Shanghai Expo 2010 pavilions feature 360 degree, 4D films and more

[From CNN GO Asia; the original version includes several additional images]

[Image: Inside the State Grid Pavilion]

Shanghai Expo 2010 pavilions: The best of the Puxi site

With less than three months left of the Shanghai Expo, head to these Puxi pavilions for some of the Expo’s best entertainment

By Christine Tan 17 August, 2010

One-time visitors to the World Expo tend to stampede toward the Pudong site’s national pavilions, leaving Puxi’s dazzlingly garish pavilions for last — or never. It’s time to change people’s 2010 Expo strategy.

Here are the best corporate pavilions that may entice new visitors into making the entertaining Puxi side of the Huangpu their first stop.

The State Grid Pavilion

The “Magic Box” movie is a 360 degree experience that’s not to be missed. It is the Expo’s ultimate lightshow.

While there’s no danger of physical electrocution, minds might be temporarily fried after a trip to the State Grid Pavilion. Nicknamed the “Magic Box,” the pavilion gets creative with electricity and turns it into a sexy phenomenon.

Visitors to the Box are enclosed inside a cubic theater for a five-minute visual extravaganza. LED screens on the ceiling, walls and floor blast light effects from all six sides to provide a 720-degree film experience.

The whirling images projected on-screen are in a constant state of flux. They’re windows into a virtual reality where visitors zip through electric wires, cross a desert, surf the seas, fall off the highest cliffs and experience the hustle and bustle of a powered city.

The theater has handrails for visitors who feel slightly dizzy or weightless during the show — we may have clung onto them rather tightly.

The Oil Pavilion

This pavilion provides a real 3D film experience with surprising 4D sensations.

A badly kept secret worth waiting hours for, the Oil Pavilion has the Expo’s most outstanding cinematic experience. Its 3D film tells the story of oil in eight minutes, from the formation of crude oil to the modern use of petroleum as a raw material in everyday items.

The film’s 4D sensations play a large part in spreading word-of-mouth. Audiences “experience” wind and rain, buzzing bees and slithering snakes — an experience which caused a few shrieks.

But more unnerving is the film’s ending depicting our lives crumbling to dust without oil. “Its central message was decidedly one-dimensional: Oil is a critical part of everything we do, and it isn’t going away, so learn to love it,” argues Expo visitor Joel Makower, executive editor of GreenBiz.com.

Despite this, the film rates highly for pure entertainment value, and even for spurring discussion regarding the need for a low-carbon future.

The SAIC-GM Pavilion

The SAIC-GM Pavilion offers live performance with futuristic vehicles. What’s not to love?

The centerpiece of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and General Motors Pavilion is its 11-minute 4D film based on the theme “Drive to 2030.” In plush motion seats, audiences watch three sentimental stories unfold on a massive, curving screen.

A blind daughter reunites with her world-famous musician father; two lovers fall out then make up on a romantic beach; and a pregnant woman collapses in labor but successfully delivers her baby in safety.

All three happy endings are made possible with smart cars and technological advances. In 2030, congestion and accidents are nonexistent and the streets unrecognizable from those of Shanghai today.

Although extremely idealistic, it’s hard not to like the film’s emphasis on sustainable progress and enduring human relationships.

Then comes a big bonus: a dance featuring the cars of 2030, although we won’t spoil just how it’s presented.

The Information and Communications Pavilion

Here you see hilarious possibilities for the future of communications technology.

A fun and interactive pavilion for children, it screens two films in Mandarin that showcase how communication technology developed in the past, and could perhaps evolve in the future.

The first film focuses on the past and present of communications. It introduces pavilion mascots Jiling and Gudu who guide viewers through the history of ICT development, from the fire and smoke signals used to communicate along the Great Wall to today’s sleekest mobile gadgets.

The second film looks at the future. The mascots purport to pluck three audience members from their seats, propel them into the celluloid world, and then make their technological dreams come true.

These dreams range from the hilarious to the sentimental: communicating with penguins, teleporting through space and time, and manipulating the cells in grandpa’s body so he can walk again.

Curious kids excited by these 4D on-screen explorations make this corporate pavilion one of the most family-friendly experiences at the 2010 Expo.

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