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How To Train Your Dragon Uses Projection Mapping As Story Telling Tool

Projection mapping moves out of the arena of abstract visuals into mainstream theatre.
June 27, 2012, 5:50pm

How to Train Your Dragon - Live Projections from Matt Lock on Vimeo.

Dragons! They’re pretty exciting fantasy animals. They can shoot fire out of their mouths which makes them super cool, and then just to further show how badass they are, they can fly. No wonder they’ve been a staple of the geek diet for years.

And whether you’re digging them in Game of Thrones or How To Train Your Dragon, they’re always worthy of our attention. I reckon they could kick a unicorn’s butt too. But legendary creature death matches aside, How To Train Your Dragon was turned into a live theatrical show earlier this year courtesy of Dreamworks and Global Creatures. In the show, these fantastical beasts are brought to life using animatronics, while the sets, instead of physical, are live projections created by the Spinifex Group. Using the flat surfaces of the stage floor and back wall, they manage to create dynamic, immersive animations that look just as thrilling as a building coming to life.

While this kind of live projection spectacular is a different breed than some of the more abstract projection work, it’s no less impressive. Plus it’s interesting to see these methods being adapted into mainstream theatre productions and, as one Vimeo commentator notes, being used as a story telling tool.

From Matt Lock’s (motion designer at Spinifex Group) Vimeo page:

The brief was to take the movie from its original look and portray it in a more illustrative style. The challenges focused around timing the animation to match the choreography of the actors and dragons, while also maintaining a sense of scale and balance between the animatronic creatures and the projected content. In addition, the animation needed to move as one seamless scene across both the wall and floor, serving as a complete theatre set—a first of its kind. I designed and animated the sections showcased in this video.

[via Create Digital Motion]