Museums & science centers
How The Barbican future-proofed its 3DLP investment with Christie M Series, the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of projection
Bruce Stracy at The Barbican, London, faced some familiar AV challenges while working on a recent exhibition: How do you choose a projector that meets the exacting demands of a specific project, forthcoming installations, and future-proof the investment if demands change?
The artist was Jarman award-winner, Daria Martin, and her highly-personal film, Tonight the World, is based on the dream diaries of her grandmother, who was forced to flee her childhood home—a stunning modernist villa in the forests of Czechoslovakia—before World War II. The trauma never left her grandmother, and the memory of her childhood home became a recurring feature throughout an extensive collection of dream diaries, which Martin would later reinterpret.
The first issue? Color.
Stracy, Barbican’s AV technician, was tasked not only with choosing a projector to bring Martin’s exacting vision to life, but subsequent installations by world-leading digital artists.
“Don’t forget that artists understandably strive for nothing less than absolute perfection in display, have often worked for over a year on the project with a colorist, and are standing by you throughout the installation,” Stracy shares.
The first issue was color. “The artist wanted us to reproduce the exact tones we were seeing on the high-pixel-density display she had brought to the gallery,” he explained. “We chose to project on a curved wall, so had to warp the image down to the floor as well as position the projector as near as possible to minimize shadows on-screen.”
Capturing the shade of the sky at dusk
“The M Series is still the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of projection, which is why it really hasn’t changed a great deal since we launched it in 2009,” said Pal Roppa, senior technical support engineer at Christie who met with Stracy and Martin several times.
“We chose the HD version of the Christie M Series because it gives us the flexibility we need as every install is different,” says Stracy. “It handles color really well and we can change to different lenses. Complementary Christie Twist gave us the warping we required, together with the short throw lens we were using, plus several input card options.”
Martin’s 16mm film had been digitized and edited with a colorist. “It was obvious we needed 3DLP® projection since there were such vibrant colors. In particular, we all huddled around Daria’s display where she wanted to capture the shade of the sky at dusk,” says Stracy. “The projector gave us the strength of color to really capture the cinematic quality and richness of Daria’s imagery.”
Versatility and longevity through multiple options
Next up for the Barbican’s AV team? Overcoming 2 challenges: the problem of visitor’s heads getting in the way of the projector beam, and projecting onto a naturally curved wall.
An ultra short throw lens—so new, they were the first in the country to receive one—solves the first problem.
“The lens was absolutely huge, like a cartoon lens,” exclaims Stracy, “And we were very fortunate as it was a new addition to the projector. As the first in the UK, we got it just in time. I think they had it in another country out of pure curiosity to see the size of it.”
Christie Twist mapping and blending technology solved the second challenge of projecting onto a curved wall, and did so much more quickly than Stracy had expected.
“I watched over Pal’s shoulder as he demonstrated Christie Twist on his laptop. It was a godsend because of the challenges of projecting onto a curved surface. It only took around 15 minutes,” Stracy enthused.
“The complementary Christie Twist is often all people use—as we did here—but there’s a range of resolutions, input cards, lenses and add-ons that I’ve seen clients such as venues, corporates or rental stagers use if their needs change,” said Roppa of the M Series’ lasting versatility.
A partnership of technology and support
For Christie’s Roppa, helping overcome challenges the Barbican faces on so many world-class artworks is a genuine pleasure.
“We’re always there when they pick up the phone and need help. Some of their projects are difficult. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, so it’s great to have the opportunity to come in and reduce their research and development time,” says Roppa. “Plus it’s always better when you can put your heads together and work out between you how to crack a solution. We really enjoy it.”
Photos: Getty Images (8, 11, 12, 13)