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Naval Academy engages prospective students with new theater

March 31, 2021

Photos courtesy of Dimensional Innovations

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Naval Academy Athletic Association in Annapolis, Maryland recently opened the Ron Terwilliger ’63 Center for Student-Athletes, a 25,000 square foot facility that highlights the Academy’s tradition and history of physical education and intercollegiate athletics. The Center includes the new Akerson Theater, a 180-degree immersive theater that uses a suite of Christie® products, including HS Series projectors, Spyder X20, Mystique  and Pandoras Box, and is designed to help inform visitors, prospective midshipmen and their families about opportunities at the school.

The Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA) engaged Dimensional Innovations to design, integrate and provide content for the Center and the Akerson Theater. The project began in 2017 and was originally conceived as a visitors’ center, but says Drew Berst, Executive Director, Dimensional Innovations, “The Center was really about what it meant to be a midshipman student-athlete – the academics, and the physicality of it. The NAAA wanted a space to celebrate the accomplishments of its intercollegiate athletics department, and do it in a way that was interactive and state-of-the-art.”

Says Brian Silvey, Creative Director - Interactive Technology, Dimensional Innovations, “The Academy considered what made them stand out amongst other schools, and one of those things was being timeless. And for us, one of the ways to do that is to integrate technology throughout the space.” For the Akerson Theater, Dimensional Innovations began with a 3D model and worked with Christie to determine the AV requirements. They selected six Christie D20WU-HS 20,000 lumen 1DLP® laser projectors, a Pandoras Box Server, a Spyder X20 multi-windowing processor and Christie Mystique to provide automated camera-based alignment and recalibration of the projectors.

The system allows the NAAA to use the theater for presentations, review game footage, or watch a movie. Says Silvey of the Christie Spyder X20, “The Spyder takes inputs from the podium at the front of the theater; two Navy-owned computers used for presentations; a Blu-Ray player; and three more inputs from a computer displaying a feed from the camera we placed on the roof overlooking the bay.” While the Pandoras Box Server ensures that the playback from the projectors is in sync and coordinates with the 7.1 surround sound audio system.

The projectors are enclosed in a sound-proofed ceiling cloud, which can lower to allow for maintenance, and they are warped, blended and aligned using Christie Mystique. Says Silvey of the choice to use HS Series, “The image and color look incredible - this projector was recommended to us because it fit within our budget and required specs to create a full screen blend.”  

Says Silvey, “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Christie for many of our projection needs. Our familiarity with the product and partnership with the Christie team has allowed us to easily integrate their hardware into our system.” The system is designed so that the NAAA can create their own custom content, in the theater and throughout the Center. Says Berst, “Recruiting experiences can become dated really quickly, but the NAAA can update content and keep it fresh.”

The result is a project that the Naval Academy Athletic Association is very happy with. Says Silvey, “The customer was ecstatic. This is just a very special project for them and the donors. You could see a level of emotion and excitement with the NAAA.”

The theater is the “crown jewel” of the Center, says Silvey. It gives visitors a clear picture of what the school has to offer, celebrates the physical mission of the Academy, and the numerous successes the school and athletes have received.

“The Akerson Theater is a fantastic resource for current and prospective students and teams,” says Larry Howard, Senior Director of Sales, Entertainment, Christie. “The Naval Academy Athletic Association has set a new benchmark in recruitment, and we’re thrilled to have worked with Dimensional Innovations to bring this project to fruition.”

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