Sea Life London Aquarium has a new exhibition on the Thames Tideway Tunnel with projection mapping utilising two Optoma EH415ST short throw projectors, edge blended with an Avolites Ai S4 media server.
The exhibition explains how the city’s existing Victorian sewage system has become overloaded due to the population increase and more rainwater entering the drains as London has been concreted over.
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is an infrastructure project designed to protect the river from this increasing pollution. The proposed 25km tunnel will run mostly under the River Thames through central London to provide storage and conveyance of raw sewage and rainwater discharges that currently overflow into the river.
The aquarium brought in set designer, Riette Hayes-Davies, to create an exhibition that would entertain visitors while also conveying the importance of this project to London and the environment.
“It is an amazing tribute to the Victorian engineers that this problem has only surfaced badly in recent years," said Hayes-Davies. "Within the exhibition I wanted to convey what a real feat of engineering the original system was as well as explaining the equally clever proposed solution for the 21st Century.”
The design included a 3D map of London and key landmarks onto which a film would be projected using 3D mapping.
The 4m-wide model had to be accurately built to match the 3D CAD file so the animations would be perfectly mapped. The scenic construction house, Scott Fleary, built the model to exactly match the animation template.
London-based designers, Immersive, were commissioned to animate the content with projection mapping, and install the AV equipment.
Immersive’s creative director John Munro stated: “We designed our overall look in a way that brought very disparate elements together, and we also used expert timing to ensure that the flow of the piece made sense while still keeping a light-hearted humorous element to it. Four minutes of content with such a detailed narrative is actually quite a challenge in itself, so we are proud of the depth of storytelling within the dwell time.”
Ralph Lambert, director at Immersive, said: “The ability for visitors to get so close to the install without casting their shadow across the image was only possible by using extreme short throw lenses which were available on the Optoma EH415ST projectors.
“These projectors are bright and have a resolution output of 1920 x 1080p, which enabled us to create our video at a combined resolution of 2832 x 1080. PJLink control was a must-have for automated on/off control.”
The video uses sound effects, illustrations and original photographs including some from the building of the original C19th sewers, the construction of Tower Bridge and images from World War II. Audio is fed through to three speakers over three separate channels, which fills the gallery with the sights and sounds from those eras.
Lambert added: “The video is four minutes long showing London’s history and development and how and why the Thames Tideway project is going ahead. It captures the audience’s attention using immersive 3D mapping illusion based graphics to entertain as well as inform.”
The EH415ST Full HD projector beams a 100in picture on a screen or wall from just over a metre away. It has 3,500 ANSI lumens brightness and is lightweight (3.4kg), for flexible installation. In addition, the projector has a powerful built-in speaker as well as an audio output, enabling connection to external sound systems.
Hayes-Davies concluded: “When the installation was assembled for the first time on site, the registration on the map with the animation template was perfect and the projection quality was stunning. It competes successfully among the other wonderful attractions at Sea Life with whole families stopping to watch the film all the way through.
“This has been one of the most fascinating and rewarding projects I have worked on. I think we have managed that balance between accessible and engaging, but not too child-orientated to keep interest in the adult audience. I really hope it helps people appreciate their environment, all the work that goes into keeping it safe, and all aspects of what goes on under Londoners’ feet.”