April 1st, 2014

The bright white architecture of Alys Beach, Florida provides more than just a Mediterranean feel to the Gulf Coast town. The iconic stark walls are transformed during the town's annual Digital Graffiti festival into a canvas for digital artists like senior designer Josh Van Praag, who created 'Goldberg', a video projection that goes beyond static eye-candy to create a bespoke story influenced by Rube Goldberg.

Much of the artwork at the Digital Graffiti festival is submitted through an online contest where the winning art is projected onto random homes in the community. Josh saw a huge missed opportunity to create a projection designed to a home's specific dimensions that would play with the architecture of the house and also tell a story.

Influenced by Muse Digital’s 2011 Hot Wheel’s projection as a well-executed example of projection mapping that also incorporates a story, Josh wanted to identify a subject that would allow for dynamic, interesting interaction with the canvas.

Josh says, “I wanted to play with space in the same way I'd seen previously, but I wanted to give things some purpose. A Rube Goldberg machine allowed me to have similar devices, but also have a story.”

Rube Goldberg contraptions are "comically involved, complicated inventions laboriously contrived to perform simple operations" like a self-operating napkin or a simple way to get olives out of a bottle. Josh's design projected a contraption inspired by the cartoonist precisely onto a home's dimensions.


With a two-week turnaround, it was a race to complete the custom piece for the event. The tube water was created in Realflow, and Cinema 4D was used for the animation and then comped in After Effects.  Josh learned the technical side of the projection on the fly with the help of Phillipe Chaurand, the developer of Millumin, the software used for the projecting.

Watch the final projection below and find out more about The Mill in Chicago's Josh Van Praag.