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High-speed face mapping turns dancers into masked marvels

The same state-of-the-art setup that projected a lightning bolt onto Gaga's face during the Grammys maps a parade of dramatic digital masks onto dancers.

One minute blood gushes out of the dancers' eyes, the next their faces morph into spooky skull-like visages that could double as super creepy Halloween masks.

The dramatic, fast-moving changes in the piece "Inori (Prayer)" happen thanks to high-speed face-tracking software and a state-of-the-art 1,000 fps projector that maps digital masks onto the dancers.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

The creative project, from Japanese studio Wow, is meant to highlight the capabilities of the DynaFlash projection system, which was created by Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory and the University of Tokyo. Wow used the same setup to project a lightning bolt onto Lady Gaga's face during her Grammy tribute to David Bowie.

For the avant garde "Inori," which we first spotted on Sploid, director Eiji Tanigawa proposed a piece with the theme "life." Composer Yosuke Nagao worked up a soundtrack in keeping with the theme, and when creative director Nobumichi Asai heard the frenetic music, images of radioactivity came to mind.

"The destructive force of the radioactive could cause death, suffering and sorrow," reads a description on the piece on Vimeo. "And prayers could overcome them."