There’s no denying that attractions in Florida have to constantly adapt to keep visitors interested – after all it’s the attractions capital of the world, with the likes of SeaWorld, Legoland, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World all in the state. The National Naval Aviation Museum may not be direct competition for those attractions, but it too understands the need to constantly keep things fresh – with the museum having recently upgraded its theatre projector to a Christie CP42LH – saving the foundation over $200,000 a year and sparking a 20% increase in attendance.
Located in north west Florida, in the city of Pensacola, the National Naval Aviation Museum is home to the 325-seat Naval Aviation Memorial Giant Screen Theatre. Showing at the theatre is a film tracing the history of aviation dubbed The Magic of Flight.
The theatre’s recent upgrade to the Christie CP42LH was performed by D3D Cinema, the projection upgrade was part of the museum’s renovation that includes a stage and presentation area at the front of the theatre.
“I knew about D3D Cinema and the great work they did using Christie laser at the National Infantry Museum, so I went to Derek Threinen at D3D and told him what we wanted, which was a 2D projection system with the latest technology,” says Phillip Crabtree, operations manager for visitor attractions, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. “We wanted 2D because our signature film, The Magic of Flight, was shot in 2D. The timing hit right with laser coming out and Derek’s answer was, ‘I am going to talk with Christie and if we can make this happen we will do it with RGB laser for the light source and in 4K resolution.’”
“The museum wanted a technology that would have their audiences blown away by the new experience, but were mindful that they needed to stay on budget,” adds Derek Threinen, vice president, film distribution and business development, Giant Screen Films/D3D Cinema. “We designed a system that allows the museum to put an incredibly bright image on the screen with the Christie CP42LH laser projector.”
Derek says the Foundation was particularly impressed that D3D Cinema could design a laser-illuminated system at a much lower cost than anticipated and Christie’s modular design – with its built-in redundancy – was important to the museum.
Laser modules can be added, removed, activated or disabled using the Christie modular laser system and each laser module is independently cooled, providing built-in fault protection, improved efficiency and the ultimate in reliability.
“With this Christie 3P laser system, we are saving well over $200,000 a year in overall costs including the cost of buying new film prints, replacing lamps – which were very expensive with our previous system – paying royalties, and the maintenance costs. This is net revenue for us and is money we’re not spending – that is a big deal for us,” Phillip notes.
“With D3D and Christie, we were buying this equipment outright and we have optional service plans to cover us down the road. We aren’t paying a per-head or per-year royalty to the projector manufacturer. For us in 2016, that does not fit our business model.”
Phillip and his team pay close attention to visitor feedback and read online reviews of the new theatre.
“The reviews are very positive and audiences love the experience. I read one that talked about the new projection technology and how spectacular it looks. The reviewer said he definitely recommends a visit to the theatre,” says Philip.
“That is a very typical comment and I take it as proof positive that the system is meeting and exceeding expectations. Everyone is blown away by the colour and light on the screen. I like to say it is clean because you can sit down and look at the screen from corner to corner and it is focused and bright wherever you look. We are thrilled with the technology and result.
“We live in a new world now and Christie has really stepped up and is producing a product that is spectacular. The programming is wonderful; we are doing things like programming the entire days’ worth of content, which includes trailers, light triggers, built-in pauses, etc. so it is all there and every morning this kicks off.
“I am very happy we went with laser not only because of the quality but that there is redundancy built in. It is a real nice luxury to have that we didn’t have before.”
Derek commended the Christie technology and team. “Our experience working with Christie was phenomenal; they are supportive throughout the process – whether it is engineering, the installation itself or on-going support,” he says. “We know we can rely on Christie and its laser system.”