Thomas Vertommen looks at how choosing the right technology can make or break an experience.
The key trend for immersive experiences is transforming the location-based entertainment world, from theme parks to museums, art galleries and exhibitions. But what makes for a great immersive experience and, when creating one, how can we best use technology?
Blend your way to success
The most immersive experiences often require large scale images which surround the visitor with content, filling their vision. This is achieved by seamlessly blending images from multiple projectors to look like one single image. It sounds simple, but it’s not an easy task to achieve.
The secret to creating a truly immersive experience is that the blended images must always look natural. This means uniformity in brightness across the entire image and even colours – without any distractions or blemishes that could break the connection with the viewer.
To successfully blend images, it is important that all the chosen projectors produce the same levels of visual quality and can be matched to one another seamlessly. The ability to stay consistently uniform over time is important because the projectors may be being used up to 20 hours a day, every day, for months or years.
Brightness, colour saturation and image clarity are all areas to examine. It is also vital to ensure that the blending remains uniform, even with warping techniques applied. Image warping (geometric correction) is a technique used to make an image look visually correct when it is projected onto an irregular surface.
Look for a projector manufacturer that provides geometric software. This will simplify tasks such as lens adjustment and projector alignment, geometric correction, edge blending, uniformity adjustment, brightness control, colour matching adjustment and masking.
Pay attention to the smallest details
As well as the impact of large, singular images on the immersive experience, another technological development that has significantly helped in creating realistic immersive experiences is the increase in image resolution.
Imagine visiting a museum to see a master painting, such as the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. As you look at the image, it is not just the overall image that is fascinating. It is being able to see the brush strokes, how the paint sits on the canvas and the minuscule details. With the higher resolutions available from projectors today, this same immersive experience can be replicated.
An important consideration when creating your immersive experience is the choice of projector technology and resolutions. These can range from projectors with 4K input capability, to projectors with 1-axis and 2-axis wobbling technology, and the ultimate projectors with Native 4K chipsets for top-of-the-range resolution.
Never break the illusion
When creating something that will transport a visitor to another place, time or world, it’s important to never break the illusion of an immersive experience. The projection technology must be as invisible as possible. There are a number of important elements to consider here, such as projector placement and noise levels.
The size of similarly specified projectors, from different manufacturers, can vary greatly. Look for projectors that are powerful, yet compact, to minimise the visual impact of the technology. Another important consideration is noise levels, which again can vary greatly. A noisy fan cooling a projector in a confined space can be an immediate distraction for visitors.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, look for projectors with a range of lens options available. Short throw lenses, for example, can be critical in ensuring the illusion remains intact. They are ideal for projecting from the ceiling or for avoiding the creation of shadows when visitors stand up close to a large image.
Reliability is a critical consideration when creating an immersive experience.
In most attraction and entertainment venues, the projectors could be operating for extended periods. Downtime or black screen time costs money and ultimately leads to customer dissatisfaction.
So, choose a projector manufacturer that builds reliability into their devices, offers extended warranties, remote monitoring via the Internet of Things and on the ground expert support. These are all essential considerations.