Interactive Thrills at The Evel Knievel Museum

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Dimensional Innovations (DI) partnered with the Historic Harley-Davidson Topeka dealership to create three interactive exhibits inside The Evel Knievel Museum, which opened in May 2017. The dealership expanded by 16,000 square-feet to house the museum that honors daredevil Evel Knievel through a mix of memorabilia and technology. DI took the museum experience to the next level by creating a custom 4D bike ride, an interactive STEM jump game and three visual touch-screen displays of Evel’s broken bones.

Nominating Company: Dimensional Innovations, Overland Park, Kansas
Venue: The Evel Knievel Museum, Topeka, Kansas
Project: The Evel Knievel Museum
Category: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation

BACKGROUND
The team at Harley-Davidson came to DI looking to create the ultimate Evel Knievel experience for fans visiting the museum. With collaboration and innovation, DI brought three unique interactives to the museum.

The 4D virtual reality ride allows visitors to sit on a bike, put on a VR helmet and experience a recent death-defying jump by Doug Danger. The rider gets to feel as though they are actually jumping over 16 cars with wind blowing and the bike seat kicking up upon landing the jump.

The interactive ‘Jump Planner’ exhibit details the physics of planning a jump using the STEM approach and taking into account angle, speed and wind resistance. The user then gets to see if their jump is successful.

The ‘Bad to the Bones’ injury explorer interactive display allows visitors to see the results of Knievel’s failed jumps. Visitors can view X-rays and videos of Knievel’s failed jumps.

interactive game pic

CHALLENGES
There were very unique challenges in how to capture a 360 video of a live bike jump that would be used for the footage of the ride. We had one chance to capture the real-life jump and make it useable. Then, after collecting the footage, it was a challenge to make the jump feel as real as possible. Programming the timing of the vibration, wind and kick to be spot-on with the video was a large hurdle.

Creating a game in the ‘Jump Planner’ exhibit where multiple users could play at the same time without interrupting each other or bottlenecking the area was a challenging problem.

Additionally, the “Broken Bones” exhibit required extreme attention to detail in order to virtually re-create Evel Knievel’s face into a 3D model.

SOLUTIONS
Through testing in our shop, we decided to place three GoPro 280-degree lenses on a custom Doug Danger helmet. We also set up various other camera angles from the crowd’s perspective to get the best shot for the ride.

To get the wind, kick and sounds to all work together, we used a wind machine and custom software to program the timing. The vibration was created by a low-frequency audio transducer.

A queueing system designed into the ‘Jump Planner’ game allowed for users to simultaneously create their jumps without having to wait for other players.

To perfect Knievel’s face in the “Broken Bones” exhibit, our animator first sculpted his face with a low-poly blank head and took it into Zbrush (a high-detail sculpting program) to sculpt the details of his face. The face was then brought into Maya (a 3D animation modeling software) to add facial animations.

Evel Knievel Museum pic

RESULTS
Museum visitors are blown away by the interactive experiences. The space educates and informs visitors about Evel Knievel’s life in ways they never anticipated. Each exhibit is hands-on, thought-provoking and elicits feeling.

The museum expects to draw more than 100,000 paying visitors a year, and of those visitors, more than half of them are likely to ride “The Jump,” which is an additional $5 dollars per person. The museum attracts all kinds of people as they bond over nostalgic memories brought to life through the interactive exhibits.

“The interactive displays are doing great,” said Historic Harley-Davidson Topeka Owner Mike Patterson. “People love them and they are in awe of them. It really puts our museum over the top with our visitors. We have been receiving excellent reviews, and more times than not, they mention one of the displays.”

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