EXPO 2017: AV Active for the Kazakh pavilion
Proof of concept, equipment and control for Level 1 of The Sphere in Astana originate in Berlin
Berlin, 12.6.2017: On 9 June, EXPO 2017 opened in the Kazakh capital, Astana, with the thematic focus "Future Energy: Action for Global Sustainability“. The pavilion of the host country, Kazakhstan, is on the 3,300-square-metre Level 1 of "The Sphere", the focal point of the EXPO exhibition grounds in Astana.
The Sphere is an eight-storey, entirely spherical, glass structure with a diameter of 80 metres designed by Khuan Chew, who also designed the world-famous Burj Al Arab. On the first floor of the 26,000-square-metre building, visitors are guided on a tour of the history and culture of Kazakhstan, terminating with the technologies of the future currently implemented in the country and their impact on everyday life there. In the EXPO tradition, this is accomplished by means of a lavish array of high-tech media installations.
The Berlin experts in media technology AV Active GmbH, on behalf of BGL Audiovisual and ACCIONA Production and Design, were responsible for the media-technical planning, realization and overall control of Level 1 of The Sphere. The support of AV Active first enlisted in February 2017. The two companies have been realizing projects together for some time in order to ensure the seamless meshing of all trades in the highly demanding media technology segment.
Four high-tech media installations of immense complexity
The entire Level 1 is equipped with state-of-the-art media equipment. In additional to numerous ancillary areas, the level houses four major high-tech media installations. The Canopy installation – a tent in organic form – is inter alia the theatre of what has been dubbed the Shifting Landscapes installation, which involves the use of 13 projectors. The Canopy itself at the apex of the Shifting Landscapes installation and above the heads of the visitors is plied all round with images by 40 Panasonic PT-RZ970 projectors with various lenses (Panasonic ET DLE030, ET DLE085, ET DLE150) At the end of the tent is the so-called Golden Cup, comprising the continuous projection of an exhibit. Here, too, four Panasonic laser phosphor projectors supply the images. "Journey to the Horizon" is the theme of a projection implemented beneath a giant dome. This involves another nine projectors. Meanwhile the Fusion Projection Wall is a projection surface curved on two axes and plied with images by six projectors.
When asked which of the four structures was the most complicated to realize, AV Active CEO Benjamin Brostian were of one voice: "No doubt about it: Canopy and the integrated Shifting Landscapes area! This complexity arose from the fact that despite the disparate angles, structures and shapes, as much as possible of the projection area had to be covered. Furthermore the team from AV Active were severely limited in the positioning of the projectors due to the structure of the canopy itself, various static obstacles and at times, too, pre-existing planning with which they had to go along. Despite these constraints, a homogeneous light flow and near identical pixel dimensions had to be ensured.
"For this, we worked with ultra-short-throw lenses that projected the image via a deflecting mirror," says Brostian of the procedure. "Admittedly these lenses make setting up a projection more demanding, as blurring and a degree of distortion are prone to occur on the fringes, but they ensure a large image width from a small projection distance."
When AV Active joined the project at the beginning of 2017, the planning and design of the various elements on Level 1 of The Sphere had already been largely completed. The team was then faced with the difficult task of testing the feasibility and functionality of the various plans, anticipating difficulties and offering approaches to solutions, as well as accompanying the media production in an advisory capacity. The creation of the production templates, the revision of the 3D models and the so-called UV maps were prerequisites for the media production. It was necessary to focus and direct communication between all the trades and disciplines involved as well as synchronize all the data and planning statuses to ensure an overall structure capable of functioning. AV Active and also pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of the various production procedures being contemplated and participated in the decision-making process.
Development of an overall controller for all lighting and media-technical elements
"The framework conditions were determined by the client. We were responsible for the specialist planning, creation of the production templates, the media server side of the installation and programming, as well as for the final warping of all the projectors," is how Brostian summarizes the complex task. "Despite the ongoing shell construction, the four major structures of the level – Canopy, Journey to the Horizon, Golden Cup and Fusion Projection Wall – formed the focus of our work."
In addition, the experts from AV Active developed a central control system that controls and governs, in all, 59 projectors, 72 Samsung displays, 52 interactive PCs, 12 Pandoras Box Quad Player Pro, 1 Pandoras Box Dual Player Pro, 2 Pandoras Box Quad Server Pro, 1 Pandoras Box Dual Server Pro, 2 Pandoras Box Compact Player Dual and 2 Pandoras Box Compact Player Single devices as well as various lighting installations.. The controller affords remote access as well as the direct control, starting, stopping etc. of an installation.
"To arrive at this end result, our team reviewed initially all the furnished information such as CAD, cable and device plans and tested it for coherence," explains Benjamin Brostian "Our task then was to bring all those involved into line with the common planning status validated by us. The next task was the detailed planning of the individual structures within The Sphere. A preliminary inspection made the final proof of concept possible. Throughout the entire time, we controlled the timing and communication between representatives of all the various trades and disciplines to ensure that as this mammoth project with its numerous participants unfolded milestones could be reached on schedule."
EXPO 2017 runs until 10th September 2017. As is usually the case with world exhibitions, some of the pavilions will remain and be converted to other uses. One such, naturally, as the centrepiece of EXPO 2017, is The Sphere, which is destined before long to become one of the principle landmarks of Astana.
Main contractor: Sembol
Client: ACCIONA Producciones y Diseno
Partner: BGL, AV ACTIVE
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