Digital Projection paints a 360° masterpiece with Vincent meets Rembrandt: The Untold Story

Nestled in Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighbourhood lies the Noorderkerk Church, a remarkable 17th-century Protestant church renowned for its architectural beauty and design.

Over the past year, this church’s usually neutral atmosphere has been transformed into a mesmerising 360-degree world of colours.

With the help of 38 Digital Projection projectors, it now tells the story of how Rembrandt van Rijn’s paintings inspired Vincent van Gogh’s greatest works. Vincent meets Rembrandt: The Untold Story, which opened in 2022, will be captivating visitors until 2027 with this impressive audiovisual spectacle.

By seamlessly combining stunning visuals with a compelling audio narration of van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, the exhibition reveals the influence Rembrandt had on van Gogh’s artistic journey. The idea to create an immersive experience of how Rembrandt played an important role in Vincent’s artistic process was envisioned by Hennie Jaspers & Marcel Vos. Taking the lead for this project, Bart van Bokhoven, owner and creative director of Pronorm, Dutch audiovisual integrator, wholeheartedly embraced the initiative.

“We started with a concept around six years ago,” stated van Bokhoven. “We were going through the diaries of van Gogh and the letters to his brother Theo, where he explained how he really admired Rembrandt’s work, what light and colours the artist was using and his way of painting. This inspired the storytelling.” To create a fully encompassing experience, Pronorm chose the Noorderkerk Church for the venue, as both van Gogh and Rembrandt practised their faith there, albeit 200 years apart. The goal was to guide visitors through the story using immersive imagery and audio.

Digital Projection’s projectors were instrumental in this endeavour, expertly displaying van Gogh’s and Rembrandt’s paintings and sketches while a voiceover brought van Gogh’s letters to life. To visually convey the artists’ connection, the integrator needed reliable, maintenance-free projectors, due to the longevity of the project and there being no on-site technician.

Van Bokhoven had prior experience with Digital Projection equipment and was impressed by its durability and minimal failure rate: “I have done some installations previously with Digital Projection kit, and have never known one of them to fail,” van Bokhoven stated. “For a big installation like this, I needed projectors we could rely on.”

This, he added, is the main reason why the integrator deployed Digital Projection’s E-Vision Laser 11000 4K-UHD, E-Vision Laser 10K, E-Vision Laser 8500 and M-Vision Laser 21000 WU 1-DLP laser projectors, all of which are renowned for their exceptional reliability and minimal maintenance requirements. The choice was further reinforced by the projectors’ superior image quality and brightness, and Pronorm’s need for even output across all projectors, ensuring a consistent and impactful experience for every visitor.

Van Bokhoven added: “We also had to make sure that all the pixel sizes and light output of all the projectors were nearly the same, so every visitor can experience the untold story of van Gogh and Rembrandt the same way.” Fred Meijer, regional sales manager for Benelux at Digital Projection, also attributed the effective lines of communication between manufacturer and integrator as one of the many reasons Digital Projection laser projectors were selected for the project: “Bart contacted us directly, without any party in between,” Mejier said.

“For customers like Bart, it’s very important for us to have short lines of communication, as when our customers have any questions they need answers fast.” In addition to the 38 Digital Projection laser projectors projecting captivating content across the ceiling, walls and floor, Pronorm incorporated 12 Fohhn Audio DLI-130 beam steering active column speakers, five Fohhn AS-ss ASX subwoofers and seven VIOSO Anystation Media 4K media servers.

MP Studios, the content creation company, played a pivotal role by crafting the unique storyline and translating it into visually stunning imagery.

MP Studios produced seven distinct movies, each projected onto a specific area of the church. To achieve this, the company created a comprehensive preview of the content for the entire storyline before dividing it into seven segments, which were then fed to the projectors via the VIOSO media servers. The majority of the content is projected onto the expansive walls of the church. However, the presence of church poles, columns and intricate details posed a unique challenge.

To overcome this obstacle, Pronorm opted to project the main video content onto the walls, ceiling and floor while utilising the columns to create an ambilight effect. Van Bokhoven highlighted the significance of this approach, stating: “The ambilight cast on these details greatly helps to enhance the immersive experience.” Another interesting challenge the integrators faced was finding a way to install the equipment discreetly to maintain the sanctity of the Noorderkerk Church, which remains an active place of worship, hosting weddings and services on the weekends.

“We had to strategically position the equipment in a way that would remain hidden from the church-goers’ view,” Bart van Bokhoven explained. “This aspect proved to be challenging as we needed to create a semi-mobile installation that would adhere to the standards set by the church’s managing board.” Addressing the challenge, the technical equipment was lifted up 23m through a narrow 60-by-60cm staircase and installed in the church attic. The 12 projectors were installed on the floor, while 26 were positioned in the ceiling.

The cables, hidden from view, run from the attic to the floor and to the projector hanging points, ensuring a seamless and unobtrusive setup. Van Bokhoven was extremely happy with the end result, stating: “With the support of our partners, we did a really great job; everything works perfectly.

“When I read the visitor reviews, it is evident that people really relate to the story and are captivated by the breathtaking visual experience, which is delivered discreetly and reliably by the high-impact Digital Projection laser projectors.”