North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center

Interactive AV Highlights the Wonders of Science
Raleigh, North Carolina

Download this project profile as a PDF

The Nature Research Center (NRC) wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest of its kind in the southeast United States. The center is designed to make science a tangible and fun experience that helps visitors understand its practical applications in their everyday lives. With its wide array of unique interactive exhibits featuring audio-visual systems by Electrosonic, the 80,000-square-foot facility offers state-of-the-art labs, research opportunities and live presentations.

SECU Daily Planet

The AV highlight of the NRC is a massive visual canvas called the SECU Daily Planet, a globe-shaped, immersive multimedia theater structure cantilevered onto the building and spanning the three-story wing with a 40 by 40-foot high-definition screen. Electrosonic supplied six 3-chip DLP digital projectors for maximum brightness and resolution; four provide the blend for the bottom and middle of the screen and two for the upper portion. Four moving digital light projectors paint images on the bands of the screens located between the three floors.

In its Ambient mode, it presents spectacular scenes from nature through a variety of pre-recorded video content and random imagery. In its Presentation mode, it serves as a backdrop to scientists making daily live presentations on topics as diverse as excavating dinosaur fossils, tracking baboons in Kenya or exploring beyond the solar system.

SECU Daily Planet

Four high-resolution uncompressed media servers specifically configured for the project feed the projectors, TV/radio outputs and preview/confidence monitors. The media servers also handle all warping, blending and color balancing. Uncompressed audio is processed and distributed from a multi-channel audio server over the network to the Daily Planet and throughout the facility.

SH Acoustics was contracted to evaluate the demanding sound requirements of the Daily Planet space. The challenging acoustics of the environment required both acoustical treatments and the introduction of digitally steerable line arrays, which helped improve the acoustics of the Daily Planet. A multi-channel audio server coupled with digital signal processors delivers audio throughout the facility.

Electrosonic also provided streaming computers to the equipment room and the operator’s control kiosk in the Daily Planet, which along with a laptop input from the speaker’s podium, can be routed through live inputs of the media servers to the Daily Planet’s main screen in a pre-determined Presentation mode window.

Research Lab Interactive

In addition to meeting the AV needs of the Daily Planet theater, Electrosonic furnished AV solutions for 55 innovative experiential media exhibits in the NRC wing, including “magic tables” for specimen identification via RF tags; visitor-veterinary lab observations; a salt-water tank with touch-activated information; and a weather prediction station with live international links.

Exploring the Deep Sea Exhibit

Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team was involved throughout the project from the concept to the grand opening, working closely with exhibit designer Andrew Merriell & Associates and lead designer Rebecca Shreckengast. David Weiner Design was the lighting designer for the NRC. Small Design Firm was charged with designing the interactives; Batwin & Robin Productions was the content producer.

Exhibit Video Describing New Discoveries in Ancient Fossils
All Photos: batwin + robin