Looking to get into holiday house projection mapping but not sure where to begin? This blog will help you understand how and what is needed to make this happen! Once you get started, you'll be hooked and always wanting more.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROJECTOR
There are many projector options out there and understanding the differences between them is very important.
Typically 3,000 lumens and up is what is recommended to have a good bright show. These name brands such as Optima, Epson, ViewSonic, BenQ etc. is a way of knowing you are getting the correct ANSI lumens. This is the most expensive part of projection mapping and you should expect to spend around $600 and up on a new projector. Understanding the difference between ANSI lumens and LUX lumens is very important. Most projectors listed on Amazon claiming they have 5,500+ lumens at a price point of $100 isn't the right direction and is basing there lumens off LUX lumens.
Throw ratio is import since a majority of front yards aren't super deep. You'll need to have a wide angle lens projector to make sure it can cover your whole house without worrying about it being in the street or even across the street. Throw ratios will look something like .5:1. This means for ever .5 feet back the projector is, the image will be 1 foot wide on the house. For example of you have a house that is 40 feet wide and a front yard that is 25 feet deep, a .5:1 projector is perfect because it will only have to be placed 20 feet back to cover the whole house. Most projectors have longer throw ratios than that so a go-to website is projectorcentral.com to check important info like throw ratio.
This one is a pretty simple one, the better the resolution the more crisp of a show. The go-to projector resolution on this one is a full HD (1920x1080). Going to 4k is overkill considering most the time the viewing distance is far enough back to where pixels aren't noticeable even on a full HD projector.
3,000 Ansi lumens Full HD 1080p
.69:1 throw ratio
Optima GT 2000 HDR laser
3,500 Ansi lumens Full HD 1080p
.50:1 throw ratio
Epson L210sf laser
4,000 Ansi lumens Full HD 1080p
.45:1 throw ratio
The go-to method is to simply loop the videos over and over again on the projector. Any standard USB media player typically works well. Even though I don't recommend the projector being over Full HD, I would recommend the media player being a 4k one. This is because with my experience, some of these cheaper media players have a lag between audio and visual and ever since I switched to 4k media players, that issue has gone away. Luckily these things run cheap and can get them for roughly $50.
Here is one that I would recommend and have used in several situations.
Many times when you see a sign in front of a house saying "tune into 93.5" they are using an FM Transmitter. This is a good idea for vehicles to tune into if they want to hear the audio from their vehicles. But what about people walking by the house that aren't in a vehicle? Well using a aux speaker can do the trick as well. Typically both options are recommended and both can be found on amazon with ease.
Projector enclosures are a good thing to invests in if you don't want to set up your projector each night and re-align. There are a few key things to keep in mind when looking to make or purchase an enclosure. Weathertight, theftproof, and breathable.
Weathertight: When we say weathertight, we mean if a storm happens to come through, you'll have confidence that the projector will stay dry. Of course these boxes will have openings and vents but as long as the projector doesn't get direct rain or snow, it will be fine.
Theftproof: There are many things that are recommended to help your box from being stolen. The first thing is putting a lock on the door so no one can just open it up and steel the projector. Another one I strongly recommend is Earth Anchors. I personally use 4 earth anchors per box to help it stay in the ground. There are many different kinds you can find on amazon but these will help from someone walking off with your whole setup. Lastly we use window alarms. They go off based on vibrations. So if anyone tries ripping the box out of the ground, taking a sledgehammer to it, or even unscrewing the box apart, the window alarm should go off and trust me, these things are loud and should definitely scare the thief's away.
Breathable: These projectors put off a lot more heat than you could imagine. Simply putting air vents on your box isn't enough and your projector will overheat without adding a couple USB fans in there as well. Also make sure your box is large enough to where there is several inches of empty space all around the projector.
LAPTOP FOR MAPPING/CONTENT CREATION
You'll definitely need a laptop to bring out to where the projector is at for the mapping part. It is also important for content creation for building your show if you plan on doing that yourself. These are covered in the following steps.
Now that you know all the hardware you need for projection mapping, understanding the mapping part is extremely important. Once you find the exact spot the projector will project from, make sure it doesn't move from there, or at least make marks where it was placed at if you plan on bring in every evening.
There are many different projection mapping software's out there, many that cost money but here is a free one that is a very popular option.
After you download this program to your computer, plug your computer into your projector via HDMI and open up the program. Make sure you go to your computers settings and mirror the 2nd display, not extend. Then the whole screen turns white and simply using your curser, drag and drop lines around the boarder of your house, windows, doors, and trim. Instead of looking at the computer screen, you'll actually be looking at your house the whole time while doing this.
The image below is now your mapped house. You can either importing this into a video editing program and create the show yourself, or you can send this image to a professional and have they create the show for you. Well talk about these options in the next step.
To create or pay, that is the questions... In this next section we will go over the pros and cons to creating your own show vs paying the pros to build you a show.
To create is a very exciting and self rewarding but be prepared to put the time in learning. In order to create, you must have a good computer that can handle a video editing software program. The two most popular programs are Adobe After Effects and DaVinci Resolume. After Effects is the go-to for many because it is such a good and powerful program but does have a monthly fee of $30. This is the same program that many movies are made in for the effects part such as Avengers and Avatar. The second is DaVinci Resolume. This is also a very good program and has a free version that you can use and get you very good show as well. Now both of these programs have a bit of a learning curve so expect to spend some time messing around with them and learning how they work.
Pros to creating yourself
Cons to creating yourself
To pay is simply the easiest and quickest way of getting a show done and put on your house. The amount of time spent learning these video editing programs is the main reason people end up just buying pre-made shows fitted to their house. Also if you don't have a good computer that can handle the programs and rendering, it would be much cheaper just to pay for the show than buy a brand new computer. Plus finding good content isn't always easy and often times cost money.
Pros to pay
Cons to pay
When it comes down to it, it really depends on how much time and money are you willing to put towards this. If you have the time to learn the programs and are alright with spending the money for the computer and programs, then creating yourself is the way! But if your not wanting to spend the money on a good computer and programs and want it done quickly, simply send over the outline to the pros and they can quickly put a show together on your house.
Does the color of my house affect how the video looks?
The lighter your house color is, the more reflective it is making the video more bright. Dark greens, browns and black absorb the light the most and cause the video to not look as bright but it still will show.
Will the projection video show up on my windows?
Our recommendation would be to put a white sheet in the window so the video reflects better and turns out brighter.
What if my front yard isn't deep enough for a short throw projector to cover the whole house?
One of our customers had a very short front yard and ended up deciding that just doing the garage section was good enough for him. Even though projecting on the whole house is awesome, sometimes just doing a portion is better in certain situations.
If I have a street light out in front of my house, will it wash out the video?
Even though it does slightly wash out the projections on the house, it isn't as bad as you would think.
What if I have a bunch of bushes or trees in front of my house?
Try to position the projector and angle it a bit to get past a tree or bush. If it is too close to the house, sometimes there isn't much you can do other than just mask that part out, or just project directly on it. If there is way to much bushes/trees in front, maybe consider just focusing the projections on the garage portion of your house.
Once I'm done outlining the house through the computer, do I have to keep my computer out by the projector to play the show?
No that's what the USB media player is for. Simply put the video on a usb, plug that into your media player and connect that media player to your projector via a HDMI cable. Set the media player to loop and your all set.