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BEING BRUNEL

Dome projection brings visitors up close and personal with the mind of a genius.

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INTRODUCTION

How do you celebrate the life and work of a genius — one of England’s most famous inventors, Isambard Kingdom Brunel? The organizers wanted to demonstrate his genius for engineering by portraying the inner workings of Brunel’s mind. In the Being Brunel Visitor Centre, guests can literally step into the mind of the inventor. They enter a show through the ear of a giant recreation of Brunel’s head.

The aim was to create an immersive experience that gave visitors an insight into the process of invention in the nineteenth century. The experience had to communicate the scale and diversity of Brunel’s achievements. No mean feat for a ground-breaking engineer who built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and many innovative bridges and tunnels.

Being Brunel Website Video

 

OVERVIEW

‘Being Brunel’ is part of a redevelopment of Brunel’s original Drawing Office, close to the SS Great Britain. The visitor center is full of authentic artefacts, most of which have never been on display before and its expansion brings Brunel and his legacy vividly to life.

The main element was Brunel’s Brain - a four-projector immersive show inside a giant 8 feet recreation of Brunel’s head. Visitors enter the show by walking into and through Brunel’s left ear and the exhibit uses surround sound and special effects to reinforce the impression they are inside Brunel’s head.

Audiovisual communicates the complex working of Brunel’s mind and the engineering aspects of his life through imagery projected on the inner dome and audio. His forward looking eyes are depicted with superb clarity and audio. Steam effects from a Great Eastern train and smells from both cigars and engine oils give visitors a truly immersive experience.

The organizers also wanted to show how Brunel conducted business by inviting visitors to participate in a meeting — let them experience the practicalities of selling inventions.

They enter a boardroom to watch a discussion between Brunel and key stakeholders about how the SS Great Britain should be powered. The audience can even cast their own vote.

CHALLENGE

‘Being Brunel’ is part of a redevelopment of Brunel’s original Drawing Office, close to the SS Great Britain. The visitor center is full of authentic artefacts, most of which have never been on display before and its expansion brings Brunel and his legacy vividly to life.

The main element was Brunel’s Brain - a four-projector immersive show inside a giant 8 feet recreation of Brunel’s head. Visitors enter the show by walking into and through Brunel’s left ear and the exhibit uses surround sound and special effects to reinforce the impression they are inside Brunel’s head.

Audiovisual communicates the complex working of Brunel’s mind and the engineering aspects of his life through imagery projected on the inner dome and audio. His forward looking eyes are depicted with superb clarity and audio. Steam effects from a Great Eastern train and smells from both cigars and engine oils give visitors a truly immersive experience.

The organizers also wanted to show how Brunel conducted business by inviting visitors to participate in a meeting — let them experience the practicalities of selling inventions.

They enter a boardroom to watch a discussion between Brunel and key stakeholders about how the SS Great Britain should be powered. The audience can even cast their own vote.

SOLUTION

Electrosonic collaborated with Centre Screen Productions to develop the dome projection and special effects that would recreate Brunel’s Brain. The bespoke experience is created through immersive 180º dome and 4k wraparound projections. A multi-projector display inside the brain communicates the complex thought processes, the Eureka moments and the despair that inventors experience to realize their vision. Steam effects and the smell of engine oil and cigars add to the fully immersive experience.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This unique approach to a great historical life has helped establish Being Brunel as a leading attraction in Bristol’s busy harbour area — challenging in an environment that boasts many rival visitor experiences.

It gives a comprehensive, engaging insight into the process of invention – educating visitors and inspiring the next generation of engineers. And, it complements the nearby realization of Brunel’s genius – the SS Great Britain.

Project Details

Client
Being Brunel Museum & Centre Screen Productions
Location
Bristol, England
Size
10,750 sq.ft
Services
Audiovisual & Control System Design
Engineering
Interactive & Immersive Technologies
Dome Projection
Surround Sound Audio
Build & Systems Integration
Programming & Commissioning
Project Management
What is unique about this project is the way the full dome projection blends so seamlessly with the wraparound POV content. It’s the end result of a lot of collaborative hard work with hardware specialists Electrosonic developing a software/ hardware solution.
Paul Kucharski
Creative Director, Centre Screen Productions

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