AT&T Dolphin Tales at Georgia Aquarium
An inspiring theatrical production starring Atlantic bottlenose dolphins is thrilling and amazing visitors at the newly-expanded Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. AT&T Dolphin Tales presents a sweeping 25-minute musical tribute to the beauty and grace of dolphins. Electrosonic played a major role in the show’s development, designing, supplying and installing all the audio and video equipment the show required. The show was crafted by Florida-based entertainment design and production company WOW!Works.
“The show needed to be a hybrid of show-controlled equipment and events, pre-recorded multitrack audio and video playback with a layer of live performance mixed in,” says Electrosonic design consultant, Steve Coe. “We wanted to meld a live theatrical show with dolphin behaviors and tap into the gamut of theatrical technology available, especially digitally-projected sets and backdrops and a high-quality theatrical multi-channel audio system.”
The indoor show is staged in the new multi-function auditorium that seats 1,800 people and houses 1.8 million gallons of water in four pools. Five tall organic shapes evocative of upright dolphin tails span an area about 80-feet wide by 40-feet tall and serve as complex, curved aluminum projection surfaces above the performance pool. Screen Goo, a specially formatted line of waterproof acrylic paint designed for projection, was used to enhance the surface.
Electrosonic specified seven DLP projectors edge-blended in two stacks of three, plus one on center. The center projector forms a flat image on a screen that drops down over the pool in front of the main set. The other screens are the complex curved aluminum structures shaped like dolphin tails. HD media servers handle media playback and content masking on independent video layers, as well as pre-show in-house advertising content and audio playback.
A 7.1 surround sound system and mixing console with onboard snapshot automation store audio information on the different actors who rotate into the show. Waterproof VHF wireless mics are provided for the dolphin trainers and theatrical intercoms. During the show, handheld wireless and wired mics are mixed live with prerecorded music tracks.
One of the biggest decisions Electrosonic and the team of developers made was to locate as much AV equipment as possible in the control room to protect it from the saline atmosphere of the dolphins’ salt-water pool. The architect allocated a control room that almost spans the width of the theater, and is divided into an audio booth, amplifier room, projection booth and lighting booth with extra room for stage management. The only AV equipment items not in the control room are the speakers and antennae.
Electrosonic also designed the AV systems for the dolphin gallery lobby. They include a background music system, a nine-screen LCD videowall and circular rear-projection screens above visitors’ heads, which dispense educational content provided by the aquarium.
“I linked the lobby system to the AT&T Dolphin Tales control booth system for audio and control,” notes Coe. “The show playout music is sent to the lobby system, minus the vocal tracks, so it accompanies the audience as they walk out of the theater and back to the lobby. All show producers hoped that the audience would walk out humming the theme tune. We wanted to go one better and provide them with an orchestral backing track so that they could also sing it!”