Out of this world projection

Panasonic projectors used in 3D mapping show to celebrate opening of Durham University’s new physics building.

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The Ogden Centre, which is on the university’s Lower Mountjoy site, will house an international team of researchers investigating the cosmos.

The 3D mapping made use of six Panasonic PT-DW17K2 projectors to cloak the entire face of the building in light.

"this project is a tremendous example of what can result when science and culture combine"

Running six shows an hour over three nights, the show starts with the story of the 18th Century County Durham astronomer, mathematician and architect Thomas Wright, who was the first person to describe the shape of the Milky Way.

The projection is the result of a collaboration between artists and cosmologists - as well as artwork from The Projection Studio’s Ross Ashton and Karen Monid.  The eight minute show featured computer simulations of the Universe, created by the University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, with accompanying music by Isobel Waller-Bridge.

The projection show comes as part of a wider public outreach campaign the University has been running to celebrate the opening of the new centre, giving visitors the chance to learn more about the Universe through a number of activities as well as a series of talks. 

“I’ve done many different projects with Panasonic projectors and I always find them to be very resilient,” said Ross Ashton. “They do justice to the work we do in a way that’s always impressive because of the level of brightness and colour depth that they have.”

"We were shooting at very close range using wide angle lenses onto a complex deep 3D shape. The depth of focus of the lenses is always impressive. The result was fantastic, the colour accuracy and resolution meant we were able to achieve a stunning image across the face of the building.”  

The unique quad-lamp system means the PT-DW17K2 is able to pack 17,000 lumens of brightness in its highest power mode and yet maintain a compact form factor. With the ability for 360-degree mounting, the projector is well suited to the demands of live event and performance installations.

“I’ve done many different projects with Panasonic projectors and I always find them to be very resilient”

The multi-screen support system seamlessly joins screens with edge blending, colour matching, and digital image enlarging.

The projector has an operating temperature range of 0-40 °C  when used in portrait mode, this made it particularly suitable for extended projection across several cold evenings in the north east of England.

“I’ve used the DZ17K2 for numerous outdoor mapping events and I’m always amazed at how resilient they are to the elements. They’ve not let me down,” added Ross Ashton.  

Durham University is one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The Ogden Centre will house the Institute for Computational Cosmology, the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation.

The facility’s development came about thanks to a donation of £3.35m from the Ogden Trust, chaired by Durham physics alumnus and entrepreneur Sir Peter Ogden, alongside £1.5m from The Wolfson Foundation and a further £900,000 from a private benefactor.

Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham said: “The new building for The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics is a stunning architectural gem in our beautiful city. It’s an impressive base for the Institute and we’re looking forward to continuing our pioneering research work in our new home.”

Projection mapping is a type of live event that is growing in popularity. A 2015 Panasonic whitepaper created as a result of an industry survey showed that the market is experiencing accelerated growth.

A quarter of those surveyed had experienced growth in their projection mapping revenues of more than 50%, with almost half of those saying that their revenues had grown by more than 100%. Projection is increasingly becoming a preferred option over more traditional methods such as fireworks.

Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, said: “Durham is at the cutting edge of innovation on many levels and this project is a tremendous example of what can result when science and culture combine. It is exactly this enlightening mix of technology and academia that is helping to build our growing national and international reputation as a place of light.”


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