The Evolution of Entertainment Engineering

by Thomas E.

PC-based controls are continuing to make a mark on entertainment applications. The platform has a lengthy background of providing performance as well as versatility, yet is currently also progressing to bring extra innovation for productions such as Hamilton, lobby theaters for resorts, as well as controls utilized in the 2017 America’s Cup.

Automated Theatrical Productions
Affordable automation systems are establishing the stage for cinema and program applications of all sizes based on the experience of Hudson Scenic Studio. Hudson serves Broadway productions such as Aladdin, however additionally supports stage and show technology for clients of all sizes.

According to Chuck Adomanis, senior engineer at Hudson Scenic Studio, allowing a high level of special results demands durable operation both from mechanical devices, software application, and also automation modern technology. Systems are commonly installed right into views as well as structural aspects using a large range of motors, drives, cabling, and other components. Behind the scenes, big control cupboards house the automation as well as control systems for the show, making it possible for team to navigate the complexities of the automation system making use of an exclusive HMI software user interface.

To manage every one of the facility relocating components in a large theatrical production, Hudson makes use of ingrained PCs from Beckhoff Automation with 1.5 GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core CPU, in addition to several CX5100 embedded PCs with Intel Atom processors with up to 4 cores. Seven-inch CP6606 panel PCs with ARM Cortex-A8 processors are made use of for screening effects prior to implementing them in the field.

Adomanis discussed the need for a variety of controllers: “Each of these gadgets acts as a primary system controller, running PLC, NC, and HMI software program as the major controls device in our automation systems. The extremely scalable range of controllers enables us to pick the appropriate efficiency degree for the task, and assists mitigate expense for customers.”

Automated staged manufacturings also count on a wide range of PC-based automation as well as movement control options including software program tools, I/O and also HMI solutions. An additional helpful item used by Hudson Scenic is the EL6070 License Key Terminal for TwinCAT. Given that downtime isn’t an alternative for movie theater applications, in case of damage to gadgets, the capacity to swap out a controller, move the certificate key through the I/O terminal, and also return up and running in minutes is important.

Adomanis claimed that with a previous PLC movement system, scan times were higher than 20 nanoseconds for PLC commands as well as movement control, today they have actually been decreased to 1 or 2 nanoseconds. EtherCAT networking and also TwinCAT software remedies together are making it possible for real-time, microsecond-level deterministic I/O interaction that was not possible in the past.

Immersive Entertainment Experiences
An additional new PC-based control application, which includes one more prime focus of enjoyable for visitors, is how Great Wolf Lodge lobby areas currently include state-of-the-art movie theaters with automated on-screen parts as well as animatronic personality aspects choreographed along with animation programming.

As an initial application developed by LA ProPoint to make use of PC-based control technology, the entrance hall installments equilibrium AV and also animatronic functions in a cost-effective means. The show is based upon Great Wolf Lodge’s merry team of vocal singing and dancing woodland animals. Its Northwoods Friends lobby show is divided up right into series with two major acts and an intermission section, which serves as a screen saver.

The PC-based control system includes a panel COMPUTER (1.46 GHz Intel Atom processor) running Beckhoff’s TwinCAT 3 software to regulate all facets of the theater consisting of stepper motor-driven animatronic aspects and all the AV tools. A range of TwinCAT 3 software packages are utilized consisting of the PLC/NC and also PTP libraries for control, PLC HMI for visualization, as well as the TCP/IP communication library with all shows written utilizing Structured Text (ST). Ethernet TCP/IP is made use of to attach the system to 3 various projectors from two various makers, a Blu-ray player, a high-end sound mixer, as well as three BrightSign media players.

LA ProPoint prepares to move on with more installations based upon this style for future applications. They reported that configuring the stepper control centrally in TwinCAT dramatically reduced programs and troubleshooting time compared with other techniques. Use EtherCAT I/O verified to be extremely crucial for the space-limited, control space behind the theater. EtherCAT Terminals streamlined circuitry while likewise enhancing system interaction as well as control with both the media devices and also stepper electric motors.

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