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Cape Town-based Formula D interactive to design and build installation for new Frost Museum of Science in Miami, Florida.

Cape Town-based interactive design company, Formula D interactive, leads a collaboration of South African specialist firms to design and build a ground-breaking, large-scale audiovisual installation for the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, Florida.

The museum is set to open in 2015, and Formula D interactive is designing and constructing an 18m audiovisual environment representing the Gulf Stream  – a powerful, warm ocean current off the coast of Florida – and its impact on the marine world. The installation is located alongside the aquarium in the museum and presents concepts and “narratives” of the Gulf Stream such as the food chain and fish schooling behaviour.

Visitors can influence – but not control – the virtual environment in real time thanks to camera tracking sensors, making the experience akin to a safari or scuba dive. Three-dimensional animations of marine life will expose visitors to the elusive and seldom seen creatures of the Gulf Stream, including those not typically kept in an aquarium. The display will also encourage museum visitors to move through a transition area in the right direction to continue their journey.

“This unique project pushes the boundaries of interactive design and technical realisation.  We are designing an ultra-high definition flow environment, which responds to real-time data,” said Michael Wolf, CEO and creative director at Formula D interactive.

The company won the contract against stiff opposition from 20 interactive design firms, based primarily in the US. Formula D interactive’s experience with developing large interactive experiences for museums and science centres stood it in good stead. Specifically, it has experience designing and building aquatic and marine installations: commissioned by Ogilvy Interactive, it created an eight-metre interactive digital fish tank for a Cape Town nightclub. Finally Formula D interactive’s ability to pull together the right partners, in the shape of Black Ginger, a Cape Town-based animation studio that has Free Willy on its CV, as well as Johannesburg-based Digital Fabric that specialises in building the intricate hardware systems required for large-scale audiovisual installations, was a deciding factor.

“South Africa boasts many fantastic and highly specialised design companies and in order to win high-profile international projects, effective strategic partnerships and joint ventures are crucial ,” said Marco Rosa, Formula D interactive managing director.

“Formula D interactive had all the right ingredients in their proposal,” said Jennifer Santer, Vice President for Content and Programs at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, and project manager for the interactive media wall project. “The creativity of their response, combined with their ability to include the right partners to achieve our objectives, made us certain we wanted to work with them.”

The design firms are currently in the content development and preliminary production phase on this project: tinkering with the software, hardware and other elements required to make the storyboard ideas a reality.

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