Visitors to the Maritime Xperiential Museum at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore can get an up-close look at a shipwreck in the Typhoon Theater where Electrosonic provided audio-visual design, engineering, integration and installation of the audio, video and control equipment to help simulate an amazing historical journey. The company was hired by Sunray Woodcraft Construction and worked under the general guidance of museum designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates.
The museum was built to house the Jewel of Muscat, a reproduction Arab dhow which sailed on the Belitung route from Oman to Indonesia 1100 years ago, and some 60,000 artifacts salvaged from the Belitung shipwreck found near Java. The centerpiece of the museum is the multimedia Typhoon Theater where visitors ‘board’ the Arabia-bound sailing ship, experience the storm it encountered, and sink in the sea as the theater floor descends. When the lights come back on, visitors find themselves in the depths with the shipwreck surrounded by marine life.
The experience begins with a pre-show set on the pier in China’s Guangzhou harbor. The scene is set in the harbormaster’s hut. Shutters part to reveal a screen displaying the ship’s crew at work: an emissary carrying a priceless chalice wedding present which will be part of the cargo, and an astrologer making dire forecasts about the ship’s fate. Electrosonic provided a Christie DHD800 1-chip DLP rear-screen projector with mirror bounce to achieve the short throw required for the compact space, plus a pair of Renkus-Heinz ICONYX line arrays and subwoofers. A Doremi Labs Nugget HD video player acts as the video server.
Visitors proceed to the Typhoon Theater for the main show. The 15.5-meter diameter circular space seats about 150 visitors in bench seating bolted to a floor whose hydraulic lift platform will be activated when the ship sinks.
A curved-wall surface, treated with an extremely smooth Level 5 finish, is the display area for a Sony SRX-T420 4K SXRD projector customized by Electrosonic with a fish-eye lens to fill a 180º space about six meters high. The projector is mounted on an isolated platform on the catwalk to eliminate vibration. A DVS Cine4K server supports the Sony projector; a 3D Perception’s system handles image processing and warping. A sub-system of the Medialon show controller controls the attraction.
The video display depicts a mural of the harbor as cargo is loaded aboard the ship, including the precious chalice, and the voyage gets underway. A typhoon hits the vessel, it struggles to stay afloat but begins to sink. Four High End Systems DL.3 moving-head projectors cover the back of the theater wall screen surface with effects projections, effectively creating a 360 degree experience.
Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team, working with senior project engineer Niel Overton, originally specified seven projectors for the Typhoon Theater then opted to engineer a more elegant solution using a single Sony projector with a custom fish-eye lens. A mock up of the theater was built to test the concept, which proved to be extremely successful.
“Using the single Sony projector saved the client money in terms of cost of ownership and the price of the installation: there was no need for a projection booth or power and air conditioning for seven projectors,” explains Electrosonic project manager Thursby Pierce. “And equipment upkeep is less costly.”
A 13-channel audio system plays a key role in setting the scene and giving visitors the sensation of the storm. Five Renkus-Heinz speakers are mounted atop the wall screen pointing down, five are mounted on the front platform angled up and bouncing off the screen and four are placed on the catwalks for left and right surround. A Peavey MediaMatrix digital signal processor controls the audio components.
Configuring the audio was a challenge due to the shape of the theater, reports Pierce. “There was no depth to do a screen with speakers behind it,” he says, “and sound bounces all over a round room.” To solve the problem, Electrosonic teamed with acoustic consultants Sowden and Associates to skin the concrete space with acoustic insulation and strategically locate speakers to deliver the best possible expanded 7.1 surround sound.
The theater’s dramatic video presentation lasts about 4.5 minutes. Then the floor drops as the ship sinks and visitors follow a continuing image display that reveals an underwater landscape. The illuminated chalice floats slowly down into the sea as glowing creatures of the deep encircle it. Visitors exit through doors leading to a wide hallway, which houses the Shipwreck Approach exhibit with a full-scale aquarium, reproduction ship and chalice. JBL speakers provide the background music for the transition to the exhibit space.
“Everything was designed for flexibility, expandability and growth,” notes Pierce. “All of the Electrosonic AV racks are in one main control room, but the system was engineered to incorporate extra video and audio storage space on the servers. The AV show controller is expandable, and there is plenty of room in the racks for additional equipment.”
Electrosonic worked closely with Super 78’s Brent Young who was the creative director behind the entire project. Super 78 created the content for the attraction. Smart Monkeys provided Medialon show control consulting and preprogramming. Audio consultant Chris Hartwell worked with Sowden and Associates and performed the DSP programming onsite for the Typhoon Theater’s mix to picture. Singapore-based subcontractor Electronics & Engineering furnished the install labor and technicians for onsite mixing and commissioning; Electrosonic has also partnered with them for extended product warranty support.
At Electrosonic John Notarnicola was the projection engineer, Gary Belshaw the controls engineer, Tim Smith handled design and CAD work. Tony Petruzziello and Les Hill were the sales team.