MediaMerge Unveils New Media Server Technology at 2008 Giant Screen Cinema Association International Conference

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The ShowSource™3D is the first-ever giant screen cinema digital sound and video playback source with built-in theater automation.

MediaMerge ShowSource3D

When theaters began approaching us about developing new products for the giant screen industry, we realized there was a real need for the type of creativity and experience we could bring to the table

Delegates at the 2008 Giant Screen Cinema Association International Conference got a first look at MediaMerge's ShowSource™3D, during the trade show at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ.

The ShowSource™3D is a turn-key media server targeted squarely at the giant-screen cinema market. The unit serves as a multi-channel digital sound source, offers high-definition 3D video playback and boasts a built-in, comprehensive theater automation system controlled via a wireless touch-screen interface. The ShowSource™3D is the first system of its kind to offer this range of features in a single package.

"When theaters began approaching us about developing new products for the giant screen industry, we realized there was a real need for the type of creativity and experience we could bring to the table," states MediaMerge president, Ken McKibben. "We've had a lot of success providing systems integration services in other markets for almost a decade, and as the world's largest third-party SPP service provider for IMAX Theaters, we've got a really unique perspective on how to solve their problems."

Development of the product began earlier this year with the goal of delivering the product for the 2008 GSCA Conference. MediaMerge system designer, Tim Ogletree, was charged with the task of designing a system that would meet a wide range of needs that are specific to giant screen presentation using non-proprietary hardware as a cost-saving measure.

"With modern day, off-the-shelf hardware, the focus of creating a product like this centers around a software platform that utilizes high-quality codecs and an open ended architecture to provide a solution that is of immediate benefit but will also usher the theater into the emerging world of digital cinema," notes Ogletree. " The ShowSource™3D includes capabilities for networked show control, 3D, 4k digital cinema playback, and a content security & licensing solution. Couple that technology with an interface designed to make everyday use a snap, and the value of this approach is clearly evident."

The heart of the system is a high-powered media server utilizing off-the-shelf components. PCI cards provide the necessary ins and outs for functions such as video output, multi-channel audio, SMPTE time code, and tach-to-SMPTE conversion. Audio is delivered to an external DSP (digital signal processor) over a digital network using standard CobraNet technology. System automation and show control are handled by MediaMerge's proprietary software.

"We've never really bought into the idea that the use of proprietary hardware, in and of itself, adds any value to the equation," remarks McKibben. "There are tons of manufacturers out there spending millions of dollars on R&D who are completely focused on a very narrow range of functionality. It's not necessary for us to re-invent the wheel. Our focus is on how we can take those products, with good design and some custom programming, and deliver a truly exceptional experience. Without all of the unnecessary in-house R&D costs, you get a better product for a whole lot less money."

In June, MediaMerge replaced the sound system in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Omnimax Theater as the first phase of a large-scale renovation. The system included six discrete speaker channels, each boasting eleven loudspeaker drivers feeding into a co-entrant horn. The subwoofer system included four high-output low-frequency enclosures that deliver smooth response well below 20Hz. With more than seventy total loudspeaker drivers, the system delivers unprecedented power and precision. The second phase of the renovation is slated to begin later this month and will include LED cove lighting, digital projection and the first roll-out of the ShowSource™3D.

"This is one of the most exciting things to happen to the Omnimax Theater in 22 years," states Kathryn Chapman, the museum's Manager of Guest Services. "We are thrilled to be the first IMAX theater to feature this new technology, and can't wait to share it with our audiences. We were initially interested in the product because of its range of flexibility, but our expectations were completely surpassed when we saw the interface. Not only will the ShowSource™3D be able to seamlessly handle inputs from a variety of media, but building and executing first-class theater experiences will be easy and fun for the first time in our theater's history."

About Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world, is home to more than 35,000 artifacts and nearly 14 acres of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity. The museum has welcomed more than 175 million guests in 75 years, and its ongoing mission has been to inspire the inventive genius in all of them with world-class, permanent exhibits such the U-505 Submarine, the only German U-boat in the United States; or world-premiere temporary exhibits such as 2008's Smart Home: Green + Wired.

About Giant Screen Cinema Association

The Giant Screen Cinema Association(GSCA®) is the professional development network to advance the international business of producing and presenting giant screen experiences for the public. GSCA was formed in January 2006 with the unification of the Giant Screen Theater Association and the Large Format Cinema Association. Its nearly 300 member organizations include giant screen filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, suppliers, and students from around the world.

About Liberty Science Center

Dedicated to providing transformative experiences that connect schools and society with science and technology, Liberty Science Center is the New Jersey-New York City region's largest education resource. Motivated by an innovative philosophy and enabled by a $109 million expansion and renewal, Liberty Science Center is bringing the excitement of science to students, educators, families and adults in engaging new ways and establishing a progressive benchmark for the science center field.

About MediaMerge

MediaMerge, Inc. was established in 2001 to provide design, installation, service and support for sound, video, automation, acoustics and theatrical lighting systems. In 2002, the company established a third-party IMAX service division which rapidly grew to become the largest such operation in the world.


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