For their wedding at Littlefield in Brooklyn last month, Cesar and Ross wanted a DIY affair that would involve their friends and families. We came up with the idea of making a documentary-style video snapshot of their life in New York, to be projected on walls throughout the venue that night.
We shot footage of the grooms walking their dog, hanging out at home, riding the subway and bus, getting haircuts, eating at Mission Chinese, hanging out with friends in bars, etc. They’re Instagram fiends, so I had a blast coloring the footage to give it that social media snapshot look.
At the venue, I went for the smallest footprint possible, so packing up at the end of the night would be quick. The main movie was looped on an outside wall in the venue’s entrance courtyard. There is a window facing the wall, so I mounted the projector inside pointing out. For this, I used one of my home-made mounts, plus mafer clamp, 20″ arm, and knuckle, clamped onto the metal window frame above head-level.
I taped a Roku onto the mount, and created a .m4v file with Handbrake to play back off a USB drive. Roku has a limited number of file types that it will play, and that’s one. Also, the Roku USB player doesn’t have a loop function, so I made a version of the 40 minute movie that plays twice, followed by 15 minutes of black with “CESAR & ROSS” text at the end. I just hit “back” and “play” on the remote every hour and a half. I’m going to pick up a Raspberry Pi to do this better. [UPDATE 5/16/14: I got this running.]
Inside, I had another projector running from my MacBook Pro, up in the sound booth. From there I could fill the entire side wall of the dining/dancing part of the venue. The wall is a black rubberized cork material, not too shiny and not too light-absorbent. With a bright enough projector (mine’s 3,000 lumens), projecting on a dark surface like that gives you high contrast and looks great.
I made both 1280×720 and 854×480 versions of the movies and loops, to pick depending on final projection size. If a particular clip gets shrunk down on the canvas during playback, there’s no need to waste pixels with a large file. But if it’s fillng the screen, I can go for quality. I also compressed everything with VidVox’s new Hap codec, which is open-source and decodes everything on the graphics card. Looked great, played great.
In VDMX (my VJ software of choice), I made a canvas that was 1708 x 960, with quads of 50% scaled-down layers (which were the 854 x 480 media’s native size), including some that were doubled-up for live blending. This went out through Syphon to MadMapper, and I mapped the quads to different parts of the wall: Quads 1 and 2 were the full 40-minute movie with staggered start times, shrunk to two 4-foot wide rectangles on the wall. Behind that was Quad 3, as a giant wall-sized projection. During dinner this was blank or dim, abstract patterns (subway cars passing in the tunnels, blurry street scenes at night…). Quad 4 was just for text (“CESAR & ROSS”) that was projected a few places on the wall.
Once the dance party started, I cleared the smaller images and went full-wall with movie, loops and text, and some color mixing and effects.
I ran the whole show with Touch OSC on my iPhone (some frame-grabs are pictured here: layer-clip assignment, layer blending, and an RGB effect control). I’ve learned not to do this when working with bands: people think I’m some asshole texting during the show. But in this case I didn’t have to leave the dance floor.