On 12th July, 2011, at the Palais Omnisport de Bercy (POPB) in Paris, a crowd of some 8000 cinemagoers attended the French 3D Premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Warner Bros). The ultimate struggle between the forces of good and evil was officiated by Christie and its partner, 2Avi.
Anticipated for months by hordes of fans, the French premiere of the last installment of the Harry Potter saga could only be a major event for the public, but also for the technical service providers who, in close collaboration with Warner Bros. technical services, had to implement the record-breaking digital 3D cinema projection.
More than just a challenge, this project involved transforming an arena usually used for concerts and indoor sporting events into a gargantuan outdoor cinema equipped with a giant display and, for the first time, 5.1 surround sound. And there was just one goal: To provide an unforgettable experience under extraordinary visual conditions. "Our goal was to make the audience feel that they were participating in a historic event," noted Olivier Snanoudj, Vice President of Warner Bros. France.
Given the scale of the event, and the large number of spectators counting on a 3D experience, the organisers opted for a 3D system using passive glasses. This choice was bolstered by logistical concerns: "We had a hard time getting back over 8000 pairs of glasses at the end of the film," said Pascal Vinial, President and CEO of 2Avi, a company specialising in large-screen 3D cinema projection. "The glasses were round, like the ones worn by the film’s hero, and were specially made for the event – they had the Harry Potter logo on their stems. The glasses were a kind of bonus for attending the event, worth hanging onto by the audience."
Designed for passive 3D projection and produced exclusively for the Harry Potter event by Demospec, the “silver screen” was delivered to the venue by a special convoy in the form of a roll 13 metres high. It was then stretched out on the ground on a metal frame, which was later installed at a distance of 89 metres from the projection booth. The final dimensions of the display were 29.79 metres wide and 12.33 metres high.
The projection booth was built during the night before the big show and ruled over the venue like a throne, covering some 24 square metres (8m x 3m). Soundproofed and equipped with 12 kilowatts of air-conditioning, it housed the technicians and sheltered the six Christie Solaria™ CP2230 projectors provided and configured by 2Avi and two Doremi servers, among other equipment. "In light of the projection area and the distance to the display, we chose to use the most reliable and the brightest digital cinema projectors on the market," said Pascal Vinial. "So we used two stacks of three Christie CP2230s, each outfitted with 6-kilowatt lamps and outputting a brightness of 32,000 lumens. Each cluster of three projectors shot an image polarized with MasterImage filters, each intended for one eye of every viewer.” With Brilliant3D™ technology built in, the Christie CP2230 is the brightest digital cinema projector in the Solaria range and is suitable for screens 30 meters wide.
As a recognised expert specialising in just this sort of high-end 3D configuration, 2Avi was able to deliver for this Premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two an exceptionally bright image, well beyond DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) recommendations, on one hand and, on the other hand, to secure the event through a redundant distribution architecture with two Doremi servers and six Christie CP2230 DLP Cinema 2K projectors. "For 3D projection, the DCI recommends a brightness of 4.5 fL (foot-lamberts) measured behind the viewer’s glasses. At this event, we measured 10 fL, and we would still have remained above the DCI recommendation with only two stacks of two Christie CP2230s," concludes Pascal Vinial.
A seminal cinematic event for the summer of 2011, the French 3D premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two is now listed in the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records. The screening now holds the world record for the largest-ever 3D film projection (29.79 m x 12.33 m). "We are proud to have helped make this world record possible with our range of Christie Solaria digital cinema projectors," said Christie’s Regional Director, Pascal Gervais, as the event was ongoing. "To be chosen by our partner, the big-format 3D projection specialist 2Avi, and by Warner Bros, just confirms Christie’s technological lead, and its position as world front-runner in digital cinema."