The Festival of Lights - Lyon 2016

Festival of Lights in Lyon attracts millions of spectators every year. With the help of Panasonic projectors, Urbanscreen staged an impressive light show at the Musée des Confluences during the event in December 2016.

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Client: Musée des Confluences / Fête des Lumières Lyon 2016

Location: Lyon/France

Product(s) supplied: PT-RZ31K


Projecting long-distances onto large angular, irregular surfaces.


Implementing seven high-performance PT-RZ31K laser projectors together with compatible interchangeable lenses and using integrated geometric correction in order to adapt the projections to the challenging shape of the building.

"The projectors were very quick and easy to set up. We were particularly impressed with the precise geometric correction of the Panasonic projectors."

The festival is held around the 8th of December when the inhabitants of Lyon celebrate the Virgin Mary, whose statue can be found at the Basilica de Fourvière overlooking the city. They place candles and lamps on their windowsills and balconies and parade through the city.

This tradition dates back as far as 1852. On the 8th of September, the city was preparing to celebrate the unveiling of the Virgin Mary statue in the chapel of the Basilica de Fourvière. Unfortunately, the ceremony had to be called off because the Saône river had burst its banks and the festivities were postponed until the 8th of December. However, on that date the weather was not on their side and a terrible storm raged through Lyon for the entire day, meaning that the celebrations had to be called off once again. Nevertheless, as the weather had improved by the evening, the inhabitants spontaneously lit up their homes with numerous candles and bonfires and celebrated nonetheless.

Since then, the ritual had been repeated every year, and the citizens of Lyon decorate their windows and balconies with thousands of little lights. As a result of this tradition, over the last 10 years the “Fête des Lumières” has evolved into a breathtaking urban event. For four days around the 8th of December, Lyon becomes a real hub of exquisite light shows. Performances and light shows exhibit unique designs that attract millions of spectators.

In 2015, the festival was cancelled due to terror alerts which meant that an extra-special event was planned for 2016.

Urbanscreen's light installation at the Musée des Confluences
The creative company Urbanscreen from Bremen was also invited to stage a light show in Lyon. Urbanscreen develops site-specific installations for public areas, including projections on buildings and media façade concepts. Urbanscreen has been in contact with the event organisers in Lyon for several years. In 2016, Urbanscreen's artists were given free rein to choose both the building and the theme for the artistic performance.

Urbanscreen chose the Musée des Confluences, a museum located right at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône rivers in Lyon, which first opened its doors in 2014. Influenced by the building's modern architecture, the company also chose “Crystal Cloud” as the theme for its installation.

The audio-visual performance on the museum's very unique façade showed off its sharp edges and angles with mathematical precision, transformed it and piecing it back together again. The various different aesthetic levels resulted in an amazing interplay between the bold architecture and the fleeting and transitory virtual imagery. Right at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône rivers, the installation became one with the building, showing the audience a different spectacle depending on where they were stood.

Technical and artistic challenges
The biggest challenge for the spectacular mapping installation projected onto the Musée des Confluences was the building itself. The museum's modern façade is extremely angular and full of protrusions which meant that it had several different projection fields with projection surfaces of varying sizes. The different-sized projections fields also required projectors with varying brightness levels.

As the installation for the Musée des Confluences had to be clearly visible from all sides, the scattered positioning of the spectators created another challenge. The sound that complemented the projection also had to be perfectly executed. 

“Chrystal Cloud” as the projection theme
View depicting the unique shape of the Musée des Confluences
Seven PT-RZ31K high-performance laser projectors each with 30,000 lm were used
Das futuristische Musée des Confluences in Lyon

The event organisers and Urbanscreen turned to LANG AG, a professional company that specialises in renting out and selling high-quality visual presentation devices and related equipment. LANG AG is an authorised Panasonic distributor and supplied several Panasonic PT-RZ31K projectors which it deemed to be the perfect fit for the event.

Three different projection fields were ultimately defined on the museum's façade for the installation: two larger surfaces, which accounted for 90% of the entire projection, and one smaller surface. Two, triplestacked PT-RZ31K projectors, beamed the images onto each of the two larger surfaces whilst one PT-RZ31K projector was used for the smaller surface.

Panasonic projectors for increased brightness
Panasonic projectors were chosen to meet the technical requirements for extreme brightness and resolutions. The PT-RZ31K is a laser phosphor projector boasting 30,000 lumens and SOLID SHINE technology, which is particularly well-suited to large events such as the Fête des Lumières. Thanks to the projectors' brightness, the number of projection fields could be reduced from ten to three, which made the overall installation considerably more straightforward.

It was also important for the event organisers to use projectors with laser technology as these require minimal colour matching. Laser projectors, such as the PT-RZ31K, are perfect for this and ensure exceptional colour reproduction.

The dual laser light source of the PT-RZ31K also enables continual projections: the redundant design ensures that even if one light source fails, the imagery will continue to be projected. This meant that the event organisers did not require a back-up model.

Six PT-RZ31K projectors with six ET-D75LE20 lenses and one PT-RZ31K projector with one ET-D75LE40 lens were used for the installation at the Musée des Confluences. A Pandoras Box Server was implemented as the feed source. A total of 210,000 lumens was projected on to the building's angular, irregular façade from a distance of 90 metres.

“The projectors were very quick and easy to set up,” says Majo Ussat from Urbanscreen. “We were particularly impressed with the precise geometric correction of Panasonic projectors.”

The PT-RZ31K projectors' warping was also impressive. The entire warping process was carried out by the projectors instead of the server, which was hugely beneficial in terms of the arrangement of the projectors (especially in the case of triple stacking). The high speed of the warping also saved a lot of time when the projectors were being set up.

“We're convinced that the rental sector will be using only laser technology in the next few years,” says Tobias Lang, CEO of LANG AG. “In view of this switch, at LANG AG we have conducted extensive product tests and evaluations relating to the technical aspects of RZ31K projectors and their alternatives. Due to the robust and very reliable laser design, outstanding image quality and compatibility with existing Panasonic lenses, the PT-RZ31K is the ideal choice for large events and building mapping.” 

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