Jon Hughes, MD, Rockbrook Engineering, educates CE Pro Europe on this this museum based multimedia experience exploring the Irish diaspora and features Epson projectors.
Dubbed the world’s first digital-only museum, the EPIC Ireland interactive visitor experience, looks to bring stories of the Irish diaspora to life through a multimedia experience featuring projection mapping, multi-touch tables, sensory equipment and clever use of lighting to showcase the diverse content on display.
Tasked with making the magic happen, Rockbrook Engineering was set up in 2003 and started out providing specialist industrial and process automation solutions to the food and beverage industry. Then the company diversified by forming two additional divisions, namely AV solutions and building technologies and automation, each with their own dedicated engineering teams and project managers. Rockbrook also delivers service level agreements across all areas of the business.
Past projects the company has delivered include Smithwicks Experience Kilkenny, Ireland Pavilion in the Milan Expo 2015, Cliffs of Moher Exhibition Centre and upgrades to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
In the Guinness project, the company delivered a seamless video projection on a 40×3 metre wall with a curved section located on the third floor. This involved setting up 12 projectors to play synchronised content using a custom video server built in-house.
Another example of a custom solution by the company was is the installation of a hologram in the Smithwicks Experience Kilkenny. The hologram was installed in a vault with restricted space for existing solutions to be used. The solution was designed to allow a hologram to be displayed by reflection of an 80in screen installed on a custom suspension system, which could be hidden from public view and therefore produced a clear image in the reflection film. Much of this experience came in handy when taking on the company’s latest project.
An EPIC Adventure
Based in the underground vaults of the CHQ building in Dublin’s docklands, the objective for EPIC Ireland was to design a technology rich and highly interactive portrayal of the Irish diaspora and their exploits around the globe.
Jon explains that the company managed the various AV hardware final design with regard to final equipment selection, which was very much lead by integration. The integration between electrical services, video producers and software designers was co-ordinated on site by the Rockbrook Engineering team to meet the objectives set out by the EPIC Ireland project management team.
In total, the EPIC Ireland museum incorporates over 140 media players, 33 PCs, 33 projectors, 136 speakers and 136 channels of audio DSP. Over 500 network points and redundant show control are incorporated throughout the exhibit. The delivery of the content about the history of Ireland’s diaspora is delivered by audio visual displays and innovative interactive exhibits.
The 33 Epson EB-G6970WU projectors which deliver much of the immersive experience deliver 6,000 lumens over 3LCD technology. Charlotte Hone, product manager at Epson says: “A big focus for us this year are museums and other public spaces, therefore EPIC Ireland is an important installation for Epson and helps to establish Epson as a top player in the installation market.”
Jon explains: “Each installation in the EPIC Ireland exhibition is designed from the ground up. Once budgets were agreed in principle, we undertook a value engineering exercise to optimise costs against performance. Once the equipment was selected for each individual installation in EPIC, detailed schematics were drawn specifying location and placement of each connection for all the equipment involved. These schematics formed the base for all the physical installation and wiring on site at the Vaults of the CHQ Building where EPIC is situated.
“Each installation was designed to be controlled from a central control room were the customer has access to a graphical user interface which allows for complete control of the exhibition.”
Equipment choice was key, Jon explains: “Epson was the projector brand of choice. Epson was awarded this contract based on a blind projection test by the key project management team of EPIC Ireland. Four projectors from leading retail brands were set up in controlled conditions and the team chose the EB-G6970WU LCD installation projector unanimously for its quality, clarity of imagery and immersive experience in a wide space, such as a vault. The decision to go with the Epson LCD projectors also resulted in a significant cost saving for the client, in comparison to other AV competitors.”
The use of end wall projections and other innovative media devices in every space throughout the exhibition delivers impactful imagery and sets the scene for the use of interactive exhibits enclosed between each vault. Media was also constructed to ensure that vocal sections and music/SFX sections work together throughout each themed space.
Each of the interactives exhibits were designed with different methods of interaction in mind and allow multiple users to interact with devices at the same time.
Jon says: “For example, in the ‘Conflict’ room of the exhibition, the tables are all 24-point multi-touch tables with different content available from all sides on the topic of conflict in Ireland. This encourages visitors to share the story they are reading with others who are also on the same table. Content swirls around the table to avoid pre-determined stations, which is a typical method used in other museums.
“The ‘Notorious Irish’ interactive device is designed to allow visitors to view content based on where they are standing in this particular vault. Through the use of LCD projectors and other key sensory equipment, when a visitor stands on a certain spot in the vault, a specific villain from Ireland’s past appears on the wall with their history on display. A short quiz follows the display that allows visitors to apply what they have learned and answer questions based on where they stand on this floor projection.
“The audio management was a large part of this project and the control system manages audio levels in each vault independently and in real time by the usage of multiple SPL (Sound Pressure Level Computers) to optimise levels based on numbers.”
Meeting the challenges
A project of this complexity was always going to offer a few challenges, but nothing the team could not handle.
Jon explains: “At the start of the installation, one of the real challenges was managing audio dispersion throughout the vaults, with so much digital media delivery in close proximity. This engineering challenge was managed by frame accurate synchronization of 130 screens and the 33 Epson EB-G6970WU LCD installation projectors.”
Now the project is up and running, initial feedback from visitors has been extremely positive, with the use of technology and interactive displays throughout the vaults highlighted as a key USP. Visitors have also been amazed by the projection mapping, multi-touch tables and sensory equipment and use of lighting.
Jon underlines: “We are particularly proud of the ‘Science and Innovation’ Vault, which shows interesting content about Ireland’s diaspora and its links to key science breakthroughs in modern history. This content is linked to a clever DMX lighting show, which simulates brain synapses in sync with end wall projections and audio effects in the space.
“The precise management of audio through synchronization and automatic level control on a vault by vault basis in EPIC superbly delivers the ability to include a huge amount of audio content in a manner that is comfortable to the visitor. We are also proud of the installation of a wide variety of cutting edge technology in this museum, where there is a sustained emphasis on interaction with all of the digital exhibits throughout EPIC, which aims to draw the visitors into the story, thus also meeting the key objective set out by the client.”
Conal Harvey, vice chairman of the EPIC Ireland project, comments: “I am proud to say that this team delivered and outstanding result and the comments and endorsements of the visitors to the EPIC Ireland exhibition so far since its opening are testament to this. EPIC Ireland is a must-see visitor attraction for any person visiting Ireland, whether they have Irish connections or not, it is a truly immersive experience.”
Others would appear to agree as the project recently picked up a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Entertainment Venue of the Year’ category at the global AV Awards.