Having produced the world’s first feature film, Australia has devoted one of its premier museums to the art of the moving image – the ACMI in Melbourne celebrates the nation’s robust history in the medium, including film, television, video games and moving image artwork.

Recently, the museum underwent a renovation that completely overhauled its centrepiece exhibition design – and its A/V system – to allow visitors to take a journey through Australia’s history of moving images.

The Story of the Moving Image (Pic: Shannon McGrath)Through the use of immersive and interactive A/V, the exhibition, titled The Story of the Moving Image, advances through time – from shadow play to the films that shaped Australia’s cinematic landscape. The exhibition includes Games Lab Presented by Big Ant Studios, where AAA titles sit alongside a curated selection of locally made indie games, and a section dedicated to the power of citizen journalism.

While the museum is largely focused on the ‘image’ component of its name, the need for thoughtfully placed audio throughout the space is critical – requiring hundreds of audio feeds across the gallery space. To make that much sound work, the ACMI designers relied on Audinate’s Dante.

‘Traditionally, the space has been known to be a bit cacophonous,’ says Greg Turner, a consultant working with ACMI. ‘Because of that, we knew from the start it was going to be critical that we had tight control over all of our audio signals. With the redesign we’ve installed hundreds of displays in the space, so how do we make sure we’re managing hundreds of audio signals as well? The obvious answer from the start was Dante.’

Dante allows audio, control, and all other data to coexist effectively on the same network. Additionally, using Dante as opposed to traditional networking brings a reduction in electromagnetic interference – something important to ACMI as it is located nearby a Melbourne train line.

‘ACMI has created a soundscape that requires both localized sound as well as sound that exists as a background across the entire gallery space,’ says Michael Cartmel, integrator at Lumicom, and lead installer on the project. ‘When you consider all the endpoints in this system, it would be horrendous to try and do this without Dante. You’d have an impossible number of cables and you’d be hard pressed to pinpoint what cable was for what speaker.’

With Dante, Cartmel says, the process was not only easier, but also more elegant. Each endpoint in the system is connected to the network and sent to a virtual matrix switch. The system then relies on a Dante-native QSC Q-Sys Core 510i to provide both DSP and control of the system through its Q-Sys software platform.

Endpoints on the system are typically speakers – the museum uses Yamaha speakers and Dante-native amplifiers across the space – however, oftentimes an input is added by way of a microphone or a localized piece of video. In those cases, where Dante isn’t natively integrated into an endpoint, the museum uses Dante AVIO adapters.

The Story of the Moving Image (Pic: Shannon McGrath)Supporting analogue input and output, Dante AVIO Adapters allow users to connect nearly any piece of gear with an audio signal to a Dante-connected system – delivering the interoperability, performance, and scalability that only networking can bring.

‘The video game consoles, for example, aren’t Dante native, but it’s no problem,’ Cartmel points out. ‘We put AVIO adapters on them and quickly added audio on the network. It’s perfect.’

Cartmel says that a similar approach is used in areas where individuals can craft their own soundscapes using inputs such as microphones, instruments and music software. The system takes the input generated by the user and makes it Dante-native immediately with the AVIO adapters.

Most importantly, the museum is able to bring all these unique endpoints together in a streamlined system featuring custom sound in every location. This provides an immersive experience tailored precisely to where an individual is in the museum, or what exhibit they might be interacting with.

‘Despite the architectural challenges presented by ACMI’s The Story of the Moving Image, Dante has allowed us the flexibility to adapt our immersive soundscapes to suit the space,’ says ACMI Renewal Project Manager, Evan Davies. ‘It has allowed us the freedom to move sound anywhere throughout the exhibition, tweaking on the fly and letting us blend the soundscapes with the 100 or so other sound sources also present in the system.’

‘With this system we have the ability to take every audio signal we’re using in the space and use it to specifically fit in the overall soundscape,’ Cartmel adds. ‘It is an incredibly flexible system thanks to the power of putting audio on the network with Dante.’

More: www.audinate.com

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