Penn State Unites Campus with Projection Mapping


Pearl Media created a projection mapping dramatizing the “All in at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” on the historic Old Main Building. The show ran for two nights, October 7 and October 8, uniting the student body under one credo.

Nominating Company: Pearl Media, Fairfield, New Jersey
Venue: Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
Project: “All in at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion” Projection Mapping
Category: Education & Healthcare

Penn State wanted to dramatize their path from a homogeneous Land Grant university founded in 1855 to the global institution it is today, highlighting both accomplishments and challenges faced along the way as the community struggled to be more inclusive. The projection needed to crystallize the initiative’s call-to-action: Take personal responsibility for making Penn State as diverse and inclusive as possible.

To be sincere in their message, Penn State needed a canvas that personified the scale of their devotion. It needed to feel fresh and exciting, something that “had never been seen before,” and it needed to create a sense of inclusion and optimism for the students.

The choice of building created some immediate challenges for us. While impactful as a canvas, the Old Main Building has two problematic features for projection mapping:

1) Columns
The columns create an uneven canvas that segment the animation pending on an individual’s viewing angle. Typically, this isn’t a difficult hurdle when working with abstract animations, but the primary content of this animation was historical photography. Having large breaks and seams in this content would make it challenging to capture the hearts of the student body, therefore failing on our primary goal.

2) Windows
Set back in between the columns were large glass windows. This caused a similar issue as images cannot be projected onto glass, and this created large gaps in the content.

Each challenge had its own unique solution, helping us create a near seamless projection canvas from most viewing angles.

1) Columns
Each column had to be mapped individually with all show content. Using four HD14K Christie projectors, the photographic content carefully contoured the convex column angles, creating a smooth viewing experience from all perspectives.

2) Windows
By using adhesive white vinyl over the window panes, we not only overcame the challenge, but we transformed it into an ideal projection canvas. The previous voids in projection content quickly became the most stable projection background of the entire show.

Penn State Unites Campus with Projection MappingRESULTS
The sheer scale and drama of the projection created significant buzz, drawing approximately 1,500 people, which surpassed Penn State’s expectations. It really set the tone for the Initiative, staying respectful of Penn State’s history, being honest about what they could’ve done better and shined hopeful for what the future holds. This warm and energetic shared experience brought students and faculty closer together, uniting the campus under the credo of inclusion.


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