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Themed AV

Feb 9, 2012 12:29 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart

How the role of pro AV in location-based entertainment is changing.

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Crane Dance at Resorts World Sentosa (Show Spectacular)

The two cranes that rise offshore every night are the largest animatronic creatures in the world; each hydraulically powered crane weighs 80 tons and towers 50ft. over the bay. Through the use of sophisticated computer and motion controls, similar to those used on Japanese bullet trains, the cranes are able to move in six axes, their movement patterned after the mating rituals of real cranes.

Renowned, Emmy-award-winning designer Jeremy Railton of Entertainment Design Corporation had a very clear vision for this remarkable illusion, says Electrosonic’s Steve Coe, who specified the AV as part of the initial technical design team that also included McLaren Engineering and Mark Thomas of On Track Themes.

“Jeremy was very specific about what he wanted—the movement he wanted was very traditional, very iconic to the people of that region and it needed to be right,” Coe says. “He wanted the music and audio system to have that left/right directionality, to have one crane talk to another.” Coe says that as the design team began to understand the scale of what Railton envisioned, it was both exciting and a little improbable. Coe’s AV design called for LED screens—originally two each for the cranes’ bodies—driven by media servers for layered content and an onshore audio and show control system, as well as intercom and local controllers on the cranes’ island home.

“McLaren Engineering had the hardest job, working out issues with the weight of it, the wind load—you’re essentially putting up a big sail,” Coe says. “They had to figure out structurally how to incorporate the AV, lighting, and fountains for something that goes from being completely flat and essentially invisible to being 50ft. tall. Even the salt water had to be considered because that environment is very hard on everything.”

As the original technical design team turned over their work some three years ago, and the project moved on, it was natural to wonder if Railton’s extraordinary idea would really get built—technical designers often see projects reduce in scope when reality sets in. “It was going to take tens of millions of dollars to complete,” Coe recalls, saying that from what he’s seen the attraction stayed very close to the original ambitious design. “It’s awesome that they really built it.”

House of Dancing Waters

The House of Dancing Water at City of Dreams, Macau

The combination of Franco Dragone (Cirque du Soleil) and cutting-edge technology bring to life a classic Chinese tale of love triumphant over evil with the assistance of 80 performers and 120 support staff. House of Dancing Water is a live show on steroids: Spectacular scenes and storms, audiovisuals and special effects are set against the backdrop of dramatically innovative water-based staging. As they take their seats, the 2,000 guests are unaware they are suspended on cantilevered seating over the largest commercial swimming pool in the world—3.7 million gallons and five times larger than an Olympic pool. During the show, eight principal lifts and three secondary lifts convert the performance area from a 26ft. deep pool to a solid-floor, dry stage in less than 60 seconds. Overhead, 40 winches and an assortment of other flying gear enables acrobatic aerial displays.

Star Tours - The Adventures Continue at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World

This nomination recognizes the complete reimagining of Star Tours, the first simulator experience installed in a themed environment. The original attraction had been in operation since 1987; new technologies were available that could enhance the experience. The challenge was to remain true to Star Wars while making use of new technical tools and guest interactive capabilities.

The refreshed attraction has succeeded both operationally and with the extremely loyal Star Wars fan base. For the guests, the most compelling feature is the variable content that affords multiple storylines, locations, and characters. This element of surprise is driving multi-generational audiences to return again and again to get a shot at exploring different vistas into many realms of the Star Wars Galaxy.

Arthur, L’Aventure 4D at Futuroscope

This year Futuroscope celebrates its 25th anniversary and its growth as one of the most popular themed destinations in Europe. Rising out of the vast flat French countryside in Chasseneuil du Poitou, near Potiers, Futuroscope boasts a large, eccentric collection of large-format cinema attractions including the exotic IMAX Solido 3D dome, the IMAX Magic Carpet (in which the screen is in front of you and under your feet), and an array of other film and digital attractions.

The Thea Award honors Futuroscope’s Arthur, L’Aventure 4D, created by cinema director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Taken). The stunning sets cover all surfaces of the queue area—walls, floors, and ceilings, creating an organic, underground world of soil, tunnels, roots, and creatures. Inside, a 4D animated sensory experience aboard a 25-seat, insect-shaped motion base vehicle, mimics the flight of a ladybug through the tiny world of the mythical Minimoys. The 9,700ft. IMAX 3D dome, combined with the tactile effects, create among other things the feeling of flying through the threads of a cobweb, being brushed by a frog’s wet tongue, or colliding with an angry bee.

The 2012 Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement

Space Fantasy The Ride, Universal Studios Japan (Attraction)

Barnas Brannstasjon (Children’s Fire Station), Kongeparken, Norway (Attraction on a Limited Budget)

Arthur, L’Adventure 4D, Futuroscope France (Attraction)

Star Tours—The Adventures Continue, Disneyland and Walt Disney World (Attraction Refresh)

NatureQuest, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta (Museum Exhibit)

YOU! The Experience, Museum of Natural History, Chicago (Museum Exhibit)

The Changing Climate Show, Science North, Ontario, Canada (Science Center Attraction on a Limited Budget)

Ghost of the Castle, Louisiana Old State Capitol (Cultural Heritage Attraction on a Limited Budget)

Crane Dance, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore (Show Spectacular)

The Magic, The Memories, and You, Walt Disney World, (Show Spectacular)

You Mexico, Celebration of the Century of the Mexican Revolution, Mexico City (Live Show Event Spectacular)

The House of Dancing Water, City of Dreams, Macau (Live Show Spectacular)

FoodLoop at Europa Park (Themed Restaurant Experience)

Animation Magic, Animator’s Palate Restaurant, Disney Cruise Line (Ingenious Use of Technology)

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