Shankly Hotel AR and Projection Mapping

High tech experiences welcome visitors to Liverpool’s latest luxury hotel.

Brief:

The team behind The Shankly Hotel approached Draw & Code with a brief to create an installation that tells the story of Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football Club’s most famous and successful leader. This venture between Signature Living and the Shankly family themselves was designed to further the legendary manager’s legacy, something that we were proud to play a small part in.

A treasure trove of Bill Shankly memorabilia awaits guest in the hotel, ranging from his Gola kit bag through to his letter of resignation to the board at Liverpool Football Club – and even the typewriter he wrote it on! This memorabilia offers incredible insight into a different age of the beautiful game, but the concept was to supplement the static displays with something a lot more dynamic. With such a rich story and so many fantastic artifacts scattered across the hotel’s floors, encapsulating them into two digital installations in the lobby and restaurant was a massive challenge.

Process:

A projection mapped timeline was chosen as the best way to convey Bill Shankly’s career from his early playing days right through to his retirement from the pinnacle of the sport. To get fans closer to the icon a playful augmented reality installation enabled them to sit down for a chat with the man himself. The hotel team was keen to make sure that the installations had real wow factor, but they needed to be subtle enough not to overpower the design of the building and the displays of memorabilia.

For the projection mapping a huge wallpaper frieze was commissioned to adorn the impressive reception area of the hotel. It features an iconic photograph of Shankly in his prime and as the guests loiter in the lobby the image comes to life. Important moments in the life of the Liverpool manager are shown as photographs, animations and text, all mapped to fit the wall perfectly to create the illusion of subtle changes occurring to the wallpaper itself.

The artists at Draw & Code were granted access to the Shankly family’s personal archive of photographs (which was quite a thrill for the Reds in the studio!) from which we selected pertinent pictures to segue into the main scene of the projection. This included some images that had never been seen in public before, so it was an honour to be given the responsibility of revealing them to the public within our animation. If anything the largest creative challenge was condensing a visual record of such a prolific career into a limited space and running time – we could have made a movie from the material we had access to!

When done right, projection mapping appears to be a part of the surface that it is displayed on. This subtlety meant that we were able to tell the Shankly story without the need for multiple glaring screens, instead we could just use the existing architecture and a single Casio Ultra Short Throw projector.

For a more personal experience the augmented reality Bill Shankly experience was created. As you take your seat in the restaurant Bill Shankly walks in to sit with you. Based on a motion-tracked body double with 3D textures applied, the animation is controlled via a mobile app.

This third person augmented reality experiment taps into the cultural shift towards the viewer wanting to place themselves front and centre of the action. Augmented reality is the ideal medium for creating digital experiences with real people at the heart of them.

Result:

Occupancy levels are sky high and the installations have become some of the major talking points of the hotel. It has become de rigueur to pose for a photo with the timeline; even famous LFC players old and new have been snapping themselves paying homage to Bill Shankly in front of the projected wall.

The Shankly Hotel projection mapping project became our first permanent projection mapping installation, as opposed to the large-scale temporary events that are more common, so you can still go see this experience for yourself. You can also book to sit at Shankly’s table to see yourself with him in augmented reality in the restaurant.


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