Introducing the New Lightform LF2+ AR Projector

LF2+

Today Lightform is proud to introduce the availability of the LF2+ AR projector. The LF2+ has upgraded camera optics for significantly improved scans and audio reactivity capabilities providing a new creative dimension to projection mapping. The LF2+ retains the same sleek design as the LF2 while boasting additional features to enliven art, home offices, streaming backgrounds, and more.

Create Light & Sound Experiences

Lightform Creator now includes sound reactivity controls for effects and generators. It’s now easier than ever to make your projection mapping designs interact with audio. The LF2+ AR projector includes a microphone to take full advantage of this new functionality. If you are currently using an LFC or LF2, you can also take advantage of Creator’s new audio-reactive functionality. Please note that the LF2 will require an additional external USB microphone (we recommend using one of the following tested and supported USB microphones) to use the audio reactivity feature. On the other hand, the LFC Kit uses the microphone of the included Brio camera and does not require an additional microphone to utilize the new audio reactivity feature. Our recent Lightform Guide article, Get Started with Audio Reactivity, details additional information about audio reactivity in Creator and recommended microphones.

LF2 and LF2+ Side by Side Scan Comparison 2
LF2 and LF2+ Scan Comparison

Projector camera image comparison.

Improved Scanning to Streamline Your Workflow

The improved optics in the LF2+ combined with Lightform Creator‘s new user interface streamlines projection mapping workflows with more accurate & detailed scans. No matter which device you’re using, LF2+, LF2, or LFC, the optimized scanning algorithms now in place in Creator will translate to faster scanning speed, greater post-processing control, and better response in darker lighting conditions

We invite you to learn more about the Lightform LF2+ AR Projector and Creator.

The Lightform team is excited to see what you’ll create in 2021. Share your sound reactive projection mapping projects with us by tagging #lightformcreations in your social posts. We’ll be spotlighting creative Lightform installations throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

How to Projection Map Bioluminescence Using Lightform

How to Projection Map Bioluminescence

Kahika, a trio music group with an electronic/dub/soul style from Australia and New Zealand, recently released a music video for their EP “Mutual Gathering,” utilizing effects generated by the Lightform LFC Kit. In this post, Jon Hislop, a member of Kahika, shares how the video was made along with tips to successfully projection map bioluminescence when filming outdoors. Detailed is how the bioluminescent effects were created using Lightform’s default effects and importing custom motion graphics created in After Effects.

“I wish to reveal everything I know and learned, in the hope that projection mapping as a realistic portrayal of life-energy in nature is explored more by other creators. At certain moments in the music video, certain visuals jumped out as feasibly realistic and, I feel, escaped the monotony of appearing too digital. I hope to push this organic look further in the future.”
— Jon Hislop     

About the Group & Song

Last December, Kahika released their EP “Mutual Gathering” along with a music video showcasing New Zealand’s exotic wildlife, using Lightform’s AR projection mapping to light up the island’s lush vegetation with artificial bioluminescence. The song is ultimately about people enjoying and respecting nature. It explores the Māori concept of mana: the life-force energy that exists within all nature. In mythology, mana is gained and lost through your deeds. “Mutual Gathering” is Kahika’s interpretation that respecting nature is a way to invite more mana into one’s life. In the music video, mana is visualized as artificial bioluminescence growing and glowing, which was done using Lightform’s projection mapping. These organic forms were filmed in real-time, using Lightform to cast digital projections to create the plants’ glowing visuals.

Kahika Band Photo
Kahika band members Geo Seato, Trent Ward, and Jonathan Hislop.

Projection Mapping Preparations

When projection mapping outdoors, Jon recommends using a 3,000-lumen projector, noting that lumen criteria would suffice. “I had a 6,000-lumen projector, and despite being in a dense forest shielded by the sun, projections only gained strength in the twilight hour – one hour before sunset, and shortly after sunset. Of course, you can project at night, as I did in the second half of the music video, but some ambient light gives context to the scene,” shares Jon. When taking into account the scenery’s colors, Jon noted that neither green nor brown absorbed the light well (the two dominant colors of forests!) Hence, the twilight hour is best suited for great shots.

Useful Equipment

Make sure to use tarps beneath your setup to keep your gear safe from the outdoor elements. It’s impossible to keep your cables off the ground, and dirt inside of your connectors is stress-inducing. Gazebos are also a great way to shield your equipment from any potential rain. An additional thing to consider is the generators. “Because generators are so loud, having 50 meters of extension cable can be a great way to make sure the noise isn’t constantly bothering you while trying to relax and work in the bush. Don’t forget to pack lunch…and maybe even dinner,” shares Jon. Setting up your scene, preparing for unexpected natural elements, and perfecting your projection mapping outdoors in the midst of a forest can be time-consuming, so make sure you arrive prepared with plenty of time to commit to your installation.

Filming Caveats

The camera used to film your projection mapping project will make a big difference. Depending on your camera, the quality of your projection may not be picked up through video. As Jon put it, “Occasionally, the projection mapping effects were not fully reflected through the camera. What was unimpressive to my eyes was saved by my Fuji x100v in Velva mode and its ability to boost colors with beautiful yet natural-looking tones. For smooth pans on a budget, I recommend the Zhiyun Crane m2 or the DJI Ronin. For the smoothest possible horizontal pans, look at buying or renting a horizontal camera slider.”

Visual Tips

One of the most colorful moments in this video was achieved by scanning a dense shrub, then dropping on the Lightform effect “Digital Fade.” Voilà.

How to Projection Map Bioluminescence - Visual Tips
Adding Lightform effects to a dense shrub.

In fact, this effect, as seen on Lightform’s Conservatory of Flowers, was what convinced Jon to buy Lightform and to create this music video in the first place!

Creating Your Own Bioluminescence

Great “organic” looking effects can be easily generated by running various colorful videos (E.G., “particle fx” videos from videezy.com) through a mesh-warp and displacement map in after effects.

Digital Bioluminescence
Creating organic looking effects onto a tree.

For example, Jon used this video to recreate the same effect in After Effects. Once you import the video into your After Effects project, you can drag a mesh warp onto it (under the effects panel). Using rows and columns of three and quality between eight-ten, you can distort your video by grabbing any of the points between crossing lines. This is a simple and very controllable way to wrap your content around a source such as a tree with a stump.

Distorting your video in After Effects.

If you want an effect that is more abstract and into the realms of wild and slightly uncontrollable, using “Turbulent Displace” can create very fluid and organic-looking shapes. “There’s no wrong way to play with the settings – they’re all a lot of fun,” says Jon.

Add “Turbulent Displace” for a more abstract effect.

From here, you can animate parameters such as “Evolution” or “Complexity” to bring life to the visual. Importing your own music, you can animate parameters such as the above, or change the color with “Hue/Saturation,” and do it to the beat of the music or a strum of the guitar, similarly to what Jon accomplished in the Mutual Gathering music video by animating my mesh warp. Experiment with any of Kahika’s back catalog.

When you’re ready to project, simply export the video, import it into Lightform, and you’re ready to light up the forest. Film the results, bring them back into After Effects or Premiere, and re-align your video with your music. Done!

Final Tips

If you create audio-reactive visuals, make sure there is enough time in your video clip (of the static bioluminescent visual) before and after the part where your visual reacts to the music. Too often, the video clip repeated too quickly, and Jon wasn’t able to set up some of the filmed footage in Premiere to begin and end when he would have preferred.

Other Filmmaking Creations Using Lightform

Thanks to Jon for his willingness to share his insights on how to projection map bioluminescence. To learn more about importing custom content or how to utilize other Lightform Creator features, visit the Lightform Guide. See Kahika’s full music video and check out their latest EP on Apple / Spotify / Bandcamp.

We’re inspired to see Lightform being used creatively in music videos. Along with Kahika, many users in the Lightform community, including Kira Bursky and Jennifer Deann Scott, have utilized their Lightform devices for music videos and filmmaking. You can find more in our 2020 Retrospective: Inspiring Lightform Customer Examples. If you found this helpful or have other questions about projection mapping, we invite you to leave your comments below.

Lightform Interview with Artist Ryan McCoy

Lightform Interview with Artist Ryan McCoy

Lightform power-user and creative force behind D4, Ryan McCoy is known for his large-scale digital installations and mind-altering projections, using Lightform as a medium to capture audiences and showcase his elaborate creations ranging from progressive social movements to psychedelic-induced artwork. From Virtual Burning Man live streams to multi-story renegade political protest projections, read our Lightform interview with Ryan McCoy to discover the fire behind his artistry and evolutionary journey with projection mapping.

1. What is D4, what type of work do you focus on, and how did you develop an interest in projection mapping?

While my background is in graphic design and large format printing, I’ve always had an interest in video editing and animation which I dabbled with on the side. YouTube provided a good source of large-scale professional video mapping that was mind-blowing, but I never thought the production tools would be affordable or easy to learn. Summer of 2018, I discovered a video mapping system that was still in pre-production and was offering a great discount for pre-order customers. With no hesitation, I placed my order and received my Lightform LFC in early 2019.   All the dreamy thoughts were finally beginning to manifest. It didn’t take long before a mobile setup was ready for a renegade style projection. There were already a couple of Lightform video promotions showcasing this style and living in St. Louis, MO, [where] there are plenty of spots to bomb some photons. Lightform was the spark for a newly found creative outlet that has become D4. I have since put my focus on expanding my software knowledge for live and interactive projections.

2. Why is projection mapping important to you? Do you think it has a broader importance to society?

Human expression is important to society and video mapping is an extremely powerful medium to capture attention. Light beams add vibrant life to create unforgettable expressions that allow onlookers to see from a new perspective. Projected visuals can impact society’s awareness of important topics or be used to attract potential customers to a business. A favorite quote of mine is from Jim Carrey, “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”  Projection mapping is important to me because it offers an opportunity to have an effect on strangers without ever speaking to them. I love seeing people stop to watch or capture the moment on their phone knowing that they can’t wait to tell someone else about the witnessed visual.
“Human expression is important to society and video mapping is an extremely powerful medium to capture attention” — Ryan McCoy

3. What has been your favorite project to date?

My St. Louis network has provided the opportunity to set up immersive visuals at a newly opened event space called IMRSD. It’s a creative space located on Cherokee Street, which is a popular district for artists of all types to showcase expressive talents. It’s my favorite place to test new ideas as I push the boundaries deeper into the realm of immersive art. The last event held there was the weekend before the covid lockdown. The news about covid was just beginning to buzz in every conversation so I decided to create a visual theme using virus graphics to light the walls. Little did I know, those would be the last visuals in the space for a very long time. 

4. What is the craziest object or scene you have projection mapped?

The craziest video projection I have attempted was for the Black Lives Matter movement. St. Louis had tremendous unrest which started with the death of Michael Brown. This tension flared again with the recent riots connected to the death of George Floyd. I wanted to show my support for the BLM movement and decided to project from a downtown rooftop over to a neighboring building. My biggest concern was the distance to the building wall [which] was over 400 ft away. I gathered some BLM graphics online and prepped them to be black and white for high contrast. I was hoping the full white 6k lumens on my projector would be visible for the extreme distance. It took a few ninja moves to get the gear in place, [but] once I had the content ready and powered up the projector, my jaw dropped as the image focused on the building.  I was completely amazed at the visibility and utter size of the image appearing on the building.  This projection had the least technical know-how since no mapping was involved, but definitely something I will never forget doing.

5. Describe your projection mapping creative process. How do you choose your scene? What is your thought process behind identifying elements to map?

I still consider myself a novice when it comes to video mapping. I see every new scene as a learning experience opportunity. With Lightform, while the software allows easy mapping, it’s important you are able to capture a good scan. My biggest learning curve was identifying which locations were best for the scan in addition to staying within the limits of my projector. I really like using Lightform on textured surfaces and organic shapes. I love accenting wall murals and paintings. I’m constantly trying new techniques in my workflow, so my creative process is a growing evolution of trial and error. Some projects I’ve spent a few days in planning and setup, while others were ready to go in 30mins. For anyone interested in video mapping, I found Lightform to be a great introduction to my journey of immersive art. As I’m gaining more knowledge, I’m finding creative ways to use Lightform effects and scan data in other 3rd party software.

Learn more about Ryan McCoy and find his Lightform projection mapping projects on Facebook, or follow our blog for more exclusive interviews and Lightform user examples. Interested in having your Lightform projection mapping content featured? Tag us in your creations with #lightformcreations for an opportunity to have your projects shown on our social media!

New Lightform Guide Additions – Q4 2020

Q4 Guide Highlights

Arguably the most valuable resource to learn about using Lightform devices and Lightform Creator software and their many features is the Lightform Guide. The Lightform Guide is updated frequently and it can be easy to miss new additions unless you’re researching a specific topic. To help raise awareness of the great content regularly added to the Guide we’re kicking off a new quarterly blog post series highlighting the most noteworthy additions. New articles added in Q4 of 2020 include:

Wifi Pairing Interface Updates

Lightform is continually improving the networking and pairing process, so it is easy to connect to your Lightform device via different methods. As of Creator v1.12.6, the user interface of the pairing process has been redesigned. While the process is the same, the workflow is more visual and provides a wizard-like method that guides you through the different steps.
Read on about Wi-Fi Pairing Interface Updates.

Q4 Guide Updates

The test card projected by Lightform devices always displays the status of your Lightform device. When troubleshooting your device’s connectivity or network status it can be helpful to manually turn on the test card. New to the test card is enhanced visual information about device states via a color-coded system.

Q4 Guide Updates

Blend Modes is one of the most powerful content creation tools in Lightform Creator. A new dedicated Guide article details information about what Blend Modes do and how you can use them to make more interesting layered visuals.

Learn more about Blend Modes in Lightform Creator.

Q4 Guide Updates

Through a partnership with Storyblocks, Lightform users now have access to hundreds of thousands of stock videos to incorporate in their projects. You can access the Stock Assets by opening the Asset Browser from the toolbar and clicking the Stock Assets tab.

Learn more about using Stock Assets in Creator.

Lightform Labs is an extension of Lightform Creator that includes beta, and experimental features. While we do not recommend using Labs for installations or productions where dependability is required, Labs can open up new possibilities for working with Lightform devices. Recent additions to Lightform Labs include:

Q4 Guide Updates

An award-winning live show control software for macOS can be used with Lightform via OSC to sync the playback of audio or music with slides in your project.

Q4 Guide Updates

It’s possible to create an ultra-wide projection by stitching together two or more Lightform devices/projectors.

Utilizing two built-in effects, Transition Fade and Transition Wipe, you can create custom transitions in your projects such as fading in content sequentially on one Slide. We have added a sample project for users to download and customize on their own.

A frequently requested feature now has a solution! With the help of IFTTT and an IR remote, you can now set up a schedule for the projector connected to your LFC or LF1 to turn on and off. We also have an article about scheduling your LF2 to turn on and off.

This will be of interest to our power users: Using a Lens Rework Kit for the BRIO camera (the camera included with the LFC Kit), you can power up the BRIO to be compatible with ultra-short-throw projectors or use a zoom lens to optimize your scans for multiple projectors.

Lightform Guide – A Great Resource

These are just a few of the key articles recently added to the Lightform Guide. As always we recommend the Guide as the go-to reference for Lightform devices and Lightform Creator. Check the Guide often and stay tuned for future article highlights in our quarterly blog updates.