The future is here!! In this everchanging world, we see technology grow and transform our lives in many positive ways; so much that it has even made way onto our own stages. As we plan for our future productions, one of the main factors we have to take into consideration is our sets design. What props will we have? Lighting? BACKDROPS!? So many things that need to be taken into account for the success of the event. For years, one of the centerpieces we have all come to know, love and rely heavily on to set the mood for our events is a scenic backing. We are all familiar with the traditional painted backdrops we hang with a fly system, the kind we need to tie or clamp onto a crossmember and hoist up…. But what if we are looking to make a change for something new and easier to set up? This is where technology comes to the rescue and offers us an alternative way to shape our events. It is here we are introduced to Digital Backdrops for projection!!
You may be asking yourself, “Am I ready for this change? Are projected backdrops right for my production?” To answer these questions, here are a few questions/points you will need to keep in mind before you emerge yourself in the wonderful world of projected backdrops.
- Do you have a projector? – Although this may seem like an obvious question, accessibility to a projector is something we need to find out before we can proceed with renting digital drops. If you are at a school or location that is up on the latest in theater technology and already has a projection set up, great!! However, if you find yourself wondering if you can get your hands on a projector period, then you might need to do your research on projectors first and see if it is something you can obtain.
- Looking to hire an AV (audio visual) company? – If you are not looking to invest in a projector for the long term, there are AV companies that will help you with your production. One and done!! But there are a few questions you will need to ask yourself before hiring that outside company, how much does it cost to rent a projector a day? And what comes with the rental? They might also require that you “rent” one of their AV techs to run the equipment for you. If technology isn’t your forte, maybe this is all a dream come true! To have someone you can rent from and they do the set up? Sign me up! On the other hand, if this option is already sending your budget over the top, this might not be the direction you want to go in. So before deciding on just any AV company, it’s important to do some research on the company and the system(s) they use. You want to make sure they support the images you plan on using and it doesn’t break the bank. Projection systems get expensive so you want to make sure it’s within your budget.
- Renting a theater with its own AV system? – Awesome! I have the venue and it comes with its own AV system, now it’s just a matter of picking my digital backdrops and I’m off! Sounds simple enough! But like the AV companies, you will need to ask yourself similar questions to ensure that you can work with the venue’s amenities. The first question to ask is can you or your own staff run the projector? Keep in mind that some venues will allow you to rent their fully equipped AV system but require that it be run by one of their own staff members which might tack on an extra expense. Even though you or your own staff might be fully capable of running the equipment, it’s possible that the venue will make it mandatory to utilize their staff. On the other hand, what if you are very new to the projection game and are not experienced on how to run an AV system and wish you had the help? It’s possible that a venue will rent you the stage area with the system you need BUT you will be the one who has to run it!! Now you might find yourself in the difficult position to find someone or it will be on you to run the equipment.
- Does my venue make the cut?! – Before purchasing/renting AV equipment, you want to take a look at the space you have and see whether it will allow you to project a digital backdrop successfully. Will the venue be dark enough to show the image? Is there too much ambient light breaking through that will wash out the image? A darker venue will help add to the brightness and quality of your projection. A way to combat this would be to inquire about a brighter projector!! Projectors that have more lumens will help make your images look brighter and allow you to cut through that ambient light that might drown out your image. The more lumens the projector has, the better the image will display.
There they are! A few things to consider before taking digital by storm for your next production. Although it is a bit overwhelming, the results of having a crisp digital still or animated image can make for a fantastic event. However, if you find that you are not ready to partake on such theater technology yet, painted backdrops are still in high demand and being used today in some of the most famous venues in the world so you are in good company. Here at Grosh Backdrops and Projections, we specialize in both the Classic painted and New Age digital ways of dressing your stage. So before jumping on stage, take a little time with your backgrounds and see what will work best for you and your performance needs. Never hesitate to ask, we are always here to help!