“Blade Runner” Future: Is It Here Now?

People driving or walking at night past the AT&T building in downtown L.A. this week may have seen multi-story color images projected onto the building and blade-runnerwondered what was going on.  This was a test run by Illumenight,  a company that specializes in “projection advertising” and showcases on its website a number of simulations, including grand-scale projections on such buildings as Disney Hall and the historically-registered Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

 Until now a phenomenon primarily confined to music concerts and other special events, projection advertising appears poised to jump into public spaces in a big way, if industry hype is to be believed.  Here are sample quotes from promotional materials on two L.A. companies’ websites.

“Imagine your ad – 100′ tall – scrolling across a building. Now picture this scene during evening rush hour. Tens of thousands of eyes looking at your glowing ad.”-Kinetic Lighting, Inc.

 “Get your message to your target audience with beautiful, eye catching giant projection installations which will transforms entire buildings into visual installations, cinematic spaces of light, color and sound!”-Future Lighting

Neither company makes any mention of whether converting entire buildings into projected ads is legal.  However, an article in MediaBuyerPlanner, a web-based media and advertising publication, has this to say about projection advertising:

“In many cities, permits are not required, and often the projection ads are done without the permission of the building’s owner. If complaints are made, the vendor simply runs the image on a different building.”

In Los Angeles, such ads would appear to fall under the category of “Supergraphic” in the sign code, which is defined as,  “A sign, consisting of an image projected onto a wall or printed on vinyl, mesh or other material…”

Supergraphics are currently illegal in L.A. except in very limited circumstances, such as sign districts, and in any event would require a building permit. 

Read this newspaper article  about  projection advertising in the city of Ventura.

Dennis Hathaway

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