Tutorial: Basic Projection Mapping for Outdoor Advertising.

Tutorial: Basic Projection Mapping for Outdoor Advertising.
November 17, 2014 ProjectileObjects

Editor’s Note: We are happy to introduce a new author Cornelius. Check out more of his work and the original post at www.ProjectileObjects.com

Tutorial: Basic Projection Mapping for Outdoor Advertising.

Quick video sample.

Task #1: Scout your location during the day and take a picture.


Task #2: Scout your location at night and take a picture. 🙂


This step is extremely important as you will need to look for sources of light that may ruin your image.

Also it is important to note parking, building specs, potential hazards, height requirements (can’t shoot 10,000 lumens into oncoming traffic), and so on.  Use common sense as your ally.



Since this was a new location we wanted to test it out before we brought in all of the equipment, so we went out with my portable projector pack and used a 3500 Lumen view sonic PJD6531w to see how it would go. Luckily there didn’t seem to be any problems with that location.


Task #3: Create a mockup and content.

For this I created a mockup from the initial photos taken during night scouting.  Once it was approved I moved forwards in creating the visual content loop.  We went through a total of 3 revisions before our final.



Task #4: Equipment rental.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of projectors in this example, but I will be releasing more information on that side of the game very soon.  For this project we used an older version of the 8500 lumen Pansonic PT-DZ870U (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/992728-REG/panasonic_pt_dz870uk_1_chip_8_500_lumens_dlp.html) and brought two lenses with us. .8 (wide) and a standard  zoom (1.5?).

Task #5 The Setup.

With the help of Hearcorp’s Adam and Issac we used a box truck to give us enough ground clearance to keep the projector away from pedestrians.  A silent Honda eu2000i generator provided plenty of power to run the projector and my laptop for the 5 hour promotion.

[gss ids=”1585,1591,1590,1589,1588,1587,1586″ name=”thesetup” style=”width:100%” carousel=”fx=carousel”]

And so, simply setup the projector and point it at the wall.  Wait for dark and….



Task #6 Expect failure and meet the challenge.

If you notice in the first images night scouting, and test projections there is a light pole in front of the building, but it never seems to be on.  Until that night.  Not to mention the wide angle .8 lens distortion of the mapped image when covering the full wall, which was expected. The initial plan was to project and render out a new version of the video with adjustments made on site to compensate for the variable setup, but the excess light pollution posed a serious problem for the now seemingly whimpy 8.5k projector.

Only three solutions remain, pick up some rocks and smash the lights, put a bag over the light (need a big ladder) or disable them. (Thanks to Dave at Hearcorp for this idea).  At the base of the pole was a photosensor responsible for keeping that lamp off during the day and powering it on at night.  I used the led light on my cell phone to test this idea.  By holding the light over the photo sensor within minutes the flood lights shut off.  It was now a simple trick of taping a constant light source to the photosensor to keep it off for the rest of our night. -=(Insert advertisement for camping headlamp)=-

[gss ids=”1597,1596,1595,1594,1593,1592″ name=”thefix” style=”width:100%” carousel=”fx=carousel”]

With the light out we still had a problem.  The image wasn’t as powerful as we knew we wanted it to be and the wide angle lens was the culprit.   By switching to the zoom lens and rotating the projector onto its side we concentrated the beam and produced a much bolder picture. But something was still missing, the visuals now seemed frameless and odd.  Instead of being mapped to the full scale of the building the design was now trimmed and centered.


Adam had an idea and I rendered out a new set of visuals with a white border.  Ta-da, New visuals are ready to be looped for the next 5 hours.


[gss ids=”1607,1606,1605,1604,1603,1602,1601,1600,1599,1598″ name=”theresult” style=”width:100%” carousel=”fx=carousel”]

Video shot once we were all setup.

In the end, the unexpected was much easier to deal with than expected.  I hope that you can learn from this experience as much as I did.  Special thanks to Leigh from Nakturnal: http://www.nakturnal.net/    Dave, Adam & Issac from HearCorp: http://hearcorp.com/   And Sweet Revenge for making a pink drink bold enough to cover a wall: http://www.sweet-revenge.com/

  • Cara Davis

    What software are you using?

    • After Effects & Adobe products for content creation and Madmapper for the mapping, but with this simple of a setup you could use any bit of mapping software out there.

  • Igor Keel

    Do you know if you need to get permission from the city to put up an ad like this?

    • It depends on your city. In Pittsburgh there are currently no permits or restrictions. However, New York city has multiple projection mapping related permits depending on the type of event (for profit, art related, non-profit, etc.). Some guerrilla marketing companies in NYC attempt to get around this by using a van and running mobile projections. So it is best to check with your local city regulators.

      • Casey Scalf

        Any ideas about San Francisco with respect to permits? I’ve been looking this for a minute with no leads.

        • I personally have not looked into the S.F. regulations, but if your unable to find anything, than I would say (at your own risk), just try it and see what happens. Typically there is a disconnect between law enforcement and “mapping laws.” A lot of things tend to float in a grey are or neutral space. More often than not, common sense is your best ally. If your blinding people with light (e.g. through windows, pointed at cars, etc.) then someone is going to call the police and they will be forced to ask you to stop even if there are not established laws. Sometimes even in larger cities, various districts tend to have their own regulations about outdoor advertising, so you might want to peek in to your local counsel-persons office.

          -Hope that helps,

  • Daniel Barreto

    Is there like any cheaper power generator that could run a projector? like for 2 hours ? Only for projector nothing else.


  • rookie balboa

    You’ve done a great job and thank you for sharing your experience, Cornelius. Question: Did you have to get any permissions (written, verbal…) from the building’s owners or superintendent, etc? Are there any privacy concerns and such for these kinds of advertising?

    • It seems to be better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. That being said, we asked for permission and no one could give it to us. The building is managed by a corporation who has an endless phone ring. The only time I would acquire permits would be in cities where there are already laws on the books, (i.e. New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on). Some regional outdoor advertising regulations may come into play, but as for as our city there is nothing.

  • Marcus Boyce

    These are all great projection of an outdoor advertisement that we should able to consider because it provides a mapping tool that will help us to target our perspective consumers that we can possibly market our business.

  • mz creations

    Guys ive a question which resolution should i follow for 270 degree mapping?

    • Depends on how big your surface is. If it is over 10 meters (32 feet) UHD is recommended. If it’s a small single dome there are spherical lenses that can wrap a 1920×1080 resolution around a sphere. At the end of the day, the higher the res, the better IMO, but budget, purpose, and design should all be considered.