Gilbert House Museum unveils new video production exhibit with help from Salem students

Sierra Langford, exhibit and facilities coordinator at the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, steps onto the stage in the new “Lights! Camera! Action!” exhibit, which opened this week. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Kids at the Gilbert House Children’s Museum can now step into a castle’s throne room or take a ride into space.

The museum recently unveiled a new exhibit called “Lights! Camera! Action!” which uses a green screen and studio production technology to superimpose people standing on a stage into an animated setting.

Kids who visit can put on costumes to become princes or astronauts, said Sierra Langford, the museum’s facilities and exhibits coordinator.

“That’s going to be really fun,” she said.

West Salem High School senior Cameron Kroeker loads one of the virtual environments he helped design for the Gilbert House exhibit on a computer at the Career and Technical Education Center. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

High school students at Salem-Keizer’s Career and Technical Education Center designed and rendered the digital environments for the exhibit under the direction of teacher Jack Shay.

West Salem High School senior Cameron Kroeker led the project, starting with early mock-ups last spring. Other students in the video and game design animation program rendered individual pieces of the environments, like a spaceship or throne.

“Learning to work together has been the biggest thing from this whole experience,” Kroeker said.

The student team got to see what life is like for professional designers, complete with last-minute deadlines and late nights spent finishing the project.

Much of the work was done during one very busy production day.

“They were like, ‘We need this by the end of the week’ and we made it happen,” Kroeker said.

Nick Martushev, a McNary senior who also worked on the project, said other landscapes are still in development, including a forest scene he worked on. Once completed, they’ll be added to the exhibit so kids have more environments to choose from.

Jack Shay, a video and game design animation teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center, shows the screen where digital images will be displayed at the “Lights! Camera! Action!” exhibit. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The exhibit was born after Jim Plant, chief executive officer of NewTek, approached the museum about donating a TriCaster machine, which displays animated environments with images captured on a green screen.

The museum then approached Shay about involving his students, Langford said.

Previously, the exhibit room was a more traditional stage where kids could play dress-up. The new exhibit retains the same idea, but with a hope of inspiring students to look into careers in animation technology.

“This is a very cool opportunity for our students and the community,” Shay said.

Gilbert House Children’s Museum, located in Salem’s Riverfront Park, is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $8.

Got a tip? Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.