E/T/C Paris has created a new world record in large format video projection as part of the festivities for the 400th anniversary of the City of Quebec, which began on June 20th and runs until August 24th.
Le Moulin à Images (The Image Mill), is a spectacle of imagery and sound created by media innovator and artist Robert Lepage and his team at Ex Machina, recalling the history of Quebec City.
Each evening at sundown the grain silos on the banks of Louise Basin in the Port of Quebec will be transformed into an immense projection screen measuring 657 meters long and 33 meters high—some 40 million pixels.
E/T/C Paris installed a total of 27 Christie Roadster S+20K DLP™ video projectors for the project. Onlyview®, E/T/C’s multi-media control platform, handled the programming, transmission, and broadcasting of thousands of spectacular images, animations, and videos during the 40 minute show, plus synchronization of the soundtrack which is simulcast on local radio.
The collaboration between E/T/C Paris and Ex Machina began in 2006 when Lepage sought a technical partner to fulfil the requirements of his ambitious project. Initial onsite tests established the best technological approach for the project and how to optimize networking the projectors and control system. E/T/C was also able to demonstrate Onlyview®’s unique, highly dynamic capabilities to Ex Machina.
Lepage comments, “We chose E/T/C for their experience and expertise in giant image projection and for the flexibility and efficiency of their image management software, Onlyview®.”
Given the sheer size of the projection area—two thirds of a kilometer in length— E/T/C faced some significant logistical challenges. The projectors needed to be strategically placed to avoid any obstructions that would create shadows on the images. The buildings directly in front of the silos were primarily used as platforms for certain projectors while custom towers were built for the rest.
The average 33m height of the projection is normally too high to cover with a single device, which E/T/C overcame by placing the video projectors vertically (on their sides), thus maximizing their active DLP area and brightness.
Control issues included the main control room, containing the Onlyview® system of 1 master and 25 display computers, being located directly in front of the grain silos and thus too close up to see the entire projection surface.
So, to facilitate onsite programming modifications and final edits, a second control room was installed at the other side of the Port from where the full projection surface is viewable. In here, an additional Onlyview® master computer controls the complete Onlyview® system and soundtrack, plus the show’s DMX lighting console.
The video projectors are all linked together via TCP/IP and the video distribution is made by DVI via a fibre optic network. Over 1km of network cabling covers the distance between the projectors, and a staggering 8km of fibre optic cable runs from the projectors to the principal control room and all the way around the Port to the second control station.
Patrice Bouqueniaux, E/T/C Paris’ director of marketing comments, “It is a huge achievement to accomplish such an immense video projection without loss of quality, luminosity or synchronisation. E/T/C is proud to participate in such a ground-breaking event and of being offered the opportunity to collaborate with Ex Machina’s fantastic team.”