Medialon helps transform Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles2 October 2012
The Quartier des Spectacles is a roughly 1sqkm area in downtown Montreal. This area of the city had historically been filled with theatres and cabarets, but in the last 40 years, it had fallen into blight and become an unfavourable, and sometimes dangerous, area of the city. The Quartier des Spectacles Partnership was formed in 2003 to revitalize this once vibrant cultural heart of Montreal. Now, it is the home of not only theatres and cabarets, but restaurants, shopping centres, and many outdoor music and art festivals every year.
Eight main sites and many more to come have transformed buildings into canvases for architectural projection artwork. One of the rules of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership is that the artistic projects should only be used for public art, not for commercialism, so advertising and logos are not allowed as part of the building projections. Many businesses have joined in the fun and added architectural lighting elements of their own to really make the neighbourhood lively.
The projection installations are not all simply playback of rendered content. In some cases, interactive elements allow the public to interact with the projections, using game technology and sensors of various types to make the projections truly unique.
Each architectural projection installation has custom made projector housings sitting on rooftops of adjacent buildings that contain not only the high powered projectors but also the media servers, networking gear, show controllers, IP cameras, temperature and humidity sensors, and climate control (for heating, air conditioning, dehumidifying and so on) The projections run every night year round, so the equipment inside the projector housings must be in a climate-controlled environment for optimum performance. The local show controller (Medialon Showmaster ST) controls and supervises the equipment, schedules playback of shows, controls the temperature and humidity inside the projector housing, manages remote reboot of unresponsive devices, and sends e-mail alarms of any malfunctions , failures, or unusual humidity or temperature readings.
The larger buildings require multiple projector housings all linked together. These linked housings are managed by a single Medialon Showmaster ST, but each housing contains a local media server connected to the projectors in that housing.
The technical production team of Quartier des Spectacles has devised a standard set of equipment used in all of the projection installations. This allows for easier stocking of spare parts, easier maintenance, and faster installation of new sites or changes to shows at the permanent sites. Some of the installations are temporary and the equipment is only installed on a temporary basis, allowing flexibility to add new sites for special events.
The Showmasters at each site are connected to the main Quartier des Spectacles headquarters at the Place des Festivals by dedicated fibre optics, microwave radio transmission, or through a virtual private network on the Internet. The main system can control and monitor all the remote sites and even pull up camera views from each site’s IP cameras. The system can even be controlled and monitored remotely from system administrators’ iPhones.
The main installation at the heart of Quartier des Spectacles is the Place des Festivals. This square is where the many festivals take place in the Quartier. There are fountains and lights embedded into the sidewalk. In the summer, fountain and lighting shows accompany the adjacent building projections. The street lights can even be turned off by the show control system during the shows. Since all the systems are tied to the main control system, all sites can be coordinated and synchronized together.
Watch videos of Quartier des Spectacles here: