Meeting and event planners are always looking for new ways to communicate event details, viral marketing messages, corporate branding information and sponsor promotions to attendees and passersby at conventions, conferences, grand openings and other events. A hot trend is interactive 3D video mapping, which uses eye-popping visuals.

Video mapping, also called projection mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a technology that transforms buildings and other large surface areas into a display surface for large-scale video projection. The fundamental idea is that video projection can be used to animate a stationary object of any size and scale in a way that gives viewers the illusion of motion.

Video mapping isn’t just another video board or screen with messaging on it. Instead, it takes advantage of the architectural and other interesting features of a three-dimensional setting, spatially mapping the environment on a virtual program that mimics the background it will be projected on. Multiple projectors can even be tiled to cover the entire surface of a structure (walls, ceiling and roof) in all three axes, resulting in a completely immersive experience where video mapping occurs on surfaces all around the viewer.

The technology can be used to promote events that have a public walk-up element, provide convenient and appealing hotel/conference center branding and event information, raise awareness about a cause, enhance street visibility to increase ticket sales and provide increased exposure for event honorees and sponsors.

Considerations include time of day and the mapping surface. For example, projection only works when it’s dark enough, and glass or dark surfaces don’t always achieve sufficient light reflection.

An example of video mapping is the innovative approach to video projection that was used to promote the opening of an architecturally compelling, unconventional modern space in downtown Denver. The Clyfford Still Museum opened in 2011 and reintroduced the artwork of Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still to the public for the first time in more than three decades. The museum is a dense, cantilevered two-story building of richly worked, cast-in-place concrete walls with a variety of specialized wood-formed finishes, concrete structural ceiling slabs and wood panels and glazing systems. Audio-visual challenges included coordinating and managing an outdoor video program for a series of high-profile grand opening events, animating the structure in a way that truly engaged viewers and wowing a demanding audience of art appreciators who’ve seen it all. These were no small tasks.

In the implementation, video mapping was used to tell stories and enable viewers to look at the architecture—literally—in a different light. Large-scale video projected interior and exterior architectural elements on the building’s exterior wall (40 feet by 200 feet), figuratively peeling away the wall and showing what’s inside. Video gradually immersed viewers into Still’s works, revealing intriguing details about the artist’s life and philosophy through a visual storytelling medium. The video mapping solution unveiled the building in truly dramatic fashion.

Video mapping is a scalable, cost-effective multisensory solution, one that can be produced on a grand scale or can be as simple as a single projector and a video loop. Event and meeting planners can use the technology to build and sustain excitement and attract greater numbers of participants and attendees to events. Sponsors and advertisers can greatly increase their exposure.

More than a fast-growing trend, video mapping is a powerful audio-visual tool that captures attention by seemingly doing the impossible—showing people something they’ve never seen before.

ERIC NEWKIRK IS GENERAL MANAGER OF COLORADO-BASED CEAVCO AUDIO VISUAL, AN EVENT PRODUCTION COMPANY WITH OFFICES IN ARVADA AND COLORADO SPRINGS THAT HELPS YOU “LOVE WHAT YOU SEE AND HEAR!”

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