A rear-projected interactive game at Shrek’s Adventure! London uses an Optoma laser projector with a short-throw lens and Kinect V2 sensor.
A collaboration between Merlin Entertainments and DreamWorks Animation, Shrek’s Adventure! London includes a character courtyard where visitors meet Shrek and his swamp friends along with characters from Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.
Part of the interactive walkthrough in the refurbished ‘Valley of Peace’, the new game features Po the Panda, the title character in the Kung Fu Panda franchise. The game encourages visitors to match Po’s kung fu skills and score points along the road to enlightenment.
Matthew Ringland and Richard Hollyer, experts in attraction design and planning, were appointed to oversee the new experience, and AV consultancy Leslietec teamed up once again with Ringland and Hollyer to develop an interactive game using motion-tracking technology.
The game needed to be quick and intuitive to play, to be integrated into an existing space, to operate seamlessly in an unmanned environment, and had to be delivered in just four weeks.
Leslietec developed the game, which would encourage visitors to mimic eight of Po’s kung fu poses within a set time to become the ultimate Dragon Warrior. It gave an outline of the number of kung fu poses needed to DreamWorks, who provided all images for the game.
It was quickly apparent the image would need to be rear-projected from within a confined space onto a life-size human-scale screen. The projector and processors needed to produce very little heat, had to be mounted into a non-controlled environment, needed minimal maintenance and interaction from staff, and have pin-sharp image quality. A short-throw 0.8 lens was required to get the projector into the tight space and had to be mounted in portrait mode with a mirror rig.
The team installed the Optoma ZU650 6,000 lumen laser-phosphor projector. Alastair Leslie, director at Leslietec, said: “The ZU650 was the perfect solution for this project. It was the only pro-install 5-6000 lumen laser phosphor projector on the market that would fit into the space in portrait mode, with the right throw ratio and within budget.”
This WUXGA ProScene model with 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast provides 20,000 hours of virtually maintenance-free operation without the need for lamp or filter replacements. And because there are no lamps, the projector needs less cooling, and can be installed at any angle.
The projector was mounted in portrait using a bespoke rig, engineered by Leslietec, which incorporates an Audipack mirror mount with a first surface mirror to project the animated image onto a bespoke 1.5m x 1.8m Harkness Translite rear-projection screen. A clear 10mm perspex panel was placed in front of the screen to protect the system from boisterous gameplay.
As the screen was a non-standard aspect ratio, it was a challenge to get the exact image size needed. The team calibrated the system to over-project and then bracketed the software to make the image fit exactly onto the screen with no leakage outside the screen area.
Leslie said: “We had to use software to adjust the image shape and position without losing any resolution. There is a lot of text in the projection, so accuracy is of the utmost importance. Reliability is also key as this needs to be capable of 24/7 operation. The laser projector is perfect for this.”
The gesture tracking also had to be extremely accurate, focusing on a single user in a busy and active space. Having previously delivered a number of installs using motion tracking technology, Leslietec has developed bespoke Kinect sensor tracking software – capable of very accurate bracketing of the interactive space. This is necessary when installing into unmanaged public spaces with high footfall as it allows interactive game play without spectators clashing or confusing the tracking algorithms.
Leslie added: “We tend to build PCs specifically for the install environment. There are few cost-effective small-format off-the-shelf solutions capable of being installed in unusual spaces that can cope with the fast 3D graphics rendering that interactives demand. We have ten years’ experience integrating projection systems into design environments and know-how to keep the mechanics discreet and at the same time ensure system reliability.”
The audio is delivered using active JBL Control Contractor 50 surface-mount speakers and subwoofer.
Leslie commented: “This game works brilliantly. It is always a challenge to retrofit installations into existing spaces so it needs flexibility in the equipment. I do not think this project would have been possible without the Optoma ZU650. It was perfect for us with its pro-install cutting-edge lamp-less technology and the challenging budget.”
He added: “Through all of the interactive installations we have done, we have learned to install systems that are robust and need no interaction from staff at the visitor attraction. The system is fully automated attendant free and the ZU650’s integrated PJlink control option makes control of the projector over the in-house show control system a doddle”.
Emily Parsons from Merlin Entertainments said: “This installation has made such a difference. It was previously quite a static area. Now, visitors can let off steam and interact with the exhibits making the whole experience so much more memorable – and fun!”