How to do Projection Mapping?

Projection mapping is a unique and innovative way to decorate any surface, transforming simple objects into optical illusions. In its most basic form, 2D images are projected on a flat surface, turning it into an engaging visual display. 2D projection mapping allows you to present material to your audience in an entirely different way, bringing life to plain surfaces such as the walls or floors of a simple room.

3D projection mapping takes this a step further by converting any object into a video screen, regardless of shape. You can transform architecture, automobiles, sculptures and just about any other surface into a vivid display. Practically anything you can conceive as a screen can be turned into a projection surface, allowing you to be as creative as you want.  

Steps for Professional Projection Mapping

1.     Laser Scanning the Surface

Laser scanning involves taking a scan of the projection surface and translating it into an accurate, digital model. Scanning works by projecting a laser (such as an RGBD sensor or structured light) onto a surface. The laser is then reflected back with color information and intensity, which is used to determine the distance of the surface with each pixel in the scan. This information can then be exported into a CAD program for further manipulation.

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2.     Perspective Optimization Study

A perspective optimization study determines the angle from which to develop the content. The CAD model of the projection surface is adjusted to match the perspective of the audience. This digital model can then give animators an accurate reference point for creating truly illusionary visuals. 

For example, if the audience will be gazing up at the displayed visuals, the video content will need to be developed from a low angle to match their perspective.

3.     Making the Graphic Content

You can either create the content yourself or find stock animations for your project. However, the best way to make your projection mapping project look truly remarkable is to create content that is custom made for the projection surface. With software such as Cinema 4D and After Effects, animators can create entirely realistic visuals for projection mapping with stunning results. 

4.     Testing the Visuals

Animations can be tested digitally by layering the custom content with the model of the projection surface. This lets you make any tweaks on the go before even setting up a projector.

5.     Setting up the Projectors

Projectors are then installed at your predetermined location. If the space is complex, custom rigs can be made. In an ideal world, all of the projectors required for a project would be in line with each other and spaced equally apart, however, this is rarely the case due to venue constraints. 

6.     Final Adjustment

Adjustments will be performed utilizing a mix of the projector’s warping capabilities and mapping controls on designated software such as Mad Mapper. For blended projection, detailed projection sites are plotted out in the media server with at least a 10-15% overlap, resulting in a smooth edge between images from separate projectors.

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Projection mapping technology is becoming more advanced, and with that, immersive shows and experiential marketing are rising in popularity. It’s time to think about incorporating projection mapping to create a more attention-grabbing event. A dynamic visual representation through 2D or 3D mapping can go a long way in establishing an engaging and effective event, regardless of the size of your location or the number of people present.

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