28 April 2009

"All buildings are now theaters" -- Steve Thorburn

"It has been coined AIR (Acoustically Integrated aRchitecture) and we have been practicing it for much longer than we've had a name for it," says Steven J. Thorburn, PE. His company, Thorburn Associates Inc., specializes in building technologies and acoustical engineering, and counts numerous architectural firms among its 800-plus clients.

Says Thorburn, "Green building ideals and LEED, the role of technology in daily life, the placement of mechanical/technical components and the needs of human gathering spaces all require specialized technical solutions in the conceptual stage - they all need AIR."

"What we're now seeing is that the integration of acoustics, engineering and architecture that is standard practice in a performing arts center is also a necessity in most every new project, because of the amount of audiovisual equipment and other technology involved. As a result, they all require a level of integrated design in the early stages comparable to what is common practice in theater development. In a very real sense, all buildings are now theaters."

To illustrate this premise, Thorburn cites two of his company's projects: the San Francisco Federal Building, and the De Anza College Performing Arts Center. Full story here.

TEA/ERA Attraction Attendance Report 2008

The 2008 attendance numbers for the world's top theme parks and waterparks have been compiled by ERA (Economics Research Associates) and published by TEA (Themed Entertainment Association). Destination parks took something of a hit from the recession but regional parks are holding their own. Economic recovery might start to manifest by the end of 2009 or it might hang fire until 2010. Europe is bracing for a tough season. Theme park development in the Mideast has slowed to a crawl but Asia continues to blossom. Click here to read and download the full report with attendance charts from the TEA website. (I have edited this annual report for the past three years, since TEA took over as publisher.)

The Un-Planetarium: Marketing & Branding Fulldome

Deep Space Adventure, Adler Planetarium
As IMERSA’s director of communications, it’s my job to help spread the word about fulldome (the medium of digital dome video projection) within the planetarium community and also to its other developing markets in entertainment and education. My April 2009 column for The Planetarian, published by the International Planetarium Society, examines branding and marketing of fulldome theaters, via interviews with Dan Neafus (Gates Planetarium, Denver Museum of Nature & Science), Mike Murray (Sheila M Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City) and Paul Fraser (Blaze Partners LLC). To read the two-part series on the IMERSA website, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Interview with Steve Judson and Chris Palmer of MacGillivray Freeman Films

On the heels of the recent Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) film expo in Los Angeles, Charles Read and I connected with Steve Judson (Vice President of Film Production and Post Production, and a 25-year veteran of the company) and Chris Palmer, (President, MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation).

MacGillivray Freeman Films is one of the most successful producers and distributors of giant-screen 70mm documentaries, typically shown in Imax theaters in museums and science centers. Some MFF titles, including “Everest” (1998) and “To Fly” (1976) are, in the US, among the highest grossing documentaries of all time – right up there with mainstream docs like “Fahrenheit 911” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” The company has been honored with numerous filmmaking and conservation awards. At GSCA, MFF screened new releases “Grand Canyon Adventure,” and “Van Gogh: Brush With Genius” and works in progress “Arabia,” “Return to Everest,” and “To the Arctic.” Click here to read the interview.