15 mind-blowing projection mapping demos

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A few years ago, video projection mapping (aka spatial augmented reality, or projecting video onto 3D surfaces such as buildings) was a fledgling art form, with a handful of noteworthy examples. Now, a head-turning projection is par for the course for any building opening, product launch, award ceremony or even a big birthday party (if it's good enough for the Queen).

Video projection mapping has the capacity to transform any object into a screen. Forget flat projection, as projection mapping has the ability to take a real-world object, such as a building, and project onto its walls without any distortion. 

Events combine motion graphics, 3D, animation, and video to playfully highlight, deconstruct, rotate, recontextualise and generally manipulate a building's usual geometry.

Often site-specific, the best work enhances rather than effaces the architecture it's projected onto. The sheer scale can be breathtaking and the illusion of everyday and static objects around us becoming animate and playfully reworked can be incredibly exciting. Just look at the expressions on the audience's faces during a projection and you see an almost childlike glee.

We've picked our favourite examples of projection mapping that you must see, ranging from O2's stunning rose, to micro projections on the petals of a flower, to an incredible display the full height of the Sagrada Familia.

01. Bloom

Established in 1947 to provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Edinburgh International Festival celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017. 

To mark the occasion, 59 Productions conceived an opening event that transformed the whole of St Andrew Square into a magical night garden and saw buildings burst into life in a floral explosion of colour, texture and sound. 

And rather than being a one-off event, Bloom ran for two nights at the start of the festival, from 10pm to midnight on a 20-minute loop, allowing the audience to enjoy the spectacle at their own pace.

02. Interconnection

The winner of both the Jury's Choice and People's Choice awards at the 2016 iMapp Bucharest competition, Interconnection transformed the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, into a psychotropic exploration of the interconnectedness of all things, man. 

Created by Limelight 3D Projection Mapping, it draws inspiration from contemporary visionary art and architecture, sacred geometry, physics and chemistry, and mixes them all up into a properly mind-altering five-minute trip.

03. O2's Wear the Rose

In September 2015, the O2 joined forces with Projection Artworks to create the world's largest projection mapping project to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. 

Making use of 68 projectors and more than 122 moving head light fixtures, the roof of the venue was transformed into the English rose emblem. According to O2, the show could be seen from space.

04. Harrods' Fabergé egg

Projection Artworks was also part of the team that created the world’s brightest projection mapping show in Easter 2015. Global design consultancy JUSTSO collaborated with Projection Artworks to illuminate the windows of world-famous department store Harrods.

Conceived for Fabergé's Easter storefront display, the 360-degree mapped 3D installation is based on the company's pendent designs – which are 1/100th of the size of the 1.5m model – and incorporates an interactive touchscreen element to showcase the detail of the jewellery.

05. Box

This video from Bot & Dolly was created without any special effects. As the performer engages with a morphing set, unfathomable shapes, graphics and animations are revealed. As the video continues, we're eventually shown that it is in fact, a robotic mechanism hidden behind every illusion.

Using their state of the art robotic camera systems 'Iris' and 'Scout', the technique allows for millimeter precision of the robot arms.

06. Battersea Power Station Annual Party

Battersea Power Station invited Drive, a UK-based agency that specialises in projection mapping, to create an awe-inspiring visual experience to raise awareness for the iconic building's spectacular redevelopment. This is the result: 360,000 lumens of immersive visuals celebrating the building's past, present and future.

07. Tokyo Station Vision

JR East celebrates the opening of the reconditioned Tokyo Station with a spectacular projection mapping experiment by NHK Enterprise. Brickwork peels away to reveal pistons; clockwork automata strum pilasters while trumpets and cymbals blow and crash from behind bays; at one point a route-map inscribes itself across the facade like a 150m long game of Snake.

This is a great projection, sympathetic not only to the architectonics of the building, but its function too.

08. Dr Blighty at Brighton Pavilion

Dr Blighty was a free production that became one of the highlights of the 2016 Brighton Festival, transforming the Brighton Pavilion, on England's south coast, into an Indian scene. 

Produced by Nutkhut and animated by motion design and projection mapping specialist NOVAK, it celebrated Brighton Pavilion's history as a WWI hospital for wounded Indian soldiers. A specially commissioned soundtrack by Shri and Ed Carter rounded of the colourful event.

09. Speed of Light

Not all projection mapping examples can be measured in metres. The Theory's personal project Speed of Light bills itself as the worlds smallest all action police chase. 

Using hand-held micro projectors with an iPhone video source, Tom Jenkins and Simon Sharp create a dynamic and witty film on the surface of their own office that proves size isn't everything.

10. As Above, So Below

Light Harvest assembled a whole team of artists for this unusual mapping for Manhattan Bridge. The animation makes great use of the heavily rusticated facade of the bridge but where it really shines is in the tunnels underneath. 

The entire curved ceiling becomes animated, when entering the tunnel the audience becomes immersed in the projection.

11. Willow - 'Sweater'

Using two walls, a treadmill, and some nifty projection, director Filip Sterckx creates a virtual world for the Willow's music video. As with most projection mapping it's the technique that charms here.

Singer Pieter-Jan Van Den Troost gropes at doors that aren't really there, trots on the spot down imaginary stairs, and kneels pretending to be paddling in the sea. It's all surprisingly lo-tech, and all the better for it.

12. Lighting the Sails

Jørn Utzon's inspiration for Sydney Opera House's iconic shell roof is brought to life in this work by Urban Screen. The roofs appear as fabric ship sails, undulating in the wind. The distinctive chevron tiles - a labour of love for Utzon - pulse, fold, and rupture to reveal the rich interiors.

All of Urban Screen's projections are worth watching, particularly Tag und Nacht for its clever interplay between in the interior and exterior, and the seminal 555 Kubik.

13. Scintillation

Xavier Chaissaing's super low budget film demonstrated what an inventive artist can achieve with limited resources. The film was shot with a DSLR and a motion control rig made by the artist himself. 

Its innovative mix of stop motion footage and live camera projection is particularly bewitching in the scenes where the projection is viewed through the translucent petals of a flower.

14. Omicron

One of the few permanent installations in this list, Omicron can be seen at the Hala Stulecia museum of Architecture in Wroclaw, Poland. 

Romain Tardy's minimalist aesthetic takes its inspiration from the period in which the dome was built and does an incredible job of highlighting its structural qualities, making the heavy concrete construction light and dynamic. The making-of video is interesting, too.

15. Sagrada Familia (Ode à la vie)

Gaudi's plans for a polychrome facade on the Sagrada Familia have been realised, albeit only for 15 minutes. Moment Factory combined video projection, gobos, sharp beam lights projecting beams into the sky, and lighting from the interior to create a spectacle it describes as a, "living fresco made of colour, light and sound".

To work with the complex geometry of the cathedral a 3D scan was used to help map and light a show that works with the host architecture in brilliant symbiosis.

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