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Thursday, May 30, 2013

3D Projection Mapping

3D projection mapping is the process of projecting a two dimensional image onto a three dimensional surface, to make the surface seem to "come alive". I became aware of recent uses of this technology in early 2011 when I came across a video of a promotion Samsung had done in 2010 to promote their (at the time) new 3D television. I've placed this video in my post on Experiential Marketing, but here it is again:

The technology is extraordinarily impressive, and has been used in a variety of indoor and outdoor venues including in set design for live performances. Here's an excellent video which helps to understand the process, and the importance of having a true three dimensional shape onto which to project the image:

One of the recurring themes you will find in this blog is how new technology allows for variations on old ideas. In this case, the quality of the projectors is new, so ever larger areas can be used as canvasses. 3D computer modeling also allows for creating a wider variety of images. However, the basic elements of the technology have been in use since the 1960's. By whom? Why Disney of course!

Just like the idea of 3D stage "holograms" (see my post on "Holograms! .... Well, not Really") is based on old stage tricks, 3D projection mapping is based on the very simple idea of projecting an image onto a surface that mimics the suface of the image that was filmed. Case in point: Madam Leota:

The effect is achieved by projecting film footage of the face of an actress onto a white bust form. A wig and crystal ball hide the projector elements. There was a time in the 1980's when it was popular to create "talking mannequins" in commercial settings. I can't find any posted videos at a glance, but here is an installation at a museum that was done just last year:

I incorporated the effect into one of my Halloween productions in 1995. I filmed and projected the face of a "ghost" (my wife) onto a white bust of George Washington at the 300 year old Hanover Tavern in Virginia. I have not used it in the aspect of set or architectural projection, but as a set designer, 3D modeler, and video producer, I am looking forward to finding some applications for this technology.

Creativity lies not only in developing new technologies, but in finding innovative uses for existing technologies. If you'd like to discuss creative applications of new and old school technology for an upcoming event, send me an email through the form at the top of this blog.

Have brain... will travel.

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