DIY Environmental Projection!
Let your venue projector off the leash and enjoy the results.
Here’s a quick note to technical departments — universities, venues, churches, schools, etc. You probably have a projector powerful enough to indulge in some environmental projection.
What’s environmental projection? It’s using projection as decoration. It’s ‘painting’ large walls and surfaces with colour and movement. It’s certainly not as technically demanding as projection mapping — which often requires millimetre perfect placement, painstaking stacking and lining up of multiple projectors, projection towers, generators… think: Vivid or White Night.
I’m talking about sticking a projector in the right general direction and experimenting with media.
This is precisely what I did over the Christmas break. I’m part of a team that takes care of the AV in a Ballarat church and we’re always looking to try something different to theme our auditorium in the lead up to Christmas.
Epson was good enough to lend me a projector for the exercise.
The 15,000-lumen EB-L1755UNL is a good example of Epson’s foray into high brightness projection, where it’s making in-roads into the market share of the traditional heavyweights such as Barco, Christie and Panasonic.
I’m not going to guild the lily, the EB-L1755UNL is still a hefty piece of kit. The flight case was the size of a small bar fridge and the package weighs in at around 25kg.
But consider for a moment what 20-odd thousand lumens looked like a few short years ago. Rather than a bar fridge, you’re looking more at a chest freezer.
Epson’s interest in the high brightness market has helped push (already dropping) prices down. The retail price on 15k lumens projector has plummeted to around A$30k.
Yes, granted, it’s still a significant investment but it has pushed the rental rates down markedly as well. Hiring in some environmental projection for a few weeks is now affordable, and not just to the Sydney Opera House.
So here was my big idea: we would use the Epson EB-L1755UNL laser projector to paint one of the side walls of our auditorium with gently animating graphics in keeping with our Christmas theme.
We’re talking about some 40sqm of wall space.
Given this wasn’t a permanent installation and we didn’t have a suitcase full of lens options, some improvisation would be required.
We found a projection position around 15m away, up and to one side, above our tech booth.
After some ‘suck it and see’ experimentation, heavy keystoning, and some down ’n’ dirty image masking within our ProPresenter presentation software, we were able to produce some astonishingly effective results.
The animations were gentle enough to not be distracting but still mesmerising during our Christmas pre-service. Children were watching and pointing… it was as unnecessary as much as it was utterly delightful.
Projection is still without peer when it comes to oversize images. LED is catching up but try doing what I’ve just described with LED! Others will have achieved something similar with moving lights and gobos. Still, I’d humbly submit, there’s no comparison with the impact of a high brightness projector.
Environmental projection is about imagination. Just about every venue has the technical capability and, increasingly, the projector inventory. One thing my Christmas experiences taught me, is you don’t always need to point your projector at a screen.
Many thanks to Epson for the use of the projector.