PMC Interview Series: Projection Artworks: London, U.K.

PMC Interview Series: Projection Artworks: London, U.K.
July 14, 2015 ProjectileObjects
Projection Artworks projectileobjects

The goal of the PMC Interview series is to inform and enlighten all of those whom are interested in projection mapping. We have been reaching out to top professionals to get their take on all things mapping related and give you the insider scoop as to their vision, experiences, & workflow. If you like this series, please continue to share, comment, and show your interests in all things mapping related.  Click here to view our two previous Interviews with URBANSCREEN & The Giggle Group.

Next up on our PMC Interview series is Projection Artworks based out of London, U.K.  In this series we simply as a series of Q&A’s and for this article we spoke with James Murray of P.A.

“The key is to keep calm and carry on: be flexible and stay methodical.”

Q: What is Projection Artworks and how did it all start?

Projection Artworks started ten years ago doing building projections with simple slide and gobo projectors. We covered high-footfall locations for advertising campaigns and high-profile locations – like the Houses of Parliament, Battersea Power Station and Scotland Yard – for PR stunts.

We then moved forward into digital projection, experimenting with 3D animation and projection mapping. We’ve since grown to a studio of 35 with a dedicated interactive development team, which allows us to keep forging ahead in the field.

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Q: Who are your top clients?

We’re lucky to have clients who appreciate our expertise and put faith in our ideas, giving us the freedom to push the boundaries of digital technology. Over the years we’ve worked with pretty much everyone: Nike, Adidas, Jaguar, Nissan, Vodafone, Heineken, British Airways, Coca-Cola and Virgin, to name but a few.

Q: Walk me through your creative process, from the moment the client contacts you to the actual show.

First of all we look at the client’s objectives. Are we making headlines, promoting a new product, creating a viral video or making an event that bit extra special?

Once we know these objectives, we can develop a bespoke solution to best achieve them. The ‘canvas’ is an important part of any idea; we’ve projected on everything… faces, floors and football pitches; trains, planes and automobiles.

Next we consider how to put our ideas into action. We’re always trying to push the envelope, using pioneering interactive technologies, real-time rendering and ultra-high resolutions.

Lastly, we think about the final experience. What can we do to make it truly extraordinary? There are always new frontiers to explore.

“We’ve been asked to project on all sorts of crazy things – including the moon!”

Q: How much does do these experiences cost?

Because every project is unique, it’s hard to put a single cost on projection mapping. It depends on the size of the canvas and the complexity of the creative, so projects can cost anything from thousands to hundreds of thousands.

Q: What tools do you use?

The studio uses dozens of programs to achieve the 3D effects that make our projections so visually arresting. Different jobs require different creative approaches, but we work a lot with Cinema 4D, After Effects, Touch Designer and Unity.

When it comes to mapping, we have a range of media servers to choose from, including some we’ve developed ourselves like DisplayMapper, a cloud-based CMS designed specifically for retail. Primarily, though, we use D3, which allows us to test out our content and production options in a 3D simulation before we go to site.

Q: What about staging, set design, etc?

We call this the canvas, and it is paramount to our creative process. It helps to shape our ideas. It’s always exciting to work with a brand new canvas and push its possibilities.

Q: How long does it take to set up?

It really depends on the project! Some big outdoor shows can take days; others just a few hours.

Q: For outdoor events what issues have come up and how did you solve them? (Permits, weather, etc)

Getting permissions is almost an art form itself, and our outdoor team has spent a lot of time developing their expertise. As you’d expect, weather is often a problem for outdoor projects too. One particularly difficult project was for Nike at the Nou Camp. We were filming a projection on the actual pitch amidst some of the worst storms on record. It took about 48 hours but we got the shot in the end!

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Q. For indoor events, what issues or problems, and how did you solve them?

Time is often the biggest challenge for indoor projects; we’re often on site working alongside set-builders, venue dressers, riggers, show callers and live performers, and if anyone runs over it has a knock-on effect on everyone else. The key is to keep calm and carry on: be flexible and stay methodical.

Q. In your opinion what is the next big thing in projection mapping, show design, creative, etc.?

It’s hard to know exactly what’s around the corner; who’d have thought ten years ago that the medium would have exploded as it has, with innovators all over the globe? We’re very interested in smaller-scale applications, which often allow greater scope for creativity and interactivity. That’s the thinking behind DisplayMapper, our cloud-based CMS designed for small-scale retail installations.

Projection Artworks Projectile Objects

The future for Projection Artworks depends on the next challenge – there are so many amazing canvases we’d love to work with. For me, Sydney Opera House is top of the bucket list!

Q: Do you have internal R&D?

Yes, our creative team are always working on experimental new techniques. As experts in a very niche field, our clients often look to us to present them with brand new ideas, so we always like to keep some aces up our sleeve. Our latest experiment used in-camera mapping – instead of CGI or motion graphics – to create 3D effects.

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Q. What was your favorite project?

It’s impossible to pick just one! Our show for Guinness at Senate House was great because the building wrapped around the audience for an immersive 270° experience, and the black and white content was really unique.

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Our work for Sensodyne was one of our first interactive projects and one of my favorite experiential pieces. The projection was triggered by an interactive punchbag and featured one of our best crumbling wall illusions.

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Our recent project for Faberge definitely deserves a mention too. It was a 16 x HD, daylight visible 3D egg in the windows of Harrods, so very tricky technically.

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Q. What’s the craziest thing you’ve been asked to do for a project?

We’ve been asked to project on all sorts of crazy things – including the moon! – personally, my scariest stunt was when we guerrilla projected on to Buckingham Palace for Damon Albarn’s album,The Good, The Bad & The Queen.

More Photos from Projection Artworks: