Kolkata’s Science City explored a 360-degree digital projection of human evolution as an innovative way to ensure more visitor footfalls to the museum
Museums the world over are continuously figuring out newer and creative ways to attract visitors. After all, at a time when people can easily get all sorts of information on their digital devices – with video and even virtual reality experiences thrown in – ensuring that those footfalls keep coming in can be quite a challenge.
The evolution of mankind exhibition – displayed in a purpose-built cylindrical hall – was conceptualised as a digital panorama.
Kolkata’s Science City still manages to clock over 1.5 million visitors each year and it remains one of the most popular attractions in the Indian metropolis. It is not hard to see why: dedicated to bringing science to the general public, the centre spares no effort to amaze its audience.
To succeed in this endeavour, Science City continually tries to present various subject matters in an attractive manner. Having realised that putting traditional sculptures on display would not be enough, it has decided to use technology as leverage. In the past, it was the first in the country to introduce a large-format theatre, which was a huge success.
The immersive projection solution includes eight blended, geometry-corrected
Barco HDX-W20 FLEX projectors,
mounted on a specially designed canopy with surround sound system
Recently, the centre decided to explore the possibilities of a digital projection with a 360-degree visual on human evolution at its Science Exploration Hall. The objective behind this venture was to cater less to the already well-educated and more to the masses who were keen to learn about mankind, albeit in a format that was not dreary or long-winded – characteristics that the public at large sadly attribute to museums.
“Throughout the years, our visitors have come to expect a truly unique experience,” said A D Choudhury, director, National Council of Science Museums (NCSM). “Our challenge is to continue meeting these expectations,” especially since the centre’s main goal is bringing science to the people – particularly young people – and stir their interest in pursuing a career in this subject.
Inaugurated in 1997, Science City comprises two facilities – the Science Centre and the Convention Centre – and is the largest science centre in India. The institution is part of NCSM, which is governed by the Ministry of Culture.
BLENDING TECHNOLOGY WITH SKILL
The exhibition on the evolution of mankind – displayed in a purpose-built cylindrical hall – was conceptualised as a digital panorama. After issuing a global tender, NCSM decided to rely on Barco’s technology for the project. Explaining the reasons why Barco, and the local technical partner, was chosen, Choudhury said, “Based on their ability to meet our technical specifications and stay within budgetary constraints, we decided to partner with VizExperts as a local technology consulting and development company. Their team of trained professionals proposed a turnkey solution featuring Barco’s HDX-W20 FLEX projectors. Barco’s reputation as a digital cinema leader and their experience with similar projects worldwide played a big role in our decision.
In the past, Science City was the first in the country to introduce a large-format theatre.
The officials at Science City were keen to have a solution that would recreate a larger-than-life panoramic image, which would leave the spectators spellbound. While discussing the project with the solution providers it was decided that the immersive projection solution would include eight blended, geometry-corrected Barco HDX-W20 FLEX projectors, mounted on a specially designed canopy with the surround sound system. The HDX-W20 FLEX is a compact and rugged projector that offers 20,000 lumens light output. It is also standard equipped with the light-on-demand option for flexible light output.
Together, the two companies created a 14-million pixel area in a single panoramic projection onto a 10 meter-high cylindrical screen (39 meters diameter). A 15-minute film produced by VizExperts in collaboration with a creative studio, Graham English & Co, included footage shot across India and South Africa. This film also included extensive computer generated imagery to transport viewers back to various eras as the evolution of mankind unfolded.
VizExperts and Barco created a 14-million pixel area in a
single panoramic projection onto a 10 meter-high cylindrical screen.
To ensure that the solution would work in complete synchronization, it was essential that VizExperts and Barco collaborated closely. Fortunately for Science City, VizExperts’ VizDisplay media server together with Barco’s blending technology ensured a continuous, seamless image without distortion.
“Given the scale of the set-up, the 360-degree panorama was a technically challenging project. However, the unmatched colour and brightness consistency of Barco’s HDX projectors made this installation a breeze,” said Vaibhav Bansal, vice president-marketing for VizExperts.
Museums like Science Centre are often the perfect impetus for conversations – big or small – around subject matters that are on display. Choudhury hopes that the digital projection of the evolution of mankind might have nudged some young visitors down a scientific career path. If that happens, he can rest easy, knowing that the Centre’s mission has been successfully accomplished.