Step 1 Build a scene
Unlike VR or normal projection mapping, PAR (projected augmented reality) is much more focused on highlighting the physical world than replacing or disguising it. The objects' physical details work hand in hand with the content Lightform Creator generates. Building a scene that is rich in texture, color contrast, and geometry will help create a more impactful experience.
In this example, we created a generic birthday/party setup. It can be very helpful to create a scene like this to work on, providing context to your design process.
An adequate amount of ambient light will help your content look more integrated into the scene.
Step 2 Use the test card to prepare for scanning the scene
The test card is extremely useful for scanning, troubleshooting, and more. In addition to the steps below, we recommend checking out the Utilizing your Test Card article.
1. Cover the area you want to scan with your test card
The scan dialog will bring up a camera stream of your test card to give you a sense for what you will capture in the scan. The test card essentially shows you the bounds of the projector's field of view from the camera's perspective. You want the camera stream to see the entire test card, and you want the scene you want to scan within the area of the test card.
2. Use your test card to determine if the scene is too bright or too dark
Use the test card that is projected from your projector to ensure the ambient light in the environment is not washing out the clarity of the test card covering your scene.
Step 3 Scan the Scene
1. Line up your test card with what you want to scan
As mentioned above, your scan will capture the area that your test card covers so make sure that what you want to scan is within the area of the test card.
2. Adjust the camera (IF LFC)
If using an LFC, you'll need to make sure that the camera can see the entire test card. In the scan dialog, a camera stream will show you what the camera sees. Make sure to adjust your camera to ensure it is able to see the entire test card.
3. Choose your scan settings
Learning how to optimize your scene to get a good scan is a process and there is a bit of a learning curve. From the scan dialog, there are scan settings like smoothing, noise reduction, etc. that you can use to your advantage for different types of scenes. Once you've scanned, you can also adjust the scan properties to improve your results.
Please make sure to review our scanning articles to make sure you are getting the best scans you can.
4. Submit a bug report
If you are still getting unexpected scan results, let us know by submitting a bug report. Submitting a bug report and including your issue in the description is the best way for the Lightform Team to better understand how to optimize your particular setup. To do this, go to Help > Submit Bug Report. If helpful, you can see a walkthrough here.
Step 4 Create Surfaces
The next step is to create surfaces on the scan in Lightform Creator. Surfaces can be seen as the canvas – you are actively telling the Lightform device what surfaces in the environment to paint with light.
1. Making interesting selections
Often, highlighting a key area of an object is much more exciting than illuminating the whole thing. Find the most interesting details and give them their moment.
2. Try using different masking tools
Some surfaces are easier to create using the pen tool, and others may benefit from magic wand. Learn about each of the tools and adjust their tolerances to get an understanding for which tools work best for which content.
2. Preview your masks for fine-tuning
After surfaces are created, you can hit the preview button to visualize your masks in the scene. A few things to note:
- When you preview your content, you are seeing a downsampled version that acts as a preview. A preview is just that, a preview, however, when you publish your project all slides are rendered to 1080p (or the projector's resolution) with a bitrate of ~10Mb/s and the playback should no longer have a lag.
- We do not recommend using preview while you are creating a surface. The preview function is meant to be used after a surface has already been created.
The Lightform device will show the selected surface as a white outline which helps you clearly spot overspills or areas that you've missed during selection. You can also adjust the preview settings to show your cursor or a downsampled video of the content in your project.
To see the entire area covered by your mask and not just an outline, set the Video Stream option to "off".
4. Err on the safe side when selecting
When outlining an object to create a mask, try to place the points slightly within the object's edge to avoid overspill (light projecting outside of the desired area). You can do this when you are initially selecting the surface for your mask or after by reducing the size of the mask by a few pixels or using the feathering or offset sliders.
5. Dealing with scan distortion
Since the scan image is a calibrated image, there will be some minimal distortion. In cases where the distortions become misleading for surface selection, it's a good idea to decrease the Fill amount in the scan (found in scan properties). Play around with the setting until you find a more accurate representation.
The scan properties are revealed when no surfaces are selected.
Step 5 Layer up effects or assets
Lightform Creator comes with a variety of intelligent effects and stock videos, all with distinct looks and feels. You can also import your own content. Finding the right combination for your scene can help create a cohesive visual experience.
1. Mix up pacing
Effects such as Digital Fade, Depth Trace, or Ghost Flash have a clear on and off rhythm, whereas effects like Iridescent Edges, Tron, or stock videos have constant motion. Using a combination of both can keep the scene from looking too busy, and also give some breathing time for each effect to shine.
2. Slower is usually better
Our eyes are accustomed to seeing very fast motion on screens, however in reality rarely do things move at the exaggerated speed screen animations do. Try lowering the speed on effects by adjusting the loop count, and you'll generally find the projection to be much more relaxing and enjoyable.
3. Blend modes (Labs)
Blend modes are great for mixing up different effects for a unique result. You can also use blend modes for unifying the look and feel of your scene. If the content overall seems a little messy, try blending the same effect or video to all the surfaces.
Step 6 Create additional Slides
All of your surfaces are shared amongst different slides, but the effects applied in one are independent from others. This naturally makes slides great for a few things:
1. Store different experiences
Since each slide is capable of holding a complete experience, it's easy to create slides for different occasions beforehand and toggle between them after publishing. For example, for projections at home, there could be a day mode and night mode that you switch between; for store displays, you could publish slides for different holidays such as Halloween or Christmas, and choose accordingly to the time of year.
To prevent slides from auto-advancing after publish, remember to set every slide to loop. You can then switch between slides from the control page.
2. Use slides as an iteration tool
You also have the option of selecting just one of many slides to publish. While you explore different looks for your scene, you can store looks you like along the way into different slides and compare them to decide which one to publish.
To publish only a single slide, right-click on it and choose to publish.
3. Use empty slides for off-time
In some cases, such as projecting on murals or posters, you might want the projection content off for a certain amount of time for viewers to see the original design. In these cases, you could use empty slides to create an off-time before the projections come on again.
Step 7 Publish your project
Once you've finished adding content to your project, the final step is to publish the project to your Lightform device. Once your project is published, the project will live on the device and you no longer need your computer.
With Lightform Creator 2.1.17 you can now choose to perform each of these steps separately. You could instead publish to a local folder and publish from a local folder. What does this do and why would you choose to do it? Read more about the publishing workflow here.
The device will also hold onto the current play state between being turned off or on. For instance, if you leave your project playing, and turn off your device, it will start playing when you turn the device back on and vice versa if you leave the device in a stopped or paused state.
Step 8 Control your project
Once you've published your project, there is additional functionality on the control page. Please see how to Control a Published Project to learn more about these functions.