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Behind the scenes of SkyCity’s new All Blacks Experience

The latest tourism attraction to hit Auckland is a must see for everyone. Located at Auckland’s SkyCity, visitors can experience what it truly feels like to walk in an All Blacks’ shoes, from preparation in the locker room to walking out of the stadium tunnel and onto the field. The most impressive part of the experience, and undeniably the part that took the most work, is the iconic All Blacks haka.

Created by the team at Augusto, the haka section brings people face to face with the 2019 squad as they perform arguably the most impassioned haka in recent memory. Filmed in 6k resolution at 50 frames per second, the single, stationary shot is projected onto a curved 14-metre wall facing the audience who are stood at the pitch’s ten metre mark.

Augusto creative strategist, Oliver Sealey, says filming the tradition was never going to be easy as the All Blacks will only ever perform during a game.

“We initially asked if we could bring the team into a controlled environment where we could film uninterrupted, but the team has no flex with regards to how they use the haka, especially for anything that has any commercial drive behind it.”

Augusto creative strategist, Oliver Sealey

Augusto had three attempts at filming the live haka as the team were preparing to head to the Rugby World Cup. The third film was during a day game in Hamilton against Tonga, which ended up being the film that was used.

“We had to capture the haka extremely precisely because what we were capturing was going to be projected onto a 14-metre-wide wall, so every single imperfection would be there to see. 

“In saying that, everything went our way for that game. They were playing Tonga so we were able to film them standing there and staring down the Tonga team’s haka before falling back into their own formation. It worked out really well for us.”

Although the haka is the climax of the experience, those who visit will be stunned by the multiple other rooms on show. Entering the first room, visitors will be enlightened with the history of New Zealand rugby, they will then be taken through the mental, tactical and physical requirements of being an All Black. The third room cleverly depicts the All Blacks’ locker room, giving visitors a sense of the team’s culture and how they operate, while even smelling similar to a locker room. From there, the guide will take the group through the stadium tunnel where elements of the national anthem and crowd cheers can be heard. Finally the group arrives face to face with the All Blacks team in a room that feels like being on the field itself.

To create such an experience, Sealey says took a lot of work. Augusto went back and forth on which strategy would give the best experience, whether it be simply recording a high definition video and projecting it onto a wall or creating a hologram. Using augmented reality was also considered, as well as multiple screens. In the end, the team went full circle and decided a high res video projected onto a 14-metre-wide wall would be most effective.

“We needed to close off the world as much as possible, so then the little things became important. This included making sure the rooms were entirely curved so no corners would break the film and we had to think about the pixel density of the projection and how real it would feel.

“It was the first time we had shot in 6k at 50 frames per second which is one of the highest resolutions you can film in. It was a monster to put through post production and despite there being no cuts, we did move the stadium. We took one whole stand which was on the side of the field and we moved it round behind the team.”

Sealey says the experience is bound to attract domestic tourists just as much as national tourists, with SkyCity being a prime location for activities. He says as a tourism experience, it is similar to how museums are advancing their offerings.

“Museums have been bringing in more interactivity and the ability to get closer and engage with exhibits in a personal way. For me, I see that as the way forward in terms of tourism and public offerings.”

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