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Projecting exceptional images at Bangor University

Bangor University is a world-class research university with an international reputation for teaching and research. Based in an idyllic part of Wales

Bangor University is a world-class research university with an international reputation for teaching and research. Based in an idyllic part of Wales, it has a range of historic buildings on campus including the cathedral like PJ Hall.

Designed by well-known architect Henry Hare, PJ Hall is used for university events, concerts and lectures. The historic setting creates interesting challenges for the AV team as they seek to introduce and maintain leading edge technology in a way that is sympathetic to the building environment.

Says Paul Wood, deputy director, IT Services: “The projection system in PJ Hall needed to be replaced. Guest lecturers, professors and students use the projector to show a range of content including photography, examples of artists’ work, video and presentations. While the space – which is a long hall – is beautiful, it’s a challenging environment for a projector to work in. We invited the AV Specialists that completed the original installation, Pure AV, to help us find an upgrade solution that could cope with the space.”

With a number of large windows, PJ Hall is bathed in natural light – light that the projector would need to slice through. This was made more challenging by the distance that the projector has to cover. As the building is Grade 1 listed, its fabric cannot be changed. The planning constraints dictated that the projector could only be secured to the metalwork on the balcony at the rear of the hall. The balcony is 30 metres away from the projection screen.

The project had two components: sourcing the right projector and building a bespoke installation sympathetic to the environment. Paul Wood had already seen a number of projectors at ISE. The Pure AV team arranged for the university to view several potential models in more detail.

Mike Addis, sales manager, from Pure AV says: “Projector performance has advanced markedly in the last 18 months or so, especially in regards to brightness, and we were able to secure one of the first production units of Epson’s EB-Z10000 units – which projects in WUXGA quality – for the university to see.”

The EB-Z10000 installation projector offers a range of features that are ideal for the challenging space. These include ultra-bright 10,000 lumen performance, the option of using a long-throw lens, a water-cooling system that keeps operating noise to a minimum and an eye-catching contrast ratio.

“As far as Paul’s team were concerned, the EB-Z10000 was the clear winner from an image point of view. The university also uses Epson projectors throughout its campus and has been impressed with the service and support. This provided added confidence to go with the EB-Z10000,” comments Mike Addis, from Pure AV.

With the projector selected, Pure AV worked with the university’s IT team to build the installation. The existing bespoke bracket and platform, previously designed by Pure AV, could be used to house the projector. Keen to also maintain the previously designed lectern (which Pure had built with the same type of wood used in the Hall’s panelling); the new system was designed to incorporate user friendly controls on the removable lectern whilst hiding the core of the system under the stage.

The lectern includes a multi-pin connector in the base so it’s easy to disconnect and move the unit. The connector includes signalling for Mac and PC and a Blu-ray player with numerous digital and analogue feeds. A confidence display is also in place on the lectern for presenters to view what’s on the screen behind them. For the audio, line array speakers – set up to direct sound at different angles – are used to flood the hall with high quality sound.

PJ Hall is an attractive venue and the new projection system lives up to its surroundings. “Whether it’s video, images or text, the EB-Z10000 projects a stunning image,” observes Paul Wood. “The blacks are deep and the whites pure and there’s no colour bleed at all – the contrast is faultless. Even over the long distance, the performance is comparable to a cinema screen. A number of people who have used the projector have commented on the quality of the image.”

Another aspect of the project that Paul is keen to emphasise is the subtlety of the system. He says: “The projector is barely audible; few people notice that it’s there. And with Pure AV’s discreet installation, we’ve achieved our goal of putting an advanced projection system into this historic environment that only enhances and in no way detracts from that environment. We expect the system to be in use for at least the next five years.”

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