Those lucky enough to be looking forward to a visit to Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous Fat Duck restaurant will now, approximately one month before their booking, be offered access to an online location for an exclusive anticipatory experience…
The project, based on Blumenthal’s brief that the experience should evoke a kind of “kid in a sweetshop” joy, has actually been in development for four years, but is now finally finished and takes the form of a four minute animation and a binaural experience that lasts a further 3-5 minutes.
While the only way to enjoy the full anticipatory experience is to actually book a meal at The Fat Duck, The Neighbourhood in Manchester (which has been working on the project for four years) has made a making-of film that showcases clips from the animation and explains how the piece functions.
“Most of the timeline of the project has been about the discussion of ideas and approaches with Heston and his team,” explains Jon Humphreys, creative director at The Neighbourhood who worked on the animation.
“At the beginning of the project we were asked to create a 3D animation of a sweetshop interior,” continues Humphreys, “and little by little we turned that idea around to creating a rich visual journey to the sweetshop then exploring the interior through sound. Along that path we have discussed many ideas that never made it into the final approach including expolorations into the psychology of magic and illusion! The actual production time of the animation was about eight weeks in total.”
The Neighbourhood worked with Manchester-based LOVE on the sound experience and it was LOVE that wrote the script for a narration provided by actor John Hurt. LOVE also built the system to integrate the experience into The Fat Duck’s online reservation system, while London-based Zelig worked with the visual agencies on the binaural sound for the project.
“The animation is not designed to be interactive in itself,” adds Humphreys, “but part of a customer journey to the Fat Duck. When the animation finishes you are given the option to view again. Diners will have four chances to view the animation in the 12 weeks before arriving to eat at the restaurant, the idea being that people pick up on visual and audio cues in the film that they will discover at the restaurant.
“We have also developed another component to the experience that is interactive – an augmented reality sweetshop designed as a ‘digital souvenir’ to be discovered after the meal via a card placed in the bag of sweets Heston gives to his customers before they leave.”
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