Sysco Audio Visual was commissioned to advise on the AV technology for the experience and joined the creative team which consisted Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, designers - Land Designs Studios, media content creators – ISO Design, lighting designers – Studio ZHA and Peter Key Sound Design & Production.
Sysco recommended and installed 17 Optoma projectors into the experience. The bright EW865 6,000-lumen projector with WXGA resolution has motorised lens shift, focus and zoom, which combined with the extensive lens options, provided real flexibility in installation. Its ability to be installed 360° on its horizontal axis allowed the team to project onto the floor and ceiling as well as front and rear projection. It also installed the 4,500-lumen EW775 and 4,000-lumen EH2060.
Graeme Bunyan from Sysco AV, said: “We decided to use exclusively Optoma projectors for the exhibition as these are cost-effective while being extremely reliable in the demanding museum environment. The three projectors that we used are bright and produce high resolution imagery which was essential for the image quality that we needed. They also integrated with our choice of control system.”
Hosts in 16th Century costume greet visitors at the start of the attraction to set the scene for the story. Following John North and his grandson, the journey starts in the timber yard where hundreds of thousands of oak, elm and fir trees were used to make the ships. Visitors watch the wood being bent to shape, visit the mould room and iron works, and see the panels hammered on to the hull. The master shipbuilder explains how they cocked the hull to make it watertight before the final stage of arming the gundeck, where the grim reality of fighting on these ships is brought to life.
Nigel Howard, Historic Environment and Buildings Manager at the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “We wanted to re-create the era of shipbuilding when the dockyard built these colossal fighting vessels. Our previous exhibition comprised mannequins with audio to tell the story but we were keen to use the latest technology to really engage the audience.”
ISO Design created the videos that were projected within the attraction to tell the story. It developed the script and appointed the actors that would play the characters. It was filmed in broadcast quality so that the six metre-wide projected image still looked crystal clear. They also used 3D projection mapping to make visitors feel that they are actually standing in the midst of the timber yard.
Sysco installed 7th Sense Delta Nano media servers to playback the main show media. The Delta Nano servers provided the complete video playback solution for the projection, and maintained the synchronisation and triggering of media with frame accurate dependency. This also provided the attraction with frame-accurate lighting cue triggering and enabled multiple subtitle options to be switched via the control system depending on the language preferences of the visiting group.
Audio was used extensively in the old exhibition and continues to play a vital role in the new experience. Around 50 studio quality active speakers are used throughout the exhibition with high and low sound levels to set the scene, create atmosphere and tell the story.
The audio is in English with optional subtitles in French, German or Spanish throughout the exhibition. The subtitle language is set by the hosts at the start of the tour from a simple user interface displayed on the Crestron Touch panel. The system has the ability to add additional languages into the subtitle system at a later date.
To ensure sound isolation and avoid visitors hearing what is in the next stage of the exhibition, the timing of audio was perfectly choreographed in the adjacent room to muffle any sound.
Crestron was installed as the overriding control system. This is programmed to start the experience every ten minutes. It is scheduled to power up and trigger the first show in the morning, opening and closing doors and starting the projection and lighting at exactly the right time.
The host can use the Crestron controller touch panel to trigger the show manually if there are fewer visitors on a certain day. They can also override the system in an emergency to open all the doors.
Sysco has remote access to the exhibition, enabling its engineers to carry out preventative maintenance, turn the exhibition on or off and look at log files to identify any problems. Before handover, they trained the team at the Historic Dockyard to operate the system and identify any warning signs.
Graeme Bunyan from Sysco AV, said: “Having installed Optoma projectors in previous projects, I knew that they deliver high quality imagery, are reliable and cost-effective. We also needed to consider the total cost of ownership. Visitor attractions often have capital funding to create the exhibition but need to cover ongoing maintenance from their existing budgets. So, as well as delivering the team’s ambitious vision within the budget without compromising quality or reliability, we also needed to look at the long-term sustainability of the exhibition. This is why we installed Optoma projectors throughout.”