Welcoming Matt to the team

We’re very pleased to welcome a new member to the Wide Sky team – Matt Stevenson joins us as a designer specialising in motion graphics and 3D animation.  Matt has a passion for applying these skills not only to audiovisual works, but also user experience and user interface design.

Matt Stevenson

His expertise lies not just in design but in understanding how motion graphics and 3D fit into the device used and the context of the interpretation challenge that a client sets us which means he is a perfect fit himself for the Wide Sky approach of providing integrated solutions.

His extensive experience will grow the UX/UI design and media production capability we currently offer, enhancing our ability to develop imaginative and engaging experiences across devices from phones and tablets to large scale interactive and audiovisual exhibits.

Matt says, “I’m looking forward to the sheer variety that this role will give me and of finding ways to help people both learn from and enjoy their experience at a museum or visitor centre. Every project will be very fulfilling. I know I will have the chance to develop as a designer and I’m thrilled to be playing a part in helping Wide Sky achieve their mission of providing engaging, inspiring interactives and audiovisual for every museum.”

Stills from Matt’s Showreel

Matt Stevenson 2017 showreel 1

Matt Stevenson 2017 showreel 2

Matt Stevenson 2017 showreel 3

Matt Stevenson 2017 showreel 4

Matt Stevenson 2017 showreel 5Watch Matt’s Showreel

New Project Win: The Norris Museum

The Norris Museum is based in the centre of the historic market town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It has a diverse range of collections, mostly related to what was once the county of Huntingdonshire, which include the remains of mammoths found locally, items of social history, and paintings from an important colony of artists working in the Ouse valley between 1880 and 1930 as well as manuscripts, photographs, printed books and newspapers.

A Heritage Lottery funded project will develop the museum and ensure that the collections can be easily accessed and explored by visitors, enabling people to engage with their local heritage.

We’re pleased to be working with PLB to supply AV software and hardware on this project which will involve four exhibits:

  • An audioscape, triggered by visitor activity, evoking the atmosphere of the Great Fair, St Ives’ mediaeval market.
  • A touchscreen interactive with games and challenges to engage visitors with the Pettis Survey, an important exhibit too fragile to be on permanent display.
  • A looped audiovisual exhibit relating the history of fen skating from its origins to the present day.
  • An oral history audio exhibit with individual personal stories relating to local life accessed from a refurbished Bakelite period telephone.

Norris Museum interactive exhibit

 

Norris Museum digital interactive exhibitOur rigorously tested software will comply with all accessibility requirements and will hold all content in our content management system, allowing the client to easily update the content in the future. The hardware systems that we provide will be tested using the software and content throughout the development process and installed on site with full manuals and maintenance agreements.

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

New Project Win: Winchester Museum

We’re pleased to be providing the audio visual hardware for part of a project at Winchester Museum for heritage interpretation specialists, ATS Heritage.

The project will be focused on a model of Winchester, nearly five metres in diameter, with multimedia content interpreting historical stories of the city including a showpiece film written and produced by ATS Heritage.

Winchester Museum mode 1l

We will be specifying and providing hardware for the film element including projector, show lights and screen, which will allow different areas of the map to be highlighted, following the narrative of the film.

The museum’s team will be able to trigger the start of the show and, when not in use, the projector can be retracted leaving a clear view of the exhibit.

New Project Win: Great Knott Wood

The Woodland Trust is developing a Hidden Secrets Trail at Great Knott Wood near Lake Windermere. The site has a variety of ancient woodland features and is undergoing restoration. The project aims to:

  • Inspire an understanding of ancient woodland and why it is important.
  • Educate people about the restoration process.
  • Educate people about woodland species.
  • Help people discover the hidden natural heritage connected to the sites.

Great Nott Wood yew tree

 

The trail will begin at an old yew tree voiced by Brian Blessed which will welcome visitors by talking to them, greeting them and inviting them to explore the wood.

This interactive audio exhibit will be triggered by the visitor approaching and, because it is sited in an outdoor environment, we will be sourcing hardware that is robust and suitable for the outdoor environment.

New Project Win: Headstone Manor, Harrow

Headstone Manor is part of Headstone Manor & Museum. Built around 1310, it is the earliest surviving timber framed building in Middlesex. It is surrounded by the only surviving water-filled moat in the county and one of only two such moats in Greater London, dating from the 14th century. It was a residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury until 1546 when it was surrendered to Henry VIII and sold to one of his court favourites, remaining in private ownership for nearly four centuries.

Headstone Manor

 

With dramatic extensions and changes made over the years Headstone Manor has notable features that include the panelling of the great hall dating from 1631 and the brick façade added in the 1770s. An outstanding complex of associated buildings is recognised through its designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Funding has been secured to undertake crucial restoration and conservation work on the various buildings to, develop a new-build Welcome Building and to develop an exhibition with the aim of making Headstone Manor a must-see local attraction and sustainable community hub.

The exhibition will take visitors on a chronological journey through the Borough of Harrow’s history from pre-history through to today. It will use a combination of graphic panels, touchscreen, bespoke cases for the museum collection, audio of voices of people from the history of the Manor and trails of interesting room features. There will also be a film to be shown in the Small Barn.

Wide Sky Design will be part of a team including Imagemakers.

We are looking forward to being involved in the delivery of software for touchscreens, based on our content management system which will also support a tablet tour developed on a Bring Your Own Device basis. The CMS will be updatable via wifi and USB stick.

The touchscreens will include oral histories of the site, videos and slideshows, a timeline, map and a selection of games.

We will specify and supply hardware for the touchscreen, tablet tour and AV exhibits, that will integrate fully with purpose-designed enclosures and in key areas be IP rated to ensure exhibits are suitably robust to cope with high humidity levels and potential water ingress in some of the buildings.

New Project Win: Bawdsey Radar Trust

In 1937, RAF Bawdsey became the first fully operational Radar station in the world, just eighteen months after it had first been established that approaching aircraft could be detected using transmitted radio waves. We’re pleased to be working with PLB on this interesting project.

A new exhibit will enable visitors to have a simulated hands-on experience of using early radar for detection, distance measurement and angle measurement. The interactive exhibit will replicate the original methods and will be based on a radar operator’s desk where the visitor will be challenged to test their skills. They will manipulate range and angle dials to a signal shown on screen, learning the process used to determine the trajectory of aircraft and the skill involved in producing an accurate result.

Bawdsey Radar Trust logo

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

PLB

 

 

 

 

 

New Project Win: Peak District National Park

Peaks gesture wall conceptThis project for the Peak District National Park Authority will see new exhibitions at three of its Visitor Centres at Bakewell, Castleton and Edale, designed to inspire visitors to “get out and explore” whilst gaining a deeper understanding of the National Park. Because each centre is different in design and construction, the client is looking for a flexible way to maintain consistency of branding and experience.

Interpretation will cover:

An overarching key message about the National Park and its special qualities which supports it brand identity. The specific landscape character area and special qualities to enrich the visitor experience of that landscape. What is special about the location, connectivity, places to visit, the detailed interpretation and signposting.

It is important that a thought-provoking and immersive approach builds confidence and motivates people who are not familiar with engaging with the natural environment.

We are looking forward to working creatively on an exhibit that takes a map of the area as a starting point for exploration, interpretation and games.

At the Castleton Visitor Centre, we will also be creating a “gesture wall” for added “wow” factor. This flexible approach allows the use of repeatable core items across locations to be complemented at each site by specific details relating to that location as well as building in the ability to change and adapt content over time.

PDNP logo

Filming for Wardown Park Museum

We’ve recently been producing films for interactive exhibits at Wardown Park Museum, part of Luton Culture, using professional green screen studio facilities. The client provided scripts, actors and costumes; Imagemakers were scriptwriters and executive directors; we planned and directed the shoot.

Talking Heads tell stories of the house

Talking portraits of historical characters, including members of the Scargill family who owned the house when it was first built along with members of their staff, a nurse who worked there when it acted as a military hospital during the First World War, and the museum’s very first curator, talk about the house, it’s place in Luton’s history and their own involvement.

Lady Keen, Luton’s first Lady Mayor in 1944 talks about the role that Wardown Park’s Mrs Elizabeth Scargill played in fund raising for the town’s first public library, a building that held the museum’s first displays before the Council bought Wardown Park and moved the museum there.

Lady Keen videoWide Sky Design filming on green screen

Lady Keen video 2

Modern day museum makers give their perspectives on the house and the people who lived there.

Wardown Park museum maker

Wardown Park museum makers

Evocative video creates a ghostly atmosphere

It has been interesting to work on the filmic aspects of Wardown Park Museum – including the Lace Lady, a ghostly figure that walks a corridor, fading in and out to create a suggestion of her presence and a sense of theatre. Like all good ghosts, she can walk through walls or give those who see her a start; at other times she sits quietly working at her lace pillow.

We have been involved in planning the filming and specifying the hardware that will be used to project the video in a restricted space to create the most atmospheric effect. This allows us to shoot the film to fully create the desired impact.

Wardown Park ghost video dimensions

Wardown Park ghost image lit

The interactive exhibits are part of a larger project to refurbish Wardown Park Museum which has been made possible through the support of £1.8million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Once the project is complete Wardown Park Museum will be re-opened as Wardown House, Museum & Gallery.

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Luton Culture logo

 

 

 

Using film as part of an immersive experience

Audiovisual is an important part of an immersive interactive exhibition and we are producing more and more filmic works as part of our turnkey service. There are a number of advantages to commissioning film as part of an integrated approach.

Specification of film alongside hardware and software

By using one provider to design, film and edit content material and to specify the hardware and software used to display it, it is easier to ensure that the most appropriate solution will be used and the most effective end result achieved.

For example, at Luton Culture’s Wardown Park Museum, we are creating a “ghost” that appears and disappears whilst traversing a corridor, a restricted space that means careful planning of both the filmic material and the hardware installation that will be used to project it works most effectively when the two go hand in hand.

Wardown Park ghost image lit

At York Castle Museum’s Shaping the Body exhibition, film brings characters to life through talking portraits triggered by a motion sensor as the visitor enters the room. An integrated approach to the format of the medium, the hardware it is used on, and the software that sparks the experience into action creates an exhibit that surprises, entertains and gives personalised insights into real lives across time.

An immersive experience

Film can be a powerful component of an immersive experience that also combines interactivity, lighting, soundscapes and other audio elements such as oral histories.

At Marwell Zoo’s Wild Explorers exhibit, lighting, audio soundscape, CCTV and video create an immersive experience of the savannah. Large format projection displays film footage of featured species, edited to create sequences synchronised across two large screens, each 3.5 metres wide, to enhance the experience of being amongst the roaming animals. Scripting video sequences for rhinos was an interesting challenge.

Rhino video at Marwell Zoo

We used film to create a more intimate experience for the Daniel Adamson, the only surviving steam powered tug tender in the UK, with a bar tender reminiscing about the history of the vessel and sharing a little gossip about people who have travelled on it. Images of his memories are projected on a transparent rear projection screen to enhance the atmosphere in this most unusual space.

An accessible experience

Effective sub-titling should enhance the exhibit for every visitor, enabling the hard of hearing to enjoy the video content as well as supporting the experience for others. Good scripting, maybe combined with a soundscape, will ensure that a story can be fully understood even by those who are unable to enjoy the visual elements of an exhibit.

Shaping the Body sub-titled interactive exhibit

Economies of scale

Practically, the advantages of combining film production with software and hardware specification are that of efficiency and economy in client meetings, scripting sessions, and design and review meetings; and in the design and provision of an appropriate and integrated delivery solution. With a single point of contact, ongoing support and maintenance becomes more cost effective too.

Our experience in video

Wide Sky Design filming on green screen

Wide Sky Design have experience in:

  • Scripting
  • Planning shoots
  • Filming in green screen environments
  • Sourcing and working with actors
  • Sourcing and working with historic costumes and props
  • Working with a wide variety of subject matter – adults, children and even those rhinos!
  • Ensuring accessibility and subtitling
  • Integrating video into a broader delivery system alongside interactivity, lighting and sound

 

Film brings memories of the Daniel Adamson to life

The Daniel Adamson is a working tug tender which has recently been restored. The stunning art deco lounge has presented some challenges in the use of technology and part of the answer has been to introduce the Bar Tender, a local Liverpudlian, who reminisces about the history of the vessel and shares a little gossip about people who have travelled on it. This approaches makes the very most of a small space to create an intimate atmosphere.

DanielAdamson art deco lounge bar

The film has been shot on green screen so that images from the history of the Daniel Adamson can be projected behind to illustrate his memories. A de-mountable transparent rear projection screen means that the bar space can be used for its original purpose as a bar on special occasions.

Daniel Adamson bar tender exhibit

We produced the script for six segments and created films for each – here’s a couple to give you a flavour of the exhibit.

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