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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!

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