First-in-kind Immersive Entertainment Experience

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Multimedia walk-through experience becomes new must-see location in the heart of New York City. Austrian AV system integrator Kraftwerk Living Technologies was responsible for the AV design and integration of the immersive high-tech attraction.

New York/Wels, 12 October 2017.

The National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, which opened its doors to the public on October 6th, is a first-in-kind immersive entertainment experience. It transports audiences on an incredible undersea journey, allowing them to interact with sea lions, play with rays and come face-to-face with life-sized humpback whales and great white sharks – a highly immersive experience made possible through innovative thinking, extensive experience and thinking outside the technical tool box. Together with SPE Partners, the developers of National Geographic Encounter and the project’s other creative teams, Kraftwerk Living Technologies pushed technology boundaries on the project in their role as the audiovisual designer and integrator.

This 90-minute self-guided walk-through experience is a highly original project and involves different scenes taking guests on an undersea journey from the South Pacific across the ocean to the west coast of North America. The challenging technical feats include unique multi-projector video mappings, high-resolution photo-realistic animation, custom projection screens, immersive spatial soundscapes, interactive real-time audience tracking and a giant dome finale… just to name a few. “Using the latest technology, while at the same time integrating it as unobtrusively as possible was a challenging yet exciting and crucial part of our work”, states Christian Hofer, Technical Director at Kraftwerk Living Technologies. “SPE wanted visitors to feel as free as being in the ocean, without awareness of the special technology making everything possible. We have worked very closely with the scenery builders and animators and selected the equipment very careful so as to seamlessly integrate it.”

One of the technological highlights of the attraction is the so-called “Bait Ball” – the grand dome finale which is a unique application. With regards to the installation, the dome measuring 12 meter in diameter was designed and fitted into the existing building to the exact millimeter, to be able to reach the maximum possible size. The guests are standing on an elevated platform in the middle of the dome with extremely short viewing distances. To reach every spot of the dome without generating any shadows of the people and to keep the pixels small enough to allow for a photo realistic image, a highly complex, high-resolution multi-projector projection system was developed. All projectors utilize the latest laser light technology and are driven by a server cluster that delivers the high frame rate 8K 3D signal in combination with a multi-camera based auto-alignment system for precise pixel mapping and blending.

With regards to the sound experience, SPE brought in David Kahne, a highly regarded composer and producer, who created a unique soundscape supported by a fully digital and interconnected audio system. The immersive 3D audio scene features a total of 40 loudspeakers, which pulls the guests right into the amazing sounds of the nighttime ocean.

While all scenes excite with the visuals and sounds, some even allow for interactivity. State-of-the-art motion tracking is used to let the visitors be part of the experience – topped off by visual effects, created by the visual effects team behind “The Game of Thrones”.

“Everyone involved has not spared any effort to create a spectacular, unique and innovative adventure with many technological highlights as well as wow-elements for the visitors. Throughout the implementation, compromises in quality were never an option”, states Hofer. “Boundaries were pushed – successfully!”

Applied hardware:

  • 50 laser projectors with a light output of about 450,000 ANSI Lumen
  • A total projection surface of 500 m²
  • 35 displays between 55″ and 85″
  • 50 video servers and interactive PCs with multi-camera based auto-alignment
  • Video playback of 80 independent 2K and 4K video channels
  • 240 loudspeakers on 200 independent channels with total power of 80 kW
  • A total of 3,000 m fiber cable, 6,000 m copper cable and 4.500 m speaker cable

The National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is located at 226 West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue in New York City, US. Tickets start at $32.50 and can be bought here: