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Community-funded theater relies on projected scenery for eye-popping impact

Les Miserables. Young Frankenstein. Grease. These are a few of the many performances delivered at the Manatee Performing Arts Center (PAC) to the enthusiastic theater community around Bradenton, Florida. The year-old Manatee PAC has already cemented itself in the community’s visual arts scene as a destination for engaging live performances. With the help of BCI Integrated Solutions, a Tampa-based professional audio-video integrator, the Manatee PAC is using some of the audio-video industry’s most compelling solutions to expand their audience beyond the PAC’s previous expectations. 

Opened to the public in March, 2013, the Manatee Performing Arts Center contains two venues: the main Stone Hall and the smaller Bradenton Kiwanis Theater. With seating for over 360 patrons, the Stone Hall venue features major musicals. The 100-seat Bradenton Kiwanis Theater allows for smaller, less formal workshops and performances. 

Although the overall intent was to build a generally flexible, multi-purpose entertainment space, two critical needs had to be addressed with the chosen technology. The first related to the live theater productions in Stone Hall. The creative and production teams needed a way to create compelling, immersive sets for their performances on a limited budget. After a review of existing technology, Michael Fraioli of BCI Integrated Solutions suggested Digital Projection International’s (DPI) cinema-grade TITAN 1080p 800 projector. The Manatee PAC team has a strong in-house creative team, and eventually decided to rely on the TITAN’s incredible brightness to project custom virtual sets onto both bare surfaces and a large acoustically transparent Draper screen onstage. Kristin Ribble, Production Manager for the Manatee PAC, commented, “Projection allows us to move quickly from scene to scene without the added stress of scenic build time, set expense, stage hand labor and storage while offstage.” 

Also critically important was a need for the venue to deliver a cinema-grade experience. The Manatee PAC can deliver the same awe-inspiring visual impact experienced in major movie theaters. DPI’s 12,000 lumen TITAN 800 projector delivers incredibly bright yet color-accurate imagery to a massive Draper movie screen. Michael Fraioli, Vice President of AV Sales & Design for BCI Integrated Solutions, remarked, “Digital Projection’s TITAN was the best fit as it’s an incredibly powerful projector while still being budget sensitive.” A Renkus Heinz left, center and right speaker system provides the performance sound to the space while a JBL speaker system delivers cinema surround sound, with the left, right and center speakers located behind the transparent screen. A Crestron control system helps the venue switch between cinema and more general presentation/content modes. The new facility has been an inspiration to both the local community and the talented creative team within the Manatee PAC. “The use of projected imagery has made our creative process exciting for both the production team and for our audiences,” shared Rick Kerby, Producing Artistic Director at the Manatee PAC. Kerby continued, “The projector’s capabilities have expanded the way we approach our productions.”

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About Digital Projection International

Founded in 1989, Digital Projection International (Digital Projection) has been instrumental in the development and application of Digital Light Processing™ technology by Texas Instruments for projection systems. Digital Projection International introduced the world’s first 3-chip DLP® projector in 1997, and has since delivered expert system engineering and world-class customer services, thus maintaining its position as a digital imaging pioneer.

Digital Projection International’s groundbreaking projection research and development has garnered the admiration of industry professionals around the world. This has earned the company many awards, including two Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Digital Projection remains the first and only projector manufacturer to win the coveted award.

Today, Digital Projection International manufactures and distributes an extensive line of ultra high-performance 3-chip and single-chip DLP® projection systems. These projectors are the reference standard for demanding applications such as large-venue, live-event staging, fortune 5000, education, medical and scientific research, command and control, digital cinema, commercial entertainment, worship and elite home cinema.

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