Digital Projection Brings the Past to Life at Atlanta History Center

A complex design for a one-of-a-kind experience

For historians, researching the past and finding ties to the present is a cherished hobby, job, and duty. This is especially important when dealing with one-of-a-kind artifacts from critical moments in history. For the proud city of Atlanta, understanding and experiencing its past is not just for tourism; it is an integral part of the city’s identity and community. So, when the Atlanta History Center sought to create an engaging, larger-than-life experience for their gigantic Cyclorama exhibit, they relied on Digital Projection to tell the story of this precious painting and lead visitors on a journey back through time.

Originally created in 1886, the 49 feet tall by 371 feet wide panoramic painting depicts the famous Battle of Atlanta; a critical moment in the Civil War. Complete with lifelike 3-dimensional statues and elements, the full-color illusion is designed to transport the viewer onto the historic battlefield. Over its 133-year lifespan, the colossal painting has gone through revisions to the canvas’ content (since restored) and multiple display venues before finally coming to rest in the Atlanta History Center. With such a storied past, the AHC wanted to create an exhibit that would not only tell the story of the painting and how it became an artifact, but also the ‘big picture’ of the Atlanta Campaign and its importance in both local and national history.  For that task, they they reached out to the Atlanta-based AV design specialists at CEI.

CEI’s design called for a seamless, 160-degree display projected directly onto the canvas. This would allow the final solution to balance the sheer size of the painting, while fitting the projected content into one field of view that visitors could easily enjoy. Dempsey explains this challenge in stating, “This design called for a complex 5 projector image displaying on a surface that curves in 2 directions, with no 2 distances from the lenses exactly the same.” To accomplish this task, CEI integrated Digital Projection’s popular HIGHlite LASER II projectors.

We needed projectors that were bright enough to overcome the painted elements, but also with exceptional warp and edge-blending capabilities to get this right. We felt that Digital Projection would have the best product and the best support. DP’s engineers were instrumental in helping with the design, testing, and implementation.”

- Val Dempsey, President of CEI

Read more about this project and the reaction of guests here.