APM Terminals in Port Elizabeth, NJ, is an A.P. Møller-Mærsk company. A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (Danish: A.P. Møller-Mærsk Gruppen) is an international business consortium involved in a variety of business sectors, but primarily transportation. The company is known internationally as Maersk and is most well known for its large shipping business. It is the largest container ship operator and supply vessel operator in the world. Maersk is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, with offices in more than 100 countries worldwide. The group employs more than 60,000 employees. The Port Elizabeth, NJ office sought a better way to present its company to groups who tour the facility and to new business prospects. They contacted us to design a theatre and to produce a short video presentation about the work done at the Port Elizabeth site.
The initial challenge with the theater design was the lack of a room large enough to comfortably seat 30 people. This added to the challenge that, due to the size of the room, the throw distance of the projector would not result in an image large enough to have the desired impact.
Our challenge with the video production was to make a video with an "IMAX feel" without shooting it on IMAX film and incurring the subsequent costs. We also wanted the people who work at APM Terminals and the equipment used on the yard to tell the story instead of using a talking head or professional narrator commonly found in corporate videos. Lastly, it was an enormous challenge to tape most of the shots without slowing or stopping work at the facility and to tape the video in a manner that ensured the safety of the production crew.
The client had an existing room off its outer lobby that housed an outdated model of the facility. The room was small but had adjoining restrooms that could be relocated. We decided to remove the wall between the three rooms and create a single room approximately 20 x 20. While the throw distance was still a little shorter than desired, the size of the projection was within the ideal range for a room of this size. Given the space and the desired seating, we built a series of risers to ensure that no views of the video were obstructed.
With the addition of High Definition video, the experience would be enhanced. To address the issue of acoustics, the wall panels were replaced with fabric to absorb the sound and create clean audio. Using the technological advances in home theater design, we were able to procure high-end audio and video equipment without moving into higher priced professional equipment, which would have its own set of challenges when downsized to a room this small. Another added feature was the ability to set up this equipment in such as way as to be user friendly.
To replicate an IMAX experience, we shot the video with two High Definition cameras. We used time-lapse photography in places to capture work sequences. We also placed the camera in unlikely locations above some action shots (i.e., on a deer stand mounted on a light pole to capture the ship being unloaded and reloaded). In addition, we mounted cameras on some of the equipment to capture the look, feel, and sounds of heavy industrial equipment at work. To overcome the challenges of taping the work in real time, we were often on location several hours before daybreak to capture the entire sequence of a daylong process or obtain footage of the workplace spanning the entire work day. To obtain buy-in of both management and the labor unions, we met with all parties numerous times to obtain their advice on how to accurately portray the work done at APM Terminals.