Projector Animations

Wireframe-OE-(0;00;00;00)For Not So Silent Night this year we played around with using a projector as a light source.  We took a 17,000 lumen projector, put it upstage center, and faced it towards the audience.  With the room hazed out we were able to create some pretty sweet animations.  Stuff you just can’t do with a normal moving light.

We used Qlab since it is a very reliable media player and the new version adds a lot of on the fly controls for manipulating content.  It’s also controllable from a variety of ways, MIDI notes, keyboard shortcuts, MIDI Show Control, iPad app, lots of options.  This made it easy to add into our Ableton show control rig.

We loaded up some content into Qlab and tried full color, complex stuff along with black and white, really simple stuff.  We started to find that the simpler the better since we’re trying to discern images in mid-air using haze.  The more negative space in the image, the easier it was to read.

Think of your moving lights.  The gobos that give the most distinct beams are typically the least busy ones.  The really busy gobos may look good on the ground or wall as a texture but probably don’t look as good in the air through haze generally speaking.  Instead of individual beams you can end up with a frosted look.

Not that all colored content look bad, color bars through the air actually looked really cool, ha ha.  I was really interested in beams for this show so white graphics with a black background seemed to work best.  This gave us the most contrast possible for the beams to cut through.

White is also easy to color correct into other colors.  Take away green and you’re left with magenta for example.  Taking away a color from white to change the look is way easier than creating content in a specific color and then trying to get white instead.

After seeing what worked and what we liked I created some simple stuff in After Effects.  Things rendered nice and fast since they were so simple.  Creating everything ourselves also gave us full control over the look.  Searching through stock content is sometimes more work than just creating stuff yourself if you know what you want.

Below is what we made.  I’m pretty sure we didn’t use everything but we wanted lots of options.  Feel free to rip them from YouTube and play around with a projector you may have lying around.  You don’t need 17,000 lumens (but it helps, ha ha) you can try it out with a smaller projector just to see the effect.

I think that my favorite effect was the small dots falling.  This created an awesome starry, twinkly, kinda look.  We actually used it on a song where it was the only light in the whole room and it was great.

The moving line was probably my second favorite.  Real laser like effect waving around.  The OE logos came out nice too.  Always cool when you can incorporate a little branding into the effects.

Audio Dots
Audio Lines
Circle Dots 1
Circle Dots 2
OE Wall
Moving Line
Snow 2
Snow 1
Snowy Dots

Microsoft IllumiRoom

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 5.30.38 PMWith all the high end projection mapping out there for big events it’s easy to overlook ways to integrate things on a smaller scale.  Looks like Microsoft figured it out already, ha ha.  They have some really impressive proof of concept videos on their site.

Basically they’re using a combination of a short throw projector and a Kinect to map the room’s objects in 3D then project content.  Some really awesome ideas!

Check out the link for more technical details and the video below for a short demo.  It would be pretty interesting if a media server company like Green Hippo integrated a Kinect into 3D mapping setups like this.

Microsoft IllumiRoom

Research Paper

Short Projector Setup Time Lapse

For the fun of it I set up my camera to do some time lapse of us setting up our new projectors.  I messed up the first part so i didn’t capture us getting the projectors up to the catwalk but what I did get is still kinda cool.

You can see that things don’t line up perfectly yet.  I’ll get things pretty close with the projectors themselves then I’ll be relying on the Hippotizers for keystone, warping, and edge blending to perfect the image.  At that point we should have a nice, seemless, 100′ x 18′ image!

Ultra Wide 21:9 Panoramic Projector

A vender sent me a link to this projector and it’s a pretty cool concept.  It’s an ultra wide 21:9 format, almost equivalent to two 4:3 projectors side by side, which is 24:9 if my mixed fractions conversion is correct, ha ha.  A good point they bring up is that by the time you edge blend two 4:3 projectors by about 10% you end up at their 21:9 format.

Specs look good, higher than HD resolution, 2560 x 1080.  Says “up to 7500 lumens”, output ultimately depends on the lens used.  I’d be curious to see what the price is.  Since it’s kind of a novelty projector I kind of expect it to be expensive.  But if you’re replacing two projectors with one for a specific setup then that’s worth a little extra money.  It would just be a little hard to justify if one projector ended up costing more than two projectors.  Either way it’s always worth a look!


Triple Stack Projection Test

We have been renting projectors to use for environmental projection for Nights of Worship.  At some point we will be installing a permenant setup and we have been researching projector options.  Recently I tested three 12,000 lemun projectors stacked to create 36,000 lumens of output.

With the three projectors we got to see in person what 12,000, 24,000, and 36,000 lumens looks like on our back wall.  Ultimately we will be covering about 100′ x 18′ of stage wall.  We need enough punch to give us a nice image and overcome the bleed of the stage lights onto the wall.  It’s the shadow and black detail that gets lost first when we bring up our stage lighting.  That’s mainly why we need so much intensity from the projectors.

For the amount of area that each projector will have to cover on our wall it’s looking like we will need three 30,000+ lumen projectors to have the intensity we want.  This will give us almost 100,000 total lumens for the whole wall vs the 36,000 lumens we have been renting.

Here’s a simple video from my iPhone showing the difference between 12, 24, and 36k lumens.  My buddy covered and uncovered the lenses of the projectors to change the output.  Since my phone was adjusting the iris for the brightness you notice the change in the level of the background more than the color bars.


Panasonic 20,000 Lumen DLP Projector

Panasonic has just come out with a new projector line that’s pretty cool. The top model, the PT-DZ21K is20,000 lumens, DLP, very quiet, and lightweight for a projector with this kind of output. It’s also a little over full HD resolution at 1920 x 1200.

Panasonic was nice enough to come out with one of these brand new projectors and give us a demo in house.  This was a great opportunity to see what a 20,000 lumen DLP projector looks like hitting our rear wall.

The results were very nice.  This is about half the size and half the noise of our 18,000 lumen Christie projector we have.  The color and image quality from the projector was very good.  There’s also all kinds of image warping and blending options built into the projectors that you access from optional software.  In our case we’ll be controlling that stuff from the media servers but I’m sure someone will take advantage of that feature.

Output wise it looks like it could be a good option for us.  It seems like we got enough output to overcome our stage lights.  Because of the 16:10 format it would take 4 of these to completely cover our stage.  That would make this option a little more expensive than a setup with 3 projectors but these are smaller and quieter. Everything is a compromise.


NEC NC3200S 33,000 Lumen Projector

We’re looking into large scale projection in our sanctuary.  “Environmental Projection” is the buzz word.  Basically turning our back wall into a huge, 100′ x 18′, canvas to project onto.  To do this well and overcome the stage lighting it will take some large projectors.  The NEC NC3200S is just that, ha ha, 33,000 lumens!

It’s a little different than your typical multimedia projector.  It’s designed for the cinema market, aka movie theaters.  But as long as you don’t need to move your projector around often, that’s not really a drawback.  There’s just one or two extra things to set up.  Mainly the exhaust duct for the heat which is the chimney thing at the top.

Other than the extra setup needs and not being designed to be portable it has a lot going for it.  Cost vs output is very good, cheapest I’ve found at the 30,000+ lumens range so far.  Lamps are relatively cheap.  It’s 3-chip DLP running at 2k resolution (2048 x 1080).  All promising stuff.  If this is too much output for your application they also have two smaller versions, 18,300 lumens and 9,300 lumens.

We will be getting something at some point and this is the front runner right now.  Still looking at other options though and things change all the time.  I’ll keep posting updates as the search continues.