The National Geographic Beneath the Blue exhibition wowed visitors at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Upon entering the room, dazzling visuals and amplified soundscapes transported guests to an oceanic world. The 360 immersive exhibit featured sculptures crafted from reclaimed ocean plastics, emphasizing a message of sustainability.
Lumen & Forge teamed up with Inspira Marketing to create a virtual deep-sea world immersive exhibit. The goal was to create a virtual underwater world, bringing attention to environmental issues such as ocean pollution and wildlife endangerment. National Geographic tasked us with everything from structure design and content production to curating the show’s featured artists. Inside the space, stunning projection mapped visuals accompanied immersive soundscapes in order to recreate the multi-sensory experience of being underwater. Read more about this project and how we made this vision into a reality.
HOW WE BROUGHT NAT GEO’S VISION TO LIFE
Starting out, we worked with Inspira’s creative team to render a number of concepts for the design of the exhibition space itself. When we finally settled on the layout, we had to follow meticulous planning rules outlined by trade-show heavyweight, Freeman. Once we had the logistics of the space laid out, we worked closely with Nat Geo to create content and score the piece. Content production involved compiling and editing 8K spherical live action content, as well as compositing CG rendered animals and other objects to make the scene more dynamic and interesting.
Stunning projection mapped visuals and pristine soundscapes recreated the multi-sensory experience of being underwater
Although the room was relatively small, we utilized sixteen 6K lumen projectors as well as two Domemaster servers. Each server managed a playback system with eight projectors each, calibrated so that the floor and walls were separately controlled by each server. The walls were double shot with two projectors on each, angled in such a way so as to greatly reduce shadowing.
Finally, the prep work to bring the virtual ocean floor to life was certainly more involved than one might first guess. We programmed a caustic network on the floor, so that we could simulate motion and amplify the realism of the scene. A caustic is the envelope of light rays that reflect or refract off of a curved surface such as water. With eight projectors used on the floor alone, this effect was immaculate.
To highlight a message of sustainability and the important issues surrounding ocean conversation, we enlisted local artists to create sculpture elements made from reclaimed materials. The Beneath the Blue immersive exhibit featured these sculptures as foreground for our 360 visuals. San Francisco Bay area artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova produced life-sized sculptures of marine animals such as sea otters, Maui dolphins, reef manta rays, green sea turtles and jellyfish, all constructed from recycled plastics and steel. Portland sculptor Richard Cawley then added Coral elements made from single-use plastics. In total, some 8,400 recognizable pieces (straws, netting, clamshell containers and takeout boxes) of reclaimed plastic and metals were used to create the sculptures, educating guests about the environmental impact of single-use plastics.