Projecting yourself

What does the term projection mean to you, and where did you first experience it?

Author: Buz Ross   |   Date: 2nd October 2023

Many people would have first encountered it at the cinema or school. It could be your first visit to the cinema, or did you manage to stand up and cause a shadow across the screen at school?

Projection is still an ‘experience’ event. I remember watching in awe as a friend borrowed a projector from college and we played Wipeout on the original PlayStation on the bedroom wall in his shared student house! It seemed awe-inspiring! Looking back, the image quality was pretty rubbish, the room wasn’t dark enough, and the projector was far too close!

But it was that initial impression that projection can create, and that is what makes people so engaged with it. The world of projection is continually changing and updating with new laser technology, specialist lenses plus the excitement and mind-expanding use of projection mapping. We’re going to look at some of these, plus the best practice and the reasons for choosing projection methods and using them practically.

Precision laser projection

Laser-based projectors have been available for high-end users for a few years and for example, has enabled cinemas to offer a much better quality of viewing especially for 3D and IMAX screens. As time moves on, they are becoming more commonplace for significant events, conference centres and other locations that make use of projectors regularly.

When looking at the imagery produced by a laser projector, the benefits are clear, especially the quality and consistency of the image. The colour gamut of a laser projector is far broader than a lamp-based version, plus they have higher contrast, with a considerably improved quality and brightness uniformity.As a user of the projector, this means that unlike a lamp-based projector, the brightness decreases at a much slower pace, and you have a consistent image. They also do not require the warm-up, and cool down time of a traditional lamp projector, with so many positives it is an easy decision to make

Go large with blending

A projector’s quality can rival video walls, using rear projection and image blending they can match the size and scale that people would typically associate with using a video wall.

We regularly use image blending at events where the client needs a visually immersive experience for the audience, without blowing their budget on a more expensive video wall.

Image blending, also known as edge blending, works by using software, some maths and experience to take two or more projectors to create one larger image. Where you overlap at the edges, you need to calculate the number of pixels that overlap the neighbouring image. These need to be aligned correctly and then adjust the brightness level on the projectors for the overlapping image.

For example, we are working on an event using a 12 metre wide by 4 metre high screen to create impact for the audience; this will use two projectors to create a wider image.

To run the images across the two or more projectors, you need to use specialist software to run the images. We always use projectors that are the same make and specification as this should avoid additional issues with colour and brightness. We’re always happy to discuss how this would be used at your event, give us a call.

Using image blending, we can keep cost lower, and give them the flexibility and impact they need for their presentation.

Crystal clear rear projection

Rear projection is the norm for most large events, though sometimes when working in a venue with a built-in system you may have to rely on a forward facing projector. Projecting your presentations or videos like this works effectively in smaller rooms with less ambient light. If you do use them in break-out rooms, remind your presenters that they are not standing in front of the main stage and the big shiny version!

One of the perceived downsides for rear projection has traditionally been the space required behind the screen. You need space behind to ensure that you can maximise the screen size; dependent on the size of the screen this could be seen as wasted space. However, using short throw lenses, you can dramatically cut that space needed. With our short throw lenses, you can reduce the space required to just over a metre, making a considerable difference to best utilising your event space. By saving space with a short throw lens, you can use it to impact your set and stage area positively.

Another bonus of using rear projection is its ability to deal with ambient light. Ambient light can be a big issue for clients choosing to use front projection. If we have clients with high ambient light, for example, marquees, we encourage them to use rear projection or play their content on a large display instead.

Transforming with projection

Another leap forward, and continuing to improve, is projection mapping. Becoming more commonplace and used well it can transform an event or location.  The process involves creating a 3D model of the building’s facade. A.I. can be used to assist in this process by automating the mapping of the building’s contours and features. A 3D model helps ensure that the projected content fits perfectly onto the architecture.

Projection mapping takes an irregular or unusual area on which to project and uses technology to manipulate and manage the imagery to fit.  With the assistance of A.I. Algorithms: A.I. is used to develop algorithms that calculate the exact angle and position of projectors to create a seamless projection on the building. These algorithms consider factors like the building’s shape, location of projectors, and the desired projection area. 

It is probably most recognised for being used on externally on buildings, especially famous landmarks.

In 2018 it was used on the First Night of the Proms, with a piece created by Anna Meredith and 59 Productions called Five Telegrams. The projection mapped covered the outside of the Royal Albert Hall, and inside at the same time. The combination of the music and images came together as a complete audiovisual experience, viewed as one. You can watch a small edited section of the performance.

This piece is quite abstract in many respects; it is the connection between the image and music that forms the motivation of the projection mapping.

As projection technology improves and develops, designers can create more immersive experiences.

You can use projection mapping to ‘dress’ your set too. Don’t limit yourself to the same set for your whole event, when you can revamp by using projection mapping!

As technology advances, we see the interactive elements: A.I. can be used to add interactive elements to the projection. For example, motion sensors or cameras can detect the movement of pedestrians or passers by and trigger specific animations or responses on the building.

    • 3D billboards often utilize multiple projectors to cover different angles and create a seamless 3D effect. A.I. algorithms can help coordinate these projectors, ensuring they work together harmoniously.
    • 3D Content Creation: A.I. can assist in the creation of 3D content by automating certain aspects of the design process. This content is tailored to fit the 3D billboard’s dimensions and structure.

Over the last 2 years these projections with A.I. have been viral on social media showcasing fashion campaigns on buildings, it can be a highly effective way to showcase brand creativity and engage with the public, (some examples of 3D billboards). However, they require a coordinated effort from creative teams, technologists, and A.I. experts, legal and safety consideration and necessary permits and precautions to deliver a seamless and impactful experience. 

As you can see projection can be as complicated or straightforward as you require, with different solutions available for almost any event.

If you’d like to find out more with how we can help you at an event, please give us a call.

Why not get in touch and see how we can help?

We’d love to have a chat with you about your next event or project, give us a call on 01962 870408, or click to fill in our contact form

Get in touch