Air Projection with Stephen Proctor
Our good friend and TripleWide Media producer, Stephen Proctor, recently helped create the environment for the grand opening of a new co-working space in Nashville, TN. Here’s our conversation about the event.
How did you come up with the concept?
He placed two projectors in the room & edited visuals synced to a song by Jonsi. The room was filled with diffused haze in order the catch all of the projection light… in the air. People walked in, stood against the back wall, & looked into the moving projection beams.
While we were experimenting with projectors in his living room, we stumbled upon some pretty sweet visual effects. He was already playing around with basic shapes that moved slowly across the frame, but when I added my extensive library of VJ loops, things started to get even more interesting.
So Cole pulled from some of those visuals and edited a piece synced to the music, which became the core element of the installation.
What was the reaction?
Child-like awe & wonder.
People had never seen anything like it before, especially not in that context.
We were blown away ourselves at how interesting it became. It really took on a life of it’s own.
I think we’re just so used to see visual effects, even projection, in a certain context, over & over again. Until you see it used in a completely different way… & then your mind is filled with new possibilities… & your imagination starts to go wild!
Think of the first time you saw “environmental projection”. All of a sudden, you’re exposed to a new world of creativity. Your canvas expands & your bandwidth for ideas just explodes in a heartbeat!
What were the technical aspects of what you were doing?
I used what I would typically use in any situation. MacBook Pro running PVP2. A TripleHead2Go. And a few projectors.
I’ve used some Hitachi Ultra Short Throws to create up-rays of light… and a 1-2 standard throw PJs for the main air projection that shoots straight out at you.
I’ve found that in smaller contexts (like a dance club scenario), it helps to have a short-throw lens, as it disperses the projection beams better, making it even more immersive for those dancing 2 feet in front of the lens!
The key ingredient that is unique to Air Projection is a hazer. Not a fog machine. But a good hazer that can diffuse the fluid really well. Haze the room up really really well… and turn out all the lights, too.
As far as visuals go, high contrast motions work the best. Standard “backgrounds” with gradients & soft colors won’t work that well at all, unless you just want a solid beam of colored light.
Here’s two examples from TWM that might look interesting in the air: http://www.triplewidemedia.com/detail/?id=4588
At the end of the day, you just have to experiment & see what looks interesting to you. And lean into the crazy high contrast content that you would normally never use as “backgrounds” for lyrics in ProPresenter. Because that stuff will look boring in the air. Trust me.
Did you find you had to scale/change anything to work better on a “fluid” surface?
Not really. Just make sure the projector is in somewhat focus by picking a focal point in the middle of the room. Find a happy medium.
I see from the pics that you were still projecting onto the walls…did this present any more challenges?
Was projecting on hard surfaces part of the plan?
It depends on if there are nice hard surfaces to project onto! Sometimes there are & sometimes there aren’t. You just gotta work with what you have. And for me, the venue is constantly changing… and I have to adapt to whatever room i’m working in.
What’s your next big idea?
Credits: Photos by @anchored