Arguably, democratizing a technique is an excellent way to improve craft. (See: linear perspective in Renaissance painting.) So, why not do that with projection mapping?

Here’s the latest installment. Elliot Woods of Kimchee and Chips is one of the leading practitioners of the projection-mapping arts. He also gives away a lot of his tools (see GitHub, below). And now he’s giving away some of his knowledge, not only for projection mapping, but what he calls “3D projection mapping.” More on that in a moment, but first, let’s review his work:

An Augmented Tree, and Free Tools Power 3D Voxel Projection — on Leaves

Kinect-Augmented Reality, as Projection Mapping Meets Depth Sensing (Hint: It’s Awesome)

What’s this “3D” thing about? The notion is scanning the world in three-dimensions, and using that three-dimensional model for mapping. That’s a big step from the distorted-plane techniques that generally constitute mapping. It is an accurate mathematical model of what’s happening in 3D, a kind of genuinely-digital trompe-l’œil.

Elliot is not only doing a workshop (see top), but has assembled a detailed, step-by-step walkthrough of the technique using free tools and the superb visual environment vvvv. He explains:

Using ReconstructMe we rapidly scan a real world scene and export a 3D mesh file which can be used for projection mapping. This means that within 10-20 minutes we can go from having seen an environment for the first time, to augmenting it using 3D projection mapping.

What I’d describe as ‘3D projection mapping’ is the act of re-projecting a virtual 3D object onto its real world counterpart using a video projector*. Thereby all of the features of the real object which are visible from the point of view of the projector have an image projected onto them, and this image is ‘extracted’ from the corresponding surfaces of the virtual counterpart object. Augmenting the virtual object then results in an implicit augmentation of the real world object.

* thereby defining ‘2D projection mapping’ as lining up 2D shapes in a projector image with real world features in the projector’s line of sight.

You can check out a walkthrough video below, then try the whole tutorial (complete with files) on the vvvv site:

Path files at GitHub

For those of you in the UK, see the Manchester workshop details and to register interest for a future installment.

Thanks, Elliot! And readers, we’re keen to see you do something with this, so don’t be shy if you post an experiment.


  • Looking forward to messing around with this. Did my first mapping last night using Resolume Arena, and it was a little round about, but it works well for simple surfaces…would be painstakingly difficult to do anything of complexity like this. A Windows laptop becomes more and more tempting after seeing this and all the Touch Designer work…

  • bstrds

  • Zachboldt

    hey you guys, what you are doing is totally incredible, and absolutely awesome! I live in canada, and am sooo interested in taking a program in video mapping, and the use of projection software…. Any ideas as to which schools may be a good idea to check out????   thank you!  Zach 

  • nsajeethphilip

    Hi Guys, What you are doing is really interesting. I have a slightly different model in mind that might be easily integrated with your tool. In that, instead of light beam, i want to use stereo audio packets like a radar signal. Only difference is that the scanning is done over a rectangular frame so that the delay in the echo may be used to estimate the distance accurately. Using microwaves, this can be made both invisible and precise. What do you suggest?

  • Audrius

    Nice article.
    By the way this is our small scale 3d video mapping on a specially made sculpture

    • Nice work! Just published – let me know if you have more to add to what I wrote!

      The Evolution of Light, Traced in Mapping Projection on Sculpture

  • could anyone give me some info. about the distance requirements for example if i will project on a 4 meters high object what will be the distance between the projector and and that object

  • abhi

    is this technology same as shown in iron man movie?

  • Jr Reyes

    I’m a post production producer, and we did a lot of 3d mapping project already… just want to ask do we really need to work and output 4K or bigger resolution for the mapping project. Yet the coolux and projector supplier playback only MPEG2 file. We submit HD, 2k, 4k resolution material and they will down convert it on MPEG2 format… Or we can just work on HD until the final output of materials. ?

  • andreina

    Congratulations. Projection mapping is awesome!! I just want to know if
    there is more detail information about the system of the tutorial, to
    understand what’s behind every node. And if there is, where can I Access it?

  • Arez Cobain

    Anyone located in Los Angeles that knows how to do this? Can you contact me at

  • gloWArp

    You want to learn how to video mapping? is pleased to announce the release of the first volume devoted to the NTA (New Technologies applied to Art) titled “Augmented Reality in public spaces. Techniques based video mapping.” Editions Le Penseur. For now only in italian version. We organizer in Italy GLOWFestival ( dedicated to augmented reality in public spaces!


  • roshan

    Hi, your works are awesome!,Im a big fan of Video mapping! how can I start learning this art?and is there any online programs to do that?

  • Rakesh Sahay

    hi dear I m new inthis field . can anybody sagest camera for 3d mapping

  • Ghoto Razaq
    One of the #Best #Projection #Mapping #Event. Projection Mapping Pakistan