A rectangle behind performers can work. It can fit the content, and the stage picture. It’s just that, very often, it — doesn’t.
Projection mapping in the tour for the band Mutemath isn’t just a way to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. It’s also a means for creating a stage set in which projection is an integral part of the picture the audience sees. Rather than a jarringly-disconnected flat screen, the visuals are part of the overall stage design.
What’s especially notable about this project is that it was produced within the kinds of time constraints mere mortals might face. The entire project was assembled by Nashville, Tennessee-based creative shop Rabbit Hole in just three weeks.
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Meleah Maynard has a terrific behind-the-scenes intensive with the project’s creators for Studio Daily:
Rabbit Hole Creative Uses Projection Mapping for Mutemath’s Odd Soul Tour: Mapping Out the Video, Keeping it All Straight, and Selling the Illusion with Shadows
It’s really the way in which all these elements come together that makes the project work. And perhaps the smartest thing the team did was to begin on a small scale with models – something any set designer would take for granted, but which us visualists too often overlook. The whole behind-the-scenes story is worth your time, but here’s a highlight:
Rabbit Hole Creative’s creative director Amanda Scott was the primary designer of the animations and 3D effects that were projected onto the structure during the show. All of the visuals were programmed to be in sync with the music the band was playing on stage. To test design ideas and animations, the Rabbit Hole team built a small-scale physical model of the six-pillared structure while Scott created a model of the stage in Cinema 4D.
By projecting the 3D model onto the 8-inch-tall foamboard structure, they could easily see if all of the lines were matching up correctly. Rabbit Hole does this for every projection-mapping project they do and it not only helps them, it helps clients understand what they’re trying to do visually. “It’s easy to break the illusion when you’re doing projection-mapping,” Scott explains. “Anything that doesn’t line up or goes off the sides of the structure won’t work, and it’s easy to see when we project it on a scale model.”
And an additional video:
Apart from concert visuals for Bassnectar, Rabbit Hole have been busy with other projects, including an equally-sophisticated live stage setup for Spanish-language, US-based network Telemundo:
Now – does this make anyone else want to get into modeling?