I’ve done projection mapping of different types for quite awhile now, I’d like to think I was one of the first guys going out with a 10k projector and a generator, pointing my old graffiti tag out of a mini-van throughout New York City. There were so few playing with outdoor projections at the time. The only notable may have been the Graffiti Research Labs guys. At the time, I used an application known as Isadora to handle 4 point warping, and I connected each of the horizontal/vertical corner points to 8 physical sliders on a midi controller (the M-Audio Evolution UC33e), it meant I could drive the vehicle up to just about any wall, from just about any angle, and instantly dial in the proper distortion to make my graffiti look correct on the projected wall. I then did a few commercial gigs with this same set-up. It was solid. and quite new at the time.
Fast fwd about 10 years and I’ve dabbled in just about every projection mapping application out there. VVVV being my favorite, as I could author my own video sequencing/cueing environment as well as well as dealing with audio in highly controllable ways.
My most hardcore projection mapping project was in Hamburg, 2013, for a band called Cocorosie. They hired me to do staging for a 3 show indy-opera of sorts. It was very intense. 10 projectors, 3 levels of semi-transparent scrim, an enormous stage set of the floor with bleacher seating not allowing any room for error. There was ery little stage lighting to be used. All scenery and almost all lighting on characters were coming from my projectors. All done in VVVV. There were hundreds of cues, OSC allowed me to operate one laptop, controlling the output of the 3 additional laptops, some with Matrox dualhead-to-go’s attached.
In the pics below, I’m showing some work for GE and a pharma company called Provenge.. I’m projection mapping onto mannequins, having them take on different characters, and I must say, it was quite a good experience. The mannequins really came to life when all the facial features were dead-on. It was much cooler than I’d expected when I set out to prototype it. I used a combination of Poser and Daz3D for content creation. I developed an app, to be used on site, to give me crisp masks of the mannequin from the point of view of the projection lens, or as best as I could do since a camera lens and the projection lens could not share the same point in space. I purchased a c-clamp with standard camera mounting shoe for my Canon 60D SLR, and attached the SLR to the metal housing of the projector lens. I used my laptop to control the SLR over usb cable and proceeded to snap shot as a burst, about 125 very high res images in total. I don’t remember the resolution I went with but the were much higher than the HD signal I would ultimately use the mask for. I created a script for Imagemagic to combine all of the images with differencing techniques. This eliminated all the noise you’d associate with the SLR’s 60D. The result was a SUPER crisp, amazingly zoomable crisp image. I got a single image to use as a source for mask creation with zero noise, better than anything the camera could produce. It was awesome. The final step is to handle the warping/distortion to ensure my content is correctly mapped to the mannequin, and showtime. A 22″ touchscreen was used as a controller of the projected content, all communication was done via OSC.
Projected Graffiti project:
CocoRosie tour staging: