Seeing through the Lens of ACMI’s Tech Integrator.
Lumicom were fortunate enough to be selected as the lead technology integrator for the $40 million ACMI renewal project. Working with the ACMI team, exhibit designers Razorfish , specialist consultants, builders, and interactive developers, the Lumicom team formed an essential part in the success of the project. The two year refurbishment has been the largest renewal in ACMI’s history. In the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, the new permanent exhibition features transformed installations and spaces, celebrating the old and new of Audio Visual technologies and Media. It’s a museum of what we do.
The Covid-19 pandemic struck hard while we were in the midst of the renewal. While this did present challenges, we were also in the enviable position of being able to continue to deliver the installation during one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Our task was to continue to integrate ACMI’s vision and the project partners’ design into real world installable designs. We took the redesign plans from Razorfish and the various consultants, and successfully executed the physical Audio Visual (AV) device installation including, lighting, audio, custom projection, LCD’s, and human interfaces.
Of course, any installation of this caliber requires a control and monitoring system to pull everything together and provide a continuous connected experience for both visitors and support staff. Lumicom were also charged with the task of integrating a control system to manage and monitor all AV devices and system including DMX, DALI, Q-Sys, XOS/Balena (ACMI’s own media storage and delivery system), and various custom designed media players and card readers based on Raspberry Pi architecture.
Managing a project of this size definitely posed an exciting challenge for everyone involved. The project included installing 1000’s of devices across more than 1500m2 of floor space including 10 exhibition galleries and event spaces. These devices varied from projectors, LCD’s, speakers and other transitional audio visual devices, to LED lighting and computer based systems from Windows machines to Raspberry Pi based units. The sheer volume of devices we were managing and installing, and the number of different devices required a sophisticated level of project management and work flows to ensure that each device was tested and delivered to ACMI ready for installation and commissioning. In some cases, the process for testing and development involved software and media that was still being developed by ACMI as we were planning the installation and roll-out. Lumicom provided on-line tools and management platforms to enable all of our partners the ability to provide input to the development of each device.
Lumicom employed our years of experience in audio visual integration and network based control and media delivery to deliver cutting edge solutions to video, audio and control systems. Our technicians and engineers had to install and commission both traditional AV equipment, as well as the newer Internet-of-things devices and other IT hardware. We had to ensure each device was reliable, managed and monitored for use in such a big public space. To do this, Lumicom’s Software Engineers also provided specialist development services to set up and further develop the open-source software, Nodel, to control and monitor all devices.
We were also tasked with custom manufacturing some of the bespoke AV technologies, such as the Lens Readers. The “Lens”, one of the key innovations of the exhibition, is a small circular cardboard piece visitors are given upon arrival. Visitors can then press their Lens against one of the over 150 Lens Readers associated with their favourite objects and artwork throughout the exhibition. ACMI then uploads information into a curated folder that is accessible by the visitor from any web browser. This interactive technology provides guests with the ability to go home and deep dive into the media that they digitally collected throughout the day.
In the world of AV and IT, there are many different brands and software solutions available. Lumicom provided help, advice and support to the ACMI renew team to carefully select the right systems and devices to ensure the exhibition will run smoothly well into the future. The responsibility was to supply and install these devices and systems using the very best practice and in the most efficient way so that each item can do it’s part and produce the best overall experience for visitors. The reliability of any single device can impact an entire exhibition. As an example, in collaboration with the ACMI development team, the solution for the lens readers and media playback devices, included using official Raspberry Pi hardware and Dell Optimplex Micro PC’s closely integrated and monitored by our Nodel system.
For reliability, our team custom designed and built the lens readers and media players with the Raspberry Pi’s, Power-over-ethernet circuitry and temperature/humidity sensors using a custom developed PCB. This greatly improved the reliability of the Raspberry Pi hardware and allows us to very closely monitor and control each device.
The audio system comprises over 110 individual speaker channels fed by an equal number of soundscape sources and over 60 exhibit audi sources. To manage the quality of inputs and outputs, and provide the greatest flexibility possible, Lumicom provided a 192 x 192 Dante network controlled and managed by a Q-Sys Core-510 DSP and Yamaha Dante Power Amplifiers. Using Nodel, Lumicom also provided a very simple administrator console that provides individual control for each channel and source.
Along with the custom built lens readers and media players, Lumicom also had to custom design and build various other hardware, brackets, and gadgets such as the bracket that converts more than 50 Yamaha ceiling speakers into Pendant Speakers and numerous custom LCD shrouds. Some of these devices and brackets will never be seen but all play a simple but significant part in the overall exhibition experience.
The Nodel platform provides ACMI with a powerful central control platform and system monitoring dashboard for their devices. The Nodel dashboard can be configured like a tree with branches out to each device. This top down view and approach provides for an overall status by Gallery, Exhibit or specific device in an uncluttered easy to view interface. The Nodel Dashboard can also be viewed on any device from a large LCD to a phone or tablet. The view automatically re-configures based on the viewers resolution and aspect ratio.
Nodel’s built in scheduler also integrates with Microsoft Exchange so control events can be managed by a simple Microsoft Exchange calendar entry. This allows the museum curators the opportunity to turn on and off displays, and projectors, schedule content, and control sound systems according to their scheduled exhibition calendar events.
ACMI also knew that while working with Lumicom, they could throw anything at us and it would just get done. On more than one occasion Lumicom went above and beyond our brief to ensure that the job got done and that the quality of our installation and the end result were never compromised. Lumicom had to custom design, build and install several accessories such as brackets, enclosures and circuit boards that were not covered in the original design. Our attention to detail in the design and engineering tasks can be seen in all aspects of the end result. Even in spaces and locations that the general public won’t see.
The effort put into all aspects of Lumicom’s involvement in this project can be seen by ACMI staff and visitors alike. From the engineering drawing, through to the Nodel development, and installation quality, Lumicom’s capabilities and qualities are on display for all to see.
Our successful installation at ACMI provides ACMI staff and visitors with the chance to experience virtual reality, optical illusions, home videos projected on your hand and many more applications in an exciting world class exhibition. The interactivity provided in the exhibition through the technologies we installed will leave a lasting impression on visitors.
We are expecting our work at all levels of the ACMI installation to continue providing reliability and value well into the future. We are very excited about the possibilities of continuing our involvement at ACMI on any level required. Using the installed Nodel system, ACMI staff can add new features and devices as required to keep the exhibition at the forefront of Australia’s cultural spaces.
ACMI Tech Integration
Location: Federation Square, Melbourne
- 110 individual speaker channels
- 50 Yamaha ceiling speakers
- Scala Players used for directional signage
- Nodel software
- Raspberry Pi hardware
- Dell Optimplex Micro PC
- 60 audio sources
- Dante network
- Q-Sys Core-510 DSP
- Yamaha Dante Power Amplifiers
- Specialist project design installation and setup
- DALI and DMX lighting installation and integration
- Custom one-off design and manufacturing, including custom built Lens Readers and Media Players