Show Control Programming By Smart Monkeys Keeps Crowds Engaged in Shanghai

With an extensive presence behind the scenes at Expo 2010 Shanghai China, Electrosonic selected Smart Monkeys to provide Medialon show control programming for China Mobile and China Telecoms Information & Communications Pavilion as well as the USA Pavilion that showcases the American spirit of perseverance, innovation and community building. Renowned for its award-winning approach to emotional storytelling and immersive experience design, both pavilions were created and produced by BRC Imagination Arts.

Smart Monkeys initially teamed with Electrosonic one year before the Expo opened and understood the complexities of equipment control and the management of visitor flow through the pavilions. In addition, the company recognized that the show control systems in both buildings would be operated by non-technical staff.

"The Medialon systems were going to control everything: all video, projection, lighting, effects, doors opening and closing," notes Smart Monkeys' Stephan Villet. "And in the Information & Communications Pavilion every visitor would be given an ICT, a small, interactive mobile device synchronized to the show via WiFi, that tracked their progress through the building and enabled them to interact with show elements. Up to 2,600 ICTs at a time could be in use. The show control system had to keep track of all that."

Needless to say, the Medialon system had to work flawlessly yet operate with a limited number of options for the non-technical staff. Smart Monkeys designed simple start-and-stop programs for each room in the pavilions instead of more complicated programs controlling entire buildings. They also designed the system with separate applications: control panels in each room plus a core system in the control room with no front-end interface. The Information & Communications Pavilion featured one control panel in each room plus two panels with physical buttons for operators who preferred buttons to touch panels. The USA Pavilion had nine wall-mounted control panels.

"What's interesting about the core system and the panels is that depending on your needs you can design another interface," Villet explains. "We designed specific applications to be put on one panel that would talk to the core system for the lighting and audio guys. They could recall presets, for example, to test their own cues and designs."

Steve Calver, Electrosonic's project manager for both pavilions, remarks that, "Tapping in to Stephan Villet and Alan Anderson's intimate knowledge and experience with Medialon for these two projects helped make them a success for both Electrosonic and our client BRC Imagination Arts. They were a key component to the success of the attractions and the stable operation required for the packed Expo crowds."

Calver also found them both to be "aimiable, considerate, hard-working professionals who were always ready to lend a helping hand with system trouble-shooting or other requests, even if they weren't specifically programming-related. It was a please to have them both on the projects, and I look forward to working with them again."

"The USA Pavilion is one of the most popular pavilions at the Expo. Over 4 million guests have gone through in less than 4 months. Smart Monkeys' smart programming enabled operations to run the shows very efficiently and achieve one of the Expo's highest maximum hourly capacity with very minimum downtime," added BRC's Tisa Poe.

About Smart Monkeys

Smart Monkeys, Inc. specializes in providing advice, project management and programming for show control offering a reliable, high-quality alternative to inhouse resources for project-based consulting, control systems development and project specific system programming.