Historically, the university has been not only a repository of knowledge, but a seeker of it as well.
Schools regularly collaborate with industry, science and other spheres to broaden their knowledge base and, if they’re adroit enough, help their bottom lines, too. The newly opened Louisiana Digital Media Center (DMC) at Louisiana State University (LSU) is the perfect example of that synergy between academia and industry.
The DMC is a tech-laden 200-seat auditorium and the world’s first venue to offer full SMPTE-standard 7.1-surround audio. It’s being used for everything from film showings and interactive digital media presentations to experimental concerts and intimate meetings. The space will also be used for additional applications such as helping to support Louisiana Entertainment, the state’s film and video agency tasked with attracting media production to the region.
“This was intended to be a showplace,” says Dr. Stephen Beck, Director of LSU’s School of Music. “Not just of the technology in it, but also how technology can impact the arts and humanities. How computational sciences can affect the arts.” (Beck is also a faculty member of the school’s Center for Computation and Technology.)
What truly sets the DMC apart is its audio.
Designed by Houston-based HFP Acoustical Consultants, the 7.1-surround Meyer Sound cinema system is installed along with a Meyer Constellation electroacoustic architecture system. The combination of the two, coupled with 4K digital projection by Christie, creates a vehicle to enhance Louisiana’s digital media industry and promote collaboration among its users, who include students, researchers, and corporate partners such as EA Sports. Utilizing a combination of 24 microphones that constantly analyze and digitally model the acoustical ambiance inside the DMC, Constellation can electro-acoustically optimize a space for a range of applications, including music concerts, film screenings and presentations.
The system in the DMC also includes the voice-lift feature, which allows the auditorium to double as an intimate meeting space in which both presenters and audience members can be heard easily, with no need for individual microphones or raised voices.
“With the Meyer Sound systems, we can present any works developed here at LSU, or coming to us via the worldwide CineGrid high-speed network, without being limited by what we can do with audio,” states Beck, “Also, we have a significant investment in sound diffusion research, where we create different acoustic environments. We wanted a space where we didn’t have to set up a custom configuration for every [different type of event].”