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When Projection Goes to Rio

Rio Tinto stakeholders meeting mines the best in mapped projection.


27 March 2012

Text:/ Kym Davies
Images:/ Haycom AV

Mapped projection is to the current AV industry what the 35mm slide projector was to a previous generation: a technology that’s at risk of becoming an overused cliché. It’s still impressive, but no longer groundbreaking. How do you deliver something fresh, visually impressive but technically simple, for the same outlay that 10 years ago would have only got you some rear projection and a basic video presentation? How do you make it something special? How do you get absolute bang for your buck?

For its annual external stakeholder event, mining giant Rio Tinto, working with Haycom AV and The Buchan Group, used new thinking to deliver an immersive visual narrative, animating the interior of Brisbane’s Custom House. Covering an area of more than 40m x 15m with mapped images, they brought the space to life to tell Rio Tinto’s story. From the Brisbane CBD to the stark vision of an outback mine, rampaging 3D coal trains disappeared into a sandstorm bursting forth from the Victorian Neoclassical architecture. Solid walls dissolved into images that transported the crowd on a virtual tour of Rio Tinto mining operations and raised the bar for corporate AV presentations.


“An investment in technology just isn’t enough anymore. It’s what you do with it, more so than ever,” explains Ian McManus of Haycom AV, which teamed up with The Buchan Group to create this impressive tour of Rio Tinto’s mining operations. “Clients are forced to seek presentations that look better than the previous year, but on the same budget; which ultimately means using the same equipment. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be remarkable.” 

The cleverness in this design was in its simplicity. Haycom AV used a pair of Christie Roadster HD12K projectors, blending custom made 2D and 3D images to create a canvas across the curves and contours of the space. The video content was served up by Renewed Vision’s PVP HD (ProVideoPlayer HD), running on an Apple Mac Pro. The 3840 x 1920 resolution images were output through a Matrox TripleHead2Go multi-display adapter, eliminating the need for an expensive high-end, multi-image control system. 

The content was distributed via optical fibre, which delivered DVI to both projectors, allowing native full HD from the source all the way to the screen; or in this case, a 40m wide wall.

Digging it: clever image design by the Buchan Group takes advantage of the neo-classical architecture of Brisbane's Customs House to incorporate its decorative features into the promotional presentation on Rio Tinto's mining activities in Australia.


The custom-designed mapped content was created by graphic artists Anthony Rawson and Patrick Shirley from The Buchan Group, which designed the video content on a combination of Adobe After Effects and Autodesk 3ds Max.

One of the real benefits to Rio Tinto from this design is its ability to be re-used, as Ian McManus explains: “It’s now possible to re-use the content multiple times for events such as a VIP cocktail award for staff recognition, right through to a new launch where appropriate scenes can be selected. This presents never-before seen levels of versatility and eventually – quite a good return on event investment. So even the bean counters got their way.”


As an added bonus to the success of the project, Rio Tinto’s virtual tour was a finalist in the Best AV Production category for the 2011 Audio Visual Industry Awards (AVIAs). As Ian McManus explains, “The benefit of the AVIAs is the awareness they generate. It’s great to receive recognition for the simple approach; that equipment thrives in the hands of those with good ideas.” He’s also proud to be among the first to use the technology in the corporate world. “I have been unable to find evidence of a prior blended projection mapping onto intricate internal architecture in the fee-paying corporate world,” he explains. “As far as I can ascertain, it’s the first time 180°, widescreen HD projection mapping has been seen in Queensland at least.”

Client: Rio Tinto www.riotinto.com.au
AV Design and Supply: Haycom AV www.haycomav.com.au
Content Creation: The Buchan Group buchan.com.au


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