Jennifer Zika, Kraftwerk Corporate Communications manager, says: “The goal that everyone involved in the project aimed for, was to create a new attraction that sweeps its visitors off their feet, with an exciting story, incredible content and visuals, and a ‘never-before experienced’ feeling of flying through state-of-the art technical solutions.”
Kraftwerk LT has worked with Europa-Park before in 2013/14, realizing the breathtaking themed ride ARTHUR through the Minimoys Kingdom.
Thomas Gellermann, Head of Research & Development at Kraftwerk LT, comments: “We were incredibly excited to be working on this amazing attraction for one of the best entertainment parks in the world – planning to create a high-quality experience with the latest technologies in place. As an expert in the AV integration of exactly such installations and previous giant screen and immersive dome projection installations, we knew we were the right partner. Being able to work on such a great project and for one of the best entertainment parks in the world, was extremely exciting and a great reference for us! This certainly led to a special excitement about this order.”
The construction work for the Voletarium started in September 2016 and had to be completed in just 9 months, before the next season opening of the park. “As the AV system integrator, we were involved from the very beginning. There was certainly a clear plan in place of what the attraction will be. Generally, there was a long decision process with many meetings when looking back. To allow for the latest technology to be installed, the selection was made rather late in the planning process, resulting in a quite tight schedule for the AV installation”, says Gellermann. “One of the challenges was to work with the 3D model data that we received from the architects as they were extremely complex. We pretty much reached the limitations and system boundaries in the planning.
The Voletarium is built around the story of two fictional pioneering aviators, the Eulenstein brothers, who hypothetically managed the very first manned flight in 1825. Visitors are first immersed in the inventors’ story while waiting in the queue line, which is actually an attraction itself. Then they reach the flying theatres where they glide through the air in chairlift-style gondolas and fly over 15 European metropolis and landscapes: the Matterhorn Mountain, the three peaks of Lavaredo , Venice, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and more. Other effects such as scent, wind and water, intensify the flying experience. Housing the two domed screen theatres, as well as the extensive queue line, the Voletarium has a footprint of 39x 63 meters.
Each dome is 16-meter-high and each flying theatre has a 70-seat ride and an overall capacity of 1,400 people per hour. Each screen measures 21.5 m in diameter and a total screen size of 425 m². Projection onto the concave screen is by multiple 3D stereoscopic projectors with 4K resolution each, engineered for the ultimate viewing experience. The proximity of the visitors to the screen and thus the visuals is a key aspect of what makes this attraction special.
There is also a state-of-the art 3D audio system with several discrete channels and the use of an uncompressed video server cluster with 120 fps uncompressed video playback ensuring incredibly sharp and brilliant images without any motion blur. The integrated, camera-based alignment system, the show control system and the individually designed touch panels all contribute to an unforgettable visitor experience.
Kraftwerk LT used connectCAD to during the design process. “We are working in an industry that is in constant change. At the same time, tight schedules always demand a very quick output,” says Hannes Reisinger, AV Systems Engineer at Kraftwerk LT. “When there is a lot at risk already, the plans can’t be another bottleneck, so we rely on the connectCAD design tool which has proven to be a tool fit for the job. The Voletarium consists of two (nearly) identical Flying Theaters. After drawing up the first one, we simply saved the file under a new name and ran a Search-And-Replace function over the Device Report. Voilá, a second Flying Theater in under two minutes… During the planning phase, we used Vectorworks with connectCAD so our schematics have become the hub of information for every project… we’re not only using it for Single Line Diagrams and Rack Layouts, but also extensively rely on its database functionality for the management of the entire installation process.”
racks for flying theatre
Technology-wise, each Flying Theater system included:
» 1x concave spherical screen segment with 21.5 m diameter, 14 m in height and a total screen area of 425 m²
» Barco IOSONO 3D audio system with a total of 30 discrete audio channels
» Total audio power: approx. 16,000 W
» Screen surfacing with a total of three Christie Mirage D4K35, each with 35,0000 center lumens and 4K resolution.
» Uncompressed (RAW) video server system by Brainsalt and 4-channel 120fps uncompressed video playback and built-in Auto-Alignment (camera-based).
One of the technical highlights “is the projection geometry itself with the complex positioning of the 3 projectors on the spherically curved screen. This special form of the display allows for a much more immersive integration of the audience through the extended field of view, with much less distortion in the edge area. Visitors to the Voletarium sit directly in the action and thus virtually in the screen – not outside or in front of, but in the screen,” Thomas Gellermann describes.
The audio system had to match the high quality of the projection system and images. The surround sound system is much more immersive than in a normal cinema with more speakers and more audio channels. 3D audio processing lets sound and tones to be controllable and steerable to the images. This allows for a flight, similar to a simulator experience.
For the design and project management team, the realisation was the end of a journey. “As everything had been assembled on site, it was only when completed that you received a first impression of the experience. It was certainly a special moment to see pictures from the film on the screen for the very first time – especially with the stunning film content,” Gellerman says. “Your personal feeling when seeing everything come together is one thing – what’s more is guests’ reactions. Hearing and experiencing guests scream when being on the ride – screams of joy – are moments that are unique and special. These are the moments you know the decisions in the planning, the choice of technologies in place, the one or other extra step paid off!”
The new building to house the Voletarium was placed at one of the busiest spots, right at the park’s main gate. To do that, there were various landscape and architectural changes, like the route of the EP Express monorail which now passes through the show building. The attraction has become one of the most popular attractions at Europa-Park. It has won first awards in the industry and the equipment is running stably without interruptions.
Attracting more than 5.6 million visitors each season, Europa-Park is Germany’s second most popular tourist destination and the country’s largest theme park, with more than 100 attractions and international shows throughout 15 carefully designed European-themed areas for young and old, on a site measuring 95 hectares. Europa-Park is now under the operation and direction of the 7th and 8th generation of the family Mack. Since its foundation in 1975, the owners have always followed the great ambition to achieve highest quality. The traditional family business strives to reach even greater heights and tries to expand what it has to offer at all times. Therefore, Europa-Park is continuously in search for innovations, novelties and unique attractions.
Here at connectCAD we are proud to have aided in such a project.
About Kraftwerk Living Technologies
Kraftwerk Living Technologies, headquartered in Wels, Austria, is one of the leading companies in the field of professional audio-visual system integration. Kraftwerk Living Technologies realizes individually tailored, state-of-the-art concepts and solutions for various applications, including immersive multimedia attractions for theme parks and entertainment venues, virtual reality projects for industry and science, audio-visual equipment for various event locations and more. The company has executed numerous projects all over the world and has defined the standards for state-of-the-art system integration since its founding in 1992.