Exhibition: "Wars belong in museums"

Epson projectors in Vienna's Museum of Military History

Exhibition:

One of the toughest challenges for a projector is displaying film and photographic material from around 100 years ago. Epson 3LCD technology ensures that these black-and-white images are all presented in a way that is easy on the eye.

One of the duties of museums is to preserve, categorise and exhibit significant or typical objects from the past. Because of this, informative, important exhibitions should not only focus on the highlights of humanity's past, but also look at its catastrophes. In order to preserve the memory of one of these catastrophes in an appropriate way, the Military History Museum in Vienna has opened a permanent exhibition on the subject of the First World War – exactly 100 years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The museum took on the important task of commemorating this period of European history in a sensitive, but powerful way. Three EB-G6900WU projectors present documents from the time, such as films and photographs. To give the exhibits enough space, the floors of the room were lowered by nearly two metres. This allowed a suspended ceiling to be installed, thus enlarging the exhibition space by almost 1,400 m². There are now around 2,000 objects from this period available for visitors to look at in two galleries – from the original car that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in, to authentic weapons, uniforms, paintings, medals and decorations.

Projecting 100 year old films and photographs

Another focus of the exhibition is the presentation of authentic films and photographs onto the museum's walls, which are decorated with appropriate images. Three EB-G6900WU projectors, equipped with special short-distance lenses, were chosen for this task. These projectors show sequences lasting around 10 minutes, which were filmed at the time by reporters and soldiers themselves in the various theatres of war. Modern film technology helped to remove serious faults from the material, digitise it and then convert it into a suitable format for projection. Because these 100-year-old films and photographs are all in black and white, the Epson projectors with their 3LCD technology possess a decisive advantage over many DLP projectors. The 3LCD projectors excel at producing smooth playback of black-and-white images that is easy on the eye. "It was very important to us when we were setting up the exhibition, to meet the architect and curator's requirements for the projections precisely," explains Romeo Schmuck, the museum's technical manager. "The projection walls have been decorated with motifs from the period and the projections have to fit exactly between the motifs in the specified rooms. In addition, of course, the projectors couldn't be placed in the field of view of the exhibits. So they not only had to be installed very close to the wall, they also had to be a long way outside the projection centre."

Challenging demands on the projectors

"Such huge keystone and lens-shift angles are only possible at all with a very small number of devices," explains Patrick Postl, CEO of postlAV, the company contracted to install the projections. "And even the Epson projectors' wide range didn't quite suffice in this case. That's why we had to distort the film material prior to projection so that the images appear geometrically correctly on the walls." All three planned projections were set up and simulated under a reproduction of the final conditions before being installed in the museum. To do so, the target image diagonal of around 3 metres had to be taken into account as well as the projection angle and distance from the wall. The necessary prior distortion (warping) of the files was calculated on the basis of these parameters and applied to the digitised film and photographic material.

The projectors are controlled by a media server via an HDBaseT cable. "The WUXGA resolution, combined with the HDBaseT connection, was another important point when choosing the projectors," continues Mr Schmuck, "and our experience also gives us confidence in the reliability of the Epson devices. For example, we recently had two G5450WUs in use at our offices for a UN exhibition and they never let us down, despite difficult midsummer conditions." The Epson projectors will be running for around eight hours a day, seven days a week in the "Wars belong in museums" exhibition. "I only have good things to say about Epson's projectors. They work faultlessly and deliver a smooth, bright image. If I could make one suggestion for improvement it would be that the housing colour should be customisable, so that they could be made even less conspicuous in the exhibition," concludes Mr Schmuck.

Specialist dealer:

postlAV

Adlergasse 8-10

A-2512 Tribuswinkel, Austria

www.postlav.com

Further information on the "World War I" exhibition

Curator:         Dr M. Christian Ortner / Director of the Museum of Military History / Institute of Military History

Architect:       Mr Checo Sterneck

Graphic design:         Thomas Reinagl