So often we think of Projection as just a tool for watching our favorite cinema. Truthfully it’s hard to beat movie watching with anything but great projection.
But have you thought of Projection as Art, a tool for more than watching your favorite movie, TV show, or Sporting event?
Projection is increasingly becoming a tool for artists in live Sporting Events, half time shows, Olympic opening Ceremonies, Theatrical Events, Concerts, Theme parks, Art Installations, Performance Art, and so much more.
Perhaps one of the most common forms of this art is a medium called Video Mapping. Mapping is a communication and artistic platform that allows artists to create bigger, bolder, and more meaningful art.
So what is Video Mapping? Mapping allows static or animated digital media content to be projected onto just about any surface you can imagine rather than being confined to a traditional flat screen. The media image is “wrapped” around objects or 3D surfaces such as architecture, national monuments, water, cars, airplanes, set pieces, historic buildings or ruins, glass, and even people. The unique characteristics of the object, which the media is projected onto, are often integrated into the media and mapping design.
As a producer and director of live TV and Theater for many years, I’ve been fascinated by the use of projection as an art form to enhance an audience’s visual experience. I first incorporated projection into my theatrical work when I produced and directed EVITA 13 years ago and have used it many times since. The advancements of technology, in both projection and media servers for distribution and display, have made staggering leaps resulting in some really exciting projection experiences. Whether projecting on a dancer, or projecting on an entire building to transform its appearance and function, the possibilities have been endless.
If anyone has been to Disneyland they’ve experienced Video Mapping. Disney Imagineers were some of the first to use the idea of Video Mapping. They first employed this technique in the haunted mansion where they projected faces onto busts; animating the busts of the Singing Quintet whom have delighted us all. More recently Disney has teamed with Christie Digital to create the awe inspiring spectacle World of Color, where they project incredible images and scenes on moving walls of water. Disney is at it again with preparations for their 60th anniversary recently announcing a new nighttime fireworks show, Disney Forever. As if their fireworks show wasn’t already fantastic, now they will be lighting up the park by projecting on the Castle, the Matterhorn, Main Street, and More. This is projection mapping on Crack and the enthusiast in me can’t wait to see it.
Recently I attended a performance art piece, The Way of The Rain, during the Sundance Film festival in Salt Lake City. The piece was conceived by environmental and media artist, Sibylle Szaggars Redford. Aside from the event being a who’s who of Sundance, the piece was a mesmerizing experience incorporating, music, dance, poetry, and projection. Large abstract printed silk pieces, as well as the performers, and the stage floor, acted as the projection canvas. The effect was quite brilliant and engaging. They used 8 DLP projectors to project onto the performance area, which was staged in the round.
The use of projection and video mapping in theatrical design is an effective tool for many designers. With the need to create scenic elements that must transition quickly or in spaces that provide physical challenges for traditional scenic design, projection mapping is an ideal solution. Hale Centre Theatre West Valley (HCTWV), and Hale Center Theater Orem (HCTO) are two well-established theaters in the Salt Lake and Utah County areas that are using projection for this very purpose. Both theaters are theater in the round rather than your traditional Proscenium Theater. My good friend and brilliant designer Kacey Udy, Technical director and Scenic designer at HCTWV, uses Christie projectors and Green Hippo media servers to drive their scenic projection. He has used projection elements in his show designs such as Les Miserables, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The most extensive projection design was employed in HCTWV’s production of Civil War starring Merrill Osmond. They used the projection and Video Mapping to project historic civil war sites and locations, 360 degrees around the theater above the audience.
If you are anywhere near the Orem or Salt Lake Utah areas and want to see Video Mapping and projection in a current theatrical production you need to see Hale Center Theater Orem’s current production of Les Miserables. I’ve performed and directed in this space and it’s affectionately referred to as a postage stamp sized stage in the round. But us creative types love the space due to its intimacy, and because it forces production teams to be more creative given the physical limitation of the space. As such, HCTO, consistently produces outstanding productions. Imagine producing an epic production such as Les Mis without the ability to utilize large grandiose scenic pieces many have come to expect. I spoke recently with my friend Cody Swenson, Owner/Producer HCTO, and Technical Genius. Cody’s solution? Projection. By implementing a wall of projection they can create the various locations needed throughout the production. They then supplement scenically with smaller furniture and prop items as well as costumes to create the needed scenic elements and spectacle of the show. The effect is quite stunning. HCTO commissioned a local artist, Howard Fullmer, to create projections using the artwork of Victor Hugo. Using 3 Panasonic PT-DX810 projectors and ultra short throw ET-DLE030 lenses, they are projecting right onto a brick façade. Cody explained that one can basically stand three feet in front of the projection surface without being projected onto, an ideal application for their space. The projection is managed through the show using Qlab media server.
As one scours the web to discover exciting uses of Video Mapping you’ll find some impressive art and applications. Christie Digital Systems, the leader in commercial and cinematic projection, is also leading the way in large application Video Mapping, and has stacked up an impressive portfolio of work. Using their Christie 3DLP Projector line up, their Christie Twist and Christie AutoStack video software, Christie provides the complete solution for Video Mapping. Their installations include live sporting events, concerts, architectural mapping, water walls, and even auto show car mapping (which is quite impressive).
It won’t be long before we start to see projection and Video Mapping in more common applications such as museums, restaurants, fashion, and specialty retailers. Imagine your menu projected on your table, fashion and style choices projected onto a mannequin, or selecting wedding cake designs projected right onto a cake. Panasonic unveiled such a solution this last January at CES 2015, the Space Player. The day may not be far off when we are designing homes with video mapping.
Gilles Papain – Projection Artist & Designer
Projection Mapping Playlist on YouTube ↓
Scott is co-founder and VP of Marketing at TYM. His early career began as an Executive TV Producer. He’s produced and directed live events, theater, TV and Media campaigns.
Scott is a marketing consultant in the Smart Home space and creates international marketing campaigns and Media content for industry partners. He is an avid skier and snowboarder, foodie at heart, and loves traveling.