What is projection mapping?

Projection Mapping uses everyday video projectors, but instead of projecting on a flat screen (e.g. to display a PowerPoint), light is mapped onto any surface, turning common objects of any 3D shape into interactive displays.
More formally, projection mapping is “the display of an image on an arbitrarily complex surface”.

As discussed in our Illustrated History of Projection Mapping, projection mapping has many alternate names including the original academic term “spatial augmented reality” and “video mapping.”

Projection mapping can be used for advertising, live concerts, theater, gaming, computing, decoration and anything else you can think of. Specialized software or just some elbow grease can be used to align the virtual content and the physical objects. For more information see our Software sections.

Projection mapping can be used on buildings to advertise, entertain or inform.

555 KUBIK | facade projection from urbanscreen on Vimeo.

Projection mapping can be used to create immersive experiences for theater, television or in the home.

 Sony’s PlayStation 3 Ads

Projection mapping can bring everyday objects to life (like shoes).

Or cars…

Projection mapping can be used on 2D objects like paintings.

Cityscape 2095 + interview from Yannick Jacquet (Legoman) on Vimeo.

Finally projection mapping can be used for games.

Build Your World and Play In It: Interacting with Surface Particles on Complex Objects (ISMAR 2010) from Augmented Engineering on Vimeo.

These are just a couple of random examples from a rapidly growing form of new media. See the blog for hundreds more examples.

Brett Jones
I research, design and prototype magical interactive experiences with projection mapping. I've worked for Walt Disney Imagineering and Microsoft Research and I've created things like IllumiRoom & RoomAlive. ( brettrjones.com | @brettjonesr )
  • Pingback: What is projection mapping? | Zoe Opal East()

  • Florian Rapp

    I would like to ask you something.
    For a student homework I create a simple “light-set-up” for the “Disney Dreams” event.
    My question is, what kind of projectors do you need to project on a 46 meter high castle, if the projector is 160 meters away from it.
    I thought about Laserprojection, but I am not sure, if they didn´t use “normal” DLP-projectors.
    Well, I know, that they used 12 projectors towards the castle.
    Maybe you could help me with some technical information oder ideas.

    I hope, that I dont bother you too much and I am looking forward to your answer.

    With best regards,
    Florian Rapp

  • Fish stix

    Where can I go to learn how to set my camera to match my projector. Im tired of drawing all my templets and want to work off a photo like the big boys.

    • Douglas Rose

      Have you received any answers yet? I would also like to know?

  • Emma Routen

    I want to build a show with projection mapping. Where do I start?

  • Michael Wilson

    What software is best for creating content?