Projection mapping: the art of the deal


Until recently, the projection mapping sector followed a fairly linear path of one-off projections on buildings at tourist locations or for seasonal or commercial promotions. But lately, more diverse applications have emerged as major drivers. This has changed the business models available. What are the ins and outs of these mappings?

Mapping of projections projects come in many shapes and sizes. Inevitably, this led to the use of different funding structures. Each model comes with its own constraints and possibilities due to the source of funding, and the goals and aspirations of the different parties involved.


Public authorities and the element of change

Projection mapping events are often driven by public authorities and the key to much of this has been public funding. Laurent Lhuillery from Lightweight event consulting in Chartres sees a direct link between the amount of funding and the ambitions to which a project can aspire. In general, the long-term economic development of a city relies on performances lasting three to five years. This involves in-depth creative work and the eventual rearrangement of parts of the show. “There is no fixed rhythm,” he assures us. “The pace of change depends on how much money you can put into it. If you have elected officials who have the means and who want to change every year, they can do it.

One of the drawbacks of public funding is the changing political and cultural landscapes. As the political and economic context may change, the expectations and funding of the various partners and local authorities may also change. “There are problems, and there will be change. We know that.”

This is partly why there is less recurrent mapping in Italy and Spain, where there is nevertheless good growth potential. “Like France, these countries have a rich architectural heritage,” underlines Lhuillery. “I would like to work more in Rome – can you imagine the stories you could tell there? But the obstacle in this case is the reluctance of the public authorities to invest.” This is where paid events offer new opportunities.

Commercial companies: detection opportunity

At the opposite end of the scale are projects such as those created by Factory of the moment, whose advanced narration in heritage or protected sites can contribute to their sustainability. They successfully organize a number of paid events such as Aura in Montreal, the Lumina is walking in different places and SuperReal in New York. The idea is to get people to visit these specific places. This determines the nature of the relationship between the partners.

Perhaps the best recent example is the SuperReal show. “With the Cipriani venue, we are disrupting the events industry,” according to producer Jamie Reilly. “We have a projection mapping offering that people can use as a flexible digital backdrop, entertainment and AV projection integrated into the canvas of their events. And nothing of this magnitude exists anywhere in North America. But in the summer, nobody has any events in New York City because everyone is out of town. So seasonally, we can bring SuperReal back and get into a paid experience model. It was really the inspiration to be able to have a multimedia infrastructure that serves multiple purposes. ”

Where is the money going?

Immersive events: behind the potential, meticulous calculations

While it may seem tempting to embark on immersive events, the stakes are rising. Large-scale events around the world have raised expectations. from France BM show has worked on several large projects in China and elsewhere but remains cautious. “Even though we know the business very well, it’s another economic model,” explains Fabien Moureaud of WB Show in France. “Projects such as Basin of Lights in Bordeaux or Careers of the Enlightenment the Baux de Provence, require several million euros of investment. ”

It is important to have a good overview of what projection mapping projects can cost before you start. Operators find that the creative side (actual content creation) is often underestimated, with up to 20 people working for several months on development. The project must then be adapted to the place (or places).

Then, in addition to the technical side, you must master communication, marketing and online ticketing, all very specific skills. “Private investors, bankers and investment funds see a booming business model that is very profitable for people who do their homework well,” adds Moureaud. “It will be our role to support the various customers, but not to become a competitor.

All of this underscores the importance of having a clear understanding of goals and potential from the start.

The ins and outs

The finances around projection mapping can be more complex than it first appears. It is important to consider all aspects at any early stage in the development of the project.

Sources of funding, support or income include: public authorities such as tourist offices; local places and restaurants; Ticketing; local entrepreneurs; and cultural enterprises such as museums or emblematic monuments. Each source will have its own criteria and requirements that will shape the final project.

On the expenditure side, finances will go towards: technology; creative services; marketing and communication costs; ticketing systems and room rental (if not covered by a partnership).

Although hall and venue managers primarily rent equipment for the duration of the occasional performance, some of the venues with permanent maps are increasingly purchasing their own equipment. We will discuss the choice between renting and buying in our next article.


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