WATCHOUT tells ghost stories for one of the UK’s most haunted castles
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Muncaster Castle, situated on the Cumbrian coast on the edge of the Lake District, has a well-earned reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in the UK. Not surprisingly, Halloween Week is the busiest time of year for the Castle, which for the last eight years has used Dataton WATCHOUT™ production and presentation software to drive its exterior illuminations.
This year the Castle is gearing up for its busiest Halloween ever, and has upgraded to version 5 of WATCHOUT to ensure that the multimedia experience it offers is as compelling – and as scary – as it has ever been.
Peter Frost-Pennington, managing director of Muncaster Castle, takes up the story: “We haven’t invented any stories to entertain our audience. People from all over the world come to stay in our haunted bedroom for charity, and scientific work to detect paranormal activity is ongoing at the Castle.
“Back in 2003 we decided to put in an exterior lighting scheme to enhance the air of mystery surrounding the venue. The towers of the Castle are an interesting backdrop. We started projecting a few images of skulls and ghosts created in Powerpoint and run by Windows Media Player. But we always knew we could do more. We’d seen the projections that were done as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee using WATCHOUT, and we wanted that too.
“So in 2005 we invested in WATCHOUT. We met with Steve Selwyn from WATCHOUT Premium Partner Mirage Associates and he demonstrated what could be done using images from multiple computer sources. The result was a transformation. Suddenly we could have skeletons walking across the front of the Castle! The service and support from Mirage Associates over the years has been truly appreciated.”
In 2008, Muncaster Castle upgraded to version 4 of WATCHOUT and began working video into its shows, as well as still images and animated GIFs. This year the Castle upgraded again, to the latest version 5,and this has increased the projection system’s versatility even further.
Throughout the process, Mirage Associates has supported Muncaster Castle, advising on content and system setup.
“The projectors are in custom-made, weather-proof housings, and there is one computer for each tower of the Castle,” explains Selwyn. “Each show is on a 20-minute loop, synchronised with audio and lighting, and is shown to an audience of between 200 and 600 people each evening. It is a huge enhancement to the Castle’s visitor experience – especially in Halloween Week and also at Christmas, too.”
Fredrik Svahnberg, marketing director, Dataton, comments: “WATCHOUT is the perfect storytelling tool for a visitor attraction such as Muncaster Castle. Not only is it very easy to use for the end customer but, as this project proves, italso grows as that customer’s needs change. We look forward to seeing more ghosts, ghouls and other terrifying moving images on the walls of Muncaster Castle for years to come!”
Renowned Swedish show control developer and manufacturer, Dataton has been established on the international market since the 1980s. The company's flagship products include the award-winning Dataton WATCHOUT™ multi-display production and presentation system as well as the intuitive Dataton PICKUP™ audio guide. WATCHOUT version 5 is a multi-display, timeline-based software system that comprises stereoscopic playback and 3D effects, and a strong array of groundbreaking features, including live interaction and dynamic media streaming.
Photograph credit: Muncaster Castle