Essential Tools for Environmental Projection
With all this talk about Triplewide, Edgeblending, multiscreen, environmental projection and regular single screen video surfaces, we thought it would be a helpful start to give you the “essentials” or the tools you will most likely use if you’re looking to transform your space and create an environment. Don’t worry if you only have one screen, many of these tools still apply to you. This is also a great list to look at if you are considering three screens or a multi-screen setup.
Tool #1: Multiscreen Processor
This is the only tool on this list that those using single screen only won’t find useful, but this device is something everyone should keep in mind. If you ever want to take the video output of one computer and spread it across multiple displays without breaking the bank, you’ll need a “multi-screen processor.” There are a few out there, but there’s only one we absolutely love and that’s the DatapathX4.
In the past we have talked a lot about the TripleHead2Go because of it’s price, functionality and the ease of use. While it is a decent, low cost option, we have made the transition to the DPX4. It gives you a variety of additional options, flexibility, and stability the TH2G just doesn’t have.
Tool #2: Presentation Software.
We are usually pretty good about not choosing favorites, but this time we wanted to let the cat out of the bag. If we had to pick one for Triplewide, multi-screen AND single screen projection, our team would pick ProPresenter. Here’s why:
- Masking.The process of Environmental projection that makes the visuals seem to “flow from the ceiling” is the ability to mask out the parts of the image you don’t want to project on (i.e. the ceiling or musicians on stage, etc). This is not a cheap process if your software doesn’t support this feature internally. ProPresenter is currently the only lyric presentation software that builds it into it’s use… at no extra cost.
- Multi-Screen Support. Again a feature only advance multi-screen people would use, but at a small cost, ProPresenter can actually control a TripleHead2Go or three screen setup allowing you to tile and place text on specific screens instead of just the center. They call it the Multi-screen module. (They also have internal corner pinning and edge-blending support if needed. Another reason we love this software!)
- Hot Keys. This is a personal favorite feature of mine. Whenever I am running lyrics for an event or service, I need to be able to get around the slides as quickly as possible because you never know where the worship leaders are going to go. With Pro, I can setup simple “hot keys” so that every time the chorus begins I just hit the “c” button. Brilliant!
- Visual Layout. This is the most important feature for me. I am a visual guy and to me the layout in ProPresenter is the cleanest of all of them. Let me also be the first to say that this feature is just like me saying Mac is better than PC. Some people get confused by all the pictures, slides and images which therefore means “cues” like Media Shout has is probably the better choice. That’s fine, go get a PC =) haha, just kidding PC friends!
Do not be fooled, ProPresenter is not the only “multi-screen” solution out there. Media Shout is a very powerful option as well for those more familiar with that platform.
Tool #3: Projector
When it comes to projectors there are a TON of options out there. It’s an essential element regardless if you’re using one screen or six screens; You’re going to need a projector. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re buying a projector and we’ve taken each of these into mind when making your choice.
- Brightness. When looking at a projector, or comparing projectors, factor in the brightness. ANSI Lumens (the rating almost every projector uses to measure brightness) is not a “scientific measurement” and of course changes over time as the bulb, dust, filters, power and other factors have natural wear and tear. Be sure you are comparing the right numbers when choosing a projector.
- Price. This is always a factor right? You have a budget and you have to stick to that budget even when it would be “so much better” to spend a bit more. Regardless you need to have in mind that you are going to get what you pay for. Don’t always go for the “sub $1000” projector as you are going to be sacrificing a lot. This also means that you don’t need to spend $100,000 on a projector. That’s not smart either. Find a middle ground within your budget that has the features you need.
- Lens/Flexibility. I’ve merged two categories into one, but when you’re looking at a projector make sure you have some good features that lend itself to be flexible with a various applications (this will allow you to feel like you are buying one projector for multiple purposes). I’m talking about things like: lens shift, keystone, rear & celling mode and various input options. On top of that, make sure to see if you have the ability to swap out lenses or a really “short throw” lens. If you are not able to replace or exchange the lenses on your projector you will have a difficult time being able to use it outside the original “purchased” application. In other words, you can do stuff like Environmental Projection if you have a few different lens options or if you have a lens that is really flexible in it’s throw distance.
Tip #4: Cables
One of the most forgotten pieces of the “puzzle” for multiscreen is all the cables. Now, your projector choice, multiscreen processor, and computer will dictate (for the most part) the cables you will have to work with for your multiscreen setup. Spend the time to research and price compare cables for your application. Remember, a permanent install needs higher quality cable than perhaps a one time use application. Don’t skimp on quality, but you can probably avoid the expense of install grade cable for a one time event.
Tip #5: Adapters
Whenever you’re doing anything with visuals you will have to make sure to have all the right adapters. I’ve found that whenever we do events on the road and in various churches/locations having the right video adapters is the “make it, or break it” moment for us. Lets say you want to use some projection this season to create an environment in your space and you find out the projector only has HDMI or DVI. Do you have the right adapters to get from your computer (or your multiscreen processor) into your projector? If not, Monoprice.com is your best friend.
Here are a few of our favorite adapters from Monoprice (Remember we’re all mac guys):
- Thunderbolt to VGA: $10.74
- Thunderbolt to HDMI, DVI & Display Port: $13.94
- 6′ HDMI to DVI Cable: $4.12
Tip #6: Content
Regardless if you’re using one screen or sixteen screens, you’ll need content. In fact the tools, projection and software is really only as good as the content you pump through it. Content is what makes the difference in your “Transformation.” Of course we’re biased here but there really isn’t a better place than TripleWide Media!
Why? Because we give you three (6 for HD!) sizes with every purchase. It’s not something that’s special for Easter, it’s an everyday thing for TripleWide. What do we mean by “three sizes”? With every download you will get a single wide, double wide and a triple wide video or image without an extra fee.
Stop paying for content twice and start allowing TripleWide Media to save you thousands over the years in getting more sizes for one low price! You’ll be glad you did. (Did we mention it’s free to create an account?)
So that’s it! These are the tools that will help with your transition to Environmental Projection or even if you’re doing some unique stage design with some video projection. I’m sure I’ve left some great tools out of this list, so feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. What are some of you’re top picks?