Grand Mosque Projection Mapping Breakdown

You may have seen this a few weeks back, as it circled around Twitter a few times… But we thought we would do a quick blog on the process and share a bit about what they used to make it all happen. In short, digital projection mapping company Ocsura Digital worked with the United Arab Emirates Department of State to throw an enormous projection mapping party for National Day 2011. What they did to celebrate was to project onto the front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and paint it “digitally” with all sorts of imagery, pictures, visuals and art. It is beautiful!

This was truly a visual worship experience for this community as the content represented Prayers of the people and specific attributes of the architecture that has deep meaning in this culture. All the visuals were representative symbols of the UAE and found through the mosque itself. One of the projection pieces illustrated the Prayer of Allah in traditional Kufi calligraphy. Pretty cool! For this community… it truly was Visual Worship, allowing them to tell visually the story and meaning of their beliefs.

For those out there who are curious about the actual projection side of the setup, here are all those details.

They used 44 projectors in total, collectively generating 840,000 lumens across the 600 ft wide Mosque. The total projection covered 210,000 Sq Ft. All of the mapping of the images was done using a program called TouchDesigner, allowing the designers to leverage the 3d attributes of the Mosque structure.

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The first thing they did was build a digital 3d-mesh model of the structure and created content using that “template.” They used laser-distance tools to measure all the tinly little attributes and details of the building. Next (using math) the team determined the pitch and angle for all the curves, rounded corners and arches. That’s a lot of Calculus and Algebra!

However this wasn’t the toughest part… One of the bigger struggles they had was determining projection locations. Imagine having to place 44 projectors to fill the front of a 600′ wide mosque without destroying the landscaping or “design” of the areas immediately surrounding the Mosque. They knew how to create content once they had all these measurements, but they couldn’t just put a projector on a piece of scaffolding. In this culture they had to preserve the architecture and not “ruin” the design/layout of the complex.  So instead of using scaffolding, they had to manufacture custom projector boxes (in which the double stacked projectors sat on top of) that matched the floral designs of the building itself.

Can you imagine the calculations they had to do to align 44 (double stacked in most places) projects to make sure the lumens-per-square-foot were as close as possible to remove hot-spots? Here’s what the Projector housing looked like.

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Remember how we said they were using TouchDesigner to map out all of the content? Well it works a bit like Quartz (but more powerful) and allows you to manipulate visuals in real time. This isn’t just a playback software, it’s a real time VJing app. Here’s a screenshot of the TouchDesigner program they used:

For those who are now really curious as to what the video looked like, here’s the final result.


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Luke McElroy

Author Luke McElroy

Luke McElroy is the founder of Orange Thread Media, the parent company to TripleWide Media, SALT Conferences and Orange Thread LIVE. He is the author of The Wide Guide: Blueprint for the Multiscreen Movement. Hailed as one of the “top innovators for worship” by Worship Leader Magazine in 2013, Luke’s leadership has helped create powerful worship environments for thousands of Church communities throughout the entire world. He currently lives in Nashville, TN and regularly writes about creativity, leadership and faith at 

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