In our last blog, “So You Want to Do Projection Mapping!”, LUMA Projection Arts Festival co-founder, Tice Lerner, said, "When the Panasonic team came, they networked all the projectors together and used Panasonic software to align the grids with the projectors and the hardware versus the way we were doing it. It was faster and cleaner."
You heard that right. Engineering manager John Meehan was one of three Panasonic team members who were on hand to support and help set up the projectors at the 2019 LUMA Festival. "They brought in those tips and tricks and the things we didn't know how to do, which saved us an immense amount of time," Lerner said. Panasonic projectors are known for easy setup and intuitive navigation menus. “When you're in the dark with a bunch of projectors and you're trying to set them up on a timeline—there's never enough time,” Meehan said.
There’s always one building that makes projection mapping more challenging. At the 2019 LUMA Festival, Lerner explained, “We had a building that had 12 projectors on it, which is a lot of projectors, that in itself just makes it more complicated, but not necessarily harder. However, that building had two trees on each side blocking direct sight of the building.”
Ahead of the setup, Lerner sent photos of the building to Meehan to suggest a solution for the artist’s mapping, called Pandora's Box. “What they did was just beautiful,” Lerner said. “They made the columns move, which made the building’s architecture come alive.”
Meehan worked on a plan to angle two short-throw projectors around the trees to create a solution, so the trees did not cast a shadow on the building. “You have the theory, the model, the artistry, and then you have the boots on the ground actually trying to aim these things and get things set up,” he said. In the case of setting up projection-mapping situations, everything needs to be perfectly aligned and tested at night.
Everyone worked through the night into the early morning hours, Lerner explained. “And John Meehan was there working with us all night, right up to 7 in the morning.
"Everybody runs into something, but when you get 10-somethings, that builds up," Lerner continued. “Using Panasonic’s projectors and their team of experts gave us the opportunity not only to focus on the creative but also to finish setup ahead of schedule.” This gave the creative teams time to focus on what was important. "It comes back to the art form. It's about perfection. That means on opening night, we're not rushing to get the last touches on making it just work, so those last moments can be spent, again, lining up a brick or just fixing a minute little detail. We can focus on polishing an already exceptional exhibit," Lerner added.
A Team that Shines Through and Through
Panasonic's Themed Entertainment Group pulls out all the stops, from providing design expertise at the concept stage to boots on the ground to ensure the most complex projection projects are executed seamlessly. "We add a great deal of value to our integrators in the themed entertainment space," explained Joe Conover, strategic manager of Themed Entertainment Solutions at Panasonic North America. Whether it's a museum, a large venue, or an outdoor event, the team works hand-in-hand with its integrators and partners, which sometimes also includes the creative folks. "If an integrator brings forward a client and says, 'Hey, we would love to use Panasonic, but this is a little bit out of the box,' again, that's where we shine."
Collaboration and support come from the engineering and R&D teams in the U.S., along with the multitude of engineers in Japan.
"A valuable resource that Panasonic provides is technical expertise provided by our engineering teams during the design phase," Conover said. "Having us in those design conversations upfront help identify all aspects of the project." Too often, integrators might not be awarded a bid because they're not familiar enough with an overall process. "We are putting on a different hat to help integrators understand exactly what they're trying to accomplish," he added.
Panasonic's Themed Entertainment Group can guide the entire process from design to helping understand the content workflow.
"There's so much we offer," Conover explained, "from training to extended services, whether it be in the field, or remote service from multiple locations." The Panasonic team can develop the business model and demonstrate a return on investment. "This helps our integrators bring more value to the client," he said.
Conover said he believes it's critical for Panasonic to be there to support its integrators. "As a company, we’ll help develop partnerships and we'll help grow their business by utilizing Panasonic, not only our products but also our services as a solution," he concluded.