Until now, 3-D mapping has largely been used to project dazzling special effects onto the facade of buildings at outdoor events. The display of colored lights, towering cascading images and shadows of dancing giants enthralled crowds. But as awesome as these performances were, they felt random and experimental, a new invention that had potential but, as yet, no defined purpose beyond a gee-whiz demonstration of its possibilities. That’s why this 3-D court projection produced by Virginia-based Quince Imaging in partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team is so interesting. It uses 3-D mapping to enhance the excitement by integrating it into its regular program. Using a combination of 3-D mapping techniques and video content produced by the Cavaliers’ QTV team and Think Media, Quince transformed the court surface and surrounding screens into an immersive video environment. The system was comprised of 16 HD projectors, creating a pixel space of 3600×1878.
When motion pictures were first introduced in the late 19th century, people were enthralled by the fact that the images actually moved. It didn’t matter that there was no plot, no acting, no attempt to design the set. It was entertaining in itself, until it stopped being a novelty. In many ways, that has been the case when 3-D mapped projected light shows were introduced a few years back. Crowds oohed and aahed over the display of multi-colored lights on a building, the special effects of crumbling pillars and giant silhouettes of people strolling across the exterior walls. It was dazzling, magical. Now people have become blasé. Been there, seen that. The next generation of 3-D mapped projections needs to have a customized theme, a message, and an artistic sensibility.
That’s why we like the projected light show that San Francisco-based Obscura Digital made to mark the United Arab Emirates’s 40th anniversary as an independent nation. Projected onto the façade of the Sheikh Zahed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the show was designed to suit the occasion, integrating historical themes and cultural motifs with the architectural elements of the mosque. Aladdin’s genie couldn’t have done it better, but in the case of Obscura, it required 44 projectors, totaling 840,000 lumens of brightness, to cover the 600×351 foot surface area of the mosque.