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Alcorn McBride Helps Kids Experience Presidential Decision-Making at the Air Force One Discovery Center at the Reagan Library

Air Force One Discovery Center photos courtesy Alcorn McBride.

Orlando (June 18, 2011) – How many kids ever get to experience the Presidential decision-making process? Thanks to the Air Force One Discovery Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum and Library in Simi Valley, California, and extensive video support and control by Alcorn McBride, middle school students get a chance to become totally immersed in the process.

An interactive historical theater, the Discovery Center includes replicas of the Oval Office and White House Press Room; a military situation room modeled after the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan naval warship; and a real Air Force One simulator. Reagan Library director of education Mira Cohen worked closely with Curtis Kelly of LA-based Delicate Sales, inc. to turn the script into a fully interactive, integrated media experience that engages kids with its video game-style feel.

“Kids play out a 50-minute, time-critical scenario involving the decision to invade Grenada in 1983,” explains Kelly. “They get a dossier that explains the history of invasion before they arrive for their visit, and they are assigned roles to play from members of the press corps and military officials to the President himself.”

In the Discovery Center sound effects, lighting and video elements help pressure mount as decision-making gets underway. Specific logic was required to play back content in different rooms as students choose whether to pursue path A or path B and a clock counts down anxious moments.

To synchronize the scripted but disparate events Kelly selected an Alcorn McBride V16 show controller which locks to timecode and tells a Video Binloop which of 25 different video modules to play; the Binloop also houses audio cuts and soundbites.

Cues from the V16 trigger a Crestron PRO2 control system and 12×8 video matrix switcher that routes certain clips to specific displays; the PRO2 can also prompt the V16 to start an event after a planned or unplanned delay.

An Alcorn McBride DMX Machine feeds lighting cues during the simulation.

After students decide whether or not to invade Grenada, they gather in the jet simulator as if they were flying on Air Force One. There they view archival news footage from the event combined with video of the kids’ decision-making process as history comes alive for the youngsters.

“Alcorn McBride’s Binloop is great and has worked fantastically well,” reports Kelly. “By using robust Alcorn equipment we have confidence that it’s all going to keep working. Two or three groups of students pass through the Discovery Center every day – already 50,000 students have experienced the Grenada simulation, and the Center is booked for the next two years. The Alcorn gear has run consistently for two-and-a-half years and has never broken down.”

The Air Force One Discovery Center won a Thea Award in December 2008 for Outstanding Achievement: Learning Experience.

About Alcorn McBride:
Founded in 1986, Alcorn McBride is the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and video equipment for the themed entertainment industry, and a rapidly growing provider of audio and video systems for retail environments and transportation applications. Staffed by some of the industry’s best engineers and backed by outstanding customer support, the company has demonstrated great agility in bringing new designs to market. A hallmark of Alcorn McBride products is their durable, zero maintenance design. The company’s products provide consistent, reliable operation for audio and video playback applications worldwide. For more information, visit www.alcorn.com.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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