Monday, February 16, 2009

Themed Entertainment Association Hosts Annual Industry Summit and Thea Awards Gala March 6-7 in Anaheim

“Connecting with client decision-makers should be a top priority for every firm hoping to succeed in the coming months,”says Steven J. Thorburn, president of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). “In the case of the visitor attractions industry, the TEA Summit and TEA's Thea Awards Gala are two of the top networking events of the year - one educational and the other celebratory - March 6-7 at the Disneyland Hotel. If you want to know your industry and the people in it, if you want to receive project information and referrals, we say, 'Get out there and network!'”

TEA website:
Tickets for both events:
or call 818-843-8497.

2009 TEA Summit, March 6 & 7, Disneyland Hotel
The 2009 TEA Summit is a TEA members' 2-day international think-tank for the attractions industry, held March 6 & 7 at the Disneyland Hotel. Sessions are geared to identify markers of success in business and project creation, this year stressing simple survival. The keynote is “Business Survival in a Challenging Economy,” presented by Barbara Lewis, president of Centurion Consulting Group. Advance tickets are necessary for the Summit; seating is limited.

or call 818-843-8497.

The Summit schedule also includes “Emerging Opportunities in a Post-Recession Entertainment Landscape,” with Michael S. Rubin, Ph.D., MRA International, “Built to Last, How Three Companies Have Withstood the Test of Time,” a discussion with Monty Lunde (Technifex), Jack Rouse (Jack Rouse Associates) and Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs (Lifescapes International). In the session “So What Now?” economic analysts John Robinett (Economics Research Associates) and Dave Schmitt (Management Resources) look at the future business landscape in the UAE, India, China, Europe and North America. “Celebrating the Magic of Placemaking” will feature Robert L. Ward, recipient of this year's Thea Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Norm Newberry, who both played major roles shaping Universal Studios parks, resorts and entertainment properties.

“Project Case Studies” will focus on several current Thea Award recipients, including the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Jungala at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida, The Newseum, the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Operation Spy, an Interactive Adventure at the International Spy Museum, and the Audubon Insectarium.

15th Annual Thea Awards Gala, March 7, Disneyland Hotel
The 15th Annual Thea Awards Gala, open to the public, celebrates excellence in the creation of compelling experiences and places with a gala black-tie dinner and awards ceremony, sponsored by Economics Research Associates (ERA). Truly international in their recognition of outstanding productions, the Awards will be formally presented the evening of March 7, 2009 in the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel.

or call 818-843-8497.

“Because the Thea Awards Gala is open to the public, it is an ideal ice-breaker for newcomers to our industry and our association,” says TEA executive director Gene Jeffers. “In this most challenging year, the Thea Awards are are a vital, international opportunity to network - to renew old acquaintances, meet new contacts, and to be seen by our industry’s top people and decision-makers.”

The Awards stand as an important acknowledgement of the outstanding achievements of the international attractions industry. The Thea Awards Nominating Committee evaluated more than 120 nominations in order to recommend the current slate of 17 Thea recipients for the prestigious award, with final approval by the TEA International Board of Directors.

Like the TEA, the Thea Awards, sponsored by Economics Research Associates, were created to bring recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. From a modest beginning in 1994, the Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence. The name of the award is a play on three words: the first is "Thea," the Greek goddess from whom all light emanates. Thea was the mother of Helios (the sun), Eos (the dawn), and Selene (the moon). The second key word is "Theater," a word derived from the goddess Thea. The third word, of course, is TEA, the name of our association.

Recipients - 15th Annual Thea Awards
Thea Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert L. Ward
Thea Classic Award: EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL

Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement (AOA)
Attraction: The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood
Attraction Limited Budget: BeWILDerwood (Norwich, UK)
Attraction Limited Budget: Molenheide The Forgotten Mine (Molenheide, Belgium)
Museum: The Newseum (Washington DC, USA)
Museum: National Museum of the Marine Corps (Quantico, VA, USA)
Museum Exhibit: Operation Spy, an Interactive Adventure at the International Spy Museum, (Washington DC, USA)
Museum Exhibit, Limited Budget: Forces of Nature at Arizona Science Center (Phoenix AZ, USA)
Learning Experience: Air Force One Discovery Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Simi Valley CA, USA)
Technical: Muppet Mobile Lab (Hong Kong Disneyland, China)
Science Center: Audubon Insectarium (New Orleans LA, USA)
New Theme Park Land: Jungala at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida
Event Spectacular: 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies (Beijing, China)
Live Show: Finding Nemo The Musical (Walt Disney World, FL, USA)
Live Show: The Legend of Mythica, Tokyo DisneySeas, Japan
Casino Attraction: Wynn Macau's Tree of Prosperity, Macau, SAR, China

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thorburn Associates Designs AV Systems for Historic 1829 Jeffersonian Courthouse in Madison County, VA

A layout unique to Jeffersonian courtrooms posed interesting design challenges to audiovisual and acoustic engineers Thorburn Associates, Inc. in the restoration/expansion of the Madison County Courthouse in Madison, Virginia, which houses the Madison Circuit Court of the state's 16th Judicial Circuit. The project is slated for completion around the end of the year.

“Like most of the judicial facilities our company has designed for, the Madison County Courthouse called for a combination of sound recording, sound reinforcement, and video display,” says Thorburn Associates' Senior Consultant Lance Sturdevant, CTS-D. “But the layout of the main courtroom here is quite different from what people generally expect. The jury box is located directly in front of the judge's bench facing into the room, and the witness stands at a podium facing the judge and jury (instead of sitting to the judge's left). Hiding the audio system components in this space was relatively simple, but video systems presented a special challenge.”

“The sightlines for projectors or other visual aids presented some unique circumstances to design around,” concurs Eric W. Amtmann, AIA, partner with Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton, PLLC Architects, which brought Thorburn Associates onto the project. “The boilerplate solution for a courtroom didn't fit. This is Thomas Jefferson's courtroom layout and you only find it in Virginia.”

Thorburn Associates' design locates microphones for recording and speech reinforcement at the normal positions (judge, witness and counsel tables). As in all courtrooms, attorneys occasionally get up and address the jury directly. Small, surface-mounted microphones will be mounted in the railing in front of the jury box to pick up the voices of these wandering attorneys. The ability to record court sessions is also provided, via an automatic microphone mixer/DSP (digital signal processor) plus a wall-mounted audio connector.

For the video display, small, individual monitors were considered but would have cluttered the “old world” look of the Jeffersonian design. Two large, wall-mounted, flat panel displays were also proposed, but one would have blocked a new window that the architect had carefully placed near the front of the room. Thorburn Associates' ultimate design solution was a large, fixed wall-mounted projection screen at one side of the room, and a wall-mounted video projector on the opposite wall, providing very good sightlines for judge, jury and counsel tables, and for most observers in the gallery. A 23-foot high ceiling prevented a more typical, ceiling-mounted, recessed motorized projection screen.

Now under construction, the finished project will add a total 15,020 square feet to the facility's core 3,260 square feet. Thorburn Associates provided audiovisual and acoustical design for the new construction spaces as well.

“The court needs to be able to conduct proceedings that are undisturbed by noise outside of the room, and have good audio intelligibility within the room,” notes Amtmann. Thorburn Associates' design includes ADA hearing assist systems and sound-dampening material that simulates the look of a plaster ceiling, plus suggestions for mounting equipment and insulating ductwork. Thorburn Associates will oversee and approve the installation of these systems when they take place near the end of the construction phase.

“Thorburn Associates was very adept at meeting our particular design needs on this unique and challenging project,” testifies Amtmann. “There are all kinds of things you encounter in an historic courtroom project and you need to do things in a sensitive way. They were successful in that, proposing various options for how to make things work. They were good at staying within the budget, too: We had a contract and they followed it.”

“This has been a remarkable project and we look forward to seeing the finished result,” says Thorburn Associates Principal Steven J. Thorburn, PE, CTS-D, CTS-I. “As audiovisual technology system consultants, we often have to wait two or three years for our designs to come to fruition. We believe that this particular courtroom project will be worth the wait.”