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Optoma delivers 360° immersive learning at Chester Zoo

Pure AV has completed a 360° immersive installation at Chester Zoo, working alongside show systems programmer and consultant Dave Lascaut, and utilising Optoma EH503 projectors.

Eight EH503 Optoma 5,200 lumen, 1080p projectors employ powerful image blending tools, which creates a seamless image that wraps around the four walls of the Sumba School building. The building hosts a varied programme of educational activities, including workshops for local schools and colleges, curator-style talks and animated storytelling for younger audiences.

This projector was chosen due to its combination of zoom, lens shift and choice of five lenses including an off-axis short throw that could meet the exact requirements of the 360° projection. A quad surround system complements the images and completes the immersive experience. Dataton’s Watchout software manages the content and allows for live inputs from PowerPoint presentations, DVD players and Apple TV.

On surveying the space it was clear to Pure AV’s design team that micro-adjustment of the projectors’ position would be crucial in delivering a seamless image and therefore a bespoke Unicol bracket was selected. A rack containing the video servers, line drivers, control system and audio processing equipment to drive the system was built and configured by the Pure AV team off-site and delivered ready to go.

Martin King from Chester Zoo said: “The experience Pure AV brought to the project was instrumental in bringing together the vision with the reality of the building’s environment.”

Tony Crossley from Pure AV said: “Some adjustments to the original specification were made. For example, the original long DVI cables were replaced with HDBaseT twisted pair interfaces to ensure that there was no signal drop out, leading to a more reliable system.”

HDBaseT not only allows data to be sent over a much greater distance than HDMI but can also carry HD video, audio, Ethernet, power and control on a single cable. This significantly cuts down the number of cables needed for a typical installation.

The screen displays authentic 360° video content commissioned by the Zoo and captured in Sumatra, but at the press of a button can display independent presentation content on each of the individual wall spaces.

Ed Boyd, education officer at Chester Zoo, commented: “The 360° display allows us to create a real impact as students enter the space. The ability to display different content on the walls enables us to get participants up and on their feet and engaging with content in new and exciting ways.”

King added: “The Pure AV team had an important part to play in the delivery of Sumba School and thanks to their work and that of consultant Dave Lascaut, we have created a really impactful space that our education team and visitors can engage with and truly enjoy.”

He added: “We knew the integrator would be working to the tightest of margins – as little as an eighth of an inch out and a clean edge blend would not be possible. Having worked with Pure AV on projects in the past, I was confident that they would be able to deliver to the exacting requirements of the specification”.

The project was made possible through the support of a significant grant from the Wolfson Foundation.