DENVER ZOO - SANTA’S WORKSHOP
Denver, Colorado

A spectacular Santa and Mrs. Claus Workshop Show includes a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Mrs. Claus takes the spotlight as she spins a captivating magical tale that brings the holiday season to life, while you get cozy with s’mores and hot cocoa. The story is an entertaining and gentle reminder to remember to be grateful and giving to nature in the holiday season.

Lighting was one of the dynamic pieces moving the story along, serving as wayfinding during pre-show, highlighting key objects, setting the “temperature” with the warm glow of the fireplace and the blustery cold winds underscored by cool blue dynamic lighting, and even evoking a forest with the clever use of a green pattern at a key point in the show. As the stage stayed the same, Mrs. Claus was highlighted from start to finish.

Behind the scenes, a fully addressable lighting system including theatrical lighting fixtures, DMX string lights and LED accent lights are all controlled and programmed by the design team during construction and commissioning. To ensure full control for the owner and stage manager, the DMX design allows for complete flexibility. Careful planning in the design stage was needed to accommodate the project’s strict power limitations without sacrificing overall design intent and functionality. All lighting, Audio / Video, controls, space heaters and overall design elements had to fit on two 20-Amp circuits. With this limited power “budget”, the lighting design had to accommodate multiple scenes and moods with just a handful of energy-efficient lighting fixtures. Even further, we were able to reuse much of the sound equipment Denver Zoo had invested in for Woodland Hollows (see below.) We hid speakers inside a clock, behind windows, and in the fireplace. The lighting software sent commands to the sound software, and the sound playback software sent MIDI information to the player piano. Since Mrs. Claus needed to be amplified to project over the underscore, the wireless microphone was connected to the processor for automatic mixing, feedback suppression, and dynamics/equalization processing

The result? The highest rated event at Zoo Lights in 2019.

Client: Denver Zoo
Lighting Design, Theatrical & Performance, Electrical Engineering Design


DENVER ZOO - GRIZZLY BEAR EXHIBIT UPGRADES
Denver, Colorado

The Denver Zoo’s Vision of Excellence includes a mission, “to secure a better world for animals through human understanding,” and Harmony Hill, the new Grizzly bear home, achieves just that. An immersive exhibit, it puts visitors in the shoes of hikers, campers, and homeowners drawing visitors from the natural bear exhibit through a campsite, and then a backyard, showing visitors how typical backyard items look to bears and how to help keep everyone, and every bear, safe.

With education as the main goal, the speakers and mics had to be set up in a way for the keepers to be able to interact with the furry resident, as well as with the public. A selfie station, a TV above the fireplaces, showcases social media images tagged with the Zoo’s #harmonywithbears tag, creating a memorable experience for visitors.

P3. - Technical Specifics - (specific technology used, unique design aspect, challenges surpassed)

Client: Denver Zoo
Audio / Video Design, Sound Commissioning


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DENVER ZOO - WOODLAND HOLLOW
Denver, Colorado

Denver Zoo completely re-imagined their fall events and created three distinct experiences that set them apart from other local fall experiences like haunted houses and corn mazes. The creative team spent months crafting and brainstorming to perfectly capture the details and spirit of fall and Halloween. Our design goal was to explore the creepiness of nature, blending the Zoo’s mission of conservation and the themes of fall – changing of the seasons, Jack-o-Lanterns, and everything that is spooky.

Since Enchanted Hollows was a new event for Denver Zoo, they had no existing equipment to pull from. We specified a new audio rack, and collection of loudspeakers that could be hidden in trees. In general, we could not screw anything into live trees based on Denver Zoo’s horticulture canopy management plan. This required careful planning with the Horticulture team to ensure that speakers were hidden, and had adequate coverage and gain. We also had to be conscious of nearby animals, which limited the amount of time we could spend setting up and commissioning the installation. In the end, the system needed to be simple to operate night after night, with minimal operator feedback.

Building on techniques from dark rides and other theme park attractions, the sound design in this attraction supports, and at times carries, the narrative. Our ability to think about the whole story, integrating music, sound effects, video content, lighting and other special effects into one seamless system to tell a cohesive narrative is one of our strongest assets. Our work connects all the technical aspects of an experience to create a spectacular experience for the guests. For the sound system, we created documentation for the Horticulture team to mount the speakers to trees with ratchet straps, or within show set pieces. The Horticulture team wired each of the speakers back to the sound rack, which we built in our office and wired on site after Zoo park hours. With utility power a large concern, our rack location was dictated by proximity to power, while keeping the electronics hidden. We ensured that the rack could run on one 20A circuit, leaving the majority of the available power free for lighting and other effects. We created the nature-inspired sound effects content (will o the wisps, creepy crawlies, and scary animal sounds), pulled and edited the needle-drop sound music, and programmed the audio playback. We set it up so that the startup and shutdown sequence of the entire system was automatic. With one push of a button, the system powers up, and starts the playback sound for each of twelve individual sound zones in seven scenes.

Client: Denver Zoo
Audio / Video Design, Sound System Design, Programming, Content Creation