Éclair Bistro and Martini Jazz Lounge started projection mapping table tops in 2016 with a chef’s tasting menu on two tables. The experience maps the table and plates for a unique experience that compliments a delicious menu.
“I come from a large food family. When I was younger, my grandma had a restaurant in New Orleans. During my young life, I was a musician and performer, a professional percussionist for over 20 years,” said Aaron Thomas, chef and owner of Éclair Bistro and Martini Jazz Lounge.
Chef Thomas envisioned bigger and wanted to outfit all dining tables with projection-mapped experiences. The Martini Jazz Lounge above the dining room has a live music stage and VIP room, which also needed enhanced interactive experiences.
The lower-level restaurant is an older industrial-style building with high ceilings and flexible mounting options, but the upstairs lounge posed the biggest challenge and required shorter throw ratios. Equipping the VIP area required the right throw to produce a large image that covers the entire wall without being obstructed by guests.
Windows are on the front of the building, so the projection mapping needed enough brightness to overcome some ambient light. Interactivity is another challenge because the usual Optoma interactive solutions are designed for ultra short throw projectors and screens, which is not an option for the top of a bar.
Starting with the main dining area, the two existing projection mapped dining experiences were upgraded with a pair of ProScene WU615T projectors. The projectors’ DLP® technology and WUXGA resolution provide sharper visuals with more color vibrancy that greater compliments Chef Thomas’ cuisine. Its high 6,500 lumen brightness ensures the projection mapped dining experience works throughout the year.
Having two projection mapped dining experiences was only a start. Chef Thomas had grand plans to provide all dining guests with a taste of the projection mapped experiences but required short throw ratios. The Optoma EH415ST with its 1080p resolution, 0.5:1 short throw ratio and bright 3,500 lumens fit the installation requirements perfectly – five projectors were installed throughout the dining area. Up to 7,000 hours of lamp life ensures the EH415ST provides many years of reliable operation.
“As a performing musician I understand the value of the entertainment industry and entertaining the guests. It’s not enough to have a good product nowadays, they’re also looking for something more. As we developed the projection mapping concept, we realized how important it is to bring the big show to your dining experience,” Thomas added. “During your dining experience, you’ll have projections that shoot onto your table.”
Outfitting the Martini and Jazz Lounge upstairs had different requirements. The bar top required a short throw ratio and compact size, which made the Optoma ML750ST a perfect fit. Its compact size and LED light source enable easily hidden installation with enough brightness to enhance the bar experience. The VIP room upstairs also required a short throw with the ability to cover the back wall with interactive projection. An Optoma EH415ST projector fit the room’s requirements.
Tackling interactivity without being able to use conventional interactive projection methods required thinking outside the box. Chef Thomas opted to use custom systems with Microsoft Kinect motion input sensors, originally designed for the Xbox One game console. Each projector in the Martini and Jazz Lounge is paired with a Kinect sensor.
Éclair Bistro is completely outfitted with projection mapping throughout the entire dining area. The Martini and Jazz Lounge upstairs features a completely interactive bar top and VIP room.
“We are the only bar and restaurant in Texas with an interactive or projection-mapped experience. As I understand, there’s only a handful of places across the world that do this. Hopefully people see how special it is,” said Thomas.
The unique experience, combined with amazing cuisine made from organic and fresh supplies, provides a delicious, high-tech night out.