Five tips for taking projection mapping to the next level:
The eye-popping visuals and jaw-dropping reactions that projection mapping elicits from audiences are raising the bar for a/v presentations. But whether you’re deploying projection mapping for the first time or the tenth, the key to achieving that big impact is making the most of the technology.
Here are five tips on how to leverage projection mapping to the max:
Content and craft
When a project succeeds, it’s a great time to begin upgrading the video assets—to make the next project even better. Existing content can be enhanced and re-rendered. You can upgrade to newer content and more sophisticated renderings, animation and illustration platforms, or layer in more 3D content and a higher degree of detail and accuracy in the mapping process. “All of those things add to the appeal, aesthetic, illusion and messaging, which ultimately drives audience response and consumer behavior,” says Rick Boot, partner at DWP Live.
Technology for both projection and media management is becoming more sophisticated by the month. With some platforms, there tend to be limits to content development and functionality, but heightening the experience for future projects requires breaking through those limits.
Upgrading the media server and media management technology can open new doors and possibilities for the presentation. And ramping up the projection quality can result in a much prettier picture on site—it’s a simple way to create more intensity, better resolution and brightness, and better reliability and functionality.
Having scenic or environmental elements that physically move within a space creates huge impact and can help create a dynamic and visually exciting experience for the audience. Producers can track video projection with moving objects so that when the target surfaces move, the projection follows. The best part? This technology hasn’t existed until now, so audiences haven’t seen it before.
Just like a fireworks show, a projection mapping production tends to take on the quality of a spectacle—especially the first time an audience sees it. To keep it interesting for repeated viewings, pay attention to basic storytelling elements like establishing mood and tone, and setting up audience expectations—and then fulfilling them—with elements of drama, conflict and resolution.
The trick is thoughtfully plotting out the creative process around the project, taking into account your available content resources, as well as the venue, target surface and strategic context.
People tend to remember experiences best when they have actually participated in them, so introducing interactive elements into projection mapping can really help build the impact. Adding a multi-user interface that lets audience members manipulate elements of the projection surface is just one way to pull this off. “I think most people are looking for a return on their investment,” says DWP Live president Danny Whetstone. “To really engage the audience and create a viral buzz around something, interactivity is the next big step.”
MAKE IT GREAT
Creating better projection mapping content:
In projection mapping, content is king. The medium is capable of producing stunning visuals, but if the projected content is dull or lacking in any way, the end result won’t make the big splash it’s supposed to.
Here are four tips to ensure that the content that goes on display is worthy of this killer delivery system.
Any target surface can be video- mapped down to the pixel, so improving the quality of content depends, in part, on having a very precise map of the target surface and the technology to achieve that level of accuracy.
If something is off, it can be noticeable to the audience and lessen the message’s impact. When you’re scheduling the project workflow, be sure to leave enough time so the presentation can make the most of every square inch of the projection surface. “If you’re a corporate brand marketer presenting your most important new business and product messages to your key stakeholders, a little video spillover on a projected surface sends the wrong message,” says DWP’s Boot.
It’s really important to consider the emotional pop you’re creating for an audience, because that’s what drives preferences, creates memories and, ultimately, shapes behavior. In the interest of creating a bigger emotional response, can the technical elements be brighter? Can the content be bigger? Hone the message and storytelling to a razor-sharp point before moving forward.
For projection mapping projects to fully succeed, the messaging, content development, mapping process and event production must be completely integrated. Everyone from the client to the production team needs to have the same information, communicate the same way and have the same goal. And it’s critical for each of the teams to stay in sync. If the content producers get too far ahead, for example, members of the other teams might miss the opportunity to identify problems facing the entire project.
If improving content is the goal, the delivery system can make a big difference. Clients who want a projection to be incredibly bright can leverage additional projectors. Certain projects that could be handled by four projectors take on added visual impact when more projectors are added to the mix.
Regardless of how big or small the projection surface is, DWP determines how much light is needed to bring out the content in a way that suits the audience and the camera, and builds the system from there.
Getting Audiences Involved
Audiences don’t just want to be passive spectators. They want to be participants in, and creators of, their own experiences.
Presenters and providers who fulfill those core desires are the ones customers seek out for repeat engagements. That’s why savvy marketers make their events as interactive as possible—they’re allowing the audience to engage with the brand in a dialogue rather than simply pushing messages at them. Interactivity also creates permission-based, rather than interruption-based, communication.
Three tips for building in more audience interaction:
Integrating user-generated content into the display in real time is a common and effective way to get audiences involved in a project. Tweets and mobile phone photos and videos can be incorporated into the display immediately as a way to turn the audience into participants in the experience.
Imagine an architectural projection display with a kiosk that allows audience members to literally decorate the side of a building with a photo or video they’ve taken—or a “painting” they’ve created on a tablet. Providing the audience with a color palette and a variety of brushes would heighten the audience’s engagement and allow users to manage the content that others are viewing.
Gesture-based systems—off-the-shelf solutions include Microsoft Kinect—are another option. They let users become even more active in the experience, controlling the projection by their own movements, tracked on an infrared camera.
Projection mapping can also take input from laser scanners that use a 180-degree laser fan tracking a larger area for objects and human movement, and then relay images to a projected image on the screen.
Mobile devices can be used in several ways to engage audiences with projection mapping. Custom applications can be set up for Android or iPhone. Have users enter a code to log in, and set parameters to give the audience as much control of the projection as you want. These types of applications also allow for multiple users to participate in the experience at the same time, so six or eight people could interact with each other, in addition to the branded content itself.
At the end of the day, each element of the project should be strategically dictated by the desired results. “If it’s relevant for a brand to invite the consumers to interact, then there should be interactivity,” says DWP’s chief technical officer Ben Ryle. “If it’s about being contemporary or appealing to a younger demographic, interactivity is even more important. If the customer asks for it, we’ll do it.”
What’s Next For Projection Mapping?
Projection mapping is evolving so rapidly that it’s difficult to predict where the technology
is headed next. But two things are for sure: It’s here to stay and its impact is growing. Five
trends to watch for:
Projection mapping is primarily a spectator sport right now, but over time interactivity will
become more common and relevant. Audiences will come to expect an interactive component to projection mapping displays, and the technology will allow new and amazing ways to keep them involved, no matter where they are.
The evolution of projector technology will also have a huge impact. “Cinemas went from film to digital projection in the past 10 years,” says DWP’s Whetstone. “The next step for projection mapping will be away from standard lamps and into lasers.”
Laser projectors already are significantly more powerful than standard projector lamps.
Currently, the brightest projector on the market is 40,000 lumens, while laser projectors
being developed are in the 75,000-lumen range. That should help tremendously with
scalability, because projects that currently require 10 traditional projectors could soon be
handled by five laser projectors.
With the advent of projection mapping, video can now be incorporated into permanent
interior and exterior architectural lighting installations. In the future, we may see an increase in the use of video in permanent architectural installations—especially at buildings of civic or architectural importance.
Corporate lobbies could leverage the technology with updatable messaging, and video elements could be perfectly aligned with the architectural features of the building itself.
Expansion into the arts
Theater companies could use video projections—instead of traditional sets and backdrops— to decorate stages. Using white screens as blank canvases for projection mapping could save time and money that would otherwise be invested in elaborate staging elements. Plus, the technology easily allows for incorporating motion.
Applications in advertising
Advertising has historically happened inside of two-dimensional rectangles. But projection
mapping gives advertisers the ability to dominate and transform a physical environment into a brand canvas. Video projection has reached the point that it can transform an entire environment with a high degree of detail to create emotional, relevant and content-driven experiences. It’s an entire level above LED billboards and banner ads.
Tips for getting your presentation to go viral
If going viral on social media is a strategic imperative for a projection project, that need should be addressed—by your social-media experts—as early as possible in the planning process. Social media tactics should be fully integrated into content development and technical production.
Five tips for getting audiences to share, tweet plus-one and “like” your projection campaigns:
If it’s big, badass and awesome, people will try to capture the experience with their phones and cameras. People like sharing dramatic images, so if you’re aiming for maximum social impact, try going big. Just keep in mind that larger-scale projections call for larger budgets.
Surprise also creates drama—planned properly, it enhances experiences, rather than interrupting them. And one way to surprise audiences is to choose a completely unexpected venue as the projection surface. Projection mapping technology allows almost any surface to become a HD video screen, so dream big and catch the audience where they’d least expect to see a video display.
Star power always gets people buzzing, so if you can tie in celebrities to the event, you’ll increase its viral relevance. Integrate the celebrity’s role into the actual presentation and you’ll really get attendees talking and sharing. Just be sure to lock in on relevant messages, humor and elements that are audience- focused rather than brand-focused.
Getting insights from your social media experts can help ensure that your content is relevant for the social media platforms—and audiences—you’re trying to engage.
Interactivity is a big influencer because when audiences have a chance to control the content, their experiences are more memorable. Use projection mapping to let shoppers customize products at kiosks at retail locations. The technology allows users to tweak products’ appearance, right before their eyes, with projected light. The effect replicates retail websites that enable consumers to customize cars or clothing.
Says DWP’s Whetstone, “Being able to actually see the product change in front of you—that keeps people interested.”
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