Wowing Audiences with Large-Scale 6D Projection Mapping on Moving Surfaces
January 25, 2015

Wowing Audiences with Large-Scale 6D Projection Mapping on Moving Surfaces

TORONTO – Production Technology LLC (Protec), the largest live events production company in the Middle East, deployed CAST BlackTrax’s BlackTrax real-time motion tracking solution on an unprecedented scale at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Programme for Smart Government awards (HbMPSG).

The two-hour long ceremony was a pioneering initiative in the Dubai for government services. Aimed at promoting corporate and community life in the Emirate, the awards were presented by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum at the World Trade Centre Arena, Dubai. The audience comprised government officials such as the Dubai Police, transport authorities, power and utility companies.

Tracking of fast-moving projection mapping surfaces

For the HbMPSG Awards, Protec used a giant 5 x 5-meter rotating cube structure hanging above a 22-metre diameter circular stage, and during the ceremony, the cube pitched forward, rotated and lifted up and down. The cube was tracked using BlackTrax real-time motion tracking and integrated with d3 Technologies 4x4pro media servers. 

Additionally, BlackTrax tracked two large pieces of 13 x 14-meter jigsaw-shaped scenery located around the edge of the stage that were used as a projection canvas. These tracked around the cube during the ceremony. 

Since the audience was positioned 240-degrees around the stage, the cube and jigsaw shapes needed to be tracked and projected the complete 360 degrees of the setup.

This was the first project to use 6D tracking on an unrivalled scale in the EMEA region. BlackTrax not only tracks XYZ positions, which is the regular 3D positional information, but will also track yaw, pitch and roll for rotation in any direction. Objects can move, spin, rotate in 6 degrees of freedom and still be tracked.

“We chose BlackTrax specifically for this project, because we knew it was the only solution that would work,” said Lighting Designer Aaron Russ at Protec. “We needed to track each surface of the cube and jigsaw so we could project on all surfaces as they moved during the show.

“To do this, we added four BlackTrax beacons into the cube, each with two stringers for a total of eight tracking points. We placed one tracking point on each corner, so that we had complete coverage of all sides of the cube. We then placed the BlackTrax Beacons at the top of the cube for easy access, and ran stringer extensions down to connect the tracking points to the beacon. For the jigsaw pieces, we used three beacons in each piece. The BlackTrax cameras were hung on an angle so that they could see over the jigsaw pieces and be able to track all eight corners of the cube.”

BlackTrax streamed realtime positional information via high-speed protocol (RTTrPM) to the d3 media server. d3 was able to construct a rigid-body cube (virtual version of the cube) in their media server design tool that behaved and moved like the real cube, in real time, by using the positional information received from BlackTrax. 

“We used the d3 media server to create a virtual representation of the stage set, including the cube and jigsaw. Even if five tracking points were obscured, we could still rely on only three tracking points and still be able to track the entire cube. This was because the clever d3 system understood the object as whole, instead of six individual screens,” added Russ.

The content for the awards ceremony was created using live camera feeds of award winners, audience members and custom created graphics and videos. Protec not only supplied BlackTrax and d3, they also supplied 32 x Christie HD20K J Series projectors to create the spectacular visuals along with the complete audio, lighting and rigging solution.

“Set up and integration with the video servers was really easy. Everyone was very impressed with what BlackTrax did. d3 and BlackTrax experts were on hand to help with set up. They were great guys and knew their products. We’d happily have then back over again for future projects.”

Russ adds: “BlackTrax is the next step forward as far as technology goes. The creativity that it can unlock and what it allows you to achieve in terms of lighting and video are beyond anything else out there before BlackTrax. BlackTrax is an amazing bit of technology and the spectacular results of the HbMPSG proves its unrivalled performance!” 

Images  ® Production Technology LLC (Protec)