Pixel mapping is a great way to create kinetic visuals, without the burden of extensive programming.
Let’s take a look at what pixel mapping is, and how to do it.
Pixel mapping is the use of software to map video imagery to an array of individual lighting fixtures.
The three main components are:
1. A source of video
2. The software to map the video to the fixtures
3. An array of RGB LED fixtures
Source of Video
Pixel Mapping Software
Array of Fixtures
The source of video can be anything and is usually abstract, moving images.
The software is a dedicated product, solely designed for this purpose.
The fixtures are most often RGB LED units, for their ability to make the necessary wide range of colors.
Exploring further, think of the software as a piece of paper that you have cut a geometric series of small holes in. When you hold that paper up to your computer screen, you only see what is let through by the holes.
Now, if you send what you see in each hole to a dedicated fixture, or pixel, you have pixel mapping.
To best illustrate how this is done, let’s take a look at an actual event that was done using pixel mapping.
In this example, we used a software called Madrix. But in this case, Madrix is not only the mapping software, but also provides the video imagery.
In this setup, we have 30 fixtures in six banks, with five fixtures in each bank. They are Chauvet COLORband PiX and are the long vertical ones you see here.
A fixture like this has 12 RGB cells. For our application, each cell will be treated as an individual pixel. This is done by setting the fixture in 36-channel mode, which gives us individual control of each cell. Therefore, each cell can be a different color.
Next, in Madrix setup, we tell it what fixture we are using, how many, and their spacing. In Madrix, this is the Patch screen and here they are represented by the vertical green bars.
Most importantly, we have spaced them out, so that the resulting imagery is like our paper in front of the screen. This is also where we set the appropriate addressing and order of the fixtures, so that the data is sent to them correctly.
Finally, we select various imagery, using the programming tools and adjust its properties to our desired look.
Madrix has two identical sides for editing and playback, allowing us to play a look on one side, while cueing up a look on the other. The middle section is for cross fading between sides.
In the right side of the screen shot, the current look is like gaseous clouds moving around. In this case, they are blue and green. Look closer, and you’ll see brighter bars within the image that represent our fixtures, and therefore where they fall on the look.
Now that is one example of pixel mapping. The source of video can be separate or integrated, as it was here. There are many other tools available for mapping, including ones built into a handful of the top lighting consoles on the market today. Your choice of fixtures can greatly impact your look as well. And most software allows you to mix different makes and models, within one setup.
I encourage to explore the possibilities that pixel mapping can bring to your next event!