Complex Video Infrastructure For Frameless
Creative Technology delivers cohesive video eco-system at venue for immersive art.
Britain’s biggest permanent immersive art venue, Frameless opened this autumn in central London, offering a culturally rich, immersive, multi-dimensional entertainment experience that takes visitors on a journey into some of the world’s most beautiful works of art. Creative Technology Systems Integrations (CT SI), part of NEP Group, oversaw the design and installation of its entire video system, including projection with dedicated video playback servers in four immersive galleries, LED, LCD screens as well as digital signage systems around the wider venue. In addition to the design and on-site installation and commissioning of the video systems, CT is also providing training for the Frameless team as well as ongoing service, maintenance and event support, providing a complete 360-degree service.
Housed within the newly developed Marble Arch Place, the Frameless founders wanted to change the way people experience art by bringing it to life like never before. Covering almost 3,000m2, the venue offers four themed galleries to appeal to the taste of every visitor — Colour In Motion, The World Around Us, The Art of Abstraction, and Beyond Reality — taking visitors on a mind-bending journey from Surrealism and Symbolism to Post-Impression and beyond by showcasing iconic masterpieces of some of the world’s greatest artists including Cezanne, Kandinsky, Monet, Dalí, Van Gogh, Canaletto, Rembrandt and Klimt.
Such an ambitious and innovative vision required the highest level of technical expertise and world-class technology. CT SI was chosen as the technical partner for the video side of the project, working closely with Simon Kentish, CTO at Frameless and Autograph Sound, who were in charge of the audio element, with CT SI and Autograph collaborating on the show control and network design.
“The project started for us in August of last year when we were asked to support with early projection studies on the venue’s immersive galleries,” recalls Jack Strong, Business Development (Systems Integration) at CT SI. “We were contracted in early 2022 to deliver the video elements across the site.”
CT SI’s team, including Strong, Graeme Bunyan, Head of Integration (UK), Keith Crouch, Commissioning Manager, and Teresa Juncosa Umaran, Head of SI Engineering (UK), developed a unique projection solution for each immersive gallery using Panasonic’s RQ22K, RQ35 and MZ16 projection series and a new generation of media playback and control systems by Hive Media Control.
The Colour In Motion interactive gallery uses advanced motion tracking to allow visitors to virtually paint using their own gestures and movements, which was made possible by utilising Microsoft Azure Connect cameras placed at high level to track people’s movements, with the information then sent to Derivative’s TouchDesigner software to animate the projections in real time.
The World Around Us gallery is the third and largest immersive space at Frameless, and will also be used for events. It uses wall, floor, and ceiling projection, so that the image can be seen on all surfaces to extend every canvas across every inch of space. “To conceal the equipment, the projectors have been mounted within the walls using different ranges of lenses,” explains Bunyan.
Beyond Reality uses a combination of a floor and wall projection along with a mirrored ceiling, mirrored columns and a mirror moat that covers the perimeter of the floor. The last gallery, The Art of Abstraction, utilises projection on a series of gauzes. “Several 4m tall gauzes are suspended from the ceiling and mounted at various angles throughout the room, with a further 11 projectors mounted at 45 degrees to minimise shadows,” Bunyan adds.
CT has also installed Unilumin LED, Panasonic LCD screens and Brightsign digital signage around the wider venue in areas like the entrance foyer, escalator, café bar, retail store, meeting room, office, and multi-function spaces. These give anyone using the venue an immersive and engaging experience from the moment they step through the doors to the moment they leave.
Content for the screens was rendered with disguised media servers, and Hive players were used for playback. “We calibrated the rooms using Screenberry, which works really well in conjunction with Hive players,” says Bunyan.”The combination of Hive and Screenberry was essential for making everything work exactly as we wanted it to. It proved to be one of the biggest advantages for us.”
In a social media friendly environment like Frameless, utilising the 3-chip DLP projectors with Quad Pixel Drive that are capable of delivering over 4K for exceptionally high-resolution images was also important. “As part of our journey with the client, we performed a shootout of the different technologies available, and it quickly became clear that 3-chip technology would offer the best result for the type of content that would be displayed,” says Crouch.
Strong concurs, noting that it was imperative for the client to have top quality equipment that would deliver the highest resolution possible. “With over 479 million pixels delivering a million lumens of light, Frameless elevates the traditional art exhibition to a whole new level, enveloping visitors of all ages in the experience,” he says.
With 40 interactive digital interpretations of masterpieces from 28 legends of the art world, four immersive galleries and multiple spaces around the venue all equipped with state-of-the-art video systems, Crouch says that it was a combination of “really clever hardware, software and people” that made such complex project a reality.
“We are honoured and thrilled to be part of the Frameless art experience; it’s winning over audiences with its unique way of showing art that is free of frames and physical presence,” he adds. “Thanks to the magic of technology and the brilliant minds of the team working on this project, not only were we able to help create an immersive art experience that doesn’t contain any tangible art, we could further elevate it by allowing visitors to step right into some of the world’s most beautiful masterpieces.”
“This is a big project and a big undertaking,” concludes Simon Kentish, CTO at Frameless. “What we achieved with CT’s help, from sourcing equipment at a time it was difficult to get, to overseeing the various technology partners, to open in just 12 months was quite extraordinary. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Image Credit: Antonio Pagano