With just a small kit of powder, mascara, colored pencils, and paint, makeup can turn people into animals, monsters, paintings, and other people entirely. It can make the ugly beautiful, the beautiful ugly, the young old, and the old young.
But it’s also messy and time-consuming. The digital makeup of Japanese projection artist Nobumichi Asai can pull off the same feat in seconds. Like cyberpunk face paint, Asai’s makeup combines real time face tracking and projection mapping to place a living, shapeshifting mask on a woman’ s face.
Projection mapping, which maps projected 2-D images onto 3-D surfaces, mostly works best with objects that aren’t moving. It’s a technique Asai has explored in a number of projects for companies like Subaru and Intel. Using Omote, a software package that combines projection mapping with facial tracking, Asai was able to project digital makeup onto the face of a living model as she moved her head naturally with her eyes closed.
Asai’s technique allows the model’s face to change in real time almost like a CGI effect, morphing between a seductive human beauty, an alien cyborg, and a shimmering collection of polygons to incredible effect. It’s the same principle as Microsoft’s Illumiroom technology, which used projection mapping to extend the game world beyond the TV screen and onto your living room walls.
It’s an exciting concept that could be put to use in areas such as theater, where technicians already uses digital projectors to achieve a number of incredible effects. During live performances, projection mapping technology like Omote could turn actors into holograms, who could shapeshift their appearances or even roles mid-performance, without ever leaving the stage.