There’s a new trend on the horizon, and that’s using projection as a theatrical or digital backdrop. In this article, we’ll talk about various ways you can use projection as a theatrical or digital backdrop and how projection is changing the theatrical set designs.
It’s a lot like those old traditional painted fabric a theatrical production would use, however we are saying to do it with projection instead. Here are a few pictures of theatrical productions that are using projection as a background. We’ve tried to find a wide variety of them, hope this helps give some sort of an idea on what we’re talking about:
Radio City Christmas Spectacular uses projection for New York City.
The University of Kentucky uses projection for a major theatrical production.
Long Hollow Baptist Church uses a digital backdrop to create a set and tell story during easter.
A high school in Santa Barbra used projection as their set backgrounds for recent play.
Phantom of Opera leveraged projection as a theatrical or digital backdrop to fake an audience for one shot.
As you can tell, the ideas are endless. From painting a digital cityscape in the background to using a screen for story narrative, you can do a lot when you put a projector behind an actor, person, musician, etc in an event.
The tools for projection are the same, but the application is different. The content you are using isn’t the focus, it’s just there to support whatever else is going on during your production. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re going to do this:
1. Go Wide With Projection.
If you think about it, a backdrop needs to take up our “peripheral” vision, or at least the entire frame of a video camera if you’re more concerned about the background being used for a story being captured on tape. The wider the projection, the more realistic your scene will be. Of course TripleWide Media is the best solution for finding content with that wide of a resolution.
2. Use Rear Projection.
If you really want to create a digital background that seems to be right behind an actor or musician, you may want to attempt rear projection. This will give you better contrast ratio, but it will also provide you with the ability to have projection directly behind someone without projecting onto the actor or subject. Thus, creating a true backdrop to your scene.
You can front project, but I would be careful about how close your projection surface is to your subject. If it’s too close you will see projection on top of someone, and that will ruin your effect. You may also have to do a lot of masking, which limits your software choice.
3. Use a Brighter Projector.
When you’re creating a digital background, you’re going to want it to feel as bright as the rest of your stage elements. The brighter the projector the more realistic it will appear. Think about it, if you have a screen right behind an actor that you’re lighting with 4 or 5 lights, it’s going to wash out your surface of the projection screen.
An alternative would be to lower your overall stage light so that you aren’t having to compete with a projector.
4. Keep it Simple.
The best use of a digital set will be to keep it simple when it comes to content. You don’t have to have motion backgrounds that have lots of movement. Still images will be great. Think about it, it you were to walk outside and look up, would you be able to see “motion” in the clouds? or would they look like they are somewhat stationary?
They would move, but they’re not going to be in time-lapse like a lot of cloud motions. Even a rock texture would be good to keep in mind.
Here are a few ideas for content that is on our site currently: