Museums and attractions have long relied on the latest tech to create an engaging learning experience for the audience – whether through audio guides, explanatory videos or smartphone apps. However, as audience expectations have shifted in line with technological advancement, the need for innovation in the museum and attraction space could not be greater. In recent years, visual effects has been proving a powerful tool for the industry to bring content to life and capture an audience on a whole new level – and at a fraction of the

The Bristol-based VFX studio Moonraker is demonstrating the next stage in visitor interaction: immersive 3D content that is layered over the physical world in real-time.

Having established their credentials in the film and TV industry, Moonraker has been eagerly working to bring the high-quality visual work they have delivered for the likes of the BBC and National Geographic to the exhibition space.

Last year, the Moonraker team partnered with tech studio Zubr to breathe new life into one of Northern Ireland’s best-loved attractions through the power of augmented reality. This year, the VFX studio is showcasing once more their capability in innovating visitors’ experience through collaboration with 3D visualisation consultants Animmersion.

Moonraker has been experimenting with real scientific data for some time, helping to visualise hidden worlds deep beneath the earth’s surface for a recent television series. We came across Animmersion and their work with the revolutionary DeepFrame screen technology and thought it would be the ideal format to develop this concept further for visualising human biology in a more immersive format.

The first phase of the project was to design an aesthetic for the content displayed. Using a set of microscopic imagery Moonraker developed a 3D visualisation of a foetus in the womb, similar in look to CT and MRI scans.​ The result is a high-quality, three-dimensional hologramme​ rotating in mid air, demonstrating the potential that this innovative process has in creating educational experiences that bring context to subject matter like never before and to the user to see and interact with an image – not with a headset or through their phone screen, but right in front of them.

The source data here is “HREM” slices – that’s ​ high-resolution episcopic microscopy. ​ As part of the process, a specimen is embedded in resin. Once hardened, it is sliced over 1000 times, creating a digital image of each sliced surface.

Consisting of a special optical lens, the DeepFrame display can be floor-mounted or suspended in the air to create a truly captivating experience. Using this technology, Moonraker and Animmersion collaborated to produce visualisations that are seen by the viewer as a virtual layer on top of the real world.

To the untrained eye, it’s witchcraft. To the attractions industry, it’s a game-changing opportunity to attract visitors. By loading a high-quality, highly-detailed 3D visualisation onto a DeepFrame screen, content can appear to be up to a mile away.

The second piece of content run through Animmersion’s DeepFrame technology was a 3D moon visualisation. Loaded onto the DeepFrame screen, the moon turns slowly at an angle, complete with detailed craters and rocky surface.

The screen can produce visualisations of any size, depth or distance, allowing – for example – the original Cutty Sark to be displayed docking to the port as it used to, or dinosaurs to roam across gardens, or planets to be observed in unprecedented detail by visitors in a space centre.

“For us, the decision to diversify into exhibits and attractions just made sense: as far as we can tell, there’s a market here for the content we produce on TV – the approach we bring to exhibitions, however, is different to the approach used by companies who specialise in this sector,” said Tom Downes, Head of 3D at Moonraker VFX.

“We’re bringing a fresh perspective to the scene and backing it up with a strong creative team who understand what audiences crave. Transferring that critical knowledge to the attraction space could prove transformational.”

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