National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey


National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey

New York, USA

Chauvet Professional

Distributor & Installer:
4Wall Entertainment

Lighting / Visual Designer:
Howard Werner of Lightswitch

Project Submitted By:
Chauvet Professional


Anyone in the Big Apple can now experience this underwater treasure and a host of other nautical wonders by visiting National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. Located in Times Square, this 60,000-square foot multi-media experience digitally takes visitors on an entertaining, immersive adventure across the ocean, from the South Pacific to the coast of California, where guests can get up close with dozens of species, including mischievous sea lions, sharks, a 50ft Humpback whale, a battle between two ferocious Humboldt squids, and much more.

Adding to the immersive environment in the multi-room experience is an elaborate lighting design by Lightswitch. Used throughout Encounter, the CHAUVET Professional fixtures add colour and texture to its key scenic elements. “Video is a major storytelling element in Encounter, but the reason it works is that all of the design elements, including the lighting design, work as a whole,” said Howard Werner of Lightswitch. “The lighting not only sets the scene for a movie to play, but also is in sync with the video and the audio elements of Encounter. This synchronisation is what creates a cohesive design and fully immersive experience.”
“We used the E-910FCs in several different areas,” continued Werner. “In one space, we had to create ‘simulated’ shadows of kelp on a wall. There is a scenic kelp forest in the space but lighting the kelp and creating real shadows wasn’t possible because of the limited hanging positions. Therefore, we created custom templates that had false kelp shadows in them, and then projected them onto the walls using Ovation E-910FC fixtures. Colour and intensity were then balanced to create a seamless look.”

For visitors, their experience begins before they even enter the actual venue, which is located below ground. The street level lobby has a “watery texture” on the floor, created in part with six Ovation E-260WW ellipsoidals. The high-output Ovation units were selected, says Werner, “because we wanted some punch in a space that gets plenty of daylight through large windows.”

CHAUVET Professional proves yet again to be the best value option, as our products complement each other and are able to fulfil the needs of a large project with a varied range of fixtures.

Over 150 COLORado 1 Solo RGBW fixtures are positioned at various points throughout Encounter to wash areas with deep blues and greens, to enhance its realistic effect. “The COLORados are great lights for projects like this,” said Werner. “They are small, versatile and relatively inexpensive with short lead times.”
A memorable moment at National Geographic Encounter is the “Bait Ball” scene, which features a massive 40ft dome with 3-D video that depicts dolphins, birds and Humpback whales feeding on large groups of tightly packed fish. Lightswitch used COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 fixtures in the Bait Ball scene in order to create a realistic moment in nature.

In combination with the other CHAUVET Professional products, Lightswitch was able to incorporate a large number of fixtures, keep the installation balanced between lighting, audio and video, and create an experience that surrounds and transports visitors from beginning to end.