Projection Mapping

A few years back I wanted to learn how to do projection mapping - seemed like the perfect combination of video, music, and interactivity.  After tons of trial and error, thousands upon thousands of dollars of equipment, many sleepless nights, and the help of Michael Gilmore, we connected with some local djs and clubs as our first venues to try out this technology.



A few stills from some custom motion graphics I worked on for a club in Los Angeles called Exchange LA - a pretty legit venue for our first 'gig'.  (I themed the graphics 'Cowboy Apocalypse' since the event was on 12.21.2102)  Below is a video of us practicing - we had to learn how to program midi controllers to work with the software (which we were still learning as well).  This allowed us to do all our 'vj-ing' in real-time to the music.  It's a long video so you might want to skip around.

Another sweet gig we had was mapping Heat Ultra Lounge in Anaheim.  Just so happened a Prince of some African country was having his birthday celebration there so there were some "celebrities" in the house including Johnny Depp* and a few Playboy playmates.  People were totally into the real-time video being projected of the girls dancing as well as at the end when the Prince himself got up on the camera and thanked everyone for coming out (not in the video above unfortunately).  I also got invited to stay for the after party and was double-fisting glow-in-the-dark bottles of Dom Perignon (just for looks... mostly) until the wee hours of the morning.

For this show I built some custom software using this kinda awkward node-based programming environment called Quartz Composer.  Check out the screen gap of the 'code' - this allowed us to hook it up to a custom iPad app we created using a protocol called OSC.  In the video above you can see the playmate/djs manipulating the visuals being projected in real-time from the iPad.  This was pretty sweet because I didn't have to be behind the laptops the whole time controlling what went on.

Our largest mapping environment was at TEN nightclub in Orange County, CA.  It was a giant indoor/outdoor canopy.  This video doesn't quite do justice to the scale, but the effect of a giant screen overhead was quite unique and the response was great!


The most ambitious project we did was for a Valentine's Day show at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana, CA.  For this we constructed a giant heart made out of picture ornate frames.  Each of the frames were then filled with this awesome film material Michael and I came across that took the light projection really well, gave a crisp image, and also looked perfect from the rear since the film was translucent.  After hanging this behemoth (you'd be surprised how much a bunch of picture frames weight when attached together) each frame was then individually mapped onto the film, then we set up another array of projectors to map the outsides of each frame - allowing us to have independent control over the inside of the frame and the actual frame itself.

This was the only "full length" projection mapping I did.  After finding a dubstep remix of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the trendy owl phase going on at the time, I wanted to make something that people passing by could see in lieu of actual Christmas Lights.  I'm pretty bummed because there's a whole beginning to this video where gift boxes are coming down like Tetris pieces - but somehow that footage can't be found (I'll keep looking for it and if I find it I'll post it!).   Anyways, it was great to see cars slowing down to watch it and kids interacting with it as they walked by.  I just might have to put it back up again this year since it was quite cool.

To learn more about my thoughts and experiences with projection mapping I'll be writing a blog post in the near future which I'll link here.