— Seattle’s EMP Museum recently renovated its Sky Church, a one-of-a-kind grand hall that features elaborate automated multimedia presentations complete with lighting, effects, live performances, and elaborate gala events. Earlier this year, premier systems integration firm Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) upgraded the room’s master control, delivering high definition (HD) imagery, true 5.1 surround sound, and a new media front end to manage content.
Master control for Sky Church, a unique grand hall for Seattle’s EMP Museum that features elaborate automated multimedia presentations, was recently upgraded by Advanced Broadcast Solutions. (Photo by Rick Barry)
EMP Museum of Music, Science Fiction, and Pop Culture is housed in the landmark Frank O. Gehry building at the base of the Seattle Space Needle. The museum’s Sky Church is a striking space, with a 70-foot ceiling and new 33×60 foot Barco C7 LED video wall that supports better-than-HD image quality.
“Essentially, it’s a multimedia presentation room housed in a museum exhibit,” said Mark Miller, ABS sales and design specialist. “The flexibility is so vast that it can host almost any type of presentation. It’s arguably the most sophisticated venue in the northwest.”
When the museum opened in 2000, Sky Church was originally conceived as a communal place for people of all ages to gather, according to Forrest Gibson, chief technology officer at EMP. Physically, visually, and sonically, it is an awe-inspiring space with tremendous potential to create a dramatic multi-sensory experience.
In 2009, when the museum began to consider upgrades, Gibson said several design goals were set. Beyond an upgrade from SD to HD, the museum wanted the space to draw in patrons with presentations utilizing new and archived content.
During the proposal process, Gibson said the ABS team delivered more than just the most favorable pricing. He said they were very responsive and delivered extraordinary service, particularly when gathering information during the initial bid process. “They offered valuable recommendations, rather than a cookie-cutter approach,” he said.
Recently upgraded by Advanced Broadcast Solutions, the master control room for Sky Church, a unique grand hall for the EMP Museum in Seattle, supports HD imagery, true 5.1 surround sound, and a new media front end to manage content. (Photo by Rick Barry)
Previously designed to support SD video, the room can now display HD imagery from several Pacific Interactive media servers, a Green Hippo Hippotizer HD media server, Blu-ray players, digital signage, and presentation computers located in the control room. All video is run through a Vista Systems Spyder X20 video processor and routed through a PESA Cheetah router.
For audio, the Sky Church is equipped with a Linear Acoustics upmixer that converts stereo content into 5.1 surround sound. A Yamaha DM2000VCM digital production console allows the operator to mix in a true 5.1 space – and it allows any input, including live microphones, to be panned in the surround sound field. Miller said the new design allows for more interesting audio programming for the museum.
“We really transformed the space to be the heart of the museum,” Gibson said, “a shared space in a very comfortable environment for people to enjoy curated content. It’s night and day for us. It sounds fantastic, it looks fantastic, it’s what we needed.” He also said the upgrades have “amped up” production values for events.
The backbone of the new audio and video systems is built on a 3G platform, so it is ready to handle future content bandwidth demands. “We spent a lot of time up front to make it future-proof and as flexible as possible,” said Miller. “We were coming into a space where we had to develop a workflow based around new technologies that haven’t really been put together before.”
ABS was able to complete the master control project in about three weeks, so it was ready for the opening of EMP’s Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition in April. Sky Church is currently showing custom content supporting its AVATAR exhibition, which opened in June.
“What we found with ABS was that they were truly a partner,” Gibson added. “They were eager to understand what our needs really were. Their design was fantastic and the installation was very clean and top notch.”
About Advanced Broadcast Solutions:
Based in SeaTac, WA, Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) specializes in personalized broadcast services such as consulting, project budgeting, workflow analysis, feasibility studies, project management, system and architectural design and engineering, equipment specifying, procurement and installation, maintenance support and training. ABS boasts a technical staff with over a century of practical experience in television operations, automation, traffic implementation, multiple program stream management and signal distribution by fiber, microwave and satellite. ABS clients include: Fisher Communications, Cowles California Media, Real Networks, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft Studios.
For more information about ABS, call 206-870-0244 or visit our Web site at