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The Memotech MTX Series


     Multi-Effect Video Wall - Examples     




The Memotech Video Wall was very successful and was installed in many high profile venues, including the Hammersmith Palais in 1987, with an upgrade in 1990. At that time, this was the biggest club Video Wall in the UK, consisting of 2, 5x5 matrix displays. You can read about it in Issue 52 of Lighting and Sound International in the Library pages.

There is a small "Memotech History of Multimedia" presentation by Geoff Boyd, available on his web pages here.


The Natural History Museum

Geoff's presentation shows the Video Wall at the Natural History Museum which used Memotech technology, at least when it was installed. (See Slide 7). The photo in the presentation is of Nick Moore's "Kaleidosphere".

The slide does not make clear that much of the effect was achieved by the clever use of  mirrors which gave the impression that the Video Wall was much larger than it actually was, the active video wall area was "only" a 4x5 matrix of displays.

If you look closely at the photos below, (courtesy of the Natural History Museum), you can see that much of the "video wall" effect is achieved using mirrors. A close up of this effect can be seen in this photograph on Flickr, taken by Alan Wilkinson, courtesy of Alan, you can find a copy of the picture here. Alan also kindly put me in touch with the original system installer (Brian Pipe).

Nick Moore and his company, Brilliant Adventures, have specialised in optical illusions using mirrors since 1985. In 1991, Moore designed and installed the "Kaleidosphere" at the Natural History Museum, the Kaleidosphere also featured on the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme the same year. You can view a clip of the programme on YouTube. However, I believe that the "Kaleidosphere" was only the optical elements, i.e., the mirrors used in this impressive display.

When looking for more information on this display, I was pointed in the direction of Neal Potter's website.....
[27/08/2015 : hyperlink to removed, I believe that Neil Potter has now retired and the website is closed]

"In 1990 Neal Potter was asked to head up the design team for the proposed Ecology Gallery at the Natural History Museum. The gallery was opened by HRH The Princess of Wales in 1991 and set the standard for the upgrading of the Natural History Museum during the 1990's."
[07/05/2018 : hyperlink to  removed, the link is now dead]

There, the Video wall display is referred to as the "Quadrascope at the centre of the gallery. It tells the story of the Earth's water cycle." It is also referred to in different articles as the "Quadrosphere".


Photo : Natural History Museum

Photo : Neil Potter Design

Photo : Natural History Museum


The Video wall hardware was actually installed by Video Power Multimedia Ltd. then run by Brian Pipe, although the company has since been dissolved, the display is still going strong, though I doubt that it still uses Memotech hardware. Brian has confirmed that the Video wall hardware was sourced directly from Memotech and used an MTX series computer, he also recalls some of the detail of the system configuration :

"It was a 4 x 5 configuration using Barco SCM3240 32" diagonal CRT videowall display 4:3 aspect ratio monitors within the bell mouthed mirrored tunnel that we called a kaleidosphere The 16:15 was adjusted out to 1:1 by a series of light boxes around the outside of the monitors."

[Specs for the Barco SCM3240: 15.7kHz (H), 50-60Hz (V) scan rates, 600 pixel horizontal resolution]


(Some of the Video wall information comes courtesy of Geoff Boyd, 09/11/2012, from his recollection of the Memotech Video wall business)

(Other contributions from Alan Wilkinson,10/01/2013 and Brian Pipe 03/02/2013)

Further Details about the NHM Installation  - courtesy of Chris Russell

In an attempt to get some technical details of the Memotech Water Cycle Video Wall display in the Natural History Museum, I contacted the NHM and made a general enquiry by e-mail in August 2015. I was very pleased, and not a little surprised, to receive a reply from Chris Russell, a member of the NHM's "Special Effects Section". Chris has been involved with the Quadroscope since it was first installed and actually programmed it at its installation.

Chris kindly sent me scans of some Videowall sales literature that I had not seen before, you can find them on my Videowall Index page. Chris also gave me some interesting information on how the Quadroscope developed after its original installation . . . .

"I work as part of the Special Effects team here at the NHM, and have been involved with the Quadroscope since it was first installed - it was me that actually programmed it and we have since upgraded/refurbished it twice since then.

The Ecology gallery opened in the early 1990’s, and although some changes have been made to it since, the Quadroscope remains one of our most memorable exhibits.  

In its original form, the installation consisted of a 5*4 wall of Barco monitors, with the content supplied to the Memotech processor from a Sony laserdisc player. As far as I can remember, the Memotech controller took a composite video output from the laserdisc player, and then monitored the RS232 output of the player to receive frame number information. At certain frame numbers, the various effects/freeze frames were triggered. Around the outside of the monitor wall are a series of backlit graphic panels that light up at various points in the sequence to re-enforce the ‘journey’ round the Water Cycle.

The hardware was purchased from a company called Market Factor/Videopower, at an original cost of £16,200, and consisted of a Memotech 2000 controller, 20 channels of DDFS framestore, cabling, and a Memotech MTX512 computer with framecode reader.  

I have found some of our original promotional Memotech brochures and have scanned some of them for you.

In 1997, as it became difficult for us to maintain the original Barco monitors, they were replaced with Hantarex screens, but the controller remained until we refurbished parts of the gallery in 2003   At this point, we retained the monitor installation, but the Memotech system was replaced with Electrosonic C-Through software and Imagestar controller.

This system remained in place until 2013. At this point it was becoming more difficult for us to keep repairing the CRT monitors, so we decided to replace them with a front projection system using a Projection Design F32 projector. I re-purposed the content using Adobe After Effects software to retain the look of the original video wall (including keeping the original ‘grid’ appearance), and recreated most of the effects/transitions from the original installation, with a few enhancements. We felt it important to try and keep the look and feel of the original installation, but in a much easier to maintain way.

As it currently stands, the content is run from a Brightsign HD1020 player, that is controlled by an in-house custom built controller that also triggers the light boxes at the correct points in the sequence.   Unfortunately, we are unable to keep old technologies that we replace from the galleries, so both the Memotech system and its Electronic successor would have been sent for recycling when they were removed. "

Chris Russell, NHM, August 2015
The Photo Centre of Oman

The April 1992 edition of Light and Sound International reported that "Memotech Computers recently supplied a 12x8 System 2000 Video Wall to Photo Centre of Oman. . . . The system comprises 96 Barco SCM2840 MK2 monitors combined with Memotech Video Wall electronics."




The location appears to be below the Clock Tower in Ruwi, the commercial centre of Muscat, the image on the right shows how the clock tower looked in 2009. I initially thought that a mural had replaced the Video Wall, but I now believe that this view is from a different aspect than the Memotech photo.
This black and white photo, from 2011, appears to show the same aspect as the Memotech photo.

In this photo, it looks the Video Wall was replaced with blank panels.

The Hammersmith Palais

The July 1987 edition of Light and Sound International had a feature on the refurbishment of the Hammersmith Palais which included a brief mention of the installation of two 5 x 5 Cameron (Memotech) Video Walls.

The April 1990 edition of Light and Sound International had an article which described the lighting upgrades to the Palais done in 1990 when the two smaller Video Walls were combined into a single 10 x 5 Wall - then the largest club Video Wall in the UK.

Tecterran have an article on their website which describes Bit Bopper, a "Digital Interactive Multimedia Entertainment System" that used Acorn RISC processors to generate audio synchronised computer graphics. The article describes Bit Bopper being used at the 1990 Disco Mix Championships held at the Hammersmith Palais to drive a "huge 50 screen video wall" - almost certainly the Memotech Video Wall.

Poor quality photo from L&SI showing one of the 5 x 5 Video Walls installed in 1987  Photo from Tecterran showing the single 20 x 5 Video Wall in 1990 - using the same Cameron hardware. A "stock" photo from from around the same time, showing the inside of the Palais with the Video Wall



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