“Louis XV, Passions of a King”, Palace of Versailles

Project"Louis XV, Passions of a King", Palace of VersaillesLocationParis, FranceLighting Designere’motion, France InstallerETC OnlyviewSubmitted byDigital Projection

“Louis XV, Passions of a King” is the first major exhibition devoted to Louis the Beloved, celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the return of the Court to Versailles. The landmark display that ran between 15th October and 19th February at the Palace of Versailles gathered nearly 400 works contributed by collections from all around the world, many of which have never been seen in public, shedding new light on the complex individual behind the monarch.

The exhibition opens with a spectacular piece: the famous Passemant astronomical clock, an icon of the reign as well as of the personal passions of Louis XV. Following thorough restoration work sponsored by Rolex France, the clock welcomes visitors with related historical documents, drawings and archives projected on an imposing curved screen.

ETC and e’motion joined forces to enhance the palace’s 18th-century Passemant astronomical clock with a video-mapped 270˚ curved projection powered by Digital Projection.

The immersive content projected on the curved wall is managed and processed by ETC’s proprietary Onlyview show control and media server suite, which handles the necessary warping and blending. Content is delivered via a computer with a dedicated graphics card feeding the projectors via HDMI 4K to deliver the 3840 by 2160 pixel image. Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were fitted with a specific 0.55:1 lens for the short projection distance of three metres.

One of the main requirements from the Palace of Versailles was to make sure the integration blended perfectly with the “Louis XV, Passions of a King” exhibition, so visitors’ focus would be on the clock centrepiece rather than the technology deployed in the room.

Another was discretion, “which was a must not only when looking at the end result, but also while setting up the exhibition,” explained ETC project manager Stéphane Bazoge. ETC approached Versailles in a manner similar to a high-end retail project. Disruptions during the integration phase had to be kept to a minimum, out of respect for one of the most famous tourist attractions in France.

ETC decided that Digital Projection’s E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD projectors were best suited to deliver an impressive and reliable image for video mapping. Three projectors are fitted on the ceiling of the exhibition structure, creating a seamless image on the 3.6m-high by 7m-wide wooden structure facing the entrance, whose curved shape envelops and highlights the clock in the middle of the room. Bazoge explained that ETC needed projectors powerful enough to compete against the natural light coming from the exhibition entrance, as well as the spotlights on the clock, while the 4K UHD resolution allows visitors to view the projected content in stunning detail without the technology stealing the show.

“Louis XV, Passions of a King” was ETC’s first project with the Palace of Versailles. According to Bazoge, the biggest challenge for the integrator was to be able to overcome the pressure of working in such an iconic and popular historical site (Versailles receives nearly 10 million visitors annually) and focus on the brief and client’s requirements.

As a project of many firsts – including the first major exhibition devoted to Louis XV (‘the Beloved’), the first time the Passemant clock has been displayed since its renovation by Rolex France, and the only time Versailles has allowed a permanent, immersive exhibition inside the palace – there were high expectations for “Louis XV, Passions of a King”, which had to live up to visitors’ expectations of Versailles, a much-loved national landmark and Unesco world heritage site.

With the support of Digital Projection’s regional sales manager, Stéphane Bourdon, ETC and e’motion produced an exhibition fit for a king. While e’motion handled the video mapping, ETC worked with Versailles’s internal workshops to create a suitable structure for the projectors and used its expertise to make the right colour choices for visual rendering, advise graphic designers on the visuals, and adapt text effects to the structure.

Silvia Roman, Versailles’s head of exhibitions, was “delighted with the final result”, praising the partners for an installation which combined high-resolution, ultra-bright projection technology (10,500 lumens of brightness per TITAN projector) with the discretion and sympathy befitting of historic royal palace. “The entire project was carried out with great professionalism, rigour and respect for deadlines,” she concluded.