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Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

Digital Projection’s paradigm-shifting Satellite Modular Laser System (MLS) is taking a starring role in Le Mime et L’Étoile – a new theatrical spectacle that uses cutting-edge AV technology to transport audiences back to the Belle Époque at the famed French theme park Puy du Fou. The show already scooped a number of international accolades including Most Creative Theatrical Production at the IAAPA Honors 2024 and Best New Show at the 2023 Golden Ticket Awards.

A celebration of the birth of cinema, Le Mime et L’Étoile (The Mime and the Star) puts the audience behind the camera, taking guests on a kaleidoscopic journey through the evolving art of filmmaking – from silent to talking pictures, and from black and white to colour – with a love story set against the backdrop of pre-war France. As audience members become part of Le Mime et L’Étoile’s show within a show, featuring screen star Garance and the gypsy mime Mimoza, they experience the artistic and technical breakthroughs that characterised motion pictures at the dawn of the 20th century.

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

A technical as well as narrative masterclass, Le Mime et L’Étoile utilises countless costumes, mobile props and stage effects – as well as, most spectacularly, a moving stage that gives the impression of the 30-minute show being one long tracking shot – to faithfully recreate the aesthetics of a period movie – one in which the 2,000 spectators present in the purpose-built auditorium are participants, seeing the film from the ‘inside’ as it progresses from era to era. “The artistic approach to Le Mime et l’Étoile is radical. The idea is to offer our visitors a new and unexpected historical experience,” explains a Puy du Fou representative who worked on the project. “What could be more immersive and original than shooting a film in black and white? This is the major artistic and technical challenge of this show: the stage, its sets and its actors instantly turn into black and white, transporting visitors into the story.”

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

To create this illusion, Puy du Fou’s in-house technical team relies on a state-of-the-art AVL set-up featuring projection mapping, lighting and spatialised sound, synced in real time with the movements of the sets and characters on stage.

The mainstays of this system are four Digital Projection Satellite MLS INSIGHT 4K laser projectors, installed discreetly at the back of the Le Mime et l’Étoile auditorium. The INSIGHT 4K projectors gave the in house technical team the ability to transition seamlessly between colour and black and white scenes, the lighting designer leveraging the superb colour accuracy and black levels offered by Digital Projection’s ColorMax™ technology to convey the transition from silent movies to modern cinema using precise video pixel mapping and subtle shades of ‘grey’ colour mixing.

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

Part of Digital Projection’s flagship INSIGHT range, the INSIGHT 4K laser projector combines native 4K (4096 × 2160) resolution with a light output of up to 40,000 ISO lumens and a contrast ratio of 2,000:1. In Satellite MLS format, the INSIGHT 4K’s lightweight (40kg), virtually silent projector ‘head’ can be decoupled from a separate, completely hidden laser light source (remotely installed up to 100m away), allowing for ultra-bright images while minimising the physical impact of the projectors.

For the Puy du Fou technical team, the ability to easily disguise the projector infrastructure was key for the show, with the aim to minimise the intrusion of modern technology into the show historic story: As a result, the technical and AV element serve the show, and visitors can be enchanted by the experience without even noticing the technical prowess behind the show.

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

“Due to the thousands of people coming in, there is a lot of dust, and these projectors can stand up to that – plus they don’t run too hot, and the laser source is protected. This brings peace of mind as we know they will run smoothly for a very long time.”

Puy du Fou is also impressed by the projectors’ reliability and durability, given the demands of Le Mime et l’Étoile, which is performed multiple times a day. “The projectors are used very heavily,” says a technical team representative. “Due to the thousands of people coming in, there is a lot of dust, and these projectors can stand up to that – plus they don’t run too hot, and the laser source is protected. This brings peace of mind as we know they will run smoothly for a very long time.”

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

A Modulo Pi media server completes the video set-up, while a spatial sound system makes audio objects appear to come from all corners of the 4,000m² Le Mime et l’Étoile theatre.

Real-time synchronisation of the AV and lighting is made possible by Naostage’s automated show control solution, K SYSTEM, which – by automatically tracking the production’s 16 main actors and dancers – enables fully automatic lighting, audio and video effects synchronised with the staging. This is a crucial element of the show, but one that would be nearly impossible for a human operator to achieve. The technical team behind the show explains that it would be unworkable to track Le Mime et L’Étoile’s intense action manually, which features more than 120 actors and a 140 tonnes décor that constantly moves throughout the half an hour show: “It would be extremely complex without Naostage,” they explain. “All the actors come and go from the stage very quickly, and the theatre set is in constant movement. If we had to do it manually, that would be crazy – it would simply be exhausting.”

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

Following the successful debut of Le Mime et L’Étoile, whose INSIGHT 4K projectors deliver 20,000 lumens of brightness apiece, Digital Projection supplied a further nine projectors – this time in even brighter 40,000-lumen format – to Puy du Fou for another attraction, Le Dernier Panache. Charting the fortunes of a French naval hero in the late 18th century, the multi-award-winning Le Dernier Panache takes place across an immersive 360° stage set in the park’s 7,500m² Théâtre des Géants (Theatre of Giants), where 8 × Digital Projection INSIGHT 4K 120Hz (40,000 lumens) are helping to bring the story of François de Charette to life in spectacular fashion. The eight INSIGHT 4K 120Hz projectors, plus a spare, replace the original projectors installed ahead of the show’s opening in 2016.

Satellite MLS steals the show in Le Mime et L’Étoile

Product mentioned in this case study: INSIGHT MLS

  • Up to 40,000 ISO Lumens
  • Native 4K (4096×2160)
  • 2000:1 Contrast
  • 40dBA
  • Modular Light Source (up to 4 modules)

Satellite Modular Laser System (MLS) offers a small number of simple building blocks that allow users to address a wide range of applications, from single projector installs to complex, multi-channel domes, caves and simulators. Where RGB laser illumination used to be the preserve of only very high-end applications, the Digital Projection Satellite MLS system will make this technology accessible to the wider AV market, at a cost-effective price point.

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