A few years ago, 3D projection mapping was still a new art form, taken on by a few artists to wow audiences by manipulating their surroundings. Not that long after, many major every event, festivals, parties and club nights that really want to make an impression are pushing the limits of 3D projection mapping.
It’s creating some very impressive results but it is also driving the technology forward for more exciting advancements to come.
3D projection mapping, also known as video mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a technology that uses projections to turn objects, buildings and spaces into a display for surface video projection. Using specialized software, 3D projection mapping gives us the ability to map two or three-dimensional objects onto the real environment it is to be projected on – and the results can be incredible. The 3D mapping and modelling market brought in $1.9 billion in 2015, but it’s expected to grow to $16.99 billion by 2020.
To give you an idea of where 3D projection mapping is right now, here are some of our favourite examples of recent uses from all over the globe.
Battersea Power Station Annual Party
The Battersea Power Station is an iconic landmark in London. It’s not the prettiest of buildings but it’s got a very important function. It also turns out to be a very good building for an excellent 3D mapping show. The show was commissioned to Drive, a UK based company specializing in projection mapping, to raise awareness of the buildings new redevelopment.
The experience showed the spectators the past, present and future of the Battersea Power Station – and did so impressively. The projections, which were so much more than an old-school 2D projection, also reflected on the water below, creating an almost magical sight.
The use of the Battersea Power Station for 3D mapping was not that surprising, as the same building has been used for mapping light shows in the past, for brands including Heineken, Bombay Sapphire and popular video game Call of Duty.
Manx Heritage: Poker Stars
In September of 2015, Poker Stars – the world’s biggest online card room – decided to celebrate their 10 year anniversary on the Isle of Mann with an impressive 3D mapping show.
For Poker Stars, this was an innovative way to say thank you to the people of the Isle of Mann for a great 10 years, and to celebrate Manx heritage and culture.
The event itself was projected on to the Villa Marina gardens on the Isle of Mann, and attendance was free. The projection featured abstract patterns, images of the island’s history as well as playing cards and the characteristic red spade of the brand.
As Above, So Below: the Manhattan Bridge
A team of artists were brought together by Light Harvest Studio for this creative mapping projection of the Manhattan Bridge, which has been crossing the East River since 1912. When you’ve got a space like the Manhattan Bridge to play with, you’ve got a lot to work with. What’s great about this project is how the team really makes full use of the original building, the bridge.
The rusticated façade of the bridge is provides a very interesting texture, on which the audience enjoyed abstract, imaginative light patterns. However it’s the unexpected use of the inside of the tunnels that elevates this 3D mapping projection. The projection reaches its climax with the floating figures of people on the bridge, symbolizing the structure’s utility and potential.
The 600 Years: Prague Astronomical Clock
If you’ve been to Prague then you almost certainly have been to see the Prague Astronomical Clock, with its hourly show. It’s very quaint and very European and stands on the southern side of the Old Town City Hall. To celebrate the clocks 600th birthday, The Macula and Tomato Productions turbocharged the show of this clock with a 3D projection mapping project.
The show depicts the history of the clock, from the architect’s plans to the construction and key moments in Prague’s history, to which the clock has been witness, in a way, thanks to its central location.
The Sydney Opera House 3D Projection
We’re not 3D projection artists but we bet if you asked one for their dream building to project on, it would be the Sydney Opera House. This truly iconic building with its beautiful shell-like roof, is brought to life with this incredible 3D projection project by Urban Screen.
The solid roof seems to transform into fabric blowing in the wind, people climb and float above the roof and the tiles are peeled back to reveal more underneath. This is an impressive show, one we would have loved to have seen in real life.
The Future of 3D Projection Mapping
As you can see, there are already plenty of great examples of companies pushing the entertainment and event sphere with 3D projection mapping, and as the technology gets better it will be able to better realise the creativity of the people manipulating it.
But where does 3D mapping go from here? Currently this is an art form that is reserved for larger budgets looking to impress, but we are starting to see more examples of 3D mapping on a smaller, more everyday scale – like the Amazon 3D smartphone, which according to reports will have four infrared cameras installed on the front of the device so that it can scan the face of a user in order to project a 3D effect.
And could the future of 3D projection mapping also move into our homes? Imagine the hassle you could save putting up your Christmas decorations with a 3D projection instead? Bare white walls could be transformed in seconds. It sounds like stepping in to the scene of a futuristic sci-fi film, but this future is closer than we think.