What better way to celebrate the millennium than to host the last Worlds Fair of the 20th Century and celebrate with over 15 million visitors from around the globe! Over 146 nations seemed to think it was a good idea, and from May 22nd to September 30th, 1998 they are joining together in Lisbon, Portugal to celebrate "The Oceans: A Heritage For Our Future."
One of the most popular sites at EXPO 98 is the Virtual Reality Pavilion. Commanding queues of over 4 hours, Portugal Telecom has sponsored this themed, family entertainment center. Inside, guests are shuttled deep into the oceans depths to experience a realistic underwater adventure. This Virtual Reality Pavilion offers state-of-the-art technology, made complete by StrayLights new Magna-Scope technology. As an unencumbered viewing system with advanced optics, the Magna-Scope offers a revolutionary break-through for Virtual Reality visualization - the images look more real!
From the moment guests enter the Virtual Reality Pavilion, reality is left behind. The building is completely themed so everything the guest sees, hears, and touches belong to the lost underwater world of Oceania.
Full immersion is extremely important in the creation of a themed entertainment experience. Before the release of the Magna-Scope technology, the only way to achieve this realism was through Virtual Reality helmets. Now, stereoscopic (3D) visuals are projected inside the Magna-Scope units with twenty times the resolution and four times the field-of-view compared to other VR helmet-based attractions. The color-fidelity is more precise inside the Magna-Scope, making the 3D experiences seem more robust and filled with life. StrayLights Theaters, with Magna-Scope technology, are also easier to operate for both the theater visitor and the system host. The Magna-Scopes are more comfortable and easier to use - the visitor only has to peer into the optics, there is nothing to wear or adjust. This advantage offers Magna-Scope venue operators high reliability, easy equipment accessibility, durability, and easy operation and hosting.
The Magna-Scopes are part of StrayLights 48 seat Virtual Reality Theater installation. Each Magna-Scope is themed as a personal submarine. Seated guests simply peer inside the Magna-Scopes face-plate and become part of the highly realistic stereoscopic animation. Once the adventure begins, guests can physically feel the pulsating vibrations of underwater travel through StrayLights shaker chairs. The music is heard through individual speakers located on each side the Magna-Scopes face-plate.
The mood of the journey is set through the music and visuals, as it progresses from a fun-oriented adventure, to a heart-pumping survival mission. The visitors begin their journey gracefully gliding with the underwater currents, drifting through forests of seaweed, coral reefs, and a school of manta rays. Along the way, the enchanted experience suddenly turns dark when an accident happens and the visitors are lost in a maze of mysterious caves and ancient ruins. Giant sea serpents try to attack the submarines and then enormous octopuses scoop-up each visitor with their enormous tentacles and thrust them down an ominous black hole. The story holds ancient secrets, which can not be disclosed, so youll have to trust that the visitors are eventually returned to safety. But due to the realism in the Magna-Scopes, guests wont ever forget this amazing underwater experience.
Stereoscopic experiences seem so realistic because the images literally "jump" off of the screen and give participants "in-your-face" special effects. Creating stereoscopic content is a complicated process. StrayLight generates a separate image for each eye (right and left) and then combines the two images together for viewing on proprietary hardware platforms. Having developed over 25 custom VR productions, StrayLight specializes in creating stereoscopic content, working in both stereoscopic animation and stereoscopic live-action mediums. The optics inside the Magna-Scope units are a technological advancement offering a higher degree of realism to custom attractions for trade shows, museums, promotional tours, and themed attractions.
At EXPO 98, the 48 Magna-Scopes were installed inside three semi-circular rooms. Each room was themed as the interior of an ancient pyramid, complete with aging hieroglyphics. Guests are ushered into each room in groups of 16, with 2 handicap access chairs designed into each room. Depicting a personal submarine lookout, the front piece of each Magna-Scope protrudes from the wall, encircled by a metal frame with handles. The shaker-chairs are designed to echo the murals of the ancient sea-serpents, complete with an illuminated dragon-like spine.
The Virtual Theater systems are modular systems and can be configured from a small one or two seat theater, to a theater with hundreds of participants. StrayLight works closely with client-selected designers to theme their Virtual Theaters. Installations have ranged from typical movie-house style seating in rows, to very elaborate configurations inside double-decker buses and tractor-trailers. The viewing hardware can also be customized from Magna-Scope Technology to Virtual Reality Helmets, to projected theaters with plastic or paper 3D glasses.
In 1994, StrayLight Corp. developed the first-ever immersive-based group VR platform, with the creation of their Virtual Theater system. Designed to overcome the one-player per system limitations of interactive Virtual Reality systems, the Virtual Theater system offers high audience-throughput. The first Virtual Theater system incorporated only monoscopic VR helmets. In 1995, Virtual Theaters added stereoscopic helmets, which allowed the three-dimensional images to pop off the screens and really place the guests inside the virtual experiences. Shaker seats were also added, incorporating the sensation of touch. As more of the visitors senses are tapped into, the more believable the Virtual Theater experience becomes. The EXPO 98 installation completed the development of the new Magna-Scope technology, taking Virtual Reality Theaters to a whole new level of realism.
The collaborative EXPO 98 Oceania Virtual Reality Pavilion was designed and produced by Innovitech Inc., a Canadian-based technology consulting firm, who recently created the subsidiary Metaforia Entertainment Inc. to develop future international sites of high-tech family-oriented LBE (Location Based Entertainment) Centers.
For those people wishing to experience StrayLights Magna-Scope Theater for EXPO 98, time is not limited. The Virtual Reality Pavilion is one of the chosen venues to remain open even after the fair closes in September. ADEUS!