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Audiovisual / Interactive : LCI deliver the first “Our Planet” Visitor Centre, St Lucia

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The first “Our Planet” fully interactive visitor centre was launched at the beginning of June 2011. The centre contains a range of exhibits seeking to promote awareness of the conservation of the Earth’s environment.

Related: LCI Company Profile / LCI Debut World’s First 360 Degree Water Screen at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park

The centre was first conceptualised by the Our Planet Directors Pablo Rosenthal and Sarah Adams, who chose LCI as their design partner in the delivery of all aspects of the project. The centre is located in La Place Caranage in Castries, St Lucia. Two floors of the existing building were redeveloped to hold the new attraction.

The centre contains
•    Interactive Video Sphere
•    Hologram Zone Pepper’s ghost – a life size Prince Charles and St Lucia’s Governor General
•    Discovery Zone and Interactive Floors
•    Hurricane Video Mapping Game
•    Immersive Video Zone
•    Portrait Screens
•    Kaleidoscopic Video Mirror Sphere
•    Energy Video Mapping Game
•    Film Zone
•    Science on a Sphere (software by NASA)
•    Special Effects Theatre
•    Ice Planet Café
•    Building Video Mapping
•    Touch Screen Control Consoles

LCI delivered all services from design and master planning, show production, gaming solutions, integration and installation, coordination of local contractors, suppliers and staff training.  

The project has primarily been funded by the German Government with support from other cooperation’s including Marks and Spencer and the Hilton Group.  The centre seeks to attract visitors from St Lucia, and also the large number of holiday makers that stay on the Island or visit by cruise ship.

The centre is staffed entirely by St Lucian’s who will provide the visitor with an entertaining tour of the centre, which culminates with an immersive experience in the special effects theatre.  The centre has a capacity of around 1500 visitors per day, and hopes to get its message across to as many people as possible.

The intention is to replicate the centre at other locations around the world, following on from the success of Our Planet St Lucia.

Exhibit Details

Many innovative techniques were used to create the different “zones” within the centre, and all the content for Our Planet was designed and produced by LCI at their studios in London.

1.    Interactive Video Sphere
The first exhibit that greets visitors is a large interactive sphere located at the entrance to the centre. It allows visitors to interact with the earth in many ways, by causing meteor impacts, by exposing the magma below the surface, and by creating hurricanes. It uses a custom made ultra wide angle projector lens to project an image of the earth from inside the base of the sphere. A small camera with a wide angle lens located next to the projector is connected to bespoke video tracking software which is able to detect the motion of users hand’s across the surface of the globe.

2.    Hologram Zone
HRH Prince Charles was filmed especially for this exhibit at his London residence, Clarence House. The life sized hologram of the Prince delivers an introduction to the centre and its aims, as well as making a plea to visitors to help make a difference to environmental protection. 

The Governor General of St Lucia, Dame Pearlette Louisy is then shown. She puts the emphasis on the local impacts to the environment and talks mainly to ‘fellow St Lucians’. Dame Pearlette was filmed at her home in St Lucia. The hologram is created with a “peppers ghost”. The brief was to make the illusion as realistic as possible. This involved careful arrangement of the half silvered glass (which allows the effect to be created) in relation to the viewer, and subtle control of the lighting and projectors in order to make it appear that Prince Charles and the Governor General are actually in the room.

3.    Discovery Zone
The Discovery Zone features a bank of six touch screen displays and an interactive floor. Each touch screen has six Discovery Zone applications, all tailor made for the centre. The applications are:

–    The Our Planet Quiz,
–    The ‘Save the Turtles Game’. A three level flash programmed game where players have to guide and protect baby turtles through their early lives from a variety of dangers.
–    The ‘Invaders Game’ which challenges players to protect endangered species on a small island,
–    The Our Planet Gallery showing a wide range of beautiful images with related information,
–    The e-postcard application which allows visitors to choose from a selection of St Lucian scenes and email them with a message to friends and family,
–    The ‘Advisory Page’ that gives information about energy conservation in the home and alternative energy sources.

The Interactive floor has a variety of environmentally themed games (endangered local species recognition, carbon footprints, solar energy, global warming). The touch screen applications were developed in flash, and designed to work in a multi-touch environment. The Interactive floor uses an infra-red camera to detect movement on the floor below, and uses the Eyeclick software to implement the interactive effects.

4.    Hurricane Game
This is the first of two exhibits that use a combination of Video Mapping and Interactive Touchscreen technology. For this exhibit visitors are challenged to create the perfect weather conditions for a Hurricane to form whilst managing the islands resources so that key areas are protected. The exhibit features a talking mannequin that guides you through the process and explains the outcomes. A 3D island is also video mapped. The mannequin and island were machined from a solid block of polystyrene using a 5-axis CNC milling machine, using data from a computer generated 3D model. This was to ensure the video content (created using the 3D computer models) exactly matched the polystyrene models. This content was “mapped” onto the set using a projector, and was made to fit exactly by using Wings Platinum 4 video warping software.

5.    Immersive Video Zone
Visitors enter a curving corridor where video is rear projected onto the walls on both sides. They are given a visual explanation of the Earth’s history, its atmosphere forming, mass extinctions and the effect that man is having on all aspects of the environment, accompanied by a varied and exciting soundtrack. The larger of the two curved video screens is created from two adjacent projectors, blended together using Wings Platinum 4 video warping software.

6.    Portrait Screens
On the upper floor visitors can stop at any of the four portrait mounted touchscreens to play games or watch videos of local people telling stories about their passion for the environment and the work they do to protect local flora and fauna. The first game allows visitors to protect baby Iguanas from predators as they make their way up into the safety of the trees, and the second is a portrait version of the quiz which can also be seen in the Discovery Zone. The four local people were filmed in St Lucia on a green screen, and then composited into a video which emphasizes their words

7.    Mirror Sphere
The Mirror Sphere is a kaleidoscopic video display explaining the importance of bio diversity. It uses a range of visuals, including custom-made animations, illustrate the points being made. The mirrored image gives the illusion of a giant multi-faceted sphere. The panes of mirrored glass used in the sphere were the largest available and had to be specially imported. A singe projector rear projects the image from behind the sphere.

8.    Energy Game
This is the second of the two exhibits that use a combination of Video Mapping and Interactive Touchscreen technology. For this exhibit visitors are challenged to provide power for a city and then see an outcome dependant on the type of energy they have chosen. Again the exhibit features a talking mannequin that guides you through the process, alongside a 3D cityscape, also machined from polystyrene. In addition there are 12 LED lighting strips attached to the floor and ceiling which illuminate in a chase pattern when an energy choice has been made by the user. This required network communication to be set up between the flash program and the Wings Platinum 4 video software, which is able to then send DMX signals which operate the LEDs.

9.    Film Zone
This area allows visitors to sit and watch films about the environment. It consists of a single projector and a large 16:9 front projection screen.

10.    Science on a Sphere
NASA’s Science on a Sphere uses four projectors to create a seamless image of the earth upon a large sphere suspended from the ceiling.  It is able to then show a number of programs which can track weather across the globe, or show the consequences of recent geological events such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The data used for the shows is regularly updated over the internet connection. The system can be controlled locally by using a Nintento Wii remote plugged via bluetooth into a computer running the Linux operating system.

11.    Effects Theatre
The Theatre provides a thrilling and thought provoking climax to the Our Planet experience. Immersive video and many other additional effects, put visitors into the centre of a hurricane, beneath rising sea levels and show the likely effects of global warming and environmental degradation. Finishing with an upbeat message, the show is designed to leave visitors with the feeling that they can be part of the solution and can make a difference. 

In the Theatre experience, four projectors are used to create an ultra wide immersive video screen, which is blended together over the front and side walls of the auditorium using Wings Platinum 4 video playback software. Large industrial fans and strobe lights are installed in order to simulate the effects of wind and lightening in a tropical storm – used while custom storm animations are simultaneously played on the projection screens. In addition a 20 x 16 RGB array of 320 LEDs are installed on the ceiling, creating a low resolution video screen which is able to create vibrant effects in co-ordination with the video. Finally three 1W white light lasers are used along with two hazers to create a high impact finale to the show.

12.    Ice Planet Café
The café sells ice cream made from local produce. It also incorporates an Interactive Floor projection and a looping Video Wall display. These show footage of penguins and polar bears, and give users a fun way to interact with these images. In addition, snow machines give visitors the unexpected experience of seeing snow fall in the Caribbean!

13.    Building Video Mapping

In addition to the exhibits within the centre, two high powered 15, 000 lumen projectors are used in the evening to create a video mapping show on the exterior of the building – in order to advertise the centre. Here a bespoke show was created to match the architecture of the building, and the technical staff at the centre were trained to line up the projectors so that the video matched perfectly to the structure.

14.    Control System
The entire centre is tied together using a touch screen control system, using Iseo 2 software from AVStumpfl. Every major exhibit has its own multi page touch screen panel, which allows control of playback and volume, and is able to monitor all the hardware within the room. In addition there is an overall “master” touch screen control panel which monitors all the individual “zones” and indicates on the screen if any problems are detected. It also provided a convenient way to turn everything in the centre on and off with a press of a single button.

15.    Kit List:

33 x Windows 7 32bit video servers
19 x AVStumpfl Wings Platinum 4 multidisplay screen licence dongles
10 x Christie DWU670-E HD projectors
9 x Christie DS+750 HD projectors
2 x Christie LX1500 XGA projectors
12 x Displaylite NEC multi-touch 42 inch screens
10 x Asus ET1610 Touch PC control panels
8 x AVStumpfl Iseo 2 touch screen licence dongles
3 x 1W Surpass 7 white light lasers
2 x Look Solutions unique hazers
10 x Artistic Licence Multichrome Flex Pixel LED strips
1 x Artistic Licence Pixi-Power F1 LED controller
2 x JBL PRX635 speakers
4 x JBL PRX618 subs
7 x JBL Control 29AV speakers
1 x Soundweb London BLU-100
1 x Crown CTS4200 amp
6 x Rhino 500W fans
2 x Martin strobes
1 x MOTU Micro express
3 x Pangolin USB laser controller
3 x AVStumpfl SC-NET DMX out modules
1 x AVStumpfl SC-LAN Relay module
34 x JBL Control 47 ceiling speakers
6 x JBL Control 40 ceiling subs
6 x Yamaha RX-V1057 amps
1 x DBX Zone Pro 641
1 x Crown CTS600 amp
4 x Spectral M550 lights
1 x Pulsar 8 way DMX splitter
22 x iTach LAN PoE to RS232 interface boxes
8 x Black Box Servswitch 4 port KVMs
1 x Black Box Servswitch 8 port KWM
3 x Cisco 26 port PoE switches
12 x Linksys 8 port PoE switches
11 x RME Fireface UC sound cards
12 x Artistic Licence Flexi Strip LED
3 x Artistic Licence Rail Pipe HC LED Controller
2 x Datapath Vision E1 full HD VGA video capture cards
3 x Avermedia composite video capture cards
3 x Samsung PAL CCTV camera
7 x Eaton 1150W UPS
6 x Eaton 2250W UPS
3 x Eaton 3500W UPS
1 x Eaton 4200W UPS
1 x Eaton 6000W UPS

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