The Manchester Science Festival has drawn to a close once again and, as promised, it was a delight of innovative and artistic scientific movement; it seems the organisers were keen to ensure that it made its mark in Manchester’s year as European City of Science – and it did. 10 days of thought-provoking and inspiring science events, across the whole of the City Centre, upheld its reputation as one of the largest and best festivals of its kind in England. Produced and hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry, it was a real celebration for the festival’s 10th anniversary, including a party at the MOSI with a silent disco, cake decorating and scientific magic.
We were excited to see some of the events on offer this year, and managed to get down to the Chronarium Sleep Laboratory created by Loop.pH – a London-based spatial laboratory that experiments across the fields of design, architecture and science. The Chronarium Sleep Laboratory is a completely immersive audiovisual haven of relaxation… so, of course, it was right up our street. It’s a dome filled with hammocks, bathed in ambient lighting and lavender scented mist, designed to enhance your well-being, promote healthy sleep and reset your circadian rhythm.
When preparing yourself and slipping off your shoes it feels odd to be doing so in the middle of Manchester’s Arndale, knowing in a short while you will be completely segregated from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Once you enter the Chronarium you are transported into a hive of environmental stimuli – an audiovisual program created to give you a restorative, calm and contemplative experience. The soundtrack, swinging hammocks and colour-changing walls leave you feeling as though you have just been on a journey through time and space; the ambient music eases you into a hammock designed to support your body weight perfectly and relax your entire body for what feels like a very long 15-minute power nap, intended purely to give your pressurised batteries a full recharge. It really is quite a blissful experience of sound and light, perfectly balanced to leave you feeling as though you have been cleansed and refreshed. I just wish we could all have a Chronarium in our studios!
During four days at Malcolm Ryan Studios in Wimbledon, we filmed over 20 actors in period costume – and of course Tibs the cat made his on-screen debut. The entire 1930s background of the film will be created and brought to life in post-production using authentic props, CGI imagery, and original archive photography. At the same time we will develop the music – using a variety of period instrumentation to evoke 1930s London – and enhance it with authentic street sounds and recorded location dialogue, giving the whole piece a rhythmic, industrial sound.
Featuring clever choreography, and a different experience depending on whereabouts on the train visitors sit, the show will be projected onto the walls of the train platform. This means a projection 22 metres in length, using 7 x 16:10 HD projectors to create an image size of nearly 9000 pixels – over double the resolution length of an IMAX cinema film!
We spoke to Andy Richmond (Access and Learning Manager) and Emma Harper (Exhibition Officer) from The Postal Museum about their experiences on set…
What was your favourite part of the week?
Emma: Meeting all of the actors, I think, and chatting to them about what they thought of the filming – the way they transformed once their costume and make-up were on, and how enthusiastic they were about the project. Sometimes when you’ve been working on a project for a long time you forget to get excited about it.
Andy: I liked the choreography [of the platform workers]. It was really good to see Richard’s [Director] vision come to reality right in front of me. That was pretty cool!
What surprised you the most?
Andy: The time it took to do all the different shots, all the different sequences and different cuts. You forget the amount of time that goes into preparation, setting the camera up and so on.
Emma: It also surprised me how quickly you got through everything given that that’s what you had to do for about every shot and it all went so smoothly.
What did you learn from the experience?
Emma: I think I learnt a lot about camera shots and how everything matches together. It was interesting to see all the different techniques especially the flexibility green screen gives you.
Andy: The many varied roles of the team. Everyone had an innate understanding of what needed to be done and when so it all worked very smoothly and efficiently.
What about seeing your objects being utilised?
Emma: When I collected the replica post box for filming I thought – oh this looks a bit the worse for wear and needed a good dust, but as soon as it was on set and the actors were using it it really brought the objects back to life.
What was your favourite costume and why?
Andy: I think Kathleen’s because she just looked like she stepped out of history!
Emma: Yes, all the costumes and the make-up were really good, because they did just transform them. Their faces just looked like they came from 1930s.
Andy: Especially the ladies that were shopping – they definitely didn’t look like they are from the 21st century.
Who was your favourite character and why?
Andy: The Colonel. He was my favourite! His mannerisms and the way he handles himself was excellent– he brought it to life and made the role quite funny!
Emma: Obviously Hector [Tibs the cat]! Also, the old woman, because she was literally in character from the minute she stepped through the door. When she came in and I was taking photos she gave me this piercing stare like she does with Kathleen.
Was there enough cake to eat?
Emma: The food was really good! It does make a difference!
Andy: We always have loads of cake in the office.
Emma: It was up to office standard I think.
Andy: Our nickname should be Educaketion…!
The Postal Museum is a museum and this is an educational experience. Can you tell us a bit more about that in terms of your feeling about this platform and how you have seen this project progress?
Emma: One of the main things we want to do is to inspire people and make them realise how important the postal service was in connecting people – like social media today. It really was a part of everyone’s lives and I think this shoot and the film do that really well. The personal connection really comes across. It was really great that all the people on set were really excited to come and see it next year.
Andy: It’s putting the letters and the objects into the context of history. They weren’t just isolated items; they were studied and looked at and they were part of everyday lives, so it is bringing them back to what they were originally created for. I think it does bring it to life – and we tried very hard to make it fun. You know, it was fun on the set and everyone did a good job and they enjoyed it.
The idea of the presentation was to share and discuss current work with the whole company and to give a little insight into the process of bringing these pieces to life. Daniel Lusby, Senior Motion Design & Studio Manager explains how he created the title sequence.
I wanted to make a title sequence for the talk, firstly to make the presentation seem that little bit more polished and to create an identity that we could take forward in the future. Secondly it was a nice opportunity to be creative outside of work.
My inspiration for the design is obviously based on the hugely popular Netflix show Stranger Things but with my own little digital twist. I felt that the hand-made analogue look of the original piece would fit in well with the idea of showcasing work in progress.
I decided to keep the 80s feel with the choice of font and music but instead of a horror/mystery look, like the original, I went with a RGB computer monitor look to showcase the digital screen based work that Centre Screen do.
I think it’s a successful homage with enough of a twist to make it our own.
As part of a new exhibition to be opened at the RSC later this year, The Play’s the Thing, we’ve been enjoying filming with the cast and crew of the RSC Live event held in Stratford in April and then again with cast, crew and schoolchildren this Summer. We’ve been chatting to all sorts of people about Shakespeare, and what makes him so relevant and so important 400 years after his death. As well as backstage crew, we met up with several famous RSC performers including Paapa Essiedu, Alexandra Gilbreth, Mariah Gale, Dame Harriet Walter, and RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.
One of the most interesting conversations was about whether there’s a 21st Century equivalent to the great man himself, which drew varied and intriguing responses such as Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese to Lauren Hill, Harold Pinter, Barack Obama … and the late great David Bowie.
Kilkenny’s long and lively history makes it a treasury of Irish heritage and storytelling. Now Centre Screen is proud to be helping to bring that heritage to life for modern visitors, working with Bright 3D on a range of installations in the new Medieval Mile Museum.
Currently under construction in St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard, this new cultural centre will feature a range of Centre Screen AV and interactive media, shining a 21st century digital spotlight on over a thousand years of history.
A timeline film will reveal the history of the ancient building around them; an atmospheric AV will introduce them to the characters – both native and invaders – who left their mark on Kilkenny’s art and architecture; and a sound-and-light presentation in the Rothe chapel will immerse them in the lives and deaths of a great merchant family.
Production is already under way, and the museum will welcome its first visitors later this year.
Centre Screen are delighted to be working with Bright 3D on an exciting project for Pearse’s Cottage and Connemara Centre in Ros Muc, South Connemara, due for completion later this year. The centre will be located on a site adjacent to the existing Pearse’s Cottage and offer experiences centred around the language and landscapes that have shaped lives and history in the West and beyond.
Patrick Pearse came to Ros Muc as an examiner for Conradh na Gaeilge and was so entranced with the area’s geography, language and culture that he decided to build a home here.
From 1903 until his death in 1916, Pearse spent many summers in the cottage, using it as an educational centre for Dublin school children, and as a sanctuary for his own writing and political planning. Visitors will learn about Pearse and his legacy, in addition to Connemara’s rich and vibrant Gaeltacht culture and language.
Centre Screen are producing a number of AV and multimedia interactive exhibits for the Centre, to be available in Irish and English languages. This will include touchscreen interpretation exploring the history of the Irish language, contemporary Irish-language media, Pearse’s writings and legacy, a touch table interactive map covering Connemara and the origins of local place names, and evocative large-scale projected AV content celebrating the local Gaeltacht music, dance, community and culture.
Following on from our creation of historical sets for Dunfermline’s exciting new Museum and Art Gallery, we went out and about around the town capturing further content to enhance the exhibition which opens in Spring 2017.
As part of our ongoing work with Fife Cultural Trust we had a great time visiting various areas of Dunfermline capturing historic buildings and iconic landmarks such as, Dunfermline Abbey and Palace Ruins, The Glen, PIttencrieff House, St. Margaret’s Cave, Carnegie’s birthplace and also a variety of the old weaving mills from Dunfermline’s rich industrial heritage. We also filmed with local contributors to the museum such as former weavers, miners and Provost, Jim Leishman.
On Saturday 14th May, Stockholm hosted the final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest, with Ukrainian entry ‘1944’ taking home the trophy. To commemorate the occasion, ABBA The Museum opened a special Eurovision Exhibit and Centre Screen Assistant Producer James Rawson (@JRawson) paid a visit.
A whole host of interactive screens were created for the exhibit, including a special Eurovision Karaoke. Visitors can also challenge fellow music fans at the Eurovision quiz stations, visible in the background.
If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can watch every single Eurovision competition from 1956 onwards at one of their viewing stations.
In the ABBA Museum proper, iconic costumes are on display including those worn by the band during their 1974 performance of Waterloo.
Visitors are invited to perform alongside Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid on stage. Or, CGI models of them projected onto a mesh screen, at least.
And the gift shop let no merchandising opportunity go to waste.