Mark Twomey couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted a 7D simulator in Cork city centre. Step in and you can experience a rollercoaster, journey to the centre of the earth or dive with monsters
In these dull, drab days of January, we all need something to put a smile on our faces, so why not take a rollercoaster ride through the jungle or through Shanghai, or even take a spaceship ride through an iceberg valley? Fancy the experience of a Formula One racing circuit, or even try out a virtual rallycross racing car simulator?
All of the above experiences and more are now available in Cork city at the recently opened 7D cinema on Cornmarket St — it’s where gaming technology brings virtual worlds to a whole new level.
The 7D cinema doesn’t push the boundaries of physics with seven dimensions; the ‘D’ in this case also stands for dynamics, the first three of the seven ‘D’s is for the 3D screen.
“3D is only the visual effects,” says Vitaly Tsvikevich, proprietor. “People will use the active 3D glasses once they are inside to get the full effect of the 3D on the screen projection, the other effects are mainly from the motion on the platform plus other effects to make it the full 7D.”
Those other effects include fans to simulate wind, water sprays to match liquid events on screen (like a snake in your face spitting poisonous venom), and strobe lights to create ‘fire’ simulation. However, the star of the show is the moving platform which seats six people; it pitches forward and back and also to the left and right. It simulates the ride of a rollercoaster so the click-clacks of the tracks can be actually felt to create a truly virtual experience. In fact the simulators create such a drop that users experience the lower-belly rollercoaster feeling.
“I have around 40 different movies to choose from, so for instance if you like rollercoasters then there are 20 different rollercoaster movies,” says Vitaly.
Other movies include a journey to the centre of the Earth, an underwater adventure with monsters, a crocodile island adventure, and more.
The 7D cinema attracts a range of customers and is suitable for most ages with parental supervision. “All different crowds come in, so it could be guys after school finishes from three or four o’clock; families will come in groups also, especially if they have something to celebrate — it’s very good, everybody likes it.
“3D isn’t recommended for children under seven, but it’s up to the parents... some don’t mind and we will go through the list [of movies] and find a film that isn’t very scary for the first time.”
The 7D cinema doesn’t require booking because the movies are short, on average for five minutes. However, there is a system of booking for parties.
The premises also hosts a racing car simulator which provides an almost real life experience which produces G-forces of up to 2G.
“This provides an almost real driving feel, not 100% but certainly more than 90% — you can feel the driving environment, for example when when you go from a gravel surface to tarmac you feel it straight away, and you feel all the changes of the surface as well,” says Vitaly.
The system features a number of international race circuits, mainly dirt circuits and rally cross. There is Formula One software also built into the system but, according to Vitaly, it is “really hard to control the car there... you would have to be a professional driver to handle that”.
Need for Speed and rFactor are the games installed already but there are many others available. There are five levels of ‘difficulty’ settings for the system but Vitaly normally keeps it to the easy setting: “If I set it for the most difficult then no one can play so I set it to the easiest so people who come in for the first time can do some actual racing and not only smash into the walls a lot.
“Many of the guys who come do actual racing in real life or drifting so they will use it for practice, and they will use the system for at least half an hour, but more often they will take it for the full hour. They know the settings of the machine and will take it to a higher level of difficulty.”
As well as having a wide range of racing circuits, the races can be set for different durations, as well as having a phenomenally wide range of cars — various models of Subaru Imprezas, a range of Mitsubishi Evolutions, through to Ford RS and American models like Pontiac and even Nissan 300; overall more than 20 basic models. There are also trucks of various body sizes as well as a range of 4x4s including a VW Toureg.
“Five minutes on the simulator is not enough... you have to understand how it moves, you have to understand how to change gears and how to control the car on many different surfaces. It’s very realistic, you wouldn’t drive any car for just five minutes,” says Vitaly.
It’s not suitable for children under 10 because of the size of the machine, the seat can’t be moved any closer to the pedals.
I brought my nephew, Mark D Twomey, along to try the system out. He races at Global Lights level and has raced at Mondello as well as racing in the UK and Europe, so I wanted a more professional opinion.
“It’s as close to the real thing as you can get... indoors,” he says. “The simulation brings you as close as you can get to the real thing. It doesn’t give you the same G-force as a real racing car, but it gives a very good indication of what you should be feeling in a real car. It really helps you to get the experience of what a real car would be doing.
“It’s rather difficult to begin with, but like any other game, it takes practice and some getting used to. I would definitely do it again, it’s certainly worth €20 for half an hour. It would be good to do it with a few friends where you could get more fun out of it by making it more competitive.”
7D —The low-down:
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