Modulo Kinetic at the cornerstone of the Bassins de Lumières, the world’s largest digital art center
In June 2020, Culturespaces Digital inaugurated the largest digital art center in the world: Les Bassins de Lumières (The Ponds of Light). Installed in a former World War II submarine base in Bordeaux, France, the venue offers a spectacular immersive art experience. The new digital art center relies on solid technology with more than 30 x Modulo Kinetic media servers at the cornerstone of the AV setup.
After a seven-week delay due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Culturespaces Digital inaugurated its newest digital art center on June 10. The Bassins de Lumières is the fourth venue created by Culturespaces Digital following the tremendous success of its other digital art centers, including the Atelier des Lumières in Paris.
Established in a former World War II submarine base facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Bassins de Lumières is the largest digital art center in the world with a total projection surface reaching 14,000 sqm.
The venue consists in vast 4 ponds dedicated to the main art exhibitions. Each pond is 100 meters long, 22 meters wide, and 12 meters high.
To complete the visitor experience, additional areas were created, including an immersive tank, a cube dedicated to contemporary immersive art, a museum space, and an educational area.
To make all of it happen, structural works began in May 2019 with restoration of floors, tanks, foundations, electricity, and more. The AV installation started in October 2019, handled by French integrator Cadmos.
Augustin de Cointet de Fillain, Director of Culturespaces Digital and the Bassins de Lumières, explains: “This project came with two major challenges: The huge size of the venue, and the humidity conditions. As we are in a former submarine base with water ponds, we had to deal with unfriendly conditions.”
To ensure a seamless projection of art exhibitions across the monumental canvas, more than a hundred video-projectors were required, including 71 x Barco F80-Q12, and 24 x Barco G60-W10. All video-projectors were mounted within waterproof enclosures to be protected from potential water infiltration from the building’s roof.
Music being an important part of the immersive experience, the teams of the Bassins de Lumières faced a new challenge. The building being made of concrete and having large water ponds, reverberation was very high. To offer a quality listening experience free from reverberation, 80 x Meyer Sound CAL 32 loudspeakers were installed to provide a 5° vertical beam focused on the areas where the public is walking.
As for its other digital art centers, Culturespaces Digital chose the Modulo Kinetic media server by Modulo Pi. “The system is steady and user-friendly. As we open more and more sites, we’re in a logic of scalability. Working with the same media server solution allows us to significantly anticipate the processes and media creation” notes Augustin de Cointet de Fillain.
To feed the video-projectors, 31 x Modulo Kinetic media servers were installed – 3 x Kinetic Designer and 28 V-Node servers equipped with 4 outputs each.
Modulo Kinetic was instrumental throughout the project workflow including study, simulation, edge blending, warping, playback and show control.
The compositing tools embedded in Modulo Kinetic helped dealing with the challenges involved by this unique venue. As an example, the water in the ponds rises and falls of 1.5m daily due to the ocean tides. Video-projection is set on low tide, and some dynamic masks in Modulo Kinetic create a gradation to ensure a smooth image transition when the tide is coming in. Thanks to the Graph Editor receiving the measures of a laser meter in Modulo Kinetic, the masks’ position automatically changes to follow the water level.
Moreover, the compositing tools in Modulo Kinetic allow colorimetry adjustment wherever needed on site: “The projection rendering often comes with colorimetry issues because a wall may be darker than expected for example, comments Augustin de Cointet de Fillain. Modulo Kinetic gives us the flexibility to fix any colorimetry issue which is much valuable. That saves us from doing the media and exporting them once again.”
For a seamless projection across the spectacular venue, edge blending and warping is another major step in the workflow. The process was handled in Modulo Kinetic thanks to the system’s 2D and 3D warping tools. “The venue comes with very different spaces. You have uneven walls, some cylindric surfaces… Relying on a user-friendly tool that allows fine-tuning the mapping for each architectural detail is really helpful” says Augustin de Cointet de Fillain.
To speed up the process and ensure the best result, several technicians could use the Modulo Kinetic Warp Remote application to warp simultaneously from their laptop, while being close to the area they are warping.
In terms of lighting, 167 x Anolis LED architectural lighting systems were installed to enhance the unique architecture of the Bassins de Lumières between shows projections.
The company 4eleven oversaw the lighting design for the project. The light show was encoded in a grandMA2 console by MA Lighting, while the playback was done through Modulo Kinetic.
Nicolas Valette, Lighting Designer on the project, explains: “Modulo Kinetic captured the DMX data of our 9 universes to play them. We needed a flexible playback process to avoid the installation of a dedicated lighting console. This way, daily management would be simplified for the technicians on site. Modulo Kinetic could adapt to our constraints as lighting designers. It now works as a replacement of a lighting console for simple playback functions.”
As for the light during shows, LED mapping through Modulo Kinetic offered show designers the ability to control lights through DMX so that video and light could perfectly harmonize.
To further simplify the venue’s control room, Cadmos and Culturespaces Digital took advantage of Modulo Kinetic’s show control capabilities. All video-projectors are controlled directly through Modulo Kinetic. Using the media server’s UI Designer, a custom show control panel allows technicians to easily handle different actions such as turning on/off the video-projectors, launching shows, lights…
Other user panels were created in the UI Designer, including a version for the reception desk to control service lights and see the daily schedule of exhibitions hours, as well as the next show start and end times. The information is retrieved from Modulo Kinetic’s Graph Editor configured to calculate a dynamic countdown.
A lighter panel version is also available on smartphones for service lights.
The Bassins de Lumières being available for private booking, several Modulo Kinetic V-Node servers are equipped with live capture cards. Using Modulo Kinetic’s embedded live mixer, it is possible to display camera feeds and PIPs.
Augustin de Cointet de Fillain concludes: “Thanks to Modulo Kinetic, technology is no longer an issue. We have a stable and reliable system that frees us from many technical aspects and allows us to focus on what’s essential: Art and creation”.
Two weeks after its opening and despite the special modalities due to the Covid-19, the Bassins de Lumières already welcomed more than 30,000 visitors who could enjoy the first exhibitions dedicated to Gustave Klimt and Paul Klee.
Gustav Klimt: Gold and colour (Long program)
Paul Klee: Painting music (Short program)
Anitya (Contemporary creation in the Cube)
Ocean Data (Contemporary creation in the Cube)