How Neighbourhood Earth’s Space Travel Experience Actually Works


This article is sponsored by M Live’s Neighbourhood Earth.

Attention space fans: while we might be a fair way off casual holidays into space (unless you’re Jeff Bezos kind of wealthy), M Live is presenting an exciting new immersive space exhibition, Neighbourhood Earth that’s bringing space to Sydney.

The exhibition is award-winning for good reason — the holographic and other cool tech is out of this world. Utilising giant screens, immersive surround sound and a giant projection-mapped dome, visitors will be transported around the solar system. You’ll also find models of spacecraft, tools, and astronaut suits, as well as interactive learning activities.

Have we piqued your interest? For more intel, we spoke to Declan McMonagle, Managing Director of Toto creative and creator of Neighbourhood Earth.

Image supplied.

GIZMODO: What technology is used to bring the multi-sensory exhibit to life?

Declan McMonagle: The development of Neighbourhood Earth started off with us wanting to create an unforgettable space experience for visitors. We decided this would be best achieved using a mix of high-impact multimedia projection technology combined with data, stories and artefacts from subject matter experts.

The exhibition’s set-piece is an immersive environment that uses 22 high-definition projectors projecting onto 14 screens, an 8.1 surround sound system and a giant projection-mapped hemisphere that takes visitors on a virtual ‘walking tour of space’.

GIZ: What tech goes into recreating the likes of a Mars sunset, Venus lightning storm, or the surface of Jupiter? 

DM: Our team of visual artists worked closely with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center during the development and creative stages.

Together, they examined imagery and videos captured by legendary spacecraft including the Voyager, the Cassini and the Messenger, and were able to craft faithful recreations of some stunning scenes from our neighbouring planets.

GIZ: What role did the U.S. Space & Rocket Center play in the development of the exhibit? 

DM: We approached the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in 2016 about collaborating on a space exhibition that’s as visually and technically impressive as it is fun and educational. They loved the idea. We hit it off and began working together to develop Neighbourhood Earth.

During the development process, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center has been instrumental in providing us with the latest information and data about space exploration, gigabytes of authentic imagery and priceless artifacts.

Neighbourhood Earth
Image supplied.

GIZ: Just how much legwork did it take to pull this exhibit together? 

DM: Our team has worked in the exhibition and projection technology space for over a decade now, and Neighbourhood Earth has been our most ambitious project to date. From ideation to design to production: it’s been a long road and a lot of work. We’re very proud of the result and very much looking forward to bringing it Downunder.

Since we started developing the exhibition five years ago, we’ve been continually upgrading and updating the experience. Space exploration is a subject matter that’s rapidly progressing, and we strive to bring the latest, most up-to-date information and experience to visitors.

So, although the exhibition has toured in the U.S. and Asia, the iteration of Neighbourhood Earth that’s opening in Australia contains new, never-before-seen content and components.

GIZ: What kind of interactive activities can visitors expect?

DM: Visitors will be able to play around inside a 1:1 replica of a section of the International Space Station, launch a rocket and get hands-on to understand the force of gravity and find out what you weigh on other planets.

We also have a series of holographic learning stations with which visitors can interact with, and learn more about each of the planets in our solar system. Just to name a few.

So there you have it. Basically, if you live for sci-fi, space or new technology, you have to check it out. Nothing else will get you closer to your Klingon-speaking, light-sabre slinging fantasies. Well, at least, nothing else unless you happen to win the Powerball.

Neighbourhood Earth opens at Sydney’s ICC on November 22 for a limited season. Tickets are on sale now right here.


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