Christie, Solotech Create Stunning On-Ice Projection at Air Canada Centre

When the Toronto Maple Leafs step onto the Air Canada Centre ice for each home game, they are greeted by a celebration of their rich history with a stunning on-ice projection mapping display. Installed by Solotech, the 12 Christie  Roadster WU20K-J projectors are stacked in six sets of two around the arena and help celebrate a team with 13 Stanley Cup titles and its ‘Leaf Nation’ fanbase.

“We keep an eye on the different teams and how they promote the game and deliver the fan experience,” said David August, manager, Venue Technology and Production, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. “The San Jose Sharks use the giant shark mouth that players skate out of and we felt something permanent was also needed at the Air Canada Centre.”

Air Canada Centre (Photos Courtesy of Solotech) (lr)With that in mind, the Toronto Maple Leafs honor their history with a three-part projection mapping display on the ice surface. For MLSE, it was an opportunity to give back to the fans, create more atmosphere, and get people excited before games.

“We wanted to show how the ice is made for each game; which is the first part of the animation. The second part is the team history where we were highlighting the memories of previous Leaf teams and then ultimately coming into our new highlight package – which celebrates our current team,” says August. “There is also a part with a giant Toronto Maple Leaf emblem. We’ve also been working on marketing ‘Leaf Nation’ and what it means to be part of that, which includes people from different walks of life and backgrounds coming together under Leaf Nation with the passion that unites the brand.”

August said that when they chose a permanent projection mapping display they were on not only a tight schedule but the project entailed much more than originally thought.

“It was just ‘Yeah, we’re going to project onto the ice – it’s just a surface and a projector, right? It’s child’s play.’ But when you actually do your workflow and project planning, you see all the little hurdles that come up that need to be addressed in a permanent installation. Vibration from the crowd at hockey games or the riggers coming in for concerts and moving around and installing equipment and pyrotechnics – all has an effect on projector alignment and needs to be accounted for,” adds August. “We also knew we wouldn’t be shooting on a perfectly straight angle and there would be some image distortion, so we needed the ability to correct things for a nice, clean image all the time.”

The project didn’t start until late August 2014 and with the home opener looming only seven weeks away, Solotech worked quickly and efficiently; testing various projector configurations for the best redundancy and overall light output. Crews worked long days and overnight doing alignment, color calibration, adding power sources, and installing fiber between the projectors and control surface to meet the tight deadline. The project was completed on time and the result is a fan and player experience like no other.

“I have spent a lot of time working with Christie, have toured its facility, and have always been really impressed with the quality of Christie projectors and service. And I love that Christie is a Canadian company just down the road from us,” says August. “All those factors together are what led us to Christie as the vendor. Everything came together on schedule and we are very happy with how everything turned out.”