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Art+Tech: Sunday MASS art dance party taps Mac apps for 3D projection mapping

San Francisco artist Elliott C. Nathan has been collaborating with visual effects designers and DJs to host an ongoing Sunday Mass dance party throughout 2014. Behind the art, there's a series of Mac and mobile iOS apps working to enhance visuals and organize the event.

Sunday Mass

The last Sunday Mass of the year takes place tonight at Public Works, an event space on the edge of San Francisco's Mission and the South of Market nightlife district.

To properly send off 2014, the holiday bash edition of the Sunday Mass party is set to feature a giant polygon skull art installation built by Nathan and illuminated with video using specialized projection mapping software.


Augmenting Public Works' sound system and Sunday Mass' laser visuals by Jonathan Leppert, the projection mapping renders video streams projected at a 3D object with transformation and warping effects to paint moving images onto the object (undergoing initial configuration, above).

Inside the video pipeline

Motion graphics and effects artist Ian Chisholm described the workflow for setting up a projection map from his MacBook Pro, starting with a video feed created using real time video mixing and compositing tools such as Apple's Quartz Composer or Modul8. Using Thunderbolt, Chisholm said his MacBook Pro can drive up to three projectors at once.

The projection is then configured using MadMapper, which creates a 3D model of the object in front of the projector. The model's series of rectangles, triangles and circles can each be defined as a virtual screen that will be illuminated with video.


Syphon, an open source OS X framework, allows various applications to send video outputs to the rendering server, enabling MadMapper to draw from recorded, live or dynamically rendered images as it paints video onto the defined object.

Chisholm also demonstrated hist TouchOSC app for iPad, which can patch realtime inputs into the rendering pipeline using MIDI or OSC (Open Sound Control) commands, allowing a DJ to directly manipulate video effects using touch sliders, buttons or other inputs to apps supporting CoreMIDI.


Live on the dance floor

Video content artist Nico Cevallos sources video clips from YouTube and Vimeo, as well as live video sources from mobile devices.

Animated graphics of the Sunday Mass logo are created and edited using Apple's Motion and Final Cut Pro, using QuickTime and Compressor to transcode the content.

Using AirBeam, an iOS app from Appologics, live video captured right on the dance floor can be wirelessly patched into the Syphon pipeline for mixing realtime captures into the projection mapping or other video displays.

Sunday Mass

In addition to the projection mapping, Cevallos also uses a pico projector to beam video into the inside of glass sphere, creating an effect reminescent to the Palantír "seeing stone" from Lord of the Rings.

More tech behind the art

There's also more decidedly analog art featured at Sunday Mass, from Nathan's own collection of pieces--ranging from DJ booth backdrops to mannequins outlined in fluorescent dayglo brushstripes--to the party's resident facepainter Ismael Acosta and a classic photo booth.

Coordinating and promoting the event makes use of additional apps, including Slack for group messaging (below), which enables team members to follow specific message threads organized by hashtags.

slack app

Nathan creates graphics for social media sharing using PicPlayPost, an app that composites images and video clips to make iconic content that's easy to share via Instagram and Facebook.

Hosts Danny Snodgrass, Brett Mendenhall and Alex Fonti handle promotion for Sunday Mass, using tools including Hootsuite for social media management and Queue, EventBright and WillCall for ticket sales.

Mendenhall said he also works on college campuses and with neighborhood media Mission Mission to promote the event, in addition to conventional social media services like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

He notes, however, that "the best connections come from talking to people."

Sunday Mass originated at The Chapel, a former mortuary in SF's Mission District that was covered into a club venue and event space. At its current location at Public Works, tonight's event will feature DJ performances from Party With Havoc, Robert Jeffrey, BLAUS and