Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, Field Museum, Chicago

Exhibit Puts T. Rex in New Light

Categories:

Company:

Project:

Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, Field Museum

Location:

Chicago

Design Team:

Lightswitch Chicago

Product Specs:

Source Four led Series 2 & ColorSource fixtures; ETC Mosaic controller; ETC Paradigm; Xicato Controls

Originally Published:

Sue the T. Rex is the Lady Gaga of the dinosaur community. The magnificent murderbird—a favorite term to describe the T. Rex—has an often-hilarious Twitter feed, legions of adoring fans, and a brand new home in a 5000-sq.-ft. area at the Chicago Field Museum’s Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet.

Challenge: 

Following a three-month prototyping phase to show the curators how Sue would be lit in its new quarters, the design team at Lightswitch Chicago produced a meticulously cued av presentation worthy of the world’s most expensive—$8.7M—fossil.

Criteria: 

“Conservation of the delicate stones and resins is very important; Sue will receive about a quarter of the light, and none of the direct sunlight, that it did before,” says Thatcher Waller, senior lighting designer for Lightswitch Chicago.

Solution: 

The project called for the complex integration of control protocols and diverse fixture types including etc Source Four LED Series 2 and ColorSource fixtures, as well as fixtures from another vendor, Xicato, that are wirelessly controlled using dmx over Bluetooth.

System integrator Ivan Jones was pleasantly surprised. “ETC did special programming for the job. They wrote an entire new control module inside Mosaic to speak to Xicato.”

The first execution of the interoperability between ETC Mosaic and Xicato Controls, “We believe interoperability between control systems is essential as we move into the IoT age of lighting,” says Ron Steen, vp of na Specification Sales for Xicato. “Our open api has allowed etc to harness the benefits of our system in concert with Paradigm and Mosaic.”

The heart of the av system is an etc Mosaic controller playing an unusual role. “For Sue, Mosaic is acting as the switchboard instead of the commander. It does not make a single decision on its own. It is being commanded by both Watchout and amx. It provides feedback to amx while acting as the integration point to Xicato wireless lighting and Paradigm,” explains Jones.

A Mosaic msc1 controller handles all inbound commands, controls dmx lights related to Sue’s scenic lighting, and recalls presets in the Xicato Wireless Bluetooth lights. Mosaic accesses the Xicato Control network to recall scenes and fade the house lights up or down based on cues starting or ending the theatrical presentation.

The Xicato Control solution features a Bluetooth Low Energy wireless protocol. Names, groups and scenes were set in the Xicato individually addressable modules. When asked about using dmx over Bluetooth, Waller merely replies, “Why run a bunch of control wires to all the fixtures if I don’t have to?”

Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, Field Museum, Chicago
Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, Field Museum, Chicago

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