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Kingsmen creates immersive experience for SG Bicentennial

Singapore’s history captured in cinematic show and interactive displays – but have event organisers cottoned on?

From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience @ Fort Canning is taking audiences by storm – literally. From a ‘reverse rainfall’ in the prologue to the five-act, multimedia extravaganza, to a shower during the last scene and occasional downpours at the outdoor pavilions.

A highlight of the Singapore Bicentennial programme, The Bicentennial Experience comprises Time Traveller – a one-hour immersive, multi-sensory journey through Singapore’s 500-year history before the British arrival and two centuries after – and Pathfinder, comprising eight outdoor installations and pavilions of replica artefacts, maps, plants and printed texts. The event runs from 1 June to 15 September.

It rained on our parade – audience relive the 1968 National Day Parade.

Singapore Bicentennial Office (SBO), project director, Wan Wee Pin, said he hopes the Bicentennial Experience will “connect Singaporeans emotionally with our longer history and appreciate the traits that have enabled us to be who and where we are today”.

He added: “The greatest challenge was to present a 700-year-long series of events and milestones in an experience that both young and old will understand and enjoy.”

As the appointed agency for the Bicentennial Experience, Kingsmen began working on the project in February 2018. Kingsmen Exhibits project director, Oei Chie Yang, said it entailed conceptualisation and design; research in multimedia, animatronics and materials for the special effects; construction and fit-out of the space; and finally, managing the event.

Act Two: On board the Indiana (credit: Kingsmen Exhibits)

“To create an immersive and unique experience for everyone, we collaborated with multiple design agencies and creative consultants, who were responsible for creating the overall direction and concept of the show,” Oei said.

Much experimenting was required to create effects without many precedents, such as the ‘rain’ room feature and layered telescope effect. “The weather in our tropical climate also caused delays and challenges as it rained rather frequently during our build-up for Pathfinder,” Oei explained.

Time Traveller venue Fort Canning Centre is almost a century old, and the conserved building could not be remodelled. Despite building constraints, audiences enjoy a 360 panoramic projection and sit on a rotating platform during two acts. At the outdoor pavilion, four of 16 replica artefacts use augmented reality elements. QR code downloads replace printed panel-texts.

Fort Canning Centre (credit: Kingsmen Exhibits)

Entry to the Bicentennial Experience is free and open to all, but advance. Groups of 12 people and above should book through Kingsmen.

With several big trade shows and conferences being held in Singapore between June and mid-September, foreign attendees can enjoy this big-budget production after-hours, but it is not mentioned on event organisers’ websites and visitsingapore.com.

MP International, however, said it will provide the Bicentennial Experience weblink where applicable. “We are constantly promoting Singapore and her highlights as a destination to both local and foreign business clients through our various digital and social channels,” said Vincent Yap, director – strategic marketing.