About Dave

As an IMAX certified technician, Dave is responsible for maintaining the IMAX equipment, making necessary repairs and performing regular checkups year round to the entire system, including the IMAX sound system.

Megalodon: The Ultimate Shark

This week at the Museum, we are putting the finishing touches on a reconstruction of the jaws of the Megalodon, the largest shark the world has ever known.

Our reconstruction, which is approximately 10 feet tall and 11 feet wide, would have fit comfortably in a 60 foot shark that weighed in the range of 100 tons.

To put this in perspective, the Megalodon would have been about the same length as 1 ½ yellow school busses and would have weighed about the same as a small blue whale.

dave megalodon

The history of paleontology is a topic I find interesting, as early interpretations of fossils often tell you less about the animal and more about the culture that has discovered it. Originally, the Megalodon teeth were identified as “glossopetrae” or tongue stones, and were believed to be the petrified tongues of snakes and dragons.

I have seen students wondering why this information is in the textbook or if it will it be included on the test. Broadly speaking, these footnotes in paleontological history let the reader appreciate how far we have come. As simplistic and even childish as they seem to readers today, the historical interpretations weren’t based in ignorance. They were based in the organized systems of thoughts and beliefs of the time.

The first people to discover the fossilized teeth, knowing little else than the shape and color of the tooth, saw the teeth as having menacing origins. Knowing today that the fossil is actually a tooth from a giant shark does not change that reaction.

Shark Week at HMNS: Megalodon!
If you had stumbled across this among a bunch of rocks…what would you have thought it was?
See more Megalodon photos.

In the 20 years I have taught at the museum, shark teeth – Megalodon teeth in particular – have always been popular with the public. Holding and examining Megalodon teeth creates a sense of awe the minds of our patrons.

Experience this sense of wonder today and tomorrow – and be sure to put a note on your calendar for the summer of 2012 for the opening of the new Hall of Paleontology where this jaw will be displayed in pursuit of some unexpected prey.

Night at the Museum 2 wages war on IMAX – opening today!

One of the many duties of the Chief Projectionist is to assemble films.  Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, like the first film, is 32 separate reels.  Each reel is carefully wound to the projection system reel unit, which can take 8 – 10 minutes at a time.  Every reel is numbered to indicate the sequence which is first and which is last.  It takes time and a lot of patience to put together an IMAX film

This particular “Hollywood” film only took 5 hours to assemble.  Once the film is complete, then one must check their work, which is a stressful moment when assembling a film.  You can say that those in the digital world do not have this duty, more like click and drop.   The art of splicing remains at HMNS, the “reel” thing. 

Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianNight at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian has more animals, more action, more characters and a lot more laughs, which HMNS is proud to present to IMAX enthusiasts. After assembling the 32 reel; 105 minute movie, I became engulfed in this enjoyable adventure.  Since the film took place in the Smithsonian, a few key artifacts from history make an appearance as well.  Artifacts such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Archie Bunker’s chair, Muhammad Ali’s boxing robe, and notable works of art play a role in the film.  Oh, and for you younger teens, the Jonas Brothers make a notable cameo too.  So you could say that this movie has it all.
 
I would hope that museum visitors will sit in this IMAX experience and become as enthralled as I did.  I would also encourage the visitors to stroll through our exhibit halls after the film if they can and see a bit of history and science, which includes an exhibition of one of the characters in the film, Genghis Khan
 
If Fox studios and director Shawn Levy plan to make a third installment of Night at the Museum, I would definitely nominate HMNS for Larry Daley’s next adventure.  
  
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian opens today! 

IMAX – The Upgrade Experience

If you’ve visited the Museum recently, you might have noticed that we’ve upgraded the IMAX theater – to 3D. And while you might not think that’s a big deal, believe me – with IMAX, everything is big.

When I first received word that we would upgrade from 2D to 3D, I was excited – but then quickly asked, “will the new equipment fit in the booth?” Our projection booth is small compared to the newer 3D theaters, only about 30 square feet which has to hold a piece of equipment the size of a small car.

When it was time to move the new equipment in the booth – boy, was it tight. We had to rent a forklift to hoist the two-ton projector through the small opening above the grand hall.

It took more than 6 nerve-wracking hours and a lot of manpower, with the aide of the forklift, to put the new projector in place. We didn’t have much room to move around or any room for error. Good thing we are so trim in the booth. :)

Once we got the equipment in, the fun stuff began. We spent hours moving the equipment around to where it would sit permanently; most of the time was spent relocating the audio rack.

One of the most memorable things we did was to replace the old screen with a new silver coated screen. That process alone took over 60 people to carry the screen out of the semi-truck, to the side door of the theater, all in unison.

Then, we had to lay it out over all of the seats like a tablecloth – a 60 ft x 80 ft tablecloth.

The upgrade was to test everyone’s nerve and patience. The theatre was closed from December 4 through December 22, and even still, we completed the upgrade with only hours to spare – as we opened Night at the Museum the very next morning. It was our first 3D IMAX DMR film and it became a colossal hit for the museum. Check out this video of the entire process:

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As with all new installations of such complicated equipment, there are bugs to iron out. The challenges are totally new, but we’re learning every day. Sometimes it is a simple issue to deal with, but sometimes a malfunction can actually chew up film. And this isn’t just any ordinary film. It is 70mm wide and is strong enough to pull a truck. So when one frame breaks we could end up losing the entire reel of film, roughly 3,000 feet.

The 3D projector has two eyes, and a beating heart of electronics, so it can sometimes feels like a living, breathing monster with a mind of its own; I enjoy the challenges of troubleshooting any problem to make sure it stays “aliiiiiiiive!”

And, there is nothing more rewarding than hearing hundreds of kids screaming in delight and reaching out to touch the 3D dinosaur that has just roared its head into the audience. All the work and late nights pay off when you know you are not only entertaining, but also educating.

But what about you? Have you had a chance to check out the upgrade? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.