Amazing AV installation blows up art with style

posted on Friday, 21st October 2016 by Geny Caloisi

Optoma  Pro AV  projectors 

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Carrières de Lumièress, an immersive multimedia art show in the south of France, uses Optoma projectors to entice its visitors to get closer to famous painters’ master pieces. Located at a former quarry inside the Regional National Park ‘Alpilles’ in Baux-de-Provence, the tourist attraction is open seven days a week for 10 hours a day, for 10 months a year. 

The disused quarry of ‘Carrières du Val d’Enfer’ became home of large scale audio visual displays and shows, since 1977, thanks to the research and creation of Joseph Svoboda, one of the most influential theatre set designers of the 20th century.

In 2011, Culturespaces was commissioned to take over the Carrières and renamed the site “Carrières de Lumières”. A series of audio visual shows, live shows, concerts and lectures themed around the History of Art are now being displayed through out the year in the Carrières de Lumières . The revamped space has attracted over 1.6 million visitors since opening. Last year it was dedicated to The Giants of the Renaissance: Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael; and currently there is a Marc Chagall exhibition.

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Produced by Culturespaces with the assistance of the Comité Marc Chagall, and created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi, this new audio-visual show offers audiences a remarkable opportunity to discover the impressive oeuvre of Marc Chagall, an artist of Russian origin who obtained French nationality in 1937. The paintings are projected.

The challenge on this project, was the creation of a seamless audio visual show, where the paintings could be projected onto the quarry’s ancient and uneven floors, ceilings and walls. It also needed to be able to run flawlessly and continuously for 10 hours a day for 10 month a year. Also the projectors needed to be resilient to the natural dust and humidity of the quarry. The scale of the underground space is huge (more than 16m high in places), so, once the projectors had been installed, having to changing projector lamps would be a real problem .

After researching the options, Culturespaces selected a range of Optoma projectors. The two companies had been working together since 2012, but now it was time to grow the project. Given Optoma’s reliability, colour performance, high brightness, and excellent price/quality ratio, Culturespace decided to invest on 60 projectors. A variety of projectors and lens were needed.  Long-throw lenses are used for images to reach the roof, while short-throw lenses are used to reach within the small nooks.

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Sebastien Chapuis, Technical Manager at Carrières de Lumières comments, “We specifically needed products that could project vertically, without overusing the lamp (the EX785, EW775, EH505 and W505 can do this). Another very useful feature is the ability to control the units via network, using almost all available protocols (Crestron, PJ-Link, etc). Optoma projectors have all kinds of useful features, and that’s what makes them so great.

“I particularly like the EH505 for its colour performance, high brightness, WUXGA resolution and excellent price/quality ratio. Our visitors also like our projections on the floor, for which we use the LED Laser ZW212ST projectors. The high contrast of these is impressive and the blacks very deep, I hope more of products of this kind are on the way.”

The show comprises of thousands of digitised images of works of art that are projected onto all the former quarry’s surfaces, moving to the rhythm of a musical soundtrack. Fully immersed in image and sound, visitors can enjoy a unique sensory experience as they explore the image-rich universes of major painters in the history of art.

Chapuis concludes, “Carrières de Lumières is a very special project – you can’t just do what you have in mind, you have to adapt to the venue. Installing a whole projection system within this former quarry, in a very humid and dusty environment, was a real challenge. Now that the project is up and running, we try to make it even better both artistically and technically, and we have to make sure everything goes smooth throughout the season.”

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Amongst the projectors installed was the Optoma ProScene EH7500 and WT1 lens – chosen for the project for its ability to produce a high-quality large image from a short throw distance. Also, its outstanding brightness (6,500 lumens) and clear imagery created through the WUXGA resolution.

A number of Optoma ProScene EH505’s were installed due to the projector’s wide lens shift range and off-axis short throw lens option; essential for projecting around obstacles formed by the irregular space. The EH505 includes 5,000-lumens, WUXGA resolution and powerful image blending tools that deliver spectacular image quality and outstanding brightness. The multiple lens options, zoom and focus adjustment ensured that installation was straightforward.

Over 30 Optoma LED+ ZW212ST projectors were installed in the former quarry; some in portrait mode to project onto the floor. The ZW212ST was the obvious choice for the audio visual show because of its outstanding flexibility both in terms of projection capabilities and installation. The LED+ technology also offers consistent brightness and colour performance, with minimal degradation. This means the ZW212ST will maintain its out-of-the-box image quality without the need for expensive lamp changes throughout its lifetime.

Additionally, a number of other Optoma projector models were installed, including the EX785, EW775, W505 and EW610ST. All Optoma projectors feature DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology, pioneered by Texas Instruments, which produces high quality images and ensures the projector does not suffer colour degradation over time, as sometimes experienced in other projector technologies.

Geny Caloisi

Geny Caloisi is an accomplished technology journalist who has worked in a variety of AV industry publications. 

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