Outdoor Projection

We love to light up the night, and thanks to improvements in technology over recent years outdoor projection has been getting bigger and brighter.

Some of what we do is street projection for fun – like this:

And some of it is larger scale, like this:

Picturing New York and Fringe World opening weekend 7646

For these type of events, we pre-prepare most of the content to suit, unlike our live VJing where we improvise on the fly. Some of it is ‘interactive’, some of it is ‘mapped’ – it all depends on the event, the client, the venue, the ambient light and of course, the budget.

If you want to just project logos, advertisements etc then we are not the people to hire. For that, we suggest Impact Communications if you’re in Perth, or pretty much any AV or marketing company will do it these days. We would rather distance ourselves from turning outdoor projection into “wall spam” and we’re not a hire company, we only supply projectors for events we’re doing content for.

If you want to incorporate creative or community-based content in an event or campaign though, we might be a good fit. Check out our previous work below. Some of our corporate clients and venues include:

In December 2011 we ran Projections on High in Fremantle involving 20 sites and over 100,000 lumens of total projection, with a great deal of community consultation and involvement. This was the first projection festival in Western Australia and received great feedback from local residents and traders.

In December 2012 we ran Leadlight Nights in Subiaco.

We own large projectors, generators, deep cycle batteries and other equipment needed for reasonably large scale outdoor projection.

If you want really large-scale ‘projection mapping’ (bigger than the Art Gallery of Western Australia, that is) we recommend TDC (Technical Direction Company) – we can work with them for projects that are too big for our own projectors and tech – we can still make the content though :)

We have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance, and are GST registered.

Our suggestions for VJs interested in doing outdoor projection (aka street projection, guerrilla projection):

  • High contrast content – especially if you only have lower-lumens projectors. We make “inverted silhouette” content as it shows up very well, even with quite a bit of ambient light.
  • Simple, bold content – big, bright designs will show up best. Subtle work (eg photography and detailed illustration) can be lost on a wall, unless it’s a VERY plain, single-coloured wall.
  • Black background – break up the edge of your frame with an irregular black background to get away from the usual 4:3 or 16:9 rectangular shape. This makes it seem less like “crappy screen” and more like “content interacting with wall surface”. Black does not project, so black areas will be the colour of the wall.
  • DLP projectors are more suitable than LCD – more bang for your buck, higher contrast, brighter colours and you won’t really notice the DLP’s “rainbow effect” like you do on a screen.
  • Avoid ambient light – try to get nearby lights turned off or mask them with black foil or cardboard (use common sense there – don’t cause a fire!). Peripheral light is your biggest obstacle.
  • Play safe – don’t play fast-moving or otherwise distracting content near traffic.
  • Clean power – mains-power is best if you can get it. That’s always our first choice. If you need to use a generator, make sure it’s a “Sine Wave” generator, or else use a Sine Wave inverter and normal generator, deep-cycle battery or car battery (with the car running). Hot/spiked power and/or low/browned-out power can destroy a projector instantly.
  • Test test test. The only way you can really tell how projection will look on a particular wall is to try it. Especially on surfaces like windows, it’s difficult to predict what will show up. So give it a go!

We often get asked “How many lumens will I need?” and really the answer is as big as you can afford within your budget – but test whatever you can get. We have often been able to use a 4k projector despite ambient light as we’ve made content especially for outdoor projection.

Projector Central has calculators which can help you work out what projector will work in what space. eg BenQ MX812ST Short-throw 3500 lumens

Many of the projects shown in our photos and videos were done with small 4,000 lumens projectors. We now own 12,000 lumens projectors so we can go bigger and use more colour – but don’t be put off taking to the streets with whatever you’ve got. You can always find a dark corner to project into :)

SOFTWARE:

  • For live-drawing, we like SketchBook Pro on the iPad, it’s cheap and easy to use.
  • If you are using a Windows or Linux tablet, artists we work with like MyPaint – which is free. It’s especially good for pressure-sensitive tablets.
  • For pre-made content, we run video in Resolume Avenue and use Mapio to map/mask/warp/keystone (Resolume Arena does a similar job).

We also often get asked if it’s legal and if you need permission. Our understanding for Australian sites is that as long as you are not projecting advertising (which would need local council permission), or blocking a right of way or footpath (which again could need local council permission) or causing a nuisance (eg projecing into peoples windows at night, projecting inappropriate images etc – which could get the police involved) or a safety risk (eg distracting traffic) and that you are legally allowed where you are projecting from (ie public space or private property with permission), then it’s not illegal.

Which isn’t necessarily the same as saying it’s 100% legal, and we’re not lawyers… but we’ve always found that if you’re courteous and think about the situation, usually people are happy for you to project onto their walls.

Projection-mapping.org is a very useful resource too.