Amazing Building Projections
November 12, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Projecting images onto buildings is nothing new. Even projecting buildings themselves has been theorized. But Dutch firm NuFormer has created a new means for projecting custom-made images onto buildings. The results are amazing.
posted by jefficator (35 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Wow! The only way this could be more awesome is if they dynamically generated imagery behind the building to make it look as if the building has disappeared. That would make the building collapse effect amazing! It looks like they have the contrast ratio to pull it off.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2009

This first link isn't working for me. Presumably here as well.
posted by codacorolla at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2009

The first link is a .pdf--that might be the problem there. I highly recommend using codacorolla's link as the important one in mine appears to be overloaded?
posted by jefficator at 1:28 PM on November 12, 2009

The last link doesn't seem to be loading either, but I can't wait to find out if "" is "At Issue Journal" or "A Tissue Journal".
posted by mrnutty at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2009

Aww. Looks like they actually project onto a screen in front of the buildings, so the entire image is fake, not just the "effects":
Every building is possible (frontage and/or the sidewalls) can be used. The projection is a digital re-creation of the architecture of a building. Characteristic elements of a (monumental) building are often used for fantastic effects. Due to the impressive size of the projection a spectacular visual experience is guaranteed. There are no size limits whatsoever.
posted by crayz at 1:36 PM on November 12, 2009

The projection is a digital re-creation of the architecture of a building

I may have understood incorrectly. I was under the impression that the photo-realism was a result of incorporating the building's architecture into the programming of the projection?

If there's a screen in front of the building then kill this post because that's not cool at all.
posted by jefficator at 1:40 PM on November 12, 2009

If you look at the video on the left side of that link that crayz posted, you can actually see them set up for the display, and there are videos taken from other angles. It's not onto a screen at all - the point is they digitally re-create the building, then use the architecture as the basis for the amazing effects they project. Which is what makes it so special.
posted by evilangela at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2009

well, it's kinda cool - pretty great definition for such a large projection.
posted by Think_Long at 1:43 PM on November 12, 2009

The graphic 38 seconds into the video also suggests that there isn't a screen. Once the building has fallen away you can see the real structure behind, unlit. A screen probably would just be blank.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:51 PM on November 12, 2009

Are you sure it isnt just the super-realistic recreation of the building still being projected?
posted by Think_Long at 1:58 PM on November 12, 2009

and I haven't paid close enough attention, stupid me
posted by Think_Long at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2009

Tetragram for Enlargement does this without bothering with all the 'communication tool of 2009' bullshit.
posted by carsonb at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm with evilangela. At the very top of this, you can see them aligning their projected building onto the actual building. So they're building a full digital model of the real building and creating their effects around that. I'd love to know how its done and how it looks from other angles.
posted by lholladay at 2:28 PM on November 12, 2009

Wow, some of those really were amazing, like the puzzle-y looking one with the bricks all poking out and stuff.

my powers of description are amazing.
posted by misha at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

I saw this stuff in person in downtown SF a while ago (on the old Mint IIRC), and it was really surreal and insane-looking, took me a while to grok what was going on.

There were no screens used in the performance I saw.
posted by dolface at 2:39 PM on November 12, 2009

There's a Nuformer youtube channel if you need a link to a bigger video. Some of the shots in the Volvo commercial make me think there is some digital post production work being done to the video and the shots we're seeing are not just a live capture of a performance.
posted by peeedro at 2:39 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

but I can't wait to find out if "" is "At Issue Journal" or "A Tissue Journal"

I read it as "A Tissue Journal", which sounds infinitely more interesting than the dry, crusty sounding "At Issue Journal".
posted by R. Mutt at 2:45 PM on November 12, 2009

Some of the shots in the Volvo commercial make me think there is some digital post production work being done to the video and the shots we're seeing are not just a live capture of a performance

I'm afraid of that myself. But my desire for it to be real trumps my reason here.
posted by jefficator at 2:51 PM on November 12, 2009

posted by eyeballkid at 3:06 PM on November 12, 2009

The cathedral building shots in this video set off alarm bells for me. If they can get a hundred people to sit on the sidewalk to watch a Volvo commercial, why are there no crowds for this show? And why are there no street lights except for the one to the left? And why are there no lights on in any of the buildings to the right? And did I see parts of the building falling through the spectators on the left from 0:42 to 0:45? And where did they get the nocturnal pigeons, shouldn't they be roosting somewhere?

I get that it looks like CGI because it is CGI, but (supposedly) projected on a building. But to me much of that looks like a demo of what it would look like if they had projectors/sponsors/funding to put on a live show.

Sorry to be that guy who has to overthink this plate of beans. I'd love to be wrong. It is nice eye-candy, I admit that!
posted by peeedro at 3:17 PM on November 12, 2009

To me this looked like a "this is what's possible" mockup, not a real-life demonstration. A lot of it looked fake and I assumed it was CG. They're kind of a little too perfect, you know? Does anyone know if this has actually been implemented anywhere?
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:47 PM on November 12, 2009

I cannot wait to see this used in a Daft Punk concert.

(that video was awesome and I really hope it was not a mock-up. Think about how this could be used for public theater.)
posted by cyphill at 4:01 PM on November 12, 2009

That is an abomination. Nice means. Shame about the ends.
posted by fcummins at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2009


However I am not especially looking forward to the day when this technology starts to become cheap enough for my neighbours to use it at Christmas.
posted by rongorongo at 5:23 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

3D modellers should recognize that this is essentially UV mapping the video onto a model of the house. But instead of applying the textures to polygons in a model you're projecting them onto the "polygons" of a real object.
posted by autodidact at 5:28 PM on November 12, 2009

I've done some crazy projection work on scenery and various other materials with high-end equipment for major market network HD broadcast. There's a lot of trickery here, but isn't that half the fun? All this gear isn't really worth much of anything if we can't at least try to be magicians, no?

There does appear to be some work done in post, or at least a lot of pre-production work and screens. (And obviously, for what I've done, I'm by no means an expert.) Which is fine, as long as you don't pretend that you did it live. The true magic is when you stand in front of something and watch other people elbow each other, trying to guess the trick. Or when they tweak something in the control room and even YOU scratch your head.

Fun post. Thanks.
posted by nevercalm at 6:21 PM on November 12, 2009

Great post! I'm going to step in as a bit of an expert (I run a pretty decent sized AV company, that specializes in large screen projections for corporate clients around the world) and say yes this is real and it is being projected live onto real buildings. No screens are being used. Not sure about the Volvo commercial if it's perhaps been edited across multiple live performances or cleaned up at all and edited for you tube but it was certainly being projected in a live setting.
posted by HappyHippo at 7:51 PM on November 12, 2009

I was impressed until 1:45 into the Volvo video in peedro's Youtube link. It looks like I could get the same effect aiming a Proxima projector at my garage door, but it might attract a crowd in my driveway.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2009

I've been to this concert. It was amazing. But what NuFormer doing is advanced way, way, way beyond that.

posted by DreamerFi at 10:33 PM on November 12, 2009

The cathedral building shots
Actually it's not a cathedral, it's the former city hall of Middelburg, Netherlands, now used as a university building (by the Roosevelt Academy, a unit of the University of Utrecht). Construction started in 1452 and was completed in 1520. The interior burned completely in 1940 and was reconstructed. In a 2007 poll it was deemed to be the second most beautiful building in the Netherlands. You can still get married in the assembly hall. NuFormer's HQ in Zierikzee is not far from Middelburg.
posted by beagle at 6:48 AM on November 13, 2009

that is my church...... wow, what have they done? They are from Zierikzee too?
posted by kudzu at 11:44 AM on November 13, 2009

The one building is the city hall in Middelburg, the first building with the pillars is the Reformed Church is Zierikzee.
posted by kudzu at 11:47 AM on November 13, 2009

I don't think anyone's mentioned this yet, but I think they go far beyond just UV mapping their images onto a perspective correct model.

It looks like they're also pre-processing the color of the building so that they add whatever light is needed to make the whole building appear to be a solid color.

For example, lightening the dark parts, doing less to the light parts, adding red/green to blue parts, green/blue to red parts. That's what gives the grayish look, and it's also what improves the contrast drastically, and allows them to project so effectively onto a variable surface.

I wouldn't be surprised if they actually modeled the scattering of projected light using a global illumination algorithm through the created model to even MORE effectively control the impact of the imagery with the background.

Just a hunch, but that's what I'd do to create that effect ;)
posted by hanoixan at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

As an aside, here is the terrific "Mortal Engine" by the Chunky Move dance company which uses dynamic image generation in coordination with a projector for their shows:

link here

In case you're wondering (as I was) the music is Theory of Machines, by Ben Frost
posted by codacorolla at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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