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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Video on Buildings

 Philippe Bergeron likes to say it was a mistake that inspired him to start his 3D projection mapping company PaintScaping.

More than 11 years ago, Bergeron had been projecting a generic image in his backyard when he accidentally touched a computer mouse and shifted the image onto a rock. That gave him the idea of combining real and virtual worlds.

“That changed my life,” he said.

That happened in January 2009. Today his Woodland Hills company is still projecting images – but onto rockets instead of rocks.In August, PaintScaping staged a display on a Delta IV heavy rocket from United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The five-minute show was about the history of space travel and ULA’s part in it that included 3D effects of planes coming out of the structure and liquid fuel filling the boosters.While it was viewed live by only about 100 invited VIPs for the rocket’s launch, the online audience amounted to thousands, Bergeron said. And online videos of the show will provide a legacy audience in the future.United Launch Alliance, the client for the project, wanted to do the mapping to help raise its profile. A competitor to SpaceX, the Hawthorne rocket maker owned by billionaire Elon Musk, ULA – a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. – is not as well-known as the other company.

“The name doesn’t ring a bell, so they wanted to raise the profile of ULA,” Bergeron said. “And they succeeded because the press release (about the mapping) went all over the place.” The process is called mapping because the image is mapped onto and fits the canvas of the building, mountain or object; it’s not just projected indiscriminately, Bergeron said.

“The image is designed specifically, and only, for that canvas,” he added.Music videosIn 2020, PaintScaping had plans for a banner year, but the coronavirus outbreak put the kibosh on that.

Still, Bergeron said the company is doing well even though many of the events for which it makes displays, such as Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo, have been canceled this year. Instead, the company has found other work for set pieces in music videos, for instance, that keep the doors open.

“As a matter of fact, we did three set jobs in the past few months here in L.A.,” Bergeron said. “They were awesome shoots.”  The most recent music video work the company did was for 070 Shake – the stage name of hip hop artist Danielle Balbuena – which aired this month on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Additionally, a video for singers Calvin Harris and Rihanna from 2016 in which PaintScaping mapped a cube appearing in a misty field and a forest setting in which Rihanna sang is the most viewed video using mapping technology on YouTube with 2.3 billion views.

“The Rihanna (video) has given us a lot of exposure,” Bergeron said.

While not a well-known consumer brand, Paintscaping has a reputation among corporate clientele. Leads often come to Bergeron from Google searches or from the company website.

“If you ask your sister if they know PaintScaping, the likely answer is no, but in the B2B world we are quite well positioned,” Bergeron added.

Price for imageryPaintScaping’s business model is based on a flat fee charged to its clients, which includes both creating content and setting up the equipment for showing the displays.“Most shows fall within the $35,000 to $75,000 range, with some going to six figures,” Bergeron said.The cost of creating content falls generally between $8,000 and $14,000 per minute. Some of the parameters driving cost include the length of the show, the resolution, the complexity of the animation (with characters and water tending to be more expensive) and the number of projectors.

For installation only, the cost can fall between $15,000 and $60,000. The parameters driving that cost is the number of projectors, the size of the wall or other surface, the number of walls the show is displayed on and how many nights the show will be projected.

“Unfortunately, there is no ‘a la carte’ kind of price list for mapping,” Bergeron said.

What clients get for their money is a visual display that is tied in directly with the architecture of the building it is projected on.

At the San Diego Zoo, for example, the “Aurora” show that was part of the Jungle Bells event in December featured a visual and sound experience with light and music about natural elements such as water, ice and wind that were represented by sprites.

“There was a powerful interaction between live actors, and projection mapping, creating an other-worldly effect,” Bergeron said.

Locally, at NewMark Merrill Cos.’ Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks, the company put on a holiday show display in December on the Burlington storefront that featured 3D toys coming out of the walls, elves climbing the structure and an appearance by Santa Claus at the end.

Other Los Angeles area venues that have had PaintScaping displays shown on them include the Americana at Brand in Glendale, the Playboy Mansion, the Dolby Theater and the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex.

“We have done quite a few iconic locations in L.A.,” Bergeron said.  Other venues that have done projection mapping last year include the city hall in Hamilton, Bermuda for New Year’s Eve; the Village at Meridian, in Meridian, Idaho that transformed a building into a visual experience featuring lights and holiday music; and for an eighth consecutive year, a holiday-themed show at Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect, Ill.Online legacyWhile the projects that PaintScaping tackles seem big, they are done by a small number of employees and independent contractors. Currently, the company has between five and 10 people working on projects slated to be displayed in Dallas and Philadelphia, Bergeron said.Some projects, such as the “Aurora” show for the San Diego Zoo required 12 to 15 people. There were 13 projectors used to display the 10-minute show.The zoo did not renew a project for this year although Bergeron expects it to next year. The coronavirus outbreak stalled any repeat of “Aurora” in which 1,200 people were watching per show and standing shoulder to shoulder.

Bergeron noted that, despite the pandemic, venues still need to attract people to come out to them.For PaintScaping, that means that instead of playing a show twice a night for a client, it may be shown 10 times a night to smaller crowds, he said.

“Some clients are interested in less nights and more shows per night,” Bergeron added. “It’s just as many eyeballs, just not at the same time.” But what it really comes down to is the online legacy aspect of the shows.

A case in point is the 070 Shake video. Bergeron called it a great example of a legacy project where the online life lasts longer than the actual appearance on Fallon’s show.

“That is why we will be successful. It’s because people are thinking more about the legacy of the mapping rather than the event itself,” Bergeron said. “The online world will not only survive, but will thrive.” 

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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