The Largest Building Projection Ever

The Largest Building Projection Ever
September 25, 2014 amar

Editor’s note: Amar Mulabegovic is a founder and art director at The Macula, and a freelance artist and creative director involved in graphic design, animations, video installations and post-production, interactive light installations.

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iMapp project was held in front of Palace of Parliament in Bucharest on the 20th of September 2014, during the 555 year anniversary celebration….The event was organized by the city council and curated by another projection mapping group from Hungary called Maxin10sity. They were also one of five presenting teams and this mapping setup was accompanied by a 3 hour long concert lineup, which was held in advance of the projections on the facade. So basically each team had 5 minutes and 55 seconds to wow the audience.

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The final animation output was around 8K in Quicktime format (photoJPG, 25fps) with AAC sound on it. It ran from 4 Coolux Pandora Box Servers with fifth Pandora Box Server as an backup. This built in redundancy was able to recognize if a media server went down and the backup media server would instantly replace it. Those 4 servers were feeding 104 Panasonic PT-DZ21K projectors (20.000 lumen, 1920×1200 resolution) which were installed in stacks on 6 projection towers.

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Each stack had one projector which had a signal feed through optical fiber and rest of them were connected by DVI cables to act as one piece. Basically there were around 22 unique projectors/stacks which needed to be warped onto the building itself. The main principle is to have an exact simulation of the real world setup inside the software, where each camera view (looking at exact 3D model of the building) inside the software represents the projector’s FOV. The most important part is to know your numbers! And to get everything right (distances, heights, widths, angles, etc.). There was only one file which was separated by virtual cameras into individual slices and each slice belonged to one stack of projectors. The whole warping setup took technicians around two days to accomplish including several layers of blending between projectors (the guys were perfect!!!).

Since these kind of projects are quite rare, it is always hard to understand how to prepare content for compositions of this size. Obviously it is necessary to have much a greater frame-rate than 25fps, but considering the fact that we are dealing with 8K res in 3D, those render times are killers (in case that you don’t have Pixar’s render farm at disposal). It is also very important to realize the amount of details and overall tempo of the animation since these factors can be crucial when “passing” visuals to viewers. Lots of lessons can be learned for similar projects, especially the fact that you need to work as a team, and that means really getting everybody involved. It was a great pleasure to work on it!