Joining Sarner on the frontline of this transformation were Bristol-based audiovisual specialists, Moonraker VFX. Their team of experts has dedicated the last year, alongside Sarner’s design and production specialists, to building an immersive and cinematic ‘Dark Walk’ experience.

The ‘Dark Walk’ takes guests ​on an authentic and atmospheric journey through the Jail’s labyrinth of walkways, transporting them back in time to life in the 18th century prison.

Having previously delivered attraction projects for ​Flyride Changbaishan in China and the Fram Museum in Oslo, Moonraker’s latest stop was not too far from home in Cornwall. Moonraker was appointed by Sarner to create a haunting and historically-accurate experience that will attract guests from the ages of 8 to 80. The new attraction features a series of immersive rooms, enhanced by Moonraker’s eerie and atmospheric projections and holograms, as well as sinister surrounding sound effects.

Film-level detail 

There is no doubt the standout feature of the attraction is its cinematic-level of detail. Moonraker’s production team conducted extensive research into the history behind the Jail, even down to the small details – such as replicating the exact buttons on the character’s costumes and their Cornish accents. From the early stages of production, the objective was for visitors to feel as though they are fully immersed in the histories and life of the 18th century prison.

“It was important that every section and projection felt like part of the same cohesive design and an authentic vision. It is the same level of detail as a film,” according to Graham Watts, Moonraker’s creative lead.

State-of-the-art special effects 

Locals who were fortunate enough to get an exclusive preview of the attraction have commended the special effects delivered by the VFX studio. Moonraker combined its skills from screen, immersion, graphic and VFX projects to deliver over 30 different bespoke formats, with each projection and hologram requiring a different size and format that needed to be seamlessly blended into the scenic background.

Emma Kolasinska, Moonraker’s producer on the project, notes: “It’s incredibly difficult to set up a VFX pipeline when you’ve got 30 deliverable formats. Some of those screens are really long – with one measuring 20m by 3m – and that means you have long renders. On top of this, you need to balance the creative director’s vision with how we are going to project onto the scenic.”

Overcoming delays  

The redevelopment of Bodmin Jail was initially set to open in Easter but delays were experienced as a result of Covid-19. Despite this, Moonraker was one of the first production teams to shoot post-lockdown with a stripped back crew, Covid-officer on set and a stunt team which had isolated ahead of the filming.

“What was unique about this project is that Moonraker worked as the pre-production, production and visual effects team. This enabled us to think about the project in a 360-way, and shoot with our visual effects capability in mind. It works much more smoothly being involved from the early stages, and no doubt helped us overcome the Covid delays,” adds Kolasinska.

The Bodmin Jail reopening marks a huge milestone for Cornwall’s tourism and heritage industry. Moonraker’s audiovisual work will enable guests to experience the unique site like never before, bringing to life the people and events that shaped Bodmin Jail in a celebration of the history and heritage of the area.

To find out more about Moonraker and their cutting-edge work for museums and attractions, get in touch.

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