When science, nature and digital creativity come together in the Outdoor environment, the result can cause a splash! Water projection is a fine art that blends complex design and projection technology with a natural canvas. It is a technique used more and more frequently and, in the right situations can truly make the public step back and admire a brand's creativity. Whether it's to launch a new product, build anticipation, or increase brand awareness, water projections are effective at gaining attention from the event itself, and subsequent online video sharing.
Water Projection, original photo by Jacob Davies
For over 10 years, water has acted as a projection surface in a variety of situations. Originally, water projections were most seen as theatrical effects, at special sound & light shows, and also movie premieres. They relied on custom rigs dropping sheets of water to create a waterfall-like-curtain. As technology improved, techniques evolved and the 'sprinkler' shaped screen of mist now provides the most common solution for optimum quality, colour, clarity and effect. The 3D illusion is created from light beaming through an imperfect wall of water. Best results are obtained with rear projection using much brighter bulbs than usual, where the light is deflected by a mist of tiny water droplets.  Most clarity is achieved by projecting a contrasting image so video filters and alpha channels need to be considered when making the content.

Read on for our list of the all-time best water projections!


1: Nike 'Jordan Melo M8' Product Launch

To launch their new shoe in October 2011, Nike projected a 3 storey high version of NBA star Carmelo 'Melo' Anthony on the Hudson River. When he dribbles the ball, the splashing effects add to the illusion of him actually being on the water surface. It also incorporates 3D projection mapping, extending the experience to the nearby buildings. 

2: Kozyrnaya Picnic Party

Heralded as "the jewel of the party," this 26m high projection featured winners of the Ukrainian "So You Think You Can Dance?" Front Pictures Studio took a gentle approach - mixing various combinations of hearts, flowers, water, fire, butterflies and abstract swirls with the dancers to form a beautiful (if a little confusing at times) spectacle. This is a breathtaking example of how water projection can be used to impress - and the colour quality of this projection is truly remarkable. 

3: Nissan Altima Product Launch Canada Day

Halifax, Toronto, Vancuver and Ottawa each experienced a 36m water projection on the 1st of July to announce the new Nissan Altima. The car splashed across the waters surface before crashing into the lighthouse causing it to topple, before sinking. Drips fell from the Nissan logo blending it perfectly with the environment. 

4: Dr Manhattan on the Thames

Seeing the 22m tall Watchman character, Dr Manhattan, rise above London's famous river must have been a real spectacle... The character (being a giant ghostly blue figure of radiation) seemed quite at home rising above the river - one of the most fitting uses for water projection technology. 

5: Disney's California Adventures: World of Colour

Water projection features as the star of this 30 minute fountain and light show. The projections of classic Disney's Pixar 'water-themed' moments combined with the audio produces a highly moving focal point for this technical masterpiece. 

6: "Wonder Full" Water and Light Show, Singapore

"This is a story about water and light told with water and light" ...! It cost $15m USD, spanned 3 massive water screens, and featured; 15 high-power lasers, 30 high-power searchlights, 9 high-definition video projectors and half a million watts of light. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, this 13 minute spectacle can be viewed within a 3.5 radius of Marina Bay. 

7: Nessie Invades Tokyo

To promote its new movie, The Loch Ness Monster swam over to Tokyo, giving the inhabitants a frightful surprise... This out-of-home PR stunt was a great success because not only did it gain a lot of attention from bystanders, it received great coverage online and on television news.   

8: BMW 3 Series Sails Across Spain

In February 2012, the new BMW 3 Series took an off-road test drive in 4 Spanish cities. Grafia Comexperience created the captivating 15m high, 36m wide water projection and showed us behind the scenes with an insightful making-of video.     

9: Vintage Pictures on the Czech River, Vltava


10: Things Get Funky in Dubai

Outstanding colour, great clarity... and some seriously smooth audio. A fantastic water projection! But we could only make it through 50 seconds of video - how long you can you handle the funk for…? Comment below...  Water projections are proving to be popular as technology progression allows for more creative executions. The current novelty factor impresses an audience to leave a lasting impression - something that clever brands take advantage of. In addition, the element of one-upmanship contributes to creating the best experience.   Like these? Discover more creative campaign executions with JCDecaux Innovate or contact us for more info about different possibilities worldwide.

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