The London Eye opens a new 4D cinema attraction today, part of a new £17.5 million investment to upgrade and 'future proof' the UK's number one paid-for tourist attraction.
TechRadar was treated to a sneak preview of the new exclusive-to-London 4D movie and cinema attraction this week – which in itself has cost London Eye owners Merlin Entertainments Group a cool £5 million.
A seagulls-eye view of London
If you have ever idly wondered what it might feel like to be a seagull soaring over the Thames, then wonder no more – as Merlin's incredible new four-minute 4D movie attraction will bring you about as close as your five senses will allow to imagining, seeing and actually feeling the experience.
The short movie is a beautifully produced story of a little girl visiting London with her father and is the first live action 4D attraction film ever produced in the UK, shot at Pinewood Studios and developed exclusively for the London Eye by the 3D movie experts at Centre Screen Productions.
Renowned stereo 3D producer, Phil Streather (producer of the IMAX favourite, Judi Dench-narrated Bugs! 3D) informing TechRadar that the new attraction is, in his learned opinion, "the world's greatest 4D cinema".
The movie's director and screenwriter, Julian Napier, said that he was "delighted to work on such an innovative and exciting project: bringing cutting edge cinematic techniques and technology to one of the country's and the world's most iconic landmarks".
Napier added that we are "truly at the outset of a new and exciting era for 3D film making, and the London Eye 4D experience is right up there, leading the way".
The London Eye's new movie theatre is reminiscent of many typical 3D movie attractions that many of us will have experienced at theme parks the world over, in which up to 160 viewers stand to watch and experience the short movie.
The key difference here being that this small cinema is kitted out with all the latest 3D projection tech, alongside a bunch of cutting-edge wind and snow machines, a vibrating floor, with the experience topped off by some specially designed olfactory-tech.
That's right. It even smells!
Luckily though, for the audience, it doesn't feature the well-known, less-than-pleasant smells of London's SE1, but the smells of the fireworks that you see (and feel) firing off on the screen in front of you.
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Access to the movie is included in the ticket price for the London Eye, where visitors can get to see the first ever 3D aerial footage of London and see, smell and hear London's famous New Year's Eve fireworks display in glorious 7.1 surround sound. It is actually better than the real thing, particularly seeing as it doesn't involve having to spend four hours crushed up against hordes of drunken tourists on a cold, wet and windy South Bank evening in late December!
Come fly with me
Merlin Entertainment's press release boasts of "more 4D sensory effects than any other visitor attraction in the UK" and TechRadar can confirm that the experience really is like no other we can remember.
Parts of the movie - with a soundtrack provided by Goldfrapp and Coldplay - were shot back in the snowstorms of February 2009 and immediately reprogrammed our previous memory of that time (struggles to get to work, broken tube trains and weather warnings) into something truly magical – the feeling of flying over the South Bank and the Thames in a soft snowstorm.
The whole experience is, according to David Sharpe, Merlin's Director of its London attractions, "A pioneering technical development… bringing a whole new perspective of London."
TechRadar loves technology. Indeed, as you'll see from our strap on our logo, we're deep into the stuff. But it isn't often that we're humbled by it, which is something that Phil Streather and his team of 3D/4D movie whizzkids at Centre Screen have achieved with the London Eye 4D Experience. Go. As soon as you can.
For more info and a very cool 'making of' video of the new London Eye 4D Experience, along with details on ticket pricing you can head over to londoneye.com
And watch out for TechRadar's follow-up interview with 3D movie producer, Phil Streather in the near future, when we should find out a lot more about the future of 3D/4D cinema from one of its leading visionaries.