vc001: Projection-mapping Ripple Dance

This is the first of my #100videoclips project — what I call the projection-mapping ripple dance. The infinite projection loop has a slight delay, which produces the very cool ripple effect.

The Inspiration

This project was originally inspired by this music video made by Zebbler:

He taught a section about video projection mapping in one of the classes I taught at Berklee Valencia, so I had the chance to ask him how he did this. He graciously shared his technique.

This isn’t traditional projection mapping (Zebbler’s specialty), which is “mapping” a video projection to an external object, but it uses similar techniques and concepts.

What I Did

Projection-mapped ripple dance setup 1

The basic steps:

  1. Connect a video camera through a video capture device to a computer. In my case, it was a Canon camcorder, through a Black Magic Ultra Studio video capture card, into my Macbook Pro.
  2. Connect the computer output to a projector.
  3. Set up Resolume Arena to recognize the video input. This was the trickiest part: It will vary based the particular hardware combination that you have, and it required help from a tech support guy (after trying myself for about an hour) to get it to work.
  4. In Resolume Arena, add the invert effect and the mirror effect.
  5. Line up the video camera and projector so they produce an infinite image loop. This also took a lot of trial and error.
  6. Dance in front of the projector/camera, and record it on the video camera as well as in Resolume.
  7. In PremierePro, I layered a couple of the shots and used some effects, including chromakey (Ultra Key) to get the combined results.

My setup produced a different effect than Zebbler’s, but it uses the same concepts.

What I Learned

Projection-mapped ripple dance setup 2

  1. Figure out the hardware setup and pay careful attention to what you need to do to make it work. I actually spoke with the school’s tech guy ahead of time — we did the basic setup, it seemed to work fine, and I took notes, but clearly not enough, because when I was on my own, the live camera feed just would not work. On that particular day, that guy was in France (and I was in Spain), so his second-in-command came to help, and he eventually figured it out, but it was very finicky.
  2. Experiment with projector focus and zoom, as well as distance from the screen, to find the sweet spot for the look you want. Even after getting the camera feed to work, the “infinite loop” effect was very hard to get right. In my case, I had to zoom all the way out with the projector lens, move the projector as far from the screen (wall) as possible, and set the camera up slightly above and behind the projector. I think Zebbler shot at more of an angle to get his particular effect.

Also, next time, I’d like to try having the projector on the floor, shooting upward (with keystone correction), to get a full body shot in the entire image.