immersive underground tour
LLECHWEDD SLATE MINE
‘Buried deep under the mountains of Snowdonia lies an extraordinary story: it’s a rock revolution that shaped the look and feel of the world as we know it. A way of life which built communities and defined generations of families in North Wales’ and the new deep mine tour at Llechwedd Slate Caverns gives guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in this story.
Llechwedd slate caverns is a visitor centre which offers above-ground attractions, and the opportunity to descend 500ft below ground to experience the historical slate mines. Since Llechwedd has been a visitor attraction, there has been tours operating through the mines; first there were self-led tours for groups who were happy to explore the caverns alone, and then guided tours where guests could hear more about the life and work of the miners. Though the tour has been telling the story of the miners since 1972, when the ‘year of adventure’ came along for Welsh tourism, Llechwedd decided it needed a revamp.
Anthony and Andy were brought onboard the project for their expertise in digital interpretation and audio visual installation and here’s what they did…
The deep mine tour at Llechwedd has always existed to educate visitors on slate mining, from working conditions to explosives, guests leave with a far greater understand than when they arrived. In light of this, it was clear that the narrative for the new tour was going to be key to this project and so our script-writer Damon was tasked with creating an educational, entertaining and unforgettable storyline to underpin the new tour. Damon’s writing provided the foundation for the project and ‘brought the Victorian miners coughing and wheezing into life.’
Once the story had been written, it was time to bring it’s characters to life, project managed by Anthony. All of the content used in the new tour is original and utilises a range of techniques from filming live actors on a green screen, to full 3D animation. The result of this is characters guests can engage and empathise with. These characters bring home the reality of these stories and counter the detachment that guests can sometimes feel when visiting historical sites.
The Piranha team installed several different types of projection system to achieve multiple effects across the tour. Without giving too much away, some of the techniques used involved shadow projection, and full-sized character projection on hidden screens. Due to the location of the project, the environment was taken into account in every decision, and therefore the projectors are all housed in special protective casings, but also disguised to ensure they aren’t noticeable for guests on the tour.
AUDIO AND VISUAL EFFECTS:
Andy and the team of engineers installed specialist lighting across the caverns to enable guests to experience the magnificence of the underground chambers and to emphasise their natural beauty. Tailored sound systems were also installed throughout the tour to play the audio.
Something we believe to be absolutely key for all of our projects, is ease of use for those operating our systems. At Llechwedd, we achieved this by providing iPod touches for each of the deep mine tour guides, which Andy programmed to be able to initiate each aspect of the tour when the guide required it. Instead of a complicated control pad or computer system, the guides have effortless control at the simple touch of a screen.
In addition to the installation of multiple projection systems, projection mapping was also incorporated into the new tour. The spectacular finale of the tour, and Anthony's masterpiece, involves video content which was mapped onto a large slate rock-face which is fast developing a reputation for reducing even the most hard-faced guests to tears.
An integral part of the miner’s stories is that of the constant exposure to explosives; in order to give guests a glimpse of what this might have been like, Andy and the team installed some explosive special effects in one of the chambers. Interactive technologies were installed in the form of a large detonator, which enables guests to trigger a cloud of smoke, engulfing those on the platform. A combination of blinders and LED coloured lighting simulate the startling flash and afterglow of a blast, and 1000 watts of PA create the deafening sound of the explosion. To read more about the technology behind these explosive SFX, check out our blog post on it.
Here's what visitors to the new mine tour had to say...
'...a visually stunning and emotional light show (you'll get what I mean when you see it for yourself). After feeling very moved myself, I turned to my partner to find her in tears...Don't miss this informative, historical and thoroughly enjoyable experience'
'This was a lovely experience. My 5 year old son also enjoyed it. I've not seen him so quiet. He was really fascinated.'
'Wonderful light sequences showing all the beauty of the caverns'
'It was the most beautiful and emotional display ever and so well done!'
'I cannot fault the tour or the value'
'The best day of our entire holiday. The brilliant informative and memorable historic journey underground in the slate mine, and talking to an actual slate miner was humbling to say the least!'