The Lume, Australia

The Lume Melbourne is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and a completely new breed of visitor attraction powered by Barco projection. Hurrairah bin Sohail discovers more.

Visitor attractions have come on leaps and bounds as the tastes of audiences have evolved. Grande Experiences is bringing something new to the table as Bruce Peterson, founder of Grande Experiences, details: “For the last 15 years, Grande Experiences, the creators of The Lume Melbourne, has been travelling and delivering arts and culture experiences around the world to over 18 million people in 150 odd cities. A permanent experience in our backyard seemed like the natural progression and so, The Lume Melbourne was born!”

Peterson goes on to explain the unique proposition of The Lume Melbourne: “We have been at the forefront of the movement from exhibitions to experiences and are once again in the midst of redefining experiences to meet the ever-changing expectations of new audiences with The Lume Melbourne. Much more than a simple exhibition space, The Lume Melbourne is not only Australia’s, but also the Southern Hemisphere’s first permanent digital art gallery that combines sights, sounds, tastes and aromas to give visitors a unique chance to adventure into the art itself.”

While The Lume Melbourne might be a multi-sensory experience, the spectacle is anchored around the visual medium. Craig Smith, head of technology and AV at Grande Experiences, says: “We have been touring multichannel projection environments in various sized footprints, all over the globe, for many years now and The Lume sites are really an innovative evolution of that. Our key principles revolve around a modular system design, that can scale up or down by location, while maintaining a digital canvas that lets our design team work unhindered. It’s really just harnessing the technology to deliver the experience. Ultimately, it starts with the initial projection plot, the channel count from this will drive everything from thermal load to the venue through to the size of the control room. The plot is based on maintaining consistent pixel size and brightness across the site – this becomes our unit of measure and the quality we design too. The technology then follows to deliver that.”

As Smith alludes, the requirements of the experience drive the selection of technology. Grande Experiences put out a call for technology solutions and conducted its own independent shootout to determine the best projector for the job. Smith details: “The shootout started with a shortlist based on general specification and a few technical considerations that at first glance seem like low priorities but when multiplied by 100-plus units start to hold more value. These are things like weight, heat and power draw. Then there are the big ticket must haves like projector type, light source, native resolution and brightness. From the shortlist comes the shootout and that’s where AB comparisons around image quality, colour reproduction and real-world performance comes in. That aspect is a little more subjective but there are performance differences from brand to brand that can make a real difference in our application. One example is performance when extreme lens shift is required and optical constancy across that shift.“

Barco’s G60-W10 10,000 lumens, WUXGA, DLP laser phosphor projectors were chosen as the flagship projector to be deployed at The Lume Melbourne based on the performance of the product through Grande Exhibition’s independent shootout.

But performance was not the only factor that fell in favour of the Barco projectors as Smith elaborates: “Laser projection is an interesting paradigm. Cost of entry is higher but ongoing costs are far lower. Maintenance is a lot more predictable and a ‘swap in, swap out’ model for any major services keeps the onsite scope of works limited. That all makes for accurate budgeting and forecasting. However like anything there is a trade-off and you need to select a laser solution based on how it will perform over the life of the light engine. This was something Barco was able to model and help us dial in a solution that will look consistent year after year.”

Additionally, service and support were given weight and Barco once again delivered. Smith says: “That [service & support] aspect is one of my biggest considerations and holds a lot weight in these types of applications. We wear many hats on these projects from content creator, to system designer, to integrator, to end user. That coupled with the fact that this isn’t your traditional use case means we are interacting with the hardware at many levels. As such we need a manufacturer that has a holistic approach to our needs and can support us at every level.”

Claudio Cardile, Managing Director ANZ, Barco, talks about how service & support is part of Barco’s DNA: “At Barco we are looking for true partnerships, and I think that was a big point of difference for us. And this is not just a local initiative but something that we work towards on a global scale.”

Rohesh Raju, Business Development Manager ANZ, Barco, explains how the core focus on service & support translated to tangible benefits for The Lume Melbourne: “We’re located in Port Melbourne, which is about a five minute drive to Grande Exhibition’s premises. That in itself demonstrated the level of long-term support that Barco could offer. We have a presence and warehousing in the same city, we have technicians and experts readily available and we carry spare parts as well as redundant or backup units. That should give any customer in Melbourne the confidence that Barco is ready to support them directly at a local level.”

Looking ahead, Peterson believes that The Lume Melbourne will serve as a signpost for things to come in the visitor attraction sector. He says: “For more than a decade, we have focused solely on refreshing the way art, science and culture is enjoyed by visitors around the world. We do not aim to replace original art experiences, rather, we’re about bringing arts and culture to a wider audience in a way that is accessible and resonates with them. As a result of Covid-19, creating safe and enjoyable experiences is more important than ever. Due to the sheer scale of The Lume Melbourne and our travelling experiences, visitors can naturally distance themselves from others in a non-touch environment, so they can continue to engage in shared experiences in a Covid-Safe space.”

Cardile agrees: “The digital transformation of traditional visitor attraction venues that we are seeing is exciting for us. We’re seeing these venues become more engaging and become places where you can go more than once because they can evolve and change. Right now, there is nothing like The Lume Melbourne in Australia. Conceptually it is a completely new offering because the content is not static, it is dynamic and that changes everything.”

Raju concludes: “The systems in most galleries are unable to match what The Lume Melbourne is offering. It is a true digital gallery which brings 360-degree immersion and 360-degree experience. This is achieved with Barco projection paired with immersive sound, choreographed movement, animation and creative vision which is all brought together in one seamless package delivering an unforgettable experience. The Lume Melbourne is going to be a game-changer.”

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