Projection in Theatre – Special Effects

So you’ve been doing projection in your theatre for a few years, projecting some photos and a video or two onto a cyc at the back of the stage, but now you’re looking for something a little more impressive – what can you do? Here’s a few ideas. Continue reading “Projection in Theatre – Special Effects”

Projection in Theatre – Projectors

Update 24/07/16: Corrected light sources section


The selection of projectors can be daunting. There’s the choice of the engine used to create the images, various light source technologies, the brightness of that light source, and long, standard, short and ultra-short throw lenses. This is a brief guide to help you understand these options when you’re looking to use projection in a theatre. Continue reading “Projection in Theatre – Projectors”

Notes when using multiple video outputs on a Mac Pro

TL;DR: If you are intending to use more than 2 video outputs (either HDMI or DVI) on a Mac Pro (in this case, the Late 2013 version) then in addition to using active DVI adapters (as specified in this Apple KB article) you will need to ensure that there are powered-on devices on the other end of all of those adapters. Continue reading “Notes when using multiple video outputs on a Mac Pro”

Projection in Theatre – Running the Projectors

If you’ve only got one projector or TV at your disposal, be it on stage or in a presentation, then you can probably quite safely run it off a modest laptop unless you’ve managed to get your hands on a 4K model. Just hook it up to the HDMI output, maybe via an adapter, fire up your video or presentation and you’re good to go. You could even get away with multiple displays, provided they are separated from one another and you are happy with displaying something different on each one.

Beyond that, though, some minor challenges pop up and one has to start seriously thinking about the hardware and software required to do the task well. Continue reading “Projection in Theatre – Running the Projectors”

Virtual Theatre

About a year ago I started investigating if it would be possible to create an immersive, engaging and realistic virtual presence experience for live theatre. The general idea would be to construct a live 3D representation of a stage, then allow a remote audience to select where they would like to see the show from. Perhaps virtual cameras could be used by a live video production team to broadcast a show with pre-defined edits, but without cameras interrupting the view or distracting the audience that is physically present in the theatre at the time. Those viewing remotely could use a Virtual Reality headset to watch the show, looking around them as they wanted, or even getting up and moving around without the risk of verbal abuse and projectiles being thrown at them. Continue reading “Virtual Theatre”

Projection in Theatre – The Challenges

As I have discovered, if you search for information on how to apply video projection in a theatre context, there’s not a lot of stuff out there. To be clear, I’m talking about live performance theatre, not movie theatres … because for the latter it’s pretty clear that projection is a major part of the whole thing. In the spirit of sharing a little, but also to put my own thoughts into some form of order, I’m going to write a few articles on what I’ve found, and some ideas of how to apply video projection to amateur theatre productions. Continue reading “Projection in Theatre – The Challenges”

Selling Up

Back when I lived with my parents, I had a great time building various projects, which even won me a car. I put a lot of hard work and money into building a rack from scratch, creating a whole-house-audio system from various parts along with the software, and wiring up the house for networking.

Well, the time has come to dismantle many of my projects. My parents are itching to put my old room back to use, and I need to gather as much cash as I can for an exciting excursion to the other side of the world next year. I have felt some tears forming, but I just remind myself what it is in aid of and all of the unknown projects that are yet to come.

I have started listing much of the equipment on eBay. If you’re interested in home automation, want to build your own rack, or you have a professional need for some of the AV equipment then please take a look and bid on things that take your fancy.

More equipment will be added tomorrow – mostly the PCs that I no longer use. This includes 2 rackmounts and an old gaming rig.

Blowing a Raspberry at my media centre

Not long before Christmas, as part of a new AV system, I installed an Acer Aspire Revo as a frontend for my now well established MythTV setup. This works great, but it did set me back a fair amount.

Today I took a look at the Rasberry PI website and found this video:

Continue reading “Blowing a Raspberry at my media centre”

SqueezeBox on a budget

The SqueezeBox series of devices from Logitech has got to be one of the best media streamer ranges out there. Not long after I moved into my flat I bought a SqueezeBox Boom and it is awesome. Fantastic audio quality with an almost impossible amount of bass from a small single-unit stereo now sat next to my bed.

The downside to the SqueezeBox devices is that the quality comes at a price, one which is impossible to justify at the moment. However, it happened that the following year O2 were having a fire sale of their Joggler device. I snapped one up for the bargain amount of £50 with the intention of using it as a home automation controller.

Well, the automation dream also comes at an even less justifiable cost and so the Joggler has been sitting idle in a drawer waiting for a project to bring it back to life. Thanks to the UKHA mailing list it now has a purpose. My Joggler has been reborn as a budget SqueezePlayer having followed some really easy steps.

With it connected to my surround amp, I can now stream music from my existing SqueezeBox Server and even control it remotely with a web browser. One less bit of idle kit, one new feature, and at £100 less than it would otherwise cost.

The Joggler is a popular device for customising, and there are Ubuntu builds available for it (rather than the onboard O2 OS). If you want to play with one, they are no longer available for sale from O2, so you will need to look on eBay or similar.

Source code for the VAMS-0808 serial interface

As promised, here’s the source code for my VAMS-0808 interface. It’s in C#, with C# projects included, and can be opened in Visual C# Express or full Visual Studio 2005 or greater. There are two test projects included – one which just writes status changes out to the console, and a WinForms project (which runs in mono) for full interaction.