Projection on the Ceiling: Pros and Cons.

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Cue the Jimmy Fallon “pro’s and Cons” theme song as we look today at the benefits and pitfalls of projecting on the celling at your next event, service or space. It’s something our team has done before (see the picture above) and was a powerful environment once the projection on the ceiling was aligned, calibrated and the right content was chosen.

I thought about this because I stumbled upon an event space the other day who used projection on the ceiling as a way to showcase a few projects in the desert or the work of several architect’s in their design of buildings in the Moroccan desert. It reminded me how projection on the ceiling can be used in an event or in a space as a great addition to the experience of the people in attendance. There are many benefits and drawbacks to projecting on the ceiling, so lets dive right in. (here are the pictures of the Projects in the Desert🙂

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Projection on the ceiling is immersive.

When you’re trying to invite people into a setting or a unique environment, the more immersive the environment is, the more the audience will be able to believe they’re in that world. This will increase their responsiveness, attentiveness and their ability to believe the story or setting is more realistic. When you project on the ceiling it moves from watching a setting to being in a setting and the environment becomes more immersive.

 

Projection on the ceiling is sticky.

Due to the low number of ceiling projection I’ve seen, I’m prone to think that projecting on the ceiling will catch someone’s eye and put an emphasis on whatever that moment in time is. For some of you it’s pure entertainment, but for other’s you’re using projection, media and environment to engage people with a core message or teaching that you want to stick. When you use technology in a way that’s fresh or not over-used, it has a weight to it that causes people to remember the story, message or teaching for a longer period.

 

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Projection on the ceiling has limited options.

If you’re looking to create a real environment where the ceiling is used to bring people to a new “space” rather than just abstract light, particles and textures, then the use of the images that will go on the ceiling are limited. Think about it… look up where ever you are. Odds are good that the world above you doesn’t have a lot of “detail.” It’s likely that it’s one of the following: Clouds. Wood, Trees/Nature, Windows, Cathedral or something pretty simple and bland. You get the point here, creating reality with projection on the ceiling is something with limited content options… just keep that in mind.

 

Projection on the ceiling is difficult to map

Most ceilings in most event spaces aren’t flat, and even if they are, the projection angles can be difficult. When we set the projection on the ceiling in St. Louis (top picture of this post), we did a lot of math to figure out the best angles, best lensing, etc and still had a heck of a time getting it to work out in the space. The ceiling was curved, which caused focus issues. The seating on the ground and where people would walk, caused shadow issues and the fog in the room for lighting caused the “effect” to be less impactful because people knew where the light was coming from. I’m not saying it’s impossible… look at that picture. But it was a challenge to get the angles right to make it believable.

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Projection on the ceiling takes a LOT of projectors

The three time’s I have personally projected on the ceiling in an event space, we used way more projectors than I thought to cover the space. Often, ceilings are larger square footage than your stage or set design. with that said, it’s almost as difficult to projecting onto the entire floor of your space (like the basketball court projection we’ve all seen). In the St. Louis rig we used 6 projectors. In the first couple I did we used 3 and 5 respectively and only covered a quarter to a third of the ceiling. Make sure to have more than you need or you’ll project less than you want.

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It’s an idea you should always keep in your back pocket when going into any creative or planning meeting. Make sure you have the right time to pull it off before the event… and bring in the right expert projectionist too. It really can be powerful if you do it well.

Have you ever tried projecting on the ceiling? We’d love to see pictures!

Author Luke McElroy

Luke McElroy is the founder of Orange Thread Media, the parent company to TripleWide Media, SALT Conferences and Orange Thread LIVE. He is the author of The Wide Guide: Blueprint for the Multiscreen Movement. Hailed as one of the “top innovators for worship” by Worship Leader Magazine in 2013, Luke’s leadership has helped create powerful worship environments for thousands of Church communities throughout the entire world. He currently lives in Nashville, TN and regularly writes about creativity, leadership and faith at LukeMcElroy.com 

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