Brighton projections with Processing

Yet another reason you want to live in Brighton 🙂 Every year we have a very special festival the night the clocks go back : White Night. Twinned with Nuite Blanche in Amiens France, events happen all night long: workshops, collaborative art, and performances.


This year I was especially lucky to be part of a projection event at 200 year old Marlborough House. It was organised by BANG, the Brighton animators group and there were over 30 contributed animations mapped onto the building’s facade and windows. Kate Genevieve (who you may have seen at the FOTB elevator pitch) also coordinated a gorgeous 2 edition comic in newspaper form with a full back story about how the building had been used by a crazy scientist to capture dreams.

The animations were just beautiful and so varied. From full architectural 3D mapping, to hand drawn character animation, through to charming stop-frame animations from children. More photos at the Flickr group.

My small part of it was to fill the 30 minute gaps between showings; we wanted something interactive, so I used it as an excuse to get more familiar with Processing, which I’ll be teaching at Sussex Downs College over the next few weeks.

We invited people to text and tweet us their dreams, and we projected them around the edge of the building. I also made a couple of Victorian looking timers that were mapped onto architectural curves, and counted down the minutes until the next showing.


The growing ink splodge in the middle was inspired by a page in the newspaper.

During development, I very quickly ran into Processing performance problems, but that’s not surprising : the canvas was 2048 x 768! Moving to OpenGL helped a lot but it is quite complex and difficult to find documentation. As well as the performance, I also needed the blend modes. I’ve got the hang of it now, thanks to Mach Kobayashi, and this MSDN blog post.

Processing Keystone library amended for multiple projectors

I also used the excellent Keystone Processing library by David Bouchard to register the projectors. I expanded the library to work with two projectors, so that the image could be split into multiple adjustable images. In hindsight, I would definitely do more work on the keystone system. It’s almost impossible to adjust the image using handles that are being projected off the edge of the building!


There was also a last minute panic as projectors were repositioned just before the show, forcing me to reprogram the keystoning, and some stressful vector maths to reposition and size the text path. And poor Tom of BrightonArt dropped his MacBookPro onto the corner of a flight case. But on the plus side, it made some beautiful glitch art 🙂

Broken screen as glitch artwork

I love working with large scale projectors and I’m looking forward to getting involved with more events like this next year. I’m also enjoying Processing – there’s a lot to love about it. I’ll be sure to keep you informed of my progress 🙂

Bang Dream Machine : Directed by Abbie Stanton // Kate Genevieve // Sarah Bird

4 replies on “Brighton projections with Processing”

Great job Seb. I’d like to ask you, what kind of projectors do you use for projects like that. Can you name a few brands/models?
Thank you and keep going.

Very well done Seb. I’m astonished how many beautiful work can be done in Processing. Trully artworks! Even i’m not involved yet into Processing language i’m very decided to give it a try. There are many good books out there, Casey Reas and Ben Fry’s book is among them, so there are many good starting points.

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