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Going for gold

Athens’ newly opened Olympic museum has been given the AV treatment with a projector and projection mapping spectacular for the history of the games. Rob Lane reports

Renowned as one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens has opened an Olympic museum, directly connected with the nearby Olympic Stadium of Athens. The museum will celebrate the city’s long history with the Olympic Games, sending its attendees through the ages until the present day, with rare, rich exhibits showcasing state of the art interactive audio and visual enhancements.

Realised by real estate company LAMDA Development S.A., the museum’s goal is to house the entire Olympic heritage of Greece while highlighting Athens as the Olympic capital.

Begun in August 2020 and finished in December of the same year, the project required 13 Epson EB-L1050U projectors, installed and calibrated throughout the exhibits.

Acoustics and AV designer, Technology & Acoustics, based in Greece, designed the complex AV system, with LAMDA Development S.A. supplying the digital media content, and Athens-based system integrator Omikron Electronics handling the engineering, supply and integration of the systems.

At the start of the visitor journey into the Athens Olympic Museum is a cylindrical room depicting the timeline of the modern Olympic Games until the present day. The exhibit, Prologue, recounts significant Olympic moments throughout history, through a symbolic 3D projection of an olive branch. The olive branch surrounds the entire room, and each leaf harbours a significant Olympic moments canvas, such as the first-time women participated in the games.

For the 360-degree projection mapping spanning 14m wide around the room, creating a canvas of a total pixel size of 8,240px x 1,200px, five of the Epson EB-L1050U projectors were installed in Prologue. Accompanying the 3D projection, the teams chose a 5.1 surround sound system delivered by Tannoy Gold 7 studio reference monitors, which provides directional sound on top of the music score which sets the ambiance in the room.

The projection required an edge blending and calibration system that was up to the task of this magnitude and complexity. Omikron Electronics chose VIOSO’s camera based auto alignment technology Anystation Anyblend, for calculating the established warp and blend data and hooking it natively to the multiple GPU outputs of VIOSO’s software to be used by any third-party software, for the exhibit. The Anystation Integrate Server is VIOSO’s state of the art answer to a multi-projector workstation capable of high-quality performance and reliability.

“The VIOSO camera calibration software and hardware was the easy answer for us as the software is unique in being able to utilise camera autocalibration for such a challenging application,” explains Vangelis Petridis, Omikron Electronics’ CTO. “The Prologue room required projection mapping on uneven surfaces, and the VIOSO Anystation Integrate, using the VIOSO Core in combination with the VIOSO Integrate software, provides the full turnkey solution.”

Other exhibits where high quality projection calibration and edge blending was required such as the Victories and Defeats, Athens 2004 and Olympic Stadium exhibits, feature a blend of VIOSO’s bespoke solutions: VIOSO’s Anyblend software provides a fully functional edge blended projection integrated in all Windows desktop applications; VIOSO Player provides easy playout for multiple projectors, and Anystation Nano provides a full turnkey solution with hardware and software combination. All three solutions were used in the Athens 2004 installation to maximise the experience for visitors.

The Victories and Defeats exhibit is harboured inside a circular room within the EPOS gallery, which exhibits the Olympic torches through the years and Olympian awards, medals, and memorabilia. The exhibit features video footage of the Olympic successes and failures by its athletes, delivered  by two Epson EB-L1495U projectors requiring “extreme” geometry adaptation due to the projection appearing on a 10.3m panadome. One VIOSO Anystation Nano handled the projection mapping, edge blending and synchronised playback of the video and the Tannoy Gold 7-delivered surround sound.

“We wanted to envelop visitors in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with this exhibit,” said Petridis. “One VIOSO Anystation Nano is more than capable of managing the entire exhibit without complications. The VIOSO Player provided an easy-to-use tool for the video playback, warping and blending, giving sufficient render power and a very user-friendly GUI.”

Three additional Epson EB-L610U projectors are installed in the Olympic Stadium exhibit, which explores the ancient Olympics and illustrates the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world to be made entirely out of marble. The exhibit features an 8m wide dual-sided Gerriets projection screen in the centre of the room, with VIOSO’s Core calibrating and the usage of Vioso Player edge blending the projection. For audio, eight flush mount Tannoy IW 6DS-WH loudspeakers were embedded inside the side masonry, powered by a Lab Gruppen CA-2402 commercial amplifier.

“The unobtrusive video mappings of the exhibit created with the technology of Epson and VIOSO, as well as the surround sound, blend in a subtle way with the surroundings, to immerse visitors in a different time and place, where the values of Olympism were setting the values for the rest of the known world,” said Petridis.

Raul Vandenberg, VIOSO’s sales director added:“The Olympics Museum is a testament to the work of the teams involved in the project. The Olympic Museum takes its visitors on a breath-taking journey throughout the first Olympic games to the modern era. t’s been our pleasure to support the installation with our VIOSO product line and to have a hand in paying homage to the legendary feats of past Olympians.”

The museum is currently open to the public, and follows all the necessary Covid precautions.