Reimagining the stories that need to be told

Written by Florence Antony, Panasonic Connect Europe

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Museums captivate when they bring history and culture to life in the imagination of their visitors. It’s these ‘magical’ moments that inspire us and the wonder of these experiences that make memories last. For instance, visitors to Barcelona were wowed by the vivid reimagining of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo over the last years and more recently the projection of renowned artists’ work, such as Van Gogh, in London’s Frameless exhibit.

As well as inspiring and attracting new audiences, enhancing the way history is retold also proves economically beneficial. In the UK, the arts and culture industry has grown £390million in a year and now contributes £10.8billion annually to the UK economy. According to research by the European Investment Fund, cultural tourism is estimated to account for up to 40% of European tourism. If you needed more convincing that this industry is always finding exciting ways to tap into this wealth of resource – there it is! 

History for a new generation

The way we learn is also evolving, so the way we communicate must adapt too. Traditionally museums have used static words and images and been more focused on information than visuals. Through video and immersive experiences, a whole new generation can experience the past in a fresh way. An intricate blend of sound, interaction and visuals are all key to success, so that these experiences still impart the impactful and honest messages they were built to relay. The latest generation of digital natives has grown to expect and appreciate outstanding AV experiences, so getting that blend right is imperative.

The recent opening of the reimagined D-Day Museum in France is a great example of how these elements can blend together seamlessly. The Museum is based at the geographical epicentre of the D-Day landings on Gold Beach – one of five focal point beaches during the landings on June 6th, 1944. It depicts the invasion and subsequent construction of one of two artificial ports, named Mulberry harbours. ‘Mulberry B’ was constructed at Arromanches to transport men, equipment, and supplies inland during the summer of 1944, circumnavigating the need to immediately capture the heavily fortified deep-water ports of Cherbourg and Le Havre. 

You can imagine the sheer scale of this logistical scene unfolding thanks to a variety of video projections, including an immersive video mural, video-mapping and virtual reality projections which bring these scenes to life.

So, what should museums consider in their AV technology if they want to attract the new generation and create lasting memories? 

Turning back the clocks

Exhibitions must look as life-like as possible to transport the audience to a different time. Distraction should be minimal, and projections must be of the highest quality imagery and brightness. The D-Day Museum takes advantage of Panasonic’s laser projectors for this job due to the minimal maintenance required to make these factors a reality. The 3LCD PT-MZ and 1-Chip DLP PT-RZ series are designed to deliver 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation with long-lasting brightness and colour uniformity, delivered via the state-of-the-art dust-resistant optical engine. Constant light output is guaranteed through adjustments to the projector brightness. Visitors are near projectors, so these can be set to 'QUIET' mode to ensure that viewers are not disturbed.

Many of our most valued museums weren’t built with immersive experiences in mind but this is one inevitable hurdle for installers to overcome. Installers need the most powerful/bright projectors in the most compact units possible to fit into awkward shaped buildings. Uniquely, visitors at the D-Day Museum can view a 10m x 3m panoramic image that depicts the events of the night of June 5 into June 6, 1944, as they cross an overpass. The projection distance is very short in this immersive space, leading integrator Auvisys to choose 1-Chip DLP PT-RZ790 laser projectors with ultra short-throw lenses

And as visitors queue to witness the virtual reality projection video mapping on a large 28m² model they are transported to the harbour through projection over a transparent holographic canvas, superimposed on the backdrop of the sea through the windows. Christophe Vallée, the integrator in charge of audiovisual installation at the D-Day Landings Museum, states "for the model projection, we used a PT-RZ990 with an ET-DLE020 ultra-wide-angle lens, which only Panasonic offers." This allows visitors to witness the artificial harbour being rebuilt in front of them to fully capture the moment in history. The use of semi-transparent fabric allows for an additional immersive layer of projection over a natural or historical background, to bring past events to life without the need for VR headsets nor disturbing the beauty of a site. 

Through the looking glass

Another important consideration for directors rejuvenating their exhibitions is the Instagram effect. In today’s world, being able to share your experience on social media is important for many visitors and a vital viral marketing tool for venues. As a result, projectors that provide good quality photos, without the moiré effect are a key consideration. 

Winston Churchill, central to the success of D-Day, famously said: “A nation that forgets its past has no future.” And it’s great to see modern AV technology helping to bring this important history to a whole new generation.

Panasonic projectors bring the historic images and landmark of the D-Day landings to life, accompanying visitors on an educational and enriching visual journey. 

Video mapping on a large 28m² model analyses post-D-Day operations from June 7 to June 11, 1944. A projection of the harbour onto a transparent holographic canvas, superimposed on the backdrop of the sea through the windows, visitors are welcome to witness the artificial harbour being rebuilt in front of them, to a soundtrack that perfectly reflects the era.

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