Projected prosperity: The projection mapping regenerating a UK high street

When it comes to high street regeneration, it takes a little ingenuity to wow the crowds. Reece Webb discovers how a projection mapping installation is changing the game for a UK high street.

When it comes to reinvigorating the high street, a little creativity goes a long way to counteract the convenience and accessibility of online shopping. For Boscombe, a small town outside Bournemouth, UK, the new beacon to draw shoppers back on to the high street came in the form of an eye-catching projection mapping experience that can bring an entertaining experience to the world of in-person retail.

Bournemouth Coastal Business Improvement District [BID] required a projection mapping and audio system that would revitalise Boscombe’s town centre with an immersive experience that was flexible, futureproof, and innovative.

Fiona McArthur, operations manager, Bournemouth Coastal BID, explains: “Boscombe is a quirky area with lots of artists, a strong ‘café culture’ and groundswell from local artists. This [projection mapping] project fit all our requirements as we can use it to celebrate the regular Christmas festivities, Valentine’s Day as well as use it to show what’s going on in our area and various initiatives with local artists.

“We were initially looking to put up some murals in Boscombe and we had approached landlords for permission, which we struggled to achieve. The Bournemouth Coastal BID looks after lots of businesses in the area and we are always looking for new and interesting things to do, so when we couldn’t get the permissions, we thought about what we could do that would have longevity and leave a legacy for Boscombe.”

The Bournemouth Coastal BID began researching other projection mapping projects and their providers, approaching LCI Productions to undertake the project and deliver the wow factor needed for the local area.

Rob Paul, design director, LCI Productions, clarifies: “The experience factor of the high street is incredibly important as the high street has to compete with online vendors. People want experiences and want those ‘selfie moments’ and projects like this are a great way to advocate for that.

“There are other complimentary technologies such as LED screens that would work during the day, but they do not have the beauty or elegance where you can transform architecture with light and that’s something that always gets a great reaction from people.”

The system installed by LCI Productions took the shape of a permanent outdoor 3D projection mapping system in the Boscombe high street, combining a Digital Projection M Vision Laser 23000 projector with a Brightsign XT1144 media player which schedules when shows can start and stop. The projector allows for a 3D projection mapping of 18x11 metres along the Boscombe high street.

Paul explains: “The key to the project is the projector which has fantastic picture quality. One of the difficulties is that we have to work around various street furniture such as lamp posts but we were able to find a location within the Sovereign Shopping Centre that gave us a clear view of the wall that we were projecting on.

“We’re able to get a very sharp and bright picture on that wall. We also built a model of the building we are projecting on to and we’ve got a standard model that we can work with on the projected off-set angle to create content. The Brightsign player can be used to determine whether we run with audio not and we’re also using the projector’s on-board scheduler to turn the projector on and off; this is accessed by a G2 Digital show control computer so that we can access the system remotely by adding new shows, adjusting volume and more.”

The mapping’s sound system plays a key role in the experience, with LCI Productions providing Adastra speakers that add to the experience without causing a nuisance to residents and shopkeepers through excessive sound levels.

Eight outdoor Adastra BP6V-B speakers were installed for this project, installed under the canopy of a nearby coffee shop. Paul says: “They give a nice audio quality to the local area within the mapping, running off a 100v line. The speakers provide good sound quality and a lower level to support the three-four-minute show where we run the audio and we have a silent, looping sequence between the shows to avoid irritating local shopkeepers.”

The audio system is also supported by a DAP PA-500 amplifier for additional sound reinforcement.

"This system is always there, so anything that we or a local artist wants to try can be attempted with the projection mapping." - Rob Paul, LCI Productions 

LCI Productions had to use a motorised cherry picker to access the canopy of the coffee shop, using the picker to reach over a glass canopy before drilling into the wall of the projection area to place the audio signal cables and then fixing the cabling and speakers under the glass canopy for a discreet appearance.

The system is designed to be futureproofed and is by no means an installation that will remain static, with plans in the works that could include creating 3D holograms and more.

Paul adds: “We’ve got this great content and we’re excited to develop this further, working with local artists to create new pieces. What’s fantastic is that this is a system that is always there, so anything that we or a local artist wants to try can be attempted with the projection mapping, so it’s great to have that opportunity.

“For any launch event, there is the possibility to add to the mapping, increase the volume and add other special effects to the system. In the future, we may want to explore augmented reality to the experience or interaction features. We also have the established projection map that we can play content on, and we can take the work of local artists or school children and adapt that so that it fits into the mapping perfectly, overlaying projection mapping effects on to that content. It’s not just a billboard, we’ve got the attraction and excitement of those mapping effects while keeping it local and fresh with current events in Boscombe.”

LCI Productions continues to provide remote support for the installation, with ongoing technical support provided both in person and remotely, updating content and ensuring the system remains functional.

McArthur reflects: “We’ve had lots of national interest in the project and the mapping has been well received by locals both in person and online, from kids running around as sharks swimming around on the side of the building to adults marvelling at the local artwork.

“We’re proud to have a sustainable way to bring a feature to the high street which otherwise is very suburban. The amount of people who stop and look at it is very rewarding, and the projection mapping itself is superb. We’re very proud that we’ve been able to bring this to our community and the opportunities are endless. Hopefully other town councils will want to follow suit and do something similar.”


Adastra BP6V-B loudspeakers

 Brightsign XT1144 media player

 DAP PA-500 amplifier

 Digital Projection M Vision Laser 23000 projector

 G2 Digital 1U Nano control PC

Netgear 8 Port POE switch

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