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National Museum of Crime & Punishment

National Museum of Crime & Punishment

A couple weeks ago I posted something on Facebook about our work on the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, D.C. and got a couple e-mails asking what we did on the project. So here’s the story, about 2 years ago we received a call from people from Idletime Network, the prime on the contract working for the owner, John Morgan (for Orlando people, yes, that John Morgan – For the People!). We met with Idletime and understood our scope to be the audio/visual portion of the project and possibly the interactive elements. We had done work for John Morgan before on another venue of his, WonderWorks, so we felt confident in our chances to get the job. After a couple months, literally, of back and fourth between us an Idletime and us and John Morgan and us and anyone else who could give us info about the project, and about 10 proposals and budgets later, we finally settled on what our scope would be and the amount we would be paid to do it.

It was one of those projects that was big but I honestly didn’t know how big the project was until we really got in to it. Before it was all said and done, we executed over 60 media elements for the museum. It was the exact type of project that we believe we add the most value for. We were involved in the creative behind certain portions of the museum, then we wrote scripts for the videos we were producing. After that we shot the elements we needed for the videos. Beyond shooting we had to coordinate hours and hours of stock footage and images. From there we created the entire look and feel for the interactive elements and then created, designed and executed close to 20 touch screen interactive games.

We also created a fingerprint station that you could get your fingerprint scanned and then printed out with a fictitious accused crime on a card to take home. For one of the activities we needed to do a line up with the assailant in one of the videos to see if people could recognize the person at a later time. If you’re going to do a line up you need stand ins. So, we dressed up a couple members of our staff as thugs and made them part of the line up. If you go to the Museum you can see a couple members of our staff in the line up. Who knew our staff made such good thugs.

On the video side we had numerous elements to create, some vertical some horizontal (aspect ratio), some video based, some graphic based, some SD some HD. The videos were all over the map. Then on the audio side we sweetened the videos, recorded background voices, created sound effects beds, and supplied various sound effects elements. The thing about the visual elements is that they had to be unique to the area of the museum they were in but they still had to have an overall consistent look and feel that was the National Museum of Crime & Punishment.

From start to finish, we had close to 20 people touch the project. We started at the end of September of 2007 and it opened in May 2008. David Bain was the project manager for the project. David and a couple others went up to Washington, D.C. to the location of the museum a couple times throughout the project.

The attraction takes visitors through early Medieval times, the swashbuckling Pirate era, the gun-slinging Old West, the gangster/depression era leading into modern crime, assassinations & conspiracies, serial killers and mass murders, the crime fighting technologies of today, and conclude with an entire area devoted to “America’s Most Wanted”, the nation’s top crime fighting television show. America’s Most Wanted currently tapes their show from the Museum.

The difficulty in telling people about this project is that it doesn’t translate in to writing very well. So while I’m trying to explain what we did, it would be better if you just went to the museum in person. To say we did some videos, interactives, audio elements doesn’t do the volume of work justice. You walk in to the 3 story museum and see it, then you get it.

John Lux
As COO of IDEAS, John manages the day-to-day operations of the company. He is a category expert in studio production and is responsible for bringing advanced digital media technology to IDEAS.