Video mapping makes them say “Wow!”

Video mapping makes them say “Wow!”

Let’s explain the Wow effect in the marketing strategy using 3d mapping as an example. We’re used to perceiving video mapping as an entertaining light show. But let’s look closer at the 3d mapping from the standpoint of the marketing strategy aimed to take the spectator’s breath away and, consequently, build a sustainable brand loyalty.

Indeed, how can we make them exclaim “Wow!” and share their excitement in social media?

Why do the psychologist think that sources of light have special hypnotic abilities?

Transforming the space with the help of light projection is one of the sure-fire ways a to astound a human being. Outdoor light snows, concert performances, product/service presentations at expos and other events and much more – 3D mapping is rapidly becoming a part of our everyday life. The possibility to transform the space in such a creative way inspires designers as well as advertising and marketing professionals.

But if you Google the term “projection mapping”, you won’t find any hits older than 2013. “3D mapping” emerged in Google a year later. The art of creating video illusions using light transformation is much older than that, though. The first worldwide renowned public video mapping was created in 1969, and moreover, this prominent event took place in Disneyland. And mentions are very few due to the fact that in these times, the term Spatial Augmented Reality was used instead of 3D Mapping.

History of 3D mapping

1969. The Haunted Mansion opened in the New Orleans’ Disneyland. This dark ride into the depths of a ghost-riddled manor house was accompanied by many optical illusions. Mysterious Madame Leota’s creepy monologue and the songs of smirking severed heads were the most famous among them. After entering a dark room, the visitors saw a large, blurred crystal ball on a table in the center of the room, illuminated by a bright ray of light. And then Madame Leota’s disembodied head appeared within the misty crystal ball recited her incantations in a slow and tragic manner.

It was neither a hologram nor a laser projection, since these techniques weren’t there back in 1969. The talking head was created by another means. Inside of the glass ball, there was a plaster head on a bronze pedestal. The phase-shifted video of a talking woman’s head was projected onto this surface, looped in such a way that the head could chant its incantations forever.


Up to this day, four Disneylands around the world exhibit the Haunted Mansion, still making even the modern visitors exclaim “Wow!”.

Following Disney, the same technique was used by Michael Neumark in his famous installations, but the systematic development of the projection mapping started not earlier than in 1998 the North Carolina University. That project was called Office of the Future and marked the beginnings of the Spatial Augmented Reality era in general and of 3D mapping in particular.

The “office of the future” was a place where one could communicate with people from other geographic locations, seeing their life-sized projections at the table.


Since 1998, 3D mapping was extensively researched and developed. It was then that 3D mapping was subdivided into architectural, interior and object mapping.

The creators of visual shows and artists were, of course, the first ones to leverage video mapping. It took some time for marketing specialists to realise how significant large the marketing effect from applying 3D mapping technologies in business might be.

So what are the advantages of 3D mapping compared to other interactive technologies?

What are the differences between of the WOW effect caused by 3D mapping and other means of createing an interaction between consumers and products or services?

  1. The effectiveness of promo campaigns in terms of the WOW effect incited by the interaction with the marketing message is determined the excitement rating. If you look at the faces in the crowd at the light festivals it’ll become evident that these people are over helmed – with emotions. By the way, the famous Chartres en lumières, or the Chartres Light Festival, starts selling the tickets for their shows 11 months prior to the date when the event itself will take place.
  2. 3D mapping is has a potential of transforming any space or object beyond recognition, create a dynamic, three-dimensional space, modify and “spice up” the static object using the play of light and colour. Bright, multi-coloured illusions are born in front of your eyes in real time. And to enjoy it all, no special gadgets or goggles are needed: your own eyes are enough.
  3. Even though 3D mapping requires expert technology knowledge and special equipment, the show itself looks extremely light-hearted in the eyes of the spectators: they only see the transformations of lights and colours, not bothering about their sources and technologies.
  4. The process of creating 3D mapping is easier than, say, producing an interactive installations or a models created with the help of the augmented reality or virtual reality technologies.
  5. And last but not least: Psychologists studying the hypnotic properties of the cinema and the human perception of light sources for the whole first quarter of the 20th century. A strong, blinking source of light monopolises our attention without leaving anything to the peripheral vision. In other words, the spectators are 100% involved in the show. It’s been proven that concentrating on a bright light creates a hypnotic effect and supresses one’s will. That’s how any hypnotic session starts: the patient’s attention is tied to a bright, shiny object, for example a shiny scalpel blade. Now remember the eyes of spectators, unable to distract themselves from the light show.

Is there any other marketing tool which would be able to monopolize the human attention so fully and for such a long time? You got to admit that if we want to capture the attention of the potential audience, the hypnotic effect could be very handy. That contributes to the WOW effect, the deep memory and the lasting loyalty.
Design Dossier is one of athe few Russian companies who stands at the origins of 3D mapping in Russia, so we do know how to inciteproduce the WOW effect. Our annual participation in the annual Circle of Light international festival in Moscow confirms that. Browse our 3D mapping projects..