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Projection mapping turns real forest into a glowing wonderland

A pair of filmmakers have used projection mapping on a real forest to turn it into a beautiful, luminescent fairyland.

Video gif by Michelle Starr/CNET

Projection mapping can do some magnificent things on a grand scale. But what about the small? Media artists Tarek Mawad and Friedrich van Schoor spent six weeks in a forest near the Franco-German border. The pair used projection mapping to turn the trees, flowers, fungus and fauna into glowing wonders.

This posed challenges unique to the setting. When projection mapping on to, say, a building, you can be reasonably sure that the building is going to stay very still, and that you can move your projector and put it back in more or less the same place without worry.

For the forest, the projector had to be set up in precisely the right place, often with a special temporary rig to hold it in place. Each object was mapped individually so that the projection would fall perfectly across its surface, the projection created and the footage shot before moving to the next scene -- a process that took several hours for each shot.

Video gif by Michelle Starr/CNET

Add creepy crawlies into the mix -- a frog and a caterpillar, both of which moved around a fair bit during the process -- and it becomes even trickier.

The final product is breathtaking though. As dusk falls, the forest comes to luminescent life, pulsing with light as if it's the most natural thing in the world, all set to an atmospheric score by Berlin-based composer Achim Treu.

You can watch Bioluminescent Forest in the video below, as well as a behind-the-scenes video, and see photos of the project on the Bioluminescent Forest website.