Projection Mapping

Intro to Projection Mapping

A general introduction to Projection Mapping

Intro to Projection Mapping


What is Projection Mapping? 

Projection Mapping is a technique used to display content such as images or video onto irregularly shaped surfaces or objects. It is commonly used in advertising and stage design, but also by artists who wish to add depth or movement to static objects.

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This technique was first used for Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride in 1969, where a video of five singing ghosts was projected onto physical busts, creating the illusion of movement. Since then, many creatives continue to incorporate projection mapping in their artistic practice, and the technique has expanded to incorporate more advanced methods, including 3D and immersive projections.


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A variety of projection mapping software and masking tools are available online; The Creative Technology Lab supports projects in Touchdesigner and Madmapper. While our "Intro to Projection Mapping" workshop introduces students to the technique in Touchdesigner, resources are available for both tools on this wiki.


Selecting the right projector is crucial for projection mapping: Different projectors suit various environments and surfaces. LED or Laser projectors are ideal for dark rooms, offering intense colors and high resolution. For brighter rooms, Lamp projectors (3000 ANSI lumens or more) work best. It's important to handle lamp projectors carefully – mounting these upside down or from ceilings might damage the lamp inside.

Check out the variety of projectors available in college on ORB or speak to a technician to find out what might work best for your project.

Intro to Projection Mapping

Projection Mapping in Touchdesigner

Before we begin...

Make sure you have installed Touchdesigner, a tutorial on how to get the software started is available here. This tutorial will cover the basics to projection mapping content onto 3D surfaces in Touchdesigner, to learn more about this technique student can attend the 'Intro to Projection Mapping' workshop in the Creative Technology Lab. 

Importing content in Touchdesigner 

Double click anywhere on the interface to access the OP dialog, this is a "library" of all operators available in Touchdesigner. Operators are divided into families, in this tutorial we'll work with TOPs (Texture Operators).

Select the moviefilein TOP to import images or videos. You can change the default image to your own visuals by clicking on the Screenshot 2023-11-02 at 15.40.22.png button next to "File" in the parameters window.