Aquarium of the Pacific adds Laser Projector

The Honda Pacific Visions Theatre, the centrepiece of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s 2019 expansion was recently outfitted with a Christie RGB pure laser cinema projector. The Christie CP4330-RGB projector allows the Aquarium to showcase a range of content, including DCI-compliant films, and media developed by the Aquarium.

Located in Long Beach, California, the non-profit Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest aquarium and the fourth largest aquarium in the United States. The aquariimmersive

um includes 12,000 animals and over 100 exhibits that celebrate the inhabitants and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean. In 2019, the aquarium opened Pacific Visions, a 29,000 square foot (2,694 sq m), two-story expansion that includes an art gallery, orientation gallery, culmination gallery, and the Honda Pacific Visions Theatre.

The new theatre has over 300 seats and features an immersive 130-foot-wide by 32-foot-tall screen that curves in a 180º arc. A 30-foot (9 m) diameter disc tilts up from the floor to extend the projection surface. “The goal in designing the theatre was to create a unique platform with high-resolution imagery and effects,” says Fahria Qader, director of Pacific Visions and architecture, Aquarium of the Pacific, “that explores the most pressing environmental issues of our time through films. To expand the uses of the theatre, we wanted to be able to showcase cinematic film content, as we have done in the past but in a smaller theatre.”

In early 2020, the Aquarium engaged Associates in Media Engineering (AME) to design, procure and commission a cinema projection solution. The Aquarium specified the requirements of the projection system: to use as much of the immersive screen as possible, implement a noise reduction system to hold the projector, and ensure the projector would be hidden from view when not in use.

Says Benjamin Kidwell Lein, principal, AME, “Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increased interest in venues looking to integrate distributed cinema content in spaces not traditionally intended for cinematic presentation, including museums, presentation spaces and theatres.”

AME selected a Christie projector for the Aquarium. It is a compact, all-in-one DCI-compliant 28,000 lumen projector that excels in image quality and operational lifetime while providing a low cost of ownership. Having determined that a booth-located projector would not be feasible, AME overcame the challenge of integrating the projector in the audience.

“Because the projector was to be located in the audience plenum,” notes Lein, “we knew we had to enclose the projector to attenuate its operational noise. We specified a ‘hush’ enclosure manufactured by Tempest enclosures. It soon became clear that this assembly would not easily be integrated within the clean lines of the theatre space. It was then that it was decided that the projector and enclosure assembly would need to be suspended from the facility ceiling and brought into position using an articulated projector lift.”

Once the projector lift placement was determined and installed, AME installed the projector and worked with Christie’s cinema personnel to ensure DCI compliancy with the correct projection gamut. “We have a long relationship with Christie, and this was the right product for the theatre,” says Lein. “Its performance is first-rate, and the content looks stunning.”

“Additional 4-D effects and seat vibration along with seats at a steep rake create an enhanced, immersive viewing experience,” adds Qader. “We look forward to when we can debut the new projection system to the public. Having this system will enable us to go beyond sharing films created for our specific theatre to being able to screen other films in the space.”

“AME and Christie have enjoyed a long partnership, and this installation is another great example of AME’s expertise with unique and noteworthy projects,” observes Doug Boyer, senior account manager, Christie. “We’re thrilled that visitors will soon be able to enjoy a range of on-screen content in the Honda Pacific Visions Theatre.”

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