Digital Projection has powered the Louis XV, Passions of a King exhibition at the Palace of Versailles, Paris. Devoted to Louis the Beloved, and celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the return of the Court to Versailles, the landmark exhibition runs between 15th October and 19th February, gathering nearly 400 works contributed by collections from all around the world – many of which have never been seen in public – shedding a new light on the complex individual behind the monarch.
The exhibition opens with a spectacular piece: the famous Passemant astronomical clock, an icon of the reign as well as of the personal passions of Louis XV. Following thorough restoration work sponsored by Rolex France, the clock welcomes visitors with related historical documents, drawings and archives projected on an imposing curved screen.
French event and content creation agency e’motion and technical service provider ETC (Entertainment Technology Center) joined forces to enhance the 18th Century clock with a video-mapped 270˚ curved projection powered by Digital Projection. One of the main requirements from Versailles was to make sure the integration blended perfectly with the exhibition, so visitors would naturally focus on the centrepiece, not the technology deployed in the room.
“This is the first time the Palace of Versailles has allowed a permanent, immersive exhibition inside the palace,” explained Stéphane Bazoge, project manager at ETC. “There were a number of requirements, including discretion, which was a must not only when looking at the end result, but also while setting up the exhibition. Our approach to this project was actually similar to a high-end retail one: disruptions during the integration phase had to be kept to a minimum, with the utmost respect to the environment, and with the ultimate goal of enhancing what the visitors would see and provide them with an unforgettable experience.
“This was also our first project with the client, who was looking for reliable and responsive technical service. I was lucky enough to carry out mappings on various chateaux of the Loire Valley, so I knew the importance of such a task. In a way, our biggest challenge was to be able to disregard the weight of this iconic historical site and focus on the client’s goals and requirements.”
ETC decided that Digital Projection’s E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were best suited for the installation. Three of these projectors are fitted on the ceiling of the exhibition structure, creating a seamless image on the 3.6m high by 7m wide wooden structure facing the entrance and whose curved shape envelops and highlights the royal clock in the middle of the room. Stéphane Bazoge added: “We worked with the Versailles internal workshops to ensure good stability on the wooden structure where the projectors are installed. We also used our expertise to make the right colour choices for perfect visual rendering, advised graphic designers on the visual project, and adapted some text effects to the structure.”
The three E-Vision Laser projectors used for the exhibition each deliver 10,500 lumens, while the 4K UHD resolution brings stunning detail. This means the visitors benefit from the content details projected around the astronomical clock without stealing the show. “We needed projectors powerful enough to compete against the natural light coming from the exhibition’s main entrance, as well as the spotlights on the clock, a set-up that is not dissimilar to a retail lighting environment,” added Bazoge. “This meant that the projectors had to strike the right amount of lighting output and resolution.”
The immersive content projected on the curved wall is managed and processed by ETC’s proprietary Onlyview show control and media server suite, which handles the necessary warping and blending. Content is delivered via a computer with a dedicated graphics card feeding the projectors via HDMI 4K to deliver the 3840×2160 pixel image. The E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were fitted with a specific 0.55:1 lens for the short projection distance of three meters.
“It was also essential to make the system easy as user friendly and as maintenance free as possible for the client. We delivered a turnkey solution with on, off and bypass features, that met the customer’s requirements,”said Bazoge. “Digital Projection’s regional sales manager Stéphane Bourdon was also with us every step of the way, helping to make the integration process and delivery a success. The client was delighted with the technical relevance and selection as well as with the final result.”
A level of satisfaction confirmed by the head of Versailles’ castle exhibitions department Silvia Roman who stated: “The work of ETC was carried out in accordance with the technical descriptions in the specifications; the entire project was carried out with great professionalism, rigour and respect for deadlines.”