Losier sales consultant and Mike Dwyre installation supervisor.
Colangelo had previously worked with Electrosonic at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. "I already had a relationship with Tim, so it was good to work together again, " he says. "I appreciate Electrosonic’s professionalism and due diligence when it came to helping us decide on the technology and equipment we needed for Ocean Commotion. I always get great results from Electrosonic, and they’re so easy to work with."
The Florida Aquarium is open seven days a week from 9:30am to 5:00pm and is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Florida Aquarium is a non-profit environmental organization whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment.