Cape High students pioneer projection mapping

Artists use music, technology to project videos onto 3D objects
January 2, 2019

Cape High art teacher Jason Fruchtman first discovered projection mapping at Disneyland several years ago.

“I knew it would be big, and we needed it here,” he said.

Projection mapping is a projection technology in which video is projected not onto a screen but on objects of various shapes. Video loops combining light, motion and music are projected onto a surface, such as a building or sculpture, and customized so that the 3D structure becomes part of the art itself.

Fruchtman said fundraisers allowed him to purchase materials to demonstrate the art form in hopes of bringing the specialty to Cape.

“Once administrators saw what it was capable of, they knew it was something special, too, so we got equipment needed to have a class,” said Fruchtman, now in his second year teaching projection mapping.

Fruchtman said students use the band’s soundboard shells as a 3D surface on which to project video loops that they develop.

“They work perfectly,” he said. “The shells are like a canvas for the art.”

Students first select a song and search for online video loops that match the music’s tempo. Next, they create a sculpture or setting to project onto using the soundboards that coordinates with the video timing.

“There’s a lot of editing back and forth with the timing and several layers of video to put together,” Fruchtman said. “It takes a lot of creativity and good timing.”

Student Jacob Williams said at first, he was intimidated by the complex software used to create and project the video loops.

“That was the first thing we learned,” he said. “Now, it’s easy.”

Fruchtman said projection mapping is used everywhere, on New York City skyscrapers, at sporting events and concerts, in advertising, dance clubs and in outdoor displays, such as at Longwood Gardens.

In the spring, he said, students will do projection mapping for underwater scenes in the school musical “The Little Mermaid.”

Fruchtman said last summer, students attending Firefly sent him emails and pictures of professionals using the same software at the music festival that students use at Cape.

“There’s a high demand for this kind of work,” he said.