Evans & Sutherland Creates Revolutionary New Entertainment
Experience For Tussaud’s in New York City’s Time Square
Theater Transformed Into a “Virtual Time Machine” For Production of It Happened in New York
“It’s the most awesome combination of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and live-action production ever undertaken.”
That’s the description of Evans & Sutherland’s all-new, totally immersive digital theater presentation from Terence Murtagh, general manager of E&S’ Digital Theater group. It Happened In New York, a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience, is slated to open Nov. 15 at Madame Tussaud’s new attraction in New York City’s Times Square.
Evans & Sutherland, a leader in providing domed theater presentations and computer-generated imagery, teamed up with Tussaud’s to develop the innovative concept for this unique attraction. E&S planned and managed the production of the entire project.
The show will be presented on a 40-foot dome using Evans & Sutherland’s StarRider(R) LP high-definition video system, which projects a complete, 360-degree image around and above an audience.
Michael Daut, show producer, explained, “Much of the complexity of this show comes from the immersive nature of the experience. Rather than producing images for one screen or a series of panels, It Happened in New York is projected as a series of moving images on a dome screen.
“All the images are seamlessly joined together to form one giant image that completely surrounds the audience, both overhead and all around.”
In creating this attraction for their New York location, Tussaud’s wanted to feature a totally immersive experience that would transport the audience to the fabulous sights of New York and let them relive a series of events as if they were actually there.
“It Happened in New York is a key element in Madame Tussaud’s taking on the face of New York,” said Tony Peluso, vice president, development director, The Tussaud’s Group, U.S.A. “The events depicted in the show are as much a part of American culture as the celebrities featured in the attraction.
“We are confident that It Happened in New York will be a favorite among New York residents and tourists alike.”
Riding in a magical hansom cab, the audience visits events that shaped the “Big Apple” image of New York City. The first stop is the field at Yankee stadium as Babe Ruth hits a World Series home run. At close range, the audience witnesses Marilyn Monroe’s most famous encounter with a subway grate. The King himself makes an appearance as the audience gatecrashes Elvis’ famous debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Then, they join the crowds on Broadway, taking part in the famous tickertape parade for the astronaut heroes of the first moon landing.
But the show is more than a sequence of events, it’s a fabulous journey of discovery navigated by a native New Yorker who helps visitors appreciate the magic and wonder that makes New York one of the most vibrant and truly great cities in the world.
Making it all happen, on time and within budget, has been a two-year labor of love for Michael Daut and his production team. As Michael explained, “To make this magical journey look realistic and take the audience back in time has been incredibly complex. Archival film footage of historic events had to be layered together with live action shooting and computer graphics.
“For example, on the computer graphics side alone, we had to create over 700 buildings and four miles of New York streets. Thousands of extras had to be filmed and individual actors acted out scenes to be composited into the final images. The actors were filmed with a motion control camera that moves around the actors, recording not only their images, but also data giving their position in space.
“This is then used to seamlessly insert the real actors into the archival and CGI material.”
“Seamless” represents a major challenge for the producer. Unlike an ordinary film, It Happened in New York takes place not just on one screen, but it occurs over, around, and behind the audience. It’s the equivalent of shooting a movie that has six scenes shown simultaneously.
This has been an amazing challenge for Century III, the teleproduction facility subcontracted by E&S to complete the production and post-production on this project. “It’s been an exhilarating experience for me to work on this show,” said Daut, “and I’m sure the Tussaud’s audiences will find it the same.”
About Tussaud’s Group Ltd.
The Tussaud’s Group Ltd. are owners and operators of 14 leisure attractions worldwide, including the world famous wax museum, Madame Tussaud’s on Baker Street London, one of the world’s most visited attractions.
About Evans & Sutherland’s Digital Theater Division
Created to establish an entirely new level of quality in terms of experience, equipment, and support, Evans & Sutherland’s Digital Theater Division’s systems set the standard for the 21st century by letting audiences experience cutting-edge, big-screen digital entertainment.
The Digital Theater Division develops systems and programming that transform the company’s sophisticated 3D computer simulation technology to 360-degree domed and large format theater experiences. This technology allows audiences to be immersed in full-color, 3D computer-generated worlds and interact with them.
Digital Theater’s target markets include planetariums, science centers, themed attraction venues, and premium large-format theaters. Visit an E&S StarRider theater at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago, the Exploration Place CyberDome Theater in Wichita, and the new Madame Tussaud’s in New York City’s Times Square.
Evans & Sutherland produces hardware and software to create highly realistic 3D images. A leader in visual simulation for over 30 years, E&S offers a full range of advanced image generation and display products designed to meet the most demanding military and commercial simulation and training requirements. In addition, E&S business units deliver state-of-the-art visualization solutions for land developers, digital theater systems for science centers and entertainment venues, and high-performance graphics systems for professional artists and animators. Visit the E&S Web site at http://www.es.com.
Evans & Sutherland’s Creative Team
Executive Producer – Terence Murtagh
Creative Directors – Michael Daut, Evans & Sutherland, Ross Cibella, Century III
Producer – Rick Hinton