Giant Projection Mapping on the Hoover Dam


The “Daimler Hoover Dam” campaign turned the iconic American landmark into a giant pixel mapping screen. Daimler executives chose the Hoover Dam to highlight their new Inspiration Truck, and at the launch event, it drove on top of the dam while a dynamic, Barco-powered projection mapping appeared on its surface.

Nominating Company: BARCO, Rancho Cordova, California
Venue: Daimler Truck North America at Hoover Dam, Panorama City, California
Project: Daimler Hoover Dam Projection Mapping Campaign
Category: Immersive Environments

When Daimler North America executives explored ideas for maximizing the impact of their new Freightliner Inspiration Truck campaign – the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to drive on a U.S. public highway – they honed in on a frequently traversed landmark representing another feat of engineering prowess: the Hoover Dam. It was selected because it represents America’s ability to dream big and accomplish amazing things, even in the midst of adversity. It is still an engineering marvel eight decades later. At the launch event, the Inspiration Truck drove on top of the dam while Barco projectors created a dynamic projection mapping on the Dam’s surface.

The Barco products used in this campaign included:
• (30) HDF-W26 large venue projectors
• (30) HDX-W20 FLEX large venue projectors
• Create a highly memorable experience with imagery on a larger-than-life scale
• Ultra-bright, high-resolution imagery
• Consistent luminance and seamless image blending

Creating the projection mapping was naturally fraught with many challenges. The 420,000-square-foot surface of the Hoover Dam featured numerous angles and curves, widening from bottom to top.
One of the first challenges was to locate the best position for the projection tower. After exploring several areas, including the shoulder of the bypass bridge and the base of the power plant, the production team settled on a site downriver from the face of the dam. It was the safest location and positioned at the best angle from the dam. Other challenges included ensuring the images had a consistent luminance, and the images coming from numerous projectors had to be blended so they created one stunning image.

The canvas of this production, the Hoover Dam, rises 726 feet and is 1,200 feet wide at its crest. The base of the dam is 660 feet thick, and it took 91.8 billion cubic feet of concrete to create a retaining wall that weighs an estimated 6.6 million tons. With the projection tower located 2,500 feet away from the surface, the team had to use 7.5-11.2 zoom lenses to span the distance and ensure pristine image quality. Sixty Barco projectors were set up in three banks, with six projectors required to create each image. All images were seamlessly blended to create a single 4592 x 2048 pixel image generating an astonishing 1.17 million lumens.

Creative Technology, a world-leading supplier of AV products and technical staging services, brought its expertise in video projection mapping and specialized software to warp and render the projected image onto the curved wall of the dam. “We’d tossed around the idea of doing a projection mapping on the Hoover Dam for several years, but had to wait for the technology to catch up so we could deliver a high quality show,” said Graham Andrews, CEO of Creative Technology.

The ultimate show presented a series of stunning visuals, including Americana themes, tumbling concrete blocks and Daimler’s truck promotion to deliver an emotional and immersive experience. The vibrant, true colors and high brightness lent realism to the visuals that truly captivated the audience, creating a highly memorable occasion.

Barco won the DSE 2016 Silver Apex Award in the Immersive Environments category.

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