Thursday, April 22, 2021

Alterface: Ride hybridization

Alterface builds interactivity for unique hybrid roller coaster in China

by Anja D’Hondt for Alterface

ABOVE: The shooting device is highly themed and integrated into the ride vehicle. Photo courtesy of Alterface

With local teams at two offices in China, Beijing and Xiamen, Alterface has worked to establish a strong foothold in Chinese and Asian entertainment markets to engineer interactive mixed-media rides that fit the needs of leisure clients building parks and attractions. The company reports new successes with recent projects and partnerships.

Thrills, interactivity, effects, multimedia and Chinese legend: Qingdao Wanda

A new ride is in the works for Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis in China, a film and television industrial park established by Wanda Studios. The client is Qingdao Wanda. Alterface is responsible for designing and installing all image generators and the shooting system across seven different scenes, using a total of 42 3D projection screens. There are nine trains running on the tracks at nine meters per second. Each train consists of three vehicles that hold four passengers each, for a total of 12 players per train.

At this writing, the ride opening date was set for April 28, 2018. Ride design and theming, and overall supervision, were being handled by local partner Pico Beijing. Rui Shi (Sherman), senior project executive at Pico Beijing, says, “The idea is based on the ancient Chinese myth,‘Investiture of Gods,’ which tells a story about people, spirits and warriors. The great master and generals are leading their people to overthrow tyranny and build one of the greatest dynasties in China, Zhou Dynasty. Everyone admires their great sacrifice and heroism.”

Louis Vanhomwegen, project manager at Alterface, says, “Each of the seven scenes represents a popular Chinese legend about a deity. As allies of the great master, visitors have to defeat each deity in every scene in order to become the strongest one. It’s a great story with compelling gameplay. In addition to combining interactive shooting and the roller coaster experience, there are many effects, including transducers, liquid nitrogen, and hot wind.”

Vanhomwegen explained, “One game lasts 522 seconds, from boarding to departure. After each game, guests ride onto the next scene. On average, 800 visitors can be entertained per hour, which is a great throughput! The embedded audio triggers the ride and leads visitors to each of the scenes. All objects are virtual 3D; physical elements are used only for design and decoration.”

According to Vanhomwegen, guests are invited to begin the experience with a training session, where they enter one of two preshow rooms to use a shooting device and practice on an individual screen. “This way they are able to learn and improve their shooting skills, getting a first taste of the story,” he says. Following the preshow is a short queue with theming to further set the mood.

Sherman adds, “Experiences are being fed from all directions: the ride itself, video and audio, design and decoration, lighting, SFX…we made sure that visitors can feel the excitement from the moment they walk into the gate.”

“This project demonstrates the versatility of the Alterface technology, as we have had to deal with many new challenges due to the type of action, speed and vehicles,” says Alterface CEO and founder Benoit Cornet.

SLIDESHOW:

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Detailed set pieces enhance the ride and surround the game screens. Photo courtesy of Alterface

Concepts and collaborations

“We like to say that Alterface goes beyond the hype and delivers proven concepts to guarantee fun and exciting, unique guest experiences,” says Cornet. “We have found that there is a growing demand in China and Asia for dynamic, mixed-media rides, driven by advanced technology such as Alterface’s. Mixed-media rides require a specific set of skills, and a number of companies have come to us for assistance. Increased and closer
collaboration between manufacturers and customers seems to be the path of the future, and toward success.”

Over the past years, Alterface has contributed to a number of interactive rides introduced across Asia, such as the interactive Rapid River ride, in Yumiyuri land, Tokyo (Japan), and a series of Alterface dark rides in China for LEGO Discovery Centers in Shanghai and Shenyang. “We work to ensure that smaller rides provide the same quality as larger installations,” says Cornet. “The recipe behind our success is the fact that Alterface is responsible for delivering a result and not just a bunch of equipment.”

Cornet adds, “We see the Chinese market evolving very rapidly and eagerly. After having witnessed the debut of interactivity in the parks, we now see interest in higher quality projects with more features and detail, based on strong concepts. It is a great pleasure for us to bring our experience and know-how to the table and share them with our partners to create solutions that will fulfill the expectations of today’s and tomorrow’s park visitors.” • • •

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