Ellis Island (National Parks Service)

 Ellis Island (National Parks Service)

About Ellis Island (National Parks Service)

Visitors from around the world come to Ellis Island to learn about the history of American immigration, and many also come to investigate their own family’s story. Now they can experience the history of Ellis Island in digital 1080HD video with 3-channel audio through the film, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” in Ellis Island Theater One. Made in the 1990s, the movie originally ran in 35mm. It was converted to HD in 2001. With recent audio/video system upgrades in Theater One, including a new player and projector, the film now looks and sounds even more realistic.


Kramer technicians worked with National Parks Service (NPS) technicians to design a customized control system for the theater, generating creative solutions for various challenges. One of the biggest challenges was adapting the system to run on a precise, automated schedule. The presentation needs to run once every hour throughout the day and requires an automatic restart. But government security regulations prevent connection to the Ellis Island’s computer network for accurate timing. As a result, a Kramer SL-1N master room controller is used as the time source.


At the core of the theatre’s new control system is Kramer K-Touch. K-Touch is a cloud-based control solution that enables end-users to control any device directly over IP. K-Touch control systems run on any commercially available Apple iOS or Android tablets or phones. There is no need for dedicated touch panels or other hardware. All data is stored in a cloud-based platform and can run on any web browser. K-Touch control systems are designed using the K-Touch Builder. The free K-Touch app is available in the App Store and Google Play.

In the theatre’s new control system, content can be delivered from various sources, including an HD media player, Blu-ray player, and sources connected through VGA and HDMI inputs. The film is on an SD card in the HD media player, and the images are brought to life on a 9-foot high x 16-foot wide screen. K-Touch also controls a surround sound processor and multiple relays for auxiliary equipment and lighting.

A senior AV production specialist at the NPS explained that this is the organization’s first IP-controlled presentation system. “K-Touch was recommended by a Kramer consultant who presented its capabilities and discussed the outcome for the NPS,” he said. After reviewing K-Touch, the NPS saw the potential for its use in the theater and decided to make it part of a pilot program.


The system now runs unattended for eight hours a day, seven days a week. NPS officials estimate nearly 300,000 people visit the site per year. NPS is planning to duplicate the system in Ellis Island Theater Two in 2016. Theatre Two is used in conjunction with Theater One during busy periods.