The Light Art app enables anyone with an iPad and a projector to create their own colorful projection mapped installations. Based on the Sku Lights concept developed by Erick Calderon, Light Art uses basic mapping principles that allow the user to project on a variety of individual surfaces. The visual effect is achieved by projecting exclusively on the desired surface, with the remaining portions of the installation remaining dark. Check out our videos at youtube.com/lightartinteractive.
Before you begin mapping you need to pick your projection surfaces.
Through the development of the Sku Lights system we created an ideal projection surface which we call a MaraCube. You can make your own by downloading the stencil ( 6-inch | 12-inch | Instructions) or if you prefer you can purchase our professionally produced die-cut or 3d printed MaraCubes (HERE). We'll use these as our example throughout the tutorial but you can seriously use whatever you want. The only current limitation is that polygons in Light Art use straight lines. So at the moment you cannot map onto a sphere for example. This, however, will be added in future releases of the app.
If you already have a projector set it up in a stable place where it will not be bumped into. Once you start mapping even a slight nudge of the projector can make you have to start over so think ahead and secure the projector and your cables so that don't have to worry about your project getting unaligned. If you do not already have a projector contact me for suggestions. Selecting a projector is not easy and depends on how and where you plan on using it. If it is just for fun then you really can't go wrong, but if you intend on setting up a permanent art installation you should consider the specifications of the projector and the installation space before making your selection.
OK once you know what you want to project onto, turn on your projector and open up Light Art App on your iPad. After the splash screen you'll see one large square on your iPad screen as well as through the projector.
The first thing you need to do is press the MENU button and you'll see the DISPLAY SETTINGS button in the top left of your screen. Select your projector's native resolution. The projected image should slightly adjust.
Now tap on the red polygon that you started with on your screen and enlarge it (using a pinching action) to cover the entire screen of your iPad so that the square extends past the edges of your screen. Look at the projected image and note that the red square shows the extent of the projected image coming from the app. Using this as a guide begin to arrange and install your projection surfaces. As long as they are covered in the red light you'll be able to project on that surface. Note that your iPad's screen ratio is likely different than that of your projector. Many projectors have a "zoom" or "fill" option to fill the entire area that the projector is capable of projecting. It is OK if initially the output looks stretched you'll be able to adjust this when you designate the position of your polygons.
Now that you've set up your projection surfaces you're ready to start mapping. Pinch the original red polygon to reduce it and rotate it if necessary.
Then looking at the output from the projector touch and drag the polygon on your iPad until it is on top of the projection surface in the projected image. Next you'll see that there are four corner points on the iPad screen. Touch and drag each point until the point lands in the correct position in the projected image.
Once you've adjusted the position of each corner your polygon is mapped! At this point it is STRONGLY suggested that you lock the polygon by pressing the MENU button then pushing the LOCK POS button. You know it is locked because the outline of the shape turns grey.
Once a polygon is locked the corners can still be adjusted individually however the entire polygon itself cannot be accidentally moved. After mapping (and locking) each polygon you will press the ADD POLYGON button and a new polygon will appear on your screen.
Basically you'll be adding and adjusting one polygon for each surface that you intend on mapping.
Note: you will often encounter a polygon that is not four sided like the polygon that appears in the app. Although different polygon shapes will be implemented in further releases of the app, at the moment you will need to be creative how you fill your spaces. For example, the MaraCube uses triangular polygons. So you'll take and map out three of the corners and then the fourth corner you will simply move and leave between two other points. In fact the app will not let you cross the vector created by two points within the same polygon so it is easy to just slide it and leave it wherever it lands.
You're almost finished configuring your project, however before explaining the coordinate system you need to understand the way that colors (and patterns) are controlled. There are three different settings you can adjust that will alter the appearance of your project. In the top of your screen you'll see two sliders.
The SPEED slider adjusts the rate at which your polygons will cycle through the entire color spectrum. At 0 the color is static. As you begin to slide to the right you'll see the polygons start cycling through colors. The further to the right, the faster the cycle.
The DISTANCE slider adjust the spread of color across the polygons.
If your distance is set to 0 then there is no spread and all of the polygons will appear to be the same color.
If you set it to 1 then the entire color spectrum will be spread across the range of polygons in the designated pattern (as explained below). So if you have 10 polygons and you set the distance to 1, each polygon will step through the color spectrum by 1/10th therefore showing a clear distinction in color between polygons. The last polygon will show the color directly before the color shown on the first polygon thus you get the full loop or cycle.
Setting the distance to 0.5 will make for a more gradual spread across the polygons and you will only see half of the color spectrum at any given moment.
This will become more clear as you play with the settings.
You'll find the last settings in the bottom right corner of your screen. These are the PATTERN buttons.
Although we have not covered the concept yet, you have the option of establishing coordinates for each polygon. This enables you to control the direction that the colors are spread over the polygons. By default each polygon is given an index number when it is created. The index number will affect the LINEAR pattern button.
The app will simply spread the color spectrum across the polygons in the order of the index that is assigned to each polygon. Additionally you have
These will spread the color spectrum in the corresponding pattern however will only work once coordinates are assigned to each polygon as described below. The last control button is REVERSE which simply reverses the color pattern.
Once you've spent some time mapping the individual surfaces you can optionally establish coordinates for each polygon which will allow you to better control the way color spreads over your installation. Although the LINEAR pattern button will work right off the bat spreading color across the polygons in the order they were created, you'll need to assign rows and columns to the polygons to be able to use the other three buttons.
In order to assign a coordinate tap on a shape to select it. Then bring up the MENU and press the COORDINATES button. Three dials will appear inside of a box with an arrow pointing to the polygon that you are working with.
The first dial assigns the INDEX. The second assigns the ROW number and the third assigns the COLUMN number. Row #1 should be the bottom-most row and column #1 should be the column closest to the left side of the screen.
Note the location and applied coordinates for each polygon in the following screenshots. In this first one the polygon has the coordinates [7,3,7]. In this case the INDEX is 7 automatically because it was the 7th polygon placed in the scene. The ROW was adjusted to 3 because it is in the third row (remember start from the bottom) and the COLUMN is 7 because it is the 7th column from the left side of the scene.
In this example the coordinates are [15,1,1] because the polygon was the 15th to be added into the scene and lies in both the first row and the first column of the scene.
To successfully assign coordinates you need to spend some time examining your project. Some projects are structured in a grid and it is therefore easy to establish rows and columns. Other more abstract project you'll just need to do your best to assign the most ideal row and column coordinates to each polygon. Sometimes it will require some guess and check but you'll get the hang of it. For larger projects we suggest you draw your polygons on a piece of paper and start to assign them using a pencil so as to not get half way through assigning them on the app and realize you're off by a row or two. After some experimenting you'll realize that the closer you come to estimating rows and columns the smoother your installation will cycle through colors and the more control you'll have over it. Additionally with a little creative thinking you can make some pretty cool effects. For example you might adjust the indexes so that the polygon assigned with an index of 1 is the middlemost polygon and then the polygons immediately surrounding are assigned an index of 2 (you can have more than one polygon with the same index) continuing the pattern going outwards. This will create more of a starburst pattern.
Light Art allows you to save your work in case something happens while you're in the middle of aligning an installation. Just keep in mind that if you move the surfaces or the projector you will likely need to realign all of the polygons as it is very difficult to reproduce the exact configuration of projector and surfaces after moving them. To save simply press SAVE. Similarly to load your project you simply press LOAD.
After you've lined up all of your polygons and adjusted your controls you're done!
Your surfaces will continue to stay lit up as long as your projector is connected and the app is open. You could theoretically permanently install an iPad and a projector and as long as there was power to both the project could run indefinitely! We are super excited to see what you come up with! Please tag your art using #projectionmapping and #lightartapp and #lightart so we can keep up with your projects.
The 6" MaraCube has a 6"x6" base diameter and is intended for larger wall installations. The pieces are die-cut and scored out of plastic sheet material and they ship flat (unfolded). When you want to use your 6" MaraCube you simply fold along the creases and clip the tabs together at the bottom. Each order comes with folding instructions. The 6"x6" MaraCubes have a special flap that allows multiple units to be clipped together for cleaner lines and easier installation.
The mini MaraCube has a 1"x1" base diameter and is great for small installations using pocket or pico projectors. The mini MaraCube is manufactured with sandstone 3D printing technology offering rich light absorbtion. The smaller size also enables you to create larger arrays with more surfaces which can be connected with hot glue.
Check out our other light art project Sebbo Lights