Sightings: NHL Team Floods Ice With Digital Projections

April 19, 2012 by Dave Haynes

The National Hockey League playoffs are in full flight and the boys are beating the living hell out of each other, seemingly even more so than normal. Canada’s big hope for bringing the Stanley Cup trophy back to the cradle of hockey is the team from Vancouver, though there is a 50:50 chance the team will be bounced in round one this weekend by the lower-seeded team from L.A.

I mention this because the InfoComm email blast this morning referenced the Vancouver Canucks and its impressive use of projection technology before games. I am not a particularly big hockey fan (I have been allowed to retain my passport, however), so it was news to me – particularly that it has been in use since the season opened last fall.

The InfoComm story reports:

Already well-respected as the official ice hockey venue during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Canucks brand and creative team wanted to set a new, and largely unchartered, direction for the venue. Led by creative director Mark Raham, the Canucks contacted Epic Production Technologies to discuss large-scale imagery solutions for the venue. Given the numerous installation details to consider, as well as the large surface area that needed to be illuminated, Larry Darling, VP of Sales for Epic Production Technologies, suggested Digital Projection International’s (DPI) high-brightness projectors.

After initially selecting lower lumen displays, four 30,000 lumen Lightning 45 sx+ displays were eventually chosen. The Canucks couldn’t be more pleased, as Raham remarked, “We’re so glad we went with the higher lumen displays because they have so much visual punch. We’re discovering new ways to use them every time we work with them.” The Lightning displays are used in conjunction with Hippotizer servers and a Datapath X4 processor to project a blended and mapped 200-by-80-foot image on the ice. To add dimension and scale, the ice projections are complemented by four hanging scrims, reaching four storeys in height, creating a vertical projection surface above each corner of the ice surface.

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In order for the projected imagery to fit within the frame of the rink, the projectors needed to be installed above the ice, as close to each center half of the ice as possible. This presented a challenge, however, as the Lightning displays also had to be installed low enough to shoot under a massive clock. Furthermore, the projectors had to dodge lighting trusses, banners and other suspended accessories. It was decided that the Lightning displays would be installed 90 feet above the ice, enlisting the integrated pitch, roll and yaw adjustments found in DPI’s RapidRig rigging frames. The expanded lens shift capabilities inherent in the Lightning platform continue to aid the team in precisely mapping their graphics to the ice surface.

With such powerful displays in their creative arsenal, the Canucks production team are regularly discovering new ways to, as Raham describes, “make the venue itself an all-encompassing, immersive experience.” To date, attendees will experience an approximately 10-12 minute custom-created pre-game ceremony, including imagery shown during national anthems. Additionally, at key moments in the game when action on the ice has paused, the displays reveal imagery mapped to specific surface details on the ice, such as boundary lines and logos. A massive light show occurs at the end of each intermission, enlisting the projectors to elevate the intensity level of the crowd with rock-concert styled effects. A final application includes the three stars presentation at the end of the game, with custom graphics accentuating the awards ceremony.

Photo from Digital Projection

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