Paris-based E\T\C Audiovisuel supplied 44 PIGI DDRA 6kW large format projectors with double rotating scrollers for a high-profile extravaganza celebrating the centenary of Jules Verne’s death. According to E\T\C, it was the largest number of PIGI projectors ever used on a single show to date and also involved nearly 2km of projected film artwork.

The event saw Paris’s giant Stade de France stadium transformed into a huge volcanic crater for the multimedia performance, based on Verne’s epic, Journey to The Center of the Earth. It featured live actors, inflatables, aerial performers, spectacular visual and sonic technology, plus fire effects by famed French pyrotechnics artists, Groupe F.

The center of the stadium, representing the earth’s core, was the main playing field covered with fabric, undulated via multiple fans and air blowers placed underneath. Lighting changed its appearance and properties to represent earth, fire, and water.

Projection was central to the 70-minute show. It was used as a key scene- and atmosphere-building tool, converting the sports stadium into a magical environment and a backdrop against which the story could unfold.

Rather than the conventional projection onto screens or flat surfaces, show director Stéphane Vérité required two seamless rings of images, both of which completely encircled the stadium and the audience. Surrounding the center of the stadium, the main running track and first tiers of seating made up the first complete projection circle. Going upwards in the stadium, the audience occupied the second seating tier, which was then framed at the top by a second circle of projection onto the third and highest seating tier behind the audience.

All 44 projectors, run as 22 cross-fading pairs, were positioned all around the top of the third tier, projecting directly across to their opposite sides of the venue and covering both upper and lower tiers. The images covered a total of 44,000 sq.m across both rings. Different lenses were used to handle the size and throw variations in the projection, including sixteen 5:1 and 28 7:1 HD lenses. The images were soft-edged together seamlessly.

The show’s performance elements were staged on four mobile stages that travelled around in front of the audience tier. These shifted position as the story progressed. It also included giant inflatable characters from the book and aerial performances.

The PIGI artwork, designed by Romain Sosso, visually represented the narrative with geological atmospheres such as flowing lava and molten rock, a giant mushroom forest, or a labyrinth of underground tunnels, and entailed an impressive total of 1.9km of film. Each machine’s double rotating scroller was loaded with two 25m film scrolls.

Ten E\T\C Audiovisuel technicians plus 10 local crew members, under the supervision of crew chief Patrick Matuszek, completed the load-in in two days. Christophe Aubry and David Baillot programmed the PIGIs using ETC’s OnlyCue control system and four PIGI engineers ran the shows (two each night over two nights in December).