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Christie Roadster projector in Europe’s first permanent outdoor pixel mapping

Paddy Baker 17 June 2013
Christie Roadster projector in Europe’s first permanent outdoor pixel mapping

What is believed to be Europe’s first-ever permanent outdoor pixel mapping project has been staged at Breda Castle, close to the eastern border of Hungary. Developing the small 19th-centry castle into a new tourist attraction is at the heart of the owners’ plans to save the building.

The castle façade has been mapped in a series of stunning animated tableaux using Christie projection – the result of a collaboration between owners the Megyeri family and Informax Ltd, working with Bordos.ArtWorks and Invited Artists (run by Budapest-based 3D artist László Zsolt Bordos) and András Schmid (of Christie technical partner DNN|360).

From 15 June onwards, a video mapping show is projected every day, every hour after dark, using the 3kW xenon light engine of a Christie Roadster HD18K (18,000 ANSI lumens) projector, equipped with 1.8-2.6:1 HD zoom lens.

With his background as an underground VJ, Bordos had created the first high-resolution 3D animations for indoor and outdoor projections in Hungary. Already familiar with Christie’s advanced technology after taking part in the ‘Paint Up!’ architectural video mapping challenge in 2010, Bordos and artistic partner Ivó Kovács projected a huge resolution 3D animation onto a 60m x 23m surface using high-powered Christie Roadsters.

The family first raised the idea of an exterior projection in 2009 after seeing Bordos.ArtWorks and Invited Artists on the TV news. In the winter of that year Bordos contacted András Schmid about the idea. “Breda Castle seemed like a great project to work on, and it has become the start of a great friendship,” said Bordos. “It is always a major task to create unique video content – but fortunately we were given plenty of time for the creative process.”

He added: “This environment was perfect due to the total darkness – no city lights, no light pollution – a place where black is black, so you really can make some parts of the building ‘disappear’”.

The investor commissioned a fully air-conditioned, weatherproof brick cube to house the equipment – inspired by an industrial artist. He recommended the Christie Roadster HD18K as the parameters would allow them to execute the task with just a single projector. “The Roadster has many system integration as well as operational advantages,” said Schmid. “It met the criteria for high brightness, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and reliable operation in extreme environmental conditions.”

The production uses AV Stumpfl Wings Platinum 4 playout and show control software with custom-built PC hardware. “In this case exhibitors can manage more complex shows than a normal play-out session,” he said. “The remote management function was essential, since the distance between site and our HQ [in Budapest] is more than 270km.”

Digital video signal distribution is based on Lightware products, while audio distribution uses Yamaha, Community and QSC products. All equipment was supplied by DNN|360.

The accompanying soundtrack was written by famous Hungarian composer Imre Czomba. “After establishing the main ideas of the storyboard, Mr Czomba showed me many variations until we eventually made our final selection,” said Bordos. “The music was recorded using real instruments, and the quality of the music fits perfectly with the animation.”

The Megyeri family, Bordos and Schmid can reflect on a groundbreaking work in which they managed to overcome numerous obstacles.

For Bordos, the main challenge was commencing work on the animations while the building was still undergoing renovation. “Although we had precise measurements and had carried out tests, we were nervous until the last moment,” he said. “It was an indescribable moment when we saw the animations fit perfectly when projected onto the building for the first time.”

Schmid added: “We had no previous experience of this type of video mapping as this is the very first permanent outdoor implementation in Europe. In fact, when we started to plan our project, there was no permanently operating system anywhere in the world.

“Defining the correct brightness and the most suitable sound system needed careful planning, as in spite of the brick cube, this is an outdoor event-critical installation. Fortunately we were able to put our wide experience gained in the areas of digital cinema and rental installations to good use.”

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