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.