Live Projection in High School Concert?

Should I incorporate live (and recorded) video?

  • Yes! Including live video would be cool.

    Votes: 21 91.3%
  • No! The video would be distracting and detracting.

    Votes: 2 8.7%

  • Total voters


Active Member
FYI, I'm putting this in this thread because I'm asking this primarily from a lighting design standpoint.
So as a couple of you may remember, our annual Talent Show is coming up this year. For those of you who don't know, it's more of a Talent Show/Rock Concert. We're renting ML's for the show (21 this year!), so it's a big production.
I'm always looking to up the bar though, and so this year, I was thinking of projection/recorded video. Rear projected onto the set, would probably end up being 5' x 8'. Set up 3-4 cameras, at least one stationary, the rest with ops doing fun stuff like zooming in and out on the talents, panning around, etc. in time with the music. Like the stuff they do at professional concerts.
That's the only thing though. Video at professional concerts is largely because people can't see the talent. We really don't have that problem--the video would just be there to be cool.
Now that's where I need advice, though. I've only been to one concert with video (RHCP), but to me the video distracted me from the lights and the live talent. It's largely my decision about whether or not we incorporate video, and personally, I'd rather have it be more of a lights show than a video show. But at the same time, it might be cool.
So that's the question. Should I incorporate video? I'm worried that it will distract from the rest of the action (especially the lights) because people might be so naturally drawn to the motion and stuff. And it might be weird, because people really won't have the problem of seeing the talent.
Yes? No? Keep in mind--this would only be for the band acts, pretty much.


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I think my concern would be doing a good job so that it really does look cool and professional. It takes some work and talent to blend and mix those camera shots well. The pros spend a lot of time rehearsing to get the right shot. You on the other hand need a lot of time for just plain learning how to do it in the first place. But, it's a cool idea and a great opportunity to push yourself and learn something new. So I say go for it, but make sure you have lots of time for your video crew to learn the equipment and practice before the show.

The other thing to remember is that although no one is sitting 1000 feet away straining to see the stage, the video projection still enhances their view. Don't sell that short, You are turning a normal human head into a 5 foot high head... That's changing the audience experience a lot. In order to not distract from your light show I would try to locate the projection screen off to the side of the stage out in front of the proscenium.


Active Member
Wow, thanks for the feedback already.

As far as the projection screen--it kinda needs to be in the center, just because of the set design. I would think, though, that the closer the screen is to the lights, the more effective it all is because your eye doesn't have to "choose" what to look at? (I could be off on this one)

In reply to Tyler's post;
>We'll have a video switcher op, who will decide which cameras are displayed, etc. as well as any effects such a colorizing, negative, etc. etc. etc.
>Since the show is so episodic, rock bands to skits to dances, etc, I designed the screen so it can "disappear" into the set for certain acts like dance acts or skits, where the primary focus should really be on the talent, not on the vid. screen. (At least, I think. Dance acts traditionally have cool lighting, but I'd be afraid to distract from the overall experience of the dance?)

Thanks for the camera op tips though, I'm going to have to search for good people to run them.
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Well-Known Member
Live projection can really enhance the performance.

Getting a screen that is behind the group to work well is difficult, usually for greatest brightness you need to use rear projection. This is why some of the designs recently used are using multiple LCD/Plasma displays hung in a row or in a stack over or to the side of the Band, If you ever get to look at Sound Stage on PBS they have moved to this system. Problem is it is expensive.

Projection usually works best to the side, over or alongside the speakers.

Some things to keep in mind, have the shots be mainly close ups, there is no sense in putting an image on the screen that is smaller than that image the audience will see of the performers on stage. Used this way it can get quite effective

You can also look at visualizer software and run it from pc with video out so that you in essence get a ML gobo type projection to fill inalso

A nice effect is to work up logo's for the bands acts and the event and work these into the designs.
Keep your video lines to the projectors away from ac runs or else you will have hum bars in the video



Active Member
I actually did live video for a corporate event that featured live music and it was a huge hit. The customer did not know that we were doing it, and I kept it that way because it was our first attempt at it so I didn't want to promise something that I couldn't provide.

I did notice that mos people, even those near the stage, were at least glancing at the screens. It really became part of the show, rather than just being something distracting. Let's face it, you could have 100 movers and most people just don't notice that kind of stuff.

Now is a great time to pick up cameras. With television stations, etc... converting to digital and the like, the old shoulder style ones are selling for cheap. I picked up three Sony DXC-M3A's for less than $200 each. I got a cheap Korg video mixer and just ran a single line of RCA to each camera. (Yes, BNC is better, but I had LOTS on RCA laying around and just put on adapters to go to BCN) Other than a TV as a monitor at the switcher, that was about it. When we finished the event, I sold the cameras and actually made a little bit of money on each and bought some nicer cameras for the next show. If there are any public TV stations, or something of the like, you may be able to borrow them. I would have gladly let a school or the like borrow my old cameras.

Advice that I can give....use a projector with a very high output. The concert lighting will wash out a dim projector. We used a 4000 lumen and it was fair to good. If you can use better, or double project from 2, then do so. And listen to SHARYNF, Rear projection is GREAT!

One idea that I have had is to get a pile of used TV's, like in the movie version of Rent (at the public performance), and patch them all into the video feed and make them part of the set. Get old console style TV's, black and whites....whatever you can find, and have them all how the signal. TV's scattered all around the stage, some high and some low, could be very cool.


Active Member
I don't know what it looks like when you point a camera onto a live projection surface, but I know for TV's, it makes a giant white guzzhaw of light. With stantonsound's idea of placing ol tv's everywhere, that would we totally awesome, but very difficult to shoot around. As to rear projection, I don't know how it could be affected.
Maybe I was just dealing with a crappy camera, and TV when I was pointing the camera at the TV I was feeding the video to, but instead of just having the picture of a tv in a tv in a tv..., it was just a white blaze, and could be very distracting (like audio feedback, but for video).
I could be very wrong on this though. New equipment might deal with that better...?

I don't know how well it would work, or if maybe you could make some cool looks, but is it possible to use 2 projectors carefully focused on the same exact area in order to make it a lot brighter, and not get washed out with the stage lights?

One cool thought. SharynF mentioned a while ago about taking old parts of moving cameras, and mounting lights on them to make moving lights. Just wondering if it would be possible to remove the light on an ML, and put a camera there. You could get some cool shots. Might be worth it. I know some moving light/projectors (DL2) have a camera in them. But, the owner or the ML's (who you are renting from) might not be very happy with that idea.

Yet another random idea... If some bands have good tempo, it might be interesting for them to film their own music video, and perform in front of it. (similar to the Gorillaz) This would require monitor tv's on stage...

I was just typing down the random thoughts as they came to my head. If they help inspire you or something, then that's great, but if you don't like them, then feel free to mock me and disregard my ideas. :mrgreen:


Active Member
First off, you guys are all awesome.
Second, we are in fact planning to use rear projection. I don't know about the lumen intensity of our projectors, but unfortunately we're kind of stuck with them irregardless; my budget for video is $0.00.

Third, because so far everything I've heard points to video off to the side. Attached are two crude pictures of the set/truss rig (I <3 MSPaint). The red area in the second is where I planned on rear projecting. Is this no good? Will I get video feedback by placing it there? Drum kit is pictured for comparison; the projection would be something like 8 or so feet off the ground (in other words, we'd be in danger of camera-ing the screen if we weren't really careful).

Here, let me explain the screen, as it'd probably be helpful. The set is, as you might realize, the clock tower from back to the future. See the first picture? That brown box is a pair of functional double doors, and that pink is actual plywood walls. When the audience enters, it's a normal set.

Then, without warning, that entire pink area opens (like a larger set of double doors), and a projection screen drops down from above. Bam! Rear projection from nothing.

Which is why the center position would be the most favorable to me. I was considering putting two projectors on the sides (the parts with the windows), but my artistic director was having a fit about that (ruining the feel of the set) and wouldn't that be like, even worse as far as feedback goes? (Ugh, I never even thought of feedback).


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Well-Known Member
You shouldn't have TOO big a problem with video feedback, you aren't going to be focusing the lenses of the cameras on the screen. And the brightness, well that's from pointing the camera at a light source... And anyways video feedback can be cool sometimes. I'd go for it, throw in some animations and stills, video clips, have fun with it. If you pay enough attention, you can really make the video part of the light show. For example, hue saturation in coordination with washes. I can't wait to see how this show turns out! Be sure to take lots of pictures [and video?] for us!


Well-Known Member
If the show you're working on is using 21 movers, and it's more "Talent Show/Rock Concert" then video sounds appropriate. The only real issues I see are the lights shining on the screens, etc. The other thing (and this is just my opinion) is that sometimes video changes too fast, causing the audience to focus on it, and not the performers. For example, let's say there's a song playing, and there's a static camera shot of cars driving down the street. The image doesn't change for 1+ minutes, so you know the image but you focus on the performance. Now take the same song, and instead of cars driving down a street, you switch the image to a camera IN a car driving down the same street. The image changes, you want to know where the car is going and you watch that, not the performers. They become a soundtrack for the video.


Active Member
The video feedback problem I was having had a bright light because the camera was old, and brightened the images a lot. As the video went through the loop, it got brighter, and brighter, etc.

That looks like a really awesome set. Our school never does that much work for a talent show. (We don't even rent moving lights for our biggest events.) I can see why you are so keen on the rear projection.

As I said before, I am not a video expert, and from what Radman said, it probably won't be a problem get the projection in the camera shots. It's always been something that I wanted to experiment with. If you already have some of the equipment, you could try a few shots out, and see if it is a problem. If it is, you can always shoot around it.

I second the request for pictures and/or video of the event. Looks groovy.:mrgreen:


Active Member
Heh, thanks for the compliments, I'm making sure to take unbelievable amount of pictures and video for this thing :p

Since it's a related question, and everyone seems to be supportive of the idea. What's the best material to rear project on? Scrim? Tough spun? A bedsheet? (I'm looking low, low cost here, heh)


CB Mods
The best material to rear project onto is RP (rear projection) screen. This of course is not a very cheap solution. If you have a nice bright projector you can use stretched muslin as a projection surface. The last time I did that we were using 35mm slide projectors designed for theatre, so really bright. The other option is to get a bunch of materials and test them in your space, if you have time.

I can tell you one thing, you don't want to use scrim. First off, it isn't cheap, and second, it won't really transmit your image. Think... Scrims, when lit from behind are designed to appear mostly transparent to the audience.


Active Member
True, that does make the most sense (ironically, we were planning on projecting on scrim for my last production. Wasn't my idea, but yea.). I should have time to test out whatever you guys suggest, and hopefully more.

By the way, it's 15 MLs, not 21. I think I'm just really tired this week.


I'd second the earlier post about projection brightness, we're sufferring atm from our lights hitting the screen and the projected image goes from visible to not being there at all.
make sure that ur ML's arent going to hit the screen, as that definately is distracting.
gd luck


Active Member
Unfortunately, I really think we'll be stuck with what we have already. I actually don't know how powerful our projector is, it could be a big limitation. Any suggestions? I have a throw of about...10-12ft to work with.

As for the ML's, I'll make sure not to wash it out the best I can, though the drummer will be directly in front/below the screen (6 feet more towards the audience, however). I'm a little lucky in that the screen will be basically in a 6 foot deep "box", so hopefully that'll help with spill. (For those interested, I'm getting Mac 700 Profiles, Mac 700 Washes, and a couple Studio Colors)

EDIT: I know I need to get the exact specs on the projectors before any of you can give me much advice, I know. But question. Rear projection is usually brighter than front, right? But, if I could hang it correctly/well, would it be better in this situation to front project?
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CB Mods
If you have only one projector, get it as close to the screen as possible such the the image covers as much area as you want. If you have more than one projector and a way of aligning them and splitting the video feed between them you can divide the image area up and get the projectors closer to the projection surface. The principle is the same as lighting, you get more light if it is closer, the inverse square law.


Active Member
I might be able to get a second projector. If the image from one is too small, I might consider running them side-by-side (same image) to fill up more than one screen. Someone had suggested earlier to run them wiht the same image overlapping for more brightness, but that'd produce a weird image wouldn't? Double vision?

As far as splitting the video feed, would that be a. cheap and b. feasible? (Wouldn't the aspect ratio be shot to you-know-where?)


Active Member
The best thing for brightness that I would suggest is make sure you have the correct material for rear projection. Nothing is going to dull the picture more than the wrong material.


Well-Known Member
Find the money for an RP screen. Get donations from the bands, parents, local orgs, sell tshirts, something. Or ask to borrow one if you know anywhere that has one. I know our community theatre has one, I was gonna use it for one show I designed actually, but we couldn't find a projector. Rear projections is by far better than front.


Active Member
Oh lord, Radman, those things are expensive. There's raising money, but budget is hell for this show anyways.
I mean, I'll try (if it is such an amazingly better thing), but any suggestions for good rear projection materials at um, not $700 for 5' x 7.6'?
edit: It seems horribly cheap and gerry-rigged...but is wax paper the answer? (Or, persay, a roll of Tough Spun or Diffuse?)
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