“Possibly the easiest projection mapping tool I have ever used.”
The MiniMAD is a powerful and compact projection mapping tool. With its ease of use and growing feature set, the MiniMAD may be desirable for your next project or installation.
1st, I will state that MiniMAD (mM) is a “companion” projection mapping player. It requires MacOSX based software; MadMapper 2.0+ or the soon to be released MadMapper Lite* (free with purchase of mM) to handle the transfer & auto-updates. It is currently not a standalone projection mapping tool. The benefit to this is that the seamless integration between software and hardware leaves little room for error.
The basics: Built off of the Raspberry Pi 2 platform with 900MHz quad-core ARM processor, 1GB of Memory, & an 8GB MicroSD card, this little computer packs a perfect punch for projection mapping. It can support smooth 1920x1080p30 playback via HDMI with audio either through HDMI or the 3.5mm Audio Jack. Since the Pi is microUSB powered, this little device will work world wide and run off battery power if needed. The device itself has 7 tactile buttons, 6 of which are currently in use and 1 unassigned for future upgrades. The price for a MiniMad is $180 USD from their USA distributor (BlinkinLabs_Shop) or €159.00 from Garagecube’s website (GarageCube_Shop).
As of its recent release in October 2015, the developers have been making almost “bi-monthly” updates adding increased functionality. Currently the Mini’s limited to Quad’s and Triangle’s, so we ran a few tests to see just what it could handle. From our first series of tests we noticed that the audio took priority, even if the visuals were too much for the pi to handle, the audio would still loop seamlessly. Additionally, at 1920x1080p30, 42 shapes might be overkill for most projects. (e.g) we only used 3 triangles in the demo video.
Results from tests (Each shape is made from 2 triangles and 1 Quad):
168 quads, 336 triangles: 504 Total = 2 fps with audio and 4 fps without, Audio playback did not skip.
The first two tests were run for 2 hours each, the third, 42 shapes at 30fps was then put to the test for 120 hours straight. In the end there were zero reboots or issues with the miniMad, it felt a little warm to the touch, but over-all seemed stable for even the most intense installations.
In sharing this article with the developers I have been informed that they are currently experimenting with synchronization over network between miniMad’s for larger installations and optimizing the performance when using “many” surfaces.
-While the buttons on the device are handy, it is recommended that you have a Raspberry Pi compatible usb keyboard on hand. I was using my Logitech K400. The keyboard offers access to more features and functions than the tactile buttons do.
-The 8GB MicroSD card is plenty, but does sound small in a world talking about 1TB flash memory sticks. An 1 Hour long video compressed to 1.31GB on the miniMAD. If you want to, you can upgrade your card to a larger one with a set of instructions from MadMappers support team.
– While Circles and Lines would be desirable features, the next update of the MiniMad is currently focused on user feedback and will include, Masks and Mesh-warping on Quads. (If you have a unit make sure to tell them which features should be added next).
-Currently you cannot add or delete layers directly on the MiniMAD, that is what the MadMapper software is for. I have been told by the developers that they want to mini to be a a “Mapping Player” but they a number of future ideas on how to better integrate the two.
– Since it requires MadMapper, even though this device is based off of Linux, this will only be a good fit for Mac OSX users.
– Another option for the Raspberry Pi and OpenFrameworks, Pi Mapper. To give the MiniMad a fair evaluation we decided to boot a version of Raspbian with OpenFx & PiMapper installed on the same device. The conclusion was that while PiMapper offered more features as a standalone mapping tool, the two were not comparable in terms of ease of use, reliability, and performance. The MiniMad has truly been optimized to perform reliably, where as Pi Mapper (with a host of additional features) is still in development.
The menu above shows the four built in modes: Media, Mapping, Image, and Cropping Control. The device can store multiple media clips for single loop, loop all, or continuous play. The mapping mode gives you the ability to move corner points and individual layers. The image mode adjusts brightness and contrast. Cropping control (requires keyboard) allows you to manipulate the “crop” (or location) of the source video within the pre-set maps. This mode is great for adjusting the perspective of source video to compensate for audience eye level.
Demonstration Video: https://youtu.be/TiSDhxbRTGc
Triangle Visuals are available for free download here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x40fcw3vafpxsaw/Triangle%20Graphics.mp4?dl=0
*Madmapper Lite (coming soon), was not released at the time of this review.