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Virtual Tourism

The Gates of Hell - Virtual Reality at Wicklow Gaol

Virtual Reality
Stories from the Gaol History
The Gates of Hell - Virtual Reality at Wicklow Gaol

Experience Wicklow Gaol like never before! Travel on a journey through time and get a taste of the 1798 Rebellion, the famine era and the War of Independence through the eyes of Gaol inmates… and meet many an imposing character along the way.

Meet Mr. Simpson the jailer, Mary Storey the Matron, Kay Farrell the Rebel and some of the wretched paupers and political prisoners who were kept within these walls.

Embark on an immersive virtual reality experience. Visitors are kept in the centre of the action as these stories unfold.

Wicklow Gaol’s management team, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, commissioned Emagine to develop a VR film and other forms of interpretation that would update the offering and provide an additional revenue stream by attracting more visitors.

The turbulent history of Wicklow Gaol is told in The Gates of Hell, a fully immersive VR experience, which transports visitors to a grim three-dimensional world of corruption, rebellion and hardship.

On appointment, Emagine designed an interpretive plan with VR Experience at its core. The plan presented a visitor-flow solution that would allow the Gaol to accommodate the new VR experience and the large groups of visitors it would attract without interrupting the existing tour route. The solution involved opening up a previously unused part of the building.

The story for the VR movie had to span three centuries; historical research and fact-checking were therefore critical components. In addition to the research carried out by Emagine, a local historian with in-depth knowledge of the site provided detailed information on the building’s history including its former staff and prisoners. Emagine then developed a dramatic script based on real people and events, taking the visitor through three different periods of the Gaol’s history linking the site with key events in Irish history: the 1798 rebellion, the famine years, and the Civil War.

Emagine produced the VR movie, providing storyboards for the 3D animation, directing the animators in the design of each scene of the production. Working in close collaboration with the fit-out contractors on the fabrication of all exhibition elements Emagine commissioned bespoke seating to house the VR hardware and dressed the cells in theme. Emagine provided a script for the tour guides who introduce and operate the VR experience in character. Hype Boxes and touchscreens were additionally installed in the museum.

The VR experience had to be available in two foreign languages (French and Spanish). Emagine managed the script translation via a third party. With the support of our audio recording partner, we cast voice actors in the two languages and directed their performances with the help of language monitors where necessary. We commissioned an original score soundscape, featuring well known Irish band, KILA.

The entire project was delivered on budget in just over eight months.