A lot of awe-inspiring projection mapping seems to be kicking around the internet lately. I’ve been seeing them pop up on social media for a while, and now that I’ve really started looking into the possibility of doing one of these projects myself, I realize how intimidating they can be.
These projects require both an intimate knowledge the kind of projections systems that would allow you to do a detailed map of a building, and experience with the kind of 3D animation software to pull off a really spectacular illusion. While I have some knowledge of projection mapping software, the kind of 3D animation seen in a lot of projection mapping onto buildings is a little beyond my grasp.
I don’t think that this needs to be a weakness. As much as I do love the spectacle of these, I think that the clocktower project can do something a little different. I’m hoping that this project can blend spectacular elements with something that feels a little more personal. A lot of my own work, I’ve tried to make a blend of computer compositing and hand-crafted imagery with the aim of making sometimes bizarre characters and landscapes feel more intimate than they would had they been created entirely on a computer.
And I think that this is approach is a good way for me to think about this particular project, too. Many of the big examples of projection design feel like they’re about a company or design firm flexing their technological muscle, working to show off what they can accomplish.
The clock tower project, though, shouldn’t be about showing off. This isn’t a façade for a high-end electronics company, it’s a symbol of a city’s cultural identity. While I’m certainly not above spectacle, I think that this piece needs to be about more than that.
Which is why I’m particularly drawn to a video game that I played over winter break. Gris, a platform game from Spanish developer Nomada Studio, combines classical game mechanics with strong aesthetic choices, giving both aspects of the game equal weight. Plenty of other games have tried this, but I feel like Gris is exceptional just for how well the thing works. Tried and true game mechanics and challenges keep the player engaged, while carefully-rendered visuals maintain an intriguing atmosphere, both of which combine to tell a compelling story.
Ultimately, I hope to build off of what already exists in the worlds of projection design and gaming to create something that’s not just technically impressive, but unique and special for downtown Denver.