A Mosaic Show Controller runs special effects and lighting for Boom! at the Britannia Mine Museum.

Mosaic Makes Sparks Fly for Boom!

The Britannia Mine Museum, located between Vancouver and Squamish, B.C. along the picturesque Howe Sound, is built around a 20-story Mill. The Mill building was shut down in 1974, all the machinery was removed and sold, and it lay abandoned and deteriorating for decades. Now, though, the Museum has brought the Mill back to roaring, thundering life with BOOM!, a live-action special effects show. Lighting Programmer Stefan Zubovic of Eos Lightmedia used ETC’s Mosaic Show Controller to craft the jaw-dropping lighting and SFX.

Boom! design sketch
A design sketch for Boom! at the Britannia Mine Museum.

BOOM! takes place at the base of a “skip” track in the Mill. The skip was a 3-ton steel rail car that ran on tracks laid up the side the mountain that forms one wall of the Mill. The audience watches as a video host tells the story of how the Mill received ore and processed it into copper concentrate. The host takes the audience on a tour of all levels of the Mill, using light to point out certain areas, and using animation on a 14-foot screen to demonstrate each of the giant machines that were once there. Eventually, he “powers up” the old Mill, and the skip unexpectedly starts to move up the 45-degree track with the audience seated at the base of the track. Finally, all the machines and special effects start to “mis-fire”– sending sparks showering and causing the skip to plunge towards the audience for the big finale.

VISTA Collaborative Arts designed the show and were the producers, while Masters Digital handled sound design, and Dynamic Attractions did the skip car automation. Eos Lightmedia was in charge of the lighting and SFX programming. For the show, the lights needed to illuminate the structure of the Mill and enhance the practical special effects.

Mosaic in Control

SFX included custom spark machines and dust cannons from Performance Solutions throughout the Mill. The SFX units are used to “electrify” control panels, shower sparks onto the stage area and to emulate old machinery coming back to life. All of the show lighting and SFX units were programmed and triggered through a Mosaic MSC 1 with a Mosaic MRIO-A for timecode input.

“Basically, all lighting and special effects elements are programmed on a Mosaic MSC1. I love Mosaic. It’s my favorite lighting controller for LED-based installs,” says Zubovic.

The timing of the SFX and lighting was crucial to the integrity of the show. The video and audio narration calls for certain “machinery” to be activated at different points throughout the experience. Using Mosaic’s intuitive timeline structure, Zubovic was able to quickly program, synchronize and adjust the different elements.

“The really wonderful thing about Mosaic is that the control software is a timeline-based editor. I was a video editor in the past, so having a linear interface to edit lighting was familiar and felt right,” says Zubovic.

BOOM! Trailer (1 minute) from Britannia Mine Museum on Vimeo.

Making it organic with Mosaic software

In addition to timeline tools, Mosaic’s powerful Designer software allowed Zubovic and the team to create original, organic looks. “With Mosaic’s Designer software I can take a basic effect and put it on layer – and then I can layer in other effects and manipulate them all to create something organic and unique. Then we can save those effects and have a library of our own. It’s great!”

Zubovic and the design team worked on effects right up until install – tweaking them and making them look perfect. “With Mosaic we were able to make it feel like you’re looking at live welders and live explosions in the mine and not just seeing a canned lighting effect. I sat at a table in the mine, with one timecode line feeding into the Mosaic RIO unit and another one feeding a speaker. This allowed us to seamlessly fine-tune elements in the show through the timecode. The video host would point at something, and we’d blow it up!” says Zubovic, laughing.

Zubovic was pleased with how Mosaic performed under the pressure of the Mine Museum, but it’s nothing less than what he expects with it. “I’ve been programming Mosaic for 5-7 years now,” he says. “It’s my workhorse for all my attractions and experiences. And this was a super-seamless project, thanks to Mosaic.”

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