In an age where technology and personalization of cultural consumption have experienced rapid growth, the National Museum of Korea (NMK) – the largest museum in Korea with over 220,000 objects in its collection – has taken steps to evolve from a space for exhibiting valuable artifacts to becoming a source of cultural inspiration for the future.
In 2019, NMK kicked off its ‘Smart Museum’ initiative, which included an Immersive Digital Gallery comprising four attractions that leverage a range of leading-edge 3D visual technology to emulate a physical world through digital means.
“Through the creation of this Immersive Digital Gallery, we hope to move visitors beyond technology to rediscover the values of various exhibits and share them with others,” said Eun-jeong Chang, curator, NMK. “This gallery is positioned as a new space that enables people to seek knowledge, fun, and relaxation whilst serving as a bridge that leads to our rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years.”
Christie’s trusted partner Star Networks, which delivered several highly-acclaimed large scale projects in Korea including the world’s first robot theme park – Gyeongnam Masan Robot Land – was appointed by NMK to set up the projection, media servers, transmission and surround audio components in the largest space of the Immersive Digital Gallery, known as Gallery 1. It features mesmerizing, 8K resolution content displayed on an ultra-wide panorama screen measuring 60 meters in length and 5 meters in height.
After conducting a detailed survey and evaluating various factors including color fidelity, image detail and reliability, Star Networks decided to deploy a suite of Christie’s projection, image processing and SDVoE solutions in Gallery 1. This included eight Christie D20WU-HS 1DLP® laser projectors, two Christie Pandoras Box Quad Players, a Pandoras Box Player, a Pandoras Box Manager and Widget Designer, as well as eight sets of Christie Terra transmitters and receivers.
“We needed a fully integrated solution that not only delivers excellent visuals and color fidelity, but also a powerful content management and AV-over-IP system that offers long-term reliability since all products are fitted in a high-use environment,” said Eun-jin Park, section chief, Star Networks. “The Christie solutions are our top choice because they fulfilled all the requirements and have a good track record of delivering outstanding visuals. I don’t think there is another solution on the market that can match this suite of products in terms of performance, level of integration and dependability.”
Visitors can enjoy bright and beautiful panoramic projections in this space, such as those depicting a Joseon king’s procession in ‘Royal Procession with the People’, or admire breathtaking sceneries depicted in Jeong Seon’s masterpiece ‘Climbing Mt. Geumgang’. Other engaging digital projections include ‘Journey of the Soul: Walking Through the Eternal Cycle of Birth, Death, and Rebirth’ that allow visitors to experience the Buddhist view of the afterlife through various paintings, and ‘Banquet of Taoist Immortals’ which impressively replicates the mystical world of eight immortals in ancient folklore.
Meticulous production of contents based on valuable paintings
Throughout the installation process, Star Networks worked closely with celebrated VFX and CG animation studio MOFAC, appointed as the prime systems integrator and content creator of this project, to ensure that the hardware and visual content are perfectly integrated and synchronized to offer visitors the definitive experience in Gallery .
Over a period of eight months, MOFAC meticulously produced a series of specially curated content in collaboration with NMK and the Korea Creative Content Agency. These include digital re-creations of some of Korea’s most famous paintings such as ‘Climbing Mt. Geumgang’, and ‘Royal Procession with the People’.
Yoon-soo Go, project manager, MOFAC, explained that due to the characteristics of the content created by reconstructing traditional Korean paintings, the original copies had to be scanned in high resolution, followed by making the objects that appear in these artworks in 3D. After that, texture mapping was performed with the original image for 3D modelling. The results are highly detailed images with a jaw-dropping resolution of 14K.
“In the final step, the content is displayed using cutting-edge visual technology so that even the finest details can stand out. I’m pleased to note that the Christie HS Series projectors have accomplished this brilliantly. Also, Christie Pandoras Box and Terra solutions delivered high resolution images and stunning colors with perfect synchronization. This is a fine example of the capabilities of a fully integrated, end-to-end, high performance solution,” Go added.
Historical works of art ‘come alive’
The Immersive Digital Gallery was officially opened to the public in late May following the reopening of NMK after a three-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NMK’s Chang recounted that audiences who stepped into Gallery 1 are enthralled by the vivid and highly immersive content. “We have received lots of positive feedback from visitors, and many of them are in awe of the quality of the visuals and how historical works of art can ‘come alive’ so convincingly in a real physical space. It’s gratifying that the integrated technologies implemented in this space have provided an enchanting experience that transports visitors across time and space,” she noted.
This project marks the first deployment of Christie Terra SDVoE solutions in Korea, and it is also the first cultural heritage project undertaken by Star Networks that utilizes immersive content befitting of the modern age.
“Through the successful completion of this project, we are proud that Christie’s laser projection, image processing and SDVoE solutions have been established as the benchmark for challenging immersive content in many museums in the future,” said Park, who added that the technical experience gained by Star Networks team will enable them to provide progressive solutions to more customers in the future.
Commenting on the use of highly engaging content for museum exhibits, MOFAC’s Go enthused that the advancement of technologies has created new possibilities for the promotion of cultural heritage among younger people and tech-savvy individuals. He said, “It is an exciting and fulfilling task for content creators to bring these cultural artifacts to life, and through this process enable everyone to admire and enjoy our cultural heritage in greater depth.”