Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Digital Projection highlights history within the walls of Versailles

Louis XV, Passions of a King is a major exhibition devoted to Louis the Beloved, celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the return of the Court to Versailles. The display — running between October 15, 2022, and February 19, 2023, at the Palace of Versailles — gathers nearly 400 works contributed by collections from all around the world, many of which have never been seen in public, shedding a new light on the complex individual behind the monarch.

The exhibition opens with a spectacular piece: the Passemant astronomical clock, an icon of the reign as well as of the personal passions of Louis XV. Following thorough restoration work sponsored by Rolex France, the clock welcomes visitors with related historical documents, drawings and archives projected on an imposing curved screen.

French event and content creation agency e’motion and technical service provider ETC (Entertainment Technology Center) joined forces to enhance the 18th Century clock with a video-mapped 270-degree curved projection powered by Digital Projection. One of the main requirements from Versailles was to make sure the integration blended perfectly with the exhibition, so visitors would naturally focus on the centerpiece, not the technology deployed in the room.

Stéphane Bazoge, project manager at ETC explains: “This is the first time the Palace of Versailles has allowed a permanent, immersive exhibition inside the palace. There were a number of requirements, including discretion, which was a must not only when looking at the end result, but also while setting up the exhibition. Our approach to this project was actually similar to a high-end retail one: disruptions during the integration phase had to be kept to a minimum, with the utmost respect to the environment, and with the ultimate goal of enhancing what the visitors would see and provide them with an unforgettable experience.

“This was also our first project with the client, who was looking for reliable and responsive technical service. I was lucky enough to carry out mappings on various chateaux of the Loire Valley, so I knew the importance of such a task. In a way, our biggest challenge was to be able to disregard the weight of this iconic historical site and focus on the client’s goals and requirements.”

ETC decided that Digital Projection’s E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were best suited to deliver an impressive and reliable image. Three of these projectors are fitted on the ceiling of the exhibition structure, creating a seamless image on the 3.6 meter high by 7 meter wide (12 feet high by 23 feet wide) wooden structure facing the entrance and whose curved shape envelops and highlights the royal clock in the middle of the room.

Bazoge adds: “We worked with the Versailles internal workshops to ensure good stability on the wooden structure where the projectors are installed. We also used our expertise to make the right color choices for perfect visual rendering, advised graphic designers on the visual project, and adapted some text effects to the structure.”

The three E-Vision Laser projectors used for the exhibition each deliver 10,500 lumens. This means the visitors benefit from the content details projected around the astronomical clock without stealing the show.

“We needed projectors powerful enough to compete against the natural light coming from the exhibition’s main entrance, as well as the spotlights on the clock, a set-up that is not dissimilar to a retail lighting environment. This meant that the projectors had to strike the right amount of lighting output and resolution,” explains Bazoge.

The immersive content projected on the curved wall is managed and processed by ETC’s proprietary Onlyview show control and media server suite, which handles the necessary warping and blending. Content is delivered via a computer with a dedicated graphics card feeding the projectors via HDMI 4K to deliver the 3840×2160 pixel image. The E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were fitted with a specific 0.55:1 lens for the short projection distance of three meters.

“It was also essential to make the system easy, as user friendly, and as maintenance free as possible for the client. We delivered a turnkey solution with on, off and bypass features, that met the customer’s requirements,” adds Bazoge. “Digital Projection’s regional sales manager Stéphane Bourdon was also with us every step of the way, helping to make the integration process and delivery a success. The client was delighted with the technical relevance and selection as well as with the final result.”

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