I get the chance to see a lot of environmental projection setups and pictures here at TripleWide Media. Some are done really well and some are, well, not so well done. Our hope is that you’re able to be among the few that do it well, because quality is something that everyone in our environments will be able to identify, regardless of their technical adeptness. As I have mentioned before environmental projection (EP) is an art, however that doesn’t mean it is absent of ‘boundaries’ to make it look as good as possible. Here’s what I see as the 5 most common environmental projection mistakes.
1. Not bright enough environmental projection.
It’s the number one question I get asked, “which projector do I need?” And the honest truth is that there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all… but there is an answer that works for everyone: make it bright enough. Too often I see pictures of implementations where projection can barely be seen and thus causes the environment to be a distraction rather that an enhancement due to the fact that my eyes have to work hard to see the image. Make sure you’re projectors are bright enough to enhance and not distract, this isn’t a corner I recommend cutting.
2. Bad or insufficient masking on environmental projection.
Masking: the concept of projecting black on top of an image so that your media doesn’t show up in undesirable areas (such as ceilings, speaker clusters, lighting instruments,people, etc). Too many people don’t take advantage of masking and their projected images go all over the place. Not masking removes the “mystery” of environmental projection and makes it look less like an environment and more like a projector. The image goes all over the wall. However, when you use a mask you’re basically adding a cookie cutter to your image fitting the image perfectly to your design or space. Mask out the bad so the good looks ten times better.
3. Overuse of motions or movement in environmental projection.
Don’t get me wrong, motions are great. They add energy, movement and emotion into an environment. They help heighten the production value of your event too. However, too many motions or not enough dynamics (which is really why this is on the list) causes your production to become flat, regardless of the amount of movement present. We’re not looking to compete with lighting or steal the show, environmental projection’s purpose is to enhance. Be careful about using too many motions in environmental projection and begin thinking about incorporating a few still images and more static looks here and there.
4. Too many shadows appearing on the walls.
If you have a projector hanging from the ceiling in your room and then you put the environmental projection behind it (further towards the back of the room) you’re original projector will look like ET (the alien) is coming down from your ceiling and entering your space. I kid you not, too many shadows will add interesting shapes of darkness on the wall and begin to take away from your image. When you’re using EP make sure that you’re doing it in a way that minimizes your shadows, moving projectors in a way where important pixels are lost by natural shadows in your room.
5. Not properly trained and/or tested before the first use.
This is HUGE! We’re so antsy to incorporate environmental projection without taking time to practice our craft. It’s like wanting to become a guitar player, buying a guitar and getting on stage with the musicians the first week you have one. EP is more like an instrument than video equipment. It affects the mood and environment too much. Get some training and practice by testing out content before you hit the ground running. Try it in rehearsals for several days/weeks before showing it in front of your community/attendees.
So there you have it five ways to really mess up environmental projection and take what can be a good, enhancing piece of technology and use it as a tool of distraction. Have any more mistakes you see? Let us know below!