The Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers has a 3D virtual reality lab designed by Immersion and illuminated by Christie
Presenting a life-size architectural project, or visiting places that no longer exist (one can’t help thinking of the famous Cluny Abbey, destroyed after the French Revolution) — such is the mission of LITE, the Light Immersive Transportable Environment, a portable virtual immersion unit developed for the Cluny Centre of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers ParisTech.
Following a call for tenders issued in April 2009 by Ensam, the development and integration of LITE was entrusted to a company called Immersion. A European company specializing in custom-made turnkey visual simulation and virtual reality solutions, Immersion naturally turned to Christie to provide the video projectors tasked with reproducing the immersive active 3D visual environment.
An integral part of the Gunzo project, the interdisciplinary platform for the understanding and development of the Cluny heritage, a joint project involving both Ensam and the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, LITE was installed and launched in November 2009. Its display system is based on two Christie Mirage HD6 projectors using two Stewart screens measuring 4 metres wide by 2.25 metres high, for a total projection area of 18 square metres.
In order to test various virtual reality applications, especially in the areas of industrial engineering and national heritage, a very high projection capability and the ability to understand very high volumes were required. A verticality was needed that traditional immersive systems could not provide. “In the LITE virtual immersion room, you can move around in a life-size virtual model of a building, like the great Cluny III church, destroyed at the end of the French Revolution,” said Christian Père, senior lecturer and Gunzo project head. “Walking around inside life-size versions of monuments that no longer exist with such amazing detail gives you a remarkable sense of immersion. The Immersion company was able to meet our specifications in terms of cost and deadline with this unit, which can be broken down and transported.”
“This installation was a first”, confides Gabriel Soubies, head of Pôle Projet at Immersion. “We wanted to limit risks by all means, but still make sure we got the essential elements for optimal output: strong light output, excellent colour fidelity, stereoscopics beyond reproach and maximum flexibility. Having already seen the excellent performance of the Christie Mirage products in previous installations, choosing the Mirage HD6 equipped with Christie Twist technology was quite natural for us. The security that that choice provided allowed us to focus our efforts on other less standard aspects of the installation.”
The first use of LITE technology, at the Cluny Centre of the Arts et Métiers ParisTech on 16 November 2009, made it possible to “see” the inside of the Cluny abbey church in full 3D. Considered one of the tools of their trade by the Gunzo project engineers and the members of the scientific committee, this portable immersion room will allow them in the future to work on a new 3D film which will be shown beginning summer 2010 as a part of the standard tour of the abbey. This will give visitors an idea of the immensity of the long-gone edifice, and allow them to admire the sculptures and reliefs that once decorated the great Cluny III church.
In addition to its use as a cultural and national heritage tool, Immersion’s LITE application and Christie’s projection system “prefigures the affordable virtual reality systems that we will see in the near future in a variety of companies in the areas of architecture, construction, urban planning, etc.” Christian Père noted. “Imagine an urban development project, in life-size 3D, that can be shown to the various players involved – politicians, urban planners, developers, architects, local residents, etc.”, he added.
With the ability to offer a rich audio and visual immersion experience for a wide variety of applications (industrial, training, cultural, artistic, etc.), the LITE portable virtual immersion room will also allow Ensam to showcase its virtual reality expertise at trade shows such as Imagina or events like Laval Virtual. The LITE system is unique, precisely matching the research and development needs of the project partners at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers.