The goal of Japan House Los Angeles is to promote an understanding and appreciation of Japan’s people and culture. A significant focus of its efforts is on showing various aspects of the country through exhibitions and programs, including the recent experiential installation BAKERU: Transforming Spirits. In order to effectively execute this immersive experience, Japan House Los Angeles needed to deploy state-of-the-art technology with multimedia and artistic elements, which it did in partnership with multidisciplinary creative studio WOW, AV integrator ClearTech Media, and Panasonic.
Watch the video below to learn more about the installation.
Panasonic’s mission of “A Better Life, A Better World” aligned with Japan House Los Angeles’ global mission of fostering appreciation for Japan around the world. Together, and in collaboration with WOW and ClearTech Media, an immersive environment was created where guests can transform into projected characters and participate in several festival scenes known in the Tohoku region of Japan. Panasonic’s PT-RZ870 Series projectors and ET-DLE085 and ET-DLE035 lenses transformed part of the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex in Los Angeles into a place where visitors can experience and be immersed into Japanese culture without having to board an airplane.
BAKERU: Transforming Spirits quickly became one of the most popular exhibits hosted by Japan House Los Angeles, and as a result, the exhibition timeframe was extended to Oct. 20. With cutting-edge projection technology, support, and innovation from Panasonic’s team and its solutions, Japan House Los Angeles is successfully driving an intellectual exchange between Japan and the rest of the world.
Tradition, New Expression, and New Technology
Conceived by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017, Japan House is an innovative worldwide project with hubs in London, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The project aims to foster international awareness and appreciation of Japan by creating experiences that highlight all regions and various aspects of Japanese culture. From high culture to subcultures, and from the traditional to the cutting-edge, Japan House takes a creative approach in sharing its evolving culture through its facilities and through diverse programs aimed to provide a new sense of discovery for both those familiar and those encountering Japanese culture for the first time.
“BAKERU is unique in that it features traditional folk tradition of Japan, and at the same time presents Japan’s high technology and top-notch media art,” said Yuko Kaifu, president of Japan House Los Angeles. “Because of the interactive nature of the exhibition, people can have fun and also learn about the folklore tradition at the same time.”
Japanese creative art and design studio WOW devised the BAKERU: Transforming Spirits exhibition. According to press materials, the idea for BAKERU began at a symposium for the members of WOW’s Sendai branch after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. “During a discussion about how to express what the people of the Tohoku region needed to do at the time, the keyword ‘Tohoku’ was brought up, as though it was almost inevitable. The members wondered if it would be possible to create a work that expresses the region’s history and culture through different angles using our modern sensibility. The idea for BAKERU was born from these sentiments.”
WOW created four large projections that activate contemporary technology to enhance the understanding of traditional Japanese culture, and specifically the traditional performing arts of the Tohoku region of Japan, for BAKERU. Using Microsoft Kinect and its dynamic aggregating sensor, movements are captured in real time as participants transform into projected scenes.
“One of the important components of this installation is the sense of immersion,” said Kaoru Kudo, visual art director at WOW. “The Panasonic projectors play the most crucial role, which is to send images of the visitors without delay—beautifully and consistently—throughout a long exhibition period.”
The Promise of Projection
In completing the technological integration and installation of BAKERU, Panasonic partnered with ClearTech Media, a firm that specializes in delivering collaborative technology solutions for today’s active learning and workplace environments. ClearTech is no stranger to Panasonic’s projection technology—the company has worked on other projects with the same Panasonic model in another part of Japan House’s Los Angeles space. “Panasonic is our go-to technology company for projection. With over 20 years of experience in the integration field, I find that Panasonic products usually suit everyone’s needs,” said Joe Perez, chief technology officer at ClearTech. “Especially in entertainment, I have always found Panasonic to be reliable, ahead of technological trends, and flexible in use.”
Given that the exhibit took place for long hours over multiple months, it was important to deploy projectors that could maintain high image quality with stable, consistent, low-maintenance performance. The PT-RZ870 projector was the clear choice. The PT-RZ870 paired with ET-DLE085 and ET-DLE035 lenses make it possible to vary the projection distance by changing the focal distance. Specifically, the ET-DLE035 lenses, which enable large-screen projection from a short distance, create images that are about 15x11 feet high onto a long white wall. The main projectors displaying content created by WOW.
Max Brown, account manager at ClearTech, has also worked with Panasonic for years. He explained that his previous experience and trust in its products led to the decision to deploy Panasonic projectors at BAKERU. “Panasonic is a trusted manufacturer for ClearTech. Its projectors have excellent short-throw distance and zero-distortion lens options,” said Brown. He highlighted how Panasonic was the first company to “change the game with laser projectors,” and added, “Having the widest range of laser projectors available makes leading with Panasonic a simple decision.”
From conception to opening day, Panasonic’s involvement in BAKERU was critical in ensuring that the exhibit would be a success. “The Panasonic projectors provide the best quality of screen projection, which is an indispensable component in executing our BAKERU exhibition,” concluded Kaifu.