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Wide Ocean and Sunset Projection

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by pfalvi, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. pfalvi

    pfalvi Member

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    Hi all,

    I know this is somewhat similar to other threads. I've looked through every one I can find already and haven't found quite a solution that will work for me.

    The director for a show opening in May asked me to start researching to figure out how to achieve an effect and I'm interested in any suggestions you all have. (I'm a lighting designer and this is projection, so it's a little foreign to me.)

    The director wants to have a (roughly) 25'X12' projection of several different sunsets on the ocean. Each scene takes place on a different day, including a sunset (and one sunrise). The show takes place in Florida, and as much as I would like to fly out there and film a bunch of sunsets to get what we want, I don't think that's in our budget.

    Our Equipment:
    I'm new to this position, so I'm finding new things every day. I know I have a few different PCs, all running Windows XP, and a couple seem to have a decent speed. Unfortunately, none of them have more that one monitor output.
    One EX320U-ST projector.

    My dilemmas:
    1) I need to find a way to project across such a wide space. My thoughts from other threads is to use two EX320U-ST projectors, largely because of their wide angle lenses (and we already own one), which will be split by DualHead2Go coming out of our computer's VGA output. This should work for the space we have in the theatre. The difficulty is running some sort of video control software- I only have one VGA output on most of the computers. The one that has more is an S-Video and RCA video. So theoretically I could use the VGA out to the DH2G and the RCA into a monitor of some sort.

    2) I need to blend the images so that I don't have a hard edge in the projection. I downloaded both VPT and Isadora (the demo) and played around some, but without having the DH2G, it's hard to get an idea of what it would end up being. I also need to be able to run the show, and I'm not too clear about how that would be done with VPT or Isadora yet. I probably need to look into it more in those programs.

    3) I need to (hopefully) take an image of the ocean, lay an effect over the water to give it a shimmering quality, some color gradients and things like that to create a sunset, and some cloud layers. This isn't something I've done before nor am entirely sure how to do (I guess I don't even know if it's plausible). Would it be possible to do something like this in the same software that would give me an edge blend?

    4) And finally, we are a little theatre. If I could do all this for free, that'd be great. I know it's not possible. But finding the most cost effective solution is the best.


    I'm hoping that you all can give me a bit of advice on one, two, or all of these aspects. I know I'm asking a lot, but I want to make this the best possible, so literally any advice or thoughts would be great- I've got some time before I have to have it all figured out.

    Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions!
     
  2. Joshualangman

    Joshualangman Active Member

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    As far as generating the content, Adobe After Effects would be the usual tool. This is the industry standard for video manipulation and effects. You could even make two videos — one for each projector — and add feathering on different sides to actually create your edge blending in the video files themselves.

    Sorry I can't give you any advice on the hardware.
     
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  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Sherpa CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    This is when you have to go to the director and explain that there will need to be quite a few concessions made.

    Your first challenge is that you do not have the right equipment to do the job. The projector is not very powerful if in peak condition, especially for the saturated images desired. If you set your projector with an image height of 12', you will have approximately 7 foot lamberts, which would be reasonably acceptable on a good projection screen with no ambient light. So, even if you had two projectors to get the width, you are still out of luck.

    This is often the challenge with video, the director/producer assumes that if you have a projector and a computer that you can just "make it happen".
    We can help you make it happen, but not with what you have, and with the stipulation of being as close to free as possible, the first thing to do is get them to allow a smaller image or to get you a budget. Sorry for the bad news.
     
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  4. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    In addition to ruin's comments, short throw projectors are often sensitive to location not only may have to be in a very specific location relative to the image but often have no zoom, no lens shift and limited keystone correction. That becomes even more of an issue if you are trying to align two such projector for a single edge blended image.

    With the projector noted, to get a 12' high image, which would be 16' wide, the projector would apparently have to have the center of the lens 1.8' above the top of the image (1.8' below the bottom of the image for table top) and the front of the lens 9.7' in front of the image. That is the only location supported, with no zoom, no lens shift and only vertical keystone correction any variations from that specific location would make edge blending the two projectors difficult.
     
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  5. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Sherpa CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    The other drawback of the short throw lens is that you will not actually have a perfectly squared image. This is fairly imperceptible with a single projector (especially on a smaller boardroom projection screen), but becomes a challenge when blending two units into a single image.
     
  6. dbaxter

    dbaxter Well-Known Member

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    If you are getting into projections for this and future shows, you would do well to invest in an additional video card. A PCI card for your XP machine can be purchased for around $50-70 dollars. Or one with 2 outputs for under $100. One major stumbling block you have is that your projector only does 1024x768 and not 1280x720 format. The 2500 lumens is not as serious - we lived with that level for several years (with carefully aimed face light). I agree with the posting that After Effects is the tool for doing the effects you need. There are many tutorials on YouTube you can follow step-by-step. If you choose the two projector route, then you can use either After Effects or another video editing tool to vignette the edges of your projection. You should do that anyway. Then with the two output card you just bought, blend the images.
    If you are looking for software to drive the card and do the fade in/out per scene, you might consider mine.
     
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  7. pfalvi

    pfalvi Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for your responses!

    Just a change to note: It looks like it doesn't need to be quite twelve feet tall- something like ten foot would do. Not that it necessarily changes much.

    @Joshua- I downloaded the trial of After Effects and am playing with it. It seems like I'll be able to get basically what I need from it, and with Adobe's Creative Cloud, I can use it for two months for around $60 bucks. I think that should work nicely!

    @Ruin- You're right. Our equipment isn't what we need. What do you think would be a suitable projector for this sort of job? Maybe if I know what a company with enough money to do what they want would do, I'd be able to find a good middle range that doesn't cut out much quality but makes it affordable. I guess my original was a bit misleading- we'd like it to be as cheap as we can get it but we know we have to spend some money. The director suggested finding used equipment. Does anyone know where I might find used projectors and the like? Also, if you were to give me an estimate of how large of an image I could project with one or two of the projectors I have reasonably on stage, what would it be?

    @Museav- I hear what you're saying. The issue is that we only have around 12 feet upstage of our screen to put the projector, so I figured having one that isn't short throw wouldn't fit. This might be a stretch, but if it comes to it, what would you think about keystoning the image in After Effects some so that it starts closer to what it needs to be?

    @DBaxter- Thank you for your suggestions! I've been reading about video cards a little bit. It seems like NVIDIA is a well accepted brand, so I'll look into those. I'll also look into your software.

    Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate your help in this.
     
  8. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Sherpa CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    For used equipment, check out the links in the collaborative article: Sources for Used Equipment - ControlBooth Buying used has the advantage of initial cost savings, but you want to stick to a reputable dealer and know what to look for to not get taken for a ride. Projector Central has a great tool to search by feature when comparing projectors. You can also search by model when you find one on one of the sites listed in the wiki. If a projector has been out of production for more than five years, the likelihood of getting them repaired (if they break) will become increasingly difficult.

    There are several factors in choosing the right projector, in no particular order as that can depend on usage. How many lumens do I need? What is my projection surface? How much ambient light will be on that surface? What size of image do I need to create? What is my content? What level of contrast do I need? What kind of video signal can I send to it? LCD, DLP, LCoS (there's more alphabet soup where those come from)? What kind of light source? Where will/can my projector be mounted? What kind of power can I provide (makes a difference on larger projectors)? What is my budget? Will I need to blend or stack an image? How will I control it?

    Some of these make more of a difference than others, while some only make a difference depending on others. It sounds as if you are planning on doing a rear projection set-up. Your projection surface will make a big difference in how bright your projector needs to be and the lens required. If you are not using a standard projection screen, but possibly your cyc, then it is somewhat difficult to determine the specifics of how bright a projector will be necessary (due to thickness and material). Even if you had actual projection screen material, you would need to know some specifics when matching the projector. If you choose to use front projection, you have the benefit of not needing to worry about your image being able to punch through the material, but you do still have to worry about how reflective it is and how much ambient light will be on it.

    The larger the image you create, the greater your light is spread out, so to have the same amount of "brightness" then you will need to get a brighter projector, stack two projectors images on top of one another, or have two projector images blended (which you have a few options on how you will do this and to keep the aspect you desire). One thing to note, two projectors in a stacked configuration does not mean that you will have double the brightness. I can go into that later. No matter what, you will have to work with your lighting designer to keep as much light off of the surface as possible.

    I know that you want to play around with creating content. When doing so, you need to consider how that content will be displayed. This is similar to an artist choosing oil on canvas or charcoal on paper or chalk on pavement. To create something wonderful takes knowledge of the medium as well as the means to create. With projection, there are similar combinations of mediums and tools. I will try to address this more in a later post. However, we do know that your projector will need to take a computer signal, most likely analog tied to the VGA output (unless that changes with an updated video card). Different types of signal have different strengths and how far they can travel (some can be converted to travel longer, but we are trying to keep this simpler). So, I guess I could add, how far away will the projector be from its source?
     
  9. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Is this for a one off show and if so would renting be an appropriate option to consider?
     
  10. LavaASU

    LavaASU Active Member

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    You can usually find reasonably cheap used projectors up to about 3000-3500 lumens (~$100 on ebay, but I'd suggest a spare). Above that they're going to be expensive.
     
  11. pfalvi

    pfalvi Member

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    @Ruin
    Thanks again for all your help. I sincerely appreciate it.
    Those are great resources for used equipment and comparing projectors. Thank you, I'll spend some time with them today.
    You're right in assuming I'm doing rear projection onto a cyc. When I took the EX320U-ST into the theatre the other day, it looked great with all the lights off... But as I brought up the lights I wasn't surprised to be disappointed. One benefit we do have is that there is at least four to eight feet between the cyc and any playing areas, so I can avoid some light getting thrown onto the front of the cyc. It's probably not the thinnest cyc material, so a higher lumen rating would probably be best. But as I look at projectors, it almost seems that the more lumens the higher the price (speaking very generally). If I do buy different projector, it's probably safe to assume that I'd need to buy two of them, right? Or get a second one of what I already have?
    Fortunately, I'm the lighting designer for this show, so I'll be working with myself to make sure I keep as much light as I can off of the cyc.
    I have been playing around with After Effects and I've made a good start to this project. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the mediums and tools of projection if you have the time. I haven't discussed how far the projector will be from it's source yet. I know with certainty that it won't be more than twenty feet, and it could be within five or six feet.
    Thanks again.


    @Chris
    The producing director of our theatre wants to have this option for future shows, so he wants to purchase whatever we use. Thanks for the thought, though!


    @Lava
    I think I'm going to have to go with some sort of short throw projector because of space constraints, but I'll look into it! Thanks!
     

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