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Get Started In Video Mapping

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Relatively new yet swiftly increasing in popularity within the multimedia realm is Video Mapping. If you’ve not heard of video or projection mapping then be prepared to be blown away as Techwench introduces you to a technique that has been leaving viewers starry eyed across the world. Today on TechWench we show how you can get started in this exciting and impressive new artform.

What is video mapping?

In its purest definition, video mapping is the process of projecting video onto any object that is not a standard screen, removing the standard screen allows for near infinite range of possibilities to designers and artists whilst delivering a good “WOW” factor for audiences. All sorts of surfaces have been projected onto from castles to cars, dancers to DJ’s making for highly immersive installations which certainly leave an impression to all those who view them.

Many companies are investigating the applications of the technique for marketing opportunities due to its visual punch and opportunities for mapping their own products to further enhance their appeal as seen with the A1 installation at the Audi Car Design Awards 2011.

Radugadesign, a Russian media design house created the project for Audi and have since gone on to explore the idea further at the EURO-NCAP meeting in 2012 with a larger installation and of course; to a larger audience.

What is required for video mapping?

You may think that the most important thing to have for a projection mapping installation is a projector. Well whilst that certainly is paramount to your success what is most important is an idea or a vision. Just what is your message that you are trying to put across? How does projection mapping enhance this? It helps to pick a topic or subject which is going to allow for some visual Wow factor not a Woe factor.  Once you have your idea you will need a projector, or ideally; two projectors. Utilising two projectors will allow you to make your installation an even more immersive experience as there can be problems with unwanted shadows caused by the shape of the object you are projecting onto.  This problem is removed by using more than one projector.  What’s next is just as key as having an idea and a projector; software.  Whilst you can simply project a video straight out of the projector, as soon your video hits an angle or a corner, rise or fall the video becomes distorted as the surface bends or twists away. As such, some software which can pull and twist video to match the geometry of the surface is required.

What sorts of software are available?

You will need as a minimum a software package which can cut and stitch videos together if only to create the content you wish to project any video editing software package can help you with this though one which can allow for visualisations to be created will help you fare better. Cinema4d or After Effects will help you here as a minimum and also allow for rudimentary mapping of surfaces as they allow for distortion of geometry which is key for the effect to work. Really though the content you are projecting can be anything and so any video editing, motion graphic or visual effects editor can help you to generate exciting patterns and forms to excite your viewers.

Now we move onto dedicated projection mapping software and let me tell you; this is where the magic happens. Dedicated software packages such as Madmapper and Video Projection Tool give a huge range of options for the would-be video mapper allowing users to call from a database of videos, visualisations and effects, create their sequences as a whole and then to manipulate their distortion to match their projection surface.

Madmapper has been making waves in the mapping and VJing (Video-DJing) community since its release largely due to its association with the european VJ collective AntiVJ and it’s not hard to see why. Allowing the user to break down a video into a grid of nodes means that it has never been easier to map video to highly irregular surfaces with lots of edges and faces, combine that with the ability to layer video and co-ordinate between multiple projectors and it makes Madmapper the pro-tool to use for Videomapping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTG2zGbJ1dM

Coming in at the free end of the market but still a strong player is Video Projection Tool  6.0, don’t be fooled by the lack of price on this as it is the full package. With the capability to manipulate geometry on up to 32 layers from a range of sources it means that this package is suitable for live performances. Especially so when you consider this Video Projection Tool also allows for control surfaces to be plugged directly in, from MIDI to Arduino inputs, so that anyone can create a visual feast for their viewers!

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