We love projection mapping. So much so it made our list of top five event tech trends from 2017. But what actually is projection mapping and, more to the point, how can it be used to add value to your next event?
We’ve all seen some form of traditional projection. An image, video or presentation is transmitted via a single lens onto a flat surface such as a wall or screen. This technique is visually uninspiring; we know it’s a projection, we can see its edges, and it does little to enhance our surroundings.
When we talk about projection mapping, we refer to the technique of using multiple projectors to create large scale, visually impactful displays. The key to this art form is known as edge blending – the skilful alignment of each individual projection to create a continual, unbroken image that can transform any surface imaginable into something awe inspiring.
Far from being a new technique, forward thinking pioneers have been projecting onto objects and irregular surfaces since the 1960’s. Then known as spatial augmented reality, the technology had its limitations and it is the advancements of recent years that have transformed the capabilities of projection mapping and, subsequently, fuelled the creativity behind its use.
The four dimensions of projection mapping
As we’ve established, projection mapping uses multiple projectors and blending techniques to transform everyday surfaces into immersive experiences. But what’s the difference between 2D, 3D and 4D projection mapping? Simply put, it all comes down to the surface onto which you are projecting. Here’s a basic guide:
2D – The simplest form of projection mapping, this technique assumes you are projecting onto a flat surface such as a wall, floor or screen.
3D – With 3D projection mapping, any surface imaginable can be adopted as a blank canvas – from building exteriors and bridges to objects such as cars or purpose built structures. The technology used allows images to be projected without distortion.
4D – This is where things become a little muddy, but the general consensus is that 4D projection mapping adds a further dimension by incorporating additional senses through the use of audio, scents and other sensory special effects.
Dynamic projection mapping – Up until recently the technologies behind projection mapping limited its use to rigid surfaces. But thanks to the innovation of the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, the technology now exists to project onto non-rigid surfaces without visible distortion. A flag blowing in the wind or an item of clothing modelled on the catwalk can now be used as a canvas for additional imagery, as such, we can expect to see dynamic projection mapping cropping up at events across the fashion industry in the not too distant future.
How can projection mapping enhance your event?
Projection mapping in its most elaborate form does not come cheap, but as the technology advances, 3D and most certainly 2D methods are becoming increasingly accessible. Used well, these techniques can take an average event and turn it into something that packs a real punch.
For budgets that can stretch to 3D, there are ways to balance the cost somewhat whilst providing the ultimate wow factor for your attendees. Imagine theming your event in such a way that requires a mass of intricate set design, props and room decoration – there are the hire costs, design, build, production and transport expenses. By utilising projection mapping, you can transform any space into any environment imaginable and transport your delegates to any destination or moment in time. If you’ve found the perfect location and venue for your event but are uninspired by the interior space, projection mapping allows you to create any atmosphere your imagination can conjure.
With 2D technology, we’ve achieved some truly impressive results by turning super widescreens into immersive backdrops for presenters and guest speakers. Aligning the projected content with an events creative concept can help to strengthen its messages and engage delegates on a deeper level.
Then there’s the publicity. When attendees are impressed by what they see, they are more inclined to share their experience. By wowing them with creative projection, you stand a pretty good chance of building an army of advocates for your event.
Whatever the nature of your event and its respective goals and objectives, creative use of projection mapping can help you achieve them in ways that not only engage your attendees in the moment but leave them feeling inspired and motivated by your message.
For more information on projection mapping and how it can help boost your next event, contact one of our experienced producers today.
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