Who doesn’t love 3D projection mapping? From gigantic structures to more arty approaches, it was quite the decade where audiences have been left completely hypnotized. This worldwide phenomenon is now booming, coming a long way from its first use in Disneyland 50 years ago. We now see it everywhere as artists around the world have made this innovative technique theirs. While some projects were very well advertised, you might not have seen some of the mapping treasures that were revealed these past years. Let’s have a look at the top projection mappings of the previous decade!
3D projection mapping projects
Box – Creators, 2013
Bot & Dolly
Some might consider that 3D projection mapping must be appreciated live and in-person. Bot & Dolly would surely disagree. The design studio undoubtedly produced the most memorable projection mapping YouTube video of the decade : the Box.
In their own words, their goal was to create magic-like illusions through the different technologies they master. The performer interacts with an ever-changing “Box” : the rectangle shape keeps moving and floating as if bewitched. Inside of it, morphing graphics and enigmatic animations are revealed.
This work truly is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping, and software engineering.
Interconnection – iMapp, 2016
Here’s arguably one of the most impressive projection mapping shows of all time: Interconnection by LimeLight. In fact, it is the only artwork in iMapp history to win both the Jury’s and the People’s Choice Award. The 3D projection mapping competition set in Bucharest invites contestants to map on a 23,000 m2 façade. The best multimedia artists in the world gather and present their creations on the front of the Parliament Palace. The works are then analyzed by a specialized jury, consisting of visual arts, communication, media and film experts.
This piece focuses on the connection of all things, the tiniest to the most gigantic, the outer and the inner universe. It’s about connecting logical and emotional, individuals and society, art and audience, planet and galaxies, architecture and animation. In a very abstract but yet expressive manner, the artwork takes the audience on an unforgettable cinematic journey.
Evolutions – Fêtes des Lumières, 2016
Yann Nguema & Ez3kiel
Here’s a hidden gem that truly did not get the attention it deserved: Évolutions by Yann Nguema and EZ3kiel. This mesmerizing 3D projection mapping show took place at Saint-Jean Cathedral for the 2016 Festival of Lights in Lyon. The French festival is an international event renowned for its light installations during which the city is transformed for four magical evenings.
For this kind of mapping project, we usually see a full 3D mapping of the global structure. But EZ3kiel’s artistic director made a truly bold choice: designing and mapping each stone so each would become alive. Indeed, Yann Nguema developed himself a specific software allowing him to achieve this piece and the result was spectacular! The medieval stained glass rose window illuminated as if backlit, laser shots impacting the projection or the subtle use of warm and cold lights to say the least were all eye-catching elements. It was a show soothing poetry and sensitive grace which earned them the Trophy of Lights.
Lighting of the Sails – Vivid Sydney, 2014
Perhaps the most iconic mapping project in terms of projection surface: Lighting of the Sails on the Sydney Opera House. Every year since 2009, the Vivid Sydney light festival gathers millions of people by offering immersive light installations and projections. The Australian city is completely transformed for this event, and at the heart of it is the Opera House.
Each year’s 3D projection mapping on it is a real treat, but one here’s one of our favorites: the 2014 Edition by 59 Productions. The design studio took us on a journey through time! From the birth of architecture and civilization through to the pinnacle of human and technological achievement. The famous roof tiles were each mapped and kept on transforming, deconstructing, evolving and changing textures during the 15-minute show. This is a massive 3D projection mapping show, and definitely a must-see if you ever spend a summer Down Under.
Scintillation – 2009
When we say 3D projection mapping, you think architecture, enormous structures and live performances blazing through the night, right ? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s certainly not limited to that. Xavier Chaissaing‘s super low budget film demonstrated how projection mapping helps create sublime art of all forms. The short experimental movie combines an innovative mix of stop motion and live projection mapping techniques. The artwork is made up of over 35,000 photographs and focuses on mappings shot with live cameras. The unique perspectives added to mappings’ lights confer a somewhat unreal aesthetic. Flower petals and wall mouldings take on a life of their own, a truly fascinating one.
This piece is a testament to what an inventive artist can do, and sheds light on a often overlooked aspect of projection mapping. Besides, unlike most mapping projects you don’t have to be on-site to fully appreciate this one.
Speed of Light – 2012
Sharp & Jenkins
Have you ever seen an action movie made entirely with 3D projection mapping ? Well, let us introduce you to “ the world’s smallest all action police chase “ ! Sharp and Jenkins used hand-held pocket video projectors to shoot their high-intensity Speed of Light film. Featuring an escaped convict, cop cars and a fully armed police helicopter, the short piece takes ‘projection mapping’ to a whole new (and low) level.
This is clearly a case where innovative creators thought outside of the box, as projection mapping provides means to design a complete action car chase inside their own office! As for those who wonder, Speed of Light was all projected and filmed for real with no CGI trickery.
Sweater – Willow, 2012
Of course, 3D projection mappings have been associated with music so often, we sometimes don’t even pay attention to sound. But did that ever happen on a music video ?
For Willow’s music video “ Sweater “ , the feat is such that we sometimes focus more on what we see than what we’re hearing. Though that’s remarkable work from the video director, we of course take nothing away from the band’s rock melody. It’s just that the technique here is so on spot! We feel like he’s going down the elevator, know he’s opening those doors and see he’s walking on the streets.. While he’s actually not doing any of those things. This mix of music and mapping in this kind environment is rarely seen but actually really effective!
As Above, So Below – Dumbo Arts Festival, 2016
Light Harvest Studio
About a decade ago, Light Harvest Studio showed the world what “immersive experience” meant when projection mapping was involved. In fact, they offered a beautiful and unique brand new ordeal. Generally, audiences are used to mappings on structures that you have to look at from afar, or that are straight in front of you. While the spectacle sure is often marvelous, it’s actually not as immersive as it is a pure show. The design studio wanted to change that and delivered a 3D projection mapping inside the tunnel under the Manhattan Bridge. The result is complete immersion. As everywhere you look is mapped, it makes you feel as if you are inside the mapping. Remember this dates back to 2011! This is a truly pioneering work which surely inspired recent venues such as l’Atelier des Lumières.
Perspective Lyrique – Fêtes des Lumières, 2010
Let’s throw it back when 1024 Architecture put interactivity at the heart of projection mapping. The Festival of Lights in Lyon truly is an occasion to show the world what a mapping experience really is. And back in 2010, that’s exactly what 1024 Architecture did, when they coupled 3D projection mapping with interactivity. In fact, they projected a mapping of former lyrical theater, the “Celestins”. Right in front of it, at the center of the place was a microphone. All passersby could then speak, sing or shout in the mic. And when they did so, the building would deform and figures would appear and move according to the sound made. It was a beautiful use of audio analysis algorithms to engage the audience.
Enghien – Bains Numériques Festival, 2009
Joanie Lemercier & AntiVJ
Let’s have it for the one who many consider as their primary inspiration for projection mapping, Joanie Lemercier. He and his collective AntiVJ developed some of the most jaw-dropping and visionary projects known. The first that comes to mind is their performance at Enghien les Bains for the Bains Numériques festival. The way the building was decomposed, mapped and rearranged was indeed pioneering. Adding to their performance was a captivating sound design for an unforgettable audiovisual show.
Those were some of the most groundbreaking and majestic mapping artworks of the last decade. It took time, all kinds of efforts and tremendous skill and means for the artists and engineers to realize them. That’s the kind of wonder that can be achieved with 3D projection mapping! But it doesn’t have to be a daunting and seemingly impossible task. There’s a solution to help make your mapping projects alive and memorable effortlessly: HeavyM. It’s the easiest-to-handle projection mapping software. You can create and conceive designs through simple steps then modify and animate them live in real-time. All you need is a projector to bring all your ideas to life. And you’re just a few clicks away from mapping like a pro!