l’Odyssée des Bâtisseurs: Water World

An educational theme park includes a water tower transformed into a 360? multimedia show Lighting Magazine: enLightenment

The l’Odyssée des Bâtisseurs theme park near Lac-Saint-Jean in south central Quebec is like no other. It was developed as a testament to the most significant industrial development in the area: the Isle-Maligne hydroelectric complex built between 1923 and 1926.

Through a mix of indoor and outdoor activities – workshops, animated performances, and pedestrian paths that run alongside old ruins and reconstructed vestiges – visitors learn how water was a key factor in the city of Alma’s growth and its progression towards major industrial development.

Several months ago, a new attraction debuted at the park. The “water castle” was first used as a water reservoir from 1936 to 1980, however the tower has recently been transformed into Aquavolt “L’aventure de l’eau” (the adventure of water in 360°) featuring an observatory rising nearly 50 feet high and offering a panoramic view of not only the hydroelectric facilities, but the Grande Décharge river, the city of Alma, and the environs.

Inside the tower is a carefully crafted visual and sensory experience that culminates in a multimedia 360° projection show that demonstrates the power of water. Various characters from history reveal how the arrival of the hydroelectric facilities changed their lives.

Montreal-based XYZ Cultural Technology, a firm that specializes in the design and integration of immersive multimedia environments, produced the new show for the theme park.  The multisensory experience is the only one of its kind in Quebec and utilizes the first permanent 360° equipment in the province since Expo ’67, posing a major challenge for technical design.

“XYZ Cultural Technology demonstrated all of its know-how and expertise through this project, which involved a number of challenges,” states Réjean Simard, president of the Odyssée des Bâtisseurs theme park. “The final result surpassed our expectations. This multi-sensory experience gives the residents of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean a sense of pride, and tourists will discover our vast water network.”

XYZ was responsible for the technical and logistical aspects and its integration. The team developed the equipment needed to convert an old water tower into a 360° multimedia projection room and created an environment conducive to full immersion using audio, image, and lighting technologies. To deliver an entertaining, yet educational, experience that pays tribute to the importance and power of water, XYZ created an interface that is simple to manipulate (not requiring special technical training) and programmed a system that self-triggers an array of sensory effects that enhance the projection, delights viewers, and transports them through time, space, and the seasons.

The sound effects were a particular focus for the team. The existing elements of the water tower were used to act as a sounding-box, reflecting sound and sending it to all corners to effectively plunge visitors into the heart of the experience.

Composed of synthetic images, archival maps, and high-definition images of the surrounding area captured with a multi-camera device in the summer of 2010 and winter of 2011, the continuous circular projection was produced by Id3 | Idées au cube. The images are projected onto the interior walls of the tower, which is equipped with six video projectors each of which is calibrated precisely by the XYZ team to project a segment of the image.

The addition of Aquavolt “L’aventure de l’eau” demonstrates the courage and determination, past and present, of those who have tamed the waterways of the Lac-Saint-Jean region. The 360° show offers the opportunity for visitors to discover the territory in a new light and to see the inside workings of a regional facility that would have otherwise been inaccessible. The scenographic elements developed by XYZ succeeded the goal of providing visitors with an extraordinary experience.

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