Sea Life London Aquarium is a popular attraction in central London. Since Merlin Entertainments bought and extensively refurbished the aquarium in 2007, it has delighted visitors of all ages with a huge variety of fascinating sea creatures and become a firm favourite with tourists.
In 2016, Merlin Entertainments approached us with a themebook for a new arm to the attraction named Ocean Invaders. This new section would bring visitors into the world of jellyfish, with distinct theming and lighting setting it apart from the rest of the aquarium in an immersive, informative, interactive, and mesmerising experience. Putting our expertise to use, Pacific worked with the Merlin team to execute the plan to the highest standards possible.
The Ocean Invaders experience is divided into three zones: "Discover Jellies", "Understand Jellies", and "Wowed By Jellies". Each zone has its own unique features but maintains similar colours and lighting levels along with an ambient electronic soundtrack to mirror the hypnotic movement of the jellyfish.
Zone 1 focuses on introducing visitors to the basics of jellyfish: their life cycle, their needs and role in the ocean, and how they are bred and looked after at Sea Life. At the entrance, we installed a horizontal mister to produce a constant 1.2m-high stream of mist which acts as a moving screen for an Infocus short throw projector, creating a ghostly mid-air effect of jellyfish swimming across the archway.
The first area features a number of Samsung displays, playing video and audio content via Brightsign media players to accompany the live jellyfish tanks, which are illuminated with coloured light using LED RGB strips and diffusers. One particular tank is equipped with a transparent LG display to educate visitors about the life cycle of the jellyfish alongside the animals themselves. All displays and tanks are built into the walls to allow ease of movement within the attraction.
Overhead, three coloured lighting effects evoking jellyfish tentacles are achieved using LED tape and diffusers. This section closes with a massive moving image of the giant lion's mane jellyfish, produced by an Optoma ultra short throw projector, which dominates the facing wall.
Zone 2 heavily features interactive exhibits to stimulate visitors' imaginations, ranging from a relatively simple colour-changing jellyfish tank controlled by a touch screen, all the way up to a giant video game for up to eight players. The game allows players to create a swarm of jellyfish via eight Iiyama touch screen displays set into themed desks. The action takes place on a huge 7m-wide display projected by two high-end Optoma projectors, using edge blending to create a seamless image.
Elsewhere in Zone 2, an interactive Hitachi projector allows visitors to access information using hand gestures. Nearby, the infamous jellyfish sting is simulated – visitors are encouraged to poke their hand through a hole in the wall to touch a plastic tentacle, when a CF IV audio player plays an electric shock sound and an accompanying bass shaker thrills the user with rumbling movement.
Since Pacific Computers began working with Madame Tussaud’s London, we’ve helped them develop a number of innovative experiences – each more impressive and engrossing than the last.
As part of the Fashion Week display, we installed a large video wall providing a rotating high-energy backdrop for guests to strut their stuff on the catwalk alongside Cara Delevingne.
This video wall is built from 6 vertical Samsung displays running in a daisy chain pattern from a 4K Onelan Digital signage player, facilitating a high resolution whilst also keeping the costs and maintenance to a minimum. All content can be loaded and changed remotely via the network and changed on command.
Alongside the main screen, another multi-screen display outside the attraction shows six separate loops of exciting fashion footage. Themed as stylish frames, these screens set the tone of the Fashion Week display and prime guests for a glamourous experience.
Most recently, we were heavily involved with the realisation of the Justin Bieber experience. This temporary attraction was briefed to us at very short notice - Madame Tussaud’s had managed to secure the loan of the Bieber waxwork from Las Vegas and only had limited time to install an all-new experience around it in time for the October half term holiday.
To help Madame Tussaud’s recreate the finale of the recent Justin Bieber world tour, we first installed a large multi-screen display to act as a backdrop, displaying imagery taken from the singer’s hit video "Sorry". To enhance this watery imagery and the waxwork’s distinctive wet look, we added a rain curtain which can be activated in sequence to complement the other features.
This sensory array truly brought the half-hourly dance show to life, but also presented its fair share of challenges. As the stage area was already defined, we had to work within fairly tight confines while adhering to health and safety rules.
This was particularly challenging when installing the drainage trough, which was required to eliminate splashback while keeping weight evenly distributed throughout the stage area.
The final installation made for a dazzling addition to the Madame Tussaud’s experience which enthralled visitors throughout its run!
By far our largest installation at Madame Tussaud’s is the Star Wars experience. Covering 16 distinct spaces and overseen by Disney and Lucasfilm, this attraction required us to help recreate several beloved movie moments and setpieces as authentically as possible.
To bring each area to life, we used our AV experience to devise a central audio system controlled by an Alcorn McBride Protraxx digital sound processor which allows the soundtracks in each zone to be controlled from a single point. This allowed us to channel in both background and area-specific audio via a combination of microdot speakers, Ottocanali multi-zone amplifiers, and localised sound showers.
Highlights of the installation include the Duel of the Fates, which features Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul engaged in a lightsabre battle. Each character has their own microdot speaker projecting battle sounds and dialogue, with each lightsabre lit up with screen-accurate LED lighting. This is accompanied by an enormous vertical glass tube lit up by 1600 fibre optic strands with a pre-programmed flashing sequence.
Later in the experience, the Dagobah scene features the waxwork Yoda in a dimly-lit swamp area. This is brought to life by creeping background audio and a Gem Glaciator fog machine, allowing the fog to stay close to the floor creating a lifelike swamp environment. Yoda has a sound shower directly in front of him which plays a loop of ten of his most famous sayings.
To recreate the famous "I am your father” scene, the imposing 6’7” figure of Darth Vader stands on a balcony above a small pit. When visitors approach the opposing glass cylinder, a motion sensor triggers two giant DMX theatre fans to create an upward gust of wind from below - and a directional sound shower delivers the famous line.
Another highlight is Jabba’s Palace, which features a local speaker playing Jabba’s booming phrases from behind the characters of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. Underfoot, bass shakers and localised audio recreate the movement of the fearsome Rancor beneath.
Further on, Anakin Skywalker stands on a small raft in a river of burning lava. Four Dimplex water effect fires create the appearance of lava using water, lights, and mist, accompanied by a fog machine. Beneath the raft RGB LED strips flicker in a controlled sequence, and the rear walls are augmented with PTZ projections from two Rosco projectors to create the illusion of movement along the lava flow. Finally, a ScentAir machine creates the smell of fire to complete this immersive scene.
But by far the centrepiece of the experience is the Millennium Falcon cockpit - the most complex and most interactive feature of the attraction. Visitors take a seat alongside Chewbacca for a multi-faceted sequence simulating the jump to hyperspace.
The visual effect of the hyperspace jump was achieved by playing six different video sequences through Brightsign HD 220 media players and rear-projecting the image through six ultra-short throw Optoma projectors onto ultra-black projection film on the outside of the cockpit. Bass shakers underneath the seat and in the side wall create an intense rumbling sensation.
The sequence is triggered by a giant red button which uses Extron transmitters and receivers with CAT5 cable to run the signal to the projectors. The overall effect is breathtaking and has proved immensely popular – in fact, the sequence had to be shortened as the attraction’s popularity would cause huge queues to form!
As a final touch, we also installed a unique feature for the Madame Tussaud’s staff to enjoy behind the scenes! A central stairwell is surrounded by star cloth and fifteen lightsabres hang from the ceiling, creating a one-of-a-kind lighting setup. suspended at varying heights, the sabres hang from a raft and use a DMX controller to light up in sequence. This was entirely designed, hung, programmed, and cabled by Pacific and is the only one of its kind in the world.
The entire gift shop is outfitted with background audio and features two motion-activated sound showers – one in the entrance playing R2-D2’s distinctive sound effects, and another playing all of the featured characters’ dialogue in rotation.
This is positioned in front of a mirrored screen which displays character images to create another immersive moment.
Here we again we utilised specialist outdoor sunlight readable displays for the queue lines. Integration between the queue signage and the 4D cinema experience has ensured a consistent experience from queue to attraction, this has been coupled with an integrated Audio system covering the surrounding area.
Pacific and the London Eye have developed a solution to reliably update all content on the 192 tablets installed on the Eye, this had been an area of concern when utilising the Merlin network. We have worked with the 3rd Party supplier of the App to ensure the solution for the Eye, this included installing wireless to cover the Eye, and creating a web download server.