Filmmaking From Home With Projection Mapping

Stuck at home in self-quarantine, artist and filmmaker [Kira Bursky] had fewer options than normal for her latest film project. While a normal weekend film sprint would have involved collaborating with actors, set designers, and cinematographers in a frenzied attempt to finish in less than 48 hours, she instead chose to indulge in her curiosity for projection mapping, a technique that involves projecting visuals onto three-dimensional or flat surfaces.

In order for the images to properly map onto a surface, the surface first has to be mapped so that the projection is able to properly transform the flat image in order to produce the illusion of the light wrapping around the object. The technique is done in layers, in software similar to Photoshop, making it easier for the designer to organize the different interacting components in their animation.

[Kira] used a tool called Lightform to design her projections, which relies on a camera to calibrate the location of the surface and a projector to display the visuals. Her animated figures are drawn with loose lines and characterized by their slow gradients and ethereal movements. In the background of her film, a rhythmic sound plays while she brings the figures closer to view. Their outlines come into greater focus until the figures transform into her physical body, which also dances with the meandering lights.

Check out the short film below.

You can check out some other projects including video game projections, using a Raspberry Pi for projection mapping, and projection mapping onto moving surfaces.

10 thoughts on “Filmmaking From Home With Projection Mapping

  1. This has become the new hot technology among the high-end Christmas and Halloween light enthusiasts. In addition to festooning their houses with [tens of] thousands of RGB pixels, many of them are now adding projection mapping to their houses. The how-to classes for projection mapping were among the most popular at the most recent Christmas expos and a popular topic on the forums.

    1. One of the major benefits is just how low impact it is on the surfaces being projected on. No need to hang any lights when a few projectors can sit on the lawn.

      This is really helpful in situations where you wants to have a bright show on an in accessible or historic area. Historical society won’t let you change your building facade or HOA isn’t keen on light strips? No problem, just map it.

      Only major downside is that 99.5% of projectors aren’t made for outdoor use, so you’ll either need to jury rig an outdoor enclosure or buy one.

  2. Have you been Spongled, or to EoTO? I have in our local theater. My first reaction walking up to the stage was how did they get plasma or LCD screens in the shape of lotus petals! I bought a small projector for cheap to play with this.

    1. It’s amazing how cheaply you can pick up some projectors nowadays. If you arent doing representative video content or are fine with low-res video then. You can find bright (~4000 lumens) XGA projectors between $60-80 on ebay. The two thing to watch for is the hours on the bulb – which can sometimes be as much as the projector to buy new – and the type of lens it has – some are made to be placed 50ft away, some at 5ft for a 100″ canvas.

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