Digital Projection Lights Up Historic French Château for Christmas

Manchester (UK), 15th December 2020 – Nestled 50km south east of Paris in Maincy, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is famous for its beautiful gardens dating back to the 17th century and its place as the largest private estate listed as a historical monument. For the last 15 years, the estate has hosted an incredible Christmas show, named “Vaux-le-Vicomte’s illuminations”, which sends guests on a festive exploration around the 100-acre grounds. In the previous two years, the estate has featured video mapping in its celebrations, and ends the event in an incredible projection on the front of the Château.

This year, the team behind the expansive illuminations, French integrator and rental stager BS Technology, chose to rely on Digital Projection’s M-Vision Laser 21000 WU for the projection mapping of Vaux-le-Vicomte’s façade.

“Digital Projection’s recent ground-breaking technologies, like the remote laser light source, are probably what put them on the map for us originally,” explained Eric L’Herminier, technical director and CEO of BS Technology. “We saw this as a good opportunity to work with them on this video-mapping project.”

The projection on the Baroque castle needed to run the entirety of the Christmas season, from the beginning of October until 3rd January 2021. The mapping was required to run every 30 minutes from 6pm – 8pm, meaning that the team needed to create an automated system that could run flawlessly without further direction.

The team settled on four M-Vision Laser 21000 WU projectors stacked in pairs, two on the side, covering the domed centre of the building, and the other two in covering the sections either side. The lenses for these projectors differed in throw ratio with two of them respectively fitted with Digital Projection 2.0 – 4.0 lenses and the two others fitted with 1.5 – 2.0 lenses.

Boasting 21,000 lumens and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, this lamp-free, laser-phosphor projector utilises Colorboost+Red Laser technology to bring the most realistic and saturated colours at previously unimaginable luminance levels. Such power and accuracy, combined with all-new intelligent colour processing brings the overall performance ever closer to that of a 3-Chip DLP projector, at a 1-Chip price point.

Fibre optic cabling was used to connect the projectors to the FOH towers with media server Modulo Pi, which manages the content (created by Alexis Gabirot, from Mageo Productions) for the projection mapping. The sound system, which consists of four Fohhn LX601, is also integrated in the towers facing the public.

The entire system is hidden under two oval aluminium towers situated on either side of the castle, camouflaged by vegetation with a hole for the image projection, making it both discreet and secure for the public.

“We needed to be discreet as well,” continued L’Herminier. “We couldn’t make it more than 3m high, as that could interfere with the public’s view of the projection, but it also needed to be large enough for the projectors and any cooling systems.

“The collaborations of the teams made sure we were able to keep to the tight deadline, which only allowed for one day and two nights for the mapping and installation,” continued L’Herminier. “Simon Gambiez, the main contact on site working beside us, assisted us with this collaboration and the technical elements.”

In normal conditions, the site would welcome 4,000-5,000 visitors every day, from schools to families. However, with current conditions, the castle has had to adapt to national Covid-19 guidelines, and after a second lockdown in October, was able to reopen its gardens and video-mapping show on 28th November, with plans currently in place to reopen the castle visits from 16th December.

“We had a really good relationship with Stéphane Bourdon from Digital Projection France throughout this project, who was also assisted by the Digital Projection team in the UK. We knew we could count on them if we needed them,” said L’Herminier. “The result has been a successful projection that met the end user’s requirements.”

Ascanio de Vogüé, managing director and co-owner (with his brothers Alexandre & Jean-Charles) of the Vaux-le-Vicomte, said: “AV, when done properly, is able to revitalise old, historic sites and breathe life into them for younger generations. We wanted to strike a balance between making the visit an enjoyable Christmas experience, whilst also honouring the history of the castle. I think that the projection on the Vaux-le-Vicomte achieves this, not only by highlighting the architecture of the monument, but also by honouring its culture and past. The castle was, when it was built, a place of art, and with this mapping, we are truly honouring its original purpose.”

Photo Credit: Eric L’Herminier

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