Engagement + Marketing

A Digital Projection

Last month, I attended BizBash’s IdeaFest, a day-long conference for meeting and event planners at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here in New York City.

Known to be a huge event providing great education for people in the industry, I was happy to join nearly 2,500 attendees and hear what’s new on the event horizon and what people in the industry are excited about.

The stage was set at BizBash’s Event Innovation Forum in NYC on Oct. 24, 2012

This year’s conference featured the first-ever Event Innovation Forum, curated by BizBash editor in chief Chad Kaydo and Howard Givner of the Event Leadership Institute, where 20 different thought leaders in the industry shared their stories, ideas, and strategies. I was able to hear nearly every speaker, including Sharon Fisher, president of Play With a Purpose; Chad Issaq, executive vice president of business development and partnerships with Superfly Marketing Group (the company that brings the music festival Bonnaroo to life); and David Stark, president and creative director of the high-end event design and planning firm David Stark Design & Production.

But I found myself most fascinated by the last presenter of the bunch — Travis Threlkel, who is co-founder and chief creative officer at Obscura Digital. Threlkel gave a presentation on digital projection mapping, a strategy his company has been creating on a grand scale for clients like Coca-Cola and Nike. Threlkel enthralled the crowd (not an easy feat during the last presentation of an event that was already running slightly over time) with examples of the projection technique, which allows the projection of digital images onto any surface using as few as one to more than 45 projectors. Obscura Digital used 46 projectors to beam a 125th anniversary “thank-you card” from Coca-Cola to its customers onto its 450-foot-tall headquarters building in Atlanta. It also created interior and exterior projection mapping at the Sydney Opera House in Australia for YouTube Symphony’s grand finale event in 2011, beaming images across the water and live feeds of what the musicians were playing onto the interior.

The audience was clearly impressed, but the same thing was on all of our minds: When the moderator asked how many event planners wanted to know how something like this could be done on a smaller scale (and smaller budget), nearly every hand in the room went up. Threlkel explained that there is no limit to the scale of these kinds of projections — you can project images onto a small piece of furniture or onto the largest buildings in the world.  In this way, digital projection mapping can be scaled to practically any budget.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how meeting planners can use this strategy at their own events (and watching the Sydney Opera House video repeatedly). Universal Everything, a U.K.-based creative studio specializing in digital artwork, created this video wall showing the kinetics of the human body at Hyundai Motor Group’s Vision Hall on its Mabuk campus in South Korea, and I’ve been finding numerous examples of larger companies like Gillette, Lamborghini, and Bombay Sapphire using digital projection mapping at their live events.

What I haven’t yet seen are meeting planners implementing the technique at smaller events. I’m really excited to see how and when it happens — have you come across any examples?

Katie Kervin

Katie Kervin was formerly assistant editor of Convene.