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3D Projection Mapping: How Is It Done?

3D Projection

In a world where your movies are 3D, it seems only fair that the realm of projections do not fall behind, and why should they? Rather than the old and boring procedure of finding a plain white background so you could show everyone your work, we bring a new and mind-boggling technology which never fails to amaze and impress everyone i.e. 3D Projection Mapping.

3D Projection Mapping used in the movie series, Night At The Museum

What is 3D Projection Mapping?

3D Projection Mapping is not just another “cool” technique, but it has changed the way the world sees the method of projection. Not only is it new and informative, but it is impressive and out-of-the-world.

It is a modulas operation where, instead of using a simple 2D white background, any 3D object can be used as a base. Whether they are buildings, or any other sort of structure, no matter how complex and of what colours, the video can be projected with ease.

Not just this, but the 3D Projection Mapping technique allows a lot of free movement for effects, letting the user play with shape, line, or space, and thus creating brilliant optical illusions. And those illusions do not just enchant the audience but connects to them on an emotional level, leaving an impression that lasts so much longer than the projection does.

It goes without saying, but this method of 3D Projection Mapping is also very environment-friendly as it requires no particular details that harm the 3D objects or the surroundings in any way.

Ways To Do It:

There are two basic approaches to this technique:

  1. Images:

    In this approach, all that is needed to be done is to prepare a normal presentation like one would prepare in the case of a normal white background. Video Mapping does the required work to make the background suitable, and no extra work with the images are required. They are then projected as they are.

  2. Masking:

    This procedure requires the creation of special templates or masks which are made on the basis of exact shape, size and markings of the 3D object on which they will be projected. With the use of alpha-channel technique, the video is later played on those templates with the object as the base.

Requirements: A video projector is a necessity for the procedure. It is important that the projector is of a good quality and powerful enough to cover the area of the object it will be using as a base.

  • A small scale projection will work fine with 5600 lumens, but for big projects the condition stretches up to about 20.000 lumens.
  • The projector should have a remote control because it makes the management easier.
  • The lens of the projector should be as less wide as possible. Fish-eye lens are to be avoided.
  • The minimum resolution should be at least 1024×768 pixels.

A good photography camera is also recommended, and the lens of it should be adjusted as similarly as possible to the lens of the video projector.


  • It is important to set the resolution approach to maximum considering the specs. The work should be according to PAL/NTSC standards, or HD standards if the work is done with an HD projector.
  • A blueprint of the object the projection will be on is also important, as that will be a great help in creating masks and references. By using the camera lens on the same ratio as the projector lens the photo for the blueprint can be easily taken.
  • It is recommended that the projection area be as dark as possible, as the darker it is, the better the effects will stand out.
  • The projector should be carefully placed right in front of the object. The video projector should be horizontal and match the camera lens. Front projections are advised as side projections are very complicated and highly unlikely to work.
  • It is important to measure the distance and area that is being covered beforehand. All the cables should be taped and protected for everyone’s safety, and a testing of the whole set up should be done.
  • It is highly important that the picture and the object are calibrated. Any photo editing software can be used to link the size of the photo to the projector’s resolution.
  • Same formatting should be used throughout the project.
  • Masks can again be created with any photo editing software with which you are comfortable.
  • If you are happy with the overall result, it can finally be converted into an animation/movie/video or whatever your choice is by using any software.


The process may seem a little tough but as long as the basics are kept in mind, it will be a fun journey, and the result is bound to be spectacular.

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