Projection mapping is growing fast — the market is predicted to reach $3.56 billion by 2023, according to a study by The Insight Partners. And while it's mainly been used as a promotional tool, it has been used to great success at outdoor festivals and events. At Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas, projection mapping technology from Optoma helped wow the crowd by bringing a 1940s plane back to life.

If you're considering using projection mapping for your outdoor festival, there are some specific challenges to keep in mind. From weather to implementation, here's how to use projection mapping for a standout event that your guests won't forget.

Using Projection Mapping Outdoors

Before you can even decide whether projection mapping is the right choice for your event, you need to understand how it works outdoors.

“Outdoor projection mapping makes use of clever animations which are projected on the building surfaces to bring large graphics to life. These moving images can leave the audience speechless with their creativity as walls morph into curves and even change the existing colours,” says Mark Smith, marketing manager at Luminvision Ltd.

If you have the right kind of event for projection mapping, it can be a game-changer. But you need to consider why you want to use this technology. For example, what are you going to be mapping the projection onto? Is there a building that would look exceptionally interesting? Or will it be along the backdrop of a performance?

Whatever your concept is, be sure to run it past an AV professional and see how it would work. This will ensure you're using the technology to its fullest potential.

“Projection mapping transforms skyscrapers, sculptures or ordinary objects into glowing, kinetic art. Many shows using this digital projection method are promotional affairs,” says technology writer Howard Wen.

While often used for promotions, the artistic nature of projection mapping allows it to serve a variety of purposes. Whether it's advertising, branding, entertainment, public art or trade show presentations, projection mapping is growing in popularity across nearly every industry, says Wizard Studios.


Why Use Projection Mapping for Festivals?

The flexibility and creativity achieved with projection mapping makes it a great fit for outdoor music festivals.

Event writer Kristen Cooper notes that projection mapping can make an event more interactive and memorable. For outdoor events, this is very important. With so many festivals, people won't spend money for just any performance. They'll want something different and new.

For festivals, especially brand-new ones, it can be hard to differentiate. Projection mapping can be a powerful tool for standing out and bringing people to your event.

It can also make sure that people come back — and that they bring friends. David Aleksandersen, Commercial Support Manager at Dataton, notes that projection mapping is shareable on social media. This is incredibly important if you're trying to get an outdoor festival started, but are hoping for it to become a yearly event.

If people see how amazing a projection mapping display was, they'll have another reason to come next year. They'll also be enticed to come so they can get their own pictures for social media, continuing the cycle of bringing people into your event.

If it all sounds a bit larger-than-life, don' worry. Projection mapping can benefit events small and large. “Video mapping is scalable and flexible, which means it can fit into any size budget,” says Apple Rock.

That flexibility is also part of what makes it so exciting, says Mark Smith, owner and founder of Chicago Projection Mapping.

“You can make the floor look like it's rippling, or a building look like it's crumbling, or you can make time look like it's speeding up or standing still. There are so many ways you can dazzle that it's always a shame to see a presentation that's just on this side of ho-hum.”

These wow moments are what gets people out of their seats, and what keeps them talking about your festival for years to come.

Timing and Outdoor Elements

If you want a projection mapping display to succeed, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Timing, for example, is key. You can't approach an outdoor festival the way you can approach an indoor conference because controlling natural light and other outdoor elements is much more difficult.

Many professionals have advice, but it all boils down to one thing: Don't try projection mapping during daylight hours. Rental and staging company RSN says daylight makes the projection difficult to see, and it doesn't have that stunning effect that projection mapping is known for.

If you research successful projection mapping displays that are for outdoor events, you'll find that most of them take place at night. This will naturally make the image more crisp and easier for your audience to see.

Creative technology director Blair Neil is doubtful that projection mapping works in the daylight, so be aware of this and try to schedule it for the night if possible. Luckily, many people will stick around for the display.

If your event is happening during the day only, you may want to consider another visual solution, like an LED display.


Logistics and Technology Setup

Another important thing to consider is that festivals are short-term events. The equipment has to be set up quickly, and you might not be able to test it in the environment until the day of.

If you don't plan in advance, you can wind up with equipment that doesn't fit or simply doesn't work. Video director Cornelius Henke III suggests taking a picture of your location in both the day and night to get a feel for what it looks like. That way, you can do your planning in advance in case you won't have access to your location until the day of.

Using these pictures, you can make sure the equipment will fit and that it's positioned in the right place. Similarly, choosing the right projector is a big part of a successful event, as Ingram Micro outlines. This is not something that an event planner would necessarily know how to do on their own, so it's important that a vendor is there to help them.

Above all, make sure you're keeping your audience in mind. “Think about the visitor journey — which areas will have the most impact? You may choose to focus on the entrance or the main stage,” says event management company GES.

Knowing in advance where to focus your attention means you won't be floundering the day of. Taking time to test pre-production images is also important.

“By using a pre-production process during which images are fitted onto a 3D graphic model of the building, the same images appear to wrap themselves around the physical features of any structure. They give the appearance of being painted on and part of the same structure even though they are not,” notes Frank Gatto & Associates' Mark Battalini.

When planned and researched correctly, you can take your outdoor festival to the next level by using professional projection mapping.

To learn more about the technology that powers projection mapping spectacles, have a look at Sound & Video Contractor's story on how the Arista IP Flash Caster helped one New Zealand production company wow attendees at a local food and beverage event.

Images by: Emmanuel Ostrovsky MéxicoSplitShireClubFungus