The American Prohibition Museum occupies a 5,500 square-foot space in the popular City Market in Savannah, Georgia. Within 13 immersive galleries on two floors, more than 20 exhibits – including an authentic speakeasy – trace the history of the Temperance Movement, the ratification of the 18th amendment in 1920, the rise of gangsters and gunrunners, moonshine making, and flappers, and the repeal of the notorious amendment in 1933.
Attraction designer Ryan McCurdy performed the AV design and install for the museum for Historic Tours of America. “The museum is a linear, self-guided attraction with live actors and multimedia content,” he explains. “Visitors follow a chronological path through history although there are moments when their tour can be diverted by the actors.”
To pack a lot of history and the look and feel of the Roaring ‘20s into a relatively small space, the museum ingeniously combines traditional reader rails and artifacts with experiential technology. “There are extensive soundscapes and music-scapes in street scenes, speakeasies, even NASCAR engines revving to give a full impression of lights, sound and music,” says McCurdy. “Archival footage is also displayed throughout in the connecting hallways.” Overall, actors and video are featured “where they make the most sense,” McCurdy notes.
McCurdy chose an Alcorn McBride A/V Binloop HD frame-accurate synchronized audio and video player for all the playback in the museum. “We wanted a system that didn’t have any moving parts,” he notes. “We can buy as many cards as we need and upscale at any time without wasting technology.”
Among the content that the Binloop runs are five prestige effects that McCurdy says are “intended to stop visitors in their tracks.” The effects are 4K life-size, talking portraits, which are designed to communicate with the live actors, other portraits and additional effects in a frame-accurate synchronization. For example, a moonshiner appearing on a 75-inch monitor has 90 seconds of dialogue enhanced with sound and practical lighting cues.
“The Binloop is the best in the industry when you demand accuracy in playback,” McCurdy says. “It was important that the effects be 4K because of the size of the images and the fact that there’s not enough room to do a massive projection. Binloop allows for 2 channels of 4K. It was essential to making the portraits look good – visitors believe they’re looking at a live person.”
The system’s frame-accurate synchronization also comes into play in the speakeasy. “There’s a slot in the door that opens and closes and has a video monitor that reveals the eyes and voice of a bouncer asking for the password to gain entry,” McCurdy explains. “Visitors have to interact with the bouncer before they can enter the fully-operational speakeasy.”