Whilst on our Japanese trip last year, Ryan and I completely by accident stumbled on one of the most amazing technological displays that I have ever witnessed – projection mapping out in the wild.

yokohama japan dockyard 3d projection mapping yokohama odyssey by hiroaki higashi ad nobumichi asai

If you are not familiar with the concept (which at the time I wasn’t), Wikipedia sums it up thus: “Projection mapping, also known as video mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a projection technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection. These objects may be complex industrial landscapes, such as buildings. By using specialized software, a two- or three-dimensional object is spatially mapped on the virtual program which mimics the real environment it is to be projected on. The software can interact with a projector to fit any desired image onto the surface of that object. This technique is used by artists and advertisers alike who can add extra dimensions, optical illusions, and notions of movement onto previously static objects. The video is commonly combined with, or triggered by, audio to create an audio-visual narrative.”

What we witnessed is a 7 minute projection mapping audio/visual spectacular entitled Yokohama Odyssey, directed by Hiroaki Higashi and Nobumichi Asai.

The Yokohama Odyssey turns what is known as The Dockyard Garden, once a real dockyard, and now an important cultural property (i.e. it’s a bit of history), into a projection mapping theater in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Yokohama Minato Mirai, the central business district of Yokohama. It takes you through time, looking at Yokohama’s past (including the rebuilding after the Great Kanto Earthquake), it’s present and even its (imagined) future.

It is an overwhelmingly incredible sight that enthralls you from start to finish, and of course, the fact that you are in the shadow (figuratively of course – it is night time and there is a LOT of lighting) of the massive Landmark Tower makes it that much more impressive!

Things moved and transformed, whirred and clanked, and quite frankly… well, perhaps you should just check it out for yourself:

As my first introduction to the technology of projection mapping, the Yokohama Odyssey kind of now holds a special place in that I’ll compare everything thing back to that from here on out. But once you’ve become aware of the technology, projection mapping is bound to make your jaw drop!

(In particular, check out Nobumichi Asai’s latest project, the creepy real-time face tracking and projection mapping called Omote. It is literally insane and has to be seen to be believed! Make-up artists might just become extinct if this goes mainstream…)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projection_mapping