The Digital Cowboy
The Autostadt is a visitor attraction in the area around the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, with a prime focus on automobiles. It features a museum, feature pavilions for each manufacturer in the Volkswagen Group, a customer centre where German customers can pick up new cars, and take a tour through the enormous factory, a guide to the evolution of roads, and cinema in a large sphere.
Built in 1999, the Autostadt Panoramic Dome, approximately 14 meters diameter, treated viewers to a unique 360 degree visual experience. Similar to a Planetarium dome, 12 High Definition video clips were projected seemlessly on the interior of the dome, played from 12 synchronised High Definition disk recorders.
Then, and even now, synchronizing 12 video players to maintain frame accuracy is not easy. To do so reliably, show after show, day after day was unheard of.
In 2002, the show content was updated so firmware upgrades to the players and projectors performed as well. Since the shows run almost continuously each day, work on the equipment can only be done at night after the last screening.
A control room is located beneath the dome. A computer controlled system dims the lights, undouses projectors, starts the players, controlling the show from beginning to end.
The Show Control System – some of the 12 HD Disk players can be seen in the lower half of the left rack.
Joel Schiffman coaches an Autostadt cinema technician through the firmware upgrade process.
Schiffman departed on a Sunday for London where the new show content was being produced. Arriving at Gatwick Airport Monday about 8 am local time, he immediately went to the postproduction house in SoHo to upgrade the production machines. That Monday evening, he flew to Germany, arriving in time to begin the players. Due to an unknown firmware glitch in the data tape decks, provided by another vendor, the upgrade failed.
Schiffman returned to London Tuesday to resolve the Exabyte tape issue the next day. That same evening, he flew back to Germany where the upgrade was successfully installed in the 12 primary players and one backup player.
Wednesday noon local time, after about 50 hours on duty, he checked into nearby hotel for much needed rest. Wednesday night, after the final show ended about 11 pm local time, he completed training the local staff on the new features and functions of the upgrade. Thursday morning, he departed Germany to return to the US, stopping in Kansas for a company staff meeting.
As the pictures show, Schiffman’s luggage, including his shaver, missed a connection on the way to Europe and didn’t catch up with him for 10 days, after returning home to Phoenix, AZ.
Topeka August 6, 2001 The QuBit®, QuVIS' high resolution motion image server which has revolutionized the digital cinema industry, is proving a big hit in the corporate presentation industryµboth in the United States and throughout the world. Several systems were recently employed in Volkswagens attractions at their high tech European theme park/museum complex.
Volkswagen built Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany to raise awareness of the VW brands and increase the brand value using a soft sell approach as guests experience the many automobiles on display within the auto theme park. Autostadt, translated car town, is an experience world" dedicated to the car. Designed to accommodate a million visitors a year, all can enjoy the numerous leisure facilities within the site and some will even drive away in their recently purchased cars.
One attraction within the $417 million theme park/museum complex uses QuBits to enable a 12-screen, 360-degree cinema - one of the world's first high definition video circle-vision systems. Nine Barco Reality 6400 projectors, integrated with nine QuBits, encircle the guests with panoramic images. The QuBit system alleviated the need for a central film projection booth and also lowered the operational overhead. Using QuVIS digital technology, instead of film or video for circle vision projection dramatically reduces the space required for projection, increases the quality of imagery for the repeated viewings and offers greater playback reliability.
The 5,050 square-foot theatre accommodates up to 300 guests who may view The Mystery of Safety, a twelve minute film and lyrical adventure tale conveying the message that the concept of absolute safety is a fallacy. The film was produced by Zurich-based Condor Films and post production was completed by Das Werk in Germany. The entire process is achieved, remarkably, with no visible loss in picture or sound quality.
A still photo of the images projected on the dome.
About 5 of the 12 source projections are seen here.
This still can't convey the true viewing experience.