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Technology trends – outdoor projection

Tim Burnham, president of Tempest, discusses how projector enclosures protect investments in technology and open up new possibilities in outdoor projection.

The façade a building presents to the world may start with its architecture but with some AV creativity organisations are extending their brand stories further and wider. Consider the skyline at Vegas; it communicates a sense of extravagance before your plane even lands. Brand messages are communicated by buildings for all to see, for miles around. These statements have traditionally been achieved with lighting. Today, the more progressive venues, arenas, stadia, and even government buildings, are using outdoor projection to achieve their desired brand profiling. But what happens when it rains?

Designers, installers and video-mapping specialists are well placed to appreciate the complexities of optimising a projector installation – selecting the right projector, the most suitable lens, making the content and positioning the machines correctly for the best image throw. Until now, offering a fixed, permanent installation that protects the client’s investment from impact, theft, snow, wind, dust, ice and heat has been a puzzle.

By offering a projector enclosure, you can protect the smallest short throw projector, right through to a 40,000 ANSI lumen machine. It offers permanency – no more having to setup and breakdown with each use – and crucially, it offers protection. It protects a machine from the elements and protects your client’s investments in technology.

The real enemy of the projector is condensation. By heating a projector, simply by turning it on, then cooling it, ie turning it off, the mechanical components inside degrade from exposure to the resulting condensation. At Tempest we have developed our own Goldilocks system which ensures our enclosures are the ideal environment to house a projector – our porridge isn’t too hot, isn’t too cold, it’s just right.

Our enclosures work by blowing forced air rapidly across the projector when the enclosure senses that the lamp is on, and monitoring temperature and humidity when it is not to ensure the projector is always in a “Goldilocks state”. This is how we prevent condensation, by elevating the temperature inside the enclosure when the temperature and humidity trends are pointing to a condensation risk.

If your clients are considering investing in a projector installation then the enclosure represents a sensible option for protecting that investment, after all, you don’t want to ‘spoil the ship for ha’porth of tar’.

Beat the odds

In 2012, Montreal-based integrator Solotech (of Cirque du Soleil pedigree) teamed up with content provider, The Moment Factory, to make a video-mapping film for the famous Boardwalk Casino in Atlantic City. Atlantic City’s business had declined through competition from Las Vegas and Native American Casinos and it was decided the Boardwalk needed a revamp.

Twelve Christie Roadster 20k projectors – eight in landscape and four in portrait configuration, housed in Tempest Cyclone enclosures – were sourced.

Then the problems began. As dense salt fog rolls in from the Atlantic, everything it touches is covered with a film of salt water. This was getting into the projectors and ballasts were beginning to fail. Within a month, Tempest engineers had developed and installed a salt fog filtration system that completely resolved the situation. Now, all Tempest projector enclosures feature this filtration as standard.

The show was saved and the team celebrated. Then Atlantic City received an unwelcome visitor in Hurricane Sandy. The enclosures, and the projectors inside them, came through the hurricane totally unscathed and full-functioning.