International creative design and VFX company Pixomondo, known for its Emmy-award winning VFX work on “Game of Thrones” VES Award for “Hugo”, debuted an underground aquarium attraction, a first-of-its kind immersive entertainment experience, in Times Square. The underwater attraction was created for National Geographic, and is called National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey.
The exhibit harnesses groundbreaking technology in new ways to transport guests on an incredible underwater journey from the South Pacific across the ocean to the west coast of North America. To create the immersive experience of Ocean Odyssey, the Pixomondo team, in collaboration with designers and artists from around the globe, designed a 90-minute long encounter enabling visitors to get up close with dozens of species, including 20 foot long sharks, a 50-foot Humpback whale and playful sea lions. Photogrammetry was used to design a coral reef: over 1,300 photos were taken on location in the Solomon Islands. These 2D photos were scanned and used to construct a 3d a photo-realistic model of the coral. The 2D photos were then used to construct 3D models of coral. During the grand finale, guests experience an appearance of 120,000 fish.
“We pushed the boundaries of typical attractions by combining National Geographic’s incredible storytelling with an innovative blend of immersive, cutting-edge visual effects and technology, resulting in a completely new kind of entertainment experience,” says Lisa Truitt, chief creative officer and a managing partner of SPE Partners, the developers, producers and managers of the project. Other collaborators in the massive project include themed entertainment design firm, Falcon’s Creative Group, as well as Mirada Studios and composer David Kahne.
“We developed a new way of combining immersive cinema with science and entertainment, using interactivity and photo-real animation,” says Truitt.
“How real?” asks David Garber, Pixomondo’s executive producer of themed entertainment. “So real that a guest was seen standing in front of our interactive sea lion, having an engaging, albeit one way conversation with it, and strangely enough, the sea lion opened its mouth and blew bubbles at her when she told him he was adorable.”
“Mr. Sea Lion and his friends were brought to life from the development of our proprietary ‘Fishware,’ and they stand as a testimony to the incredible talents of our artists who have created these revolutionary ocean worlds in executing National Geographic’s mission of delivering entertainment with a purpose,” says Thilo Kuther, CEO of Pixomondo.
The “entertainment with a purpose” ethos is also embedded in National Geographic Encounter’s choice of partners with sustainable practices, ranging from a furniture developer, Van de Sant, which creates product out of plastic waste recovered from marine environments, to caterers that source from local farms and use only sustainably harvested seafood, to retail products with eco-friendly packaging.
Beyond the successful opening of the Times Square installation, Pixomondo continues to move forward, pushing the envelope toward visitor-driven, immersive attractions in the Arab Emirates, Kuala Lumpur, Las Vegas, and Shanghai, with a revolutionary new experience planned for Los Angeles, says Kuther.
For more information on Ocean Odyssey, visit NatGeoEncounter.com
For more information on Pixomondo, visit pixomondo.com