Projection Mapping

What exactly is projection mapping? Projection mapping, similar to video mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a projection technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection. It can be used to create better viewing pleasure of complex industrial landscapes or even used for theatrical stage purposes. Projection mapping can be used for 2D or 3D images. For this segment, we will be focusing on the 2D aspect of projection mapping.

Methods of Projection Mapping

VJ’ing or VeeJay-ing (Video Jockeying)

VJ is used during live events where augmented projections are required. These projections provide a fully dynamic and visually ecstatic content which consists of  pre-programmed videos and combinations of visual effects and overlays..


Theatrical is used where projections are pre-set and scenes are cued on demand. Typically, a theatre show will have a specified order in which the scenes are performed, thus requiring a distinct amount of sequencing and precision. Projection mapping can also create a more interactive performance.


Static or interactive is a type of projection mapping where it is used to display set up, loops or interacts with the environment and viewers. Generally, this is done through ore-set programming.


This aspect of projection mapping is generally not interactive and just displays a video that is played from beginning to end.

Projection Mapping Process

Projection mapping has evolved dramatically in its application since its early 2000s where it was mainly used to enhance live-music shows or to project visual-art. It is now used by production companies as well, to incorporate telling of stories using animated and interactive visuals. By using the necessary pre-setup, images can be fitted onto a 3D graphic model of a medium and will appear to wrap themselves around the physical features of the medium. Therefore, this gives the appearance of being painted on and part of the same structure despite them being not. This process can also be used on a smaller scale to project virtual images on anything from a mannequin to a car to completely change their colour, structure and appearance. Projection mapping can turn buildings, walls, floors and even common objects into something truly stunning.

Projection Mapping Hardware


The device that is used to project rays of light, especially an apparatus with a system of lenses for projecting slides or film on to a screen. As of today, they are widely available in the market with many suppliers and systems.

Central Control Unit / PC

Artwork that is computer generated, in which CASE software controls the laser exposure of the image file, one pixel at a time.


CASE is the use of a computer-assisted method to organize and control the development of software, especially on large, complex projects involving many software components and people. Using CASE allows designers, code images. It may also serve as a repository for or be linked to document and program libraries containing the design requirements, design specifications or detailed code specifications.

CASE can be used in many different aspects. To help understand the basics of what CASE software is capable of, check out this short tutorial. There are many advance tutorials available that showcase a bunch of other applications.

Input devices

Techniques include speech recognition systems that translate a user’s spoken words into computer instructions, and gesture recognition systems that interpret a user’s body movements by visual detection or from sensors embedded in a peripheral device such as a wand, stylus, pointer, glove or other body wear.


The computer analyses the sensed visual and other data to synthesize and position augmentations. Computers are responsible for the graphics that go with augmented reality. Augmented reality uses a computer-generated image and it has a striking effect on the way the real world is shown. With the improvement of technology and computers, augmented reality is going to have a drastic change on our perspective of the real world. Computers are the core of augmented reality.

A lot of the software used for creating content is cross platform, Mac & PC mainly. Popular tools of the trade include, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, & Cinema 4D, while there are many more, these 4 and others like them should give you a large enough playground to create custom visuals.

Projection Mapping Software/Systems


Example – Optoma Projection Mapper

The Optoma Projection Mapper is an Android, iOS, and Amazon app that brings powerful projection mapping to almost any device. Optoma Projection Mapper enables you to beam multiple images and video onto 3D surfaces to create digital art

Standalone software

Example – Madmapper

Madmapper is an advanced tool for video and light mapping. Fast and user-friendly tool, adaptable to a variety of uses like architectural projection, art installation, and stage design. For Mac and PC, MadMapper makes a seemingly complicated setup simple and easy to realize.

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Example – Resolume Arena

Resolume is a performance suite for video artists and VJ’s. In addition to its unique audio systems, it also allows projection mapping of videos or any other visual art.

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