BrightSign has announced that its players are behind the new All Blacks Experience, arguably the world’s most immersive sporting visitor experience which was implemented by Wellington-based company Toulouse – an AV, lighting and technology consultancy. Conceived by Ngai Tahu Tourism and New Zealand Rugby with an overall concept designed by Workshop E, it uses innovation and technology to provide a full sensory, interactive and immersive experience showcasing the All Blacks, the Black Ferns and the Maori All Blacks.
The All Blacks Experience takes the visitor through what it takes to shape, make and be an All Black, one of the most successful sports teams in the world. The Experience sits across one floor of approximately 1800sqm, adjacent to a number of high-end hotels in Auckland’s popular Sky City district. It consists of 10 locations or ‘zones’ each with a unique set of hardware supporting the storytelling and drawing the visitor into the experience of being an All Black, a Black Fern or a Maori All Black. Together, these zones immerse visitors in the history, culture and the people who have made the All Blacks, hearing directly from past and present legends of the game. Visitors get the opportunity to test out their rugby abilities with the chance to match their kicking, catching, line out and accuracy skills against New Zealand’s best players in the “hands on” interactive zone.
“Even though we opened during a global pandemic, the reaction we saw from visitors was everything we hoped for and more,” said Phil McGowan, General Manager of the All Blacks Experience. “Rugby fans emerge very emotional. The All Blacks Experience has performed flawlessly since opening. Blank screens or screens displaying incomplete content would destroy the magic and the atmosphere we have worked so hard to create. The technical installation conceived and executed by the Toulouse team based on BrightSign players has delivered fully.”
The variety of requirements provided an inherent challenge for the team from Toulouse. The unique needs of each zone required individualised solutions that had to be carefully worked through. There was no one size fits all for this project. For example, the Shaping Zone offers interactive games that demonstrate the psychology and emotional development stages of All Blacks training – presented on 26 individual touch screens that allow each tour participant to pitch their skills against the opposing team. At the other end of the scale, the Haka Zone presents a stadium pre-match playing on a 4m tall and 17m long blended projection screen, with sound belting out through 14,400W of amplification when the haka is performed. The Step-Up Zone presents a completely different challenge to both the visitor and the AV designers. Here a series of playing cages with 4 meter tall portrait projection screens are the game surface of choice as visitors compare their skills against the All Blacks themselves when they kick, pass and throw a rugby ball.
For Marc Simpson, Managing Director of Toulouse, there was only ever one player option in the frame: BrightSign. Simpson said, “We selected BrightSign players for this new installation as we have a long history with the product. It is robust, flexible, responsive and easily adaptable to our needs. Given that we were installing during the pandemic making supply lines challenging, we needed a product that could guarantee availability and ease of use and reliability for the client. Toulouse uses BrightSign players extensively in installs because of their robust and solid proven track record. Delivery was within the installation timeline and the players worked across the range of platforms – from intimate to large-format projection.”
The All Blacks Experience is powered by 36 BrightSign HD224 players and 30 HD1024 players supplied by Midwich. The players run screens varying in size from 32in Signage Screens to a 13m wide edge blended, curved, 3x projector screen.
Simpson said, “We find these players extremely user-friendly to install and program. They accommodate the client-provided media seamlessly. In addition to the delivery of content to the screens, they can perform many of the functions of a control system, eliminating the need for a separate set of hardware and reducing complexity.”