Something I’ve been working on: Great Explorations

Down in St. Petersburg, Florida, there is a kids museum named Great Explorations. They recently had to surrender a loaned exhibit which addressed TV production because it was scheduled to go to a new museum.

Since our office has surplus TV equipment from a recent equipment upgrade, we stepped in to donate the cameras, switchers and surplus monitors which would have only gone to a warehouse until they were disposed of.

However, when the old exhibit was pulled out, all of the set was removed with it. We had to build new set walls for the exhibit.

So, guess who they tasked with the project? 😀

Basically, a TV division employee and I spent two days building three 8 foot by 10 foot walls and mounted them so they would be free standing AND be able to endure the bumps, kicks and handling of large groups of excited children.

We framed the walls just like you would frame a residential wall – 2 x 4 studs 16″ on center. The studs were screwed to the top and bottom plates and we skinned them over with sheets of 1/2″ cabinet grade ply. We had to cut out an area for three stacked TVs to be mounted, and I framed them out just as you would frame out a window in a wall, complete with a header, sill and cripple studs.

To mount them, we tied the structure back to the existing walls with 2×4 standoffs, mending plates at the top and middle of each panel intersection, and Tapcon screws driven into the concrete floor. To test their stability, I ran and literally threw myself at the wall. All 200 pounds crashed into the structure, and it barely moved. My shoulder, however, stung a little bit. I guess that proves the wall can take a beating.

Once they were mounted, the museum’s painting crew came in to do some embellishment. With the opening scheduled for August 22, you can tell that the site is a mess. But, it is coming along nicely. Here are some shots:

Studio overview

Here’s an overview shot from the back of the studio exhibit. The green wall in the back is set for chromakey. This means the kids can sit at the news desk and report, and any type of video can be rolled in behind them. The video rack in the middle of the room is from the old exhibit, and needs to be replaced.

The Desk

Here’s a closer view of the news desk. The kid newscasters will sit behind the desk and read the news from a teleprompter stationed in front of them. PCC-TV is the county’s TV station.

Assignment desk area

This area to the right of the news desk will eventually serve as the ‘Assignment Desk’ for the newsroom. Kids will be able to select stories for the teleprompter and video to put ‘behind’ the anchors. A built in desk – which I may still be called upon to build – and some computer terminals will go here.

The TV Stack

And, this area to the left of the desk will be the start of the weather center. Further down the wall, there will be a weather map mounted, and the three TV’s will display the PCC-TV live feed, Bay News 9, the local 24 hour cable news station and possibly CNN.

When I get down to the opening, I’ll be sure to post some shots of the completed studio.

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