Sea World's Pirates 3D+ Movie

The Pirates 3D+ Movie is a brand-new attraction added to the Sea World of Ohio theme park. The event is a combination of a film, sound, and special effects that immerse the viewers in an interactive experience. The following page discusses SFX ProAudio/Show Control relationship with the Pirates 3D+ Movie. 
The computer used was a Pentium Pro 200, 32 Meg of RAM, and two sound cards. 

The Plus after the 3D

The Pirates movie is not only a 3D film, but an experience that includes lighting effects, seat effects and sounds, and other events that draw the audience into the spectacle. The movie itself, as well as the soundtrack, is controlled by an iWERKS projection system. The iWERKS system outputs SMPTE time code that is converted to MIDI time code, which is then used by SFX to manage the following events: 
  • Sound effects directed to speakers contained in every seat in the auditorium.
  • Fading house lights.
  • Controlling intelligent lighting.
  • Activating seat buzzers in every seat in the auditorium.

Unlike the typical live entertainment situations that are common to SFX usage, this movie is a static event that occurs exactly the same time after time. Because of that, the Pirates workspace was set up to activate its events off of time code. This also means that SFX does not need an operator; it simply waits for time code. 

Examining the Pirates workspace, you will see a number of cue lists. Multiple cue lists were used to separate the different types of events that SFX needs to control. Also note that each event has a time code number that the event will trigger off of. The window in the upper right-hand corner displaying the time code in green numbers is a SFX plug-in. 

Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Cues view in the upper left ("Omni") sends MIDI command messages to an intelligent lighting controller that projects lighting templates in the auditorium before the movie. 

Below the "Omni" Cues view is the "House Lights" Cues view. This cue lists contains a number of VCA effects. A VCA effect is a plug-in effect that controls voltage through a specific card in the computer. You can also specify how long it takes the voltage to change. That way, the amount of time the house lights fade in and out could be set. The VCA card in the computer can be wired into any appropriate voltage component. Below is graphic that displays the properties of one of the VCA cues. 

The Cues view titled "4D Show backup" contains the sound effects cues that are directed to the speakers located in each of the seats in the auditorium. 
The Cues view in the center of the desktop titled "Advanced Lights" sends MIDI commands to the intelligent lighting controller that causes it to activate some of its special lighting effects during the movie. 

Finally, the "Seat Buzzers" Cues view in the lower right, controls a contact-closure card in the computer that is connected to external relays. These Relay effects are also SFX plug-ins. Below are the properties for one of the Relay effects: 

Operation

Because of the time code element, this workspace completely runs itself. Once a showing of the movie has been completed, it does not have to be reset. It will wait until it receives time code again, and automatically sync up and execute the events. To the right is a graphic that displays an alternate Pirates desktop. Each of the Cues views is being displayed as an Array view instead. Coupled with a touch-screen monitor, an operator can quickly activate effects if needed (e.g. if he or she needs to manually operate the house lights). 

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Managing sound effects, MIDI commands, VCA changes, and contact-closure firings, was made simple by SFX. Producers created the cues lists, dragged the appropriate effects into them, and modified their properties to set the right time code values, etc. Modifying the show is simple and does not require complex scripting -- it's all drag-and-drop.