No, it is not the first week of school, but the timing seemed better than September to write this note. I have just returned from a few days of vacation in Quebec City and naturally, couldn’t help but notice how AV was used in a number of tourist attractions. This is clearly not a comprehensive or representative survey, but a snapshot of what the average tourist will see. On the whole, I was not impressed.
Senior Analyst and Editor
for Insight Media
For example, in a tour of the Seminary, there was a multi-megapixel display in one lobby consisting of 3 blended projectors. The blend zone was terrible. It was so out of alignment you could see the separation between letters was about an inch. The overlap zone was also much brighter than the unblended zones creating a very non-uniform image. This was distracting.
In this same establishment, they had "virtual" guides telling us history of the early foundation of Quebec. These were simple projections of people on a black background. The black level was ok, but the resolution of the image was poor, so the docents looked very blurry and fuzzy. This was another opportunity lost to create a better visual experience.
The worst example was the "3D Quebec Experience." Not only was the content very lame, but also the implementation was downright poor. The 3D consisted of a dual stack projection system that was visually aligned and used linear polarizing filters and glasses. The 3D effect was horrible. Nearly every image had something wrong with it. The end result was a show that created a continual stream of eye-straining 3D. It was so bad, that others in the audience were also removing their glasses, as it was unwatchable. I don’t know all of the factors that contributed to this mishap, but nearly every frame had content that was way out in front of the screen, creating tremendous eyestrain. There were frame violations in the content that created more conflict and many shots were 2D photos that had been converted to 3D (poorly, I might add). Then, at one point, some plywood guns emerged from the side of the theater and LEDs lit up at the end of the barrels to indicate firing. "Finally some good 3D," said my lovely wife Linda. Unfortunately, she was right and boy did I feel like asking for my money back.
I did see some good AV. In particular, I saw the world’s largest projection display — the so-called "Image Mill." As shown in the photos, the screen is a long line of grain silos that dominate the waterfront in Quebec City harbor. This giant screen is 600 meters wide and 30 meters tall (the equivalent of 30 IMAX screens). The event debuted last year for the 400th anniversary of Quebec and is now being held as a permanent exhibit during the summer. It is in the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records.
Local and world-famous artist Robert Lepage, the founder of Ex Machina, and system integrator E/T/C Paris, created the content and staged the event. Two years in the making, the 45-minute multi-media show covers the full 400-year history of Quebec City including the early pioneers, battles with the English and Americans, road building, rail expansion, fires, bridge tragedies, building triumphs and more.
The set up consists of a series of projectors on towers that rise in front of the cylindrical silos and house the 27 Roadster S+20K projectors, provided by Christie Digital. This creates about a 40-million pixel pallet. The towers, trees, ship masts, windows on the silos and other distractions are visible, but tolerated because of the unique canvas this show provides. It was quite a sight.
To see videos of the creation and demonstration of the system, click below:
And by the way, Quebec is a beautiful historic city with lots of outdoor restaurants, attractions, river rides, music, street entertainment and more. It was a great vacation.