Immersive Solution: Los Alamos National Laboratory Upgrades its Powerwall Theater

Los Alamos National Laboratory has selected visualization leader Christie® for an extensive upgrade to its Powerwall Theater (PWT), an innovative facility that enables researchers to view the complex models and simulations they have created using some of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The new theater will feature a total of forty Christie Mirage WU-L WUXGA DLP® 3D LED projectors in a five-wide-by-four-high node grid configuration with double-stacked projectors in each node onto a new ultra high fidelity glass Stewart Filmscreen.

It also includes Christie AutoCal™ automated blending and alignment for the highest performance 3D content at up to true 120Hz and Christie ArrayLoc™ for continuous color and brightness matching. The technologies combined create seamless, integrated visualization to meet the multi-faceted needs of the laboratory.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. It works to reduce global threats and solve other emerging national security and energy challenges.

Located within the  Strategic Computing Complex, the new Powerwall Theater is part of the Data Visualization Corridor that also includes a five-sided La Cueva Grande Immersive Laboratory, as well as desktop visualization and collaborator capabilities. The Powerwall Theater is used to display 3D video content and PowerPoint presentations, as well as interactive data exploration and collaboration among LANL scientists and engineers, outside visitors and funders, stakeholders, and visiting scientists from across the U.S.

A Picture is Worth [More Than] A Thousand Words

Content is streamed to the Powerwall Theater through a large integrated infrastructure, which is hooked up to various file and visualization systems and computers, allowing users to easily switch between 3D stereoscopic video and high-resolution 2D data.

According to ASC Production Visualization Leader Laura Monroe, HPC-5 Special Projects Team Leader, the PWT has provided the lab with a vital resource for displaying and interpreting data. “Visualization allows for complex ideas to come to life in a way they wouldn’t on paper,” she explained. “At times, we are doing simulations of physical data and certain dynamics—seeing it visualized in high-resolution, at a high frame rate (HFR)—and 3D can really help understand things faster. With new and advanced technology ever evolving, I would say a picture is worth much more than a thousand words now.”

“As an institution dealing with U.S national security as well as issues of national and global significance, LANL has an absolute need for premiere, top-of-the-line technology and equipment,” said Zoran Veselic, vice president of Visual Environments at Christie. “Visualization plays an incredibly important role in exploring and synthesizing data and information, not only among scientists within the lab, but also among external companies, visitors, and researchers coming in to view a presentation or collaborate on new ideas.

“We are pleased that our Christie Mirage WU-L LED WUXGA projectors were selected to deliver the visually stunning 2D and 3D images needed for this high-profile environment.” 

Staying at the Forefront of Visualization with Christie

Before its new upgrade, the theater employed an earlier generation of twenty-four Christie Mirage Series projectors powering twenty-four separate screens. When it came time to bring the visualization theater up to speed, Christie was again selected to deliver a new and improved state-of-the-art solution.

By using forty double-stacked Christie Mirage WU-L WUXGA projectors for increased brightness, the new theater will now feature the latest advancements in seamless visualization technology. Four Christie Spyder X20 image processors were also chosen for the solution, providing enhanced integration with 20 megapixel video processing, matrix switching, and integrated source monitoring.

A key factor for the upgrade was ensuring a seamless, smooth appearance to the wall. Three vertical glass screens are replacing the twenty-four individual ones, while blending of the projection images, perfected with built-in auto-calibration and color balance capabilities, will ensure flawless image quality. With the new solution, everything is aligned with more accuracy and in less time.

Among the other criteria for the new design were versatility, ease of maintenance, color reproduction, sharpness and contrast, and 3D stereoscopic support. Christie Mirage WU-L projectors easily met these needs. They offer high resolution, high pixel density, high reliability, and continuous system calibration for a cost-effective 2D/3D capable, flexible visualization solution. The Christie Mirage WU-L also leaves a small energy footprint, with LED illumination that ensures precise, life-like vibrant colors, low cost of ownership and low maintenance.

Monroe added, “The Los Alamos National Laboratory has a very long history of using computer visualization to understand extremely large and complex systems. This is why we want to invest in very advanced visualization technology—we need to stay at the forefront of visualization technology to understand our large datasets.”


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