For almost 40 years, 3D-mapping has amazed the imagination and evoked a storm of spectator emotions, but only in the last decade this technology has been actively used in the fields of entertainment, art, advertising, and many others.
3D-mapping (also called video mapping, video projection, volumetric projection, etc.) is a multimedia audio-visual technology for projecting 3D images onto any surface (taking into account its shape and relief) which does not require the installation of complex structures and surfaces for projection.
Artists work on the creation of such installations, using a ray of light as their brush, and various architectural objects, interiors, cars, clothes, and even a people's faces as a canvas. Mapping is also carried out on natural objects; for example, mountains and trees. This technology opens up new opportunities for environmental open-air events. Complex surfaces with a lot of detail are more complicated but more interesting to work with, and the finished artist’s work can become a real work of art, showing a familiar city building from a completely new side. The possibilities of 3D-mapping are almost endless, which allows the artist to bring any of his ideas to life. The size of the object onto which the image is projected is also not limited: it can be a monumental imposing building or a grain of rice.
The technical equipment of the 3D-mapping show is based on video projectors, computers, and good sound. However, the main thing is the artistic talent of the team or an artist creating these amazing performances with light.
Video projection technology refers us back to Ancient Greece, when the ancient theater was just the beginning of experiments with light and shadows. 3D-mapping as we know today was born only in the XX century, though. So, the first projection was shown at Disneyland at the "Phantom Manor" opening in 1969. Walt Disney himself also participated in the development of a new visual art style. The next step in development was Michael Naimark installations in 1980: he filmed people in his living room and then reproduced this image in an empty room, creating the illusion of presence. In the late 1990s, the University of North Carolina tried to use the technology in a professional environment in the "Office of the Future" project. In this office, people communicated remotely using video communication, during which the interlocutor's image was projected onto the walls.
Today, video projections have become an integral part of city events. Themed festivals are held in major cities around the world: the Festival of Light in Lyon, the iMapp mapping teams competition in Bucharest, the annual Festival of Light, Music, and Ideas Vivid Sydney in Sydney ... St. Petersburg is no exception. Every year, in addition to the Festival of Light, it hosts the Fire Festival (3D-mapping is the essential part of it). In 2019, the grandiose multimedia project Fireworks over Leningrad was held – the organizers turned the Hermitage General Staff Building into a huge panoramic screen, telling a story about the tragic pages of the city's historical life.
Traditional city festivals are often complemented by light, laser, and projection shows. Video projection is being broadly used in the field of education, thanks to new interactive technologies. Museums and galleries have been using mapping for quite some time to decorate exhibition space and create a suitable context for exploring pieces of art. In the last century, 3D-mapping artists were mainly interested in the possibilities of this technology, but today the concept, performance theatricality and the plot have become even more important. Therefore, a whole team of scriptwriters and directors is working on the show, using the principles of theater and cinema. More and more often this art technology intersects with other types of art: music, dance, street art, and many more. Mapping may soon replace theatrical make-up and decorations, interior designers are now "trying on" room design options using projections, and we can’t imagine the performances of popular DJs and musicians without installation in the background. Advanced theaters put virtual actors into their performances, create a certain atmosphere (that is difficult to achieve with the use of traditional technology), and also minimize pauses in the action, since the scenery can be quickly switched. Interactive projections are being broadly used in the art of dancing and for choreographic studies and performances, in which dancers interact with the projected image using sounds and moves.
In St. Petersburg, the Festival of Light transformed the most famous architectural monuments of the city with the use of 3D mapping and showed it in an unexpected perspective – Alexandrinsky Theater, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Mariinsky Palace, Zenit Arena, General Staff Building, Winter Palace, Cruiser Aurora, Saint Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex completely changed the way they looked before.
On April 20th-21st, 2019, 3D-mapping theatrical performances were brought to life on the facade of the Bryantsev Youth Theatre building named after A.A. Bryantsev within the framework of Wonder of Light Festival.