HOUSTON, Texas – The University of Houston recently updated the projection mapping content for its basketball team, the Houston Cougars, creating a dramatic, on-court pre-game show at the Fertitta Center. The bright, 3D graphics were created by Quince Imaging, and enabled by a range of Christie® solutions installed by Quince, including 3DLP® projectors, Mystique™, a Pandoras Box® Server, and Terra®, an AV-over-IP system.
The University sought to refresh the on-court projection mapping content to align with both in-person and broadcast viewing, says Eric Gazzillo, Director of Innovation, Quince Imaging. "What's important now, during COVID, is being broadcast-centric, so we're using the displays and technology to fill the arena with content, designs and projection mapping. We use the technology in a way to make the arena feel full, if they're doing partial or limited seating, and to add some drama to the pregame broadcast that can be lacking if the arena is empty." The new content was designed by Quince's in-house art director, Zubair Parkar.
The projection mapping system, installed in the Fall of 2018, uses eight Christie Boxer® 4K30 3DLP® 30,000 lumen projectors, a Pandoras Box Server, Terra and Mystique. Says Gazzillo of the decision to install an all-Christie system in the arena: "Having a complete Christie solution allows us to simplify workflows. It's one of those things that we've really encouraged pre-COVID, and now during COVID, it has become even more important to have an integrated system of projectors, control and transmission that allows us to maintain it so much more efficiently remotely, when you can't have full staff on site."
The system is designed to ensure that the image remains bright and perfectly aligned with the combination of Christie 3DLP® projectors and Mystique. "We've used Boxer with Mystique for years in difficult logistical situations and challenging lighting, and it's really made things a lot easier in arenas," says Gazzillo. "As we install more projectors, Mystique is becoming really important to simplify projection mapping." Christie Mystique is an automated camera-based alignment and recalibration solution to quickly install, align, calibrate and maintain multi-projector arrays.
A Pandoras Box Server allows the user to composite and update the on-court content more easily and frequently, while Christie Terra delivers native, mathematically lossless 4K content across the court. "We're advocates of 4K, especially on our dual-sport solutions," says Gazzillo. Quince Imaging specializes in dual-sport systems, such as the system installed in Capital One Arena that serves both the Washington Capitals hockey team with on-ice projection mapping, and the Wizards with on-court mapping. "When you have folks sitting so close to the image and a projection display that big, 4K is critical. The way to deliver lossless 4K is the SDVoE solution."
During the initial installation of the system, rigging was a challenge in the arena. "We had lower ceilings and had to shoot at uncomfortable angles, but Mystique helped to solve the complex warping and blending challenges so we could provide a seamless, uniform image," says Gazzillo. And while the system had been out of use due to COVID, it came back online without issue, and the University is now using it regularly.
Says Gazzillo of the response by the University to the system and the new content, "At Quince, we live by the rule ‘always give customers more than they expect to get.' The best sign of customer satisfaction is watching our clients hit the ground running once our work is complete. University of Houston has been hard at work since implementation, reaching out only periodically for fresh content. That speaks volumes; our primary goal has always been to build trusting and enduring relationships with our clients. At the University of Houston, they know they can rely on us. We are in it for the long haul."