Projector for live performance

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
miyarakira
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Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:16 pm

Is anyone familiar with what type of projector is recommended
for accompanying live performance?

From what I've read, I should be looking for higher contrast,
higher lumens, and possibly with a "short throw" lens so the
projector can sit on stage, not out in the crowd.

Also, if I wanted to use Live for video projection as well, would I
need Max for Live to achieve this?

Perhaps this question is better asked in a VJ forum, but since I'm
also using Live, I thought I'd ask here. Thanks for any input!

102455
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by 102455 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:48 pm

Good contrast and high lumens are good, but short throw lens....

How big do you want the projected image? If you're planning on buying a screen, what size? Then you can work out where the projector needs
to be in order to fill the screen with picture. That distance will vary from projector to projector.

If you're not buying a screen but just aiming it at a wall or a screen at a venue, then again the setup will vary depending on where the wall/screen is in relation to your rig - angle, distance, size...

Many projectors only have vertical keystone adjustment, meaning the image can be adjusted for whether the projector is angled up or down.......but horizontal keystone correction is not so common - meaning your projector will have to be square on to the surface in order to give a level picture (top & bottom horizontal).

I bought a projector and a couple of screens a few years ago, but so few venues are suitable that I would suggest either using whatever projection rig the venue has in place already, or using large LCD or plasma screens.

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:10 pm

Thanks, 102455! Your comment helped me understand what parameters
I should be looking at.

Size of projected image
Distance of projector to image
Wall or screen

I remember reading a post by Pitch Black where he mentioned using a
short throw projector ("an Optoma 2500 lumen short-throw/wide-angle").
The result looks good on the photos.

It would be nice to be able to use the projector for other purposes, like
home theater or projecting designs for wall murals. Do you think it's too
much to expect, to also be able to project visuals behind a live band?

Considering how each venue differs, it might be better to go with in-house
projector or screens, as you recommend.

Anyone else have experience with projectors? It'd be interesting to hear
how Ableton Live could be used in conjunction, if that's possible...

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:53 pm

OK, found more info. In general, people seem to agree that more
than 2500 lumens are necessary, and at least XGA resolution. Also
to consider: zoom range, keystone correction, the cost of the projector
(short-throw/wide-angle brings the price up considerably) and replacement
lamps.

Visuals should be prepared with higher contrast; talk with the light tech
beforehand to not shine lights on wall/screen. Software like Vidvox
and Arkaos were mentioned for MIDI syncing with Live. Plus there's
a free real-time projection software called VPT.

One person had a 10' x 7.5' rear-projection screen and a 4500 lumen
LCD projector, short-throw/wide-angle. He said rear-projection solves
the issue of where to place the projector, but creates an addition issue
for stages without adequate space.

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:06 pm

To sum up my findings so far. Important things to consider are:

2500 lumens or brighter
Good contrast
(more info)
Resolution (XGA or better, more info)
Size of image and throw distance

As 102455 pointed out, it helps to know how big the projected image
should be. For example, one projector I was looking at (BenQ MX660)
must have 10m distance to project a 6m x 4m image.

Short-throw or wide-angle projectors can be much closer to the wall or
screen, but they're more costly. Rear-projection from behind the screen
may be an option, given enough space on stage.

Other things to think about:

Make visuals with high contrast
Coordinate with in-house light tech, if any
Software
(Vidvox, Arkaos, free tool VPT)
Replacement lamps/bulbs

Helpful posts from Ableton Forums:

Pitch Black video show
Stage Projector Advice

dysanfel
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by dysanfel » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:01 pm

I have been using a projector with Live since Live 6. Lots of great advice above.

My tip: Turning your resolution down to 800x600 makes the image larger on a screen at a shorter distance.
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Pitch Black
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by Pitch Black » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:57 pm

102455 wrote:Good contrast and high lumens are good, but short throw lens....
A short throw lens CAN give you more flexibility for installations, if your VJ software will allow it, you can over-shoot the screen with a wide projector beam, and make the video image itself smaller to fit the screen from within the VJ app.

If you want to carry a fully self-contained video show with you, IMHO you will need to use a proper VJ application, and most likely running on a second laptop. You can run video directly out of Live's arrange page, or from a Max4Live plugin, or something simple like a Quicktime Player in the backround on the same computer, but you had better be VERY careful about your CPU load when playing live, as video streaming + live audio streaming on the one machine will push your computer to the max.

I use a VJ app called Modul8 on a second laptop, which receives MIDI notes sent from Live on the audio laptop. Usually one MIDI note-per-Scene from Live: I trigger a Scene in Live, and that Scene has a MIDI clip that fires out a single MIDI note at it's head to Modul8. As long as the Scene keeps looping, the MIDI clip keeps looping and re-triggering that video clip until I move on to the next Scene.

Image

At home, for development, my computer (2010 MBP i5 dual 2.53gHz - 4MB RAM) can just handle running both Live and Modul8 on the same machine, but I get occasional glitches in my audio stream that would be unacceptable in a live show, but not a major problem at home. At home, I route Live's MIDI output to Modul8 via the IAC bus, and for shows MIDI goes out from my RME audio/MIDI interface into a USB MIDI interface on the video computer. By using 2 laptops, I keep to a known quantity of CPU load. If you're serious about doing video, I believe this to be "Best Practice".
102455 wrote:Many projectors only have vertical keystone adjustment, meaning the image can be adjusted for whether the projector is angled up or down.......but horizontal keystone correction is not so common - meaning your projector will have to be square on to the surface in order to give a level picture (top & bottom horizontal.
Modul8 has a "module" (which is a free 3rd-party plugin someone has written and uploaded - there's hundreds of them) called MapMapMap. Its a basic "video mapping" tool, in that it lets you change the size and shape of your video output within the software. This lets you correct for horizontal and vertical keystoning, or map the video onto a physical object in the space.

Image

This allows me to over-shoot the screen slightly with the projector and then fit the image precisely to the screen with the software. This means that I could have the projector on the floor and off to one side, or mounted on a speaker stack beside me, or wherever wherever the circumstances dictate, and "pin" the corners of the video image exactly onto the corners of the physical screen in software. This is where having a short-throw projector can be an advantage: over-shoot the screen with the wider beam that the short-throw gives, and pin the image to the screen in software. You lose a little bit of resolution this way, but usually you would not be going pixel-for-pixel anyway. ie, if your projector's native resolution is WVGA (1280x800) you probably wouldn't be using video files that large. I use video files 800x450 in size for live use, and I find this looks fine.
102455 wrote:I bought a projector and a couple of screens a few years ago, but so few venues are suitable that I would suggest either using whatever projection rig the venue has in place already, or using large LCD or plasma screens.
I agree, bringing in your own complete video setup is a whole extra level of work, and some venues just won't be suitable. But by the same token, a clean white king-sized sheet neatly gaffa-taped to the back wall (or wherever) will look great if you can keep most of other lights off it, and only hit it with the projector beam. You go into the club, and the first thing you do is rig the projector wherever possible, and output a quick test-pattern. You then hang your sheet inside this projector beam, and fold it/tape it/mask it into the nicest possible size and shape, and finally re-map the image to fit onto the sheet exactly. Looks great!

As mentioned in one of the other posts, I ask the lighting tech to keep just a dark blue wash on me all night, and invite them to go crazy hitting the dancefloor with party lights/movers for the punters. I usually give them a setlist with pictures of the video so that (if they're professional, motivated, and keen!) they can know in advance whats coming up, and help make the look as good as it can possibly be.

Image

Finally, please allow me to pimp a video from my latest show... :) This was at a festival that had a pixel-drape installed for all the acts at the rear of the stage, so in addition to the video laptop feeding my projector and rear-pro screens, I used a second video laptop triggered by the same MIDI notes from Live to feed the pixel-drape.

https://vimeo.com/51115658
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onek
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by onek » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:36 pm

Very nice!

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:17 pm

Wow, thank you so much for that extensive post, Pitch Black!

It's great to see exactly how you go about putting on the video projection
for the show, from someone of such experience. I've seen videos of your
shows, some longer workshops too, and your past posts on this discussion
forum. Thanks for enlightening us!

I read your post several times, to really digest the information. Points which
seemed significant for someone getting into live video projection were:
  • -- Proper VJ application (such as Modul8)
    -- Ideally, a second laptop dedicated to video
    (distribute CPU load)
    -- Sending MIDI from Ableton Live to trigger videos
    (through IAC or audio interface)
    -- Projection-mapping plugin/software
    (allows flexibility as to projector placement)
    -- Video resolution
    (800x450 acceptable for live shows)
    -- Set list with pictures of the video
    (given to lighting tech)
The part about projection mapping and placement of projector was
very interesting for me, and the screenshot from Modul8 really
shows how flexible it is.

Also, thanks to dysanfel for your input too. I see that both you and
Pitch Black recommend a moderate resolution, I imagine from considering
the CPU load and practicality.

This is one of the many things I love about Ableton Live, the sharing of
knowledge within the user community. I hope this thread can be useful
to others also.

And now to take a dive and get that projector I've been eyeing for weeks...

Pitch Black
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by Pitch Black » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:28 am

Happy to help! :D

Out of interest, what projector are you looking at?

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:51 am

Still not certain if it's the most suitable for the purpose, but I was
looking at BenQ MX660.

I wanted a projector which I could also use for watching films at home,
having a huge screen/workspace for Ableton, to project designs for painting
large surfaces...

Is that asking too much? :lol:

I'd love to hear your opinion on if this particular projector can be used
for projecting visuals behind a live band or solo act. As you can see, I
have no experience with a projector, so it's difficult for me to imagine
the final setup.

---

I found more detailed info on the throw distance of the BenQ MX660, which
I'm supposing is one of the important parameters to consider.

I noticed that you mentioned rear-projection, and in your older post
from last year also stated "rear-pro", with the projector 3m behind you
on the floor. The projector I was looking at above isn't wide-angle/short-throw,
and the size of the final projection you were talking about 16x9 (meters?).

A quick look at the throw distance of the BenQ, it can do 5m x 7m final image
with a 12m distance.. Does that mean it wouldn't be a practical choice for
any type of stage use?

I see, another BenQ product, the short-throw projector MW860 (4 times the price
of what I was looking at!) can do 5m x 8m image with less than 3m distance.
So that's the difference...

---

An example of the type of visuals I'd like to project: Between Thoughts.

dysanfel
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by dysanfel » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:39 pm

I considered using Modul8 with Ableton in the past, but 2007 MBP could not handle the Ableton session and the video. My new 2012 rMBP could probably do it, but I have more fun creating the videos ahead of time now. I am too busy on stage with music to worry about manipulating video as well.
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102455
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by 102455 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:53 pm

miyarakira wrote:you were talking about 16x9 (meters?).
That'd be the aspect ratio. 16:9 is basically widescreen. Old skool "square" ratio is 4:3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspect_ratio_(image)

miyarakira
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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by miyarakira » Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:45 pm

Just curious, dysanfel, could you tell me what kind of projector setup
you use? Is it rear-projection and/or short-throw?

I'm thinking that I will start with just a fully prepared video to project,
with live musical accompaniment like in silent films. Eventually, it'd be
nice to manipulate video through Ableton, triggering written MIDI sequences
or more interactive through MIDI controllers, but I'll have to see what my
laptop can handle.

102455, thanks for the clarification on aspect ratio. I suppose the final
size of the image would depend on the size of venue, but I was trying
to visualize what average image size would be suitable for small to mid-
size venues.

Pitch Black, I was re-reading your extensive post above with the images.
The screenshot of Ableton shows how you organize your tracks and clips,
and that's quite interesting to see! So, one track of MIDI sent to IAC triggers
the video sections...

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Re: Projector for live performance

Post by Pitch Black » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:06 am

dysanfel wrote:I considered using Modul8 with Ableton in the past, but 2007 MBP could not handle the Ableton session and the video. My new 2012 rMBP could probably do it, but I have more fun creating the videos ahead of time now. I am too busy on stage with music to worry about manipulating video as well.
I'm the same, I make all the videos ahead of time to match the music with very tight sync etc, and by MIDI triggering the clips the video show trundles along following the music with busy clips in the faster/full-on sections, sparser in the breakdowns etc. It takes care of itself with no actual manipulation from me.

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