Project Orion (Qilak)

Unity, LED Lighting, Interactive Installation

Project for the Vancouver Maritime Museum


After the success of Stella, we inspired the Vancouver Maritime Museum (VMM) to collaborate with the Centre for Digital Media (CDM) for the third time to create an installation to teach visitors about maritime navigation.


While Stella used a Kinect as the control interface, we needed a robust solution that would withstand the foot traffic seen in a typical museum scenario. It also meant accommodating users of all ages, from young children to seniors. Alongside of those challenges, we were tasked with conveying three main learning points:

  1. Convey the story of Orion, as told in the Inuit culture (known as Ullaktut in Inuit)
  2. Show that the North Star is ever present in the Northern Hemisphere
  3. Highlight how the Big Dipper can be used to locate the North Star

Final Deliverable

Our solution was a double wall projection, with one being focused on conveying the Orion story and the other being a wall focused on conveying the North Star and the Big Dipper.


In the Animation Wall, there is an additional focal point where the hunter is seen to reach into the real world and pick up a real glove. This is exemplified in the video, shown below.


The second wall features a Control Pedestal where users can interact with the North Star and Big Dipper. In the Control Pedestal is a Heads Up Display/Telescope contraption that allows users to look through and see the physical wall, but gain additional information overlaid on the wall–adding an additional dimension to the experience.

Development Process

Early on, we wanted to know what dimensions and physical space we would be working in. We began the development process by creating a 3D model of the space (see above) we will be working with, and building out a scale version of that to allow us to develop our product to the exact fit of the space. 

Afterwards, we each worked on our own domain in parallel. It was important that we kept in lock step, so a light but agile management methodology was adapted.


For this project, I served in several capacities that allowed me to expand my breadth of experiences. 


Project Manager

The role of a Project Manager on a small team was to provide guidance and a channel of communication between all stakeholders. Initially we experienced a lack of clarity between the members. This was resolved by improving our weekly deliverables and internal milestones of the project, as well as the inter-communication between members. I delivered mediation and communication between the artists and the lead programmer on the project to ensure the project pipeline goes smoothly.


Lighting Programmer

Lighting served as the bridge between the animation and the interactive wall. Being a wall separated by a three foot chasm, we needed to entice the users attention across the wall, and continue the narrative such that it formed a cohesive experience, rather than two disparate walls.


Sound Composer

Sound served a vital role with Qilak as it provided the ambience as well as conveyed part of the story. Early on, we found tracks that we thought would fit the general mood of the installation. I then started composing the track through layering by building the background ambience, then the main key "thematic" sound effects that would accompany the narrative. Finally, we added in the narration track to accompany the visuals to enhance and clarify the message we are trying to convey through the animation.