Visitors to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. are able to virtually explore Jerusalem in the exhibition, “Tomb of Christ: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Experience,” an immersive 3D experience for National Geographic Society, which features a number of innovative technology solutions often found in themed attractions.
“Electrosonic brought their tremendous expertise in designing AV and show control systems for the theme park industry to ‘Tomb of Christ’”, says Jason Ambler, Executive Producer/Director of Production at Falcon’s Creative Group, the exhibition designer.
Built in the fourth century, the Tomb of Christ (or the Holy Edicule)) located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, recently underwent a historic restoration, a project that was featured last winter in National Geographic magazine and on the National Geographic channel. In the exhibition, visitors learn about the restoration effort and how National Geographic Explorers are using new technologies including lidar, photogrammetry, sonar, laser scanning and thermal imaging to continue to study this important site.
Visitors buy timed tickets and follow a narrative pathway through several consecutive scenes. “It’s not a typical free-roaming exhibit but a uniquely phased journey through the story of the church with progressively complex show elements at each stage. Electrosonic integrated and programmed various forms of projection mapping and show action to seamlessly transition through each chapter of the experience, reaching a climax inside an immersive 3D holodeck theater,” Ambler says.
Visitors begin to orient themselves in the queue line where monitors display an introductory video on the restoration of the church. Doors open to show a projection table and giant pull-down screen detailing the geography of the church site. The screen rises, and visitors walk through a bazaar leading to a 360º view of the church courtyard formed by two perpendicular walls of still super graphic images and two perpendicular walls of projected content.
Next, double doors in the courtyard open leading into the church. A “holodeck” 3D experience awaits visitors as projections on the walls and floor give them an unprecedented look at the site. “It’s an extraordinary 3D active shutter experience with wrap-around renders of more than 10K resolution,” says Ambler. Falcon’s Creative Group digitally recreated the church using high-resolution scan data captured by the National Geographic team during the restoration process.
Electrosonic provided HD displays for the exhibition’s queue line video. Pairs of Christie laser phosphor projectors were furnished for the projection table, pull-down screen, and for the courtyard’s 12-foot high perpendicular walls, which act as projection surfaces. Electrosonic upped the projector count for the 3D experience supplying seven Panasonic Active 3D HD laser projectors for the 10-foot high walls and eight Christie HD laser projectors to cover the floor. All 15 projectors are edge blended to create a single seamless and immersive vantage point for the audience. 7th Sense media servers and BrightSign media players source the content.
Electrosonic provided 5.1 surround audio for the projection table room and the courtyard, as well as 7.1 surround audio for the 3D experience, including a QSC Core 110f audio digital signal processor.
A Medialon Show Master Pro 2 show controller runs “Tomb of Christ” with two Apple iPads featuring custom, user-friendly interfaces for operators.