A view of earth from afar
Panasonic business creates hassle free laser projection solution for centrepiece at Oberhausen gasometer, Germany
In Germany's Ruhr region lies the landmark Oberhausen gasometer, a powerful symbol of the country's industrial heritage. Built in the 1920s, the tallest gasometer in Europe is now repurposed as a 7,000 metre squared exhibition space. The cavernous interior is home to events throughout the year, including concerts and theatre productions.
The museum's latest exhibition, 'Wunder der natur' celebrates the variety of natural life by showcasing the very best of international nature and wildlife photography. The exhibition has proved such a success, it has been extended for another year to the end of 2017.
First proposed by curator Peter Pachnicke, the exhibition contains around 150 large-format illustrations, from the likes of photojournalist Christian Ziegler and microphotographer Manfred Kage, alongside film sequences from BBC TV series and worldwide phenomenon Planet Earth.
"We received excellent support from Panasonic"
The highlight of the exhibit is a 25-metre globe suspended within the 100 metre high space, designed by Intermediate Engineering. Here, Panasonic PT-RZ670 laser projectors show off the Earth using breathtaking high-resolution satellite images, obtained thanks to a partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Using satellites positioned 36,000km above the Earth's atmosphere, timelapsed images show the impressive view changing from day to night, through the seasons. Visitors can also the see the formation of ice at the North Pole in winter, along with cloud and air movements.
The video sequence is made up of 1.5 million satellite pictures from a number of satellites, which were stitched together by the DLR into a seamless film.
12 laser projectors blanket the sphere with 27,648,000 projection-mapped pixels. A glass lift to the gasometer's roof provides an impressive panoramic view of the Earth, faithfully recreated using projection technology.
Intermediate Engineering began by constructing a smaller test rig on their own site, where they set up their monitoring computer systems and mapping software, before moving to the full size gasometer venue.
The DLR created the video sequences for each projector with use of a virtual camera rig, supplied by Intermediate Engineering. The cameras were pointed at the globe in a virtual gasometer, setting out the positions of each projector
The largely steel construction of the gasometer provided a challenging internal environment, with humidity as high as 95% and temperatures up to 44°c. Intermediate Engineering's remote control server monitored conditions to ensure continued uptime, but with technical support located five hours away, the company needed a product and support package they could rely on.
"Any company can have issues with products, but it is how you deal with the problems when they arise. They must be solved and they must be solved quickly", said Heiko Wandrey, founder and managing director at Intermediate Engineering.
"Good communication makes a difference in service. We received excellent support from Panasonic when we wanted someone to talk to and get advice from. Good equipment is what we expect from them."
Having taken out an extended service agreement, including a dedicated loan unit, it meant that when an issue did arise, expertise was on hand to advise and assist and ensure maximum possible uptime. Under the agreement, Intermediate Engineering is guaranteed to receive a replacement backup projector within 24 hours if an issue is raised before 12am.
"During the winter we experienced very low temperatures which was causing occasional projector startup problems. Panasonic dealt with this by supplying replacement units which had been upgraded to satisfy our requirements for low temperature startup and we're very happy with the results," said Heiko Wandrey.
The projection needed to be as faithful to nature as possible - "The colour reproduction must be second to none, warping must be fine, high brightness, mapping must be great. As the centrepiece of the exhibition, the bar was high," said Heiko Wandrey.
Superior quality, resilient projection
With a maintenance-free run time of 20,000 hours thanks to Panasonic's SOLID SHINE laser technology, the PT-RZ670 was up to the task. 6,500 lumens provide an impressive brightness level and the 360-degree flexible mounting options allowed such an unusual and eye-catching centrepiece to be pulled off.
The airtight, hermetically sealed case also ensures high picture quality even within the dusty, high traffic environment of the museum. Five selectable modes also ensure the best combination between brightness and fit-andforget longevity, allowing up to 87,600 hours of maintenance free operation on the most efficient, long-life mode.
Number of projectors: 12
Resolution of the virtual globe in pixels: 27,648,000
Number of brightness sensors for automatic calibration: 52
Height of gasometer in metres: 117.5
Diameter of gasometer in metres: 67.6
Maximum temperature inside the gasometer in degrees Celsius: 44
Maximum humidity inside the gasometer as percentage: 95.3%