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Auckland Musuem creates immersive virtual ocean using VPL-SW535C projectors

An arresting exhibition at the Auckland War Memorial Museum depends on four Sony VPL-SW535C Short Throw projectors – and some state-of-the-art visual techniques – to give an exciting new perspective on the natural world.

Auckland Musuem creates immersive virtual ocean using VPL-SW535C projectors

Museum maps virtual seascape with Sony projectors

'Moana - My Ocean' is an exhibition at the Auckland War Memorial Museum that harnesses cutting-edge audiovisual techniques to provide an immersive virtual experience of the undersea world.

Designed to entertain a wide spectrum of visitors, the thrilling multimedia experience draws heavily on the brightness and reliability of our VPL-SW535C projector to depict life beneath the waves.

'Moana - My Ocean' takes visitors on a marine journey through New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, where the shallow, warm waters brim with plankton and other marine life. It’s famous for regular ‘boil-ups’, where a large school of fish is herded into a tightly-packed formation near to the surface by predators, causing the surface to boil as fish try to escape.  

Underwater intelligence

Re-creating this natural phenomenon presented a challenge to the museum design team, who rejected conventional approaches like sculpture in favour of a ground-breaking proposal by Auckland-based creative agency Rawstorne Studio. Conventional filming was replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to model the fishes’ behaviour when faced with the threat of a predator.

“Around 7,000 individual virtual fish are created in the computer and animated on screen”, explains creative director Robin Rawstorne. “They swim about, school together and react to each other in this virtual ocean just as they would in real life”.

Four projectors deliver edge-blended 270° image

Rawstorne Studio engaged creative company Pleasure Kraft to help realise the audience environment – a 270° animated projection recreating the experience of being right inside the boil-up.

This demanded four projectors, fitting snugly inside the tight confines of a 6m display space. Images from the four images were spaced approximately 65° spacing and edge blended to create one super-sized picture. Short Throw projection was vital to ensure visitors don’t interrupt the beams as they move through the space.

After a competitive shoot-out, the museum settled on four Sony VPL-SW535C projectors, offering WXGA resolution and rated at 3,000 lumens each. Lamp life was also a crucial factor in the decision, and with a rated 6,000 hours cutting maintenance needs. All four projectors were mounted on a custom circular support above a 2.5m-high screen, constructed with a specially-welded seamless PVC projection surface to preserve every pixel of resolution in the edge-blended image.  

Find out more about Short Throw and Ultra Short Throw projectors