Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Europa Parks opens Historama

On the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the Europa Park presented a new multimedia attraction. Laser show and multimedia specialist LOBO was in charge of the technical layout and implementation.

Check out a video of the attraction!

The Europa Park is an unparalleled success story which just turns 35 these days. Although in 1975, the press suspected that the vultures are hovering over Rust, the Europa Park is nowadays the world’s largest seasonal amusement park. The Europa Park is owned by the Mack family, who not only runs the park with passion and an incredible love for details, but who can also hark back to 230 years as a manufacturer of carts and rollercoasters.

Right for the start of the anniversary week, the so-called „Historama“ opened its gates within a glamorous opening ceremony with approx. 300 press representants, Prime Minister Stefan Mappus, Sabine Christiansen and Henry Maske. It is a monumental building with a nostalgic flair, dedicated to the history of the park and its owners. Apart from the „Generations’ Restaurant“ with a VIP lounge and a monorail station, it also comprises an innovative multimedia ride, for which LOBO developed and implemented the whole technical concept. For the new attraction, the former glass pyramid was entirely cleared out and the interior and exterior was completely redesigned.

You enter the attraction through an opulently designed museum, where the waiting crowds can gain unusual insights into the development and milestones of the park thanks to numerous exhibits and interactive displays.

The actual attraction consists of three pompously designed guest cabins, which can revolve around 6 stages and which perfectly match the design of the museum. Up to 700 visitors per hour can participate in the 15-minute ride through history.

At their seats, the visitors are welcomed by a clumsy park attendant who accidentally sets off the alarm whereupon the museum comes to life and takes the spectators to a journey through time. Each of the five upcoming scenes offers completely new experiences and is dedicated to another aspect of the park. So, in one scene, the spectators rush through the history of the park, while another scene is dedicated to the family business „Mack“ as the innovation motor behind the curtains. Another scene presents an on-ride experience of the park’s rollercoasters by means of a 180° panorama and finally also the sensational shows with all the stars and glamour are celebrated with a true multimedia spectacular.

Thanks to a well-attuned team, the entire implementation of this project hardly took more than 6 months. Under the responisbilty of Patrick Simon, the park’s visioneer Jan Keller implemented the redesign of the building, whereas the contents were developed in coproduction of Calren and LOBO under the direction of Achim Schnitzer. Whilst LOBO was in charge of the technical overall concept, the technical implementation and the laser and effect production, Calren was responsible for the music and video production.

A challenge, which LOBO mastered confidently thanks to the application of the proprietary real-time controlling unit LACON-5. LACON-5 bases on a UNIX workstation, allowing almost unlimited internal and external expansion for even large numbers of most different control interfaces. It provides an open driver concept and controls all devices and effects of the attraction via an ultra-fast optical data bus without needing any additional media control units. A brief view onto the technical setup of the attraction incorporating the latest media and effect equipment, shows impressively what this means in practice in the case of the Historama:

A total of twenty-seven digital video projections with an overall light power of more than 160.000 Lumens create images and 180° panoramas, which take the spectator right in the heart of the action. 12 video projections move together with the spectators through the scenes. No less than 9 laser projectors generate atmospheric 3D beam effects and sophisticated 3D projections. One laser projector is even mounted onto the arm of an industrial robot; two others are fully moveable. Special highlights include 3D projections with laser and video which are floating like hologram in mid-air, an innovative HoloFlow fog projection surface as well as a writing water screen. Elaborately designed sceneries and numerous special effects, such as wind, fog, water dispensers and light effects as well as three stage lifts, water fountains and a Water Screen top off the spectacle. A surround system, especially designed for the room geometry of the guest cabins, provides rich 3D sound.

Thanks to the sophisticated hardware and software architecture of LACON-5, the daily operation is entirely automated: every morning, the LACON-5 automatically initializes all components such as moving heads, laser and video projectors, launches a test sequence and then automatically starts the show program which is running in three spectator cabins simultaneously. If a lamp of a video projector needs to be changed, the operating staff is automatically informed by e-mail. In the evening the system will automatically shuts down the whole attraction considering the individual cool down times of lasers, video and lighting equipment.

Moreover, LACON-5 also monitors safety aspects of the rotary drive, e.g. the clearance by the operators or the accurate alignment of the spectator cabins to the scenes and offers in addition various possibilities of manual override in cases of emergency and or for exceptional circumstances by means of an intuitively to handle control panel.

Thanks to the unified control concept, the maintenance staff has direct access to every single fixture, every video preojecor and even every laser effect via a laptop when programming and maintaining the system.