BIRMINGHAM, AL — Media systems integrator, MediaMerge, announced Monday, December 22, 2003, that it has entered into multi-year agreements to provide technical support for the TI Founders IMAX Theater in Dallas, Texas, and The Desert IMAX Theater in Cathedral City, California.
“We were looking at a significant sum of money to maintain the required quarterly IMAX service visits,” states Ed Bisaillon, general manager at the Desert IMAX Theater in Cathedral City, California. “Then MediaMerge comes along and says, ‘We can do it, we’re qualified, and we can save you money.’ To a small theater in a turn-around situation like ours, that’s a winning combination.”
Bisaillon, a thirteen-year veteran of the IMAX industry, was hired in 2001 by the city in an attempt to revive the faltering theater. Under his leadership, The Desert IMAX Theater reported the largest growth in attendance of any theater in the U.S. in 2002, according to the ‘Giantscreenbiz.com 2002 Annual Report.’
MediaMerge, in cooperation with the IMAX Corporation, will be responsible for providing preventative maintenance and technical support for the theater’s world-class audio and projection systems.
Under the agreements MediaMerge provides a technician to meet the requirements of the IMAX Service Partnership Program. In this arrangement each theater operates as usual, and MediaMerge provides 24-hour phone support, preventative maintenance, and emergency service visits. The theaters still have service agreements directly with IMAX, while MediaMerge provides the labor at a significant savings. IMAX provides all replacement parts, phone support, and limited on-site service.
The Service Partnership Program was launched by IMAX in 2001 as an effort to offer a cost-saving alternative to theaters interested in lowering their annual service fees. In exchange for assuming more responsibility in maintaining their IMAX system, eligible theaters recognize a reduction in their annual IMAX maintenance fees.
Initially, Bisaillon began investigating the possibilities for the Desert IMAX Theater to enroll in the Service Partnership Program and have a technician certified by IMAX, but the technical requirements of the program presented a hurdle for his staff. “Our projectionists are very competent people, but they were not hired to be service technicians,” remarks Bisaillon. In August Bisaillon contacted Doug Jackson, Technical Services Manager, to learn more about the services provided by MediaMerge.
Bisaillon was pleased with MediaMerge’s offering and a deal was struck. “With a total of five IMAX Theaters signed in the first year of operation, MediaMerge Technical Services is progressing as planned.” remarks Jackson. ” I am particularly enthusiastic about the additional technology requirements of The Desert IMAX Theatre that will bring MediaMerge into the IMAX SR and 3-D service markets, further expanding the services available from MediaMerge to theatres through the SPP.”
MediaMerge, Inc. was founded in February 2001, by Tim Ogletree and Ken McKibben to provide design, installation, service, and support for audio, video, control, acoustics, and theatrical lighting systems. The two met while working at Birmingham-based Sonics Associates where Ogletree worked as a system designer, and McKibben worked as a Service Technician for North America.
The company’s customer-base consists primarily of houses of worship and other facilities utilizing media systems to deliver high-impact audio and visual presentations. Since its inception, MediaMerge has been growing at a steady pace and currently has ongoing church installation projects in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and West Virginia.
In late 2002 Doug Jackson, formerly a Regional Manager for IMAX Technical Services, joined the MediaMerge team and formed the MediaMerge Technical Services Group to provide service and support to the existing client-base. Recognizing the unique opportunity afforded by the IMAX Service Partnership Program, Jackson moved quickly to include the IMAX program as part of the company’s service offering.
MediaMerge expanded into the IMAX market in May, signing agreements to provide service to the IMAX Theaters at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile, Alabama, and the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida. In July MediaMerge picked up the St. Louis Science Center Omnimax in St. Louis, Missouri. The Desert IMAX Theater is the first IMAX SR 3-D projection system MediaMerge has signed agreements to maintain, and with the addition of the theaters in both Texas and California, MediaMerge is currently the largest third-party IMAX servicing agent in the world.