Scalable’s software is automating calibration and simplifying image blending for 18 projectors at the first 360° fixed-installation immersive experience at an Irish visitor centre at Céide Fields.
The remarkable Neolithic site at Céide Fields in County Mayo, Ireland, is home to the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world. Dating back almost 6,000 years, they are covered by a natural blanket bog with its own unique vegetation and wildlife. Beneath the wild boglands, the Céide Fields boast a system of fields, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs which make up the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world.
In June 2022, the Irish Government opened a state-of-the-art visitor experience center at the Céide Fields. The award-winning Céide Fields Visitor Centre is set against dramatic rock formations and features a breathtaking viewing platform on the edge of the 110-meter-high cliff. The immersive center is expected to attract 7,500 visitors over the next five years. Following the multi-million dollar upgrade, immersive technology promotes an enhanced experience, including improved interpretation telling the archaeological story of the Céide Fields and their discovery.
Rockbrook Audio Visual, an Irish-owned company operating throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe, was selected to design and implement customized, creative and interactive audio visual technologies Céide Fields. With decades of experience in heritage, museum, visitor centers and corporate markets, Rockbrook set out to create the first 360-degree fixed installation immersive experience in a visitor center experience in Ireland.
“Our goal was to create an immersive experience that enables us to travel back in time through computer-generated image (CGI) animations to what we believe life was like for the settlers 6,000 years ago,” explained Jon Hughes, managing director for Rockbrook Engineering. “While creating 360-degree immersive experiences is not groundbreaking by today’s standards, constructing one in such a small space with an incredibly complex room shape required a lot of detailed engineering and a compelling software solution to create the blending.”
Hughes added, “Based on our team’s extensive experience on creating blended displays, we knew there was only one viable option – Scalable Displays Technologies. We initially spoke with James Pietsch [Director, Global Accounts for Scalable]. He went out of his way to assist us and make Scalable’s solution available to support our requirements, for which we are very grateful.”
The technology integration at Céide Fields’ center had to accommodate an incredibly complex room design. Every wall is positioned at a different angle. It is shaped like a pentagon, with each side being a different length. Additionally, some walls are concave- and horseshoe-shaped.
“It was a tricky space and could have prohibited us from doing what we physically wanted to do,” said Hughes. “To complicate this further, the positioning of the projectors was incredibly challenging. We had to ensure visitors in the space did not interrupt the projection beams as they moved around the space, which required some of them to be placed at acute angles.”
Hughes added, “The space utilizes 18 projectors to cover all of the surfaces. Scalable’s software automates the calibration process and simplifies blending multiple projectors. With Scalable, we can ensure seamless recalibration on a regular basis to provide perfect blends. It simplifies the maintenance perspective for this particular application. Additionally, Scalable can work across multiple rendering clients which allows us to incorporate various types of content.”
The content at Céide Fields Visitor Centre is entirely CGI animations running at a resolution of 11520 x 2100 pixels. The content shows the current Céide Fields environment and landscape. Beginning with a high-speed fly over from the sea to the cliffs, the landscape peels backward through thousands of years until the timeline shows 6000 years B.C. The content runs through various scenes depicting life in these times. The scenes are evocative and emotional. The content finishes with the landscape evolving to modern times. It features a man with a group of kids poking long bars into the ground, looking for submerged walls as the journey of discovery continues to this day.
Céide Fields is not just another archaeological monument or visitor center, it is the world’s most extensive Stone Age monument. The result was successful at all levels – highlighting the storied history of Céide Fields through captivating content displayed on cutting-edge technology.
“While the software that Scalable has developed is exceptional at what it does, their team is the real selling point for Scalable Display, which you don’t know about from researching a product,” noted Hughes. “At the end of the day, projects are done by people rather than by software or technology. It has been a long time since I have worked with a team like Scalable. They were engaged in the project and accommodating to support project needs. We worked across different time zones with complex remote access infrastructure. Yet, we made it work, and Scalable’s team was always responsive to requests for support and design discussions throughout the project.”
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