Tents have a sophisticated form all their own. But when you move beyond augmenting their architectural grace with elements such as lights and color washes to digital projection,tents become palettes for talented designers who can transform them into imaginative immersive environments.
“Other than a giant,white building,there is no better palette than a tent,” says David Smith,president of the Los Angeles,Calif.-based production company ShowPro Inc. From simply creating stylized lighting effects to thrilling guests with photo-realistic moving video,digital projection can reinvent the tented event experience.
“All you need is a very bright projector,a couple of guys and a projection designer to create art for whatever physical structure you want,” Smith says.
Large-format image projection made it possible to bend,shape and wrap images onto any surface and project them as much as 360 degrees. Those massive images are impressive,but they don’t move. Digital projection brings visual content to life,and that’s what clients are asking for now,Smith says. Not long ago,ShowPro was a leading supplier of large-format projectors,but the company has now sold all of those machines to go digital.
Smith says the move to digital projection has been driven largely by advances in technology. “Less than 10 years ago,video projectors weren’t nearly as bright as large format,but now they’ve caught up and the price has gone down,so it makes sense that this is the way the industry is going,” he says.
Choosing the right fabric for projection
When doing video projection,it’s best to use a fabric that can take light and bounce back what is projected onto it—in other words,nothing too translucent or absorbent. Figuring out which fabric works best for a particular project usually requires a certain amount of experimenting,says Greg Christy of Brite Ideas. “You can tell immediately if a piece of fabric won’t work at all,but it can take some playing around to get the look clients want.”
Shiny vinyl is almost always a no-no because it doesn’t reflect light well and will almost invariably cause a blinding hot spot. But,depending on how you use a fabric,sailcloth can work as well as sheers. If budget allows,Christy recommends using a liner of some kind when doing projection,but if that’s not possible,trial and error will yield workable results.