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Walk through projection screen material?

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by Mumford67, Nov 5, 2016.

  1. Mumford67

    Mumford67 Member

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    I'm working out logistics for a show I'm interested in producing/directing and as a visual element in the show, I want for characters to be able to enter the scene through a changing series of still images and video footage....basically taking a character from a mental image to an actual body on screen.

    Is there any recommend kind of material that could be front projected onto and yet safely walked through to accomplish this effect? Once walked through the image would disappear. To complicate things, the show is in the round in a very compact theatre, but this would be at one corner of the theatre, outside the mainstage.

    Ideally I see this as some kind of beaded curtain, as that can more easily be repurposed as a visual element of a scene when not being projected on, but if that's not feasible, at least something, likely in two overlapping panels, that are weighted enough so that they would hang flat for the next time someone needs to walk through the scene.

    Any advise is appreciated.

    Many thanks,
    Stuart
     
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hello! Herewith, questions and thoughts.
    Does your screen need to fly in and or out?
    I'm glad to read you're not asking for it to work as a rear screen as well.
    Often this is done with a tensioned, stretchy, sort of Spandex material in a light, reflective, color. Imagine it's securely attached to a rigidly mounted batten at the top and lightly stretched and secured to a shallow batten, say 1" x 3", on its flat side and screwed into the deck at at least 3 points across the visible width. One piece of wide fabric is problematic for several reasons: If you're trying to go 40' wide, the fabric will be very costly and if you try to cut vertical slits in it you'll find you'll have openings in it where the verticals narrow due to stretching under tension.
    Going with multiple vertical runs of separate fabrics has the following advantages:
    Narrower fabric, one yard or two yards wide, is normally easier to source and much more affordable.
    Doing multiple vertical runs allows you to overlap the sections reducing holes / gaps between the verticals and also provides multiple entry points which can also be used simultaneously.
    Some designers choose to go with alternating colors of material but you likely don't want to do this as you're planning to project on the material rather than simply lighting it.
    There's a few thoughts, I'm sure you'll have many "experts" chiming in shortly.
    All the best with your project. (and your projections)
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  3. Mumford67

    Mumford67 Member

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    Thanks for your input, Ron.

    To answer your question, there is no fly system as it is a very small space in the basement of a building. The entire screen area would only be about 6-8' wide, and about 8-10' tall. When not being projected on, we would use a series of gobos and colored gels to help build an impression of various environments on it, so a scrim-like material that is a simple silverish-white would probably be best.

    I like your idea of strips, some fixed and others not, though I still wonder if there is some sort of solution that could work with a variation of tightly compacted beading, or perhaps with overlaying very narrow strips of fabric. That way the actors could very naturally enter as if originating from the image and not have to move a curtain aside, as if walking onto a 70's talk show.
     
  4. Morte615

    Morte615 Active Member

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    You could try a Fog Screen http://www.fogscreen.com/

    I think it may even work with the idea of taking from an ethereal, in the mind, feel to a solid person. As long as you have time in between it being needed for the wind from their passage to clear it's ready to go next time.

    Biggest thing with these are controlling air currents in the area where the screen is used. We have had to close off AC vents and even at times turn the AC off during the moments the fog screen is not in use. If it is only for small moments of time then turning the AC off during those moments won't make the room too hot but it may be a pain to turn it on and off.

    Also when not being used for that particular part it will just disappear and you don't have to try to hide it.

    I know these are available as rental units from LMG here in Florida and assume they can get it to you or there is someone else local that has them.
     
  5. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Think of all of the vertical strips as secured top and bottom so, when undisturbed, they maintain a flat plane equidistant from your projection lens. If the strips are lightly tensioned slightly stretchy fabric, think lightweight spandex, they'll give readily as performers walk through them and tidily self-close once performers have passed through moving either US or DS. If the strips are only suspended from above and free-hanging at the bottom, they'll swing constantly both US / DS and side to side.
    If you've any economy fabric outlets in your area, go for a walk and see what's available at low cost by the yard off a bolt, purchase a small amount and do a little mock-up experimentation before committing to a lot of yardage of any particular material / color. I understand what you're saying about tightly compacted beading but you'd likely require at least two layers deep to achieve a surface worthy of projecting upon and then you run the risk of the beads tangling and knotting. Even then, you may need something more opaque a few feet US to mask anything / everything further back. Any of the water vapor / smoke / steam screens are always at the mercy of air currents.
    Edited to add some numbers:
    For talks sake, let's say your vertical strips are 4" wide with an overlap between adjacent strips. If they were supported from above by a 1" x 4" on edge, you could wrap the strips over the top and secure with staples. Likewise, you could add a second layer of side to side overlapping strips from the rear and, with today's one by lumber being only three quarter inch thick, you`d have two layers three quarters of an inch apart. If one side of your fabric is more reflective than the other, be sure to face all of one side DS. Optimistically, this should produce both a fairly even and opaque surface to light and project upon while still being fairly easy for performers to pass through at any point(s).
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  6. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    With Fogscreen and other atmospheric effect screens, they do best with rear projection.

    If you do something with tightly packed beads or such, have a solid surface close behind. This should help sell the image. Here are a couple suggestions:
    String curtain: https://dazian.com/theatrical-drapery/string-curtains-(projection).aspx
    Projection discs: https://dazian.com/theatrical-drapery/matte-projection-disk-curtains.aspx

    Note, those won't be nice projection surfaces the way Ron suggests. Instead, they will be a broken image. It depends on your content and how you want it to work. The string thing worked kind of well with Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana where they used it for a solo performer. However, that was on a much larger scale and not used the way you intend.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @ruinexplorer When you mentioned "they do best with rear projection" are you suggesting when projected upon obliquely to keep the lens and hot spot out of sight and with the image warped to correct for keystoning?
    Things have changed so dramatically from the days of 35 mm slides.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron
     
  8. Mumford67

    Mumford67 Member

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    Thanks for all of the suggestions, guys. A bit to chew on there.

    Morte615- The fog screen is a really interesting idea that would fit ideally with the intended effect - esp. given the rock score of the show and that I"m going for an 1980's MTV music video feel. However, as the screen would be in direct vicinity of an open entrance hallway that leads into the space, not to mention near a building exit, there could be draft issues. Would need to do some building tests to make sure these would not be concerns. Not as worried about AC as we would be performing in either late October or early spring. There's a rental company near Pittsburgh (about 250 miles away) but if we can work within environmental and cost factors (this is, afterall, a non-profit community theatre with a relatively small per show budget), I would be willing to make the drive to both pick up and drop off the equipment.

    Ruinexplorer - Need to do some additional research on the string and disc curtains. Really depends on the spacing between strings or if that is adjustable. Again, we are looking at an 8'w x 10'h projection space maximum. If not adjustable, as you said, it may not give the intended effect. Also noticed these curtains are used largely as backdrops, so I need to make sure they can be handled on a regular basis.

    Ron - You suggestion obviously appeals to me from a budgetary standpoint. Also, keeping it two layers makes good sense. I may also need to keep it within a moveable or hinged frame - as mentioned before, placement is by an entrance hallway - so its lightweight nature is definitely a plus. We have a number of fabric warehouses nearby so I'll make a stop near one to check out options and estimate a price.
     
  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Mumford67 Thinking back to any / all of the atmospheric screen options and your concerns regarding air currents / building drafts. Any available, cheap 'n dirty, fog machine should suffice for testing for air currents / ascertaining viability without investing time, effort, gas for your vehicle and money on the rental of an actual machine. I'm not suggesting a fog machine will give the same visual image but it will definitely be the cheapest / most convenient / likely readily available answer to easily / affordably testing to see if keeping any of the atmospheric screens in position long enough to be useful is an option worthy of further expense, effort and testing.
    I'll quit blathering.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  10. Morte615

    Morte615 Active Member

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    As for the doorway you could build an air lock out of 2x4 and curtain to block you air current. You can open it between uses for easy scene change and actor movement , then close it off when the screen is active. Also just the act of moving through the screen will obliterate it for at least a few seconds till the air settles down. Biggest air current issue would be the stage side and making sure that no breeze comes from there .

    I also agree with Ron and to test air current issues I would grab a fogger and use it to physically see the currents in the air .
     
  11. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Further to your air current issues with any of the atmospheric screens, FOH staff are often your inadvertent enemies with unpaid ushers opening lobby doors to sneak a peek at the performance, opening doors early to expedite the exodus for intervals, ya da, ya da, etcetera. It's bad enough when air rushes into the auditorium and pushes your effect off stage but it's even more of a problem when air rushes from the auditorium to the lobby and the pit musicians quit playing when your effect fills the pit and they can no longer read their music. An equal part of the 'magic' is keeping the 'magic' where you want it when you want it. Welcome to the joys of technical theatre.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  12. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    In most of the trade show and conference set-ups where we had limited space, yes, we put them at an oblique angle and adjusted for keystone if necessary. For a nightclub where I installed one, I was able to put the projector high, and then buried the remaining image in very dark duvetyne just in front of the fog. The "fog" isn't very dense, so much of the light passes through and isn't very discernable when projected from the front. In addition, it disperses rather quickly so tall images get completely lost at the bottom. When we turned it up to maximum output, even in the dry desert, we had to be careful with condensation for those walking around that area. Air currents were a pain in the butt.

    On the other hand, if you end up with a heavy fog (like Liquid Nitrogen or such), those are considerably more dense and front projection might work.

    Another mist type was originated by iO2 Technology which they called the Heliodisplay. I have put up some DIY videos a few times here, but you can search it on youtube as well. The nice thing about their system is that they can also be set vertically and have a smoother "surface" to project on. You still run into the issues with controlling airflow and the need to rear project (and where to bury the remaining light).

    The string surface might work well for you. The PVC might need a bit of distance for it to read in my opinion.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  13. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Mumford67 Please let us know what you went with and how it worked out for you either once your production opens or after it's struck and you've recovered from your efforts. Possibly post a photo.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     

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