WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 23 2008 – The newest exhibition hall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History here in the nation’s capital is dedicated to the ocean’s history and its importance in contemporary society. In addition to marine-life specimens and models, the new hall uses high-definition video images to communicate messages to visitors, with all the footage displayed by 12 Sony 4K SXRD™ large-venue projectors.
The Sant Ocean Hall opens to the public Sept. 27 and, according to the Smithsonian, is the largest exhibition hall in the museum and the only in the United States devoted exclusively to a global view of the ocean. The 23,000-square foot hall includes 674 marine specimens and models, seven-foot tall prehistoric shark jaws, a 24-foot long giant squid suspended in a fluid-filled tank and a hanging model of a 45-foot long North Atlantic right whale.
Complementing these features is a set of continuously running high-definition videos, “Ocean Odyssey,” created for this exhibition by underwater cinematographer Feodor Pitcairn. The video footage was shot in high definition using Sony’s CineAlta™ HDCAM® technology, and will be shown across the high-bay walls of the Sant Ocean Hall using the 4K SXRD projectors.
“The ocean is a great and vast natural resource that’s critical to our existence,” said Elizabeth Duggal, associate director of the National Museum of Natural History. “Our goal is for the millions of people who will visit this hall to gain a new understanding of the essential role oceans play in sustaining life on earth. The Sony 4K projection systems will help to bring the exhibit, and the oceans, to life at an extremely high level of quality and resolution.”
“Ocean Odyssey” features footage shot in the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, the Channel Islands of California, the Cayman Islands and Belize—locations chosen for their variety, biodiversity and fascinating creatures. Sequences include sharks, whales, jellyfish, seals and manta rays.
“We developed the SXRD projection system to do more than just display beautiful high-definition images,” said Alec Shapiro, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Production Systems Division. “Sony supports the Smithsonian’s vision of using innovation and technology to enrich people’s lives, while also educating them about the importance of protecting our environment and natural resources. The use of these projectors will provide the drama that will help visitors stop, think and remember their Oceans experience long after their visit.”
The projectors are installed in specially designed housings above the exhibit floor, and use carefully placed mirrors to “bounce” the images onto the projection areas, which are actually sections of the exhibit walls.
The term 4K resolution is derived from the projectors’ pixel matrix (more than 4,000 horizontal pixels), which allows them to deliver more than four times the resolution of today’s high-definition televisions used in home theater systems. Sony’s SXRD technology is used in state-of-the-art digital cinema and commercial applications throughout the world.
With the ability to fill 92 percent of a screen and a minuscule inter-pixel gap (0.35 microns), the 4K projectors display incredibly realistic and immersive images, even when projecting high definition video, which has a resolution lower than 4K content.
The Sant Ocean Hall is named for Roger and Vicki Sant, Washington philanthropists and Smithsonian supporters, who donated $15 million to support the new hall and related programs and outreach activities. The Sant Ocean Hall was created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to show the ocean’s history and its importance in contemporary society.
Got to the site to see the neat photos of the set-up!