Moonraker VFX helps transform Bodmin Jail into an immersive experience

Moonraker VFX Ltd., the award-winning UK-based VFX studio, was engaged by leading visitor attraction experts, Sarner International, to help transform Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail into an authentic immersive visitor experience.

Moonraker VFX is pleased to announce that it has been working with Sarner International on the £8.5 million redevelopment project of Cornwall’s iconic Bodmin Jail. Now, visitors can enjoy an immersive, cinematic experience that transports them back to the historical site’s dark past.

The two companies have collaborated on many successful projects previously, such as Norway’s Fram Museum and the popular Doctor Who Experience in London. For the Bodmin Jail project, Sarner was responsible for the overall planning and design, while Moonraker provided the audiovisual content.

Moonraker Dark Walk Bodmin Jail

The Dark Walk

Bodmin Jail is now home to the Dark Walk experience, reopening this month, which takes visitors on an immersive journey. Moonrakers cinematic films and projected effects help to bring to life some of the gripping stories from the 18th-century prison

For this project, Moonraker shot and delivered more than 30 different bespoke formats, from large scale projections and holograms to AR applications. Many of these needed to be seamlessly blended into the scenic backgrounds.

“It’s incredibly challenging to set up a VFX pipeline when you’ve got such a huge variety of deliverable formats,” says Emma Kolasinska, Moonraker’s producer on the project. “Some of those screens are really large – with one measuring 20m by 3m – and that means you have long renders.

Bodmin Jail Dark Walk Moonraker VFX

Quality and authenticity

In order to provide authentic footage, the Moonraker team extensively researched Bodmin Jail’s history, even focusing on tiny details, such as the right buttons on the character’s costumes and their regional accents.

During a four-day studio shoot, live-action scenes were mixed with physical sets and visual effects. The composited scenes were then blended with practical and scenic effects as well as theatrical lighting.

Michael Bennett, Sarner’s Creative Director and project designer says: “Sarner are well known for the creation of extraordinary theatrical experiences, we have a unique creative vision that tells a story in a new and dramatic way.

“It is critical that we work with creative partners who understand this vision and Moonraker have been outstanding in realising the project with all the complexities of the production and visual effects that were required, it has always been a rewarding experience for me, working with the Moonraker team.”

Graham Watts, Moonraker’s Creative Lead, says: “It was important that every projection felt like part of the same cohesive design and an authentic vision. It is the same level of detail as a film, the objective for visitors to feel as though they are fully immersed in the stories and life of the 18th-century Jail.

“What was unique about this project is that Moonraker worked as the pre-production, production and visual effects team. This enabled us to think about the project in a 360-way and shoot with our visual effects capability in mind.”

Earlier this year, Moonraker announced that it had secured major funding from Creative England to produce immersive 3D content for museums and planetariums.