Cinema 4D for Mapping: Precedents & History

What’s a video mapping?

A Video Mapping (or Projection Mapping or Spatial Augmented Reality) is a projection of an animation on a three-dimensional object, trying to fit it so as to achieve an artistic effect and an illusion of depth. Usually the show is accompanied by a stunning soundtrack, surrounding the spectator and increasing the sense of spectacular.

More than just project any image, what is intended is to modify the normal appearance of the object in an attempt to make it come alive. According to these premises, we could include this discipline in the field of augmented reality.

It is clear that the main element that is playing is light (and its absence) and sound, but the most important and distinctive is the intent with which it is made: the deception.

The art of deception

Since immemorial time man has created optical illusions to fool the brain, recreating impossible perspectives and even movement. The artist’s mission has always been to find wich position, orientation and lighting should represent an object and from wich perspective we see it to get validate it as “real”.

Already, the simple fact of represent a tridimensional scene (the real world) on a bidimiensional surface (canvas, paper, wall, etc.), is an illusory artistic expression.

If we review the history of art, there are several terms to define the works that play with perspective and perception. In Spanish, trampantojo; in French, trompe l’oeil; in Italian, quadratura.

We find examples in ancient Greece and Rome, being the Renaissance when it became popular and Baroque, a time of splendor, with its vaulted and infinite ceilings. In the twentieth century, the surrealists and the Op-Art squeezed all the possibilities with new themes and techniques. All these artists have gotten that through a flat surface we could perceive a deep space, incoming and outgoing volumes or just an everyday object that seems we can touch.

We also find architectural examples throughout history as the Potemkin stairs, the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza or the Parthenon, where retouching the scales and direction of the objects it manages to create a feeling of greater amplitude or to correct distortions created by the eye.

Resources & tricks to create illusion of depth

Then we’ll gather various resources used in the history of painting to generate a sense of volume and space.

  1. Higher ceilings or opened to the sky.
    Vaults, painted ceilings and small windows in Alberti’s perspective with vanishing point in the center, creating nonexistent upper spaces.

    Camera picta, ceiling 3
    Andrea Pozzo - Apoteose de Santo Inacio
    Fresco with Trompe l'oeuil - Andrea Pozzo -Jesuit Church Vienna

  2. Doors and windows with view to a new space.
    Openings to adjacent spaces or holes, usually with frames.

    Henry G. Marquand House Conservatory Stained Glass Window
    Sandro Botticelli 053
    Samuel van Hoogstraten - View of a Corridor - WGA11721

  3. Details with no relationship with the subject to place the object in a real environment.
    Flies, papers, hooks and other items out of place but that reaffirm the realism of the image.

    Christus carthusian
    Jacopo de' Barbari - Still-Life with Partridge and Iron Gloves - WGA1272
    Antonello da Messina 061

  4. Objects that put us in a specific space.
    Objects that stands between us and the scene, making us voyuers many times and reaffirming perspective.

    Las Meninas 01
    Jacques Rousseau - Perspective de jardins - Google Art Project
    Jan Vermeer van Delft 003

  5. Objects out of the picture plane or frame that contains them.
    Excellent sense of three-dimensionality when the perspective and shadows indicate that something is sticking out of the picture or frame.

    Escaping criticism-by pere borrel del caso
    Samuel van Hoogstraten 002
    William Michael Harnett Still life Violin and Music

  6. Canvas simulating an object.
    Sublime deceptions playing with light and shadow and simulating materials to make believe that the picture is any other object..

    Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts 003
    Jan van Eyck 096
    Francisco de Zurbarán - The Sudarium of St Veronica - WGA26079

In summary

But, we would not talk about the history of mapping? What about the pixels, projectors, videos and software?

If we remove that technology layer, all this show is nothing but a big update of the concept of trompe l’oeil. A deception to generate a sensation.

I think we can learn a lot from classical painting, already concerned to solve many technical problems getting images brimful of life.

My intention linking these two concepts is that we stand all to reflect and evaluate (for better or worse) over videomappings for its artistic component and intention rather than its technical side.

If you have you been wanting to really know the history of videomapping, I leave a link where you will find who did and who did it before then.

The Illustrated History of Projection Mapping