Mack Animation, a leading animation studio and film production company, produced the media for Europa-Park’s new Pirates in Batavia water dark ride. This replaced the previous version of the much-loved ride, which burned down in 2018 and the eagerly awaited reopening took place in July 2020. It has proved popular with park visitors ever since.
The ride features more than 12 large projection effects, from projection mapping to huge screen extensions. The aim was to use media in an integrated, seamless way for a truly immersive experience, and Mack Animation used some cutting-edge new technologies to create this effect.
While the ride occupies a large space, the team at Mack Solutions/MackNeXT also added some unique scene extension screens to the design, extending the space up to the horizon. This serves to open up the view beyond the walls, creating a feeling of a much bigger world.
For instance, while guests are in the loading area, which is themed to a historical version of Amsterdam and its harbour, a scene extension allows them to look out to sea. A narrow harbour street opens into the view of the ocean, where the main character’s ship is at anchor and visitors can see a storm approaching.
Mack Animation created this photorealistic computer animation, which was a challenge as it extends a forced perspective set. Through testing and simulations, the company was able to find the right angle and perspective, resulting in a great effect and a teaser for the adventure to come.
Another example of a scene extension is in Pirates of Batavia’s Canyon scene. Riders have just emerged from a storm into a narrow canyon, where Robbemond’s ship has been destroyed and his opponents are getting a head start on the search for the mystical “Dagger of Batavia”. Through a large opening in the rockwork, the guests can see out onto the open Asian Seas and the grand ship of Cortez.
For this 18m x 6m screen, Mack Animation created photorealistic computer animation at a very high 8k resolution. The high level of detail helps to create realism, and the highly detailed 3D model of Cortez’ ship was also helpful as the blueprint for the scenic construction of the ship in a later scene. Mack Animation also created a VR previsualization of the ride, which helped the designers to perfect the layout and timing.
Pirates in Batavia also uses projection mapping technology, particularly in the finale. This was the first time that Mack Animation has used LIDAR laser scanners to scan the hand-sculpted rockwork, in order to create a highly detailed 3D model of the scenes. These 3D models then became the basis for the projection mapping effects that show the magic of the “Fire Tiger”, a popular effect.
“From the very beginning, it was a close collaboration between Mack Animation and all the different parties from Mack Solutions design and construction team, Mack-Rides and the Europa-Park technical team, to the engineers from Kraftwerk that planned and implemented all AV and projection systems,” says a statement from Mack Animation.
“Everybody supported each other in the effort to create a seamless and magical ride experience for the guests. And it is another great example of how well the strategy of Michael Mack of bringing together know-how from different fields of technology, animation, media production, design and ride engineering in the different companies of the Mack Group works to create outstanding new attractions for the future.”
With last year’s successful Pirates in Batavia project and 2019’s Snorri Touren, Mack Animation has showcased a variety of techniques for media-based dark rides at Europa-Park and is already planning the next evolution of these attractions.
Earlier this year, the company also announced the completion of its third Flying Theatre film production, Flying over Kazakhstan. This was produced for the Karavansaray Resort project in Kazakhstan.